I don’t know about you, but I feel positively naked if I leave the house without my phone these days. I mean, so naked that I have to go right home and pick it up. It’s mostly because, I tell myself, it’s how I stay in touch with my kids and husband, and because it’s what I’d use to get help if necessary.
The truth is that mobile devices have become a central part of communication around the world, and it’s difficult to imagine a lifestyle without them. However, as amazing as they are, smartphones can have a negative impact on your health. And ain’t nobody got time for THAT!
Be aware of these harmful effects so you can mitigate them when using your cell phone:
1. Eye damage. Smartphones can affect your eyes in several ways. As you stare at the mobile device screen, you’re not blinking, so you can develop dry eyes. In addition, the small screen strains your eyes as you read and try to see details in the graphics.
TIP: To lessen these effects, remember to blink when reading texts and adjust the fonts to a larger size.
2. Germs. Mobile devices can turn into germ factories. They quickly accumulate bacteria that can cause illnesses. A study from the University of London found that 82 percent of cell phone users had bacteria on their hands, and 92 percent of the mobile phones had bacteria.
YUCK! How often do you clean your smartphone to remove grime and germs? If you answered never, then you’re not alone. Smartphones tend to be forgotten on the cleaning to-do lists.
3. Stress. Researchers have linked smartphone use to increased stress. A study, titled “Beginning the workday yet already depleted? Consequences of late-night smartphone use and sleep,” found that mobile phones can make people feel more stress. In addition, cell phones disturb sleep and may contribute to depression.
HINT: To minimize this danger, avoid using your cell phone for several hours before you go to bed. Leave it in a different room from the one you sleep in.
4. Back pain. Hunching over your phone throughout the day can affect your back.
- IMPORTANT: As you look down at your mobile device, you bend your neck and put pressure on your spine. Researchers have found that this puts 60 pounds of pressure on the spine and can create issues.
- If you’re sitting and slumping over your mobile device at home or at work, then back pain can still be an issue. This position strains your neck and lower back at the same time.
- Over time, it’s possible to develop painful conditions such as herniated discs because of bulging in the spine.
5. Carpal tunnel syndrome. The hundreds of messages and texts you send throughout the day can affect your hands. Carpal tunnel syndrome shows damage in your nerves and muscles, making you feel pain, numbness, or tingling in your hands, thumb, and fingers. You may also feel weakness in your hands and have a tendency to drop things while trying to hold them.
NO JOKE: The syndrome is usually caused by repetitive motion and strain, such as in typing. So send fewer texts!
6. Elbow pain. It’s possible to develop other nerve damage, as well, from using your phone. The condition is nicknamed “cellbow” and is caused by holding your phone with a bent arm. Doctors refer to it as cubital tunnel syndrome and see more cases every day.
TIP: To help protect your elbows, lessen your cell phone use, rotate which hand you use to hold your phone, and take advantage of the speaker by setting your phone down on a desk or table when you’re making calls.
7. Radiation controversy. It has been suggested that using mobile devices leads to a great amount of radiation exposure. However, this idea is controversial and continues to be debated by experts.
BIG IMPORTANT POINT: In addition to conflicting reports on radiation and mobile devices, some studies haven’t found a link. Furthermore, the National Cancer Institute states that mobile devices are safe to use. However, more research is needed before everyone is convinced they’re safe in the long-term.
Your mobile phone helps you stay connected with work, school, family, and friends. Unfortunately, it also comes with several negative health impacts. Get in the habit of using these tips regularly to minimize your risks.
What other hidden dangers do smartphones pose, in your experience?