February 2023 Editorial

I mislaid my mobile phone the other day. As I had switched it off, while in a meeting, I could not ring it on the landline to trace it. I gave up looking and went out to do some gardening. The day was fine after an early frost, and forking away, I felt invigorated and pleased with myself. Back indoors, later, for a coffee I listened to Radio 4 and caught one of my favourite programmes , Just One Thing,” presented by Dr Michael Moseley. His latest offer for our consideration was entitled Put your phone down. How apt and how informative.

Did you know that 80% of adults in the UK own a smartphone and that is a higher percentage than those who own a toothbrush? Yuck! Did you know that the average time online for people in the UK is four hours daily and three of those are on their phones?

Less phone use means better health

Our mobile phones are incredibly useful but using them less can really benefit your mental health. Studies show that anxiety, depression and loneliness are reduced. As for physical health, a study of 7,000 Swedish students in 2018 showed that back pain decreased and breathing also improved. Too much time bent over caused the back problems and continual sitting texting etc had a bad effect on the respiratory function.

What does the research say?

At the University of Texas Dr Adrian Wood set up a test to see if students’ phones affected their cognitive abilities. A third put their phones on their desks, a third put their phones in their bags and a third put their phones in another room. Then followed a series of cognitive tests which showed that, even though the phones were all switched off, those who could see their phone and those who were aware that it was handy, performed less well than those who knew their phones were out of reach. The students did not realise that their phones were affecting their brainpower.

Their phones presence lessened their owners’ concentration. Further investigation showed that whilst involved in what should be an immersive experience, the phone could be a distraction and thus the experience was appreciated and remembered less well. Despite thinking we are maybe good at multitasking, we really cannot give 100% to two things at the same time.

Stuart, a volunteer for the programme, reduced his social media time from two and a half hours per day to 30 minutes. In his freed up time, he began enjoying doing household tasks, spending time at the gym and socialising more. He realised how his overuse of his mobile phone had affected the quality of his life. He now felt more balanced, less anxious and more in control.

Less phone more living!

We have seen from various newspaper articles that a mobile phone can literally be a lifesaver. If you live and travel alone they can be a welcome reassurance that you can get help if necessary. They can however be a distraction from living in the present. So, don’t walk around clutching your phone and reacting to how others are living. Reduce your phone time and experience your life, your here and now, fully.