It has become habitual for many to check their phones every five minutes, to keep it on their person and to take it with them everywhere, literally everywhere, even to the bathroom. In fact, half of Britons use their phone while on the toilet.
A survey carried out by Direct Line Home Insurance also revealed that 16% of Britons take their tablets to the loo and a further 4% take their gaming devices. The greatest offenders being Leeds, London, Belfast and Birmingham, while those who are smart enough to refrain most likely reside in Nottingham or Norwich.
Now, using your phone on the toilet is already gross for the most obvious reasons. Germs being one them. Microbiologist Jason Tetro states:
"You can easily find hundreds of bacteria on phones, as well as fungi and yeast. Most are harmless, but many are potential pathogens that can make you sick. And if you really want to find some bad ones, head to the head. Many bathroom surfaces, such as urinals, toilet seats, handles, sinks, and faucets, are covered in germs, and the risk of even more contamination of our phones becomes greater."
Taking your phone to the bathroom may result in bacteria such as faecal bacterias, E.coli and Acinetobacter, a bacteria which can cause a nasty respiratory infection.
Many items can carry these kinds of bacteria such as handles, doorknobs and faucets but you would rarely hold your faucet to your face to make a call. Even if you put your phone down between wiping and washing your hands you never know if the previous person didn't spread their germs right where you put it.
Another drawback of bringing cell phones to the bathroom is the effect it has on our brains. Dr James Roberts, from Baylor University, has a lot of experience studying cell phone usage and he agrees that using our cell phone addiction is changing our bathroom habits:
"it's certainly changed how we spend our time in the bathroom… When we take our phones away, we get stressed, and anxious, and irritable. We get FOMO. Nowadays, people have trouble being alone with their thoughts, because they usually don't have to."
However, people are reluctant to leave their phones aside and productivity coach Peter Bregman claims it can also affect the way we work. Bregman states that bathroom time should be a break for the brain and not giving it that break can be bad for creativity:
"If you never let your brain relax and wander, you'll never solve the deeper, stickier creative problems that are ultimately more important than responding to an email within five minutes. These moments of boredom that we are increasingly losing help our brains explore the recesses of our thoughts, and this is where almost all of our best and most creative ideas come from."
However, perhaps the most shocking ramification is that in the survey 40% of people admitted to dropping an item in the lavatory, with cell phones being one of the most common items. Some of the other items include the usual back-pocket suspects such as keys, credit cards and jewellery. Now that is an expensive mistake to make.
Direct Line Home Insurance is urging everyone to check their insurance coverage to ensure they are covered if their phone also meets this shameful fate.