Phone Usage Effects on Physical and Mental Health

Technology has advanced tremendously in this last decade and a half. Just thirteen years ago, the majority of cellphones still had buttons instead of touchscreens. If a user wanted to access the internet features of phones in 2009, it cost a pretty penny. Today, we have the blessing of having the news updated at any second of the day and can access whatever content we want with just a couple of swipes on our screens. 

These advancements, while mostly positive, have also posed problems to society. Having content at our fingertips has caused many to rely too much on their devices for entertainment, stimulation, and other types of emotional support. Technology doesn’t have favorites either, as it affects people across all age spectrums. Here are the different ways technology can affect your physical and mental health when addicted to it, and how you can break the rut. 

 

Increased Anxiety

The internet in our pockets updates us on everything happening at the moment. It also has a notification for every little thing that goes on, which leads us to be on an “alert” mode throughout the entire day. We are always expecting a message, piece of news, or text from someone, and wanting to respond to it right away leads to increased anxiety. We might think this behavior is normal but imagine not having a single notification ring or buzz throughout the day. 

Social media is also an easy way to see what everyone else is doing, resulting in us comparing ourselves to how everyone else is doing. We might not do it intentionally or even try to think about it too much, but it happens. When we see others traveling on vacation, flaunting their successes, growing their businesses, we feel like we are behind in our lives. This dampens the mood in our personal lives when in reality, we might be living pretty great lives.

 

Physical Tolls

The blue light emitted by cellphones interfere with the production of melatonin. Melatonin controls the sleep-wake cycle. The more it is messed with, the more restless you become during the night. This results in poor sleep and a lack of alertness and awareness the next day. It also means that you’ll have trouble learning, retaining, and applying information from the current day or the day before. This can have bad effects no matter at what stage of life you are in. Whether you are in elementary school or a Ph.D. candidate, an office worker, or someone in construction, a lack of sleep can lead to poor work or school performance. In a worst-case scenario, it may lead to a terrible accident. 

In a study shared by the Journal of Community Medicine and Health Education, college students between the ages of 17-23 were selected at random to have their phone usage habits studied. The results were that 96% of students said that they used their phones for the greater part of the day. Of that 96%, more than 50% experienced headaches, easy irritability/anger, anxiety, insomnia, lack of concentration, and poor academic performance. Those are just a couple of physical symptoms that were observed over the space of 60 days. Imagine how many more things we experience physically over the space of months or years. 

 

How to Break the Rut

Using your phone for content and information isn’t a bad thing in itself. Those are things that can help us get through the day and inform us of important events. Even if you feel over-reliant on it now, it doesn’t have to stay that way. 

A simple way to use your phone less is to deactivate the notification settings on most of the apps on your phone. In reality, you probably only really need to know when texts or calls come in. Another way to keep phone use to a minimum is to set aside an hour of the day to surf the web or social media on your phone. This allows you to get your daily newsfeed fix without feeling the need to impulsively check your phone every hour of the day.

A last but simple effective way to limit phone use is to keep it away from you, physically. Turns out the less you see your phone physically, the less you feel the impulse to need to check on it. 

 

Help for Everyone

These tips to break your rut are simple enough for anyone to follow, and they don’t consist of extreme measures. However, if you feel that you need extra help or need to speak to a professional, contact us! We start by listening to you and want to provide you with the best care possible.

Foothills Neurology