Smartphone’s impact on your health  

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Smartphone’s impact on your health  

What would we do without our smartphones?  Whether you consider them a blessing or a curse, we have to admit our smartphones are almost like another appendage attached to our body.  Wherever we go, it goes with us.  Whatever we are exposed to, it most likely will be exposed to the same thing.  If it conks out on us, our connection to the world suddenly seems to evaporate right before our eyes. 

So why would our smartphone be a possible hazard to our health?  In more ways than you can imagine and probably aren’t even aware of.  Let’s go through a rundown on how your iPhone or Android may be causing you some health consequences you need to stop now:

·      The constant need to check your phone

Next time you’re in a crowd, take a look around and count how many people are checking on the latest text, tweet, Facebook like, Instagram posting, or other notifications they absolutely must not miss.

On average people in the U.S. across all age groups check their phone 446 times per day which is up from 33 looks per day in 2014.    But the numbers vary depending on the users’ age – those between the ages of 18 and 24 look at their phones most often with an average of 74 checks per day, the 25-34 age bracket looks at their device 50 times per day, and people between 35 and 44 check their phones 35 times per day.

This constant checking of our electronic devices can chip away at your overall ability to concentrate and in eroding long-term focus. 

Best advice – turn off your notifications.  Limit the number of texts, tweets, social media postings per day and here’s a thought – actually turn off your smartphone after a certain hour giving it and your brain a break.

·      Scrolling before bedtime

Maybe the reason you feel unrested in the mornings could be due to taking a scroll through your social media feed within an hour before bedtime.  Studies have shown that the light coming from your smartphone suppresses melatonin, a brain chemical necessary for sleep.  When melatonin is suppressed, you will find yourself less alert and feeling extra tired the next morning.  And just the very nature of the constant updates occurring on social media, keeps you more likely to keep on checking it making falling asleep harder to do. 

Best advice – read a book instead of checking your smartphone.  The act of having quiet time focusing on a good novel is more likely to lull you to sleep than any smartphone can. 

·      It can become a harbor of germs

Think – when was the last time you cleaned your smartphone?  If you can’t recall, there’s a good chance your device is teeming with bacteria.  In fact, a small study found smartphones to be dirtier than toilet seats and when combined with germs found on our face along with the oil and sweat, acne can be the product of this bad habit. 

Best advice – clean your smartphone daily.  Using a soft, lint-free cloth is preferable.  If using a liquid solution, spray it on the cloth first avoiding directly spraying the screen.  If you use your device to make frequent calls, buy inexpensive earbuds with a microphone to prevent your phone from even touching your face.

·      Not using good posture

Have you developed “text-neck” a strain caused by hunching over your phone when texting?  Next time, check your posture.  Poor posture can lead to a sore back, neck, and shoulders. 

Best advice – Practice keeping your head upright by bringing your phone to eye level.  This will prevent hunching over and should help ease pain in your upper body.

·      Completely  becoming engrossed shutting out your surroundings

How many times have we seen videos of people walking down the sidewalk staring at their phone who accidently trip, fall, or even worse are hit by a vehicle?  Between 2000 and 2011, the National Safety Council reported over 11,000 distracted walking injuries due to our phones.  It’s amazing and disturbing how these devices absorb our concentration blocking out our awareness of our surroundings.  Even worse, is how they are a leading cause of distracted driving resulting in serious injuries and death.

Best advice – Put your phone away when moving.  This means do not stare at the screen when walking, riding a bike, and never when driving.  To avoid temptation, place your phone in a hard-to-reach area.

·      Looking at your screen for hours each day

Staring at a small screen using tiny fonts in your texts and scrolling through dozens of tweets can lead to eye strain, blurred vision, dry eyes and eye fatigue.  Crossing blurred vision with sore neck muscles can also lead to headaches. 

Best advice – Make your phone’s font size bigger.  Also holding your phone at least 16 inches away from your face and looking up from your screen at something far away every few minutes for short breaks can keep your eyes from screen time overuse.  And don’t forget to blink frequently, keeping your eyes moist.