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The Hidden Dangers of Smart Phones

My game plan is to research, condense my findings, and translate it into everyday language for busy people.

Life with Smartphones


The Smart Phone

Although smartphones have taken over the world as everybody's favorite form of communication they can have very negative and toxic effects on your health. Almost everybody has a smartphone. It has been estimated that 72% of Americans own a smart phone. It is just the new technology gadget everybody has to have. If you go to a restaurant, four out of five people are all sitting around at a table and instead of enjoying a meal and face to face contact, they are staring at their cell phones. The smart phone goes everyone the owner does including the bathroom. A study was done that revealed one in six of these phones had E. Coli bacteria on it. Not only can it spread germs and viruses, it can also strain your neck muscles when you spend a lot of time staring at your phone.


Cognitive Distraction

People use their smartphone to text while driving a car. An accident can happen in just a few seconds. In the year of 2015, almost 3,500 people died because of injuries sustained in car accidents with distracted drivers. Some talk on the cell phone while driving. This is cognitive distraction. Even if you are not having a cell phone up to your ear you are still distracted instead of watching the road. People also walk around in their house using a smart phone and sustain injuries like broken bones, head injuries, and muscle and tendon strains.



There are links between osteoarthritis developing in the thumbs, wrists, and hands due to excessive texting. People get what is called "trigger thumb" which is a condition in which the thumb gets stuck in a bent position and pops when straightened. If the the ulnar nerve in the elbow becomes compressed it can lead to cubital tunnel syndrome. This syndrome is characterized by numbness and tingling sensations in the fingers and hands. If someone frequently leans on the elbows while texting they are more likely to develop this disorder.

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Mental Health and the Smart Phone

There was a study done in 2016 in Computers in Human Behavior called, "Fear of Missing out, Need for touch, anxiety, and depression are related to problematic Smartphone use." They surveyed over 308 university students, 165 men and 143 women, asking about their mental health and their use of smart phones. The people who had high scores on "need for touch" and "fear of missing out" were very likely to overuse their cell phones. The ones who overused their phones had higher scores of depression and anxiety. Scientists believe that this may be because the cell phone interferes with activities that bring pleasure, disrupt socializing, and consequently reduce behavioral activation which increases depression. People can get addicted to their phones and start to go through feelings of anxiety and withdraw when separated from their phones.


Distraction from Real Life

Some people who are already experiencing negative emotions turn to their phones as a distraction from their feelings. It becomes a coping device and is used as a tool for "avoidance coping- temporarily distracting themselves from negative emotions". If this prolongs itself that person is at a higher risk of developing mental health problems. According to Joel Minden, a psychologist with the Chico Center for Cognitive Behavior Therapy in California who specializes in anxiety and depression says that stress and anxiety aren't being dealt with by "anti-depressant activities" like socializing, exercising, and working. People are instead avoiding their emotions by getting on their cell phones and are not facing the problems head on. In 2015, Computers in Human Behavior revealed that lonely individuals prefer voice phone calls over texting. Anxious people prefer texting over voice calls. There have been studies done on teenagers linking using cell phones late at night to reduction of the quality of their sleep and leads to increased likelihood of depression and low self esteem. It has been documented that excessive use in your early teens may lead to depression later on in your teenage years.



In conclusion, having a smartphone is the new "in thing" to have. However, the device has some very negative health problems associated with it and can cause disorders of the body and mind. When using a smart phone it is advised to use caution and make sure you are not overusing the device and creating more health problems. People think that these devices are adding to their lives and benefiting them. However, for some it is proving to be just the opposite.

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