According to researchers in Australia, "bony spikes" are developing on the backs of our skulls because we spend too much time on our phones.
If you're anything like me, you probably spend way too much time on your phone. While we both know this takes a toll on our productivity and perhaps even our attention spans or mental health, you probably didn't think it affected your physical body. Well, as per a new study conducted by researchers from the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia, it appears that prolonged cell phone usage has actually been linked to changes in the human skeleton. People are allegedly growing bony "spikes" on the backs of their skulls because they spend so much time looking down at their cellphones. If your hand reached out to the back of your head to try and find these spikes, you definitely weren't the only one who tried.
As reported by the Daily Mail, the study revealed that an increasing number of people have growths known as enlarged external occipital protuberances at the base of their skull because they remain hunched over their phones for prolonged periods of time. This kind of growth was originally considered rare when it was first discovered in the 1800s, however, with the advent of cellphones, they are definitely becoming much more common.
At present, you can even see these bony spikes on people who are bald. Of course, you can even feel them with your fingers. A tell-tale sign that cellphones are definitely a primary cause of these growths? They're more predominantly found on younger people who are reportedly developing them at faster rates. These bumps, as the research shows, are most common on people aged between 18-years-old and 30-years-old.
Researchers discovered the growths when they scanned more than a thousand skulls that belonged to people ranging in age from 18 to 86 reports BBC Future. Dr. David Shahar, the lead researcher on the project, stated, "I have been a clinician for 20 years, and only in the last decade, increasingly I have been discovering that my patients have this growth on the skull." He suggested that the spikes can be traced back to the amount of time individuals spend looking down.
The hours and hours younger people spend looking down at phones, tablets, and other screens are possibly placing intense strain on otherwise unused or lesser used parts of the body, essentially imposing changes on the human skeleton through new repetitive or prolonged actions. In this case, the muscles which the back of the head to the neck are being used more than they once used to. As they try to hold the skull still, they become stronger. As a response to these muscles getting bigger and stronger, the skeleton develops new layers of bone to strengthen and expand the area.
As described by Dr. Shahar and his team of researchers in their study, "repetitive and sustained mechanical load" causes the tendons and connective tissues to be forced to adapt. They affirmed, "The development of [enlarged] EOP may be attributed to, and explained by, the extensive use of screen-based activities by individuals of all ages, including children, and the associated poor posture. Musculoskeletal disorders related to poor posture while using computers and tablets have been investigated extensively and were identified as a risk factor for the development of related symptoms at the neck, shoulders, and forearms."
While this new growth seems terrifying and it could lead to potential harm, the research team suggests that people don't actually have anything to worry about. The lumps, according to Dr. Shahar, are unlikely to cause any damage themselves. However, they may never go away if you have them. He stated, "Imagine if you have stalactites and stalagmites, if no one is bothering them, they will just keep growing." It's definitely interesting to see how the "handheld technological revolution," as the researchers have coined, has led to identifiable impacts on human evolution as a whole.