Anna Sheffer
Updated Jun 20, 2019 @ 12:37 pm

As smartphones have gained popularity, the Luddites among us have warned that being glued to a tiny screen during our waking hours could have devastating consequences. And to be fair, they do have a point. There is some evidence that excessive phone use could be making us narcissistic, and the social media apps that ping from our pockets can be detrimental to our mental health. It turns out that the consequences of smartphone use could be physical, too.

A new study suggests that young people could be developing “horn-like spikes,” aka bone spurs, on their skulls as a result.

On June 19th, The Washington Post reported that researchers at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, have made a startling discovery. After looking at X-rays of 1,200 patients between the ages of 18 and 86, they found that one-third had bone spikes protruding from the bases of their skulls. These bone spurs were more common in younger people; about 25% of participants between 18 and 30 had them. Protrusions were included if they were 10 millimeters—two-fifths of an inch—or longer. The study was originally published in 2018, but thanks to a new report from BBC News, it has resurfaced in the public conscience.

The researchers apparently suspect that these growths are caused by poor posture when we use handheld devices like smartphones. As the BBC notes, people have been hunching over to read for centuries, but now we’re spending a lot more time staring down at a screen.

Are we actually just living in an episode of Black Mirror now?

In an even more unsettling revelation, David Shahar, a health scientist at the University of the Sunshine Coast who worked on the study, told the BBC that these bone spikes on skulls could continue to grow.

However, he did note that these growths don’t usually cause problems on their own, even though the body’s compensation for poor posture can have negative effects. Regardless of whether these bone spurs are actually harmful, the study’s findings are definitely freaky. We think we’ll put the smartphone down and, you know, maybe take a walk outside.