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What are the risks of a compulsive use of mobile phones?

What are the risks of a compulsive use of mobile phones?

It is the faithful companion of modern daily life, almost like a technological appendix to our hands. Smartphones have many advantages: they speed up the communication, facilitate work and multiply opportunities to socialize. However in some cases never taking a break from your mobile phone can assume the shapes of a real disease, the so-called hand-phone syndrome, as the physicians at WHO, the World Health Organization, have named it. We are talking about a serious medical condition that in the future is going to break through Europe too, where, according to the latest Samsung Techonomic Index, the hours spent everyday using mobile devices are increasing rapidly.

In this geek ranking, Spain is the country that is currently holding the record with a daily average of 8 hours spent on a smartphone, against the European average of 7.2. Spain is followed by Italy and Norway tied, with almost 8 hours per day, while the last ones are Sweden and Finland, where people dedicate to the phones less than 7 hours per day.

One of the most immediate effects of the hand-phone syndrome is called nomophobia, a sort of panic attack induced by the absence of a phone network or an Internet connection. But it is not the only type of unwanted consequence. Smartphones can also be a risky factor for the health of the neck and the back. Bending over the phone to answer an email can have unexpected consequences too.

According to a study by Professor Kenneth Hansraj of the “New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine”, the weight on the cervical vertebrae due to the inclination of the head to read the screen of your phone can reach a maximum of 27 kilograms. It is like carrying constantly an 8-year-old boy on the neck. If the head is bent at an angle ranging from 15 to 45 degrees, the cervical pressure is reduced – if we can say so – to a weight between 12 and 22 kilograms. In the long term, this invisible burden can wear out the vertebrae and seriously impact on their health.

And we have only considered the physical effects, what about the social ones? Can you spend a night without a smartphone? This is what the researchers have investigated at Nudge Italy, an initiative led by IESCUM, the European Institute for the Study of Human Behavior, and by an Italian research center of psychology in Parma. During an experiment in a restaurant in Milan, where all smartphones were forbidden, researchers were able to show that detoxifying from the intense use of digital devices reduces the levels of stress and anxiety and it allows rediscovering the pleasure of the authentic socialization.