Electronic Devices and Our Health

Are electronic devices ruining our health?

According to a study done by Nielsen research, the average American spends about 11 hours each day looking at some electronic device, including our daily use of smartphones, computers, video games, radios, tablets, and TVs. But are these devices impacting our health negatively? The answer may surprise you. Electronic devices and our health are multi-layered subjects; read on as we peel back those layers to unpack this story. My hope is this post gives you enough information to make some informed decisions.

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Electronic Addictions?

In recent years and with the lightning-fast technological advancements, it’s hard to believe that such a thing as “electronic addiction” exists, or maybe it’s not so hard to believe. I used to believe that spending too much time on electronic devices only meant you were not getting enough physical activity, fresh air, or interaction with other people face-to-face. Nowadays, I’m not so sure that’s the only negative anymore. 

Think about how much time in hours you spend on your phone and computer. If you’re like me, you might work in front of a computer for eight to ten hours a day; I’m looking at three screens right now. In a world increasingly becoming connected, it’s hard to imagine a time when electronic devices weren’t a part of daily life. 

It’s true that electronic devices are undeniably helpful for many tasks and can make life easier in general. But, with that convenience comes some significant drawbacks. One of those drawbacks is exposure to EMFs.

What are electromagnetic fields (EMFs)? 

EMFs come from any source that emits radio waves, such as cell phones, microwaves, computers, power lines, and even electric toothbrushes. Some scientists think that EMFs are not dangerous to us; however, many studies suggest that they may amplify the risk of breast cancer and certain other cancers. In addition, some believe EMFs may contribute to dementia later in life or autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There was a big scare in the 70s for residents living in Long Island, NY, in homes near High Voltage Power Lines. I remember the daily headlines listing the latest cases of breast cancer, leukemia, and other cancers. The thing they had in common was where they lived, which was near these power lines.

Still, some governmental agencies and respected news outlets report no link between living near power lines in these towns. One oncology website answered, “Why do so many people on Long Island have cancer?” by saying these cancer clusters developing in Long Island were due to *1-“having children later-in-life, a family history of breast cancer, and increased alcohol consumption…And those risk factors are in the end, why Long Island’s rates are higher than the national average.” So, I have a simple question; why don’t we see the same clusters in other communities nationwide? Are those risk factors exclusive to Long Island residents only? With all the opposing information on the internet, I would rather “err on the side of caution.” But I’m convinced there is a connection and would prefer to inform my readers so you can make your own informed decisions.

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So, what are the negative impacts of personal electronics on our health?

Electronic devices can be very beneficial in certain situations but also have several adverse effects. For example, as adults, there is evidence showing that those who look at their screens before bed causes our brains to release less melatonin (the chemical responsible for regulating your sleep cycle), resulting in poorer quality sleep. 

What should you do about it? To limit the effect of electronic devices on our health, we need to be proactive. Here are some things we can do: limit screen time (at least one hour before bedtime), avoid using electronics late at night, and spend more time outside enjoying natural light (or using tools like f.lux, free download). If you’re experiencing signs of eye strain, try taking breaks from staring at screens by putting your phone down every 20 minutes and focusing on distant objects for a few minutes. If you feel depressed after using an electronic device, try getting up from your desk and going for a walk – fresh air may help to clear your head! Since all technology emits some energy, we should be

careful not to overuse it so that it doesn’t become toxic for us. For example, you shouldn’t sleep next to your laptop or computer without turning those devices off first. In addition, we must remember that our body’s cells are made up of atoms that emit energy when disturbed by EMFs emitted by electronic devices like cell phones, laptops, tablets, and other appliances. These disruptions affect cellular functions such as gene expression, DNA replication, and protein synthesis, which may lead to cancerous cells if not monitored carefully enough.

Other harmful effects on our bodies include the following. Electromagnetic fields may increase the risk of brain tumors. Some studies suggest an association between long-term cell phone use and certain types of brain cancer, such as glioma or meningioma. One study found that living within 500 meters of power lines doubles your risk of leukemia. Breast cancer is also a risk with prolonged cell phone use. A recent study concluded that long-term exposure to the electromagnetic radiation had been associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, diabetes, and poor sleep quality in adults.

Electronic devices and your sleep

As for electronic devices and sleep: one word – restlessness! The irony is that when we finally get some downtime to sleep, our electronic gadgets seem to keep us from achieving the deep REM stages we require. Dr. Martha Mithen conducted experiments at the University of Surrey in the South Eastern area of England, UK., where they tested 50 adults ages 20-25 over four days. The participants were asked to limit their screen time at night to two hours (and no phone before bed). They found out that there was a significant improvement in the quality of their sleep after this limitation and less fatigue during the day. So we are becoming more aware of how these gadgets are wreaking havoc on our daily lives and affecting our health. Is it worth the risk?

The blue light from your tablet and phone may stop you from getting into that deep REM sleep we need. It’s not just about disrupting your sleep cycle; as stated above, blue light has been shown to interfere with your body’s natural secretion of melatonin, which regulates our circadian rhythm. This interference can lead to tiredness, irritability, and difficulty concentrating during the day. You don’t need to give up your gadgets for good—instead, try minimizing their use in the evening or use an app like f.lux. What does f.lux do? F.lux is an app on iOS and Android that adjusts your device’s color temperature as daylight fades to reduce eye strain and provide a more pleasant viewing experience at night. F.lux gradually makes everything on your device look warmer and easier on the eyes, much like wearing sunglasses indoors would make everything look darker (but easier on the eyes). 

What about charging your phone by your head while you sleep? 

It would be best to eliminate exposure to your electronics before bed. Make sure your phone isn’t too close to your face if you’re looking at it – about 18 inches away is best. And don’t charge your smartphone next to you as this creates electromagnetic radiation, which could disrupt sleep and cognitive function the following day.

What about our children?

With the effects of electronic devices on children becoming more widely known and accepted in recent years, we realize the negative impact of electronics on their health is continuing to grow. In the short term effects of electronic devices on children can be headaches, nausea, anxiety, and dizziness, among others.

It has been established that women’s exposure to high levels of EMF during pregnancy can lead to premature births and miscarriages. It is best to avoid using any wireless devices when pregnant or breastfeeding because this can cause adverse effects in babies, such as cognitive delays, reduced intelligence, and behavioral problems. If possible, try limiting screen time for children under 18 months old and always limit the time kids spend on their screens at home as a precaution and best practice.

We’ve already reviewed the effect of electronic screens on adults, but it can have an even more damaging effect on children. For example, as stated above, electronic screens give off blue light, which stimulates the brain and might cause kids to have trouble sleeping and lower self-esteem. For example, studies have shown children exposed to electronic screens too often may be at an increased risk of obesity and cancer later in life due to the negative impact

of electronics on our health. Furthermore, they might also struggle with sleep because electronics stimulate the brain into waking mode even when not in use. Some children use their electronics close to their heads and neck, which may increase their exposure to EMFs and have a harmful effect. For example, electronic devices and children: studies show that children who play electronic games score higher on depression tests than those who don’t. Imagine what this is doing to their brains?

Adverse effects of electronic devices on our pets

An interesting study suggests that the electromagnetic fields generated by electronic devices and their frequency waves may also harm our pets. In this study, scientists monitored the brain activity of ferrets while they were exposed to radiation from cell phones, MP3 players, and tablet computers. The results showed significant changes in the activity of neurons, with a higher number of neural spikes produced when the animals were exposed to cellphone radiation than when there was no exposure. The authors concluded that these effects are likely caused by the electromagnetic fields created by these gadgets, which penetrate deep into tissues and organs in humans just as it does for ferrets. These findings could help explain why many people who spend long hours on their mobile phones complain of headaches and memory problems. But do pets have the same exposure risk as humans? Does the level of EMF depend on the type or make of the device? Unfortunately, the study didn’t answer those questions, but knowing all electronic devices emit this energy, I think the question is moot. However, it did show that exposure impacts neurological functioning in animals, similar to what is observed in humans. What’s your opinion about this information?

In conclusion

I don’t think we need to “throw the baby out with the bath water” here. EMFs from our electronic devices can damage several areas of our health; however, that’s not to say that we should never use electronic devices. They have their place, and there will always be situations where using them would be appropriate (a business meeting, emergency phone calls, for instance). DHowever, it is essential to use them in moderation and try limiting screen time as much as possible. Baby steps, start today by not charging your cell phone on your nightstand while you’re sleeping at night.

Of course, we also have a mixed bag of opinions from the scientific community, which isn’t helpful. Some researchers warn of the damaging effects of EMFs on our bodies; however, other researchers say these findings are too small and inconclusive enough to suggest genuine concern.

Government agencies insisted, and reputable news outlets reported no connection between the cancer clusters in Long Island, NY, and High Voltage Power Lines. Yet was it a coincidence that those clusters were close to where those towers and those power lines were located? There were no other stories of surges elsewhere on the island, so draw your conclusions; I have.


*1-Why is breast cancer so high on Long Island? – We fight cancer. https://hospiceofqueenannes.com/oncologist/why-is-breast-cancer-so-high-on-long-island.html

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