Smartphone Use and Health Risks

Smartphones -- and the apps, photos and texts that come with them -- are hard to resist. Americans log more than an hour of screen time on the devices each day, according to a December 2013 data analysis from Nielsen.

Smartphone addiction is so widespread that there are apps dedicated to encouraging avid texters and tweeters to leave their phones alone. Just this week, a group of Singapore students won $23,000 for designing "Apple Tree," an app that rewards users for leaving their phones untouched at social events.

For some, the benefits of reducing smartphone use seem obvious. "Unplugging" from social media site notifications or email alerts can reduce stress and add to time spent with family members and friends.

Others might need more encouragement, and that's where research on the health risks of smartphone use comes in handy.

Here are four of the latest findings on the physical consequences of smartphone use, sure to help anyone let a sleeping phone lie:

Texting Tweaks Spine

Looking down at a smartphone screen to send a text or update Facebook does more than create potential collisions. It also puts pounds of pressure on the spine, according to a new study in Surgical Technology International.

"Unless you train yourself to stare straight ahead into your iPhone screen, you could be continually stressing your spine," The Atlantic reported, noting that pressure increases from around 27 pounds at a 15 degree angle to 60 pounds at a 60 degree angle. Researcher Kenneth Hansraj concluded in the study that such stress could lead to early wear and tear that could someday require surgical attention.

Although slumping to check a smartphone screen is only one aspect of bad posture, "it's certainly eyebrow-raising to learn that looking at Twitter in the supermarket checkout line is the equivalent of giving an aardvark a piggy-back ride," The Atlantic...

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