8 Reasons To Stop Using Your Phone Constantly
STORY: Sim Ding En
07 September 2021
Our island nation is number one again - but for a, quite literally, sian reason.
According to a recent study by UK bedding brand Sleepseeker, Singapore is the most fatigued country in the world, with a fatigue score of 7.20 out of 10, ahead of even Japan (notorious for people keeling over from karoshi, or death by overwork).
One of the biggest culprits of fatigue and sleep deprivation: the amount of time we spend online and on devices that give off blue light, particularly mobile phones.
The blue light emitted from the screens of such devices slows down the release of sleep-inducing melatonin, and resets your body’s internal clock (or circadian rhythm) to a later schedule, making you more alert instead.
Basically, no sleep, cannot function. And sleep deprivation is just one of the reasons why we should be picking up our mobile phones less often.
1. It wrecks your eyes
Although there is no overwhelming proof that prolonged use of your mobile phone leads to permanent eye damage, it is well known that it causes eye strain and discomfort. Furthermore, mobile phones emit High-Energy Visible light (or HEV light), which has the shortest wavelength in the visible light spectrum, and therefore produces a higher amount of energy that has a greater potential of damaging tissue. Eye strain also comes about because you open your eyes wider and blink less when you’re staring at your phone. Follow this 20-20-20 rule to help relax your peepers: Look up from your phone (or any other digital device) every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
2. It wrecks your hands
So you may have perfected the art of dexterously holding your phone in one hand and using the thumb on that hand to text and swipe, but take heed! Doing this repetitively day in, day out is a sure-fire way of triggering inflammation and tendon issues in your wrist. The thumb has a limited range of motion, so using it to text and swipe is pushing it outside its comfort zone, especially if you’re using a larger handset. Don’t invite painful strains like “texting thumb” or “text claw”.
3. It wrecks your posture
The average human head weighs between 4.5 and 5.5kg and our neck and spine are designed to hold it up at a certain angle. Did you know that tilting your head down at a 60-degree angle to look at your phone causes the stress on your neck to increase to a whopping 27kg? It’s no wonder upper back and neck aches ensue from looking down at your phone and hunching over it to check emails and your social media accounts for a prolonged period.
4. It wrecks your sleep
One of the worst things about using a mobile phone just before bed is that it disrupts your body’s natural sleep cycle (also known as “circadian rhythm”). The blue light emitted from the screen is the same one you’re used to getting from the sun in the daytime. Hence, it keeps you alert and awake, and inhibits the production of melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep.
5. It wrecks your health
Your phone is a petri dish of thriving bacteria. Think about it: When was the last time you wiped it down? What kind of surfaces do you place your phone on? Do you bring it with you to the loo? Studies have shown that bacteria that are responsible for the flu, skin infections, toxic shock syndrome, and food poisoning could be flourishing happily on your handset. Wash your hands thoroughly, use a hand sanitiser and make the effort to clean your phone.
6. It wrecks your social skills
It doesn’t take scientific studies to show that constant use of your mobile phone, especially in social situations, will lead you to be perceived negatively. It communicates to others that you want them to wait, that what’s on your phone is more important than they are, and that you are rejecting face-to-face interaction with them. Don’t wreck your health and your friendships, unless your goal is to be #foreveralone.
7. It wrecks your safety
A study by AIG Singapore showed that while driving, 24% of drivers in Singapore programme their GPS, 20% text and 18% use or check their mobile phones. If you’re guilty of doing so, it greatly increases your chances of being in an accident. As a pedestrian, texting or watching a video with earphones while walking is equally hazardous to your health. In fact, these are some of the biggest causes of distracted walking accidents.
Read our piece, "Distracted Walking: 5 Steps To Take To Prevent It".
8. It wrecks your life
Reliance on your mobile phone can be debilitating. In fact, an informal term has been coined for the fear of being without a mobile phone - nomophobia (no-mobile phone-phobia). Warning signs include not being able to turn off your phone - ever; not being able to go to the loo without taking your phone with you; being extremely anxious or distressed when your phone is not with you; and checking it constantly for missed calls or messages.