Fort Worth, Texas,
13
April
2015
|
09:20 PM
America/Chicago

Our smartphones have become even smarter … with germs

Our smartphones represent us more than you think

We use our smartphones on a daily basis and without it we feel like something is missing. But we never think twice about the bacteria we transfer onto our phones. We share a microbiological connection with our phones, meaning the germs from our bodies are mirrored on our phones too.

Here are five surprising insights about the germs that breed on your phones:

1. Cell phones reflect the personal microbial world of their owners. Scientists have found that cell phones represent our microbiome—the trillions of micro-organisms that live in and on our bodies. Cell phones are an integral part of our daily lives, so our own germs regularly spread from our mouths and skin onto our phones.

2. Have you ever heard of streptococcus, staphylococcus and diphtheroids? If not, these are colonies of bacteria that thrive on your phones. A little bit of bacteria is ok, but too much of it can cause a problem. Our phones are overwhelmingly covered in bacteria and we need to worry about other people’s germs. Think about the next time you set your phone down in a public area or share your phone with someone else. Your phone accumulates the other person’s germs as well as the bacteria they’ve picked up.

3. A cell phone has 18 times more harmful bacteria than a public restroom. This statistic is a little scary, but think about it--we use our cell phones after we eat, work out, use the restroom, etc. Several of us are guilty of using our phones with filthy hands. We don’t think about the germs that are transferred every time our hands touch our phones.

4. Cell phones are breeding grounds for bacteria because of their warmth. Warmth breeds bacteria and phones are always warm from the battery and body heat. We also put our phones in germ-infested places like our purses and pockets.

5. Cell phones can intensify face acne. Pressing your phone onto your face allows bacteria to get trapped into your pores causing unwanted blemishes.

Chris Curtis, clinical coordinator of Infectious Disease at Cook Children's, recommends good hand washing and hygiene to prevent unwanted germs on cell phones. “It is imperative for individuals to continually wash their hands after activities. I tell parents to have their child sing “happy birthday” or the “ABCs” while hand washing,” Curtis said.

Screen protectors for cell phones can guard against the little monsters as well. Reiterate to your child to not only wash his or her hands, but to also keep the phone shiny and clean. Diminishing germs on cell phones can prevent illness and lead to a healthier lifestyle.

- Article written by Amanda Burmeister

More about Cook Children's Infectious Disease department

Chris Curtis is the clinical coordinator for Cook Children's Infectious Disease, which is dedicated to providing excellent, patient-centered care, as well as access to the most up-to-date therapies and leading-edge clinical research.

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