Smartphone changing our genetics?
“Back in my day” seems to be a common phrase among baby boomers, in general it seems like everything was more simple back then. Healthy eating and exercise were not fad diets or special gym training programs, they meant eating fresh foods that were cooked at home and getting outside to do yard work, chores, or play.
Millennials and Generation Y groups are known as the “digitally savvy, easily influenced and media exposed” generations. Typically they are a well-connected bunch and the use of smart phones and tablets is part of their daily, if not hourly lives. The average adult glances at their smartphones 5 times a day compared to 109 times a day by Millennials.
With all the technology, there must be an impact on health? It is only just recently are we starting to comprehend the influences such devices have on health. While the true impacts will likely not bee seen for decades from now, there are some emerging trends that cannot be ignored.
- Eyesight is changing. A study published in 2015 found 90% of children in China had myopia (near-sightedness) as opposed to a mere 10-20% only 60 years ago.
- Couch potatoes are growing larger. In 2009 the average American sat in front of a screen for up to 8.5 hours a day, and children were sitting in front of a screen up to 7 hours a day. The decrease in physical activity and increase in screen time can be directly tied to the obesity and diabetes epidemic.
- “Texter’s“ neck is a real thing. The average human head weighs between 10-12 lbs and angling the head forward by 15 degrees while using a smartphone or tablet raises the weight on the neck to 27 pounds and angling forward by 60 degrees increases the weight on the neck to 60 lbs. This increase in weight can cause pain in the neck, headaches, arm pain, and numbness.
- Repetitive strain injuries, once common in factory workers, grocery clerks, baggage handlers, and frequent exercisers are now being seen in smartphone and tablet users. Pain and inflammation are usually the two most common signs of a repetitive strain injury, which is usually caused by inadequate rest after a particular activity. With the repetitive swiping action of the wrist, thumb and fingers, many people are now complaining of an ache of some type in their hands.
- The use of smart phones is reducing the face-to-face communications skills. One only needs to observe friends or family out at dinner to notice that the art of conversation is being replaced by the head down, face down position of smart phone usage. Important communication skills will inevitably be lost with this decrease of human interaction.
If each generation remembers the past as the good old days, what will the Millenials and Generation Y think of the way things are in 30 years? With the use of technology changing our physical and social capabilities we are probably facing a society that has poorer life expectancy and quality of life than generations before it. This is a scary thought, is it enough to make you put down that smart phone before it is all too late?