Digital devices are everywhere today. They are an important part of modern telecommunication in every individual life. Its use and dependence in all aspects of daily life is steadily increasing with several of them becoming elemental to day-to-day activities at home, work, school etc. Many things have become easier and more convenient as a result of digital devices. From aiding diet plans and monitoring fitness goals and activities to networking and building social relations as well as several other personal and professional applications. As awesome as these gadgets are, however, one must take certain precautions for health reasons. Spending too much time on digital screens and mobile devices has been linked to several health issues.
Mobile devices emit radiofrequency energy, a form of electromagnetic radiation which can be absorbed by tissues close to them. The amount of radiofrequency energy a mobile device user is exposed to depend on the phone technology, distance between phone and user, extent and type of mobile phone use and the user’s distance from cell phone towers.
Let’s learn a bit about electromagnetic radiation. Electromagnetic radiation is the transfer of energy by radio waves. Radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation is produced both by natural and artificial sources. Natural sources like the sun, the earth and the ionosphere. Artificial sources are mainly used for telecommunication purposes like mobile phones, wireless network such as WIFI, radio and television broadcasting etc.
EXPOSURE TO RADIOFREQUENCY RADIATION
Most exposure of radiofrequency in environment is due to radio and television broadcasting from telecommunication facilities. Radiofrequency sources in homes come from mobile phones, wireless networks, microwaves, burglar alarms, remote controls etc.
Exposure to radiofrequency reduces with distance so, close proximity to a source is what dominates exposure like using a mobile phone.
To restore balance to a technology overloaded personal and work culture; adopt better, healthier and smarter ways of using your devices. Here are some key considerations to help you have a healthy and productive time with your devices.
KEEP YOUR DEVICES OUT OF YOUR BEDROOM
Mobile phones emit radiation which can be harmful to health, so keeping cell phones close to your head or near your pillow for prolonged hours can lead to headaches, muscle pains and other complicated health issues. Some studies also associate constant exposure to cell phone radiation to infertility, especially in men. Putting your devices away from your sleeping area is important as this simple change will optimize sleep time and ensure you get enough sleep. It may be tough to stop and put our devices away if they are reachable. This result in bedtime delays and reduces total sleep time contributing to sleep deprivation if required sleep hours are not met. Also, lights from devices may impact the ability to fall asleep. These lights may mess up the body’s circadian rhythm. Keeping your phone out of your bedroom makes it easier to avoid prolonged use when you should be transitioning to sleep.
Concerns have been expressed about electromagnetic field on the risk of health problems. These concerns include the risk of brain tumors (most especially on the side of the head where a phone is held) or the impacts on fertility (especially in men who have external and exposed reproductive organ). Caution might be to reduce the exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation by eliminating the presence of phones from sleeping room and spaces. Commit yourself to removing phones from your bedrooms. This small change may help you to optimize ability to sleep and eliminate sleep deprivation amongst other side effects.
PROTECT YOUR EYES
We live surrounded by screen and devices and spending a large part of our day in front of a device. All these devices emit blue light and this can be detrimental to our eye health without protection against over exposure.
Digital devices emit high levels of blue light and frequent exposure to it may lead to eye defects. Blue lights are naturally produced by the sun but it is also present in our devices. These are harmful portion of light emitted by digital screens. According to the Paris vision institute, younger people exposed to an excess amount of blue light can start to experience age related macular degeneration at an earlier stage. Other research states that excess exposure is also the leading cause of vision loss for people over 50.
Staring at screens for hours makes you blink less and this may cause eye strain, dry eyes, headaches, blurred and double vision as well as focusing difficulties. To protect your eyes, turn down the brightness of your screens and use the night time or bedtime mode at night. Also, frequent blinking is a great optical exercise that keeps your eyes comfortable and lubricated. You can also exercise your eyes with the 20-20-20 rule; looking at something else 20 feet away for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can use blue light blocking glasses designed to filter out harmful blue light. This makes using screen more comfortable and help eliminate symptoms of digital eye strain, alleviates visual fatigue and discomfort as it offer protection and glare reduction, reduces blurred vision and headaches.
WATCH YOUR POSTURE
Prolonged usage of mobile devices can cause faulty posture such as forward neck posture, slouched posture or rounded shoulders. Be mindful of your posture when using devices. Avoid hunching over small screen and don’t stay in the same position for more than 40 minutes at a time. If you use a laptop, desktop or tab on a table, get a chair that supports your spine, shoulder and knees. Sit at a 90 degree angle upright with your head straight over your shoulders; this avoids strain in your back and neck.
TURN DOWN THE VOLUME
Listen to music at no more than 60%of the maximum volume. Don’t use your headphone’s volume to drown background noise. Instead, invest in noise cancelling headphones. Studies have linked permanent hearing loss to listening to loud sounds for more than 5 hours weekly.
KEEP A REASONABLE DISTANCE
Avoid wearing your phones; aim to keep your phone off your body as much as possible, especially while travelling. If you must have it on you, switch to airplane mode when the phone is not in use. Avoid pressing your phone to the side of your ear during calls. Use the speakerphone or a headset or keep your phone at least 15mm (0.6 inches) away from your head. Also, most phone cases protect against radiation, so use a phone case that protects and use one without metal parts.
TAKE A BREAK
Take breaks from your gadgets and gizmos every once in a while. Have some old fashioned replacements for your devices. For instance, read print copy books, use analog alarm clocks, store ideas in writing pads etc. Make room for a few intentional distractions from your phone every day.