Continuous Cellphone Use: Mental and Psychological Effects on Humans
As we continue to be thrilled by the ongoing evolution of mobile phones, there are still many mysterious dangers about cellphones that remain unknown. Cellphones have been around longer than many of the people using them have even been alive, dating all the way back to 1973, when Dr. Martin Cooper invented the first ever hand held cellphone. It was not until September 21, 1983 that Dr. Cooper’s version of the mobile phone was put out into the public by Motorola, a phone company that is still around to this day. At the time, cellphones were not very popular and cost about $4,000. As cellphones became less expensive, they became more popular. Sales began to skyrocket, and many updated versions of the cellphone were created and continue to be updated to this day. The convenience that cellphones provide, has many people cancelling their landline phones, and beginning to use their cellphones as their primary way to get a hold of them. As of the current year, 2016, over 2 billion people in the world currently own a cellphone, and the number only continues to grow. Though cellphones are good for keeping the world connected, with such a rapid growth of users in such a short amount of time, scientists are worried that there could be some negative mental and psychological effects that come with the use of cellphones. The possibility that the radiation from cell phones can cause cancer is currently being researched by scientists around the world. While cellphones have not be around long enough for scientists to truly know the long-term effects on the brain, negative short-term effects can be easily observed.
One of the many negative short-term effects of cellphones is being a distraction. According to dictionary.com, a distraction is anything that prevents someone from giving their full attention to something else. Cellphones have this effect. They have become such a huge distraction to our daily life’s by taking our attention away from things like work, school, face-to-face conversations, and so on, all things we need to focus on to be productive. Adults have blurred the line between productivity and leisure at work, students have stopped being diligent while attending classes, and now conversations at the dinner table with your family have become short of chatter. Cellphones are being so distracting to the point of danger and even death. For example, sixteen-year-old Kayla Preuss passed away from a head injuries when she lost control of her car and slammed into a center median on the road. Phone records show that Preuss was texting and driving right before the accident took her life. More than 5,000 people in the United States alone die simply from being distracted by using a cellphone while driving. In spite of the fact that researchers have not determined whether being distracted due to the use of a cellphone is specifically “harmful” to the human brain, it is very obvious that cellphones create distraction throughout everyday life.
Cellphones can also be a distraction from a social standpoint. Although cellphones are known for connecting people and allow us to stay in contact when away from each other, they also can cause us to be disconnected or be unsocial with the people right in front of us. Take being in an elevator for instance, when entering an elevator with other people, they tend to avoid conversation by gluing their eyes to their cell phones and pretending to be distracted. A recent study from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business finds that cellphones may make users less socially minded. Their study involved sets of young men and women around their twenties, which were asked a couple of questions after using their cellphones for a short period of time. Their research showed that participants that were on their cellphones were less likely to volunteer for a community service project, than those in the control-group. They were also less likely to solve word problems even though they knew that if they were to get the correct answer, there would be a donation given to charity. The cellphone users low interest in others continued when they were asked to work together to draw a picture of their cellphones and then discuss how they use them. Using their knowledge from the study, the researchers stated that, “The cell phone directly evokes feelings of connectivity to others, thereby fulfilling the basic human need to belong.” This leads to not wanting to connect with others on a face-to-face basis and not having the ability to understand someone else’s feelings or emotions when coming in contact with them. One part of the study showed that participants felt more connected to society when using their cellphone through social media, using apps like Facebook and Twitter. This indicates that there is a difference in feeling connections through a mobile phone, rather than talking face-to-face, which triggers cellphone users to consistently want to use their mobile devices.
Insomnia is another short term effect from using cellphones. Teens and young adults are more likely to stay up and search the web before falling asleep than adults, but don’t think adults are innocent. According to a 2012 Time/Qualcomm poll, nearly three fourths of people around the world, from age 18 to 44 sleep with their phones within reach. Fox News states that scientists that studied 35 men and 35 women found that using the phones before going to sleep slows down and shortens the deep sleep stages, which is the portion of sleep that allows the brain to shut down and the body to repair from the day. A lot of times cellphone users use their cellphones as alarm clocks to wake them up in the morning, making it almost impossible not to reach for the phone when it is that easily accessible. Many young people feel the need to be available at all hours of the day, including the middle of the night. Researchers have linked heavy cellphone use to sleeping problems, stress, and depression. In a study examined by researchers from Baylor University in Texas, which is published online in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, more than 200 college students publicized that each student lost an average of about 45 minutes of sleep each week due to being on their cell phones. Sue K. Adams, the assistant professor of human development and family studies says, “Students who feel compelled to wake up in the middle of the night and answer texts and answer phone calls is strange to me.” She told The Chronicle of Higher Education, “you would imagine there’s something about them that’s driving them to feel like they have to stay connected.” Although it is hard for many people to put their cellphones down a few hours before going to bed, it is very important to let the brain relax to allow the body to fall asleep quickly and properly.
Another concern with the use of cell phones is brain damage from radiation. For years, scientists have been concerned that the radiation given off by cellphones could possibly harm us in the long run. On one hand, some argue that radiation has no effect on the brain, not even changing the formation of tumor cells that are already formed on some brains. In the article Exposure to 3G mobile phone signals does not affect the biological features of brain tumor cells, published in 2015, in the Bio Med Central Journal, authors Yu-xiao Liul, Guo-qing Li, Xiang-ping Fu1, et al., are investigating whether or not mobile phones could make changes in human tumor cells, acting as a tumor promoting agent. The authors start out the article by stating that with the increase in cell phone use there has been an uprising concern about the development of brain tumors in the users. As the article continues into more detail, steps are made to test the effects on the brain from 1950-MHz (which is radiofrequency electromagnetic fields) TD-SCDMA exposure. The authors had three specific things that they were testing. The first was how 1950-MHz TD-SCDMA exposure affected the biological features of glioblastoma cells in vitro. The authors’ second test is how that type of exposure affects gene expression and profiles. Lastly the authors tested to see if EMF changed the formation of a tumor cell. They observed the cells for long periods of time and documented the results from the tests. The authors finish the article by explaining that all of the exposure to the brain tumors made no changes to the cells and had no effect on the brain in the 48 hours that it was being tested. On the other hand, however, others argue that holding the cell phone to the ear to talk rather than talking on speaker phone or texting, can cause radiation to stream right into the brain, leading to cancerous tumors.
Cancer risks related to low-level RF/MW exposures, including cellphones is an academic journal article, written by Stanislaw Szinigielski, in September 2011. He starts out the article by saying that radiofrequency (RF) and microwave (MW) radiations have been around for years. He continues by stating that the increase in cell phone use has brought attention to the possible health risks cause by the constant radiation exposure. The author claims that in 2011, experts from the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon believe that RF/MF radiations could possibly be carcinogenic to humans, and should be considered harmful. The rapidly increasing use of cellular phones brought recent attention to the possible health risks of RF/MW exposures. In 2011, a group of international experts organized by IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon) concluded that RF/MW radiations should be listed as a possible carcinogen for humans. Then the author makes the point that three studies have been done and concluded that by using a cell phone for more than ten years is linked to the risk of developing a brain tumor. Although he says cell phones could be linked to brain tumors, the studies published were not clear and did not give a definite answer to whether or not there was an increase in the risk of cancer. The author concludes by mentioning that the assumptions made from the studies are based on a lack of knowledge, and the fact that brain cancer rates have remained the same, rather than increasing significantly, show that radiation exposure is still a mystery. The author still advices frequent users to be cautious until further research has come out about the true risks of cell phones.
Another long-term effect of cellphones is brain cancer. Researchers have been telling people to use cell phones with caution due to the lack of knowledge about the small handheld devices. Mobile Alert is an academic journal article, written by Bryan Walsh. The article was dated back to July 13th, 2011, but gives similar information found in more recent articles. Walsh discusses two sides of an argument based on whether or not cell phones lead to brain cancer. The author acknowledges that on one hand, the Federal Communications Commission, Food and Drug Administration, and the cell phone industry all argue that cell phones are safe to use. On the other hand Walsh mentions that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), classified cell phone radiation exposure as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” which completely conflicts with what the other groups reported. The author then states that on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website, they have a section labeled Electromagnetic Fields and Public Health: Mobile Phones. He then points out that in that section of the website it reads, “To date, no adverse health effects have been established for mobile phone use,” leaving those two key words for researchers to question; to date. Walsh explains that there is no clear explanation that explains whether or not radiation causes brain tumors. He backs that up by saying the brain cancer rates have not risen in the past two decades. Walsh writes that the evidence for both sides of the argument is limited and needs to be studied further. He then concludes by saying brain cancer still has its secrets and only time and research will tell whether or not radiation is for sure a carcinogen.
In another article called Cell phones and Children: Following the precautionary road, author Suzanne Roseburg begins by explaining that technology has developed rapidly in the recent years and with that advancement came more and more cell phone subscriptions. She suggests that there was about a 1.3 billion increase in mobile subscriptions and with that comes concerns about radiofrequency. Roseburg claims that a lot of the researchers studying this topic are more concerned about children, due to them having thinner skulls and brains that aren’t finished developing. Then the author makes the point that the Food and Drug Administration, Government Accountability Office, and National Institutes of Health have all been studying this questionable topic and have all come to similar conclusions. In addition the author claims that due to the fact that children and adolescents brains are still being developed, there could be potential effects being made to the way connections are being formed in the brain, but it still remains unknown. As time goes on more and more evidence will begin to emerge. In the article, the author brought up a study where they had someone place one phone on each ear and they tested the brain for glucose production. They then had the person talk on one of the phones and collected that glucose data while having a conversation. The author finishes the study by stating the fact that holding the phone to your ear and talking on it causes your brain to create more glucose, rather than just holding a silent phone to the ear. This shows that radiation could possibly be the cause to why there was more cell activity in the brain during the second part of the test. She concludes the article by claiming that it is still unknown whether or not radiation from the cell phone can cause cancer in the brain because there is lack of information and the researchers need to determine the risk over a longer period of time.
Another study from the academic journal article called The Cellphone Study: A respected agency calls them ‘possibly carcinogenic,’ but the evidence is limited, the author is unknown. The article was found in the New York Times. According to this mysterious author, Cellphone users have every right to be confused. He says that in 2010 there was a study done in 13 countries that found no obvious evidence that radiation exposure from cell phones cause cancer. He then goes on by stating that the International Agency for Research on Cancer, “declared that the radiation is possibly carcinogenic to humans,” which should come to people as a concern. He goes on by stating that the agency released this big announcement to the press before releasing a detailed written study with the list of concerns from the cell phone radiation, and will allow scientists to have the first chance to look at the theory and evaluate it. The author goes on to say that the World Health Organization constructed its findings on limited evidence but claimed that people who use cell phones more often than not, have a higher risk of a brain tumor called glioma to emerge. To conclude the author mentions that cell phones were categorized as possible carcinogens and are still under investigation.
Based on my research, which was mainly conducted using scholarly databases, users of cellphones need to start taking precaution to continuous cellphone use due to the short-term and possible long-term effects that could happen in the near future. It is clearly seen in my research that cellphones do cause short term effects such as being a distraction, socially and causing confusion, as well as causing users to lose sleep. Although there is still not enough research gathered about whether or not cellphones cause cancer due to radiation, there is a great possibility that health risks will start to show up in a few years. My own view is that cell phones do have many pros to them, but have not been in this world long enough for us to have enough valid information to know whether or not to discontinue use. The effects from cell phones might start to appear in a few years when the millennials become elders, who use the cell phones for hours at a time, on a daily basis. Though I concede that there have been test results showing that radiation does not affect the brain in any way, I still maintain that the world possibly hasn’t given the study enough time for the radiation to show its true effects. For example, doctors do not know the cause of brain cancer. It is still in the process of being researched. The issue is important because with more and more humans becoming attached to their cell phones, continuous use might lead to health risks referring to the brain.
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