When you look around you these days, you will notice that many people are busy with their phones. In buses, restaurants and social gatherings, people are always busy chatting or surfing social media platforms on their phones.
Owning a cell phone is a fact of life for people these days, but the convenience of having a world of information at our fingertips comes at a price.
People are reachable around the clock. Sometimes it seems like they are always making calls. And their iPhones keep inundating them with post-work emails.
As much as a smart phone is a great way to keep your life organized and on track, smart phones have also been linked to mood and sleep problems by researchers at the University of Gothenburg.
A Lagos doctor, Gabriel Omonaiye revealed that your phone could be wreaking havoc on your physical health in different ways too. Here are some ways cell phones affect your health:
Omonaiye noted that it is entirely possible to become addicted to your cell phone. Smartphone withdrawal can cause physical symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, and depression. It actually increases the production of the stress hormone cortisol as well, which is cardio-toxic. Perhaps the worst thing about all the ways your phone harms your health is that it’s so hard to quit.
You can pretty easily avoid temporary blindness in one eye from your phone, but eye strain is another matter entirely. Between the time you spend looking at a computer and the time you spend staring at your phone, it’s fairly likely you are straining your eyes on a regular basis.
Cell phone elbow
According to Omonaiye, if you use your phone to communicate verbally instead of via text, you might be spared texting thumb, but you could instead suffer cell phone elbow which is also known as cubital tunnel syndrome. “Treatment includes switching the phone to your other arm, using a headset, or better yet, putting the phone down from time to time, he noted.”
Dr. Omonaiye revealed that the weight of your head looking down at your phone screen all day can put a lot of pressure on your neck and spine and lead to a condition called tech neck.
By now, you probably know that the blue light blasting out of your phone screen can interfere with your sleep. However, you might not realize that scientists at the University of Granada in Spain have linked sleep disruptions like the ones caused by your phone to obesity and diabetes.
These disruptions prevent your body from producing ghrelin and leptin, two hunger hormones that help you regulate your appetite during your waking hours. And it isn’t just looking at your phone before you fall asleep that causes these disruptions—any light your phone emits while you sleep, whether it’s from a notification or the clock on your screen, can mess with the hormones your body needs to produce while you are sleeping. So, before you sleep, turn off your phone.
Despite being the thing that keeps you connected to your entire circle of friends, your phone could be causing you social anxiety. For many, this anxiety may be the result of feeling the need to respond immediately to every text, email, or notification you get. However, using your phone for professional reasons doesn’t cause increased stress.
Plugging headphones into your ears and blasting some tunes from your phone is a great way to block out the sounds of traffic when you are on the road. Unfortunately, it’s also a great way to permanently damage your hearing.
Shortened attention span
Digital multitasking may seem effective, but it may be making people less focused in the long run. A study from Microsoft showed that the average attention span of participants was only eight seconds. A goldfish has an attention span of nine seconds.
This shortened attention span is a new development, and it’s more pronounced in people who are “heavy multi-screeners.” In the year 2000, before the advent of smart phones, humans could pay attention to something for 12 seconds.
Changes the structure of your brain
In addition to shortening your attention span, media multitasking can change the physical structure of your brain. People who engage in a higher amount of media multitasking actually had smaller grey matter density in the anterior cingulate cortex portion of their brain, which is linked to decreased cognitive control and socio-emotional regulation.
Makes you passive
The size of your phone may affect how assertive you are. People using larger electronic devices tend to take a more assertive approach to issues. And unfortunately, the bad posture caused by hunching over small electronic devices kills your confidence.
Texting thumb is a repetitive stress injury caused by too much texting. Smart phones aren’t particularly ergonomic, and overusing one could cause you some pain in your thumb that might make you less dextrous, at least for the time being. Fortunately, your thumb just needs rest to recover, so if you find yours aching, put your phone away
In addition to messing with your sleep cycle, looking at your phone in bed can also cause temporary blindness. If you lie on your side in the dark and look at your phone with one eye, you can go temporarily blind. It’s probably a good idea to stop bringing your phone to bed.
Increased risk of suicide
In teens, 48 percent of those who looked at their phone for more than five hours each day had considered suicide or even made plans to kill themselves. It’s hard to think of a better way to highlight the need to limit the amount of time you spend on your phone.