Just Switch It Off

At the end of last month, it became official: The smartphone market has gone flat. The first quarter of 2016 saw the smallest growth ever recorded.

Even Apple, which seemed unstoppable, saw sales drop for first time since the iPhone’s launch in 2007. The stock market’s reaction in recent weeks was harsh. Yesterday, Apple shares fell to 90 USD, the lowest price in 2 years and thereby Apple lost its status to be ‘the most valuable company in the world’. Google‘s parent company Alphabet (market cap: 499 billion USD) surpassed Apple (494 billion USD.)

There are many reasons why the smartphone-market has settled (as changing dynamics in China), but the biggest reason probably is this: everyone who wants a smartphone has one and the phones they’re buying are so good that they don’t need to upgrade as often. 

Finally, the market has peaked, was my first thought after reading this news. I’m not a digital native. When I wrote my first email or bought my first candybar-shaped Nokia, I had already finished university. So I know how life was before the digital & mobile-age and since I’m not so into socializing as I probably should, I still use my mobile mainly for business and often leave the house on purpose without it.

Should you think, I’m maybe embarrassed by an outdated model, you wrong. My mobile would be well presentable, I just want to enjoy an uninterrupted time on my own.

But when I use the metro, walk/drive/bike through Bucharest or read (a real printed) book or newspaper on a terasa, I get the impression to be the only one to do so. I didn’t count how many times I saw 3 or 4 people sitting at a restaurant table together constantly starring on their phone-displays, nonstop giggling and talking only when absolute necessary – to the ospatar. I can’t help to think about how depended yet addicted to mobiles phones many people have become in recent years.

Of course, it’s none of my business to tell others, how to use their cellphones. But when I recently stumbled upon an article in the british newspaper ‘The Telegraph’, I thought to share it with you on this site, since the now common excessive use of smartphones makes us far less effective at completing tasks and can be destructive to your health.

According to the British Chiropractic Association, our obsession with smartphones has led to a rise in the number of young people with back problems, as the amount of time spent leaning over small phone oscreens can put spinal discs under pressure. ‘Thanks’ to technological lifestyles, 45% of 16 to 24-year-olds suffer from back pain. In addition, bending your head down to look at your phone to text can lead to the Text-neck syndrome. Orthopaedic surgeon Jonathan Dearing said that “text-neck” syndrome was something he had never came across before.

Accidents 

If you’re looking at your phone then you’re more likely to walk into a lamppost, trip over your feet or have a more serious accident. Carnegie Mellon University researchers found that drivers who are listening to someone talk on their mobile have 37 per cent reduced brain activity. Meanwhile, a University of Washington study found that texting pedestrians were four times more likely to ignore the lights or forget to look for traffic before crossing.

Anxiety 

Instead of making us more connected, the potential for incessant smartphone communication can make us feel more isolated. Young people, who spend 11 hours looking at their screens every day, expect constant updates from their friends, and a lull in messages can lead to anxiety. There’s also clear evidence of increased anxiety when we’re not allowed to answer our phones. A study showed that people who were unable to answer their phones when they were ringing experienced a faster heart rate, a rise in blood pressure, they began to sweat, and they showed decreased cognitive performance.

Obesity 

Jonathan Dearing, spokesman for the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, says that the technology revolution has led to reduced physical activity and obesity which is the fourth biggest cause of death worldwide. “If someone is on the floor above you at work, rather than going to see them you would send an email. And you would phone up a friend rather than travelling to meet them,” he says. “Inactivity leads to obesity, and it means risk of cardiovascular disease is greatly increased. Pretty much every pathology – such as breast cancer, prostate cancer or bowel cancer – you are both more likely to get it and less likely to recover from it if you are inactive.”

Sleep 

More than 60% of 18- to 29-year-old smartphone users take their phones to bed, but studies have found that just two hours exposure to brightly lit screens can suppress melatonin and lead to sleeping troubles. Kevin Morgan, Director of the Clinical Sleep Research Unit at Loughborough University, says that late-night intellectual stimulation from our phones makes it more difficult to relax: “Looking at screens engages you in intellectual activity in a way that is not at all like reading a book. It puts you in a state of alertness which is the last thing you want to be before going to bed.”

Relationships 

Social skills have also been depleted thanks to the amount of time we focus on our smartphone, instead of those around us. Smartphones are apparently killing your love life. A study found that cellphone obsession is, indeed, hurting relationships and making people depressed.

Addiction

Dr Aric Sigman of the British Psychological Society, claimes, that a generation of young people are growing up with a virtual addiction to computers, televisions and smartphones. “Technology should be a tool, not a burden or a health risk,” he told Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health 2012 annual conference. And smartphone-obsessed parents affect their kids.. “Children learn by watching us how to have a conversation, how to read other people’s facial expressions,” says Jenny Radesky, a pediatrician specializing in child development. “If that’s not happening, children are missing out on important development milestones.” For the alarming increase in suicide attempts of young   people, leading child psychotherapist Julie Lynn Evans blames smartphones.

Attention span 

Finally, research has found that smartphones greatly reduce our attention spans. The results showed the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000, the age of smartphone evolution began, to 8 seconds. And here we are – left with such a short attention span that even a goldfish can hold a thought longer. J And this makes us far less effective at completing tasks, especially difficult and detailed tasks. Even the mere presence of a smartphone is distracting enough to ruin our mental concentration.

Today is Friday the 13th of May. A day full of superstitious beliefs worldwide. For most people who consider Friday 13th unlucky, it is more a question of what they avoid doing, rather than what they do on this day. Many people will purposely avoid doing anything significant like flying due to the belief that the day is cursed and it’s a source of ill fortune.

Usually, I consider superstitious beliefs rather ridiculous and with regard to religion outright stupid and dangerous. But if you think otherwise, that’s fine. So use your beliefs and start on this Friday 13th, to avoid using your smartphone too excessive: Just switch it off. You could thereby improve you mental concentration, attention span resp productivity – and it would be a blessing for your health.

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Text-neck syndrome, obesity, addiction, attention deficit and much more – the digital revolution can harm your health if you can’t manage to switch off your device from time to time.

obama's family using smartphones

factor that distract attention

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