How The iPhone Killed Our Health
The iPhone has had a mixed effect on our health. First released by Apple in 2007, only 16 years ago, it has since become an integral part of modern life, enabling people to become more connected and stay better informed about health issues.
Unfortunately, this reliance on technology has created a culture of distraction that’s been linked to a range of health issues. Time spent fighting constant notifications, social media and web browsing can come at the expense of our health, through low fitness levels, shocking obesity increases, dramatic drops in testosterone and increased mental health issues.
Since the invention of the iPhone, obesity rates have increased significantly. According to a journal Obesity study, obesity rates in the United States have risen from 25.5 percent in 2007 (the year the first iPhone was released) to 39.6 percent in 2018.
One factor may be increased sedentary behavior. The journal Preventive Medicine stated that adults' levels of physical activity have declined by 10 percent since 2007, with adults are spending more time using their phones, watching television or using computers and other devices.
Of course the availability of unhealthy processed and packaged foods would play a part in this equation as well, although sedentary heavior is known to lead to increased snacking.
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The exact impact of the iPhone on testosterone levels is not yet known. However, the journal List found that people who used cell phones for more than five hours per day had lower testosterone levels than those who used them for less than five hours per day.
The use of cell phones, computers, and video games, can also have a negative impact on testosterone levels through blue light exposure, as it’s linked to sleep disruption and so can interfere with the body's natural circadian rhythms. This can lead to a decrease in testosterone levels, as sleep is essential for the production of the hormone.
Lower testosterone levels are also linked to mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and mood swings through a decrease in the production of serotonin (that helps to regulate mood), and a decrease in dopamine (that helps to regulate reward and motivation). Cortisol, a hormone associated with stress increases, leading to anxiety and irritability. (journal Translational Psychiatry, 2020)
In addition, the exposure to electromagnetic radiation from using phones can have adverse health effects, such as an increased risk of cancer a 2019 study published in the journal Environmental Research stated. The exact mechanism through which this affects testosterone levels is not yet known, but it is believed to involve the disruption of hormone-producing cells in the testes.
The problem is that we are not made for this lifestyle. Low testosterone can cause a decrease in libido and muscle mass, mood changes, a decrease in bone density, increased body fat and decreased energy levels. All of this makes it difficult to stay active and engaged in daily activities, pushing the body into increased fat stores and eventual obesity and other health problems.
It’s safe to say that the increased use of technology can lead to a decrease in overall quality of life.
The iPhone has also increased feelings of isolation and disconnection from the physical world that ends with depression, stress and anxiety. Cell phones and other technology also disrupt the natural circadian rhythm, causing irregular sleep. This problem is especially prevalent among younger people, as evidenced by this article from the American Psychological Association.
According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 8.5 percent of Americans aged 12 and over experienced anxiety disorders in the past year. Additionally, 6.8 percent experienced major depressive disorder, and 5.3 percent experienced substance use disorder. These figures suggest that a significant percentage of Americans are experiencing mental health issues that can be linked to the overuse of technology.
The fitness of children has decreased significantly since the invention of the iPhone. According to a report from the World Health Organization (Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018-2030: More Active People for a Healthier World), physical activity among children and adolescents has decreased by 20 percent since 2007. This surely has had a negative effect on children's health.
Adults are affected as well. Often as I walk through my local gym, I fail to hear the clanging of weights and chatter. The place is eerily quit as people are sitting on weight machines watching videos and texting. They might do an infrequent set, then go right back to playing with their phone. This addiction is not making us better, but worse.
It’s clear that the iPhone has had a detrimental effect on our health. Our relationship with technology is often out of balance, and the iPhone can be a source of disruption rather than connection. We must take a step back and prioritize our real-world relationships and physical health in order to avoid further damaging our wellbeing.