Is Your Phone Killing You? The Answer’s Unclear

Experts respond with skepticism to a recent New York Times story

Angela Lashbrook
OneZero
Published in
6 min readMay 3, 2019

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Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

In Microprocessing, columnist Angela Lashbrook aims to improve your relationship with technology every week. Microprocessing goes deep on the little things that define your online life today, to give you a better tomorrow.

LLast week, the New York Times published a provocative Well piece about smartphones and death that laid out some fascinating points, but it probably belonged in the Opinion section. The article, packaged with the headline “Putting Down Your Phone May Help You Live Longer,” draws on recent research to suggest that smartphone use causes a spike in the stress hormone cortisol, perhaps leading to a chronic problem that ultimately shortens one’s life span.

Sure, this could be true. Chronic stress is associated with serious health problems, “including depression, obesity, metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes, fertility issues, high blood pressure, heart attack, dementia and stroke,” as the article notes. But right now, we simply don’t have the research to justify freaking people out about their smartphones. We’re missing crucial information that makes a connection between phone use and chronic stress clear.

“The author makes a very strong claim, a…

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Angela Lashbrook
OneZero

I’m a columnist for OneZero, where I write about the intersection of health & tech. Also seen at Elemental, The Atlantic, VICE, and Vox. Brooklyn, NY.