The prevalence of technology in our day-to-day life is shaping our lives and bodies in unexpected, and sometimes alarming, ways.
A study documenting bone spurs that resemble "horns" growing on human skulls gained widespread media attention recently, following a recent BBC report showing possible future impacts of technology on the human skeleton. The spurs form as pressure is exerted on the neck and spine when looking down at a smartphone, said its researchers.
Nevertheless, the researchers warn people should be worried about more than the spurs. The bump is a sign of sustained terrible posture, which can be corrected quite simply.
While the bone spurs are getting newfound attention, many common health issues, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and eye strain stemming from too much computer use, have been amplified in the smartphone age. Here are a few of the more surprising health problems that researchers have connected to smartphone use:
Check your neck.
After inspecting hundreds of X-rays of adults ages 18-30, a study published last year in the Nature Research journal from two Australian researchers found bone growths on the back of nearly half of their heads. Media reports have widely said those growths look an awful lot like horns – an observation echoed by at least one researcher.
Following its widespread media attention, some commentators have critiqued the study's methodology. A spokesperson for the journal in which the study was published told PBS that it is looking into these criticisms.
While the spurs don't protrude from the head, they can be felt in some cases.
Researchers hypothesized that the "horns" form as young people hunch down to use their mobile devices. The pressure this creates on the back of the neck and the head, they note, is three to five times higher than merely sitting up straight.
Until recently, these growths, called enthesophytes, were frequently associated with aging and were considered unusual for young people.
Remember to take frequent breaks and lookup.