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Daily use of smartphones for over 4 hours may have adverse health effects

How long is long to use a mobile phone? Have you ever had to realize that using a phone for an extended duration could have an impact on your health? You may have cared or opted not to, but according to a recently conducted study, using a smartphone for over 4 hours a day leads to stress, obesity, and even suicidal thoughts, particularly among adolescents.

The study led by Jin-Hwa Moon and Jong Ho Cha from South Korea’s Hanyang University Media Center presented their results in PLoS ONE on December 06, 2023. Their report was based on a study of 50,000 plus Korean adolescents who were using smartphones for over 4 hours every single day. It was found that they had developed intense mental health issues and were taking substances all emanating from heavy exposure to mobile devices.  

Using smartphones has its benefits. It requires no argument that it lets us find everything on the internet, locate something, or lets us message and call our family and friends while enabling us to take exceptional-quality photos.

However, using smartphones is not without its storms. Past research works found that overuse of smartphones hinted at the risk of psychiatric disorders, sleep disturbances, eye problems, muscular weakness, etc. The recent study makes that case only stronger.

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The study results:

The study was conducted on the effects of long smartphone use on individuals. It was found that those who used smartphones for over 4 hours experienced more stress and developed suicidal thoughts. They were also found to be more likely to suffer from obesity and take substances.

On the other hand, those whose mobile phone use didn’t exceed two hours didn’t face a noticeable impact.

The researchers found that 85.7% of participants used smartphones for over 2 hours a day in 2020 increasing from 64.3% in 2017.

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“Smartphones have become essential platforms in the lives of young people,” one of the study leads, Jong Ho Cha said in a press release. “Adolescents’ daily lives are connected to smartphones for various purposes, and this trend has been accelerated by school closures and social distancing due to the COVID-19 outbreak. As smartphone usage time increases, growing evidence suggests that the smartphone is related to many adverse health effects among adolescents.”

Arguably, this result indicates that moderate hours of smartphone use are harmful to health, however, there is perhaps a flip side to using it to excess. And we are not talking about the other theories about the radiation effect coming from smartphones.

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It’s good to consider how much using the phone is enough

The study doesn’t establish that smartphone use can have an impact on mental as well as physical health, however, it provides insights that could prove relevant for the optimum hour of usage for smartphones and the internet. Modern life demands gadgets and connectivity and growing affordability also promotes their uses.

Being calculative and thoughtful of its possible impact is always fruitful though as the authors put it, “These results can help establish smart device usage guidelines and education programs for appropriate media use.”

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