There is 8 billion population in the world, and over 6.5 billion of people owns a smartphone. And shockingly, only 4.5 billion people have the access to a working toilet. So, what makes this portable gadget so attractive and how is it changing your body and brain? But first, I need a volunteer.
Who wants to be a volunteer? Can you stand up and take out your phone? Now imagine you are on a bus, with strangers surrounding you, and you don’t want to talk to them. Then, you have your phone in your hand, and start scrolling through social media. What would your posture be like in this situation? Can you maintain this posture and put down your phone? This angle might not seem as unnatural to our generation, but it is actually equivalent to the angle of an 8 years old child sitting on your neck.
You can go back to your seat now. I have done extensive research that proves Canadians spend around 5 hours on their phone per day on average, 7 days a week, 30 days a month, for years now. And our body is gradually changing to adapt our habits every day.
When the spine is adapted to our unhealthy posture of sitting, it becomes a spinal malfunction called kyphosis, which can only be fixed by physical treatment, very painful indeed. Therefore, we should adjust our posture of sitting and put the phone up to a higher elevation, so our spinal angle can be fixed gradually. Well, since the distance between our phone screen and our eyes are getting closer and closer, our eyes are adapting to us looking at near objects, and this is myopia. As we learned in science, the light rays only focus on the retina when the object is placed close to your eye, and the image would be blurry if placed far away because It would focus in front of the retina.
In fact, Dr. Mike, the lead investigator and clinical scientist of the Waterloo university says that: “Historically, myopia started at age 12 or 13, but now it is showing up more often in kids of six or seven years old.” In the 1970s, only a quarter of North American population suffered nearsightedness, and now the number has doubled. It’s even affecting nearly 80 to 90% of some Asian country population. But what makes it so hard to put down? Take for example a racing game. The faster you are finishing one lap, you are achieving small goals and causing your brain to release a little burst of dopamine. And you are rewarded in the game with new and better cars.
And this novelty also gives little bursts of dopamine and together becomes what is known as the compulsion loop. Which is also the same loop that is responsible for the behavior associated with doing nicotine and cocaine. We are never alone on the internet, social media, the constant feed of information so we never have to be bored, so Compulsion loops can also be found in apps on our phone. They are designed to constantly provide new content, and making them especially hard to put down. The phone is changing your brain too.
There are two types of brain patterns: Alpha waves and gamma waves. Alpha waves often connect to relaxation and associated with focusing ability. Gamma wave often connects to conscious attentiveness, like doing math or physics. In fact, experiments have shown that when a cell phone is transmitting, like during a phone call, the power of alpha waves is significantly boosted, means that phone transmission can literally change your brain. Since we use our phone so much, what does learning matter if all of the information in the world is just a Google search away? Well if that’s the way you are using your mind, just kind of searching very quickly and finding information and then forgetting it very quickly, you are never building knowledge.
You are simply thinking like a computer, which means that the humanity is in deep trouble, and it would be a shame if everyone is assimilated. If you look at the great monuments of culture, they come from people who are able to pay attention, who control their mind. And that’s what makes our mind to think more critically, and in a creative way. So, overall. Phones are great in many way, and extremely useful when you need to check something online. But, many successful businessmen would take a smart phone vacation in order to increase productivity. So, guys, try to take one day off from your phone and you will see the differences. Thanks for listening.