Good News: Phones Probably Don't Cause Teens to Grow Horns

Illustration for article titled Good News: Phones Probably Don't Cause Teens to Grow Horns
Image: Wellcome Collection

We tell teens many things of dubious truth to stop them from being gross little cretins: constant masturbation causes blindness, getting good grades and going to college will definitely result in a job, cell phones will cause them to grow horns. Well great news, kids, it’s likely none of those things are true!


The Washington Post published some bizarro story about mobile devices causing Australian teens to grow nubby little horns, according to Vice:

“This morning, the Washington Post published an article that showcased the work of David Shahar and Mark Sayers—two health science researchers from Australia’s University of the Sunshine Coast—who claim that horns are growing from the lower skulls of young people. They claim that it’s linked to a forward-and-down head posture, and one possible cause is device use.

Shahar and Sayers’s research focuses on enthesophytes, or bits of bone that grow due to some combination of chemical, genetic, environmental, or use factors. Basically, they’ve found that these skull “horns” are somewhat common in young people in particular.”

But in much the same way science teachers in my Louisiana high school taught that evolution was just a guess, the whole “phone horn” thing is merely a theory. (Please don’t yell at me in the comments, I know evolution is real.):

“Their research does not prove that device use causes these bony appendages. They don’t even claim that device use and appendages are correlated. They simply make an educated guess in the discussion section, pointing to a topic for future research.”

The original study was based on a pretty small sample: four teenage boys whose parents had been concerned about their posture since the boys were toddlers, which is peak parent. The researchers also noted in their findings that the boys weren’t in pain.

If the horns aren’t hurting anyone, maybe a magnificent set of tusks will someday be a marker of a young man’s virility. Is that how evolution works? Somebody please tell me because no one dared explain it in my hometown.


Cheers Pink Ears!

I saw this story yesterday, and the x rays picture. They look more like small protuberances than horns to me.