My Life as a Loser. A Never-Ending Battle to Lose Weight–Chapter Nine–The Effects of Electronics and the Media

15 Harmful Effects Of Electronic Gadgets On Human Health

1. Insomnia

Staying awake late at night with your smartphone, laptop or tablet can cause harm to your eyes and give you sleepless nights. The radiation which emits from the gadgets disrupts the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. A study has shown how electronic media causes sleep disturbances at night among adolescents. Research has confirmed exposure to mobile phones and other devices can cause changes in brain activity and sleep disturbances. This could also be a stress symptom.

2. Obesity

Obesity and the use of gadgets are directly associated. Sleep deprivation among adolescents and young adults can make them obese, says a study. If you aren’t sleeping at the right time during the night, the sleep hormone melatonin and the hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin get altered which affects your appetite and lets you consume excess high-calorie foods. This increases the risk of belly fat.

3. Brain impairment

Individuals who use multiple screens at the same time are more likely to have a shorter attention span of only eight seconds wherein, before the advent of smartphones the human attention span was 12 seconds. In addition to it, media multi-tasking changes the physical structure of your brain leading to low cognitive function, according to a research study.

Also, reading from your screens rather than books impairs your brain and lowers your focus and concentration as told by researchers from Dartmouth College. They found that individuals who use gadgets like smartphone, laptops and tablets for reading purposes focus more on concrete details rather can interpreting information abstractly.

4. Computer vision syndrome

Our eyes are not used to staring constantly at a point for hours on end. Once you are in front of a computer monitor your eyes will start feeling irritated, tired, and you may experience blurred vision, redness and eye strain. This is called computer vision syndrome. Though this isn’t a permanent condition, you can protect your eyes by wearing anti-glare glasses. Dry eyes, a burning sensation, problems focusing… these are symptoms of eye strain that all device users commonly face. Bright light, high screen contrasts, glare and flickering images may make a game or video more exciting, but really take their toll on your eyes. Squinting at a small hand-held device adds to the strain. An enraptured kid is also less likely to blink, which makes things worse. Additionally, not spending time on outdoor activities exposes children to the risk of developing myopia.

5. Repetitive stress injuries

Once you are in front of a computer screen there is constant hand movement over the mouse or keyboard. This can irritate the tendons and cause swelling in the nerves and gradually this could give rise to pain in the shoulder, forearm or hand. But, repetitive stress injury (RSI) affects your whole body. As the cells are injured, they release substances called cytokines that travel in the bloodstream which can be toxic to nerve cells. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: This classic overuse injury shows up as pain, stiffness or swelling in the fingers and wrist. Is your child twisting his wrist to use the mouse in an awkward way? Or does that game have him make forceful or repetitive movements? Is she texting for long periods? These can injure nerves and tendons. “It hurts when I write with my pen” is an excuse for not doing homework that you don’t want to hear!

6. Tech neck

If you are constantly looking down on your tablet, phone or laptop screen it can lead to neck pain. Because your head is tilted down in a head-forward posture for a long period of time causing muscle strain in the neck. This ailment is commonly known as tech neck or text neck. If it’s not taken care of, it might cause tension in the shoulder muscles and cause a headache as well.

7. Road accidents

Driving with your phone in your hand or crossing the road while speaking over the phone can put your life at risk. According to a study published in the Journal of Community Health, it has been seen that around 21,760 pedestrians at five busy intersections in Manhattan and around half of these people crossing the road were wearing headphones, looking into their electronic device and talking on the phone.

8. Anxiety and depression

Your phone can put you at a higher risk of anxiety and depression. Individuals are more likely to withdraw themselves from healthier conversations and interacting socially and are more likely to become hypersensitive to what’s being posted on the internet. Some individuals also experience intense anxiety when they are separated from their phones. This compulsive or excessive use of smartphones increases the risk of anxiety and depression which can often lead to suicide. Time spent on devices may feel indulgent, but studies have shown that overuse increases stress levels instead. Constant stress over a prolonged period could adversely affect the heart, sleep, digestion and emotions.

9. Loss of hearing and blindness

Plugging your headphones the whole day can increase the risk of hearing loss. They can damage your ears if you hear music beyond the permissible limit of volume. Apart from that, looking at your phone continuously at night can cause temporary blindness, especially when you are lying down on one side making you look at your phone with one eye.

10. Cell phone elbow

Cell phone elbow, also known as cubital tunnel syndrome, occurs when there is a prolonged telephone use which may cause symptoms like aching, burning or tingling sensation in the ulnar nerve on the forearm and hand. Switching your hands while using your electronic device can help.

11. Increases illness

The incessant touching of your electronic devices allows the accumulation of germs in the device. A study conducted showed that around 92 per cent of the mobile phones had bacteria on them, 82 per cent of the hands holding it had bacteria and 16 per cent of the phones and hands contained E.coli bacteria.

12. Brain cancer

Researchers have carried out multiple studies in humans to investigate the relationship between mobile phone use and the risk of malignant brain tumours, benign brain tumours and parotid gland tumours (tumours in the salivary glands). A study showed that people who spend a lot of time on their cell phone calls increased the risk of glioma (cancer of the brain).

13. Bad Posture, Back Aches

It’s an instantly recognisable silhouette: the figure hunched over a device. Pretty soon, that hunch is there even when the device isn’t. To make it worse, the back and shoulder muscles start complaining, too. An uncomfortable seat, a set-up with poor ergonomics, sitting too long or slouching lazily — these all contribute to the problem. Laptop computers can aggravate things because the monitor and keyboard are so close. Users either lift their shoulders to type, or hunch their shoulders to see.

14. Headaches

Children seldom get headaches, but too much screen-time can bring one on. A combination of muscle tension at the base of the skull and an assault on the eyes is the usual cause, as well as stress.

15. Physical Fatigue

Too much time on a device doesn’t just drain the brain, it tires the body, too. Being still for long periods reduces blood circulation and can put stress on muscles and joints. The result — getting tired without even moving much. 16. Compromised ImmunityA 2011 study by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine revealed 92% of handphones harbour bacteria, including 16% with the dangerous E.coli strain. In our climate, such bacteria can survive for hours! When exposed to all those germs on devices, which can easily be transferred from kid to kid, it’s only a matter of time before they fall ill.

Tips To Prevent The Adverse Effects Of Electronic Devices

  • Deactivate the internet on tablets and phones as it will help detach you from the constant messages and you will be less dependent on it.
  • Engage in other activities that will distract you from your electronic devices.
  • Avoid using your phone for calls when it shows low battery as it emits more radiation.
  • If your phone signal is poor, never try to send text messages or call because it sends out radiation that is twice as strong.
  • Limit the usage of phone at bedtime.
  • Turn off your phone’s Bluetooth and PC’s wireless connectivity when not in use because they expose you to electromagnetic fields.

Electronic waste affects nearly every system in the human body because the materials that make up e-waste contain a plethora of toxic components, including mercury, lead, cadmium, polybrominated flame retardants, barium, and lithium. Even the plastic casings of electronic products contain polyvinyl chloride. The health effects of these toxins on humans include birth defects and damage to the brain, heart, liver, kidney and skeletal system. They will also significantly affect the human body’s nervous and reproductive systems.

Electronic waste currently constitutes 2-3% of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream, yet it’s responsible for almost 70% of our toxic waste. Carnegie Mellon University has predicted that there are already 70 million computers in our landfills. The average computer screen has at least five to eight pounds of lead, representing 40% of all the lead in U.S. landfills.

All these chemicals are persistent bioaccumulative toxins (PBTs) that create environmental and health risks when computers are incinerated, buried in landfills, or melted down. When computer monitors and other electronics are burned, they release cancer-producing dioxins into the air that we all breathe. If electronics are thrown in landfills, these toxins may leach into groundwater, affecting local aquifers and entering the food chain. Although these problems are more prevalent right now in the developing countries that accept our shipments of e-waste for processing, toxic waste knows no borders. The more electronics we discard, the greater the environmental and health dangers for everyone.

Electronics have proliferated in recent decades because they help us work more efficiently and live more conveniently. That in itself shouldn’t be a problem. Indeed, daily efficiency and convenience are benefits of living in an industrialized society. The danger lies in how quickly we discard these items, whether because they’ve stopped working or because we just want something even more efficient and convenient. Throwing them away without regard to what happens to their toxic components is currently impacting the health of our neighbors, and if we don’t change course soon, this careless disregard for harmful consequences will impact the health of our children and grandchildren as well.

Resources, “15 Harmful Effects Of Electronic Gadgets On Human Health.” By Neha Ghosh;, “Harmful Effects: Harmful Effects Caused by Improper Computer & Electronic Waste Recycling.”;, “9 Health Hazards of Electronic Devices for Kids.”;