5 Reasons to put down your smartphone

Mobile phones have come a long way in past two decades. Taking calls and texting on-the-go used to be the height of technology, but today millions of people carry what is essentially a small computer with them at all times.

Smartphones can be a wonderful tool for communication, organisation and research. However, there may be downsides to our tech obsession. Here are five great reasons to consider taking a break from your mobile phone.

  1. It could spark your creativity.
    The idea of being bored is quickly becoming a thing of the past. With the internet always at our fingertips, it’s easier than ever to find entertainment. But this constant stream of texts, video, music, news and updates could be killing our creativity.

Recent studies have linked boredom with creative problem solving. In one, participants who completed a boring task before a brainstorming session came up with more inventive ideas than people who did a more exciting activity beforehand. This may make sense to anyone who’s ever had a great idea whilst taking a shower, doing the dishes or any other monotonous task.

If you often use your smartphone to kill time or fend off boredom, you might want to curb this behaviour. Next time you’re feeling bored (in public or at home), resist the urge to use your phone. Just sit with your thoughts and see where your mind wanders. You might get some interesting results!

  1. It could help you sleep better.
    Smartphones and other screens (think computers, television and tablets) are increasingly finding their way into our bedrooms. You may even watch TV, answer emails or scroll through social media right before bed. This habit could be affecting your ability to get a good night’s sleep.

The blue light emitted by all types of screens can interfere with the release of melatonin, a hormone that prepares the body for sleep. Using a smartphone (or other screen) before bed can delay the release of melatonin and make you more alert. Over time, smartphone use in the late evening could cause sleep deprivation by throwing off your body’s natural rhythms.

Turning off your smartphone at least one to two hours before bed may be a good way improve your sleep. You can also set the screen to automatically dim in the evening or switch apps to “night mode” if you need to do some late night work.

  1. You might have fewer aches & pains.
    Do you suffer from upper back or neck pain? You might have a new ailment known as “tech neck.” Tilting your head to look at a smartphone could be causing discomfort now, but over time may lead to more serious problems in the future.

Smartphone users tend to tilt their heads downward when looking at the screen, putting extra pressure on the skeleton and muscles in and around the neck. Over the course of years, the bones in the neck could become denser and the spine can begin to curve. As people begin using smartphones at younger and younger ages, this poor posture could cause serious and lasting problems.

Taking regular breaks from our smartphones could help correct the issue of tech neck. Counter stretching, by looking up and back, or holding your phone higher can also help relieve discomfort.

  1. You might become a better driver.
    Hopefully you don’t use your smartphone whilst driving. Using one hand to take calls, text or perform other tasks splits your attention, and could lead to traffic accidents. However, even using Bluetooth to take phone calls or give voice commands might not be the best solution.

One study particularly suggests the potential dangers of using a smartphone whilst driving. Using brain imaging, researchers found that listening to a call reduces a driver’s brain activity by 37 per cent. Subjects using a driving simulator engaged in risky driving behaviour, such as weaving in and out of their lane, when they took calls whilst driving.

Though it may seem rude to neglect calls or texts, it may be wise to do so when you’re behind the wheel. Turning off your Bluetooth, and maybe even the phone itself, could help eliminate some distractions.

  1. It could make you happier.
    Social media is supposed to bring us closer to our family and friends, but this may not always be the case. Research is finding that too much social media and smartphone use could be increasing some people’s risk of depression and anxiety.

Smartphones make it easier to update our social circles and stay in touch. However, this connectedness can backfire. People may feel ignored or become anxious when they don’t see a new post or receive a quick reply to their messages. Smartphones can also make it hard to escape stressful situations like cyber bullying and work emails, potentially making it difficult to ever really relax.

Stepping away from our phones could be important to preserving our mental health. This might include steps such as ignoring work emails on weekends, deleting social media apps or banning smartphones from the dinner table.

Using your smartphone wisely
For better or worse, mobile phones are a part of our everyday lives. But like any new technology, we’re only scratching the surface when it comes to learning how they impact our wellbeing. Taking proactive steps to limit use could help you and your family strike a healthy balance when it comes to smartphone use.