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The vast majority of Americans – around 96%, to be precise – own a cellphone, as reported by the Pew Research Center, and around 81% own smartphones – up to around 35% from 2011. An increasingly large percentage of people, meanwhile, use smartphones as their main means of Internet access at home, meaning they can spend several hours a day consulting their phones. This has various effects on their health, which can mostly be reversed by moderate cellphone use.

Injuries Resulting From Smartphone Use While Driving

The National Safety Council reports that using a cellphone while driving causes around 1.6 million crashes per year. In case you thought hands-free functions were the solution, think again. A 2016 Queensland University of Technology study showed that talking hands-free on a mobile phone while driving is just as big a distraction as holding the phone in your hand. Solutions to reduce the health impacts of phone use in this respect involve turning mobile phones off during driving since studies have shown that the increased mental effort required to sustain a phone conversation can alter a driver’s visual scanning abilities.

Neck And Back Pain

2016 study by S Yang and colleagues has shown that there is a link between smartphone use and musculoskeletal discomfort. The study, which focused on teen students, found that around 50% of participants experienced neck and shoulder discomfort from using their phones. There are many postural exercises phone users can undertake to reduce the strain placed on their neck and even their back. Chin tucks correct alignment of the head and spine, and they can also increase the neck’s flexibility and strength while alleviating pain. To perform a chin tuck, simply place one finger on your chin, and push your head and chin backwards (without bending your neck and without moving your finger). The aim is to feel a stretch at the base of the neck. Hold the stretch for several seconds, return to the original position, and repeat the exercise around 10 times.

Mobile Phones And Sleep

Research by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has found that adolescents who use their cell phones excessively are more likely to have disrupted sleep, stress, fatigue and restlessness, compared to those who keep cell phone use to a limit. The researchers additionally stated that “There seems to be a connection between intensive use of cell phones and health-compromising behaviour such as smoking, snuffing and use of alcohol.” Cell phone use disrupts the sleep-wake cycle by restraining the production of melatonin – the hormone that is responsible for normal circadian rhythms.

Mobile Phone Radiation And Memory

A 2018 study by researchers at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute has shown that radiofrequency electromagnetic fields from mobile use can negatively impact the development of memory in specific parts of the brain. The study, which once again focused on adolescents, showed that accumulated radiofrequency exposure from smartphones over the course of just one year could have this effect. To minimize users’ exposure to radiofrequency from smartphones, the scientists recommended using headphones or a loudspeaker when making phone calls, particularly when network quality was poor and the phone was therefore functioning at maximum capability.

 Smartphone use has a variety of negative health impacts, just a few of which include distracted driving, neck and back pain, poor sleep quality, and memory. It is important to take the steps required to reduce these effects, including the performance of specific exercises to ease the stress on muscles such as the neck and shoulders. Users should also aim to set specific times for mobile use, so they can enjoy good sleep quality and avoid excessive radiofrequency exposure.