The Smartphone, also known as the item-that-we-cannot-imagine-living-without.
People spend an average of 2 hours and 57 minutes on their phones each day, according to digital analytic firm Flurry. And with 64 percent of all American adults owning a Smartphone, there sure has to be some effect on our bodies.
And there is.
Frequent interaction with your Smartphone is literally changing how our brains work.
A recent study by researchers from the University of Zurich, ETH Zurich, and University of Fribourg compared the brain activity of touch screen Smartphone users to those of old-fashioned cell phones.
What they found was rather interesting.
“This activity is related to the amount of use from the past days of phone use,” said research student Magali Chytiris. “So we used the logs, the battery logs, from the phone and we found that if the EEG recording was just after the peak of high intensive use then the brain activity was higher.”
Dr Arko Ghosh, of the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich, said the results indicate that the repetitive movements done by touch screen users reshape sensory processing from the hand.
Ghosh believes that the contemporary brain is continuously adjusted by today’s personal digital technology.
As you are reading this, chances are you are leaning over a device or slumped back in a chair.
With your head weighing about a dozen pounds, this position can become quickly uncomfortable–and problematic.
Skip a couple of math steps, and you’re looking at 60 pounds that your poor neck has to carry all day! What does 60 pounds look like, you may ask. Just to help you visualize that, my 7-year-old cousin weighs that much.
The “text neck” is the term medical researchers are coining the poor posture as a result of excessive staring at a Smartphone.
Sure, nowadays simply having a ‘bad posture’ isn’t going to stir up a whole lot of excitement. But how about surgery?
Yes, that’s right. Researchers say that over time, the “text neck” can lead to early onsets of deterioration of the spine eventually leading to possible treatment through surgery.
“It is an epidemic or, at least, it’s very common,” Kenneth Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine told The Washington Post. “Just look around you, everyone has their heads down.”
This issue is the most apparent in the generation of young people. This means that we can expect to see a rise in young people needing spine care–something that we shouldn’t be worrying about at least another 30 years from now!
If you’re thinking, no big deal, what is a little staring at my Smartphone going to do to me?
Turns out, a whole lot more than we thought.
Adopting a poor posture can lead to some other serious health problems like a reduced lung capacity–lower oxygen intake, greater difficulty using our brains. It also seems to be related to headaches, neurological disorders, depression and heart disease.
Now, I don’t know about you, but this does not seem like ‘no big deal’ to me.
Are You Telling Me There Is No End To This Epidemic Then?
Not at all! In fact, it may be simpler than you think.
Let me start by proposing the most obvious, and arguably, the most difficult advice.
Use your device less often.
As part of a modern society, you may find this advice fairly impossible and slightly torturous, so here are a few other tips.
Instead of bending your whole neck to look at your Smartphone, instead just look down with your eyes. There really is no need to jeopardize your entire posture for this.
Also, try exercising your head by moving it left to right a couple of times. The point is, be aware of where your head is spatially located so that you can avoid developing a bad posture.
So, the next time you pick up your beloved device–or perhaps you’re holding it right this moment–remember what impact it is having on our lives.
And if all this article did is have you sit up just a little straighter, then I will take that as a success.