How Your Smartphone Changes Your Body

by Lily Feinn

Recently, a plethora of confusing studies have come out against the world’s growing cell phone use, saying that this technology may be bad for our health. But an enlightening video from AsapSCIENCE seeks to clarify these findings, and summarize how your smartphone changes your body, according to science. Smartphones have become necessary to many jobs and everyday activities. People are expected to be available 24 hours a day to check work emails or answer texts from friends. Cell phone use has grown so much over the years that today, out of the 7 billion people on earth, 6 billion have a cell phone — way more than have running water or a working toilet.

According to AsapSCIENCE, people spend an average of 4.7 hours a day looking at their phone. They check social media approximately 17 times a day/or once every hour (which seems a little low to me). These numbers do not include the time we spend staring at computer screens (which is probably about eight hours a day for me) and watching television. With so much time spent in front of screens, naturally there will be some health repercussions. Currently, there is no evidence to tie cell phone use to cancer, so no need to unplug just yet. Check out these proven effects to decide whether or not you need a digital detox:

Phones Change Your Posture

We are all familiar with the cell phone hunch. Get on any train or subway, and you will see most passengers’ heads bowed towards the reflective screen, their chest collapsing back and shoulders rolling forwards. AsapSCIENCE stresses that when you look down at your phone, the angle of your spine is equivalent to having an 8-year-old sitting on your neck. This slouching may lead to neck and back pain as well as a host of other medical problems. That’s enough to make you sit up straight, huh?

Phones Increase Myopia

It seems like the influx of thick-framed glasses weren't just part of a hipster trend. Nearsightedness in North America has doubled in the last 40 years. AsapSCIENCE points out that the combination of time spent staring at screens may contribute to this unsightly growth. In the 1970s, a mere quarter of the population of North America had myopia, and today, half suffers. There may be other contributing factors, of course, but in other parts of the world, eyesight has degenerated even more — some parts of Asia boasts populations that are between 80 and 90 percent nearsighted.

Phones Change The Way Your Brain Functions

It seems using a cell phone may even change the way we think. When your synapses are firing and engaged, we produce several types of brain waves. Alpha rhythms are associated with wakeful relaxation (like zoning out and daydreaming), while Gamma waves are associated with attentiveness and awareness (like when you are paying attention in class). Studies show that when a phone is in use, the alpha waves are enhanced, and this could change the brain's very functioning. At the moment, we can't say with certainty whether this increase in Alpha rhythms is good or bad. Some studies show that it may increase creativity and lower depression. However, that is not the case when stalking your ex on Facebook.

Phones Disrupt Sleep Patterns

It seems the older we get, the more difficulty we have getting a good night’s rest. However, according to recent studies, technology may play a key role in keeping us awake. The blue light emitted from the screens of our technological devices alters our body’s circadian rhythms. People who use their phones before bed produce less melatonin, have a harder time falling asleep, and spend less time in deep sleep. It may be a good idea to black out before lights out as those who are consistently sleep deprived are at a higher risk of weight gain, cancer, diabetes, and depression.

To learn more about the body's relationship to technology, check out the full video:

Excuse me. I'm just going to attempt to stand up straight and take a quick break from this computer screen for a sec.

Images: William_Iven/Unsplash, AsapSCIENCE/Youtube