Are Smartphones Harming Our Emotional and Mental Health?
Few things are as socially awkward and unpleasant as gathering with a group of family members or friends only to realize everyone is staring down at their smartphones rather than interacting with one another. After all, what is the point in getting together if we are only going to spend time in the same room playing with our phones?
The prevalence of the smartphone in the 21st century is undeniable. We see it everywhere we go. As I began to think about this, I wondered whether smartphones could be harming our collective emotional and mental health. With a little research, I found an interesting slideshow on TheHealthSite.com listing eight different ways our smartphones could be harming us. Each slide includes references to medical studies providing at least some evidence backing up the assertions.
The eight things mentioned by TheHealthSite.com are as follows:
1. Insomnia/Lack of Sleep
Studies among university students suggest that using social media via smartphones is more likely to keep students awake into the wee hours of the morning when they should be sleeping. Doing this too often can lead to insomnia and other sleep problems, which we already know to be harmful to mental and emotional health. Perhaps we need to leave the smartphone in another room when it’s time for bed.
2. Anxiety and Depression
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions found that students who spent excessive amounts of time using their smartphones are more likely to suffer from certain mental illnesses, including anxiety and depression. I don’t know why this is so without delving into the details of the study.
3. Dermatitis and Skin Irritation
Though not necessarily related to mental and emotional health, excessive smartphone use can cause dermatitis and other skin irritations in some people. Experts believe this may be due to allergens like cobalt, chromium, and nickel.
4. Chronic Pain
Studies have verified that chronic pain in the fingers and wrists is a common side effect that comes with excessive smartphone use. We also know that chronic pain can cause disruptions in good emotional and mental health if it persists long enough.
5. Premature Aging
Believe it or not, dermatologists have discovered that using your smartphone too often and for too long can cause premature aging in the face. The fact that your head is constantly bent forward can cause neck muscles to shorten, which promotes sagging and wrinkles in the skin. Premature aging can cause emotional stress in some people.
6. Vision Problems
Spending long hours staring at your tiny smartphone screen can cause dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, and other eye related problems. If these conditions persist long enough, they can harm emotional health as well.
7. Inattention and ADHD
University of Virginia researchers have discovered a link between prolonged smartphone use and greater problems with inattention among adults. They suspect the smartphone may be partly responsible for an increase in adult ADHD.
8. Relationship Problems
Lastly, excessive smartphone use can lead to relationship problems, especially where social media is concerned. Phones pull couples apart by keeping them more focused on social media and their online followers than one another. One obvious result of failed relationships is the resulting harm to emotional and mental health.
The smartphone and its associated technologies are wonderful things. But they have to be kept in their proper perspective. Failing to control technology can lead to significant mental and emotional health issues that could otherwise be avoided.