The use of smartphones and other handheld devices has revolutionized our everyday lives. How we travel, read the news, our commute and how we communicate with each other have all been transformed by cell phones. Our bodies have also felt the effects of this technology, our posture, eyesight and sleeping pattern are all affected by our constant use of cell phones. Our dependence on handheld devices has a significant influence on how our bodies perform.
Handheld devices emit bright blue light which inhibits our body’s natural melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone that controls our sleeping cycle and suppressing melatonin production affects our ability to fall asleep. To prevent this, stop using your phone at least 30 minutes before closing your eyes to go to sleep, this will allow your body to produce the necessary amount of melatonin for you to fall asleep.
Staring at a screen, for long periods during the day, whether it’s on a computer or our phones, can affect our eyesight. According to a survey by the American Optometric Association about 60% of adults suffer from digital eye strain symptoms which include eye dryness, fatigue, irritation, blurry vision, and even headaches. If you work on a computer all day, try taking a break for every 20 minutes of screen time, use eye drops if you experience eye dryness, increase the font size on your computer or use a screen filter to reduce glare and block some of the blue light.
Creates Neck and Back Problems
Most of the time, our posture while using a smartphone or computer is not the healthiest one for our bodies. Our neck and backs are curved forward causing aches and muscle tension. Tech neck is the physical stress placed on the neck area caused by holding our heads at a 45-degree angle for long periods of time. These bad posture habits lead to pinched nerves and constant neck and backaches. If you sit at a desk at work, make sure your feet are flat on the ground, your chair adjusts to your body and fully supports your back, and your screen is placed slightly below eye level.
Our constant use of cell phones doesn’t just affect our bodies, but it also puts our lives in danger. According to the United States Department of Transportation, cell phones are involved in 1.6 million crashes every year. Driving while using our cell phone distracts us from the road and could lead to a severe car accident. Stay safe and prevent an accident by using your phone on hands-free mode, if necessary, and avoid other distractions like changing the music, staring too long at a GPS device or eating while driving.
Listening to loud music on your handheld device while wearing headphones could affect your hearing. According to the WHO, about 50% of people between 12 and 35 years are using their personal audio devices at an unsafe sound level. Prevent permanent hearing damage by making sure the volume on your headphones isn’t too loud.
Muscle Aches on Hands, Arms, and Elbows
“Cell phone elbow” and “texting thumb” are both caused by our constant use of handheld devices. Cell phone elbow is an injury caused by holding our elbow at an extreme angle for long periods of time. Our thumbs usually do most of the work when we use a cell phone, all this physical activity can cause the muscles on the finger and wrist to feel stiff.
Shorter Attention Span
In 2015, a study on attention spans conducted by Microsoft found that our attention span shrunk from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. We constantly receive notifications on our phone that distract us from the task we are be currently working on. Some people may even feel anxious if they don’t answer a message or read a notification right away.
Cell phones help us stay connected with the world around us and have certainly made some daily tasks easier. However, we must be aware of how they affect our health if we overuse them. Protect your body and make sure you take enough breaks during the day from handheld devices and consult a medical professional if you have any health concerns.