Smartphones and Your Health

March 5th, 2015

Smartphone Use and Your Health

There is no doubt that smartphones are an integral part of many people’s lives. They help us do so much, and stay connected to the world around us.

There are estimates that an average person picks up their device more than 1,500 times per week! Other estimates put an average user at somewhere around 3 hours and 16 minutes of usage PER DAY! Can you believe it?

Unfortunately, there is a growing trend of over-reliance and usage of these devices in our everyday lives. A fair amount of research is surfacing to highlight some of the ways in which excessive smartphone use has been linked to detrimental health effects.

Let’s talk about a few of the ways that smartphone use may affect your health:

Mental Health

The constant binging, chirping, and ringing of our devices has been shown to impact people’s perceived stress levels, has been linked to increased depression, and sleep issues.

People report feeling burdened heavily by the constant access with which people have to them from day to day, which contributes to their overall stress and mood.

Other studies have shown that having your device visible when you are having a conversation with someone leads them to view an interaction more negatively, which can have an impact on your interpersonal relationships.

Physical Health

Poor ergonomics when using our phones can certainly be an underlying cause of a lot of the musculoskeletal complaints that I see in my office.

Neck pain from craning over our phones for hours on end, or using them in bed or when slouched on the sofa is more common than you may imagine. Sometimes this neck pain will develop into headaches as well!

People will often also complain of soreness in their hands, fingers, and thumbs from the strain caused by over use of their smartphone.

The small text and lighting from your device may also cause eye strain and poor vision.

Last but certainly not least, our devices are a vector for infectious pathogens! Studies have shown that people’s phones are often carriers of more bacteria than their own hands. A common pathogen found on phones is E.Coli which is likely from being contaminated by fecal matter when people use their phones in the bathroom.

Something to think about the next time a friend passes you their phone to look at something!

Other Considerations

There is still some controversy about the effects that the radio frequencies that are emitted by these devices may have. So until we have enough data over time, it may be best to avoid keeping your phone in your pocket all the time.

The last thing I would urge you to consider is the hazards of using your smartphone when driving. The distraction it causes could end up fatal for you, any passengers in your vehicle and others on the road.

Hope that this information was helpful for you and makes you think about your health the next time you pick up your phone.

I think the best that we can do is to monitor just how much we use them, and think about how our lives might improve if we used them a little bit less!