Every aging generation has blamed the world’s problems on “kids these days” (and vice versa), ever since junior brought home a better spear or a bigger kill. It seems to be a generational prerogative to insist kids are ruining everything.
Sometimes we have to give even the most shortsighted their due, especially when the craziest predictions turn out to be true: Smart phones aren’t quite killing us, but might be changing the shape of our skulls.
Researchers from the School of Health and Sport Sciences in Queensland, Australia, examined 1200 lateral cranial x-rays of subjects ranging from 18 to 86 years old, with equal distribution in gender. The 2018 study concluded that bony spurs, an enlarged external occipital protuberance (EEOP), is most common in those in the age ranges 18-29 and ages 60+.
Bony spurs often occur when the site of ligament’s attachment to bone, or entheses, is subjected to an increased strain or load over long periods of time. This could be caused by many factors, but some professionals see its prevalence in the 18-29 age group as a symptom of neck posture from frequent smartphone or tablet use.
While the study and results aren’t in dispute, the cause behind the frequency in atypical growths has come under some fire. With some articles touting these growths as “head horns”, many neurologists don’t believe a single study—no matter how reputable—is enough to renounce our handheld devices or announce millennial mutations. Of greater concern to neurologists was the increase in forward head projection in young adults, indicative of poor posture.
Before any choruses of I-told-you-so start ringing out, realize these growths and poor posture are prevalent in the young only because they ARE young, with bones and bodies still settling into adulthood. When it comes to the embrace and frequent use of technology, every generation (yes, Gen X and the Baby Boomers) has fallen in love with the glassy-smooth screens of today’s gadgets.
While Millennials own and use these devices the most frequently, according to a 2018 survey by the Pew Research Center, it’s only marginally more than older generations…meaning those judging Millennials for staring at their smart phones all day are justified in saying I-told-you-so…but only until they get back to staring at their own smartphones.