Smartphones have made a lot of things more convenient — but too much screen time could have a negative effect on your health. Here are four problems of overuse and how to avoid them.
- "Text neck." Looking down at your phone for several hours a day can put serious pressure on your neck. Thanks to gravity, tilting your head forward can exert a force on your spine between 50 and 60 pounds.
Avoid it: Instead of hunching over to look at your phone, bring your phone up to eye level. You also can set reminders to stretch your neck if it starts to feel stiff or sore.
- Poor sleep. Not only does excessive smartphone use keep you mentally engaged late into the evening, the "blue" light from the screen can actually interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
Avoid it: Set an alarm for 30 to 60 minutes before you want to go to bed, then commit to charging your phone or tablet in the other room — not on your bedside table.
- Tendinitis. Too much typing may cause tendons in your thumbs to become inflamed and sore.
Avoid it: If your thumbs start to cramp mid-email, take a break. Try using your smartphone's voice dictation feature to write text messages and emails, or put less stress on your hands by using your phone on a flat surface.
- Distracted traveling. Using your smartphone while driving can result in a serious accident, while distracted walking can lead to injury. If you're commuting via public transit, looking down at your phone could cause you to miss your bus or train stop.
Avoid it: Keep your phone stowed in the passenger-side glove compartment or your pocket while you're out and about. No text message or social media post is worth your life — or someone else's.