By AMELIA MCCARTHY
Six billion people own a cell phone. According to the United Nations, only 4.5 billion own a toilet. As we become more and more addicted to our devices, complications are inescapable. Whether the problem is physical or happening in our heads, they’ll only get worse with increased usage.
1. Phantom Vibration Syndrome: It is commonly accepted that having hallucinations is a problem. However, our addiction to technology has caused 90 percent of people to experience “Phantom Vibration Syndrome,” or believing your phone is vibrating when it isn’t. GIT professor Dr. Robert Rosenberger believes this hallucination occurs because people become so attached, the phone becomes part of their body. So when people notice other sensations like clothing movement or muscle spasms, they misinterpret them as vibrations.
2. Nomophobia: Not to be confused with its actual meaning (the fear of laws), ‘no-mobile-phone-phobia’ causes 66 percent of people to feel panic or desperation when separated from their phones. Scientists have found that people increasingly display a psychological attachment to their phones, with an inability to focus on conversations and a constant need to check for notifications. This reliance contributes to serious issues like car accidents, for which 21 percent of fatal car crashes were directly linked to cell phone use for 15- to 19-year-old drivers.
3. Dirtier than a toilet seat: It’s no surprise something you touch, share, and rub against your face constantly will collect germs. But it might be shocking to hear your phone is ten times dirtier than a toilet seat. Public restrooms are constantly cleaned, while the warmth from a phone breeds bacteria, which can include dangerous, illness-inducing strains like E. coli. Sharing phones is the real issue, as one set of germs won’t get the owner sick, but add a friend’s and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Though many of us can’t put them down long enough to clean them, feel free to wipe the screen with an alcohol-free antimicrobial spray and a soft cloth.
4. Disrupting sleep: One survey suggested 71 percent of people sleep with or near their phone. While many enjoy finishing the day with a final check, the light may be harming routine rather than adding the cherry. The light from our devices has a higher concentration of blue light than natural light, which affects levels of the sleep hormone melatonin. Sleep pattern changes shift the body’s natural clock, controlling not only wakefulness but individual clocks that regulate organs. Studies show using these devices before bed makes it harder to fall asleep, shortens the dream phase, and lengthens the time needed to wake up. Solutions include dimming and making use of programs to filter out blue light. Plus, there’s always the ancient art of reading a book.
5. Toasted-leg syndrome: This particular issue is reserved for those who are truly incapable of setting down a laptop, even as it burns their skin. “Toasted leg syndrome” is a brownish discoloration of the skin caused by prolonged exposure to heat, like a laptop computer resting on the upper legs. 111.2 degrees Fahrenheit is plenty. Patients who worked near open fires or coal stoves and elderly patients who used hot pads and blankets have shared the ailment. This seems like a fairly preventable one.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement for the latest device. However, it’s important to be mindful of just how much time we’re spending playing games or checking facebook. It’s okay, maybe even critical, to occasionally put the devices down.
Amelia McCarthy is a high school senior at Bethlehem Central High School and an intern with TheSpot518.