The ability to take out a small device and check email, take photos, interact with friends, play games, and answer almost any question seemed like a great idea when smartphones and social media debuted over a decade ago; but in recent years, several studies have looked at the downsides associated with heavy social media and device use.
For example, a 2018 study found that people who use social media platforms for extended periods of time are more prone to make risky decisions. Another study revealed an association between heavy social media use and an elevated risk for physical ailments. Most people are aware of the term “text neck”, which results from spending so much time looking down at the phone that it changes a person’s posture for the worse. Other studies have linked social media use with poor mental health, especially among teens and young adults. One study even suggests that the more someone uses social media, the more likely they are to consult with a plastic surgeon to “improve” their appearance.
The Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Joseph Rock notes that these issues associated with social media/device use may be due to both how social media changes the brain and the effects of sedentary activity on the mind and body. After all, if you’re staring down at your phone all day, you’re probably not moving your body enough.
One of the big problems with social media is that it produces feelings that keep luring people back for more—to the point where they have difficulty coping if they’re not glued to their device. The best way to determine if you’re using your device too much is to ask family and friends what they think, and if the answer is consistently “too much”, that’s a good indication of a problem. Dr. Rock recommends a “cold turkey” approach to test the addiction intensity. He warns, though it will be initially uncomfortable, it does gradually improve.
Not only will you find yourself spending more time having face to face conversations and smelling the roses, but you’ll probably increase your physical activity levels and take on a healthier posture. If you’re still experiencing some neck/shoulder discomfort, your doctor of chiropractic can show you some exercises that can help retrain your body to sit up straight, which can take a lot of pressure off your neck and upper back.