A doctor is urging people to create mobile-free zones in their homes to improve their health.
Consultant rheumatologist Dr Martin Lee, based at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, has started a campaign encouraging teenagers to put down their phones as he is concerned about the impact of smartphone overuse syndrome (SOS).
He has set up www.nophonezone.co.uk and developed a parenting aid that allows people to create phone-free areas in their homes.
The consultant, who lives in Tynemouth with his wife and young baby, has seen an increase in patients experiencing sleep disturbance, chronic fatigue, mood disorders and heightened pain levels, as a result of SOS.
Dr Lee said: “A survey by Digital Awareness UK of 2,750 school-aged pupils revealed almost half of teenagers checked their mobile devices during the night.
“Numerous medical studies have demonstrated a direct correlation between increased smartphone use and poorer sleep patterns which we now know to be a major cause of mental health disorders, depression and anxiety.
“I became particularly concerned about the worrying overuse of smart phones during the night because of the impact SOS was having on my patients’ pain levels.
“A regular, undisturbed sleep pattern is a hugely important part of the pain management process and more of my young patients were reporting increased levels of pain which is when I decided to examine the issue.”
“I was alarmed by my findings.”
Dr Lee, who works closely with adolescent and young adult patients, added: “There is definitely a time and a place for technology and I know both professionally and personally that it brings huge benefits and has improved many aspects of our day to day life, but we simply cannot allow technology to interfere with our basic need for sleep.
“I’m confident that No Phone Zone will go some way to helping us to tackle this ticking time bomb, encouraging us all to put down our phones at certain times of the day and within certain rooms in the home.”
Part of his solution is the creation of a simple No Phone Zone canvas drawstring bag which can be hung easily to any door-handle with a convenient side zipper to serve as a poignant visual reminder to put the phone down when entering certain areas of the home.
No Phone Zone has received support from Alan Campbell MP and North Tyneside Council’s Business Factory.
The enterprise program provides help and advice to both new and existing businesses in North Tyneside through a range of workshops, seminars and one to one support.
The No Phone Zone bag is available to purchase online at www.nophonezone.co.uk