4 Physical Side Effects of Being Addicted to Your Smartphone

By John Lavitt 07/28/14

Think overuse of smartphones doesn't have physical consequences? Think again.

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If your best friend told you that your smartphone addiction has actual physical side effects that were affecting your health, you probably would laugh and shrug it off.

But according to doctors, perhaps you should be listening to that friend after all. Beyond the psychological problems and the resulting anxiety engendered by always needing to use a smartphone, there are actual physical side effects of such extreme behavior.

Doctors have been doing their best to keep up with the storm of smartphone addiction and the new physical difficulties that go hand-in-hand. Here is a list of four physical side effects of your smartphone addiction that are a lot more serious than you think and could have long-lasting consequences:

  1. iPosture: How often do you see people obsessively slouching over their phones for hours at a time? Slouching strains the neck and back muscles. According to a Simplyhealth study of young adults that was conducted in the United Kingdom, 84% experienced back or neck pain in 2013. This is likely the result of being hunched over modern technological devices. 
  2. Computer Vision Syndrome: Did you think that staring at that small screen for hours would actually help your eyes? Squinting to see the miniscule font in your texts as you read through the latest Facebook updates leads to eyestrain, blurred vision, dizziness, and dry eyes. When combined with the back pain caused by iPosture, the negative consequences can be headaches and even migraines.
  3. Text Claw: Although it is not a medical term, text claw describes all of the finger cramping and sore hand muscles that come from continuous scrolling, texting, and gaming on smartphones. Doctors believe that the constant use of smartphones can cause inflammation in tendons, and possibly lead to tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
  4. Phantom Smartphone Vibration Syndrome: What’s happening in my pocket? Is someone trying to text or call me? Is my ringer off? Isn’t that my smartphone vibrating? According to Dr. Michelle Drouin, a professor at Indiana University-Purdue University, 89% of the undergraduates in her study had experienced phantom smartphone vibrations when their phones were not actually vibrating or not even in their pockets. Students dependent on text messages and social media updates became anxious and upset because the phantom vibration was not real.

Although this article focuses on only four physical symptoms of smartphone addiction, the common experience of the psychological dependence—nomophobia—on a smartphone is quite problematic as well. Basically, at some point, human beings might be forced to choose between being 100% connected anywhere anytime and just being healthy.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.