Instant access to the web, shopping, social connections, phone calls and emails are becoming the norm in today’s world with the dramatic increase in smartphone use. However, while both state and federal lawmakers debate whether to restrict use while driving and scientists compile data on health risks, there are certain precautions we can take to protect ourselves.

“Current data suggests that texting, emailing and typing seem to have fewer risks for skin and brain tumors since physical distance allows for the electromagnetic signal to decrease in strength,” says Mark Benden, Ph.D., CPE, assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health. “However, users should limit their duration and repetition for these tasks to prevent hand and wrist disorders like ‘blackberry thumb’ and tendonitis.”

Dr. Benden also suggests placing limits on smartphone use by placing it in a drawer at work and only picking up messages at set times such as breaks or at lunch, not sleeping with it near your bed, and not having it in the same room at meal time.

“Texting is more distracting while driving than talking on the phone with a hands-free headset, but legislation on this issue continues,” Dr. Benden says. “Just as we have learned to ‘buckle up,’ we may soon have to learn to ‘hang up’ and drive.”

— Marketing & Communications