blog detail banner

Living Well

The Dark Side of Using Smartphones

Aug 6, 2020

It’s a brave new world. Technology is changing our lives at a pace that is crazy. We’re surrounded by cell phones, tablets, smart watches, Bluetooth, wifi and every other conceivable convenience.

Our poor bodies, that have been unchanged for at least 10,000 years of recorded history, have had no chance to keep pace with the technology. Result, it’s taking a toll on our health. Let’s look at how the one device that we use the most, the cell phone, can affect our health.

Globally, there are an estimated 5 billion cell phone subscriptions. Never has any object or phenomenon made such an intrusion into humankind as the cell phone has. The number of calls or WhatsApp messages each of us makes or exchanges each day is of a staggering order. Even when you put your phone on a silent mode at night, the phone still continues to emit signals, staying in touch with the nearest cell phone tower.

Harmful Effects of Cell Phones

Radiation damages our organs and cells

Cell phones emit radio frequency energy, a form of non-ionizing radiation, from their antennas. Tissues in our body nearest to the antenna can absorb this energy. These signals interfere with the electromagnetic fields in our body, disturbing our body cells, tissues and organs.

Research shows that the human body responds by building defences against this radiation. Cell membranes thicken, which could lead to nutrients from the blood stream not being able to get in. Damage to protein sensors on the cell walls can cause DNA malfunctions.

Increased risk of tumors and mental health issues

According to a study published in the prestigious Journal of American Medicine, JAMA, 50 minutes of cell phone radiation visibly increases metabolic activity in the brain, and it’s not clear what the results of that will be.

Dr.Magda Havas, PhD, and world renowned authority on this subject says, and I quote “increased risks of tumors, reduced sperm count and possible behaviour problems experienced by children born to mothers who used cell phones during pregnancy is most disturbing and should be viewed as an early warning indicator of things to come.”

Little wonder then, we see ourselves more stressed, more edgy, less relaxed form use of cell phones.

Damages our spine and musculature

Texting or messaging is another new feature of our lives. Research shows that just a 15-degree tilt of the head when we text, is equivalent to putting a 27 lb load on the neck! And as we continue to do this every day, day after day, we create a terrible and sometimes irreversible curvature of the spine.

 Weight Gain

Use of smartphones promotes a sedentary lifestyle which in turn leads to obesity and chronic illnesses.

Disrupts sleeping pattern

The blue light emitted from electronic devices disrupts our production of melatonin hormones. These hormones are the ones responsible for promoting sleep.

Decreases Memory

Smartphones make us rely solely on technology to remember things for us — we stop bothering to remember things by ourselves.

Demotes Social Interactions

Smartphones steal away your attention from the people around you as well as your surroundings. It diminishes your cognitive ability in connecting and socializing with other people.

Adversely Affects Eyesight

A 2014 study carried out by independent opticians found that a particular wavelength of light emitted by phone and tablet screens is “potentially hazardous and toxic to the back of the eye”. Over-using the muscles of the eye when focusing on a screen, results in headaches, while the intense focus we give to small objects such as smartphones playing YouTube videos may mean we blink less, resulting in dry eye.

Minimize the Ill Effects of Using Smartphones

Dr.Havas would have us all stay completely off cell phones, but that may not be practical today. What else can we do, to minimize the health impact?

Use your phone on a hands-free mode

Pick a good quality earphone set. This will reduce the amount of radio frequency energy exposure to the head because the antenna, which is the source of energy, is not placed against the head.

Never sleep with your cell phone by the bedside

If you must use the alarm feature on your phone, put the phone on an airplane mode at night, to stop it from emitting signals.

Use audio instead of text

We’re not sure if Siri or the other speech to text assistants are the solution to this, but you may want to send audio messages or minimize the number of texts that you do in a day.

We’ve barely scratched the surface of the sort of health impact that smart phone technologies have on our health, since this is such a new field of research. Until clear information emerges to guide us, we can only do the common-sense thing and take the simple precautions that we know can help.