5 ways your phone can affect your health

Smartphones have a lot of advantages - they help us stay in touch with friends and family, they provide us with information whenever we want it and entertainment whenever we need it. However, phone addiction and excessive usage can have negative side-effects. Below, Maths Mathisen, CEO of Hold (www.holdstudent.com), an app that rewards students for not using their mobile phone while they study, comments on the ways that your phone can affect your health.

Can cause weight gain

Many of us are already leading sedentary lifestyles - commuting to work, sitting at our desks throughout the day, commuting back home and settling down on the sofa to watch TV in the evenings. As mobile phones can provide us with entertainment at a push of a button, it means that we have even less reason to move around. A study by Kent State University found that excessive mobile phone usage could contribute to reduction of fitness levels and general decrease in activity. Staying sedentary for long periods of time can contribute to weight gain, and even increase the risks of chronic illness.

Impacts memory

While productive technology like brain-boosting games and exercises can help improve memory, mindless scrolling of the internet, social media or YouTube channels can actually have a negative impact on it. Scientists at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden found that browsing social media makes the brain overwhelmed with information, making it harder to remember things. 

Disrupts sleep

It is well-documented that the light from your mobile phone increases the amount of time it takes for you to fall asleep every night. However, a study by Murdoch University in Perth found that late-night text message and browsing could reduce the quality of sleep, result in depressive moods and even lowers self-esteem.

Causes body tension

When using our phones, most of us will do so in almost the exact same way - texting with our thumbs and looking down at the screen whenever we receive a notification or look something up online. These repetitive motions can result in conditions known as ‘text claw’ and ‘text neck’. A study in Surgical Technology International found that texting can add as many as 50 pounds of pressure on a person’s spine, depending on the angle. While these conditions aren’t serious and the symptoms go away after a little time, the pain and tension are still unpleasant while they last. So make sure to put your phone down once in a while, look around you and give your thumbs a rest.

Impacts relationships

Smartphones are great for staying in touch when your friends and family are far away, but they can actually make us less attentive and more isolated to those who are in our physical presence. Research by the University of Maryland suggests that excessive phone use can make us more selfish, while the University of Essex found that the presence of a phone during an emotional conversation made the speaker feel like the listener wasn’t being empathetic or attentive.