A smartphone lets you do many things or serves multiple purposes at once. It can function as your compass, camera, television, and even your doctor. It practically puts the world in your pocket.
However, while these devices are no doubt smart, evidence suggests that they could decrease your brain power. This in addition to several other ways in which they can harm both your physical and mental health. We take a look at possible issues that suggests a smartphone might be harmful to your mental acuity, social life and overall health.
Reduced Cognitive Ability
Scientists have found that a smartphone is capable of reducing your cognitive capacity. In other words, they may somewhat decrease your mental capacity from constant use.
A study by researchers at the University of Texas’s McCombs School of Business showed this much. The team studied almost 800 phone users, who underwent several computer-based tests assessing full concentration.
With all devices muted, subjects who had their phones in a different room performed slightly better than others who kept their phones in their pockets and a lot better than those who had theirs face down on a desk.
Researchers in the above study said trying not to think about your smartphone when it’s within reach reduces available “cognitive resources.” The presence of a smartphone only is enough to reduce your cognitive capacity – to make you dumber.
Seeing how life so much revolves around smartphones, many people become easily addicted. Numerous people constantly have to be online or check their inboxes due to the nature of their jobs. Also, many others are constantly trying to keep up with the latest happenings on social media.
It’s not surprising then that a large number of people spend the greater part of their waking hour staring at screens. The variety of apps available keeps users glued for hours on end. People feel somewhat uncomfortable when they are not using their phones. This addiction, which can be disruptive, is more common among younger people.
Altering of the Brain
Your use of a smartphone can change how your brain works in a not-so-pleasant manner.
In a 2008 study, Swiss researchers found that the electromagnetic emission from these devices may adversely impact neurocognitive functions in teenagers.
Researchers reported a possible harmful effect of simultaneous use of a smartphone and another media form, such as a TV, in a different study. They found that gray matter in the anterior cingulate cortex of such people tends to be smaller. As a result, they have a problem with setting goals and doing what is necessary to achieve them.
A major worry with the use of smartphones is the tendency for damage to the eyes. The devices emit short-wavelength blue light. They aren’t the only ones that emit this – TVs and computers also do – but more frequent use makes them a more significant threat.
Blue light can cause damage to light receptors in the eyes and worsen vision. It is critical to consider the intensity of the LED light coming from your device for this reason.
Smartphone use involves a greatly reduced field of vision. You stare at a screen that is close to your face. When you do this for an extended period, your eyes become strained, and your ability to focus on distant objects reduces. This may worsen over time.
Increased Stress Levels
There is scientific evidence that smartphone use can increase your stress levels. In one Korean study, researchers found that teenagers, who were addicted to their mobile devices, felt more stressed, compared to peers that weren’t addicted. Insomnia, impulsivity, anxiety, and depression occurred significantly more among the addicted subjects.
In another research, separating a subject from their phone for just an hour was enough to spike their anxiety levels.
Poor Sleep Quality
Here’s another harmful effect of the blue light that smartphones emit. Many people use their devices while in bed – often when using social media. You may find it hard to avoid the temptation of putting down your phone, even if you know you ought to.
Scientists say blue light disrupts your body’s circadian rhythm – that is, your sleep and wake cycle. The normal time your body expects this light is during daytime when the sun is up and you need to stay awake. You are more likely to experience sleep disruptions when you expose your eyes to it close to bedtime.
Blue light blocks melatonin production. This natural substance helps you to feel relaxed and fall asleep more easily.
Thankfully, many smartphones now offer the ability to filter or reduce the blue light. You should take advantage of that when available.
Support for Medical Disorders
Reading the foregoing, you might have noticed that smartphones may worsen both your physical and mental health.
For instance, higher stress levels expose you to numerous medical disorders. The same is true of poor sleep quality.
It is said that blue light coming from smartphones and other tech devices may lead to certain disorders. These include obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases.
Your use of smartphones may also harm your neck, back, and hands.
Another way these devices may pose a threat to your health is through the germs they often harbor. You’d be amazed if you’re to view your phone under a microscope. It gets scarier when you learn that it might have more bacteria than a typical toilet.
A smartphone is more of a concern because you tend to use it more frequently than you’d use a regular phone. You want to ensure that you wash your hands regularly when you use one.
Increased Risk of Bodily Harm
Your smartphone can increase your risk of being involved in accidents. This is in connection to the lure to use it whenever you have it nearby or within view.
You’d often see people using their devices while walking, driving, or doing another activity that demands full attention. You could get carried away while using your phone in a dangerous place, causing you to get hurt.
It’s not surprising reports suggest that most people involved in accidents while walking were distracted by their devices. For instance, a report in America shows that smartphone distractions contributed to a surge in pedestrian deaths in 2016.
Increased Negligence by Medical Professionals
Smartphones are not only a problem for the ordinary person. People involved in medical care are also affected by smartphone distractions, with this possibly reducing their effectiveness. Physicians and other health professionals could make costly, possibly deadly, mistakes when distracted by their phones.
Now, this is major evidence that a smartphone can be a harmful phone indeed. Imagine it affecting the ability of even health practitioners to make sound decisions!
This concern is not mere conjecture. Some researchers have shown that the tendency for practitioners to make errors affecting patients adversely increases when they’re using their phones. They found that a single interruption by a smartphone resulted in an increase of at least 12 percent in wrong diagnosis and treatment during patient visits.
Judging by the foregoing, you may agree that a smartphone can cause a lot of problems. It’s smart, but it’s also capable of causing you to make harmful, unwise decisions impulsively. It could hurt both your physical and mental health.
The problems of smartphones don’t stop at the level of health. There is evidence suggesting that people attached to them are less social and are less likable to others. The devices are exposed to more security threats. They can be rather intrusive as well.
You need to assess how your use of smartphones is affecting your life or might do so. Take steps to lower some of the risks that are involved. Gradually reduce the number of time you spend using your phone and social media.
If it’s possible, you may just run back to the simplicity that a regular phone offers. Your exposure to the identified risks and others reduces when you use such a device.