7 Health Reasons to Put Down Your Phone
- Smart Use of SmartphonesAs our busy lives increasingly depend on the convenience of smartphones—chances are good you’re reading this on one right now—that same convenience is also putting new physical demands on our bodies. If you find yourself experiencing dry eyes or a neck ache after long phone sessions, it may be time to make a few tweaks to your tech routine. Take these health factors into consideration and keep yourself safe while you swipe.
- 1. Smartphones want to wake you up.Do you keep your cell phone next to your bed? You’re not alone. About 65% of adults keep their phones and other electronics within arm’s reach when they sleep, and that number rises to 90% for adults ages 18-29. However, smartphones produce “blue light,” which actually tells our brains it’s time to wake up. One study also found that smartphones and tablets suppress melatonin, making it harder to get the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep we all need to feel refreshed in the morning.
- 2. Your eyes need a break.A steady stream of people visit the doctor every year with headaches, blurred vision, eyestrain and dry eyes, all because of overuse of screens. Some doctors call it Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain, and smartphones, which our eyes work harder to see, are a major cause. If you experience any of these symptoms and suspect your phone or tablet may be the culprit, first get your vision checked, then fix issues such as glare or poor lighting. Taking regular, frequent breaks will also help.
- 3. “Text neck” is breaking your back.Coined in 2008, “text neck” is the pain in your neck and upper shoulders from being hunched over your smartphone for hours a day. The American Physical Therapy Association says forward head posture, which is the position we often take to read our phones, can cause muscle strain, disc herniation, and pinched nerves over time. They recommend always being aware of your posture while using your phone, taking a break every 20 minutes to stand up, and rolling your shoulders or going for a walk.
- 4. Carpal tunnel is not just for adults anymore.The average teenager sends more than 3,000 text messages a month, or 10 messages an hour, when they’re not in school or sleeping. It’s easy to see how carpal tunnel syndrome, which is normally rare for teens, is becoming more common in the under-20 set. If you experience symptoms such as tingling in your hands and decreased sensation and strength, it’s time to cut back, take frequent breaks, stretch your wrists and see your doctor if it persists.
- 5. Smartphones are hazardous to toddlers.We’ve all seen silly videos of people engrossed in their smartphones, falling down or bumping into signs. But when small kids are unsupervised, it’s no joke. In fact, a recent report shows that smartphones can lead to an increase in childhood injuries on playground equipment due to distracted parents. And there’s nothing to “like” about that.
- 6. Cell phones are cesspools of bacteria.The next time you whip out your phone to take a selfie at dinner, consider this: Smartphones carry more bacteria than toilet seats. Coliform bacteria, which are often found in feces, are commonly found on smartphones, as are bacteria that cause pink eye and viruses that cause the flu. Check your phone’s manual to see if it’s safe to clean your screen with alcohol wipes, which wipe out 99% of the bacteria on your phone.
- 7. Your phone may be causing skin breakouts.In addition to causing colds or flu, the bacteria on your phone can also irritate the skin on your face. Whether you hold the phone up to your ear or touch your cheek after tapping out a text, those germs can be transferred to your skin, where they can cause blemishes and acne breakouts. Experts suggest cleaning your phone’s surface regularly or using headphones when chatting to avoid direct contact between your skin and the screen.
7 Health Reasons to Put Down Your Phone