Look around your house and ask yourself, what couldn’t I live without? If you’re like nearly half the population, your smartphone is on the list.
That’s because our smartphones connect us to so many other things we love, from the people who are precious to us to the music that enriches our lives.
Knowing that we can’t live without our smartphones raises a question, though. How can we live more healthfully with them? From finding the best cellular service plan, to choosing a cell phone case that reflects our unique personalities, we invest a lot of time ensuring we have the best smartphone experience. You might want to think about it this way: adopting healthy cell phone habits is part of your overall smartphone optimization plan.
Cell Phone Safety During Cold and Flu Season
While the greatest risk of being infected with colds and the flu comes from inhaling airborne droplets released by people who are ill, a virus can also spread via contaminated surfaces. Plastic and metal, two of the materials commonly used to manufacture smartphones, can harbor a virus for two to three days.
What’s more, because we hold our phones close to our faces and speak directly into them, they are more likely than other objects — like countertops or pots and pans, for example — to carry traces of a virus.
The first step you can take to reduce your risk comes down to common sense. For best cell phone safety, don’t share your smartphone with others and don’t use other people’s phones. That means not handing your phone to someone else to view your Facebook photos. If someone wants to do a quick Google search on your phone, do it for them.
Don’t reach over to hand someone their phone just to be courteous. Our phones have become so ever-present in our lives, we are barely aware of how often we touch them.
Keep it Clean
It’s also a smart practice to disinfect your phone periodically. Phone manufacturers have recently advised users that common disinfectants like alcohol and bleach wipes can be used to clean screens without damaging them. But some products might be too harsh so it’s best to follow your phone’s manufacturer’s advice on the subject. If you’re into gadgets, you may also want to consider one of the phone disinfecting devices that uses UVC light to kill germs.
UVC is ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet light is a type of radiation that makes black-light posters glow and is responsible for summer tans. Light in the UVC wavelength can be used for disinfecting water, sterilizing surfaces, destroying harmful micro-organisms in food products and also in the air.
UVC light has been used for years to stop the spread of disease. It’s also a component of the best air purifiers for home use. Choose a model that encloses your phone and bathes it in light, rather than a wand-style model, to avoid exposing yourself or others to the low level of radiation the devices emit.
Cut it Short
There is a body of evidence connecting too much screen time to health problems, whether it’s cold and flu season or not. In studies of cell phone safety, screen time has been linked to obesity and it can also disrupt our sleep patterns. Studies show that poor sleep can lead to chronic inflammation, an underlying cause of health problems ranging from asthma to heart conditions.
Shutting the cell phone and computer off a couple hours before bedtime can lead to a better night’s sleep. The light from these devices has been shown to reduce the sleep-inducing hormone known as melatonin and make it harder to stay asleep at night. Another tip for better sleep would be to take some highly absorbable forms of calcium and magnesium such as those found in the natural sleep aid Sleep Minerals II. Magnesium has been proven to help reduce the harmful effects of radiation from cell phones.
Caring for Kids
Some parents have all but given up trying to limit their kids’ screen time. But limiting our kids’ use of smartphones remains important. Ironically, while adults may experience a greater sense of connectedness by using their phones, too much screen time can make kids less interested in being with their friends and family.
The shows and games that appear to keep the kids’ minds engaged may actually impair their thinking and learning abilities later in life. It’s safe to say that family members of all ages can improve their health by taking steps to use their cell phones safely.
Susan Doktor is a journalist and businesswoman who hails from New York City. She writes guest and ghost-blogs internationally on a wide range of topics, including health, technology, finance and consumer products.