Discover the dangerous consequences of your cell phone habit.
You constantly look at it. When you aren’t around it, you feel anxious, and when you have it, it’s all you can think about. Yes, we’re talking about your smartphone. Our obsession with mobile gadgets has become epic — one in every five people in the world own a smartphone these days. And now there are a handful of new syndromes that come with that addiction.
1. Text Claw and Cell Phone Elbow
“Text Claw” is a non-medical term used to describe all of the finger cramping and sore muscles that come from continuous scrolling, texting, and gaming on smartphones. An even more common side effect: Using your phone too much can cause inflammation in your tendons and enhance existing conditions, like tendinitis and carpal tunnel. Similarly, “Cell Phone Elbow” describes tingling or numbness in ring and pinky fingers after bending your elbow for long periods of time.
If your non-stop smartphoning has you feeling sore and weak, do some stretches. Put down the phone, then try bending your wrists backward, putting your hands together like a prayer and pushing down. Then, doing some wrist flexes. If you experience pain for longer than a week, try applying heat. Or better still, see a doctor.
2. iPosture and Text Neck
Slouching over your phone for hours at a time is ruining your neck and hurting your back muscles. “iPosture” or “Text Neck” are just two of a few phrases doctors throw around to describe the excessive stress on neck muscles. According to a study of young adults in the U.K., 84% of those tracked experienced back pain during the last year, mainly due to being hunched over smartphones, tablets, and computers.
Fixing your posture can relieve lower back pain, and limiting your phone use can alleviate neck strain. While it seems awkward, try to hold your phone directly out and in front of your face, not on your lap where you might need to look down for minutes at a time.
3. Computer Vision Syndrome
Staring at the tiny font in your texts and scrolling through dozens of tweets can lead to eyestrain, blurred vision, dizziness, and dry eyes. And blurred vision plus sore neck muscles can also cause headaches.
If you’re experiencing eye discomfort, make your phone’s font size bigger. Mark Rosenfield, O.D., Ph.D., told Men’s Health that phone users should try to hold their phones at least 16 inches away from their faces. Every few minutes look up from your screen at something far away for short breaks, and don’t forget to blink.
Short for “no-mobile-phone phobia,” this is exactly what it sounds like: the fear of being without your cell. According to a study of 1,000 people in the U.K., 66% of the population fears losing or being without their phones at any given time. Some of the symptoms of nomophobia include anxiety or negative physical symptoms if you have lost or cannot use your cell phone, obsessively checking to make sure you have your phone with you, and constantly worrying about losing it somewhere. Interestingly, the study found that women suffer from this more than men.
If this sounds like you, experts suggest employing common anxiety-relieving relaxation techniques like yoga and deep breathing.
5. Phantom Pocket Vibration Syndrome
No, you didn’t just get a text message! A professor at Indiana University found that 89% of the undergraduates in her study experienced phantom vibrations when their phones weren’t actually vibrating. The study also found that students who were dependent on text messages and social media updates were more anxious when their phones weren’t really vibrating.
A good way to break the addiction? Try shutting your vibration function off and commit to only checking your phone during designated hours. If you have to keep your phone with you, place it in your bag instead. And try to resist checking your bag every five minutes. Otherwise, you might become the first case of Phantom Bag Vibration Syndrome.