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  • Of the 7 billion people on Earth, roughly 6 billion own a cellphone, which is pretty

  • shocking, given that only 4.5 billion have access to a working toilet.

  • So how are these popular gadgets changing your body and brain?

  • If youre looking down at your phone right now, your spine angle is equivalent to that

  • of an 8 year old child sitting on your neck - which is fairly significant considering

  • people spend an average of 4.7 hours a day looking at their phone.

  • This, combined with the length of time spent in front of computers has led to an increase in the prevalence of

  • myopia or nearsightedness in North America. In the 1970s about ¼ of the population had

  • myopia, where today nearly half do; and in some parts of Asia, 80-90% of the population

  • is now nearsighted.

  • And it can be hard to put your phone down - take for example the game Candy Crush.

  • As you play the game, you achieve small goals causing your brain to be rewarded with little

  • bursts of dopamine - and eventually you rewarded the game with new content. This novelty also

  • gives little bursts of dopamine and together create what is known as a ‘compulsion loop

  • - which just happens to be the same loop responsible for the behaviours associated with nicotine

  • or cocaine. Our brains are hard-wired to make us novelty seeking, and this is why apps on

  • our phones are designed to constantly provide us with new content, making them hard to put

  • down.

  • As a result, 93% of young people aged 18-29 report using their smartphones as a tool to

  • avoid boredom, as opposed to other activities like reading a book or engaging with people

  • around them. This has created the new termnomophobia’ - the fear or anxiety of

  • being without your phone.

  • We also see a change in brain patterns: alpha rhythms are commonly associated withwakeful

  • relaxationlike when your mind wanders off, whereas gamma waves are associated with

  • conscious attentiveness. And experiments have shown that when a cell phone is transmitting

  • - say during a phone call - the power of these alpha waves is significantly boosted, meaning

  • phone transmissions can literally change the way your brain functions.

  • Your smartphone can also disrupt your sleep! The screen emits a blue light which has been

  • shown to alter our circadian rhythms, diminishing the time spent in deep sleep, which is linked

  • to the development of diabetes, cancer and obesity. Studies have shown that people who

  • read on their smartphone at night have a harder time falling asleep and produce less melatonin

  • - a hormone responsible for the regulation of sleep-wake cycles. Harvard medical school

  • advises the last 2-3 hours before bed betechnologyfree, so pick up a book before bed instead.

  • Of course, smartphones also completely change our ability to access information - most notably

  • in poor and minority populations. 7% of Americans are entirely dependent on smartphones for

  • their access to the internet. A 2014 study found that the majority of smartphone owners

  • use their phone for online banking, to look up medical information and searching for jobs.

  • So while phones are in no way exclusively bad, and have been a part of positive change

  • in the world, there’s no denying that they are changing us.

  • But, many successful people have now decided to takesmartphone vacationsin order

  • to increase productivity. In our new AsapTHOUGHT video we break down the top 6 reasons you

  • should take a smartphone vacation, and how it could benefit your life right now.

  • And subscribe for more weekly science videos

Of the 7 billion people on Earth, roughly 6 billion own a cellphone, which is pretty

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B1 US smartphone smartphones myopia time spent brain novelty

How Is Your Phone Changing You?

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    Angela Yeh posted on 2016/07/31
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