How dangerous is your smartphone?

(BPT) - It’s true: selfies killed more people than shark attacks in 2015.

While death by selfie may be considered a rare occurrence and at the extreme end of the dangers they pose, the health risks associated with smartphones are no joke. In fact, they are ever increasing. Here’s a look at some common problems smartphones can afflict on users and how we can all avoid them by being a bit smarter ourselves.    

Phone claw

Perhaps the most common problem people encounter is the cramping and soreness felt in wrists and fingers when using smartphones. Repeating actions, such as using your thumb to scroll on screen or typing on a small keyboard, can cause tenosynovitis (inflammation of tendons). Symptoms start as pain and stiffness in the thumb area but can spread to the forearm and cause weakness in the hand.

To minimize pain felt when scrolling or texting, it is recommended you vary the hand you use for completing smartphone tasks, and use a bigger keyboard, such as one on a laptop, for typing longer emails.

Eye strain

Imagine the pain you feel in your arm muscles after holding something heavy for a long time — that is exactly how your eye muscles feel after staring at your smartphone for a long time.

Digital eye strain is made even worse by the harmful blue light emitted by the screens of smartphones that can penetrate deep into the eye. This can damage the eye’s retina which has been linked to macular degeneration — the most common cause of sight loss in the developed world.

You can combat this risk with Adlens Interface eyewear. Tinted lenses filter out 80 percent of the most harmful blue light, and unlike other computer eyewear, the optical power of Adlens Interface is continuously adjustable. This allows wearers to change the power to focus comfortably and reduce the strain felt by eye muscles when looking at screens.

You can visit Adlens.com for more information.  

Text neck

Smartphones quite literally are a pain in the neck says Dr Kenneth Hansraj, whose research published last year demonstrates how the posture we commonly take when looking at our phone increases stress on the neck. Heads tilted at a 15 degree angle downwards to look at screens increases the effective weight placed on our neck by 27 pounds, while a 60 degree tilt causes a 60 pound increase.

This excessive stress may require a corrective operation. To avoid this, people are advised to regularly take breaks from looking downwards and to lift and stretch their necks. Wherever possible, use voice recognition services and swap texts for phone calls.

Accidents

If you are looking at your phone, you are more likely to trip over your feet, walk into a lamppost or have a more serious accident — so far this year four selfie deaths have been caused by falls.

Researchers at the University of Washington found pedestrians using their phone are four times more likely to forget to look for traffic before crossing or ignore traffic lights, while a Carnegie Mellon study found drivers even just listening to a phone call have been seen to commit errors as if they were under the influence of alcohol.

Smartphones are not just a cell phone; they are music players, news sources, cameras and central to our social lives. But however integral they have become to our daily routine, we must make sure we remain aware of their hazards and are using them in the smartest ways possible.

Accidents are avoided when we remain aware of the world around us and ensure our smartphone is never the sole focus of attention.


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