Scientists debate research linking handheld device use to skull changes.
Some people out there claim that technology really messes with your head, but new research seems to take that to a whole new level. Two biomechanics at Australia's University of the Sunshine Coast have suggested that handheld-device use has led to young people developing tiny, horn-like growths on the back of the skull.
Cue everyone's mom telling them, "I told you not to use that phone so much." Of course, it was met with disgust and fear by horrified masses on social media, everyone imagining horns sprouting from our heads, a la Maleficent.
All the cool people are growing horns?
In truth, the study is measuring the extended occipital protuberance, which many of us already have at the base of our skull. Data was collected from 1,200 X-rays of males and females between 18 and 86, dividing results by decade. The research consisted of analyzing the size of the protuberance in relation to gender and the degree of forward head protraction, which is described as how far forward your head rests.
What the study found was that there was the highest incidence of protrusion amongst the youngest age range, 18-30. This was actually unexpected because usually the incidence and size of the protrusion is higher in older ages (we can grow these things in a lot of places).
The scientist then used this info to form this hypothesis:
"We hypothesize that the use of modern technologies and handheld devices, may be primarily responsible for these postures and subsequent development of adaptive robust cranial features in our sample." In other words, by looking down at our phones all the time, we are changing our skull structure.
But is this research legit? The initial findings are, but everyone jumping to conclusions about handheld device use is extremely premature. Remember that the scientists are just hypothesizing what they think may be the cause, but not what any of their data has found so far. In fact, the research did not measure cell phone use or any other possible cause of the protuberance. It basically just determined the ages which the protuberance occurred. There are also several arguments about the figures in the data, as well as some concern regarding the lack of historical data that shows the protuberance is a new growth development in younger adults, according to cnet.com.
Of course, the data doesn't rule out phone use either. So, the next step to proving the research hypothesis is to explore a causal relationship between handheld device use and sprouting "horns."
Until then, press pause on the panic attack that you're turning into Hellboy (or more like a backward unicorn).
However, would it really be so bad to put our phones down, pick our heads up, and enjoy the reality around us every once in a while? We might all do that a little more, just in case the horn thing is real.
What do you think? If it was proven that cell phone use causes skull-shape changes, would you change your use habits? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below.