7 harmful effects of smartphones on health
From finding our way in unknown places to staying connected with loved ones and managing finances, all daily activities are compressed into one smart electronic device—a smartphone. Today, nearly 82% of people in the country own a smartphone. However, studies have shown that excessive use of smartphones can result in several health issues, including sleep deprivation, anxiety, and elevated stress levels. So, here are some adverse effects of smartphone usage:
Excessive use of smartphones can lead to several eye-related complications, including itchy and dry eyes, headaches, and blurred vision. This is because the blue light generated by smartphone screens causes eye strain, especially when one is overstimulated. So, it is advisable to view the smartphone from a distance of 20–28 inches and rest the eyes for 15 minutes every two hours.
Disrupted circadian rhythm
The brain is governed by an internal clock, called circadian rhythm, that governs the sleep and wakefulness cycles. The blue light from smartphones hampers the brain’s production of melatonin, the hormone regulating the sleep schedule. As a result, viewing the phone just before bedtime can severely affect sleep quality and duration and even induce nightmares. The National Sleep Foundation advises that phones should be put away at least half an hour before bedtime. Inculcating healthier habits like reading a book before sleeping can help one overcome excessive smartphone dependence and alleviate the adverse effects of the blue light emitted from phones.
Tendonitis is a health condition characterized by inflammation of the tendons. Excessive smartphone use may cause or aggravate a type of tendonitis called “trigger thumb,” stemming from holding the smartphone in an awkward position for long periods. Smartphone tendonitis can also affect other tendons, including the forearms and wrists.
Text-neck syndrome is a condition caused by having the head bent forward for extended periods. The cervical spine, neck, surrounding ligaments, and shoulder muscles are all affected by this uncomfortable position, leading to sharp pain in the regions, combined with headaches and eye pain. Regular neck exercises, accompanied by a change in posture and smartphone usage habits, are imperative to heal from this condition.
Researchers have found associations between smartphone dependence and the onset of psychological disorders, such as anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Negative personality traits like self-obsession have also been noted as an outcome of excessive smartphone use.
Unhealthy eating habits
It has been found that teenagers who spend over two hours a day on their smartphones are more likely to avoid vegetables and fruits compared to those who use their phones less frequently. Further, adolescents using smartphones for over five hours a day tend to have more sugary beverages and fast foods than those who spend less than two hours on their phones.
Excessive use of smartphones is also linked with impaired cognitive functioning, contributing to the development of issues like forgetfulness and the tendency to get easily distracted. It also affects other cognitive functions like fluid intelligence, working memory, and attention.
The convenience of using smartphones to perform various activities has made these gadgets indispensable. However, like in the case of every other gadget, mindful use of smartphones is essential to ensure physical and mental well-being.
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