By now, you’ve no doubt read (and started to ignore) articles suggesting that incessant use of your smartphone deprives your brain of rest and essential downtime, while also negatively affecting your relationships. But you may not yet have heard the latest: Being glued to your device can negatively impact your career.
The most recent outcry on obsessive usage has to do with the inevitable posture you inhabit when you’re on your phone and how that plays out in your mental acuity. It’s known as the collapsed form, where you’re looking downward at the device in your palm, lap, or next to your computer, and so your back arches, and your neck gets weighted down as a result. And it’s not a little weight either: As Vivian Giang, writing for Fast Company, notes, it’s “about 60 pounds’ worth when we bend our necks at a 60-degree angle.”
Psychologist and author Amy Cuddy, whose research Giang references, has found that because posture can affect your hormones, it can also impact the way your mind reflects confidence. So, if you’re regularly sitting in what Cuddy calls the iHunch position, you’re probably less likely to speak with authority and conviction. She made this conclusion after the results of an experiment involving 75 students assigned various devices demonstrated that “the size of the device greatly impacted whether the participants felt comfortable standing up for themselves, to inquire whether they could leave [the experiment space].” The smaller the device, the longer it took for participants to ask when they could go, revealing an intriguing inability to question the situation and make an assertive move.
Even if you sit in front of a large desktop computer for most of the day, all of those minutes you’re looking down at your trusty companion—waiting for your food to heat up in the microwave in the office kitchen, standing in line at the coffee shop, before the meeting begins—are moments when you’re closing yourself off from your colleagues and the world in general. Emerging from that closed off, literally “hunched” state is what may make it difficult for you to assert yourself in later instances, even if you’d otherwise have something important to say.
Because the stance, of course, is a far cry from the definition of good posture, it makes sense that overzealous attachment to it might play a role in diminishing your feelings of power and strength (both mental and physical).
You might want to think about that the next time you walk to your car with your face buried in your phone. After all, what if you cross paths with the CEO of your company and miss an opportunity for a brief chat because you prioritized a Facebook notification—or didn’t feel comfortable speaking up? While that scenario may have little short-term impact on your job, you don’t want to risk the potential long-term hazards. So hey, look up every once in awhile—it’s not just polite, it really is in your best interest.
Stacey Lastoe started writing short stories in the second grade and is immensely grateful to have the opportunity to write and edit professionally. Her work has appeared in YouBeauty, Refinery29, A Practical Wedding, Runner's World online, and The Billfold among other publications. She enjoys running and eating in equal measure and lives with her husband and dog in Brooklyn. All three of them are avid New York Mets fans. Say hello on @stacespeaks.More from this Author