Overusing Smartphones Isn’t Very Smart

Smartphone use has skyrocketed over the past decade. Combining multiple functions that include voice calling, text messaging, internet browsing, accessing email, global positioning system (GPS) navigation, desktop synchronization, capturing high-quality photos, and third party applications (apps), they have become essential to the modern lifestyle for most people.

This has not come without a cost, physically and psychologically. There are a number of conditions that are caused or aggravated by excessive smartphone use. In addition to the general terms of “smartphone addiction” or “iPhoneitis”, below is a list of specific conditions related to smartphone use:

Text Neck or iPosture:  American adults spend an average more than 3.5 hours on their smartphones every day, meaning they may be looking down or slouching for long periods of time. This contributes to a flexion posture of the cervical spine, reduces the craniovertebral angle, and increases scapular dyskinesis. [1]  [2]Smartphone overuse in office workers significantly increases the chance of neck pain by 6 times.  [3]

Text Claw: Repetitive strain injury is caused by the constant bending and small repetitive movements of the thumb against the screen. Sometimes this can lead to tendonitis.[4]

Cell Phone Elbow: Cubital tunnel syndrome – compression of the ulnar nerve. Describes tingling or numbness in ring and pinky fingers after bending the elbow for long periods of time.[5]

Computer Vision Syndrome: Eye problems caused by too much computer use. Research shows that between 50% and 90% of people who work at a computer screen have at least some symptoms.[6] These include eye strain or irritation, blurred or double vision, headache and neck pain.

Nomophobia: A psychological condition when people have a fear of being detached from mobile phone connectivity.[7]

Phantom Pocket Vibration or Ringing Syndrome: When people think their mobile phone is ringing or vibrating when it’s not. Studies have found the incidence of people experiencing these physical hallucinations as between 50 -95% .[8]

[1] Ashiyat K. Akodu, Sunday R. Akinbo, Queen O. Young, Correlation among smartphone addiction, craniovertebral angle, scapular dyskinesis, and selected anthropometric variables in physiotherapy undergraduates, Journal of Taibah University Medical Sciences, Volume 13, Issue 6, 2018, Pages 528-534, ISSN 1658-3612,


[2] Öğrenci, A., Koban, O., Yaman, O., Dalbayrak, S., & Yılmaz, M. (2018). The Effect of Technological Devices on Cervical Lordosis. Open access Macedonian journal of medical sciences, 6(3), 467–471. https://doi.org/10.3889/oamjms.2018.107

[3] Derakhshanrad N, Yekaninejad MS, Mehrdad R, Saberi H. Neck pain associated with smartphone overuse: cross-sectional report of a cohort study among office workers. Eur Spine J. 2020 Oct 27. doi: 10.1007/s00586-020-06640-z.

[4] https://www.mdedge.com/familymedicine/article/64202/pain/texting-tendinitis-teenager?sso=true

[5] Michael Darowish, Jeffrey N Lawton, and Peter J Evans. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, May 2009; 76(5):306-308 doi:10.3949/ccjm.76a.08090

[6] Dessie, A., Adane, F., Nega, A., Wami, S. D., & Chercos, D. H. (2018). Computer Vision Syndrome and Associated Factors among Computer Users in Debre Tabor Town, Northwest Ethiopia. Journal of environmental and public health, 2018, 4107590. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/4107590

[7] Bhattacharya, S., Bashar, M. A., Srivastava, A., & Singh, A. (2019). NOMOPHOBIA: NO MObile PHone PhoBIA. Journal of family medicine and primary care8(4), 1297–1300. https://doi.org/10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_71_19

[8] Mangot, A. G., Murthy, V. S., Kshirsagar, S. V., Deshmukh, A. H., & Tembe, D. V. (2018). Prevalence and Pattern of Phantom Ringing and Phantom Vibration among Medical Interns and their Relationship with Smartphone Use and Perceived Stress. Indian journal of psychological medicine, 40(5), 440–445. https://doi.org/10.4103/IJPSYM.IJPSYM_141_18

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