Every minute spent on your cell phone means a minute less of face-to-face real human interaction, or of exercise, cooking, reading, walking your dog; all of which can balance stress and lead to better optimal health- both mental and physical.
Nearly two-thirds of American adults now own a smartphone – up from 58% in 2014. Their popularity makes sense: Smartphones allow us to stay connected, organized and entertained. From helping us to track what we eat and meet our exercise goals to analyzing our sleep patterns, cell phones are now the norm in the modern world.
But dependency of cellphones also leads to serious emotional and physical health issues – the most serious one being phone addiction. Research shows that female college students, for example, now spend more time on their cell phones than spend interacting with friends; spending an average of ten hours a day on their cellphones, surfing the Internet and sending more than one hundred messages. Another survey found that three out of five US smartphone users can’t go more than 60 minutes without checking their phones.
But why is cell phone use addicting? Because, according to recent research, when our phones ring or beep with a message, our brains experience a surge of the neurotransmitter hormones dopamine and glutamate in the region of the brain referred to as ” The Pleasure Center.” These neurotransmitters are similar to the ‘high’ that drug addicts get when they take drugs. Phone addiction is so prevalent now that nomophobia, the fear of being without your mobile device, has become such an issue that there are rehab facilities available to help people with it.
Cell phone overuse or addiction is now known to lead to significant mental and physical distress, panic, confusion and extreme isolation during the withdrawal period. They, cell phones, can cause:
1. Back Problems (because of being hunched over while on mobile phones)
According to the British Chiropractic Association, due to the rise in the number of cell phones users, the number of young people with the back problem has increased dramatically over the last year. The 2015 statistics showed that 45% of young people aged 16 to 24 suffered from back pain due to increased pressure on their spinal disks, this represents a rise of 60% from 2014.
A 2012 study found that the need to immediately read and respond to incoming alerts causes stress levels to rise. Always being ‘available’ to take calls and text messages, for example, means that workday never finishes when you leave the office; it continues until you got to bed – and sometimes beyond. In fact, the stress can get so high, that according to research, people can experience phantom vibration syndrome, perception that one’s phone is vibrating or ringing when it is not.
3. Anxiety & Depression
Staring at the screen in the hopes of receiving an immediate response or an update, can lead to anxiety or depression. A 2015 study from Northwestern University called Your Smartphone Knows If You’re depressed, revealed that the more time people spend on their phones, the more likely they are to be depressed. The average daily use for a depressed person was 68 minutes, compared to just 17 minutes for someone who has better mental health.
4. Nerve Damage
Mobile devices can also cause long-term nerve damage. An example is an Occipital neuralgia, a neurological condition where the scalp nerve becomes compressed or inflamed. The symptoms are similar to that of migraine headaches. There are no cure and steroid injections can at best alleviate some of the pain. Although yoga and massage can help, the ONLY way to alleviate the pain more effectively is to lay off the phone.
5. Weight Management & Fitness Levels
Cell phone addicts can get lost in the virtual world of smartphones, only to return to reality minutes or hours later. This leads to less time to exercise, an increased sedentary lifestyle, and more time doing ” pleasure eating” due to the activation of the pleasure center in the brain
Stay tuned for the next post on 5 Ways to Beat Cell Phone Addiction…
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