If you’ve ever sat in a café and just people watched you’ve probably noticed a lot of people with their heads bent over a smartphone, furiously texting, tweeting, updating or locating. They periodically crash into each other or other obstacles turning a normal street into one big pinball game. People have been hurt and even killed while distracted by their phones and there’s even an app to protect you.
This isn’t the only danger when using a smart device such as a phone or tablet. Healthcare professionals are warning of several conditions that can plague anyone who spends long hours in front of one screen or another.
Repetitive stress injuries, formerly the bane of factory workers are on the rise. They can range from mild tendonitis to chronic issues like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Constant and repetitive movements of the thumbs is even referred to as Blackberry Thumb where constant typing on the tiny keyboard extends the thumb or the tendon that brings the thumb into the palm. The strain causes tiny tears to connective tissue.
The remedy is simple, slow down and give it a rest now and then. If it gets especially painful there are stretches that can be used to alleviate the symptoms. Avoiding a chronic problem is always better than trying to treat it.
Text Neck is another problem caused by constantly keeping the head at an angle while looking down at your gadget. When you look down you are adding pressure on the discs of the cervical spine and more strain on the muscles and ligaments of the neck. This is especially common in young people as they are constantly texting but it can affect anyone who uses a handheld device for many hours.
The answer here is to take frequent breaks, flex your neck every now and then or raise your device higher so you can raise your head.
Eyestrain is a fatigue based issue but can cause real discomfort. Users tend to hold their smartphones very close to their eyes causing the muscles to work overtime. Constant texting and browsing the tiny fonts and images can also result in dry eye, blurred vision and general discomfort. Past studies have found that up to 90 percent of computer users experience eye problems.
The solution again is just taking it easy, moving your gadget away from your face and look away often to focus on a distant focal point.
It might seem that these issues are fairly benign but it pays to be aware of long term issues that arise from constantly staring at, down, close or for too long. But they can have serious health implications and for those who are young enough to have had these devices most of their lives may be faced with unexpected health consequences in the future. Even more serious than falling into a fountain at a shopping mall.
DataComm Plus is happy to supply all the gadgets that make communication more productive and even more fun. But we also know that for all the whiz bang toys you may have there’s no substitute for knowing when to take some time, browse the office vending machine or chat up a co-worker. Who knows, the break you take today could get you some elevator time with the CEO and he may just be interested in your work-from-Hawaii idea. Or maybe not.