As if you needed another reason to freak out about how much you use your phone, a new study suggests that young adults are growing literal horns — that is, bone spurs on the back of their skulls — as a result of too much smartphone use, the Washington Post reports.
In the study, which was originally published in 2016, researchers analyzed 218 X-rays from 18-30-year-olds, in search of a bony projection that sprouted over time. Specifically, they had their eyes on an "enlarged external occipital protuberance" that occurs on the back skull by their necks. They found this lump in 41% of the X-rays, and researchers compared the protrusion to a "horn" in a BBC article Thursday.
Sound extreme? It's not as scary as it sounds. "We hypothesize that the sustained increase load at that muscle attachment is due to the weight of the head shifting forward with the use of modern technologies for long periods of time," David Shahar, PhD, study author said in a press release. Anyone who's spent hours scrolling on Instagram can relate to that head-shift feeling. But what surprised researchers about these bone spurs is how quickly they developed in young people.
Alarming as it may sound to sprout a devilish horn, the tusk is not the thing to be focused on right now. (Even though every article on the internet about this study claims you're growing a horn, you're probably not.) "The thing is that the bump is not the problem, the bump is a sign of sustained terrible posture, which can be corrected quite simply," another Mark Sayers, PhD, another study author added in the press release.
In truth, we could all stand to care a little bit more about our posture — although, it's pretty telling that the fear of growing a horn is what it took to get everyone to sit up straight. Maintaining good posture ensures that your muscles are in proper alignment so you can safely complete everyday physical tasks, and it prevents aches and pains from hunching over all day.
And hey, if for whatever evolutionary reason we end up needing horns, at least unicorns are really trendy right now.