Smartphones have revolutionized how we communicate, how we relate to each other, and overall, have made a lot of things more convenient. In addition to the issues of distracted driving and texting while walking, too much screen time could have a negative effect on your health.
What are problems of cell phone overuse?
- "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.
- 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 and may increase your chances of insomnia.
- Tendinitis. Too much typing may cause tendons in your thumbs to become inflamed and sore.
- 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.
- Relationships. Overuse of cell phones can act as a barrier to quality interactions and conversations, leading to decreased satisfaction in our relationships. Excessive device use can lead to feelings of being disconnected when we spend time with friends and family.
How can you avoid the problems from cell phone overuse?
- Bring your phone up to eye level. Instead of hunching over to look at your phone, bring your phone up so you can look at it without bending your neck. You also can set reminders to stretch your neck if it starts to feel stiff or sore.
- Use alarms. 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.
- Use voice-assisted features. 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.
- Store your phone out of sight. 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.
- Set aside “phone free” time. Make it a priority to spend quality time with friends and family without your cell phone. Outside of device-free time, silencing your phone during meals and during face-to-face time is a good habit to cut back on overall usage.