The short answer: no.
The longer answer:
You may have seen a recent news story talking about how researchers in Australia noticed that young people might be developing tiny bone-spikes at the back of their head, theorizing it may be due to young people looking down at their phones and tablets frequently. While all of this is hypothetical, a lot of news websites ran with the story, worrying that smartphones were to blame for horns being the next big physical feature in human evolution. These reports line up with the overall storyline that social media and technology is extremely damaging for youth, affecting them mentally, socially, and now, potentially physically.
But just as quickly as the story spread, those pointing out the flaws with the study were just as quick to respond. The study only looked at those who had been reporting neck pain to the point that they were seeing a chiropractor, so the results can’t be applied to every single human. The kind of analytical work done on the data was apparently also done in a way that lumped all the demographics like age and sex together, so any conclusions they made about these spikes can’t be directly connected to how old someone is.
The researchers even clarified that they have done no specific research on the relationship between using phones and the phenomenon happening. This means that they have never tested to see if one group using their smartphones for an extended amount of time are more likely to develop these tiny spikes compared to those who don’t.
So based on all the news about the study, yes there might be a bone spur occurring in young people, but the data and research is flawed and thin, and there is no direct link between it and using technology.
Can you experience negative physical effects from looking down at your devices? Definitely – you may have experienced neck pain from looking down all the time (the more your head leans down, the more weight you’re putting onto it and the more you’re straining your neck muscles). Not only can this come from being on your phone frequently, but from things like looking down at your desk to take notes for class or looking down at your laptop to work on an essay. You can also experience neck pain from stress, which may also intensify when you’re looking down at something, whether it be anxiety over a post you made on social media or the essay you’re writing on your laptop.
So you can still look down at your phone if you’re trying to get a good food pic or shot of the ground for an Instagram story, and it’s still okay to crane your neck down and pretend to be texting someone if you’re trying to avoid an awkward encounter with an acquaintance on the street. But if you notice feeling pain on the back of your neck – whether it be from stress or from constantly looking down – it might help to reconsider how you use your phone and your posture to reduce the pain, but you don’t have to worry about it being the pain that comes with your horns growing in.
Have you seen the stories about phones and horns in young people? What did you think of it?