Smartphones bad for your hands, good for your brain

Touching your mobile phone affects your brain

Touch screen mobile phone, in handMillions of people now use their thumbs and forefingers more than ever before. They are doing so because they are tapping away on their mobile phones to send messages, check emails and keep up-to-date with friends on social networks. Never before have we used our thumbs and forefingers so much.

New research now suggests that this is having an impact on our brains. That’s hardly surprising. After all, your thumb and forefinger are packed with sensitive nerve endings. Indeed, it is the sensitivity of the nerve endings in our thumb and forefinger that helps separate humans from other primates. It means we are capable of much finer control and have significantly greater capabilities, allowing us to write, for instance, thereby making us even more communicative than other mammals.

So the notion that by using our thumbs and forefingers more is having an effect on our brains makes logical sense. This research just confirms what you might have expected from a theoretical basis.

It means, however, that our ability to sense touch is now determined more by our digital life than what you might call “normal” touch, such as using hand-held items.

This might have an impact on our brains in the long run, too. It could reshape the way our brains and our hands communicate and understand the world around us.

But that might be short-lived. Using our thumbs and fingers to the extent we do on our mobile devices is leading to repetitive strain injury, amongst other mechanical problems with our body.

It might well be that our brains do not get the long-lasting effect of digital reshaping, because it simply hurts too much to use our smartphones for too long. The potential brain boost produced by our thumbs and fingers might not be around for too long as we struggle to cope physically.

It is another reminder that too much of a good thing can also be a bad thing.

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Graham Jones
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+
Graham Jones

@grahamjones

Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist, professional speaker and author of 32 books who helps businesses understand the online behaviour of their customers
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Graham Jones
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