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Courtesy of Scientific Reports

No, despite reports, mobile phones do not make you grow horns

Fake horny news, people

Yesterday, the Washington Post published an article claiming that young people are developing horns at the back of their skulls, as a result of poor posture from texting. What if phones... but they make us literal demons.

The unlikely proposition comes from a recently unearthed report by two researchers at the University of Sunshine in Queensland, David Shahar and Mark Sayers, who found that young people are more likely to have enthesophytes (AKA bony lumps that grow as a result of environmental, chemical or genetic factors) at the base of their skulls than people over the age of 30.

But, as with most of the things on the internet (anyone remember smartphone pinky?), it’s all speculation. Fake news, people.

The initial report from 2016 details that in a group of 218 people between the ages of 18 to 30, 41 per cent of them had small enthesophytes at the back of their skulls, which Shahar and Sayers speculate (emphasis on ‘speculate’) could have to do with the “increased use of hand-held technologies from early childhood”.

The most important thing here is that the study doesn’t actually measure phone use, and only reflects on the age associated with the rate of horny nubs. Really, researchers are just hypothesising, so of course it being a young pool of participants, phones and social media usage is the conclusion they draw. And so we can throw this in the trash – a follow-up report from 2018, which looked at four 13 to 16 year old boys with enthesophytes, found no correlation between genetics and the development of bony growths. No link is made to phone use. I repeat, there is no link between using your phone and growing horns. Nada. 

As people online have been pointed out too, the data in the study at times directly contradicted itself. At one point, we’re shown a graph that says men had fewer enlarged EOPs than women, but saying in the text says the opposite. Elsewhere, ages of participants are inconsistent, from 18-29s to 18-30s. People are questioning how it even got through the peer-reviewing process in the first place. Yes, there’s such a thing as human error and we’re okay with a typo here and there, but it makes this report much harder to trust.

Utimately, your phone isn’t turning you into a horned demon straight from the hellmouth just yet. Of course, this doesn’t distract from the fact that almost all of us have compulsive notification addiction or that your screen light is giving you wrinkles.