Smartphone users could suffer from ‘text neck’

Technology is a force for good in the world, but it can also have ill effects of course, and the latest scientific research to look into techo-ailments (let’s call them that, why not) has found that your phone could be seriously bad for your neck health, among other things.

The Register notes that the condition which has been dubbed “text neck” refers to the bad position your neck is kept in when looking down at your smartphone display (and texting, or doing anything else for that matter).

This issue was highlighted by Kenneth Hansraj MD, head of spinal surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, who observed that as your head is tilted forward at a more severe angle, the pressure on it greatly increases.

Hansraj commented: “The weight seen by the spine dramatically increases when flexing the head forward at varying degrees. An adult head weighs 10 to 12 pounds in the neutral position. As the head tilts forward the forces seen by the neck surges to 27 pounds at 15 degrees, 40 pounds at 30 degrees, 49 pounds at 45 degrees and 60 pounds at 60 degrees.”

That might not be a problem if it happened very infrequently, but the amount of time we now spend staring at our smartphone screens could mean bad news for our necks in the future.

Hansraj further observed: “People spend an average of two to four hours a day with their heads tilted over reading and texting on their smart phones and devices. Cumulatively this
is 700 to 1400 hours a year of excess stresses seen about the cervical spine. It is possible that a high school student may spend an extra 5,000 hours in poor posture.”

So what can you do about it? Well, you can be conscious of how your head is positioned when you’re looking at your phone, and try not to hunch over the device – tilt your noggin as little as possible, basically. Or stop looking at your phone so much, of course – or indeed a combination of both.

El Reg also pointed out another new techno-ailment by the name of “telepressure”, which is a mental rather than physical issue, and simply refers to the pressure to respond swiftly to work-related digital communications from clients or co-workers – even outside of work. This can, of course, up your stress levels and potentially lead to sleepless nights, according to The Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

It’s certainly another good argument for clearly drawing a line between your work and personal life, something which any sane person would be wise to do.