One of the biggest changes in human lives during the past 10 years has been the introduction of the smartphone. Today, smartphones are so widespread that most people use them extensively. While using a smartphone is almost completely necessary in today’s world, it also has multiple downsides.
Mobile phone eye strain may cause dry eye and irritation, painful throbbing headaches around the eye region, and even blurred vision. Blue light, which is emitted from our phones, tablets and laptops, has been found to have negative effects on our eye health. Studies suggest that it has “a potential to lead to macular degeneration”, bypassing the pupil and cornea to beam directly into the retina. The blue light is thought to affect your central vision as it kills off photoreceptor cells in the retina. Unlike some other cells in your body, once these cells die, they cannot regenerate. This means that any damage done to them is permanent.
Blue light also prevents your body from releasing melatonin, the chemical your body needs to feel sleepy. As blue light also comes from the sun, it tricks our brains into believing it’s still day time, making it more difficult to sleep. Using your screen when in dark surroundings can actually exacerbate its effects, leading Apple to introduce “night shift” featuring a more yellow-toned screen, and Samsung to offer a “blue light filter”.
Too much time looking down at your phone can strain your neck muscles and cause tightness or spasms. You might even get nerve pain that goes to your back, or to your shoulder and down your arm. Smartphones are getting heavier and heavier these days. Holding these phones for a long time causes muscle pain in the forearm and pain in the wrists.
Recent research from the University of Arizona showed that adolescents who were dependent on or addicted to their smartphone were more likely to show signs of depression and loneliness. Researchers are still determining why that relationship exists. People who have symptoms of moderate to severe depression said they are more likely to feel left out when they use social media, or think that others are doing better than they are. This problem is caused because smartphones are designed to be addictive.
Younger adults who use smartphones excessively these days have trouble focusing for longer periods of time. The prime culprit in hijacking attention spans is the smartphone. We keep checking our phones every time we get a notification or when we are walking on the street or in the elevator. We cannot stop looking at our phones every five minutes. The brain starts learning how to switch rapidly from one task to another to another and this becomes a habit, one that reduces our focus. As distraction becomes the norm, we start to crave it when it doesn’t exist, causing anxiety and stress.