You might not realize it, but that smartphone in your pocket is slowly destroying your health. Using a smartphone isn’t the problem itself – after all, we use smartphones to do some pretty useful things, like stay in touch with our friends and family, stream music and videos, and keep up with the news. The problem with using smartphones to do all these things isn’t that they’re inherently harmful; it’s how much time we spend using them and how distracted we get in the process. Let us look at how your smartphone is destroying your health.
Phones keep us distracted
According to recent research, the blue light emitted from our devices messes with our sleep cycles. It delays the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps us get sleepy because it tricks our brain into thinking it’s daylight. This leads to a disruption in sleep patterns. We stay up and fall asleep later, affecting everything from mood to weight control to stress levels.
Phones are addictive
Phones are distracting. The average person picks up their phone 150 times a day and spends 2-3 hours per day on their phone. While the time spent on our phones doesn’t seem that significant, when it’s all added up, you’re spending more than 20% of your waking hours staring at a screen. This can be both physically and mentally exhausting, not to mention detrimental to interpersonal relationships. Physical effects include inflammation (which causes skin breakouts) as well as neck and back pain from excessive use.
Phones encourage isolation
With such readily available technology at our fingertips, people are slowly isolating themselves from the outside world. Studies have shown that we keep our cell phones within five feet of us for up to 4 hours per day, on average. That’s about as much time as we spend with other people throughout the entire day! Even when it seems like we’re not using our phone, it’s typically sitting in a pocket or purse and emitting electromagnetic radiation. But what can you do? Put your phone down and talk to the person next to you. It will be worth it in the long run!
Our phones affect our brains
Smartphones offer a slew of benefits, but they also have the power to sabotage your mental and physical well-being. This happens in one of two ways: Either smartphones will distract you from more important activities like eating and sleeping, or you’re constantly staring at them for hours on end. The risk is compounded by the fact that we tend to rely on our phones to satisfy our cravings. Research has shown that people use their phones as a substitute for other addictive behaviors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and gambling. More research needs to be done before any conclusions can be drawn about how this might affect us long term.
Smartphones keep you awake at night
You might not be aware of it, but smartphones can ruin your sleep. They’re capable of emitting blue light which tricks the brain into thinking it’s still daylight even when it’s way past bedtime. So in addition to being dehydrated and deprived of sleep, you might find yourself in bed struggling to shut off Netflix while you have that irresistible urge to do just one more thing on your phone. Trust me, I’ve been there too.
Smartphones have led to an increase in depression rates
Researchers at the San Diego School of Medicine analyzed 5,885 adolescents in Hong Kong and found that heavy exposure to smartphones correlated with a five-fold increase in depression. One theory for the connection has to do with something called cognitive overload. Essentially, when you’re constantly bombarded with so much information and constant distractions, you become tired and unable to concentrate or focus, which can lead to feelings of sadness or depression. It can also make you more anxious about getting out of your comfort zone and meeting new people.
Phones cause stress and anxiety
These days, our smartphones are a constant in our lives. You could argue that it’s easier to get information from the phone than it is to search for a web page on the computer or even find a book from the library. With such easy access to information, it can be difficult not to constantly feel connected. But this dependency can often lead to high levels of stress and anxiety.
Get up and walk around. Be more mindful about how often you are picking up your phone and make a conscious effort to spend less time on it. If these changes seem too difficult for you, try an app like Moment, which will help track the amount of time you spend on different apps and send reminders when you have been using it for a while. Your future self will thank you!