HealthOff Beat

MOBILE PHONE AND MALADY

 

By S. K. BHATTACHARYA

 

MOBILE

M – Member to minister

O – Office to orchard

B – Bank to banquet

I – Institution to ICU

L – Laboratory to lavatory

E – Elevator to engine room.

 

From land line to the era of mobile phone, more than 40 years of effort by Martin Cooper of Motorola Company, succeeded in creating a hand held subscriber equipment, on 3rd April, 1973. Cells for mobile phone base station was developed in 1940. A US patent was issued to Kentucky in USA in 1908. The cellular concept was made commercially available after reenactment in 1994. Average size of the equipment varied from 15 cms to 20 cms, so also the weight. Smartphone – a class of mobile phone with multipurpose mobile computing camera and flash light device came in to market in 2010. Other names coined for this equipment, are mobile computing, mobile broad band and camera phone. Touch screen concept was incorporated in 2015. Functions like messaging, video effect and app, advantage were added in the following years. The Gorilla-alkali-alumunium-silicate sheet glass was used as damage and scratch resistant cover in 2005.

Once considered a luxury of the rich, mobile phones are now an every day gadget for people across the globe, from all walks of life. The number of mobile phone user in the world is expected to pass the five billion mark in 2019. The number of mobile phone users in India, crossed 581 million in 2014 and has been on steady rise over the past decade. According to a survey by e-Marketer in 2015, India is estimated to have over 800 million phone user in 2019.

The great Indian middle class is bringing in this change. The reasons, for this high penetration of mobile phones in India could be attributed to:

  1. A burgeoning young population in the country that is eager to adaption,
  2. Growing middle class, capable of spending on consumer items, and
  3. Intense competition among mobile phone manufactures in India, that is driving down the prices of mobile phone units.

The 21st century is throwing up some very modern health problems related to mobile phone use. The health hazards of uncontrolled use of mobile phone technology are many, to which every one need to wary.

  1. DIRECT EFFECT
  • Radiation hazard
  • Screen addiction and mental health problem
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Sleep disorder
  • Gaming disorder
  • Nomophobia
  • Eye Computer Vision Syndrome
  • Dry eye
  • Blue light effect – Aging early
  • Hearing impairment
  1. INDIRECT EFFECTS
  • Muscle bone and joint problem
  • Text neck
  • Smart phone thumb
  • Selfies and road traffic accidents
  • Socialization and SMS lingo effects.

Kids experience a complex emotions at a younger age now. Girl daughter’s age of menarche has gone down from 10-15 years to 10-11 now. They start to acquire a strong sexual personality early. Parent, counsellor or teachers have not upgraded them and still want to believe that emotions are not normal for a child who is 14 or 15. Sudden anger and rage from youngster on being denied phones or being scolded for spending too much time on line, could also be sign of under recognized psychological problem.

Screen Addiction and Mental Health

Mental health is the casualty in no uncertain terms. There is scientific basis to it. One study concluded that teen agers who use social media for more than 30 minutes a day are prone to risk, related to mental health. Also those teen agers who immersed themselves in social media for more than 3 hours a day, are at 60% higher risk of mental health related problem, compared to those teens who did not use the social media at all. The same holds true for adults (NIMHANS STUDY, 2019). The most common psychiatric disorder with on line addiction is attention deficit hyperactive disorder.

Sleep Disorder

Somehow, night time has always been a favourite among regular chatting and gossiping freaks, leading to sleep deprive for the user. Sleep disorders are associated with high mobile phone use. Interrupted sleep pattern, getting awakened in middle of the night due to mobile rings, vibration and increased use of mobile, post evening until midnight is common feature among kids, youth and professionals.

Stress

Twenty four hours and seven days a week, on their mobile exponentially increases stress levels.

Anxiety-Nomo Phobia

Imagining a day without a look at your phone seems impossible to day.

Nomo Phobia

Named as the Cambridge Dictionary’s word of the year, nomo phobia refers to the anxiety arising from not being able to use the mobile phone. A survey found that 53% of phone users become anxious without them and in extreme circumstances, it can even cause panic attacks (Phantom syndrome).

A study report found that limiting the likes of Facebook and Instagram to 10 minutes a day over time, could actually reduce symptoms.

Gaming Disorders

With billions of mobile user playing gripping games, the recently classified gaming disorder is an official mental health issue. Sufferers give priority to video games over their other daily activities. Symptom include a lack of sleep and neglecting social life. Upto 10% of gamers could be affected. Some countries like UK have launched specialist clinics for treatment of gamers aged 13 years to 25 years.

Social media – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Snap chat, Tik Tok, etc. are making people, especially the younger ones, mind-set changing. To say that they are getting addicted to mobile use in one way or other is not a myth but reality. Other members of household are also affected too though passively.

Muscles, Bones and Joint

Wii Knee – Constant bending of knees, while playing sporting games on consoles, can cause injury, and sprains on knee. Regular breaks, to avoid strain may reduce it.

Text Neck

Tilting your head while scrolling through those texts and Instagram posts can put 60 pounds of pressure on neck, according to spine surgeons. Prolonged use may cause muscles to become sore and inflamed – a condition that is known as Text Neck. Australian researchers found, this behaviour is causing some of us to develop extra lumps of bone at the base of our skull. Experts recommends, trying to look at your phone at eye level, along with posture exercises such as gently lengthening your neck up wards as you tuck-in your chin.

Smart Phone Thumb

One survey has found that 43% of smart phone users have experienced thumb pain from using their devices. All that repetitive fine motor activity, we use when swiping or typing on our phones can cause numbness as well as pain and cramping in the fingers, wrist and forearm. This may lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, where nerves are compressed or to inflammation known as tendinitis.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons also warn of a Mobile-elbow-caused by bending the arms too long while using mobile phones. Another condition called Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, which makes tasks such as opening jars difficult. Switching hand regularly and sending voice messages and not long typed out ones, may reduce the risk.

Life Style Effects

A recent digital report states that we spend roughly 6 hours and 42 minutes on line each day. People are glued to their smart phones and other gadgets, working in different time zones, chatting, playing games, taking photos and sharing these with their followers. With so much of engagement on line, it is but natural that mobile users have more conversation on line than off it.

The influence of friends and persons on, on line social network have been known to lead to a series situations wherein an individual ends up feeling inapt at social and communication skills. The end result vary. From feeling of isolation, over loneliness, poor academic performance, absentation from work study, substance abuse (drug abuse) are among other problems they face.

Selfities

Taking selfies and posting them, is becoming risky. A condition- called selfities, is identified by researchers at Nottingham Trent University. The researchers found that those with a compulsive need to post, were often lacking in self-confidence. Chronic sufferer are deemed to be people who have an uncontrollable urge to take photos of themselves and post on social media more than six times a day. The obsession can be fatal. A study reported in a journal on family medicine, showed that between October 2011 and November 2017, at least 259 people died in accident taking photos of themselves.

Accident Risk

Whether you are an i-phone, flip-phone or blackberry user, chances that you check your phone aggressively while travelling, is undoubtedly higher. Be it while travelling or while crossing road, use of mobile can be a potential distracting. Serious road traffic accidents are known to occur in these situations.

REMEDY

Life is unthinkable without mobile phones and smart phones at that these days and reasons may be personal, professional or recreational. Children are exposed to phones very early and often unwittingly get hooked to social media, games and streaming websites. It is important for the adults around them to mould children to lead life by good examples and reinforce that, their on line existence cannot take over their lives. Establishing no phone zones and limits for screen time will go a long way in turning out more rounded individuals who do not need Wi-Fi to hold conversation. Out right denial is to be avoided. Use of internet and social media platforms to learn, is to be encouraged. Ensuring that adult at home are not logging their phones to the dinner table and bed room or staring at screens during family time. Worried that their toddlers are spending too much time indoor with mobile phone or other gadgets with or without sufficient time to socialise, parents are opting to send kids to festivity camps. These are fun activities for kids groups.

Blanket ban on use of mobile at institutions and work place has been found to be one sided and a non-starter in most of the cases. Government of People Republic of China has recently notified a set of rules to limit playing video game to 90 minutes a day between 8 am and 10 pm, for adults & children below 18 years age, on week days.

Treatment of these psychological and behavioural problem – a key mental health issue is still in the nascent stage. Combination of treating techniques, life style changes, motivating screen addicts to wean themselves, gradually by counselling and pharmacological managements are help full. Parents as immediate counsellor, must attempt to brain wash their children and young adults-make them believe that parents are not against them or are emotionally distanced. They are all well-wishers, children are also to be motivated to reduce widening circle of friends (on line), avoid bad company and pay more attention to their own future.

While we do stand to gain from information reach and connectivity that social media provides, one cannot forget the fact, it is one that leads to disruption of health and true life situation. There has been much debate surrounding the possible health effects of cell phone use. In recent technological advance, manufactures have created apps to counter addictive habits. The Mountain View based company announced its Digital Wellbeing experiment platform.

Real Life Examples – (India), 2019

  1. Teen aged girl, 16 years, commits suicide after argument with her mom over cell phone use. Mother did not allow her daughter to take her mom’s cell phone to her friend’s house.
  2. A gamer in Karnataka, hooked to his phone, killed his father, a police man, and then chopped him up; in rage, as the latter has opposed his phone addiction. He even asks for his phone when he was in police custody, so that he could continue to play games.
  3. The daughter of businessman, had left her home after a fight and landed up unannounced at the door step of her so called boyfriend in Bhopal, whom she had got to know through Facebook. There was the audacity of the teenager in leaving home despite her parents, advice. The resource fullness of a class X girl from a lower middle class home, in rushing up the money to take a flight and the out standish expectation of a child that her Facebook friend also a minor, would take her in.
  4. A Bangalore youth – techie, severely addicted to online dating approached the Technologist Deaddiction clinic at NIMHANS claiming he can’t stick to a single relationship due to excessive dating online.
  5. In a doctor’s clinic, doctor was examining mother of a boy. He noticed that the boy was putting his hand in and out of his trouser pocket. The pocket has his smart phone. Use of smart mobile phone in the of clinic is proscribed – says a board notice.
  6. In New Delhi, on a busy day, a bike rider with mobile on his ear, hit a truck from rear. He suffered grievous injuries and fell on the road. A passerby dialed 112 and 100. A policeman came on the spot. His mobile started ringing. So he attended to the caller. Somehow the accident victim reached the emergency center of a hospital. The doctor, the nurse and the compounder were seen busy on their mobiles. The accident victim was wriggling with pain awaiting doctor’s attention.

 

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