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3 Common Misconceptions and Exaggerations About Technology

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Everywhere you look there are warnings about how your tech may be harming you. There is definitely truth in the dangers of technology on our physical and mental health, but how much of it is sensationalized and how much of it is downplayed? Here are some commonly exaggerated or undermined misconceptions about technology to look out for.

1. Cancer: Exaggerated

According to the data presented by Statista, it is expected that the number of mobile phone users in the world will pass the five billion mark in 2019. This overwhelming growth in the market can be attributed to the popularity of smartphones. People use smartphones for communication, entertainment, business, and even for health purposes. However, there is looming hearsay that people who always use mobile phones have a high risk of getting cancer.

The main reason why cancer is attributed to the usage of mobile phones is radio frequency radiation or radio waves, a form of non-ionizing radiation emitted by the device. According to the National Cancer Institute, non-ionizing radiation has low frequency thus having low energy. The only effect of radio frequency radiation in humans that is recognized consistently is heating. Radio frequency exposure from mobile phones causes heating to the area of the body in contact with the device but there is no consistent evidence that non-ionizing radiation increases the risk of cancer.

Based on a case-control study called Interphone, there is no statistically significant increase in the central nervous system cancers related to a higher amount of mobile phone usage. The researchers have considered their findings as inconclusive because the participants who have lower levels of usage have a slightly reduced risk of brain cancer than those who did not use mobile phones regularly.

In 2018, the American Cancer Society stated that all recent findings remain inconclusive and that a higher risk of cancer has not been seen. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention also stated that there is no scientific evidence that can establish a link between a wireless device and cancer. However, even if no direct connection has been confirmed, it is still recommended by various health organizations to avoid the excessive use of smartphones in order for users to protect and maintain their physical and digital health.

Ultimately the evidence of cancer-related to mobile phone use is inconclusive and for the most part false. The word is so extreme it’s a great form of clickbait but ultimately holds no truth. True you should probably not be spending countless hours on your phone regardless, but not because you’re afraid the device is giving you cancer.

2. Viruses: Undermined

There is a general assumption that Macs are safer and only Windows PCs can have viruses. The reason behind this misconception is that a large portion of the computer industry is ruled by Windows, making them a preferred target. Mac users, in the previous years, were less vulnerable to threats because there were more PC users.

As Mac became popular, the users of the system have also increased. Along with this, viruses and malware have also evolved and made Mac users their prominent target. According to a report by Malwarebytes, Mac malware grew by 270% in 2017.

Based on Macworld, the latest threat to Macs is a variant of adware that is infecting Macs through a fake Adobe Flash Player installer. The malware installs various applications on the Mac, including Chumsearch Safari Extension, Advanced Mac Cleaner, MyShopCoupon+, mediaDownloader, and MyMacUpdater.

However, Macs have maintained their promise to users that it will remain secured from viruses and malware through its built-in security measures. Apple has ensured to protect its users from threats by making it almost impossible to download the malware in the first place.

The company has an anti-malware protection wherein the computer will check files for unapproved developers before any user can open it. The Mac has also anti-phishing technology in Safari that can detect fraudulent websites. The technology will disable the page and will give a warning if the website is suspicious.

The bottom line is viruses can affect any user, no matter what company you’ve bought your device from. Aside from relying on built-in security measures, any user should always exercise caution in dealing with sensitive online information and transactions. One should learn how to distinguish suspicious links, websites, and advertisement in order to prevent viruses and malware from attacking the operating system of the device.

It is a common misconception that data deleted from your computer's emptied wastebasket is lost forever

3. “Deleting” Files: Misconceived

You may think you’re deleting files when you plop them in the “trash” icon on your screen, but they are not gone forever.  It is a common misconception that deleting data also removed them completely from the hard drive. In fact, there are programs that can recover the deleted data.

Highly sensitive data can still be recovered from a hard drive even after the files have been deleted or moved to the “trash.” The data stays in those folders until the user empties the “trash.” After they have been deleted from those folders, the data are still located in the hard drive and can still be retrieved by using the appropriate software.

According to Webopedia, what is erased is the bit of information that points to the location of the file on the hard drive. These pointers, which build the directory tree structure (an in-computer cataloging system), are used by the operating system to locate the files. When the pointer is erased, the file then becomes invisible to the operating system. However, the file will continue to exist but the operating system will not be able to find it.

In order to completely erase a file with no trace, one has to overwrite the data. That being said, your computer’s operating system will, in time, overwrite files that have no pointers in the directory tree structure. Therefore, the longer the file remains in the hard drive without a pointer, the greater the probability that it has been overwritten by the operating system. There are also available software products on the market that can permanently erase files by overwriting them.

The main takeaway here is: use your technology wisely and with care, but don’t believe everything you read. Scare tactics are often there for parents to get their kids off their phones, and underestimations are usually used to counteract these threats. Ultimately you need to use your technology with care but make sure you’re well informed on what’s actually putting you and your digital health in danger and what isn’t.

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