7 Ways Technology Can Make You Sick

Modern gadgets make life a breeze—until they don't.

By Damon Beres
Painting by Guido Reni; Photo Illustration by Damon Beres

Panic Attacks

Psychologists say they've noticed that a new condition called "nomophobia"—short for "no-mobile-phone phobia"—is affecting more and more young people. Symptoms like anxiety and distraction occur when sufferers are separated from their phones and unable to check for updates. Researchers liken this condition to addictions such as gambling.

Weak Sperm

A study shows that wi-fi signals could potentially damage sperm and stop them from moving, leading to fertility issues in men. Scientists note that more research is needed before any conclusions can be drawn, but in the meantime it couldn't hurt for guys to keep devices off their laps.

Petr Novák, Wikipedia, (CC BY-SA 2.5)

Computer Vision Syndrome

Staring at a computer screen for hours at a time isn't doing your eyes any favors: doing so can lead to computer vision syndrome, with symptoms including eyestrain, headaches, and blurred vision. To alleviate problems, try to reduce glare on your monitor, blink often, and take frequent breaks.

Nevit Dilmen via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Texting Thumb

Hand specialists have reported a rise in tendinitis of the thumbs due, they say, to an increase in cell phone and computer use. Warning signs of the condition include tingling or numbness. If you have an afflicted finger, help it heal by resting it or with physical therapy.

Original Photo by Satyakamk via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Bad Posture

Sitting in a hunched position at your desk all day can lead to back pain down the line—not good. To alleviate discomfort, try a Thoracic Bridge stretch.

Photograph by Brian C. Goss

Cell phone elbow

One might fall victim to this ailment no matter how smart their phone is, but "cell phone elbow" refers to a condition where people hurt an "essential nerve in their arm by bending their elbows too tightly for too long," according to CNN. You might notice discomfort if you hold your phone next to your ear for a long conversation. Possible solutions? Switch hands, or use headphones with built-in mics or Bluetooth headsets.

Painting by Edvard Munch; Photo Illustration by Damon Beres


Researchers have puzzled over this condition for years, and found that it affected people who spent time in virtual reality (VR). Unfortunately, VR today includes more common experiences like 3D movies, or even HD displays on your phone or tablet. (Apple moved to update its operating system on iPhones and iPads following reports that iOS7 made some users queasy.) Symptoms include nausea and headaches.

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