Is your smartphone ruining your TEETH? People who can’t bear to be away from their social media apps are more likely to grind their gnashers and sleep badly, study finds
- Researchers looked at ‘anxiety habits’ of regular and kosher smartphone users
- Kosher smartphones are restricted to certain times of ‘non-social media’ apps
- They found that regular smartphone users were more likely to grind their teeth
- They were also less likely to get consistent sleep and reported pains in their jaw
People who can’t handle any time without social media apps on their smartphone are more likely to grind their teeth and struggle to fall asleep, according to a new study.
Researchers at Tel Aviv University compared the behaviour of people using normal smartphones to those with kosher phones which are stripped of most apps.
Kosher phones are used by Israel’s ultra-orthodox communities, with almost all apps, including social media, removed so the user can have internet access and make phone calls without falling foul of strict religious practices.
This gave researchers a good opportunity, as it allowed them to study and compare the sleeping habits and patterns of those with both types of device.
A quarter of regular smartphone users would grind their teeth during the day, while just six per cent of kosher phone users would do the same, the team discovered.
Study authors say they are not opposed to smartphone technology or social media, but recommend people place limits on how much they use.
Researchers at Tel Aviv University compared the behaviour of people using normal smartphones to those with kosher phones which are stripped of most apps
KOSHER PHONES: STRIPPED OF APPS TO COMPLY WITH RELIGIOUS RULES
There are a number of ‘kosher’ phones on the market, some simple flip phones and others are smartphones.
They are stripped of apps and features to allow the user to comply with religious rules while maintaining basic internet access and phone calls.
The available apps vary, some will have Waze, camera, calendar and weather while others might just have a phone.
They come from certified sources and are verified before sale so they don’t inadvertently cause someone to break religious rules.
Other permitted apps include WhatsApp, banking, medicine and municipal services.
Israeli researchers also found that those with a non-kosher smartphone didn’t sleep as well, with 20 per cent saying they woke up during the night.
It is likely caused a ‘fear of missing out,’ the study authors explained.
Dr Pessia Friedman-Rubin told the Times of Israel: ‘People are constantly using their phones because they’re are worried they will miss something.’
Adding: ‘They check their WhatsApp, Facebook and other apps’ at all times.
The team didn’t just notice a difference between the Kosher and non-Kosher groups in terms of unhealthy habits.
There was also a ‘clear patterns showing that the more you use your smartphone the more likely you are to hurt from jaw pain, grind your teeth, and wake in the night.’
It all comes down to FOMO, fear of missing out, including messages, posts and notifications, they said.
‘This creates a cycle of growing dependency on cellphones, which leads to feelings of stress and anxiety, and the feeling that someone might write something on social media and I’ll miss it and not be in the loop,’ Friedman-Rubin told the Times of Israel.
‘In short, phones are actually causing many people stress, and we’re seeing physical manifestations of this.’
They found that the fear of not being ‘in the loop’ and not seeing that important message was resulting in actual physical harm through teeth grinding and sleep.
Regular smartphones are often avoided by members of some of the most orthodox Jewish groups, with new ‘approved’ devices developed instead.
These remove many distractions including web browsers and leave the phone, WhatsApp and essential apps for travel, public engagement and health.
Researchers found 45 per cent of regular smartphone users, in their group of 18-35 year old volunteers, had a ‘moderate-to-high’ need to check their devices regularly.
Half of the volunteers also reported that they feel their phone causes them a moderate-to-high level of stress on a regular basis.
Kosher phones are used by Israel’s ultra-orthodox communities, with almost all apps, including social media, removed so the user can have internet access and make phone calls without falling foul of strict religious practices
WHAT IS SMARTPHONE ADDICTION?
The term ‘smartphone addiction’ has often e been criticised in the scientific literature.
Some experts argue the lack of severe negative consequences compared to other forms of addiction make the name misleading.
Some say the issue isn’t with the smartphone, but it is merely a medium to access social media and the internet.
Alternative terms such as ‘problematic smartphone use’ and concepts have been proposed instead.
Despite the controversy on the term ‘smartphone addiction’, as described above, it is still the prevailing term in the scientific world.
Additionally, the psychometric instruments used in many studies explicitly refer to the concept of ‘smartphone addiction’.
In the upcoming years, a shift away from the term ‘smartphone addiction’ towards more appropriate terms, as discussed above, might be seen.
This figure drops dramatically among the kosher phone users, who don’t have access to social media and the regular notifications that come with it.
Just 22 per cent of kosher phone users felt a need to have their devices constantly available and 20 per cent felt they caused them stress.
The study, of 600 people, reports that there are far higher rates of anxious habits among regular smartphone users than kosher phone users.
The team blame this on their phone habits and the fear of missing out.
As well as getting less sleep and grinding their teeth more often, those with a regular phone also reported more jaw pain than kosher phone users.
Of regular device users 29 per cent reported jaw pain compared to 14 per cent of kosher phone users.
‘We did very complex statistical work and saw if you separate out other factors, cellphone use is most likely to account for the patterns of behavior we saw,’ Friedman-Rubin told the Times of Israel.
She said smartphone technology was still important but recommended people limit how much they use.
‘We are of course in favor of technological progress, but as with everything in life, the excessive use of smartphones can lead to negative symptoms,” Friedman-Rubin said.
“It is important that the public is aware of the consequences it has on the body and mind.”
Earlier studies have linked social media use to depression, loneliness and increased aggression, as well as links to anxiety.
The study is due to be published in the journal Quintessence International.
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