Put Down the Phone!
Health Consequences of Using Cell Phones
From the Hilbert College Wellness Center
by Kirsten Falcone, RN
The topic of cell phones and courtesy frequently comes up in conversation these days. Generally, the sentiment is that cell phone users do not follow polite protocol regarding the use of their phones. In fact, many users are becoming less aware of just how obtrusive, interrupting, and just plain rude the use of cell phones is these days.
All social etiquette aside, if you know anyone like this (or if this is you), it might help to break the habit by learning the health consequences of too much cell phone use.
According to several reliable sources, these are just a few of the possible health consequences cell phone abuse can cause:
1. Injury or death in a car accident (25 percent of car accidents in the U.S. are caused by cell phone distraction)
2. Addiction involving dopamine and serotonin, with physical withdrawal symptoms
3. Anxiety and depression
4. Brain alteration
5. Eye diseases (including retinal damage leading to macular degeneration)
6. Nerve damage to eyes (occipital neuralgia)
7. Finger, neck, back and other musculoskeletal problems
8. Carpal tunnel syndrome
9. Physical inactivity, leading to obesity-related diseases
10. Slow reaction time, caused by distraction
11. Increased likelihood of falls/accidents, also caused by distraction
13. Disturbed sleep
14. Bacterial infection/reinfection from the unsanitized surface of the phone
15. Decreased attention span
16. Social isolation
17. Hearing damage (if listening to headphones above 85 decibels)
18. Possibility of carcinogenic radiation
So What are some solutions? The logical solution is to decrease the amount of time spent on your phone, and this can be accomplished by putting restrictions and boundaries around your own phone use. One way to do that is to change your mindset.
Here are four methods to break your cell phone addiction:
- Think privacy. Whenever possible, do not text or talk on the phone if someone else is there to see or hear you. Most phone conversations can wait until you are safely out of sight of other humans.
- Think courtesy. Is there someone physically in front of you waiting for your attention, and you are using your phone? This is not considered polite. Always give physical people priority. While we’re on the topic of courtesy, make it a habit to turn off your phone in worship services, at work, in theaters, and while eating with family, friends and/or colleagues.
- Think safety. Are you walking, driving, or operating machinery? Put your phone away until you can safely pick it up again! A great suggestion is to keep your phone in the back seat of your car, out of arm’s reach, so you will not be tempted to use it while driving.
- Think necessity. Do you really need your phone at all times? Couldn’t you leave it in your room or the back seat of your car? Do you need to keep social media or games on it? Or, could you delete those apps in favor of instead using your computer later, after homework is done? (Just kidding! Homework is never done.) If you do not live in a residence hall, is it necessary to keep the phone next to your bed while you sleep? Probably not. That is why alarm clocks were invented!
So, the next time you are in a group of people, just put down the phone, encourage them to do the same, and engage with them. You just might gain a bit of old-fashioned connectedness, which we all need for our good health!
If you read this article to the end, and you would like to enter the Hilbert College Wellness Center monthly drawing, stop by the Wellness Center between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, or send me an email with a brief description of what you learned, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on cell phone usage and physical health, and cell phone usage tips, visit the following sites:
Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy
Natural Living Ideas