Technology has elevated from a convenience to a necessity by most in our society, especially the use of smart phones with approximately 80% ownership in the U.S. We are so dependent on our smart phones a significant percentage of cell phone owners describe a relationship with their phones as something they cannot imagine living without.
Besides running into a stationary object while texting, Facebook scrolling, or reviewing emails, opportunities for physical harm from smart phone use is controversial. According to the FCC, all wireless communications devices must meet the minimum guidelines for safe human exposure to radiofrequency… among other mandatory testing. That said, wireless devices emit radiofrequency. While no significant scientific evidence links device use to cancer or other illnesses, the closer your smart phone is to your body, the greater exposure to radiofrequency.
Suggestions to lower exposure include:
– Use a headset, Bluetooth, or speakerphone when talking on the phone to reduce the exposure of RF to your head and brain.
– Do not sleep with your phone in your bed. If it is just too difficult, turn off the wireless.
– Increase the distance between you and your phone by storing it in a purse or bag instead of your pocket.
Other dangers of our digital world take shape more subtly. Amounts of time spent on a hand held device is ever increasing, along with growth in both time spent and engagement for social media’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (to name a few). Some people have such strong addictions to their smart phones that no in-person interaction occurs without them close by and often visible. While being connected for many of us is an economic necessity, digital connections can create a false sense of belonging as well as wreak havoc on interpersonal relationships.
According to Psychology Today’s article, Harm from a Handheld, a partner’s handheld habits can be the root cause of the other partner’s feelings of depression, rejection, and jealousy. Further, with the increase in digital time, social interaction decreases. It is predicted that this will greatly affect our society’s norms of communication, and accordingly relationships. Social interaction will not cease to exist but the habits of sending a text or email as a preferred method will yield less of a personal connection than that of an in-personal conversation or a telephone call, over time eroding relationships.
The iPhone effect: Social interactions and a constant state of “poly-consciousness,” states that the ever-increasing use of handheld devices may also lead to a culture of distraction. Multitasking has been shown to impact numerous cognitive abilities and tasks, including driving ability, memory, and academic performances. Our multitasking efforts clearly are not benefiting us in the long run, and some social scientists feel multitasking is a falsehood.
In summary, it is exciting to embrace innovation and think of our world in 20-50 years. It is also scary. Technology can be helpful for staying in touch, but let us remember social interaction and physical touch are good for our health.