By Tonte Spiff
For many people today, owning a smartphone with the capability of browsing the internet, taking photos and videos, GPS, and gaming, among others has been become commonplace – essentially, a part and parcel of every day life.
It seems hard to believe that Steve Jobs unveiled the Apple iPhone, back in January ‘07, describing it as: “A revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone.” Later that year, in November ‘07, Google announced that it would offer the Android mobile operating system for free. This was unique because Google allowed anyone to use the Android mobile operating system, as well as change it. Although, by default it would use Google services for search, email and video. Google’s decision regarding the use of the Android mobile operating system was lucrative for the company, but also fostering an extremely enjoyable as well as customizable experience for consumers.
The evolution of smartphones has since, created a magnetic and addictive online culture exposing millions of users to unlimited experiences in communication, literacy, business, health, music and anything imaginable under the sky – virtually.
Over the past decade, the race for efficient smartphones witnessed brands such as Samsung, Nokia and Sony furthering an extremely competitive market. This has resulted in a constant production of new and improved smartphones with ever expanding capabilities thrusted frequently at consumers.
And why do smartphones serve as constant companions to millions of individuals around the globe? The answer is simple. With a flick of a finger and the world on one’s palm consumers can perform from the very basic to the most complex of functions everyday. Be it asking Google the meaning of one’s existence, to sharing multiple photos with family and friends, or ordering food from an array of restaurants, or paying bills - smartphones have made life much easier for most of us.
On the other hand, there have been a number of issues regarding smartphone usage habits that have constant negative effects on both the physical as well as mental well-being of consumers causing some individuals to question if we are better off without them.
An increasingly popular issue with smartphones is text neck syndrome caused by straining one’s neck during smartphone use. Dr. Erik Nabeta – Chiropractor at Progressive Chiropractic Centre says: “Individuals should always be aware of their posture to prevent text neck from occurring. With the right exercises and techniques to hold your device properly, you can limit the strain on your neck and spine while correcting previous issues.”
Having dealt with patients suffering from text neck syndrome, Dr. Nabeta urges individuals to take the matter seriously because: “Not only can text neck cause pain to the neck, shoulders, and spine, but it could lead to a number of other issues including migraines and disc herniation. These are among the reasons why it’s more important than ever before to avoid hunching over because the average amount of time individuals spend on their smartphone each day is constantly on the rise.”
Dr. Nabeta is among the growing number of spinal specialists who recommend holding your smartphone at eye level or taking periodical breaks from using your smartphone. According to a study posted in The Spine Journal, one of the main issues with text neck syndrome is the fact that some patients, particularly young adults who shouldn’t be dealing with any neck or back issues, have reported disk herniations and alignment problems.
Dr. Nabeta states that the average human head is about 12 pounds and the hunched posture created through the use of not only smartphones, but also tablets and laptops leads to increased stressed on your neck which is similar to holding out a bowling ball at a 45-degree angle.
Bad smartphone habits have also led to a number of issues households, for both children as well as parents. Statistics from a Common Sense Media survey showed the following results:
In addition to issues like text neck affecting the physical health of individuals, there are a number of mental health issues linked to the use of smartphones.
With smartphones, we’re provided the ability to instantly access a multitude of social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at any time of the day. This is a major issue because social media platforms have negative effects on self-esteem as individuals are constantly comparing not just themselves, but their lives as whole to others.
Even though social media platforms were designed to allow increased interactions between users, it has actually been a detriment to social life as a whole. It has become commonplace to find a group of friends spending time together without actually interacting with one another as their busy on their phones.
Most of the issues linked to smartphone usage generally seem to be the product of bad habits , but is it truly possible for all of these bad habits to be removed?