Is cell phone bad? What Neuroscience Says | by Claudia Feitosa-Santana
What is the impact of cell phone on our body and our brain? The alleged harms have scientific evidence?
The Internet is 50 years old, but it’s been less than 25 years since it started to enter our homes and just over 10 years we’ve carried it everywhere inside our cell phones.
One of the most prevalent questions: Can we get addicted to cell phones? To answer this question we must look at behavior and the brain and see if we find a pattern of behavior and brain activity that resembles other addictions like, for example, alcohol, cigarettes, shopping, sex etc. And the answer is Yes. In behavior, these people are – for example – seeking immediate reward, just as in other addictions. In the brain, this processing is also altered.
A very recent study published in a Nature magazine analyzed 60 young people between 18 and 30 years old, healthy, but self-declared addicted to the Internet. Two neural networks that are known to have altered activation patterns in people with other addictions were analyzed and the authors found these networks also altered in this group, suggesting that, in fact, cell phone addiction is possible and therefore has serious consequences such as the other addictions. So, be warned: we can become addicted to cell phones. But we don’t know if the use causes this brain alteration or if the person already has this propensity that facilitates the installation of the addiction. It is worth remembering that a family history of addiction is a warning to everyone. More than that: as this is something new in our lives, we do not have research to say the consequences of its use in childhood and the consequences in adult life. It is worth remembering that myopia is now an epidemiological problem, probably as a result of reduced physical activity and increased screen time.
So, this addiction already has an official name, NOMOPHOBIA (in mobile phobia) defined by the fear of being without a cell phone, and which can cause the HIKIKOMORI a Japanese term for describe the severe social withdrawal resulting from cell phone addiction.
A study with North American students (548 and 296 each) shows that the mere presence of the cell phone interferes with reasoning ability, what they call a brain drain that robs cognitive ability. To check this, they tested the students in 3 situations: cell phone on the table, cell phone in backpack and cell phone in another room. Thus they found that the closer the reasoning, the worse the reasoning and this cognitive cost is worse for those who are more dependent on the cell phone.
A study that just came out of the oven with 265 Chinese university students shows that cell phone addiction in the first year increases the chance of depression or anxiety in the third year, but that monitored adjustment during the second year to reduce addiction reduces this chance, improving the mental health.
A study with 478 Japanese university students shows that, in general, young males prefer online games and females prefer networking on social networks.
There are hundreds of studies that assess depression and anxiety. When they are all analyzed together, which we call a meta-analysis, it is concluded that approximately 25% of children and young people have problematic cell phone use and are more likely to develop depression, anxiety, poorer sleep quality, among others. others. Using the cell phone at night is worse, but there are already people who use filter applications to avoid the hormonal production that disrupts sleep (but unfortunately these applications don’t work as well as they seem).
Can it cause brain tumor? It seems not. Large-scale studies in Denmark and the United States show that the number of brain tumors remains the same and if they were caused by cell phone use they should have increased a lot as cell phone use has grown exponentially . But can it cause headaches? Yes, but not for everyone. The chance of headaches increases with the time you talk on your cell phone and the number of daily calls.
Can it cause muscle pain? Yes! Recent studies indicate that the cell phone should be used between 0 to 15 degrees of head tilt to avoid neck pain. And more: using the cell phone standing up causes less damage than sitting and inappropriate use increases the chances of muscle pain and may progress to what is known as musculoskeletal disorder. But again, being very young, we have no way of defining what is healthy or unhealthy use in children and the consequences when you are an adult. Again, common sense and the reminder that the moving body is fundamental and cannot be replaced by time on the cell phone.
And the impact on relationships? Dating, friendship, parents and children? How is it? 174 millenniuns were monitored 5x a day for a week and it was found that if when divided (with the cell phone close) between face-to-face and virtual, they felt more disconnected; when only with real contact (no cell phone around), they felt more connected.
There is no doubt that the Internet has brought gigantic benefits, one of the most relevant is the possibility of active interaction, totally different from TV, cinema and radio, which brought information in a passive way.
The cell phone can be analogous to the invention of writing and its transformations can be as beneficial as, for example, collective production on Wikipedia, etc.
With a cell phone, we can be close to those we love even though we are geographically far away! We verified this with the pandemic…
The best way to use your cell phone is the middle way, as you need to be digital with awareness. Therefore, we need to dominate the cell phone and not be dominated by it. The more the use is problematic, the greater the need to take a vacation from it (and this number is growing). Anyway, we need to be conscious digital beings.
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