- What is the impact of excess texting given that most of us are tech savvy?
More than being tech-savvy, we have now become tech addicts. Everybody from a working adult to a school going child now has a smartphone and uses it constantly for various purposes like keeping an alarm or reminder, watching videos, listening to music and majorly texting. With increased usage of various texting apps, WhatsApp being the most popular now, most people communicate only through texts. From the time one wakes up until we get to bed, the one thing we have on us constantly and use without a break is our smartphone.
Calling people over the phone used to be the way of communication, although now, communication and keeping in touch is done through texts. Teenagers/children, in particular, are always engaged in their phones, texting their peers, irrespective of the time of the day. Students between the ages of 14-21 prefer to text than call. Addiction to these gadgets is only a small side effect, while there are more other severe consequences of texting continuously. Texting has various psychological, neurological and physical health consequences, it does a lot more to your body than you realize because the ill effects do not present any depictive symptoms.
Texting has its positives and negatives. As much as it helps keep people connected, it is often associated with feelings like anxiety, depression and the fear of being overexposed. Apart from this, excess texting brings with it numerous physical complaints including;
- Sleep issues – Sleep is a particularly important process that helps regain and restore energy. If you are not completely involved in it, it disrupts the sleep-wake cycle making it further difficult to concentrate on activities. Teenagers particularly, these days are used to the habit of looking at their phones at even odd times, like at night, in the middle of sleep etc.
- Poor posture – Increased usage of smartphones is known to cause bad posture causing issues like a backward curve in the neck caused as a result of looking down at the phone.
- Text thumb – Most people use their thumbs to text, the human thumb is designed to assist in gripping things and not perform repeated acts like texting. Texting with the thumb exerts stress on the wrist and thumb because it is not meant to work that way. This may cause pain or stiffness in the thumb that will worsen with texting.
- Text Claw – This refers to the pain in the wrist and throughout the hand caused as a result of constant texting. It also causes cramped fingers that are difficult to move.
- Text Neck – The neck pain caused as a result of constantly looking down at the mobile is called text neck. This is caused because all the muscles in the neck get excessively stressed and strained when you are always looking down to text.
In addition to these conditions, constant texting also causes severe migraines, nerve damage, vision and eyesight damage etc.
- Are you getting any cases in the UAE?
Irrespective of the country, this has now become a common practice. In the UAE, too, many people suffer from physical discomfort issues, the reasons for which could vary. Nobody consults a Doctor complaining of health problems caused due to ‘excessive texting’. People often come in with back and neck pains, migraines etc. Evaluation and investigation of their specific cases and understanding various causes of the conditions, lead us to understand that the condition could be caused as a result of the unhealthy practice of texting constantly.
- What is the age bracket of patients reporting problems due to excess texting?
Texting is a practice that we all follow, irrespective of the age barrier. School and college students are often engrossed in their phones which causes them to have issues like sleep deprivation, poor attention span, lack of ability to concentrate etc. Older adults also engage in texting a lot of times, this coupled with poor and inactive lifestyles leads to more harm causing severe physical damage to the body. Texting while driving has also resulted in various cases of accidents.
- Measures to reduce health hazards due to excess texting impact
Small and easy measures that can be taken in order to avoid issues leading to major health consequences are;
- Always beware of your posture while texting. Do not look down to the phone constantly, bring the phone up to the level of your eyes. Hold the phone at a comfortable distance from your face and text. It may look odd but will help avoid neck problems.
- Do not text while driving
- Try and reduce the urge to reply to a text immediately, unless you know it’s urgent. Take regular breaks from using smartphones and texting.
- Completely avoid using smartphones in bed. Try to keep it away from your bedroom, although if you necessarily need to charge it or to keep an alarm, avoid using the smartphone and texting at least an hour before you get to bed.
- Can you share any case without revealing identity?
We once had the case of an 18-year-old boy who presented with recurrent headaches and neck pain for the past 11 months. He complained of a recurrent headache and watery eyes with neck pain. Upon further evaluation, he was found to have dry eyes due to a decreased blink rate caused because of looking at the phone screen. His parents had actually brought him a new smartphone as a reward after his final exam. Since he was using the phone a lot, he also experienced difficulty in focusing on everyday events as he kept looking at his phone and replying to frequent chats, and app messages. His neck pain was caused as a result of his posture since he watched movies on his phone for prolonged hours in the day and night. He was advised lifestyle modifications and behavioral changes to help him cope with this anxiety behavior and medications for his associated symptoms.
Aster Clinic, International City