Our mobiles are fast become our most constant companions, with the average user checking their phone 85 times a day and clocking up five hours of screen time. But could our best friends be ageing us, accelerating the onslaught of everything from age spots to arthritis? We tell you what to look out for, and how to limit the damage…
New research indicates that the high energy visible (HEV) light and electromagnetic radiation emitted by phone, tablet and computer screens could be more damaging than sunlight. It’s thought to penetrate more deeply than UV rays to break DNA strands and accelerate skin ageing. The solution? Wearing a broad spectrum antioxidant sunscreen all day, every day, whether or not you intend to set foot outside.
If you do set foot outside, be wary of the reflection of sunlight off your screen, which may be particularly damaging. And, of course, watch out for frowning and squinting, which can cause wrinkles.
More of a talker? Speaking on your mobile for excessive periods of time can result in overheating, which may interfere with melanin production and cause dark spots and discolouration, whilst the bacteria your phone harbours can cause acne. Switch to speakerphone mode when possible, and wipe your mobile down with an antibacterial wipe every day.
Nickel and chromium, used in some phone casings, can also trigger allergic reactions, causing contact dermatitis. Using a plastic case and clear screen protector can help.
How much time do you spend hunched over your phone or tablet? Hunching not only adds up to 27kg of pressure to your spine, but can result in a wrinkled neck and décolletage, not to mention saggy jowels. Try to maintain good posture whilst texting and browsing, lifting your phone up rather than rounding over it. If you’re already seeing the effects of ‘tech neck’, invest in a FaceGym face ball to help ameliorate the effects.
Doctors have reported a surge in arthritic inflammation and stiffness of the finger joints amongst under-40s, thought to be due to excessive smartphone use. With users as young as 25 reportedly affected, it appears that none of us is immune. Physiotherapist Sammy Margo recommends taking regular breaks to stretch out the finger joints, switching hands regularly and keeping texts short.