Well, this is terrifying.
Researchers at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia have found evidence that our frequent use of mobile devices could be fundamentally altering our physiology. Specifically, they’re seeing horn-like bone spurs appear on younger adults (the most frequent users of those devices).
The good news, if there is any here, is that you’re not going to see a generation of kids looking like triceratops wannabes, with horns poking out of their foreheads. The bad news is, the spurs are growing at the back of the skull.
Here’s what the researchers say is happening: Frequent users of mobile devices regularly tilt their heads forward to view them. That shifts the weight of the head from the spine to muscles in the back of the head, which causes bones to grow in the tendons and ligaments. That results in a horn-like spur that grows from the base of the skull.
“Our findings raise a concern about the future musculoskeletal health of the young adult population and reinforce the need for prevention intervention through posture improvement education,” the scientists noted in the report, which was originally published a year ago, but has come to more prominent attention recently.
The study looked at 1,200 X-rays taken in Queensland covering a wide variety of age ranges. One-third of those showed the bone spur, with the frequency decreasing with age. Larger spurs were much more prominent in younger people.
Cell phones have been criticized for their impact on human health before, but researchers say this is the first time the body has shown an adaptation to technology used in everyday life.
“An important question is what the future holds for the young adult populations in our study, when development of a degenerative process is evident in such an early stage of their lives?,” they wrote.
Worried about the effect of phones on your own body? The study’s lead author suggests you run your hand over the lower rear part of your skull, telling the Washington Post that if you’ve got a horn growing there, you can probably feel it.