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Think again before immersing yourself in your phone!

Text Necksurprise

Familiar with the pain in the neck from looking down at your cell phones and tablets for too long or too frequently? Text neck is the name of this painful condition and it’s a rapidly increasing phenomenon around the world. Science suggests that bending the neck while using smart phones increases the weight and pressure on the spine and this leads to pain in the neck & arms and numbness. In a normal standing position facing forward, the neck and spine painlessly support the weight of the head, which is about 4.5-5 kg. Bending the neck increases the weight on your neck and spine to as much as 20 kg depending on the angle of the bend, which can cause severe pain. To avoid text neck, these 3 tips are helpful: 1) take regular breaks, 2) alter your position in which you use your smart phones so that you are more upright and 3) Perform upper back strengthening exercises, chest stretches and neck posture drills.





Nomophobia, short for “no-mobile-phone phobia” is as the word suggests- the fear of being without your phone or out of mobile phone contact. It was coined during a 2010 study in Britain, in which it was found that nearly 53% of mobile phone users tend to be anxious when they “lose their mobile phone, run out of battery or credit, or have no network coverage”. Further, a survey conducted by SecurEnvoy in 2012 found the percentage to have increased to 66% and also that youngsters and adolescents are more likely to suffer from nomophobia.  Some common symptoms of nomophobia are obsessively checking your phone, constantly changing your battery and taking your phone to the bathroom with you.





Phantom Vibration Syndrome

How many times have you felt that your mobile phone is ringing or vibrating when it is not? The name given to this rather common perception is phantom vibration syndrome, also called ringxiety and fauxcellarm. The underlying cause is believed to be over-involvement with cell phones and is a result of anticipatory anxiety. They generally tend to develop when you set your cell phone settings to use vibrating alerts. The alarming part is that it is a widespread phenomenon among people. In fact, study conducted by Dr. Michelle Drain, an American researcher, found that 9 out of 10 undergraduate students at her college had experienced phantom vibrations!





Text Claw

Another common side effect of smart phones is text claw. Text claw is the name given to the pain, soreness or numbness in your wrist, hands and forearms as a result of repetitive fine motor activities such as texting and playing games on your cell phones, tablets, laptops etc. Text claw can lead to tendonitis, which causes severe wrist pain, local joint stiffness and loss of strength. To avoid text claw or if you sense pain in your wrists as a result of excessive messaging or playing, firstly take regular breaks and give your hands rest. Additionally, rub ice on the pain-causing area, use a wrist brace and perform wrist exercises such as these.





Sleep Disorder

Our circadian rhythm is a natural body system that’s designed to regulate our states of sleepiness and wakefulness over the course of a day. The area in the brain responsible for the circadian rhythm is responsive to light and is the reason that enables us to be alert in the morning and sleepy when it’s dark outside. Now, the blue light emitted from electronic gadgets such as cell phones, tablets and laptops suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that controls the circadian rhythm. This stimulates your brain and keeps it alert/engaged as it is tricked into thinking that it needs to stay awake, thus pushing back sleep time twice as long as coffee does. It is, therefore, a good idea to keep away from gadgets for at least 30 minutes before you hit the bed to sleep. The more, the better!





A very disturbing research by the University has found that on an average, a cell phone harbors 10 times the bacteria on a toilet seat! Cell phones are generally cleaned less often than toilets and thus, continue to pick up germs. While one may be tempted to think that germs on a cell phone should not be that big a deal, it becomes a more serious problem when cell phones are shared between people. The safest thing to do, of course, is to be careful about where you leave your cell phone and wipe it regularly.






Social isolation

Mobile technology has revolutionized communication in that it has enabled us to stay connected online over great distances. Yet, the irony is that it has had a negative effect on face-to-face interactions with studies showing that people have become more disconnected and less ‘present’ in reality. A couple of experiments have shown that cell phone obsession in social settings affects closeness, connection and conversation quality with people around us. Further, researchers have found that people who engaged in personal discussions with cell phones nearby reported lower relationship quality and lesser trust in their partners. The lesson? Forget about your Smartphone when you’re talking face-to-face with people around you!




Nerve Damage

Along with text neck, excessive Smartphone usage can cause serious damage to nerves as well. It can result in occipital neuralgia– a neurological condition characterized by chronic pain in the upper neck, base of the skull, back of the head or behind the eyes. It is caused by the compression or inflammation of occipital nerves (that run from the top of the spinal cord up through the scalp) that can result from drooping or hunching while using Smartphone and other electronic devices. Some ways of dealing with the pain when it starts is by applying heat to the neck, resting your neck and back, massaging the muscles and most importantly, keeping away from your phones for a while!




Eye Strain (Computer Vision Syndrome)

Prolonged staring at Smartphone or laptop screens and scrolling through texts and other media can lead to what is known as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Symptoms of CVS include eye fatigue or strain, dry eyes, blurred vision, double vision, irritation in eyes, headaches, neck pain and dizziness. According to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, it affects 90% of people who spend 3+ hours a day at a computer or other electronic devices. To avoid CVS, it is recommended to increase your phone’s font size, hold them about half a meter from your face, reduce glare and overhead lighting and give your eyes a break by following the 20-20 rule: look away from your screen every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Also, don’t forget to blink often.





Smartphone addiction has now been recognized as a real and increasing phenomenon among people. The overuse of mobile phones among people is evident from the fact that a poll by National Safety Council (NSC) in the U.S. found that a whopping 82% of Americans believe that cell phones are addictive. Research in the U.S. has also found that 60% of Smartphone users can’t go more than an hour without checking their phones while another paper suggests that 39-44% of Indian adolescents are addicted to Smartphone. Thus, constantly having your cell phone around is indeed an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and there are rehabs now for cell phone addicts.



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