There is no denying the fact that having a powerful computer right in your pocket in the form of a smartphone has revolutionized the world. It has improved our overall lives, making everything ultra-convenient and knowledge of everything lies just a finger’s touch away. However, like everything in life, it doesn’t come without a price. The smartphone if overused can have some serious negative effects on one’s health and well-being, both direct and indirect. This article will highlight some of those effects.
The first and most obvious negative health impact isn’t so much the phone’s fault as it is the user. We have all heard the saying, “don’t text and drive” unfortunately, we continue to hear about the tragic loss of life this irresponsible activity causes. We have heard that it is just as dangerous as drinking and driving yet some people don’t heed the warning.
Along the same lines as using your smartphone while driving is trying to navigate the world around you with your head buried in your phone. With Pokémon Go being all the rage right now, reports of people blindly walking into traffic and being hit by cars are abundant. Now I will turn to more actual direct health effects.
One of the biggest problems with smartphone use is eyestrain. Staring at these tiny four-inch screens for prolonged periods of time can cause headaches as well as, burning and dry, itchy eyes. While eye fatigue isn’t necessarily considered a critical condition, the first reports of smartphone induced temporary blindness have come in LiveScience. It appears that when people lay on their side bed while reading on their phone, one of their eyes can be obscured by a blanket without them realizing it. This leads to one eye being adjusted to the dark and the other eye adjusted to the bright light of the screen. Lucky for these people their vision seems to return to normal by the morning.
The display on smartphones emits a blue ultra violet light that in and of itself can cause several potential problems. According to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, direct exposure to this kind of light causes Macular Degeneration. Macular Degeneration is a very serious disease that causes a person to lose the center part of their vision. This light, while hard on the eyes, can also disrupt people’s sleep patterns. Studies have revealed that this light interferes with melatonin production in the brain. Melatonin is a hormone that tells us when to fall asleep and when to wake. It is widely known that when these rhythms get out of whack, people become susceptible to a wide range of ill-health symptoms from depression to cancer.
Other Physical symptoms include weight gain, hearing loss and a condition known as “text neck” which I’m not going to really delve into as they seem fairly obvious and have been written about plenty. A less obvious effect on one’s both physical and psychological health is the effect smartphones have on people’s relationships and their sex lives in general. The problem is: a lot of people are quite literally addicted to their phones. Disconnecting from our immediate world and tending to our phones is a real problem in relationships these days. Psychology Today claims that it’s even worse if it is only one partner has the problem. It leads the snubbed one in the relationship towards depression.
I remember not long after cell phones became prevalent, some conspiracy theorist started claiming that these phones cause cancer. Well many years later, the jury is still out on this one. There seem to be just as many reputable studies claiming they do cause cancer as there are that claim the opposite. However, according to Scientific American, a comprehensive two-year study that concluded in May of this year claims there is a definitive link between rare heart and lung cancers and smartphone radiation exposure.
While it isn’t technically health related, I felt it important to briefly touch on another smartphone phenomena. People have become overly reliant on their phones for everything which in turn is dumbing us down. For example, our inductive reasoning is being diminished by way of Google. Have a problem, just ask Google. People have stopped thinking their way to out of problems rather, we run straight to our phones for the answer first. It has been noted that our memory is being diminished by overly relying on our smartphones as well. We don’t even look at maps to figure out how to get somewhere, Google will navigate us there.
It can’t be all bad
It’s funny, for something that can be so bad for you in various ways, can totally redeem itself in others. There are much fitness and exercise related apps available should ever get off the couch. It can also provide healthy cooking recipes at the touch of the screen. Have something strange going on with your body? Within seconds you can self-diagnose many ailments. They even have apps for the smartphone that can somehow track our sleep cycles and wake us up in the morning at the optimal time for waking, however, one must overlook the potentially unhealthy effect of sleeping with the phone so close to your head. Remember, these things emit low-frequency radiation?
The Smartphone has certainly revolutionized the way we lived and is considered one of greatest achievements of the 21st century. Like anything in life, though, the key is moderation. Nearly everything can be bad for you if done in excess. It’s high time to look up from our phones, notice the other people in the room and be more active to offset all the potentially negative impacts the smartphone can have on our health and well-being, as I just listed a few. As with something that touches our lives in every possible way, there are going to just as many potential negatives as well.