Quick! Do you know where your smartphone is? I bet you do – you might even be reading this post on it.
A smartphone is basically a phone with a touchscreen, apps, and internet access, like your Android or iPhone device.
Here’s the deal with smartphones: they are AMAZING inventions that let us stay plugged in 24/7. You can learn the answer to just about any question with a few taps of your finger.
But smartphones can have a pretty big downside on your sleep, your connection with other people, AND your health.
I’m not going to suggest you get rid of yours but how you use it is definitely something to be mindful about.
Here are some ways your phone might be having a sneaky effect on your life and your health.
One study found that many of us touch our phones about 2,600 times a day! That has powerful blow back on our ability to concentrate and focus – as well as engage with people around us.
Another study found that simply having a cellphone in the same room can make it difficult for us to engage in deep conversation with others.
The impact of smartphones on our brains (and, importantly, the developing brains of children) is a huge area of research right now. Some research hints phones have already cut down on our ability to read emotions on other peoples’ faces as well as engage in simple, casual conversation.
Chances are you bring your cellphone with you everywhere (even the bathroom). #nojudgment
But when was the last time you gave it a thorough cleaning? You unknowingly might be carrying around viruses, bacteria or other germs in your pocket.
One study of cellphones found that 1 in 6 phones have E. coli bacteria on it! That’s often caused by people not washing their hands enough. Yuck! The good news is that bacteria won’t live long on your phone.
That being said, it’s always a good idea to clean your smartphone on a regular basis!
Aches & Pains
Neck Pain: If you spend a lot of time looking down at your phone, you can strain your neck muscles and cause pain in your shoulders/neck/jaw that can even radiate down your arm. Over time, this can create some real problems for your posture. Step away from your phone and stretch out!
Trigger Thumb Pain: Have you heard of trigger thumb? This is when your thumb gets stuck in a bent position or pops whenever you try to straighten it out. If you text a lot using your thumb, or hold your phone with your thumb, your tendon can thicken so it won’t slide freely. It can result in painful surgery.
Blue Light & Your Eyes
Devices like smartphones, tablets, and computers emit blue light, which is known for its energy efficiency as well as its short wavelength.
Because blue light has a shorter wavelength, it can tire out your eyes fast and even cause eye pain. There’s also some evidence it can also cause damage to your cornea and hurt your vision.
Blue Light & Your Sleep: You definitely want to avoid getting too much of ANY kind of light after sundown, since it can make it hard to fall asleep. Blue light is especially bad because it seems to suppress your body’s secretion of the hormone melatonin, which helps you fall asleep.
Possible Cancer Link?
Whether radiation from cellphones is linked with cancer is a topic of ongoing study. So far there has been no clear, proven link.
But if you’re worried about it, limit your use and don’t sleep with your phone next to the bed (that’s probably a bad idea anyway, just from the distraction angle).
There has also been a ton of research about how our brains become addicted to a dopamine-feedback loop that gives us a little ‘jolt’ of happiness every time we get a notification. I like to say that every time you respond to a ping from a Like, a software engineer gets their wings.
Now, no one is suggesting you get rid of your smartphone, because they are here to stay. So maybe rather than trying to get rid of our phones, it’s a good idea to aim for moderation. That way we can enjoy the benefits of them without any of the risks.
Try cutting back on your screen time, and experiment with leaving your phone in another room whenever possible. If you notice that you feel anxious or compelled to keep looking at it, that’s a sign you might want to take a step back for a while.
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Do you sleep with your cell phone in the same room? Comment below!