This is a guest post by Mandy Miller. Follow her on Twitter @MandyMayM.
Sometimes I find out addiction to technology very repulsive. On that same note, I get uneasy when separated from most devices longer than 10 minutes. Although completely counterintuitive, many question the safety of being so connected. Some surveys have found that adults spend the most on TV at just over four hours a day – this obviously brings concerns of sedentary lifestyles and obesity. In close pursuit, we spend two and a half hours a day (beyond what we do at work) on the Internet – this also brings concerns of a sedentary lifestyle and obesity. When it comes to phones, Business Insider reported smartphone owners are using the ‘phone’ 15 percent of the time, while 56 percent of time is spent on mobile apps, followed by email and messaging at 19 percent. While the numbers aren’t a surprise, new research is suggesting we may not be at a high risk for this cell phone addiction as we once though.
Contrary to other studies evaluating the same topic, a new study in the British Medical Journal says that our excessive amount of time spent with cell phones won’t cause cancer in adults. The Danish study of more than 350,000 people showed that there was no difference in cancer rates between people who had used cell phones for more than a decade and people who hadn’t.
That’s not to say that our addiction to these pieces of electronics isn’t harmful. While not dished out in mass amounts, cell phones do emit radio waves, which are comprised of radio-frequency (RF) energy. This is a form of electromagnetic radiation. That’s somewhat unsettling for most consumers. It’s not like nuclear waste seen on The Simpsons oozing out of a barrel, but this radiation is just as phantom-like as cancer itself. What research suggests happens is this electromagnetic radiation is flowing into our brain tissue, possibly causing brain tumors.
While the study has received mixed reviews, one of the remaining questions is “How does this affect kids?” Naturally, as a child’s body is developing, his skull is naturally thinner and cannot block radiation as easily. Some suggest that children are still at a higher risk through being exposed to this radiation at a young age.
Regardless of what is reality and as much as we would like to say we could ‘quit,’ we can’t. There’s no patch for this addition. The fact is, there is radiation and there are some things you can do to limit your exposure to it. If anything, use the mass hysteria as an excuse to disconnect from your device.
1. Don’t sleep with your phone.
I think the majority of PR pros are guilty of this. I know I am. I leave my phone on my night stand. There, it jacks out plenty of radiation over night. Even if you use your phone as an alarm, you can turn your phone to ‘Airplane Mode.’ Not only will the phone not emit a signal, it will still wake you up, bright and early (yes, exciting). Plus, you’ll probably get better sleep because your phone isn’t going off every few minutes. Even if you are working with global teams, it’s a good idea to disconnect. For one, it’s call ‘eight hours of sleep’ for a reason. Sleep – don’t work!
2. Keep it from the kids.
It’s so cute they know how to work one better than you, isn’t it? Well, lay down the law and pull the plastic from their hands. As noted above, their cute craniums can’t ward off the radiation the way an adult skull can. Whether you’re a parent or have little kiddos running around, use the time to build their social skills and interact with them. They’ll have plenty of time to use cell phones in the future.
3. Text talk and email.
Very few cell phone plans come without a big texting or data package and as PR pros, we constantly have the connection to the internet. While it’s not the same as a voice conversation, texting and emailing can limit your exposure as the cell phone is further away from your body. The further the device is from your body, the better off you are. Even if you want to type quick emails, you can set your device to read something like “Sent from my phone – please excuse any typos.” The instant disclaimer helps out with that auto-correct or shorthand. This is also very beneficial if you’re breaking up with someone as you don’t have to talk to them – bonus!
4. Kick it old school or new age.
If you’re expecting a really long call (i.e. your family), try a different connection, quite literally. Although the age (and budget) of a landline is quickly closing, using a landline limits your exposure. Who knows, maybe you’ll get chosen to be in one of those annoying Vonage commercials! If that’s out of the question, try connecting up on Skype. Switch from one device to another and get the added experience of being able to see someone’s face while you talk. Many businesses use this for meetings as you can view your entire team while meeting.
5. Ditch it.
As much as it kills me for the first five minutes or so, it’s quite lovely to ditch the device all together, especially if your phone is connected to email. If you’re a gym addict like me, it’s a perfect time to turn off. Most gyms are cracking down on the use of cell phones while using machines, but take the time (and excuse) to disconnect. Obviously, a planned separation from your device also limits exposure to radiation.
In an age where it seems life and work is constantly connected to the internet, do you have any additional tips on ditching the electronics?