21st Century Health Hazards Everyone Should Know About
The Danger: They mess with your sleep (which you know), but smartphones and tablets can also lead to neck and back pain because of the way you tilt your head to read them. (Experts call it text neck, or, our favorite, iHunch.) In that posture, your 10- to 12-pound head feels more like 60 pounds to your neck, says Kenneth Hansraj, MD, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine in New York City. Beware your headphones as well—50 percent of people ages 12 to 35 are exposed to unsafe sound levels from their personal audio devices, according to the World Health Organization.
Your Safety Plan: Bring your device to your head instead of the other way around, keeping your ears above your shoulders as you look at them, says Hansraj. Save your sleep by using the new Night Shift mode on iPhones and the forthcoming Night Mode on Android, both of which reduce the blue light your screen gives off. For your ears, volume should be low enough that you're aware of what's going on around you—if you were on a bus and the driver made an announcement, you might not understand exactly what they're saying, but you'd know they said something, says Katrien Vermeire, PhD, audiologist and director of the Hearing and Speech Center at Long Island Jewish Medical Center.