Put down that phone! Experts say reducing your smartphone usage is healthy

The average age that most kids get their first smartphone is 10.

A recent stat reveals that kids use their phones in the car about 45 percent of the time.

Is that healthy behavior to be so tuned out to what's going on around them?

Doctors say we're already seeing the toll of what screen time is doing to our bodies, but what about our brains?

A recent mobile consumer survey found the average person checks their phone 47 times a day. And those between the ages of 18 to 24 even more - 86 times a day!

Phone use has gone up exponentially since the smartphone first hit the market. Now, people on average spend about three hours a day on their phones! Compare that to the stat of just 18 minutes from a few years ago. We just can't help it!

Neurologist Dr. Yafa Minazad of Southern California Neurology Consultants said every time your phone pings, your heart rate rises and stress hormones flood your body.

"That will always put our brains into this constant mode of anxiety, worry and anticipation," she said. "And it doesn't allow our nerves and our brain to rest."

Over time, Minazad said this could affect our limbic system which is the complex brain network that controls basic emotion.

She said, "And that constant state of anxiety will not only affect our mood, but also affect our memory, thinking, and cognitive function.

How can you fix your phone fascination?

One way to start: keeping your phone off your desk.

A University of Texas study revealed that people were most likely to look at their phone if it's front of them. No matter if it's on - face up, or face down. It may help to even move the phone out of the room, if you're home.

Experts say try this out: don't look at your phone for an hour - and see how you feel.

Change your habits. Instead of going to grab your phone to mindlessly scroll through social media, grab a book.

Finally: change your settings to turn off most notifications and customize your ringtones so you can still receive calls that are important.

Minazad said if you want to be present and focused for your family, friends and co-workers, "We really have to have a very healthy limbic system, avoiding excessive anxiety, avoiding excessive pressure on our brain so we actually can enjoy life."
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