First we had scrolling RSI, then it was 'text neck' and now... it seems our mobile phone addiction is affecting our gait, too. A new study commissioned by The University of Delaware gave mobile phones to 22 adults and told them to text while walking on a treadmill. Instead of seeing a lot of injuries (as you'd expect), lo and behold it seems out evolutionary instincts kicked in and we have now altered the way we walk to compensate for our mobile phone distraction. Aren't we clever little monkeys?
According to the study, "Results indicated that dual tasking did not impact phone dialling speed, but increased stride width, peak knee flexion during stance, and peak plantarflexion, and decreased knee and ankle range of motion." In layman's terms, this means we have increased the length of our strides and decreased the motion in our ankles and knees to avoid tripping. While this certainly accounts for the idiotically slow gait of text and walkers (a move soon to be made illegal in New Jersey, seriously) it also points to the insidious way technology is harming our bodies.
Reporting on the findings, The Guardian also cited a number of other studies which point to our First World technology ailments, such as text claw (thumb RSI from too much scrolling), text neck, long-term eye damage from staring at phone and computer screens and phantom vibration syndrome (when you think your mobile is vibrating - and it's embarrassingly not). Or, even more disturbingly, the fact that 16% of phones harbour E coli... yeah, disturbing.