All we know: the arrival of the Smartphone in our daily life has undeniably changed our lives. Not only that, but this new era also brings a lot of the negative effects of smartphones on the brain and body. This article will tell us more.
The brain is not an inert and frozen material but it is a true central unit of the human being. It is very plastic, neural connections are changing every day and stimulation of the brain triggers the creation of new neural circuits. This stimulation allows the traditional process of learning and this has allowed the human being to adapt and evolve. Digital tools are powerful stimulators, they participate, like other elements, in the modification of our brain.
By 2017, estimates predict that one-third of the world’s population will own a smartphone. This represents at least 2.6 billion users worldwide. And for many, the mobile phone has become an indispensable object of everyday life. To communicate, interact with others, but also follow the news or even entertain. On average, users would spend at least 4.7 hours a day on their Smartphone.
1 – Our Technological Life Strengthens the Brain like a Muscle
When we walk quietly in the street, phone in hand, we do not realize that we are subjecting our body to a constant digital exercise: our fingers, our eyesight, our spine and, of course, our brains.
The areas of the body with more sensory activity – such as the fingers, jaw, eyes, or tongue – are the ones that more actively alter our brain. Each region has a specific treatment area in our emotional center: the somatosensory cortex. Located behind the central groove of the primary cortex, the somatosensory cortex is very flexible and different for each person.
The continued use of the Internet through computers, tablets, and smartphones alters the brain structure of the little ones. And of course, also that of adults.
One of the main features of our brain is its enormous plasticity. This plasticity is the one that allows brain structures, previously believed to be fixed and static, to be able to modify themselves to meet new needs or circumstances. These changes are important and occur on a physical scale.
Whenever we develop a new skill or learn a new skill, new synapses occur between neurons, thicken and strengthen connections and even new neurons are fixed primarily in the hippocampus, the region responsible for recording precisely new facts.
The daily use of digital tools such as search engines greatly boosts the work of brain areas devoted to decision making and problem-solving. These areas are barely activated in people who do not usually use these digital tools.
Experts, based on their studies, have argued that smartphone use can impact children’s social and emotional development, can put our sleep habits at risk, and may even make some people into lazy thinkers.
2 – Surfing on a Smartphone Changes the Brain
Researchers from the Swiss Universities of Zurich and Friborg, in a study published in the journal Current Biology in December 2014, decided to explore how the use of the touchscreen Smartphone constantly modifies the functioning of the brain.
For several months, the researchers examined the encephalograms of 37 people between the ages of 19 and 34: 26 touchscreen cell phones and 11 old-generation touch-screen telephones.
They came to the conclusion that the areas of the brain that control the thumb, index, and middle finger – the somatosensory cortex – were more developed in smartphone users. The more smartphone owners had used their device in the previous 10 days, the more signal was observed in the brain; the others did not have such a signal.
The most sensitive area is the one controlling the thumb. This area reacts almost daily to uses of the Smartphone, the shorter the time between the use of the thumb (and the encephalogram), the greater the potential of the area of the associated cortex is important.
The process of cortex sensitivity in the contemporary brain is continually changing through the use of digital technology.
Scientists have known since the end of the nineteenth century that every region of our body has devolved a specific brain zone of the primary motor cortex that controls its movement. The area of this area is closely related to the frequency and use of the area in question. Thus, the hands and the fingers occupy a more important place than the other parts of the body.
3 – Read on Smartphone or Tablet Before Sleep Has Consequences on Sleep
According to a study by Brigham and Women Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2014, reading before sleeping could affect anyone who uses a laptop, smartphone or some TVs before going to bed. sleep.
The study lasted two weeks during which the twelve participants read on an iPad for four hours before going to bed for five days in a row, a process that was repeated with printed books. For some, the order was reversed: they began with printed books and then went on a tablet.
The researchers found that iPad readers took longer to fall asleep, felt sleepier and had a shorter phase of REM sleep than readers of printed books. Readers on the iPad also secreted less melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate sleep. They were also more tired than book readers the next day, even though both got less than eight hours of sleep.
The fault with the blue light emitted by the LEDs of the screens of the digital terminals, which would disturb the secretion of melatonin, essential for a good quality of sleep.
4 – Tablets and Smartphones Prevent Children from Sleeping
According to a US study by the Institute of Public Health at the University of California at Berkeley, published in the journal Pediatrics in January 2015, children who have access to tablets or smartphones in their room get less sleep than those who do not have one.
The study was conducted on 2,048 children between 10 and 13 years old, educated in Massachusetts. It shows that of all college students studied, those who have tablets and smartphones in their room at night sleep an average of 21 minutes less than their peers who do not have.
In addition, children who have a TV at the foot of their bed have their sleep amputated by 18 minutes compared to those who do not have a remote control at hand.
5 – Smartphones Can Make the Brain Lazy
A study of psychology researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada, published in Computers in Human Behavior in February 2015, examines the relationship between people’s analytical abilities and how often they use smartphones.
To see how these devices affect our thinking, researchers interviewed 190 participants recruited online using Amazon Mechanical Turk. Each of the questions asked had a wrong answer that could be found intuitively and a correct answer requiring a greater effort of reflection. The survey also collected information on the time spent using search engines on smartphones and computers as well as the use of social networks and entertainment sites.
They found that people who often rely on external sources of information (for example, search engines) tend to favor intuitive responses to analytical responses.
The results showed that there were generally no differences between Smartphone owners and non-owners regarding cognitive measures, which proves that owning a Smartphone is not enough to change the analytical skills of somebody.
Researchers are concerned, however, that a high level of smartphone use may have negative effects of smartphones on analytic thinking, not because of the device itself, but because of our attitude towards these multifunction phones. and outsourcing our thinking, a simple example is to write his race list on his phone instead of trying to memorize it.
The researchers conclude their report by noting that people who are relatively less willing to engage in effort-intensive reasoning processes can compensate for them by relying on the internet through their smartphones, it would seem that a sense of uncertainty could encourage a person to use his Smartphone, rather than engage in more analytical thinking.
6 – Laptops and Tablets Are Dangerous for Children
According to the National Agency for Food Safety, Environment and Labor (ANSES), in a study published in July 2016, believes that there is a possible effect of radio frequencies on the cognitive functions of the child and that the available data suggest a possible effect of radio frequencies on the well-being of children.
The Agency notes an increase in children’s bone marrow or brain exposure compared to others, as evidenced by some dosimetry studies, and therefore recommends reducing the limit values for exposure. Parents should limit children’s use of tablets, phones, and other wave-emitting devices. They must also ensure that the phone does not remain lit in contact with the body (pants pocket or top for example) to avoid possible thermal effects.
In any case, it is very difficult to avoid exposure to electromagnetic radiation sources in the environment. The Agency recalls that these sources are innumerable and go beyond the scope of the mobile phone: low-frequency fields from the transport and distribution of electricity, radio frequencies from radio and television sources, mobile communication and all home appliances. that emit radiation – baby-watch devices, connected toys, wifi, for example -. But the mobile phone remains a major source because it is the most intense source.
The Agency stresses that exposure starts from an early age because of the rapid development of mobile communication technologies that place its sources nearby, sometimes in contact with the body, children. From the development phase in utero.
Electromagnetic waves emitted by mobile phones, tablets or connected toys can affect the cognitive functions – memory, attention, coordination – of children. The report noted the negative effects of smartphones on well-being (fatigue, sleep disorders, stress, anxiety). It was not possible to link these effects to the waves themselves, but it would be the use of the laptop that would have its negative effects.
This hypothesis is reinforced by the finding of a correlation between intensive use of the mobile phone and affected mental health that results in risky behavior, depression or suicidal ideation.
7 – The Use of Tablets and Smartphone Could Harm the Development of Socio-Emotional Skills
Researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine, in a study published in the journal Pediatrics in 2015, conducted a review of the available literature on the use of Smartphone and iPads in young children.
Using these devices to entertain or soothe children could have a negative effect on their social and emotional development.
Experts suggest that hands-on activities and those involving direct human interaction outweigh interactive on-screen games.
The use of mobile devices becomes particularly problematic when these devices replace hands-on activities that help develop motor-motor and motor-motor skills. The researchers point out, however, that there are still many unknowns about how the use of these mobile devices affects the child’s development. They questioned whether excessive use could interfere with social skills development and problem-solving that is better achieved through unstructured play and peer interaction.
8 – The Negative Effects of Smartphones on Health
Despite the positive view of research, the use of mobile telephony, and in particular overuse, can lead to negative physical and mental consequences.
One such case is that of the emerging pathology called ‘whatsappitis’ which affects the wrist, fingers and even the neck as a result of excessive use of WhatsApp. The symptoms are a pain, swelling, and stiffness, and they increase with movement.
It is the relationship of relative dependence or even addiction of people anxious at the idea of ending up without their mobile phone. It is comparable to a pathology.
Nomophobia and also the FOMO phenomenon (Fear of Missing Out), which is the fact of constantly monitoring its social networks for fear of missing something, is tantamount to a form of dependence. This promotes the creation of a strong bond of psychological belonging that can even go to the affective link with the object.
Disorientation (dizziness, imbalance) is also a side effect of using mobile 3D applications for iPhone and iPad, which generates the lag between eye movement and the signals that the balance system receives, and can lead to feeling dizziness, nausea, and eye strain.
Nausea and disorientation problems are temporary and they are mostly caused by sensory conflict. The symptoms can be compared to reading in an automobile.
In extreme cases, some mobile drug addicts suffer from ‘ghost vibration syndrome’, which essentially means feeling the phone vibrates even if they do not have it or are disabled.
Waves and Radiation
According to the World Health Organization, radiation is potentially carcinogenic to humans. The National Agency of Sanitary Security (ANSES) reports that radio frequencies, or waves, have different consequences and biological effects for humans and animals. This would be a possible increase in the risk of a brain tumor in intensive users of the notebook.
Microbes and Bacteria
A 2013 study by the Wall Street Journal reveals the presence of many bacteria such as “coliforms”, which would indicate faecal contamination.
When one leans one’s head forward regularly, the position one adopts to write an SMS, inflicts additional pressure on the spine. Hence neck, cervical and head pain.
The smartphone is synonymous with social destruction
Beyond its psychological impact on its user, the Smartphone has also affected human relationships, social. While originally, the mobile phone is a tool to promote communication, today it kills.
Human interaction has been sacrificed for the connection. We are relying more and more on technology and less on our peers.
Enemies of Good Sleep
If anxiety and stress were already negatively impacting people’s sleep quality, being all-day with mobile devices in hand adds new components to this complex case. The increase in “techno-stress”, derived from the misuse of technological devices, makes it increasingly difficult for people to reconcile sleep every night.
The sleep deficit has negative effects on the person’s mood, the quality of his work, family relationships, sex life, and overall health.
9 – The Effects That the Smartphone Has on the Brain
Thanks to neuroscience, we now know that digital tools act on different types of memories. According to scientists, one of the impacts of digital technology on memory processes is that the long-term memory, that of storage, is much less used. A study even showed that people withheld less information that they could easily find on their computers.
If this storage memory is less used than in short-term memory? Very clearly this memory runs the risk of a recurring overload or a real saturation. If the storage memory is potentially infinite, our RAM is not very extensible. The brain receives much more information than before but does not have the ability to memorize everything.
We are unequal in this process because we are all different. If you have a great capacity for analysis and synthesis, the Internet will increase cognitive activity. Conversely, we risk being overwhelmed by the data, which will neither be transformed into information nor of course into knowledge.
New behavioral habits emerge and create a form of need to be continually stimulated. Paradoxically behind this gratifying impression of being constantly stimulated and performing several tasks at once, the degree of attention of individuals suffers. Multitasking increases our cognitive load and has a negative impact on our ability to focus on one task at a time and to do it properly. This hyper-connectivity interferes with our concentration abilities as well as our processes of action and decision-making.
While our perception of the world, our attention and the actions that we have to do there, are naturally focused and oriented by the surrounding context in which we are immersed, with Smartphone technologies there is a surge of many contexts dissimilar to the one in which we find ourselves physically.
The consequence is that it weakens the quality of our sensory experience in the present moment.
For example, when we perform a task, we focus our attention on it, ignoring the secondary perceptions that surround us. So when we read a book, our attention is focused on reading and we no longer perceive what is happening around us, we are somehow completely immersed in this sensory experience and disregard the rest. With the Smartphone, the contexts are superimposed and the attention is taken in default by the innumerable actions that we have to make. This affects our concentration and can also result in hyperactivity disorders.
It has been shown that the perpetual distraction induced by the use of the Smartphone in our daily lives consequently affects the memory processes which will result in a lack of storage of information. The cognitive abilities involved in leading insights, analyzing information and transferring it from our short-term memory to our long-term memory are thus mistreated.
In other words, naturally and knowing that knowledge is available at all times, we no longer make the effort to remember or to walk our memory to solve problems. The ease with which we now have access to information thus contributes to the weakening of the mnemic capacities of the human brain.
Nevertheless, this at the same time reinforces what is called transactive memory, which consists of minimizing the storage of information if it is known that it is continuously available and that it can thus be available when we wish it.
Yet as Smartphones divert our attention, complete sensory experiences, anchored in the present and the surrounding context is becoming rarer. Idleness, contemplation, and wandering thoughts become rare in favor of incessant solicitations and restless actions.
We must learn to master the tools to not suffer them. This can mean learning to disconnect, to vary the pleasures between the deep reading of a paper medium and reading “browsing” on the web, between the use of social networks and manual work. Vary the stimulation of different areas of the brain and let it rest from time to time.
Children who will be born in the next few years will have the opportunity to focus on different topics at a higher speed, which does not mean that it will be multitasking, but the operating character of the brain to work in series will be accelerated.
In Summary of Negative Effects of Smartphones
Phones and tablets alter brain function and make users forgetful, but at the same time, they contribute to the faster process of reality.
The mind is now occupied by a discontinuous flow of information that reduces and breaks these moments of reflection and introspection. Removing a little from this technology allows the mind to reclaim its environment, to think, to reflect, to contemplate, in short, to live