A growing number of us are starting to carry around a gadget that may be causing subtle health problems. Yes, you have guessed it – it’s the smartphone.
Now, we have all experienced the frank rudeness of other people interrupting or drifting out of conversations to take phone calls or to check their texts or Facebook posts. But, there are other, less obvious, downsides. For example, a study from the University of Florida found that people using their smartphone after 9 p.m. were more tired and less engaged in their work the following day. Some of this may be related to the blue light emitted by the phones. This disrupts the body’s production of melatonin, and hence, the quality of our sleep.
Another study found that the silent vibrating of a phone receiving notifications disrupted concentration in tasks requiring mental focus. Another recent study showed how even the mere presence of a smartphone, on a table or held in one’s hand, had a negative impact on social conversations; lowering empathy between people and reducing their sense of connection. And to make matters worse a lot of these effects are contagious. The ‘iPhone effect’ is defined in some modern-word dictionaries as the phenomenon when one person gets a phone out and the rest of the group follow suit, “ultimately ending all conversation and eye-contact”.
Finally, medics are now describing ‘text neck’ as a growing problem resulting in the damage caused by constantly looking down to text. Apparently our heads are too heavy for this to be sustained!
Smartphones are one of the most wonderful inventions of the modern age. But we must use them wisely. Switching off ‘vibrate’, keeping them out of sight in social settings and not using them after 9.00 p.m. might be a good place to start.
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