Gupta N. RF12 | PSUN103. Presented at: ENDO Annual Meeting; June 11-14, 2022; Atlanta (hybrid meeting).
Gupta reports being the founder and director of Phreedom.
ATLANTA — People who spend more time per day using wireless mobile devices are more likely to have a higher BMI, lower-quality sleep and other adverse health outcomes, according to a presenter at ENDO 2022.
In findings from a literature review, each hour per day increase in mobile screen time was associated with an increase in BMI, and excessive device use was linked to insufficient sleep, greater daytime tiredness, sleepiness and depression. The adverse health outcomes make it imperative for people to use strategies to reduce their mobile device use, according to Nidhi Gupta, MDfounder and director of KAP Pediatric Endocrinology in Franklin, Tennessee.
“We’re not asking to throw devices out the window,” Gupta said in a press conference. “We’re advocating for moderation, balance and real-life engagement. We have to try and find joy in our offline life so that the joy in online life is not as strong as a pull that you want to avoid the joy of offline life.”
Gupta conducted a literature search of the PubMed and MEDLINE databases for studies referencing smartphone, screen time and phone addiction through May 2021. The search was conducted as part of a population-based educational initiative, titled Freedom from smartPhone (Phreedom). There were 655 initial citations found, of which 234 were included in the study.
Addiction to wireless mobile devices is linked to the incentive sensitization theory of addiction. Users receive a cue, such as a notification or a message on a locked screen, or will begin using their device when feeling boredom, frustration or completing a tedious task. The notification causes a dopamine release that drives a compulsive behavior in which a user is constantly looking toward their device as an escape or distraction. The user reaches for the device, will check email, social media or perform another task, and will feel good about satisfying the craving, according to Gupta.
“The more often we go through this trigger loop of wireless mobile devices, the more reinforced it gets,” Gupta said. “Every time our brain experiences this feeling of reward, we’re looking for the next cue. Every time there is a cue, we’re looking for the next reward.”
Overuse of wireless mobile devices can cause several adverse health effects. According to the review, each hour per day increase in screen time is associated with a 0.05 kg/m2 to 0.07 kg/m2 increase in BMI (p < .001). Factors that contribute to this increase include distracted overeating, disrupted sleeping and procrastination of healthy activities, such as forgoing physical activity, family time or sleep.
“The most important factor that seems very logical and obvious is increase in sedentary time, because of how much time we spend on our devices,” Gupta said. “But there’s more to that. We have a limited number of discretionary hours within any given day. An excessive amount of screen time is bound to displace some other essential activities from those discretionary hours.”
Excessive screen time is also associated with other adverse health effects, such as illegal substance use. People who are younger at age of initial mobile device exposure and those who are exposed to devices for a longer duration have higher odds for adverse health outcomes.
Gupta said several strategies can be implemented to reduce mobile device screen time. She said people should turn off any nonessential notifications; be mindful of irrational craving and specific time to check emails and social media; make the mobile device difficult to reach by putting it in a drawer, zipper pocket or using a complicated password to open it; and make the device boring and unappealing by deleting social media application or using a timed-blocking program.