Cell Phones: An Inevitable Addiction
The use of cell phones has altered the way many of us function on a daily basis. Whether it’s our transportation, how we work, and managing our personal life; these devices have become an unescapable addiction.
Admittedly, most apps have made life easier as we plan, order, and communicate. With this kind of an ease of use the world is at our fingertips. Although convenience has played a significant part in the use of the cell phone, the world around us is also enduring changes in order to accommodate our addiction to convenience. But what are some of the repercussions of constantly being wired to these devices? One of the major changes that our society has made has been that of the everyday commute. Walking and texting. Seems simple enough, right? It’s got to beat texting and driving, in any case. But planners and designers around the world are toying with a new idea for wired-in pedestrians: special lanes for people who wish to text while walking.
Most implementations of texting lanes have been stunts of one kind or another: the Belgian company who made a lot of noise earlier this summer with the “textwalk” lanes they spray-painted onto city sidewalks were accused of “graffiti” by Antwerp’s mayor; the National Geographic’s text and talk lanes were an advertisement for an exhibit on brain science; and the similar lane in China was part of an amusement park. The most recent newsmaking texting lane, on a Utah college campus, is primarily “looks and laughs.”
But the idea does raise some serious issues regarding texting and walking. Walking is a more complex process than you might think, and people who text are often walking in unpredictable public spaces. What could go wrong?
Texting pedestrians often miss out on their surroundings. According the National Geographic brain science project involved in the DC text lane, texting while walking can reduce your vision to “less than one tenth of [its] normal range.” They produced a short video showing texters missing out on a newspaper-reading gorilla not ten feet from where they walked. (The video is funny but informative, and can be viewed in the linked text above.)
The take-away is clear: if you can’t see what’s around you, you should stop moving. It may sound funny, but walking recklessly is a serious problem; 21% of reported pedestrian accidents in Hawaii over the course of five years lead to traumatic brain injury, according to Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner.
Too much texting can have other serious effects on your body. The problem getting lot of attention lately is called “text next,” and spine surgeons are sounding the alarms. Basically, the issue is this: your head is heavy, and walking with your head bent toward your phone puts serious pressure on your spine.
This will probably lead to a dramatic increase in spinal conditions up to and including the need for surgery, experts say. Constantly looking down can also lead to severe eyestrain and painful headaches.
Effects on the Brain
Staying in touch with our friends and family has been a lot easier and we hate to miss a phone call or text message from that special someone, the devices, although have been considered low-powered radiofrequency transmitters still put users at risk. According to the World Health Organization, you are at risk due to the exposure of these electromagnetic fields that cannot break chemical bonds or cause ionization in the human body which could lead to brain tumors.
Although there are countless possibilities with the use of a cell phone that increases the level of convenience, there is nothing more important than personal health. Be sure that although the world around you is changing that you take the appropriate measures to stay mindful of personal safety. Whether you decide to avoid the potential “texting and walking lanes” or decide to give yourself a break from your phone periodically, your phone will still be there.