Too much time on smartphone poses health threat

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작성 2019.11.18 20:18 수정 2019.11.18 20:18

Too much time on smartphone poses health threat

- Overusing your smartphone may wreck your health, experts say


More people are falling ill from spending too much time on mobile screens.

Last month Rep. Kim Kwang-soo of the National Assembly’s health and welfare committee said “smartphone maladies” are taking a toll on public health, calling for a government-level response. 

The lawmaker said South Korea has the highest rate of smartphone ownership in the world, citing a 2018 report by US-based think tank the Pew Research Center, which in turn has led to an increase in health problems arising from excessive smartphone use.

“Health authorities should come up with measures to deal with possible health effects that come with newly emerging technologies,” he said.

Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service data shows the number of patients diagnosed with “smartphone-related diseases” has nearly doubled over the past five years.

Smartphone diseases identified by the state health insurance program include text neck syndrome, dry eye syndrome, insomnia and carpal tunnel syndrome.

In 2018, medical expenses for the four diseases amounted to 433.4 billion won ($372.3 billion), a 46.8 percent jump from 2014’s 295.3 billion won. The number of patients in need of treatment for these conditions totaled 5,462,746, an increase of 14.8 percent over the same period.

Roh Young-hak, an orthopedic surgeon at Ewha Womans University Medical Center, said while using handheld devices was not the sole cause of “text neck,” it may be more common among mobile users.

“More people spend time hunched over a smartphone, than say, a book,” he said.

According to the data presented by the lawmaker, insomnia was the condition that saw the most drastic surge, from 461,790 in 2014 to 597,529 in 2018.

Lee Hyang-woon, a neurologist at the same hospital’s sleep center, said exposure to light in the evening “severely inhibits sleep” by interfering with the production of a sleep hormone known as melatonin.

“The greater the intensity of light from smartphone screens, and the longer you are exposed to it, the more likely you will experience sleep disturbance and reduced quality of sleep,” she said.

By  KlCN news  reporter,  ho jin Lee

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