Seven ways your mobile phone could be bad for your health

Lynn Wright / 30 March 2016 ( 03 July 2018 )

Addicted to your mobile phone? Excessive mobile phone use could cause serious health problems – here are seven ways your mobile phone could be bad for your health.

While smartphones are a central part of our connected lives, excessive mobile phone use has been linked to increased health risks. 

Here’s our guide to potential mobile phone health problems, and what you can do to reduce the health risks.

1. Mobile phones and germs

Mobile phones can be a hotbed of germs including E. coli that, if ingested, can lead to fever, vomiting and diarrhea according to research carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Other research shows mobile phones can harbor methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). 

Make sure you always wash hands in soap and water and don’t share mobile phones with others.

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2. Mobile phones and eye problems

Focusing on tiny text and small screens can lead to eye strain, eye redness and irritation, blurred vision and dry eyes according to research from the Vision Council in the US. 

To keep eyes healthy, follow the 20:20:20 rule – take a 20 second break every 20 minutes of using a mobile phone and look at something 20 feet away. This forces the eyes to refocus. 

Consider fitting an anti-glare screen to your phone and frequently blink your eyes to keep them lubricated.

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3. Mobile phones and anxiety

Nomophobia is the fear of being apart from your mobile phone, leading to symptoms associated with anxiety. 

According to researchers, Nomophobia is a result of mobile phone overuse and feelings of distress, panic, fear and even depression are experienced if a sufferer is unable to use a mobile phone.

4. Mobile phone back and neck problems

Hours spent hunched over your mobile phone screen could lead to a painful neck and back. 

The force of tilting your head forward to see the phone in your hand puts pressure on the spinal discs, causing them to deteriorate over time. 

Researchers have found it can double, and even triple, the weight of your head against your neck, leading to neck strain. 

Keep your mobile phone level with your eyes, rather than tilt your head down to look at it.

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5. Mobile phones and sleep problems

Using your phone late at night can cause sleep problems. The artificial blue light from your mobile phone screen suppresses melatonin ­­– the hormones that promote sleep –  making it harder to fall asleep. 

Don’t use your mobile phone for at least one hour before sleeping.

6. Mobile phones and obesity

From scrolling through your phone while eating, to spending hours just sat playing games, mobile phones can make your overweight. 

Avoiding phones at mealtimes will help you recognise when your body signals to stop eating, while being more active in general will improve your overall health and reduce the risk of obesity.

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7. Mobile phones and accidents

Mobile phones are a massive distraction for drivers and walkers. 

Trips and bumping into objects are potential hazards when using a mobile phone while walking. 

For drivers, the consequences can be more serious. Research in the UK found using a mobile phone while driving increased the chance of an accident between 3-4 times. 

If you drive, do not use your mobile phone during the journey.

Visit our Motoring section for information on cars, caravans and motorbikes. 

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.