There has been a lot of talk about whether the use of a mobile phone can be harmful to your health thanks to the use of microwaves and wi-fi to power its antennas. I’m sure that debate will rage on for years to come so putting those potential health risks aside for the time-being I thought we’d take a look at some other health issues mobiles can cause that you may not be aware of.
Posture, Neck and Spine
Sure, your commute to work may only be 60 minutes long, but if you spend all of that time hunched over your mobile phone playing Candy Crush Saga then you’re going to be damaging your posture, neck and spine.
Looking down at your device at a 60 degree angle can put up to 60 pounds of weight on your neck, I’m sure you’ll agree that doing that day after day won’t do you any good at all as apparently it’s like having an 8 year old child sat on your head!
If you must read your phone, try and keep your head as level as possible to minimise the stress on your neck. You also need to be aware of your general posture, you may not realise that you’re standing or sitting badly to begin with.
Carpal Tunnel and “Smartphone Thumb”
Carpal Tunnel is caused due to compression of the nerves that controls movement of the fingers, thumbs and wrist, “Smartphone Thumb” is a sub-set of carpal tunnel that’s caused my the repetitive and unnatural movements your thumb makes when trying to control items on your phone screen.
As well as cutting down on your Tinder swiping, there are [many things you can do to reduce the risk of developing injuries to your hands] such as using voice commands where available or making sure you take regular breaks.
Interrupted Or Poor Sleep
Using your mobile phone before bed can significantly disturb your sleep-wake cycle thanks to the blue/white light that your phone’s screen gives off. This colour light is commonly associated with daytime which confuses the brain and forces it to slow the release of melatonin which aids us getting to sleep. In fact it’s seen by phone manufacturers Apple as a big enough problem for them to add a “Night Shift” mode into their latest software versions (iOS 9.3) which allows you to change the colour balance of your screen – although some people – even Apple aren’t sure it will help you sleep any better.
The best thing to do? Try to stay away from your phone (and laptop as well) at least an hour before going to bed – difficult I know but it should help you sleep more soundly.
Additionally we should all stop using our phones as our alarm clocks. Apparently the temptation to just “quickly” check Facebook or Email if we wake up in the middle of the night can lead to us waking up full. Worse still, we’re no longer spending “quality” time with our partners preferring to check our social networks – whoops!
I think this is the most obvious one on the list, staring at a small screen with small text for long periods is going to have a detrimental effect on your eyesight.
To help protect your eyes take regular breaks, use your phone’s accessibility options to increase the font size if you’re struggling and make sure you get your eyes checked regularly so you can nip any problems in the bud before they become worse than they should be.
It’s not just toddlers and children who can become emotionally stunted from smartphone and tablet use, adults can be too.
Studies have shown that simply introducing a smartphone into a social situation can cause a negative perception of a person, you must have observed people in restaurants sitting on their phones whilst their partner sits in uncomfortable silence.
You need to set certain times to be a “no phone time”: the dinner table, the bedroom etc. anywhere where social interaction is more important that Twitter.
Sitting with earbuds in listing to music or the latest episode of your favourite podcast can seriously damage your hearing. Some studies also suggest that the electromagnetic waves from mobile phones can also damage hearing.
Make sure you have high quality earbuds so that you don’t have to whack the volume up full blast, using volume limiting if it’s available so you don’t keep turning up the volume and make sure you listen to the sounds of the “real world” every now and then.
You take your phone everywhere, right? Even to the toilet? Go on, admit that you stalked your ex on Facebook whilst sitting on the porcelain throne!
Using your phone in the bathroom can seriously increase the chance of transferring nasty bugs around, putting you at risk of illness. Worse still, cleaning phones can be a tricky business as with some models cleaning the screen can damage the surface.
To get around this, use a screen protector that you can change regularly as well as a wipe-clean case you can take off and disinfect without the risk of damaging your phone.
Nomophobia is a real thing! According to Wikipedia Nomophobia (No Mobile Phobia) is the fear of being out of mobile phone contact. I guess this is closely relating to FOMO (the fear of missing out. We’re so used to being connected all of the time that not having our primary point of contact with the outside world with us can lead to anxiety, even if you have your phone with you lack of signal can trigger your Nomophobia.
This is a difficult one to suggest a solution for, if you’re that anxious about having your phone on you then it’s not worth the panic attack to leave it at home. If you can though, take it with you but try to keep it off for a few hours a day.
Over To You
Do you have any phone habits that could be bad for your health? Did you even realise the implications on your health that even moderate mobile phone use could have?
Let us know how you protect your health when using your mobile phone in the comments.