It hasn’t taken long for mobile phones to become ubiquitous. Head out anywhere in a big city like Seattle, and you’ll see people using their phones to kill time while on the subway, call someone while walking to work, take pictures of local landmarks or consult a navigation app for directions. Over lunch or dinner, WiFi is increasingly as important as the food itself; people are likely to spend as much time on their phones as they are engaging in conversation. And a generation of kids is growing up with phones in their hands instead of toys.
There’s no doubt that mobile phones are amazing devices whose continued innovation has helped people become more productive and made it easier for us to stay in touch with others. But many studies have linked excessive mobile phone use to certain health risks; as you go about your daily affairs and spend time on the phone, here are some essential safety measures to observe.
Watch your surroundings
It’s no secret that mobile phone use while driving is a distraction, increasing the risk of a vehicle collision, which is the leading cause of death in young adults across the US. Being distracted while using your phone isn’t just a problem for those behind the wheel; in Washington State, where many people walk or bike instead of driving, distraction-related collisions are a significant concern. Whether you live in the busy capital or a quiet suburb like Kent, distraction can lead to a life-changing pedestrian accident in the worst possible way, as your lawyer will tell you afterward. So put your phone away, be aware of your surroundings, and pull over or stand in a safe place if you need to text or make a call.
Cut down on radiation
Mobile phones were listed as possibly carcinogenic devices in 2011 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Since then, research continues on the possible effects on tissue exposed to the electromagnetic radiation being emitted by phones; factors such as differences in phone technology and the length of time needed to establish causality make most studies inconclusive for now. In the meantime, avoid a possible increased risk of cancer by keeping your phone away from your body as much as possible; use a wireless headset for hands-free operation.
Lower your sound levels
Although headsets are a great way to keep your hands off your phone while still taking calls or listening to music, podcasts, and audiobooks, don’t overlook the dangers of hearing damage. Long periods of listening, especially when the volume is turned up to tune out ambient noise, can cause hearing loss. Look for models with active noise cancellation, and a snug fit that’s not too close to the eardrums so that you can turn down the volume and follow the “60-60” rule for safe listening.
Maintain your downtime
Excessive mobile phone usage can carry over well into the evening when our bodies and minds should be at rest. The blue light from your device’s screen can be particularly disruptive; if you’re having trouble sleeping regularly, the adverse effects can extend to your productivity at work and general well-being. Keep your phone out of arm’s reach at night so you can shut down properly and enjoy the therapeutic benefits of sleep.
Your mobile phone may be an integral part of your routines, but excessive use comes with risks; finding ways to limit your exposure will benefit your health and keep you safe each day.