Back in simpler times, nobody really thought too much about the effect that our phones might be having on our brains. There were initial concerns with radiation and other hazards, but as far as impacting our minds, nobody ever showed much interest. All of this changed when the smartphone was invented as it was a whole new technological device on its own.
According to the most recent findings from the Pew Research Center, a whopping 95 percent of Americans now own a cell phone and 77 percent own a smartphone. These numbers mean that more people than ever are using them, so we need to know the true effects of smartphones.
It’s not all bad news as you might expect though, and although there are negative effects of smartphones there are also positives. We’re going to look at the good and bad, as well as how your phone actually affects your brain, so it’s well worth reading for anyone with this type of technology.
How Do Smartphones Affect The Brain?
Due to the relative newness of smartphones in society, it’s hard to know at this stage what the long-term effects of smartphone use will be. However, what we do know now is that using your smartphone can impact different parts of the brain responsible for things like social skills and sleep.
When you think of your smartphone you’re probably only thinking about the convenience it offers. You can call or text anyone you need and have access to all of the world’s information at the touch of a finger, but what about the sleep disruptions, Wi-Fi signals, and bright screen that affects us as well?
Depending on what you use your phone for and how often, different parts of your brain will be utilized or impaired. There are some positive effects of smartphones, but looking at the research it appears that the negative side has a lot more to say.
The Positive Effects Of Smartphones
The bad news for smartphones is that there’s really not a lot of good they can do when it comes to brain function. They are definitely good at helping people learn more information, diagnose health problems, or communicate with others, but when it comes to their effects on the brain there isn’t too much positive.
The one good thing about having a device like a smartphone is that you have easier access to apps and games that promote brain fitness. 20 years ago, this type of technology wasn’t so readily available and these days it’s quite easy to get.
The Negative Effects of Smartphones
When looking at the negative cell phone effects on brain health, there’s quite a lot that has been discovered. Various studies regarding smartphones and brain power have revealed some potentially troubling findings:
Especially when looking at children, studies have shown that when we use our phones to do something we could do in real life, it will be having a negative impact on our social and communication skills.
Reduced Cognitive Capacity
One study found that even when our smartphones are off, even if they’re nearby out cognitive capacity is significantly reduced.
Using your phone within hours before bedtime will likely lead to sleep problems. Many studies have found that the light emitted from these devices actually messes with our sleep cycle and can do for hours after we stop using it.
Nobody has to think much anymore when they have a smartphone, and trying to recall information or remember facts doesn’t need to come from the brain anymore. Some experts believe that relying on these devices like that can lead to a lazy brain.
Making Better Use Of Your Phone
Because we know so little about the long-term effects of smartphones, we need to be smart about how we use them now. Even thinking about going without their phone for the day can be enough to stress some people out, but for the sake of our brain health, we need to try a little harder. Here are some tips to follow about healthier smartphone use:
Choose Apps Wisely
Don’t just use any old app to mindlessly pass the time. Go for those that will get your brain working and boost your mood. Use video chat for family, puzzles, and games that stimulate the mind, or learn a new language or skill.
People have a hard time staying away from their phone but for the sake of your brain, you need to take some time out. Try to have a couple of hours away from it after 15 minutes or so of use and avoid using it for entertainment.
Keep It Away At Bedtime
Have your phone in another room of the house and far away at bedtime. At least two hours before bed you should avoid using it, or at least set it to ‘night mode’.
Airplane mode can be used when your kids are playing on your phone or when you don’t want any disturbances. This is also helpful to protect against other damage that could come from the phone from Wi-Fi or radiation.
Being Mindful Of Technology
There’s no way that people would give up their smartphones, as these handy little devices have become a way of life for most. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be smart about how you use them.
Brain health is so important at all stages of life and our smartphones are one device that can directly impact it. Learning how to be smarter with your technology could make a huge difference for your brain, and considering these devices aren’t going anywhere soon, it’s something we all need to be mindful of.