Technology can do a lot of wonderful things, but just like anything used in excess, it can have its dark side too. We use cell phones to stay connected, to network, and even to get fit, but we may not realize there are ways that our phones are ruining our health. Whether it's your relationship with social media, your obsession with texting, or even the physical dirt and germs lingering on your screen, your phone may be doing some unsuspecting harm to your overall wellbeing.
"Since smartphones have become more popular, new syndromes have been emerging," chiropractic physician Dr. Scott Schreiber tells me over email. "Blackberry thumb is a tendonitis, common in teenagers that excessively text message. Text neck is another disorder caused by excessive flexion and looking at your phone."
According to the Pew Research Center, nearly two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone, so it's no surprise we are all becoming affected by technology in similar ways. Although there's no need to ditch your phone completely in a quest to be happy, it's important to know how the pervasive device can be affecting us negatively.
If you worry you might be spending too much time on your cellular device, you may want to consider these six ways that your phone could be ruining your health.
1. Head And Neck Problems
Looking down at your cell phone for too long can cause Anterior Head Syndrome, which happens when the head moves forward past the center of gravity. This can lead to muscular tension, damaged vertebrae, and compressed and degenerated discs in the back. "These things can contribute to a number of many secondary conditions ranging from headaches, numbness and tingling, neck pain, and even carpal tunnel," says chiropractor Jason Nardi over email. "This is an easy fix though. Instead of looking down, or bringing your eyes to the phone, you only need to bring your phone to eye level."
2. Disturbed Sleep
"The screens on smartphones emit a lot of blue light," says Nardi. "[Blue light affects] the part of your neurology related to your circadian rhythms, also known as your sleep cycle, and turns off melatonin production." Using your phone at night can not only cause problems with how you sleep, but it can increase your risk of depression, obesity, and even several types of cancer, according to Harvard Health.
"Many people use their phones while in the bathroom, and though this may seem like a great way to 'multi-task,' it can lead to a greater chance of sickness due to the spread of germs and bacteria," says Dr. Scott Weiss, MD over email. A study from The Wall Street Journal found that cell phones contain an abnormally high number of bacteria, including fecal matter, which can cause the flu, pinkeye, and more.
4. Eye Problems
"Prolonged staring at small cell phone displays causes squinting and straining of the eye muscles," says Weiss. "Furthermore, staring at bright screens in the evening time can also cause squinting and ocular stress that can lead to headaches." Optometrists warn that staring at a screen for multiple hours a day can cause blurry vision, dry eyes, and even long-term nearsightedness.
"Like any stimulus, lack of use can lead to feelings of withdrawal, and cell phones are no different," says Weiss. Studies from the University of Maryland have shown that abrupt reduction of cell phone use can cause physical, mental, and emotional signs of withdrawal that are similar to the feelings of kicking an addiction, including anxiety, fidgeting, and stress.
"We all know how hazardous texting and driving is and how the distraction of cellphones cause hundreds of phone-related car accidents each year," says Weiss. "The safety hazards that phone-related distractions causes are growing more and more as people incorporate using their phone in everyday tasks. Countless people each year do some serious damage to their bodies as a result of falling while walking and looking at their phones."
Your cell phone is definitely not supposed to make you sick, so if you feel like all that time spent on Instagram might be contributing to some of your recent ailments, it may be time to take a little break from technology.
Images: Pixabay (7)