Smartphones are amazing, amazingly bad for you

pew research center

Technology has intertwined its self into our everyday lives. So much so that it is becoming part of our culture. Too much of a good thing of course is never good; the same is true with the greatest invention of the century—the cell phone.

The cell phone used to only make calls but from a remote location, but now making calls is only a small percentage of what the modern cell phone can do. People have become inseparable from their phones, which have become an all in one media tool.

“Fully 92 percent of American adults own a cellphone, including the 67 percent who own a smartphone,” according the Pew Research Center on cell phone usage. “Their owners often treat them like body appendages. Nine-in-ten cellphone owners (90 percent) say they ‘frequently’ carry their phone with them, while 6 percent say they ‘occasionally’ have their phones with them. Just 3 percent say they only ‘rarely’ have their cellphones with them and 1 percent of cellphone owners say they ‘never’ have their phone with them.”

According to comScore, the average adult used their cell phone an average of 2 hours and 51 minutes per day. All of that cell phone usage must have a negative effect on its users; and indeed it does. Depression and anxiety have been on the rise, and too much screen time is the culprit.

“Years 2010-2015, found that girls were particularly at risk: Their suicide rate rose by 65 percent in those five years. The number of girls with severe depression rose by 58 percent,” according to an article by Alice G. Walton, a contributor to Forbes, citing a study done by the CDC. “About 48 percent of those who spent five or more hours a day on their phones—a lot of time by any measure—had thought about suicide or made plans for it, vs. 28 percent of those who spent only one hour per day on their phones.”

If depression wasn’t bad enough, cell phone usage before bed may also disrupt your sleep. The blue wavelength of light emitted by your phone suppresses melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate sleep, causing the users’ circadian rhythm to be off. This leads to restless nights and less REM sleep than normal. REM sleep is considered the most important phase of sleep. The trouble comes when blue light is viewed within 2 hours of the users’ normal bedtime.

“Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute found that those who used the tablets while wearing orange goggles, which filter blue light, had higher levels of melatonin than those who either used the tablets without goggles on or, as a control, with blue-light goggles on. The harm caused by blue light has been replicated over and over. ”

I personally use my cell phone several hours a day. In fact, I was looking back and forth at it while typing this article. In the world today it seems almost impossible to set the phone down, but for the sake of our health we all need to recognize too much screen time does not come without its consequences.