Have you ever seen someone walk into a pole while texting? It's actually pretty funny! But when people get seriously injured or worse from walking off train platforms or into oncoming traffic, there's a definite cause for concern.
It's gotten so bad that some cities all over the world have special traffic lights for pedestrians and texting lanes. In addition to being a distraction while walking, new research shows that smartphones are actually changing how we walk.
Scientists from the University of Delaware did a study to find out how multitasking affects the way people walk. They asked 22 healthy volunteers to walk on a treadmill at a speed of their choice while dialing a phone number. They found that people exaggerated their steps to keep from falling. The study's summary section reported an "increased stride width, peak knee flexion during stance, and peak plantarflexion, and decreased knee and ankle range of motion." Right now it may make your strides look a little silly. We'd have to see results from a long-term study to know if it negatively affects the way you move.
However, there is enough research that shows phones can negatively affect other parts of your body, your eyes in particular. Studies show that extended phone use can cause near-sightedness and the blue light that your devices emit can cause permanent damage. This blue light also tricks your body into thinking it's daytime, which messes with your sleep cycle. There's a recent podcast about this that includes solutions to help you sleep.
Do you ever clean your phone? A study from London found that one in six phones are contaminated with E. coli (a bacteria commonly found in excretion). To keep from getting sick, try using a disinfectant wipe on your devices from time to time.
Other ailments can include soreness in your fingers, wrists, forearms and neck. This video talks about some of these changes to your body and your mind. It delves into the psychological effects by exploring the science behind our addiction to technology and how it's changing the way our brains function.