Smartphones are key to life and business in the 21st century, but in some ways they could be degrading your quality of life. Here are 10 ways that smartphones actually do effect your health. Let’s get cracking, then, shall we?
Let’s kick things off with how smartphones affect your eyes. Ophthalmic surgeon, Mr. Saj Khan, had a lot to say on this issue, which in brief, states that:
- Constant concentration results in straining of the eyes
- Focus on small characters results in headaches
- Too much time on your smartphone can result in Myopia (near sightedness)
- Theoretically, emission of blue light from our smartphones can result in retinal damage and cataracts (so learn how to use iOS 9.3’s new Night Shift mode to reduce blue light).
These are the typical risks and a surefire solution to get rid of them is to just use your phone less (good luck with that).
Severe damage to your neck
Since we are constantly looking at our smartphones while bending our neck, overuse can result in neck pain and can cause serious damage to your spine.
US spine surgeon Dr. Kenneth Hansraj conducted some research and in his findings he states: “These stresses may lead to early wear, tear, degeneration and possibly surgeries.”
The solution is to not use your smartphone for long hours each day, and even if you do, you should try to correct your posture so the above mentioned damage does not happen.
Although not directly related to smartphones, per se, it correlates with a wide majority of smartphone users.
Most of the headphones people use are quite mediocre and I’m not talking about sound quality. What I mean is that there is no specific regulation of the volume.
Continued exposure to such load noise can prove disastrous, as it can permanently damage your ability to hear. You see, anything above the 85 decibel range is quite dangerous, and the average headset can go to a maximum of about 105 decibels.
Although we are not too stupid to blare music at maximum volumes, the low quantity of bass a mediocre headphone provides would want us to slowly increase the volume till our ears adjust, which means that we’re not aware of how loud the music is.
The simplest (and most obvious) solution would be to just turn the volume down. Also, you could try dishing out some of those extra benjamins I’m sure you have laying around for a better pair of safer and more high quality headphones.
(not so) FUN FACT: Worldwide obesity has almost doubled since the year 1980.
So, what’s the mysterious cause for this increase in weight? Of course, most people would jump to the most obvious answer which is improvement in lifestyle.
Nowadays, you don’t even have to walk to work. Heck, you can even work at home if you want to!
A study conducted by the Milken Institute Think Tank, found a strange correlation between how much money a country spends on Information Technology and how obese its citizens are. Dr. Indira Abraham-Pratt, who is a psychologist at Florida Hospital’s, had a lot to say on the issue: “We are seeing a shift from screen time in front of the TV to what’s happening on cell phones and tablets. The less family meals are occurring, the more prone children are to being overweight or obese.”
Solution? Eat without staring at a screen; be more aware of how much food you’re packing in, among other things.
Our bodies produce a hormone called melatonin which regulates our sleep throughout the day. During the day, since we’re mostly surrounded by light (sunlight), there is a decrease in the amount of melatonin produced in our brain.
Fast forward to night time and we’re still hit by light from external sources. Mostly, our smartphones. This greatly decreases the production of melatonin even when it’s supposed to be on a high.
This, in turn, could have devastating effects on the quality of our sleep. Dr. Michael Breus, who is an expert in sleep disorders says: “Over the course of a day, we have a sleep drive that builds, much like a hunger drive, but it doesn’t go into effect unless you have the right level of melatonin. If you’re playing Candy Crush Saga at 1 am, your brain cells are actively engaging. That’s where we see this autonomic arousal — the wake elements of your system coming into play when they should be calming down.”
So try to enact a strict curfew on electronics when it’s nighty night time: 1-2 hours before bed is recommended.
The way we use our smartphones has resulted in the infamous posture problem. Sure, it mostly happens to people with laptops and computers who have desk jobs, but, they can easily solve the issue by just sitting up straight.
On the other hand, people who use smartphones are at a constant risk from developing a hunch-back because of continuous strain from using the smartphone while the neck is at a certain angle.
Keep this going long enough, and you could suffer some headaches, neck pain, and numbness. Dr. Kenneth Hansraj says: “Although our heads weigh between 10lb and 12lb, as we angle them down to look at our phones, the effective weight on our necks increases – at a 15-degree angle it is about 27lb rising to 60lb at 60 degrees. Eventually, in conjunction with a sedentary lifestyle, it could lead to serious consequences.”
Hmm… tone down the amount of time you spend on your smartphone or wait for Siri and Google Now to get to the point where you can just speak everything and anything you could ever need… which will happen first…
Carpal Tunnel syndrome is on the rise and started way back in the day. Occurrences started increasing with the increase in computers and laptops. Carpal Tunnel syndrome usually happens due to working long hours on your keyboard.
Carpal Tunnel syndrome is usually caused by overuse which results in pain of the thumb, pinky, ring, and middle finger. It is also characterized by numbness and pain in the wrists.
The National Centre for Biotechnology Information conducted a study and found a strong correlation between the use of smartphones and Carpal Tunnel syndrome.
The dominant hand of the smartphone user usually has a lot less pinch strength, thumb function, and also had pain in the wrist.
Of course, this is just because of overuse, and you could easily just stop using your phone for long periods over time.
Although we use smartphones with our hands, our thumbs are the ones doing most of the hard work. This has resulted in people complaining about pain in the thumb after long-term use.
Usually, you can just take a break or put some ice on your thumb for it to heal, but if you overuse your smartphone, it can lead to some pretty serious consequences like wearing away of the tendons.
You can counter this issue by following some steps. Obviously, lower amount of smartphone usage trumps the list, but you can do other things as well.
You could use the voice activation system on your smartphone. You can keep your text messages short and sweet. You could switch to your non-dominant hand after tedious work on your dominant one, and a plethora of other steps as well.
Nomophobia is coined as a term used to describe a situation where we’re so dependent on smartphones that simply losing it can lead to anxiety attacks.
It is an abbreviation for the words No Mobile-phone Phobia, and is really a thing. YouGov, a research organization in the UK found that 53% of phone users tend to get a little anxious when they, “lose their mobile phone, run out of battery or credit, or have no network coverage.”
Although this is linked to the spike in smartphone usage over the last decade and a half, it is caused by addiction, which provides a nice little segue into our next and final sub-section.
That’s right, smartphone addiction is a thing. Although it is not as serious as some of the other addictive substances out there, it is still big enough to have some consequences, all of which are on this list.
Leslie Perlow of the Harvard business school found that:
- 70% said they check their smartphone within an hour of getting up.
- 56% check their phone within an hour of going to sleep.
- 48% check over the weekend, including on Friday and Saturday nights.
- 51% check continuously during vacation.
- 44% said they would experience “a great deal of anxiety” if they lost their phone and couldn’t replace it for a week.
Of course, this is strongly linked to our strong dependence on smartphones, but there’s still one question remaining to be answered. How much dependence is enough?
All of these ill effects is caused by one common reason: overuse. If you can control your smartphone usage, you can control your life.