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12 Worrying Cell Phone Health Hazards Seniors Should Know About

We use them every day, but did you know about these cell phone health hazards?

These days, everyone owns a cell phone. And we even have many health apps at our disposal that can track and encourage healthy behaviors. GPS tracking can also help parents keep their kids safer.

And then there’s phoning for help in case of an emergency, which can be lifesaving. But the convenience of having all that information at our fingertips might come at a hefty price. The truth of the matter is that there are quite a few downsides to cell phone use.

There’s distracted driving, which can lead to car accidents. But that’s probably the most obvious example. And as new research shows, other injuries can also be linked to cell phone use. There are also concerns about potential links between cell phone use and back and neck pain.

There’s even an increased cancer risk to consider. Of course, it’s common sense to put your phone away while driving, running, or doing anything that requires your attention to avoid injury. But here are 12 more cell phone health hazards all seniors should consider!

Cell Phone Health Hazard
Photo by H_Ko at Shutterstock

Cell phone health hazard: Superbugs

If you have a cell phone, you likely take it with you everywhere, including the bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom. So it shouldn’t be a huge surprise to learn that it’s covered in germs. But to make matters worse? You put it on your face!

Unsurprisingly, this is a bad idea because the superbug MRSA has been found on cell phones. And even if there’s no MRSA on your phone, some other germs are crawling around on it too.

Cell phone health hazard: May shorten your attention span

Research shows that even though digital multitasking may seem practical, it might make us less focused in the grand scheme of things. A Microsoft study showed that participants’ average attention span was only eight seconds.

To compare, a goldfish has an attention span of nine seconds. This shortened attention span is a new consequence, and it’s more pronounced in those who use screens a lot. Before smartphones were invented, humans were able to pay attention for over 12 seconds.

Cell phone health hazard: It could make you sluggish

It turns out, your phone size can impact how assertive you are, according to studies performed at Harvard Business School.

Those who used smaller devices in the study waited patiently in their seats for a researcher to come back to them rather than go to the front desk and get them as instructed. Individuals using larger electronic devices took a more proactive approach.

Cell phone health hazard: Weight gain

At this point, you probably already know that the blue light coming out of your phone’s screen can interrupt your sleep. But you might not have realized that scientists have linked sleep disorders like the ones caused by your phone to diabetes and obesity.

These disturbances prevent your body from producing leptin and ghrelin, which are two hunger hormones that help you regulate your appetite during the daytime. And it isn’t simply looking at your phone before you fall asleep that causes these disorders.

Any light your phone casts while you’re asleep, whether it’s from the clock on your screen or a notification, can mess with the hormones your body requires to produce while you’re snoozing.

So, before you hit the sheets, be sure to turn off your phone and ensure you get a good night’s rest.

Cell phone health hazard: A phone could be distracting your doctor

We’d like to imagine that doctors using their phones while operating on patients isn’t a thing, but it is sadly a regular occurrence. Multiple doctors have been caught texting while on the job in the operating room.

And for the ones that aren’t texting? Those germy phones and so-called sterile environments still don’t mix!

Cell Phone Health Hazard
Photo by Ground Picture at Shutterstock

Cell phone health hazard: It could be changing the structure of your brain

We all know that as we age, boosting our memories is a constant battle. But in addition to shortening our attention span, media multitasking can alter the physical structure of our brains, according to research published in PLoS One.

Those who engage in a higher amount of media multitasking actually had less grey matter density in the anterior cingulate cortex part of their brain, which is related to decreased cognitive control and socio-emotional regulation.

Cell phone health hazard: Addiction

It’s quite possible to become addicted to your cell phone. And Smartphone withdrawal can cause physical symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, and depression. It actually raises the production of the stress hormone cortisol, too, which is cardio-toxic.

But maybe the worst thing about all the ways your phone can harm your overall health is that it’s so hard to abandon it. Luckily, there IS hope. If you think you’ve got a problem, we highly recommend seeking help from a professional.

Cell phone health hazard: Cell phones can cause anxiety

Despite being the device that keeps you connected to your entire circle of acquaintances, your cell phone could be causing you social anxiety. For many people, this concern may result from the need to respond to every email, text, or notification you get immediately.

But, strangely enough, using your phone for professional reasons doesn’t cause increased stress. So, apparently, your phone only interferes with the stuff that truly matters!

Cell phone health hazard: They could change the way you think

Not only can excessive screen time change the structure of your brain, it can also alter the way you think. Researchers from Dartmouth compared the results of people who read physical books against those who read on screens.

They discovered that those who do their reading on a screen weren’t as great at recognizing abstract concepts in the passages they read.

Cell phone health hazard: Smartphone Blindness

You might not have known this, but besides messing with your sleep cycle, staring into your phone when in bed can also cause temporary blindness. If you’re lying on your side in the dark and looking at your phone with one eye, you can go temporarily blind.

So it’s probably a good idea to stop bringing your phone with you to bed. And while you can pretty quickly avoid temporary blindness in one eye from your phone, eye strain is a completely different matter entirely.

Between the time you spend on your computer and the time you spend staring into your phone, you’re likely straining your eyes regularly.

Cell phone health hazard: Cell phone elbow

If you use your cell phone to communicate verbally instead of through text, that’s great, but you could suffer from “cell phone elbow,” also known as cubital tunnel syndrome.

Treatment includes switching arms when using your phone for prolonged periods, using a headset, or, better yet, putting the phone down every once in a while.

Cell Phone Health Hazard
Photo by fizkes at Shutterstock

Cell Phone Health Hazard: Your phone may be robbing you of your empathy

A study at the University of Michigan revealed that college students from this decade are 40% less empathetic than students 30 years ago.

The cause of this steep decline in empathy is thought to be a combination of exposure to more media and social media, which we all conveniently carry around in our pockets at all times.

Have you ever heard of these cell phone health hazards? Please feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

And if you liked this article, The Lasting Health highly recommends you also read: 8 Delicious Energy-Boosting Foods for a Smooth Transition Into Your 60s

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