“My cell phone is my best friend. It’s my lifeline to the outside world”, says Carrie Underwood, singer and song-writer. She has so easily described what we all feel in general, right?
Mobile phones have become a necessity in today’s time. Be it connecting with people, watching online shows, listening to songs, reading news and what not! Ever since the invention of a ‘smartphone’ in the year 1992, its continuous evolution has provided us with some of the coolest applications to use. High usage of cell phones affects the health of human beings adversely.
In 2016, it was reported that Samsung Galaxy S7 EDGE was exploding when it was being charged because of which it caused severe injuries to the owners of the phone. While physical harm can be contained, I wondered, what about the harm that mobile phones cause to our mental health? Here are a few disadvantages of using mobile phones for long hours.
1) Brain Cancer
Mobile phones emit radio frequency energy, a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation, which can be absorbed by tissues close to the phone. The amount of radio frequency energy a mobile phone user is exposed to depends on many factors such as the technology of the phone, the distance between the phone and the user, the extent and type of mobile phone use and the user’s distance from cell phone towers. Scientists have reported adverse health effects of using mobile phones including changes in brain activity, reaction times, and sleep patterns. By now, it is well known that cell phones give off radiation. This radiation is said to affect our brain cells directly; often mutating existing cells into cancerous cells, hence, causing brain cancer.
Children have the potential to be at greater risk than adults for developing brain cancer from cell phones. Their nervous systems are still developing and therefore more vulnerable to factors that may cause cancer.
2) Increases stress level
Cell phones cause stress in many ways and in many forms. When one gets used to a cell phone, they also become slowly dependent on it. It becomes very difficult, then, to be apart from it for any period of time. We start fidgeting and worrying when our cell phones start losing battery. Moreover, new research shows how people get anxious when they can’t answer calls or reply to texts once they see their mobile phone’s screen light up, even if they are in a meeting, or a lecture.
3) Weakens immune system
We all have noticed the oily, greasy residue on the screen of our cell phones. This residue contains more disease-causing germs than found on a toilet seat. These germs attack the immune system of humans and weakens it. Thus, making an individual more prone to diseases.
4) Chronic pain
Continuously holding the cell phone in one position, constant use of fingers while sending e-mails ant text messages at rapid speed causes extreme pain and inflammation. We all have the habit of multitasking. Thus holding the phone between the ear, neck and shoulder increases the risk of back pain. “Long periods of cell phone use cause you to arch your neck and hold your body in a strange posture. This can lead to back pain,” says Healthcentral.com.
5) Eye/ vision problems
Recent studies show that, within five minutes of waking up, 90% of people check their phones. Exposing your eyes to that kind of light in the day itself is harmful, but right after you wake up, when you can’t even make out what is what, it is extremely harmful. Even children who don’t own laptops, or sit in front of the computer, use cell phones for almost everything. This can only result in the next generation full of bespectacled teenagers.
6) Hinders sleep
When you have games, videos, messaging apps etc. in a fist-sized machine, why would you ever want to sleep? It is becoming more and more difficult for teenagers and adults alike, to keep their cell phones down at the end of the day, and go to sleep. Some even use them for studying, or planning their work, but even so, the fact that it hinders your sleep and gradually disturbs the sleeping-pattern, remains.
Many people have stopped using traditional alarm clocks, and instead use their cell phones for the same. They even keep the phones right beside their bed, or even their pillow, so that they can get up on time when the alarm rings. Little do they know that, by doing this, they are inviting more germs than a toilet seat. Yes, research shows that our cell phones are THAT unhygienic. Wondering how? Think about it next time when you use your phone while eating, or after cleaning your room.
8) Hampers your thinking process
Since, internet, computers and cell phones have occupied an important place in our lives, we have failed to realize that they have made us dependent on them. Whenever we want to do something, googling about how to do it is the first thing we do. For example, when we want to write something, we search the information on Google, and whatever information we find on the web, we utilise it. Similarly, when we need to draw a simple basic design, pictures from the web are downloaded instantly and then the work is done. The natural process of thinking and using our own creativity has been hampered with this smart technology.
9) Prone to accident
These days we have seen an increase in the number of people losing their lives due to the attention they pay to their cell phones, instead of what they are actually doing. Some people click selfies while walking, others are on call, some continue texting. Only after constant propaganda and various awareness campaigns have people realised the implications of texting and driving. Now, there appears to be a need for new programs in order to raise awareness about texting and walking.
10) Dedication to work
Whenever we sit down to work, the luring applications on our mobile phones like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram etc. distract our mind. We think checking the applications won’t take more than 10 minutes, whereas it takes away a lot of time. And this leaves you with less amount of time for your work. And the work which is not done with full attention and dedication never gives satisfactory and desired results.
It is the name given to the phobia of being out of mobile phone contact. Although the term is ‘nomophobia’, many argue that ‘phobia’ might not be the most appropriate; and calling it an anxiety disorder could be more suitable instead. Terminology aside, the issue remains.
12) Phantom pocket vibration syndrome
Everyone who has ever had a cell phone can relate to this. We often feel our phones vibrate when in fact, they haven’t. It might be in anticipation of some text message, or some important call, or it might just be your expectation, but every one of us has, at some point or other, felt a phantom vibration that had no real causation.
Studies show that because of the hyper-vigilance caused by cell phones (the need to check phones for notifications), the adrenals in our body remain constantly activated and cortisol levels remain high. The high cortisol-stress hormone-levels increase our blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety
14) Vulnerable to cyber-crimes
Walking with all your information in one place can be very convenient, until it becomes vulnerable to cyber theft. These days, besides personal messages and such, all of our other information remains in our cell phones; and if stolen, they make us extremely vulnerable to all kinds of cyber-crimes.
15) Impaired concentration/ attention span
This is directly related to the amount of time you can stay away from your phone. The longer you can stay away from your phone, the more you can concentrate on your work, or studies. However, checking our phones every ten minutes or so for new notifications has almost become an instinct for us, and every time we check the phone, we lose our concentration. Although that one minute might seem insignificant, but the loss in concentration is very significant for productivity.
16) Risks to the unborn / infertility
Similar to the point about brain cancer, the radiation emitted by cell phones is said to cause infertility, particularly in (but not restricted to) males who carry their phones in their front pockets.
The anxiety, stress, lack of sleep, coupled with not enough fresh air, can cause severe depression in teenagers and adults alike. Similarly, a text message left without a reply, or a post on Facebook that did not get enough ‘likes’, etc., can also cause one to feel down and become easy prey to depression and other anxiety disorders.
18) Loss of hearing
Listening to music at a high volume constantly, and talking on the phone for long periods, of course, affects our hearing. Putting your phone to your ear especially when it’s plugged in for charging is also an extremely unwise decision.
19) Skin allergies and infections
The first thing that grabs the attention of the people while looking at a mobile phone is its look/appearance. And to make the mobile phone look more attractive, a layer of metallic sheen is added. The metallic layer contains nickel, chromium and cobalt which are known as skin allergens and cause cell phone dermatitis.
20) Weight management and fitness level
Children these days spend their time doing everything on (often their own) phones. They know more about phones than their adult counterparts, and while some adults find that impressive, it is actually very unhealthy for the children. Not getting fresh air, not playing outside, etc., can not only cause health issues but even cause social alienation.
Even though so many disadvantages of cell phones have been listed here, like everything, they have their own share of positive points as well. There is a need to maintain a balance between the pros and cons, not only when it comes to cell phones, but rather all forms of technology and devices.
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