07/06/2017 / By Frances Bloomfield
On June 29, 2017, the iPhone turned 10 years old. Since it was first launched over a decade ago, the iPhone user base has reached over 700 million; that’s 700 million units being used by almost the same amount of people who can’t bear to put their iPhone down nor look away for a second. That’s not an exaggeration. Let’s be honest here, the iPhone is the “cocaine” of technology, and to celebrate its first decade of existence is to celebrate an addiction that eats away at your health.
To use the words “iPhone” and “addiction” isn’t an exaggeration either. Merriam-Webster defines an addiction as a “persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful”. Certainly, iPhone usage doesn’t appear to be the least bit dangerous at first glance, but looking deeper into it will unearth some disturbing facts.
In 2014, researchers from California State University conducted a study on the link between excessive wireless mobile device usage and psychological dependency. Participants — all of whom were college students — were required to either give up their phones to the researchers or turn them off and keep them out of sight. The researchers noted that participants who were “heavy wireless mobile device users” grew increasingly anxious throughout the course of the study. The same couldn’t be said for participants whom the researchers labeled as “moderate WMD users”. They concluded that people who were largely dependent on their wireless mobile devices were more likely to experience growing levels of anxiety when their devices were absent.
The following year, researchers from the University of Missouri discovered that iPhone users who were separated from their devices could suffer from “serious psychological and physiological effects”. For this study, the researchers asked participants to answer a few word search puzzles with and without their iPhones. During the portion without their iPhones, the participants’ blood pressure and heart rate increased significantly, while their performances on the word search puzzles radically dipped. If it sounds like the participants in this particular study were showing signs of withdrawal, that’s because they most likely were. (Related: Cell Phone Addiction)
And what of the damage to your physical health? Well, a 2013 infographic from HuffingtonPost.com offers a clear-cut picture of what the iPhone can do to you — a picture that’s still true today. Apart from the addiction, iPhone users were noted as having experienced a bevy of physical health issues that ranged from poor sleep quality to neck pain to soreness in their wrists and fingers. One other thing to note is that the publication reported that some users who were kept away from their phones for a 24 hour period felt “anxiety and isolation”, and even compared the feeling to “going ‘cold turkey’ after a drug habit”.
It’s not just iPhone users who are suffering either. Another study from 2015, this time by researchers from Baylor University, found that people whose romantic partners were more occupied with their smartphones were unsatisfied with their relationships. This in turn had an indirect effect on their life satisfaction, and may have even resulted in these people feeling depressed.
So ask yourself this: Why should we be celebrating a device that has such a negative impact on its userbase and those surrounding them? While there’s no denying that smartphones as a whole can have both positive and negative effects, the current state of iPhone usage is leaning towards the latter.
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