• Avoid bending your neck by placing your mobile device as close to eye level as possible.
  • Texting while driving is the equivalent of a blood alcohol level of 1.2 percent. Even listening to a conversation on a cell reduces brain activity devoted to driving by 37 percent.
  • Sending texts on a smartphone changes your brainwaves and generates a new type of brain rhythm.

The documented risks associated with texting continue to increase. A new study from the Mayo Clinic provides startling new evidence that texting might be much riskier to your health than anyone realizes.

I recently heard someone joke that the Snapchat generation is so lazy that they don’t even bother to text. Those making fun of the people using Snapchat might want to rethink their position.

In fact, Snapchat and video have virtually no health risks as compared to the serious health risks associated with texting.

Are you texting your way to permanent neck and back pain?

Your head weighs between 10 and 12 pounds. Would you be willing to put another 50-pound weight on the top of your head?

If you are texting and the angle of your head is at 60 degrees, that is exactly what you’re doing — you’re forcing your neck to support the equivalent of 60 pounds.

To avoid serious degeneration in your neck and back that can require surgery and lead to long-term health problems, stand up or sit up straight when you text.

Avoid bending your neck by placing your mobile device as close to eye level as possible. Also, avoid injury by refraining from texting and walking and being mindful of your posture while using your mobile.

Having trouble sleeping?

Numerous studies have shown that mobile devices affect the quality and length of your sleep. During dream sleep, your body repairs muscle, bone and skin as well as strengthening and consolidating memory.

The blue light from your mobile device alters both cortisol (the stress hormone) and melatonin (the sleep hormone) by tricking your brain into thinking it is still daylight.

In fact, two hours of blue light exposure from mobile devices can suppress melatonin production by as much as 22 percent.

Blue light also blocks the release of melatonin from the pineal gland as well. The result is decreased sleep due to less melatonin and increased stress due to higher cortisol levels.

Are your eyes strained, and do you get ‘texting thumb’?

Constantly texting from your mobile device can cause digital eye strain including chronic dry eye. Moreover, “texting thumb” can cause painful tendonitis, inflammation and chronic wrist pain as well.

One of the best ways to avoid these problems is to use the “voice-to-text” functions whenever possible. Failure to address these issues can result in permanent nerve damage.

It’s more dangerous than driving drunk

A blood alcohol level of .08 percent is considered to be “driving under the influence.” Texting while driving is the equivalent of a blood alcohol level of 1.2 percent.

In fact, a study from Carnegie Mellon University found that even listening to a conversation on a cell phone reduced the amount of brain activity devoted to driving by 37 percent.

Driver using smartphone image via Shutterstock.

Driver using smartphone image via Shutterstock.

Part of the challenge is that your brain is unable to multi-task. Broadman’s Area 10 controls where you focus your attention. It can only focus on one task at a time, and it takes .07 seconds to shift.

If you’re traveling at 60 miles per hour, the shifting process alone means you travel six feet before you even reach for your phone. By the time you pick up your phone, you have traveled another 50 to 100 feet — more than enough to have a serious accident if someone cuts you off or steps in front of your car.

A new study suggests that texting poses an even greater risk to your brain

For all the years that scientists have studied brain waves and their functions, they have only been able to identify five types of brainwaves.

  1. Delta waves: deep, non-dream sleep
  2. Theta waves: being drowsy and slipping into sleep and dreams
  3. Alpha waves: a very relaxed state that occurs with meditation and being hypnotized
  4. Beta waves: being actively engaged in activities and conversation
  5. Gamma waves: associated with hyper-alertness or brain activity, which is great for learning

Although we can alter the shapes of the waves by ingesting drugs or engaging in various types of activities, no one has uncovered a way to generate an entirely new type of brain wave until now.

A newly published article, “Cortical Processing During Smartphone Text Messaging” in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior, has documented that sending text messages on a smartphone not only changes your brain waves, but it also generates a new type of brain rhythm that has never been observed before.

The new brain wave pattern was observed on both cell phones as well as iPads, and it’s apparently triggered by tapping on the mobile devices.

This extraordinary discovery has serious implications for how you use your mobile devices, over and beyond the issues with neck pain, thumb and tendon damage, disturbed sleep and digital eyestrain.

According to one of the study’s authors, Dr. William Tatum, “There is now a biological reason why people shouldn’t text and drive — texting changes brain waves.”

Protect yourself

This new research was reported in a medical journal on epilepsy. In epilepsy, there are sudden spikes or drops in brain wave activity as measured by the EEG (Electroencephalogram). The sample EEG scan provided in the article shows a quick, sudden drop in EEG activity in the newly discovered brain wave.

It seems wise to minimize the risks from texting by doing the following:

  • Limit texting and rely more on voice-recognition features such as Siri instead.
  • When you do text, make sure that you are sitting or standing straight and that you are not hunched over when you look at your screen.
  • Use a portable keyboard with your tablet PC whenever possible. Remember, you can now send texts from your laptop as well. Using all 10 fingers on a keyboard apparently doesn’t produce the new tapping brainwave.
  • Use Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube to create a much richer and more complete communication experience as compared to texting.
  • Avoid using any mobile device two hours before going to bed.
  • Never text and drive.

Again, researchers are in new territory here, and any explanations at this point are strictly hypothetical. But it’s better to be safe than sorry — especially when texting already has so many drawbacks.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles and two best-selling real estate books. Learn about her training programs at www.RealEstateCoach.com/AgentTraining and www.RealEstateCoach.com/newagent

Email Bernice Ross.

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