When using our phone endangers our health

  • Wellness
  • Thursday, 01 Jan 1970

A new study has revealed some of the ways increasing mobile phone use is having a negative effect on health, including distraction while driving as seen in this posed filepic.

New Australian research has found that "technoference", which is when we experience distractions in our daily life due to mobile phone use, appears to be having a negative effect on our sleep, health, productivity, and even the safety of our driving.

Carried out by researchers at the University of Queensland, the new study surveyed 709 mobile phone users aged 18 to 83, across Australia in 2018, using questions taken from a similar survey carried out back in 2005.

The researchers then compared the answers from the two surveys to see how mobile phone trends and technoference had changed over the 13-year period.

The findings, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry, showed that 24% of women and 15% of men could now be classified as “problematic mobile phone users”, and for 18- to 24-year-olds, this figure is even higher at 40.9%.

The team also found that 14% of women report trying to hide the amount of time they spend on the phone, compared to just 3% in 2005, with 8.2% of men doing the same in 2018, compared to 3.2% in 2005.

This problematic phone use also appears to be affecting our health.

One in five women (19.5%) and one in eight men (11.8%) are now losing sleep due to the time they spend on their mobile phones, compared to just 2.3% of women and 3.2% of men in 2005.

There has also been an increase in the number of men and women who believe any aches and pains they have are due to their mobile phone use, up from 3% of women in 2005 to 8.4% in 2018, and up from 1.6% to 7.9% of men.

The researchers also found a link between problematic phone use and taking more risks while driving.

Distractions from mobile phone use were also found to be affecting productivity, with 12.6% of men and 14% of women reporting that their productivity has decreased as a direct result of the time they spend on their mobile, compared to no men in 2005 and 2.3% of women.

“When we talk about technoference, we’re referring to the everyday intrusions and interruptions that people experience due to mobile phones and their usage,” said study leader Dr Oscar Oviedo-Trespalacios.

“Rapid technological innovations over the past few years have led to dramatic changes in today’s mobile phone technology – which can improve the quality of life for phone users, but also result in some negative outcomes,” he continued.

“The speed and depth of smartphone take-up in Australia makes our population particularly vulnerable to some of the negative consequences of high mobile phone use,” he outlined, adding that “these include anxiety, and in some cases, engagement in unsafe behaviours with serious health and safety implications, such as mobile phone distracted driving.” – AFP Relaxnews

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