It was suggested that I read an article by Nir Eyal in the Atlantic about technology.

The author likened the debate over the effects of technology on society to “Reefer Madness” under the headline “Americans Legalize Pot – And Then Panic Over Tech Addiction.”

He posts the following: “By promoting the idea that technology is hijacking our brains and getting all of us addicted to our devices, techno-fearmongers elevate the exception rather than the rule.”

The author notes, correctly, I might add, that any addiction only attracts a rather small percentage of the population that it afflicts – around 9%.

People can enjoy a glass of wine with dinner without becoming an alcoholic. People get pain relief from opioids without becoming pill heads. And people can smoke a little weed without becoming heroine addicts.

Hence, the “Reefer Madness” reference. For the uninitiated, “Reefer Madness” was a film produced in the 1930s by the government to scare teens away from marijuana use. It showed marijuana users as crazed addicts who would eventually move on to LSD and jump out of windows thinking they could fly.

The point of the article was to say that 70 or 80 years later, we’ve figured out that weed ain’t so bad – to the point that we’re legalizing and decriminalizing. But at the same time, laws are being proposed that would limit the use of certain technologies.

The author cites the overreach of a law proposed last summer in Congress – a law, which I had never heard of until reading the article – that would ban auto-play videos on sites such as YouTube. It also would require sites like Twitter to “automatically limit the amount of time that a user may spend to 30 minutes a day.” This and several other limits on technology were proposed, ostensibly, to protect us from “practices that exploit human psychology or brain physiology to substantially impede freedom of choice.”

To be sure, that’s way over the top. And I’m pretty confident that law had no chance of passing.

So far, so good. But then, the author and I part ways in our thought processes. He notes:

“Clearly, the extreme use of pretty much anything can be harmful. However, for those who use marijuana or Facebook moderately, the negative effects are negligible. While headlines spread fears about addictive technology, the data show that almost nothing is happening.”

He then cites a study by Oxford researchers that found technology had “a nearly negligible effect on adolescent psychological well-being.”

The Oxford researchers say their research is better than all the other research like, for example, the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health study that found young adults who use seven to 11 social media platforms had more than three times the risk of depression and anxiety that those who use two or fewer platforms.

Researchers there said the association was strong enough that clinicians should consider asking depression and anxiety patients about their multiple platform use and counsel them about it.

And there have been dozens of other scholarly studies that have shown negative cause and effect relationships between screen time and psychological well being.

Things like a decreased ability to handle social interactions, social isolation, damage to social and family bonds and increased stress levels caused by a fear of missing out. You know. You can’t look away. You have to check that last text or email.

The Oxford researchers say their findings are more reliable because “to date, most of the evidence suggesting digital technologies negatively impact young people’s psychological well-being comes from analysis of large, publicly available data sets. Those are valuable resources but susceptible to researcher bias.”

OK, fair enough. Valuable, but biased. I’m no researcher, but does this mean that the myriad of other studies are simply irrelevant?

I kind of doubt it.

But even if it does, there are also physical ramifications to consider – problems with posture, vision, sleep cycles and weight gain – associated with spending too much time on our devices.

I agree with the Atlantic author’s premise that “addiction” is the wrong term to use 90% of the time when describing screen time. But at the same time, I think it’s a stretch to say that the effects of today’s technology are “negligible” or that “almost nothing is happening.”

Clearly, things are happening.

Whether someone is “addicted” or not, spending endless hours gaming or surfing social media on a phone probably is not desirable behavior.

And I’m definitely not an alarmist when it comes to this stuff. Humans are highly adaptable. I’m confident our brains and bodies will adjust to technological changes over time. Who knows? Maybe in a couple hundred years we’ll all be anti-social loners with curved spines, big eyes and crooked fingers, but it’s not as if we are headed down a path to a dystopian society.

And don’t get me wrong. I think technology is wonderful.

It has made life easier in many ways. I remember the good old days when I had to hit up the research desk at the library when I wrote these columns. Now I do it from my laptop at home. Truly, the world is at my fingertips.

I can paginate newspaper pages when I’m visiting my kids and grandkids in Phoenix or Tampa. And when I’m not visiting them, I can see them on our Portal. It’s awesome.

I can’t tell you how many times YouTube has saved me money by showing me how to do an automotive or household repair myself.

Automotive technology is saving countless lives. Medical technology is saving countless lives. Agricultural technology is allowing less than 2% of the population to feed all the rest of us. I love technology.

But the same technology that allows me to make newspaper pages remotely also makes it really easy to traffic kiddie porn.

We just have to be smart about it, and heed grandma’s advice about moderation.