Health update: Is your mobile phone out to kill you?


Keep your phone to yourself if you don’t like germs

On top of all the magic a smartphone can do, you can add another trick: injure you or make you sick. 

Apple is warning users that if they sleep next to their iPhone while they’ve got it plugged in and charging they could be putting themselves in a dangerous position with a risk of fire, injury, or electric shock.

And if we’re playing the odds, six out of every 10 people who read this story are putting themselves in that position, according to a new phone use study by Those researchers found that 60% of Americans sleep with their phones.

"Sustained contact with warm surfaces for long periods of time may cause discomfort or injury," the company explained in a list of precautions.

In addition to the common sense type things like avoiding situations where your skin is in contact with a digital device or the adapter/charger for a long time, Apple also says “don’t sleep on a device, power adapter, or wireless charger, or place them under a blanket, pillow, or your body, when it’s connected to a power source.”

And that’s just the beginning

In a separate warning, AT&T and the National Library of Medicine say parents of “typical” high schoolers are in for a rude health awakening – that a kid’s smartphone can have as many as 17,000 bacterial gene copies on it.

Add some more to that, too. New research from Florida Atlantic University said that 95% of smartwatch wristbands it tested were covered with bacteria.

“It’s easy to forget that the microbes on phones and tablets can transfer to your hands and face,” an AT&T spokesperson told ConsumerAffairs.

Heard enough?

If that research is concerning, AT&T offers five tips to help keep your devices clean – and your family healthy.

  1. Keep your phone clean just like you'd keep your hands clean.

  • Make sure the device is turned off.

  • Make sure all accessories are removed.

  • Remove any debris with a soft cloth or rag.

  • Use disinfecting wipes or wipes containing 70% isopropyl alcohol to clean your device.

  • Avoid ports, microphones, speakers, and other areas where liquid can seep.

  • Avoid spraying, pouring, or dipping your device directly into liquids. Use a cloth to apply the product.

  • Avoid damaging the device surface by not using compressed air.

  • Let the device air-dry completely before using.

  1. Sharing your device with others should be done with caution. If you want to share photos, add a new number, or let your kids play a game, don't give it to them. “Sharing is not caring when it comes to sharing germs,” AT&T said.

  2. Sanitize and charge your device at the same time with a UV sanitizer. AT&T suggests the UV sanitizer made by Samsung since it also wirelessly charges the phone while it’s cleaning it.

  3. You should protect your screens with an antimicrobial screen protector. There’s a good number of options out there at the moment – some at as much as 80% off.

  4. Making calls with hands-free accessories such as earbuds is a good idea. 

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