By Erin bloodgood
Elm Staff Writer
For many of us, our smartphones are an essential part of everyday life. We take them everywhere we go and we could not imagine daily life without them. Texting, browsing the Internet, downloading apps, and posting to Facebook on-the-go are things that have become ingrained in our society. These devices have most certainly changed the way we live and interact with one another, but are they changing our bodies as well? In the past we’ve heard about text claw or Blackberry thumb, the cramped thumbs and wrists that came with constant use of our phones. Phones have changed, although most mobile phones today do not come with non-touchscreen QWERTY keyboards, this does not mean that the strain on our bodies has let up. Late last year The Guardian released an article about text neck or the pressure forced on the spine by constantly looking down at our phones. The Guardian reported that we spend an average of two to four hours a day looking down at our phones, which causes us to put a significant amount of pressure on our spines. This could lead to neck problems. Clearly there are advantages and disadvantages to everything and smartphones have not been an exception.
Earlier this month NITT Docomo, the largest cellphone provider in Japan, issued a warning to users on their Twitter account about smartphone pinky. The warning shows a photo of a person holding a smartphone in such a way that the pinky finger cradles the smartphone at its base and then another photo of a pinky with a large indent, supposedly caused by the constant pressure of the smartphone. The warning urged users to be careful about constant smartphone pressure on their pinkies because it can lead to pain and temporary deformation of the pinky. Not many sources have weighed in on NITT Docomo’s warning, but it is not hard to imagine that this could be true. With all the other cramping and pressure that we subject our bodies to in the name of technology, this is just another thing to add to the list.
At first, I was skeptical of smartphone pinky when I saw the post circulating around Facebook, but then I looked down. My left pinky is straight and looks the way it is supposed to, whereas my right pinky has a sizeable and instantly noticeable indent, you guessed it, right where my smartphone sits. We are always holding our smartphones (or at least I am. I’ll admit it, I’m addicted) and often times without even noticing it, place our pinkies underneath our phones to stabilize it or just for a better grip. Medical professionals have not determined the validity of smartphone pinky yet, but I believe that it is something that could happen, and the big indent in my pinky leads me to believe that it could be a real thing just like text neck. This leads to all sorts of questions: Will we be able to remedy these ailments caused by our beloved smartphones? Will they one day just become a natural part of life that we must face, or will we move away from mobile smartphones altogether? With the emergence of Google Glass and the smart watches, I have no doubt that we will one day move on from the smartphones that we know and love today.
My warning to you: next time you hold your phone think of your pinky and readjust your position.