The age of the internet, tablets and smartphones will undoubtedly leave its mark—on our bodies and brains. Our generation works long hours staring at a screen from a desk, and to top it off, we use a great deal of our free time staring at our mobile devices for up to four hours a day. As per a recent article in the NY Post, evidence is already starting to show that our bodies are being impacted in weird ways. From narrower elbows to crooked teeth, our lifestyles will leave an eternal mark on our bodies.
One of the alarming changes is spikey skull growths. Our obsessions with our screens, means we are bending our necks a lot more than ideal, forcing our bodies to compensate and help our necks support the weight of our heads. Spiky growths on the lower back of the skull, just above the neck, up to 30 millimeters long are beginning to appear on people’s heads. These lumps, which were extremely rare 100 years ago, are caused by a build-up of bone where the neck muscles meet the head. “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,” said David Shahar, a health scientist at the University of The Sunshine Coast, Australia. People affected can feel the lump with their fingers, and it can even be visible from behind on people who are bald. These changes will most likely be even more prevalent in our children’s generation, who are being exposed to this lifestyle from such a young age.
Our sedentary lifestyles and the excessive hours we remain seated, are also shrinking our skeletons. Bones grow and harden with use, but our skeletons are becoming more fragile, because we walk and stand less than any generation in history. Scientists at the University of Potsdam in Germany did a study and found that children had smaller elbows the less they walked during the average week.
Even our fingers are changing. Typing, swiping and scrolling on our smartphones are making our fingers and thumbs more sensitive, permanently warping the way our fingers interact with our brains. Experts at the University of Zurich in Switzerland tracked the brain activity of 37 phone addicts. They found that those who used touchscreens rather than retro keyboard based cellphones showed more brain activity when their fingertips were touched than those who didn’t, proposing their fingers were more sensitive.
The internet age has also altered the foods we eat. We spend less time preparing home cooked meals, and so our foods are now more processed and softer than ever before. Over the last 200 years, our food was more tough and chewy. The change may cause our teeth to be more crooked. Chewing helps our gnashers grow straight through childhood, but take out and modern foods do not require us to work our jaws as hard while our bodies grow. “In post-industrial populations, we’re much more likely to suffer from dental problems — dental crowding, crooked teeth, etc,” said expert Dr. Noreen von Cramon-Taubadel, from The State University of New York at Buffalo. “Having a slightly more biomechanically tough diet, particularly in children, might be useful for counteracting some of the imbalance between the way that our teeth grow and develop and push through.”
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