Many of us absentmindedly reach for the Tylenol for the
Stephen King tried to warn us, in 2006’s Cell, that cell phones would eventually lead to humanity’s demise. His tale was an extreme one told in typically extreme King fashion. But his point about hysteria was all too accurate.
The fact of the matter is this — cell phones kill. They may not do so directly, but cell phones entice distracted drivers to cause thousands of deadly traffic accidents each year. There are also plenty of studies that aim to scare people into believing cell phones cause cancer. The World Health Organization doubled down in 2011 to advise consumers that cell phone use is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” Despite these dire warnings of radiation danger, smartphone use shows no signs of slowing down.
Now a semi-new warning rears its neck. The concern is called “text neck,” and it was coined in 2008 by a doctor whose patients complained of headaches and neck pain brought on by bad texting posture. The diagnosis makes perfect sense when one considers the effects of gravity: “The average human head weighs 10 pounds in a neutral position — when your ears are over your shoulders. For every inch you tilt your head forward, the pressure on your spine doubles. So if you’re looking at a smartphone in your lap, your neck is holding up what feels like 20 or 30 pounds.” Many teenagers (and even adults) can spend hours surfing the internet, texting, and gaming on their phones, and their spines pay the price.
A new offshoot of text neck has been dubbed as “tech nech,” possibly to accommodate smartphone uses other than texting. People are starting to notice premature wrinkles sprouting up on their necks, and they’re not happy. The concern is real. After all, it only takes a quick glance around a crowded restaurant or subway station to notice several people staring down at their tiny screens.
Tech neck translates into “laxity of the neck skin … a true phenomenon that can occur from persistent folding of the skin from repetitive motion–like looking down at your phone or laptop computer,” according to dermatologist Dendy E. Engelman, MD. Neck skin — which is thinner and contains less collagen than skin on most other parts of the body — is very susceptible to premature wrinkling. Neck skin also doesn’t “bounce back” as readily when pinched, so it’s not as resilient to retaining its shape when folded unnaturally.
Of course, the key to avoiding saggy neck skin from smartphone use is prevention. Specific exercises don’t help much in this department because they only stretch the skin further. Short of wearing a neck brace all the time (ridiculous), there are a few things one can do to prevent tech neck:
1: Use topical creams to improve the neck skin’s elasticity.
2: Splash out on laser surgery to tighten and “refresh” neck skin.
3: OR people could simply raise their phones up in front of their faces. Sounds like we have a winner.