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How Too Much Mobile Device Use Is Taking Its Toll On Our Brains And Bodies

How Too Much Mobile Device Use Is Taking Its Toll On Our Brains And Bodies

A recent CNET article talks about how the increasing reliance on mobile devices have affected the way our brains and bodies function. Much has been discussed about how today’s consumers often experience sore necks, aching backs, strained eyes, inadequate sleep, lost focus, and even injured hands. In the long term, continued constant use of smartphones and tablets can even lead to chronic pain and affected memory, not to mention mobile related stress and anxiety.

In that CNET article, Andrew Lui, a clinical professor of physical therapy and rehabilitation science at the University of California, explains how excessive use of mobile devices can help contribute to bad posture, and even a misaligned spine. It may not be obvious to most people, but the simple act of craning your neck to read a smartphone’s display screen can take its toll on the neck and spine over time. 

Then there’s the danger posed to eyes. Too much looking on screens makes people scrunch and hunch more, which leads to less blinking which causes dry eyes. Moreover, the eye muscles contract more, which can accumulate muscle tension. Even thumbs are in danger, too. 

What about the effects of mobile device use to the mind? According to Anthony Wagner, a professor of psychology and neurology at Stanford, information overload brought on by too many emails and social media posts can lessen one’s ability to process and even retain information. Some might say the digital age has made multitaskers of us all. But Wagner says not exactly -- our brains do not actually multitask, they just switch from one process to another. Too much switching is not good, because basically we are training our brains to lose focus more. The result is that our ability to retain information, even remember things, is affected. 

Then there is that thing about the sleep cycle. When you are up late at night browsing your smartphone, your body’s production of the melatonin hormone is reduced. Melatonin happens to help regulate your sleep cycle. 

Having detected these effects, what can we humans do to prevent the overuse of mobile devices from destroying us? One simple thing is to spend some time away from smartphones and tablets. Needless to say, this is easier said than done. But it helps if you can find some space that forces you to stop being mobile. 

Chicago is home to a popular bar called The Violet Hour. What makes this place so interesting is that it discourages the use of mobile devices. One would think that in the digital age, this bar would be out of business before long. But quite interestingly, it is not uncommon to see long queues forming just outside the establishment’s doors. This is some kind of proof that, yes, no-smartphone locations can be feasible, and people actually appreciate these kinds of places.