Smartphones have become almost a necessity in the world we are living in. We use it to keep us well informed as well as entertained whenever we’re bored. But like the saying goes, too much of a good thing can be bad. For all the good that smartphones bring to our lives, smartphone effects on health are not always positive and in fact can be harmful in the long run.
Without conscious effort, you can waste your time on a smartphone for hours. Numerous apps are always fighting to grab your attention with proven algorithms to keep you hooked. These seemingly trivial and harmless habits can actually have negative long term effects on your health.
In this article, we will show you various effects smartphones can have on your health and how you can fix them.
The changes in your body are the first thing you will ever notice. Be it the neck or joints, their pain will tell you that something wrong is happening to them.
Below are the significant smartphone effects on your physical health that will arise in your body as you continue your habits.
It may sound gross, but have you ever cleaned your smartphone after using it in the bathroom? Probably not.
As scientists have discovered, it can be a house of many bacteria. One out of every six phones has E.coli bacteria residing on it. These germs can be the cause of many severe illnesses.
Additionally, if you are a skincare enthusiast, you should be more careful. It can cause acne as it gets in contact with your face during calls etc.
Again, as you are constantly texting or scrolling on your phone, you will probably experience what has been coined as the “Text Neck Syndrome”. You have this problem when you strain your neck muscles too hard. It may also increase nerve pain in your back, shoulder and your arms.
There are many occasions where you have to attend a long call while doing work. For that, you may have found yourself positioning the phone between your shoulder and ear. Cradling your phone between your shoulder and ear will cause your neck to move into an unnatural position, resulting in neck pain. Ideally, you want to keep a natural spinal position and avoid using your phone on one side of the body.
Texting requires you to move your thumb frequently. It can lead you to suffer a condition called “trigger finger or thumb”. When your thumb is continuously bent, it can snap if you try to straighten it.
It is caused by increased inflammation in the tendon of the thumbs. The inflammation restricts the free movement of the fingers, and it leads to constant stiffness.
Excessive use of smartphones can also lead to you feeling symptoms of thumb arthritis. You may start to feel tenderness at the base of your thumb. Note that there is no proper medication or cure for arthritis.
If you ignore this symptom for too long, it can lead to a degenerative illness, commonly known as osteoarthritis.
In cubital tunnel syndrome, the ulnar nerve of your elbow compresses, and you will feel numbness in your hands. It can also cause a tingling sensation in your fingers. You may have symptoms if you regularly text your friends while leaning on your elbows.
As studies show, every mobile, laptop, or tablet screen emits blue light that has adverse effects on the eyes. The blue light kills the photoreceptor cells in the retina, which cannot regenerate by themselves. This means the damage is permanent.
Some significant problems blue light can cause are macular degeneration and computer vision syndrome.
Age-related Macular Degeneration or AMD develops as you have prolonged exposure to blue light. It is one of the primary causes of blindness around the world.
At first, doctors believed that AMD mainly occurred after the age of 60. However, recent studies have shown that it is becoming increasingly common with various age groups as exposure to screen time increases.
Initially, you will experience blurry or distorted central vision. You may also see some black spots that hinder your sight. Some other symptoms of AMD may include color fading and hallucinations.
While you are busy on mobiles or laptops, you will notice that your blinking process slows down. Consequently, you will develop computer vision syndrome or CVS. The symptoms include:
CVS occurs when you stare at a screen for more than two hours. This is why the majority of people who suffer from this are students or people working from home.
Your phone can act as your assistant. You can use it to remember all the things you want to buy at the store. It also helps remind you of critical events that you don’t want to forget.
But there’s a catch! While you may think that it is taking the burden off your brain, it is instead making us addicted.
Here are some significant smartphone effects on the memory and brain activity that are changing the course of our lives.
Social media usage on mobile phones tends to decrease our ability to recall memories. A recent study found that as you get busy recording experiences to capture memories, your brain cannot get the experience.
While taking photos might help you relive the visual memory, the auditory parts get lost in the process. Essentially, using a smartphone hinders your ability to live the present moment to its fullest.
Some studies also show that using smartphones while learning new things affects your ability to comprehend them. It may be due to the constant distractions that come from your phone that takes your attention away from what you are trying to learn. Extended use of your phone will make it difficult to focus on other essential tasks.
The cognitive ability of your mind determines what information it should process and what it should ignore. However, as you become more addicted to smartphones, you will not be able to access the full potential of your cognitive capacity.
Your phone is filled with games, notifications from apps, and messages from friends. Your cognition will fail to filter out irrelevant things as it is overwhelmed with distractions and stimuli.
It is fun to recall old memories and watch them in photos or videos. But, as time passes, you become a more mature version of yourself and find yourself cringing at old photos.
Recalling old memories through pictures creates a distorted identity of yourself. You fail to remember the feel of the moment and could only see half the picture of your past. Hence, the brain perceives a limited portion of the memories, which affects how we think about ourselves in the present.
Excessive addiction to smartphones affects your memory. As discussed above, unrestrained usage leads to the inability to learn new things. When you are multitasking, which is practically not possible, you are only half focused on the present.
Nowadays, all the information you might need to remember or know is safe on your phone. It is making you increasingly reliant on devices to remember things - a crutch you are using while suffering from digital amnesia.
Increased addiction to smartphones also interrupts sleep patterns. The blue light coming from the devices may be the reason for your sleep loss, as it makes the brain active.
As you suffer from loss of sleep, your brain will slowly suffer and will not be able to retain new data as quickly and efficiently as it used to. Without sleep, your cognitive ability is impaired and will struggle to retain and recall new memories.
Smartphone addiction has not only deteriorated our individual bodies and brains but also has affected society as a whole. Following are some significant impacts of mobile usage on our surroundings.
You may have seen people around you who cannot leave texts alone at any cost. Even if they are driving or walking, they cannot stop using their phones for a second.
According to new studies, the majority of accidents involve the culprit using a smartphone. Again, prolonged usage is not only dangerous for yourself but also for the people around you.
With the trend of sharing every moment on social media, you find yourself stepping into a never-ending race. Nowadays, people are constantly searching for new content ideas just to gain a few more followers, likes, and views.
The cost of entering this race is mental peace and the destabilization of relationships. The need to check every notification you get is making you socially distant from your friends and family.
While you may never overcome the addiction, there are a few things you can do to reduce the smartphone effects on health. Few tried and tested methods that may help are:
Deep sleep is the process to detoxify your brain at night. It relaxes your brain and increases the ability to retain new information. Sleeping also reduces the stress on your eyes, saving them from any visual impairments in the future.
We understand you may have urgent business or messages to attend to. But what you can do to help regulate your usage is to install a tracking app that can tell you the time of usage for all apps on your phone. It will help you monitor how long you spend time on your phone. This will help you narrow down what exactly you spend most of your time on and help you find ways to reduce usage.
Bending your neck, elbows and fingers while using a smartphone can cause chronic pain in the joints. To avoid painful physical consequences, you should always pay attention to your posture. If you find yourself bending a part of the body unnaturally, remind yourself to correct your posture.
If you have to work for an extended period in front of a screen, you can accompany the task with a little bit of exercise. Moving will help you change positions while working to make sure that you are not causing unnecessary strain to any body part.
You can exercise your eyes by looking away from your screen for a few seconds - the farther the better. Shutting your eyes is also a great practice to help your eyes relax and recover from the strain of looking at a computer screen.
Since blue light is hazardous for the brain, look for a “night mode” option on your phone. If your phone does not have a feature built in, you can find many free versions on your app store. Utilizing it will help negate the excessive blue light coming from the screen.
You may not notice, but most of your distractions come from the fear of missing notifications. Your mobile is a place where everything is happening in seconds - it is always active and fighting for your attention.
You cannot keep yourself away from your smartphone partly because of the notifications that pop up every few seconds or minutes. In order to reduce distractions, it is much better to turn off all notifications while focusing on your work.
If you fear that you might miss an emergency call or text, you can turn notifications on for specific and relevant people.
Irrelevant apps take up unnecessary space and memory inside your phone. You can delete applications that you do not definitely need or turn off notifications for fewer distractions.
A phone can be home to many growing and dangerous bacteria, so it is important to disinfect it once a week. You can use alcoholic swabs or a paper towel with a cleaning spray. In addition to cleaning the screen, you should also wash the cover with warm water.
Once a month, stay-in-the-know kind of relationship.