Your phone is practically an extension of your hand. It’s the first thing you check in the morning and chances are that when you fall asleep, you’re still scrolling away… It’s your watch, your camera, alarm and practically your best friend, all rolled into one!
Take a moment though, to consider that your little BFF may actually be doing you harm. Think of all the things you touch in a day, from your computer to food. Every surface contains germs and when you touch, swipe and chat on your phone (numerous times a day!) you’re transferring those germs.
Germs of course, make you sick. They disrupt bodily functions and bring on illnesses. But that’s not all…
Your phone could be harming:
Your eyesight: The direct blue light from the screen can damage and strain the retina of the eyes. Short-sightedness follows when you focus on something in front of you for a long period. Your vision may start to become blurry, the light can cause headaches, and you may need to squint or partially close your eyes to see clearly.
Tech fix: Get up and away from your cellphone frequently. Focus your tired eyes on something far away every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds (not another screen or book). Look out the window or stare at an object in the distance. Try not to scroll up close and personal when you’re on your phone; keep the screen about 30 centimeters from your eyes. You could also ask an optometrist for glasses that block out blue light. Blink constantly to avoid dry eyes. Don’t forget to minimise the screen glare.
Brain activity: Researchers have found that cellphones can alter the function of your brain; and having a cellphone in your ear for about 50 minutes is enough to cause those changes. The weak electromagnetic radiation that cellphones and tablets emit can release highly reactive and damaging free radicals. These weaken the brain and its protective barrier.
Tech fix: Minimise the radio waves released from the antenna by using the loudspeaker or earphones. Keep your phone calls short and hold the phone 30 to 40 centimeters away from your body to lessen radiation. Keep your alarm clocks, radios and cordless phones a meter away from the head of the bed.
Posture: “Text neck” is real! If you frequently suffer with neck pain, blame your phone. This is thanks to our bad habit of poring over the phone, crouched over, facing downward. It’s a common injury because of the hours spent on handheld devices. If left untreated it can lead to neck inflammation. Chronic headaches have also been linked to this injury.
Tech fix: Hold your phone to eye level; this will help position your head, neck and shoulders correctly. Alternatively, lie on the floor to relax your neck and head, and hold the phone over your face. This position may soon become uncomfortable and this will help lessen the time you spend on your phone.
Sleep: Can’t sleep? It’s the blue light. The artificial light that your phone emits, tricks your body into staying “alert” and awake. According to the journal Nature, the blue light activates neurons in the brain and increases alertness, and disrupts the melatonin hormone which regulates sleep-wake cycles. This causes sleep deprivation.
Tech fix: If you can’t fall asleep without using your phone, dim the brightness and hold the phone away from your face. This will help with the release of melatonin to help you fall asleep. Try reading a book rather than words onscreen and avoid the hazardous light.
Social life: Your Smartphone can improve your social life in the virtual world but diminish your real-life one. To some extent, cellphones contribute to the deteriorating levels of education as students are less likely to visit a library, but rather study from an online document. As addictive as they are, they affect your overall productivity, basic human interaction and limit your personal development.
Tech fix: Don’t be tempted to check every single notification as soon as you receive it. Disable notifications for a while, and get an alarm clock to wake you. This will lessen the chances of opening your social media as you wake up. It might be a good idea to have a little social media detox every month. Just switch off for a few hours and interact in real time.