Our smartphones have become a huge part of our lives. Most of us can’t go into the other room without our phones. Everything we do from talking with our friends, logging our meals, and tracking our steps comes from our phones. It seems innocent and harmless, but that may not be the case. In fact, there are many ways that our smartphones are actually hurting us.

If you also find yourself glued to your phone more than you should be, you probably have noticed at least a few of the issues that can arise from too much screen time. Your eyes may get blurry and strained, you might get shoulder and back pain from looking down at your phone, or you might get frequent headaches. Too much of anything can be a bad thing, so it’s no surprise that using your smartphone can also cause problems.

Sleep

Lying in bed and scrolling through Instagram before bed is a bad habit that many of us have. It seems harmless, but this may be screwing up the quality of our sleep every night. Our cell phones emit a high quantity of blue light, which is the same kind of light the sun gives off.  Not only is the high amount of blue light bad for our vision, but it suppresses the production of Melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep.

Melatonin is known to act as an antioxidant, so when sleep cycles are out of whack and Melatonin is suppressed, the risk of cancer increases. Specifically, breast cancer and prostate cancer are more likely in those whose melatonin is off balance.

Eyes

Eye damage is a very real risk from the over-use of cell phones, for the same reason as sleep issues. Blue light can cause damage to the retina, which increases the likelihood of more eye problems. Macular Degeneration is one of the huge problems that can occur due to retinal damage. Macular Degeneration can cause central vision loss, which is the ability to see things right in front of you. Some studies have also shown that the radiation our cell phones give off can cause cataracts as well, but more studies still have to be done to confirm this as a fact.

Mental Health

Addiction to cell phones is a problem that many people have. It started out as a harmless device meant to keep us in contact with our friends and for entertainment. It has now become a staple of most peoples’ lives, and doctors are warning us of addiction and mental health concerns as a result of cellphone overuse.

We already talked about how smart phones give off blue light which suppresses melatonin production, well it turns out that reduced melatonin levels can cause depression in some people. Increased stress and anxiety levels have also been linked to the overuse of cell phones and social media.

It would be unrealistic to advise people against using their smartphones at all, but overuse does pose a serious risk. You should avoid using your smartphone around bed time, and you should never use it for more than an hour and a half at a time- without a break. Your eyes need a break from the high levels of blue light, so get up, go outside or run some errands. It’s never too late to give it up and improve your sleep, eye, and mental health.

DSC_1631 (2)Written By: Gabrielle Pfeiffer

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