Smartwatch usage is causing an increase in health-related concerns and creating excessive health anxiety, as reported by numerous individuals. As a response to this increasing anxiety, the number of people discontinuing smartwatch use is growing daily.
In this context, this article aims to remind the health community about the potential impacts on public health. It seeks to examine the repercussions and associated risks scientifically, thereby raising awareness about the consequences of smartwatch usage on health.
Consumers report that smartwatches, with their extensive health monitoring capabilities including activity tracking, pulse rate, body temperature, sleep, stress levels, and blood oxygen, often lead to heightened mental health concerns due to their persistent reminders and notifications.
While individuals using smartwatches casually for style purposes don’t generally report mental health issues, our study indicates that those who meticulously follow smartwatch data are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, and stress. Additionally, it’s observed that smartwatch data may not always match the accuracy of professional medical devices.
Key Psychological Effects:
1. Health Anxiety: This is the most common issue, where individuals become fixated on health data and readings from their smartwatch, misinterpreting fluctuations or inaccuracies as signs of serious health problems. This can lead to excessive worry, stress, and even hypochondria.
2. Obsessive Tracking: The ability to track every step, calorie, and even sleep pattern can lead to unhealthy obsessions with reaching specific goals or achieving “perfect” health metrics. This can be detrimental to self-esteem and cause guilt or shame for not meeting unrealistic expectations.
3. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO): Constant notifications and glimpses into others’ lives through fitness challenges or social media integration can trigger FOMO. This can fuel feelings of inadequacy, envy, and dissatisfaction with one’s own achievements and lifestyle.
4. Information Overload: The barrage of notifications, updates, and alerts from the smartwatch can contribute to a general feeling of being overwhelmed and unable to focus. This can lead to anxiety, difficulty disconnecting, and impaired concentration.
5. Sleep Disruption: The blue light emitted by smartwatch screens can suppress melatonin production, hindering sleep quality and potentially impacting mood, energy levels, and cognitive function.
It’s important to note that individual experiences vary, and not everyone using a smartwatch will face these issues. However, being aware of potential mental health risks allows for responsible use and can help avoid negative consequences.
Neck Strain: Constantly checking the watch strains the neck and shoulders, leading to pain and discomfort. Repetitive swiping and tapping can trigger carpal tunnel syndrome.
Sleep Disruption: Blue light emitted by the watch screen suppresses melatonin production, hindering sleep quality and exacerbating insomnia. Vibrations and notifications further disrupt sleep cycles.
Electromagnetic Radiation: While the long-term effects are unclear, some studies raise concerns about potential skin irritation and sleep disturbances due to smartwatch radiation.
Obsessive Tracking: Fixating on metrics like heart rate, steps, and calorie expenditure can lead to unhealthy body image, anxiety, and disordered eating, especially for individuals prone to such issues.
The observations we made in preparing this article suggest that smartwatches, by promoting heightened awareness of physical states, can be beneficial for older adults, especially those in the resting phase of their lives.
These observations indicate that the alerts from these watches encourage the elderly to engage in activities such as morning and evening walks, eat meals on time, partake in precise forms of entertainment, and maintain accurate sleep patterns. We hope that further scientific study in the health field will bring additional clarity to these general observations.
Your smartwatch is designed based on general knowledge and does not consider your genes, blood group, environment, or physical and mental abilities. Remember, a smartwatch cannot assist you as a doctor or an expert healthcare professional can. Therefore, avoid comparing your health with others based on smartwatch data, use the health data only as a guide, and ensure it does not become an obsession. If you experience negative mental health effects, consider taking a break from your smartwatch or consult a healthcare professional for guidance.