Smartphones Can Make You a Nearsighted, Spine-Crooked, Distracted, Compulsive Insomniac

June 7, 2016 Updated: October 5, 2018

Cellphones are so common in the world now that people are more likely to have a cellphone than a functioning toilet.

But despite making it easy to communicate and Google anything and everything, cellphones are changing how people function in not-so-good ways.

A recent video (above) from ASAPScience presents a long list of reasons why you should take a “smartphone vacation.”

Posture Ruined

Bending your head to stare at your phone ruins your posture. Since an average head weights 10-12 pounds, bending it forward 60 degrees increases the strain on your neck by about 60 pounds, according to an op-ed in The New York Times by Amy Cuddy, a psychologist and associate professor at Harvard Business School.

In turn, slouched posture can lead to worse mood, lower self-esteem, and more fear, Cuddy wrote.

Commuters are seen on the sidewalk near a Metro station on May 27, 2016 in Washington, DC. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Commuters are seen on the sidewalk near a Metro station on May 27, 2016, in Washington, D.C. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Eyesight Compromised

While in the early 1970s about quarter of Americans aged 12-54 were nearsighted, in the early 2000s it was already more than 40 percent. Moreover, severe nearsightedness, which signals a risk of severe problems like glaucoma or retina detachment, increased eight-fold for the same population, from 0.2 percent to 1.6 percent.

“Individuals who spend considerable time reading, working at a computer, or doing other intense close visual work may be more likely to develop myopia (nearsightedness),” states the American Optometric Association. 

Compulsion Formed

Mobile games eat at your time and are designed to keep you coming back. The Candy Crush Saga is a typical example.

“‘Candy Crush’ is like a slot machine on steroids,” said Paul Ralph, director of Lancaster University Design Practices Lab in the United Kingdom. “When you think about what makes a slot machine so addictive, a slot machine provides you with a constant positive reinforcement, you just constantly have these small wins. In ‘Candy Crush’ the small win is the candies exploding.”

To compare, it takes about 560-650 hours to learn French well enough to carry on a conversation. If you only quit playing games on your phone during your daily commute (assuming you’re not driving! Say 30 minutes there and 30 minutes back), you can learn French instead in less than 2 years. 

Brain Waves Changed

By transmitting a signal when receiving a call, cellphone placed by one’s ear affects one’s brain waves, according to a study published in the PLoS One journal last year. Changes have been detected over alpha, slow beta, fast beta, and gamma brain wave frequencies. The study recommended further research into what effects those changes may have on people.

Sleep Ruined

“Light at night is bad for your health, and exposure to blue light emitted by electronics and energy-efficient lightbulbs may be especially so,” states a Harvard Medical School article.

Working at night and exposure to light at night has been linked to cancer (breast, prostate), diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

“It’s not exactly clear why nighttime light exposure seems to be so bad for us,” the article states. But it may have something to do with exposure to light blocking the production of melatonin, a hormone that governs our sleep cycles.

“Avoid looking at bright screens beginning 2 to 3 hours before bed,” the article suggests.

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