Smartphones have made us safer, smarter, and more social. We can share photos with friends around the world and discover unknown facts at the tips of our fingers.
However, for all of the good that smartphones do -- there are a few drawbacks causing us harm.
Here are a few ways your smartphone could be damaging your health and what you can do about it.
1. Constant Phone Engagement Can Give You Text Neck
“Text neck” refers to poor posture that comes with constant smartphone use. We spend so much time looking down at our phones that we put extra pressure on our spines and wear on our necks. Symptoms of Text Neck include:
Radiating pain in arms and shoulders
Curvature of the spine
Loss of lung capacity
Text Neck has become serious enough that some people have sought treatment for their pain. Despite any chiropractic myths you may have heard, chiropractors can work with patients to realign their spines and reduce stress on the shoulders and neck, alleviating the symptoms of Text Neck.
2. Blue Light Can Make It Harder to Fall Asleep
When your phone lights up, it emits a blue light that attracts your attention with new notifications. This blue light can actually lower your melatonin levels, suppressing your ability to sleep. If you keep your phone on at night or receive alerts as you are falling asleep, your body could have a harder time shutting down for the night.
Outside of the science of blue light and melatonin, smartphones cause us to lose sleep because we stay up texting, scrolling, and reading long after the light goes off.
Even if we want to sleep, a text from a friend can force us to restart the process. Take advantage of your phone’s night settings and turn off notifications before you go to bed. You might be surprised how much more sleep you get.
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3. Earbuds Can Cause Hearing Damage
Do you keep your earbuds in throughout the day, listening to various podcasts, playlists, and video feeds?
Depending on the volume you choose, you could be seriously damaging your ears. According to the CDC, almost 40 million American adults (24%) have results on their hearing tests that indicate hearing loss as a result of loud noises.
This solution is easy: turn the volume down. Look for headphones that clearly play the content without your needing to drive up the volume. You are protecting your ears for the next several years.
4. Convenient Apps Can Lead to Weight Gain
Despite the dozens of health, fitness, and diet apps available on our smartphones, studies have found that we’re actually getting heavier because of our mobile devices.
Eating in front of the screen makes us less likely to focus on our portions, so we eat more before we realize that we’re full. Plus, additional services like UberEats and Shipt allow us to stay on the couch instead of getting up to make food or buy groceries. Because of smartphones, we are moving less and less.
Set Healthy Phone Boundaries
If you think your phone is hurting your health, consider setting boundaries for when you will use it.
Limit your screen time to certain hours, use apps that monitor phone usages, and set time limits for when you need to put down your phone and take a walk, do an activity, or spend time with friends. Your body will thank you.
Cover photo from Unsplash