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A recent study conducted at Texas A&M University has shown that college students are addicted to smartphones, have higher levels of screen time and access multiple devices frequently compared to previous generations.
Due to the increased use of these gadgets, especially tabs and smartphones, students are more likely to shift towards a comfortable workplace such as a couch or chair with no desk that leads to musculoskeletal disorders like low back pain, sprains, and strain at a very young age.
According to the 2021 Statista report, the present number of smartphone users on the planet is 6.37 billion, which means 80.63% of the human population owns a smartphone. The figure rose from 2016 when the number of users was 3.66 or roughly 50% of the global population. With the hike in the number of smartphone users, a large population is expected to suffer from musculoskeletal disorders like low back pain due to incorrect posture.
Texas A&M University Survey
A team of researchers led by Mark E Benden, professor and head of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at Texas A&M University, surveyed the use of smartphones and other electronic gadgets among students, the posture they acquired while using the device and the intensity of pain the students were suffering.
Benden found that smartphones were the most used electronic gadgets despite having a poor ergonomic design.
“When we started the study a few years ago, it was because we had determined that college students were heavy users of smartphones,” said Benden. “Now those same levels we were concerned about in college students are seen in 40-year-olds, and college students have increased to new levels”. The researchers found that the number of college students using smartphones had increased tremendously in their surveys.
The researchers took a 35-minute online survey where students were asked about the device they were currently using, the duration of usage, posture acquired while accessing the device, their stress levels and the current level of discomfort and pain.
64% of the respondents responded that they use their smartphones frequently, followed by laptops, tablets and PCs. These respondents claimed to use their smartphones 4.4 hours a day on a couch or another comfortable sitting area. The detailed results of the survey are published in the journal BMC Public Health.
“It is amazing to consider how quickly smartphones have become the dominant tech device in our daily lives with a little research into how that level of use would impact our health,” said Benden.
The research team found that the incorrect posture acquired by the students was the main contributor to stress and pain in muscles.
Ways to Control Muscle Pain
To decrease muscle pain due to electronic gadgets, technologists should work on improving the ergonomic designs of the gadgets that focus on attaining a correct posture while using the device, the researchers suggested.
Further, they pointed out that in our techno-savvy society, efforts are required to preserve the working capacity of individuals and reduce the pain experienced by them.
“Now that we are moving toward hybrid and/or remote workspaces for our jobs, college students are taking habits formed in the dorm and the apartment rooms during college into young adulthood as employees in home offices. We need to get this right or it could have adverse effects on an entire generation,” Benden concluded.