Phone use - be smart about it

Blog by Mrs Fergusson, Depute Rector

The last decade has seen an explosion in the smart phone market – global sales last year alone amounted to $478.7billion – but will our children pay a far greater price for being the first smartphone generation?

At a recent health and safety seminar, one particular presentation slide caught my attention and I suspect it might catch yours too. We’ve all warned our children about the damage a heavy school bag can do to the back but you might be shocked to learn the smartphone, weighing around 187g, may cause more back problems.

Take a look at the infographic below and then spend five minutes watching your child interact with their phone. Are you worried?

How many hours a week does your child spend staring at their smartphone? How often is your child tilting his or head downwards to look at his or her phone? Pay attention to the angle. If the neck tilt is at a 60 degree angle the effective weight on the spine is 60lbs.

As adults we are guilty of it too but most of us were adults, and our bones fully formed, by the time the smartphone revolution really took hold. Our children are putting increased weight pressure on their backs when their bones and spine are still growing.

Researchers have already questioned the link between smartphone use and musculoskeletal disorders. I’m not a medical expert, but I am a concerned teacher and parent.

We often talk about phone ‘addiction’; recent data collected by Apple indicates that we access our phone up to 80 times per day. That’s 30,000 times in the next year. So what is happening to our minds every time we check our phones? Scientists have been Pitrying to explore this and research suggests that as the brain

Pic Credit: The Guardian

grows dependent on the technology, the intelligence weakens.

A 2015 Journal of Experimental Psychology study found that when people’s phones interrupt them in the middle of a task, their work gets sloppier—irrespective of whether or not they check the phone.

 Another 2015 study indicated that when people hear their phone ring, their blood pressure spikes, their pulse quickens, and their problem-solving skills decline. Another study by the University of California, San Diego, concluded that intelligence and cognitive capacity decreased when students had their smartphones in view, even if the students claimed that the phones were not a distraction.


Many of us as parents might instinctively issue ‘old fashioned’ advice to our teenagers about posture and putting phones out of sight when working. It seems that the research is increasingly backing up our parental instincts. Are we beginning to see a new kind of ‘brain drain’?

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