We rely on our smartphones a lot. And because of that, they could be hurting our health
It can keep you safe
First, some good news. Your phone can keep you safer. A study in the Journal of Emergency Medicine that analyzed emergency dispatches over an 11-year period revealed that 137 more lives were saved per 100,000 patients when people called 911 from a mobile phone rather than from a landline.
It messes with your sleep
But there are plenty of concerns too. Scanning your phone right before bed can disturb your slumber. The short-wavelength, bright blue light your device emits boosts your attention during the day, but at night the light can inhibit the production of melatonin, which helps you fall asleep. To avoid that, make a habit of not using your phone for at least 30 minutes before you close your eyes.
It keeps you from focusing
When you are awake, a single buzz signaling a new notification on your phone can weaken your ability to focus on a task, researchers at Florida State University have found. Switch your phone to “do not disturb” mode to remove the distraction
It makes you achy
Americans now spend more than five hours a day swiping, typing, and tapping—and feeling achy because of it all. “Selfie elbow” is a strain injury caused by holding your elbow at an extreme angle, and 85,000 people a month search for “texting thumb” and similar terms on Google.
Most cell phones are crawling with germs—ten times what you would find on most toilets, says University of Arizona microbiologist Charles Gerba. Wipe your phone down daily with a gadget-friendly antibacterial wipe or a microfiber cloth.
Risk of cancer is low
Radiation exposure, long thought to be a risk for heavy-duty phone users, is probably not a significant concern. Smartphones do emit radiation, but most scientific evidence has not linked the use of a cell phone to cancer. One draft study found that exposing male lab rats to the highest levels allowed for cell phones was linked to one type of rare tumor in the tissues surrounding nerves in the heart. If you’re worried, use earbuds or a headset when you talk on your phone.
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