Why You Shouldn't Use Your Phone While Sitting On The Toilet

Does anyone remember the days when people went about their day without compulsively checking their cell phones for texts and new TikToks? Our devices are so much a part of our daily lives that we feel disconnected if we're away from them for too long. That means they accompany us everywhere, including some very private places. Don't deny it — you've used your phone in the bathroom recently, haven't you? A 2021 survey from sanitizing company Vioguard shows that a startling 73% of people have used their devices while actually sitting on the toilet or standing at a urinal, per PR Newswire. Breaking it down by demographic, Gen Z are the worst offenders, with 93% of respondents between ages 18 and 29 admitting to texting or playing games while doing their business.

It seems like an innocent enough pastime. For generations, people have been finding ways to occupy themselves in the toilet while waiting to do what comes naturally. Building a city in "Forge of Empires" isn't that much different from flipping through a book or doing a crossword puzzle. However, using your phone on the toilet for extended periods of time can be more harmful than you realize. Not only does the habit put you at risk for illness and infections, but it can also make it more difficult to go to the bathroom in the first place, which is problematic in its own right.

Here are some good reasons to leave your devices in another room while you answer nature's call.

Keep your phone time short in the bathroom to avoid gut trouble

Apart from the risk of dropping your cell in the toilet, using your phone in the bathroom can actually affect your body. According to experts who spoke to The Washington Post, the position you assume to have a bowel movement puts pressure on the veins around your anus, which can lead to hemorrhoids. So if you're still liking all your friends' Instagram pictures long after you've done your business, you could be setting yourself up for a lot of pain and itching down there. 

Another risk of being distracted on the toilet, the outlet adds, is that you may be interfering with your natural process of peristalsis, the contractions that help push out the poop. If you're already prone to constipation, this can make it worse. And yes, there's the ickiness factor, too. According to The Healthy, your phone is pretty much a germ magnet as it is, but using it in the bathroom exposes it even further to bacteria and pathogens from the germ-laden water that sprays when you flush. Sure, you wash your hands afterward, but then you contaminate them again as soon as you pick up the phone.

So if you can't give up the phone habit, then at least minimize the damage by sanitizing your cell daily to prevent germ-borne illnesses. Don't linger in the bathroom, either — if you're not actively pooping, you shouldn't stay on the toilet more than 10 minutes. 

Your cell phone is a germ magnet

Your cell phone is already bad for your health on a number of counts. You can suffer eyestrain from squinting to scroll through your email as well as headaches and neck pain. Excessive usage can even result in mental health issues. According to Butler Hospital, overuse of mobile phones is associated with a variety of mental ailments including depression, anxiety, FOMO, and cell addiction.

Taking into consideration the number of germs in a bathroom, bringing your phone in there with you seems unsanitary. The Healthy quotes a study from London in which 16% of cell phones tested for pathogens were found to be contaminated with E. coli, the bacteria that can cause nausea, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. 

Experts who spoke to Metro UK recommended not taking your phone into the toilet at all, particularly into public restrooms. But if it's absolutely necessary, then try minimizing the damage by holding the cell in one hand while using the other to wipe and flush. Wash your hands thoroughly, then sanitize your phone by wiping it down with a slightly damp soapy cloth. The FCC adds that while disinfectant wipes will remove any bacteria, over time the chemicals can strip the phone screen of its protective covering.