Today's News / Health / Psychology

Excessive smartphone use can harm health

January 17, 2013
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+

smart phoneA new report out of Europe is raising fears that excessive use of smartphones and tablets could cause ergonomic and psychosocial problems – especially among people who use the devices as work tools.

The report identifies the risk of:

  • techno-stress: any negative impact on attitudes, thoughts, behaviours, or body physiology that is caused either directly or indirectly by technology
  • techno-addiction: continuing compulsive use even when an activity is injurious, and
  • techno-invasion: when the boundary between work and private life is eliminated

The author cites a 2011 survey done among 3,700 employees. One in eight of the participants aged 22 to 34 check their mobile phone more than ten times an hour during their free time ("downtime"), and one in three check their e-mails immediately after waking, even before dressing or breakfast, while 29% of the "mobile workers" who took part (all age categories) admit that using mobile technology has created strains in their personal - especially partner - relationships.

The report also highlights some counterintuitive findings with the work use of new communication technologies. Although meant to increase efficiency and productivity, if allowed to go uncontrolled they can actually disrupt work. This includes breaking off from work to answer incoming e-mails on a mobile or PC, which "leads to a break in concentration and impairs the quality of work."

Where physical health is concerned, the report singles out the risk of finger, wrist, neck and shoulder problems. "Blackberry Thumb" (a nod to the smartphone’s precursor) has become common shorthand. "The ergonomic conditions in which mobile workers work probably also fall short of the requirements of working environment laws," cautions the author.

The author’s recommendations include restricting e-mailing outside of office hours. He points to Volkswagen Germany’s recent decision to ban e-mailing to an employee’s mobile later than 30 minutes after they have finished work.

"It must not come to the point where employees are expected to be on-call round the clock for no extra pay," said FNV health and safety at work expert Wim Van Veelen.

The report : Popma J. (2012)

Techno-stress. Verkenning van een risico in opkomst (pdf - 855.79 Kb), Universiteit van Amsterdam- Hugo Sinzheimer Instituut.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to ISHN.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

STAY CONNECTED

Facebook logo Twitter YouTubeLinkedIn

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

ASSE's Safety 2013 Review

A photo gallery from the Las Vegas Convention Center, where ASSE’s annual professional development conference was held June 24 to 27. All photos courtesy of the American Society of Safety Engineers.

THE MAGAZINE

ISHN Magazine

ishn april 2014 issue cover

2014 April

In this month's issue of ISHN, check out features about safety in the oil and gas industry.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

THE ISHN STORE

M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\ISHN\safetyfourth.jpg
Safety Engineering, 4th Edition

A practical, solutions-driven reference, Safety Engineering, 4th edition, has been completely revised and updated to reflect many of today’s issues in safety.

More Products

For Distributors Only - January 2014

ISHN0114_FDO_cov.jpgFor Distributors Only is ISHN's niche brand standard-sized magazine supplement aimed at an audience of 2,000 U.S. distributors that sell safety products. Circulation only goes to distributors. CHECK OUT THEJANUAYR 2014 ISSUE OF FDO HERE

ishn infographics

2012 US workplace deathsCheck out ISHN's new Infographic page! Learn more about worker safety through these interactive images. CLICK HERE to view the page.