The number of smartphone users is forecast to grow to around 2.5 billion in 2019, with smartphone penetration rates increasing as well. Just over 36 percent of the world’s population is projected to use a smartphone by 2018, up from about 10 percent in 2011.
Smartphone overuse is also known as mobile phone addiction, problematic mobile phone use, smartphone addiction, refers to people spending too much time on their smartphones to an extent that it negatively affects their life. Smartphone addiction is a form of internet addiction, which is regarded as an addictive behavior. Because of its extensive impact on daily life, it has profound implications on mental, physical, and social health and well-being. With smartphones growing to be an integral part of model life, overuse of smartphone has become epidemic around the world
Regarding psychological health, studies have shown that excessive smartphone use is associated with depression and anxiety disorders. Studies conducted on young adults show that depression, anxiety, and poor sleep quality may be associated with smartphone overuse. Such overuse may lead to depression and/or anxiety, which can, in turn, result in sleep problems. In addition to psychological health, it has also been associated with physical health problems. For instance, due to small screen size, touch panel, and handholding, long time using smartphone increases the risk of ocular diseases. After using the smartphone at 15 cm for 30 minutes, there was a statistically significant reduction of aided distance visual acuity, and increasing myopia.
The increased myopia was not statistically significant after 5 minutes rest, or when used at 40 cm. It is recommended to keep 40 cm off the smartphone from eyes to avoid any aided distance visual acuity and refractive error changes. If the smartphone is used closer than 40 cm, a rest for 5 minutes is also recommend after every 30 minutes use with the smartphone to avoid any aided distance visual acuity and refractive error changes. The daily duration of smartphone use and total daily duration of video display terminal use were also associated with increased risk of dry eye disease. Dysfunction of fingers, neck pain, and other musculoskeletal problems have also been reported The effect of duration of smartphone use on neck and shoulder muscle fatigue and the pain was investigated in adults with forward head posture. Pain and fatigue worsened with longer smartphone use. Correct posture and breaks of at least 20 minutes are recommended when using smartphones.
Additionally, overuse of smartphone enlarges the median nerve, causes pain in the thumb and decreases pinch strength and functions. Other study shows that hat smartphone operation with one hand caused greater upper trapezius pain ( a neck muscle) and induced increased upper extremity muscle activity. In relation to social life, well being and lifestyle, smartphone overuse leads to dysfunctions in daily life, as it distracts people, distorts perception of time, and negatively affects productivity and interpersonal relationships. Smartphone overuse also sucks up time that could have been spent in a more constructive way and is associated with other lifestyle risk behaviors such as physical inactivity.
Smartphone overuse could become a dangerous behavior when it causes accidents and injuries Smartphone use leads to slowed reaction time and increased distraction, both of which are associated with accidents It is important to bring the public’s awareness to this growing epidemic of smartphones overuse and to define it as a public health issue. Potential strategies for addressing this issue are health education and health communication, legislation and technical means. The aim of public health interventions is to promote safe, healthful and mindful use.