Before you ask, no ‘Whatsappititis’ is not a word we just made up, it’s a legitimate disease which made its entry into Lancet, the British medical journal, in 2014 when the first case was recorded.
Now that that’s out of the way, everyone knows how technology has made everything available at the touch of a button. Texting, calling, browsing, watching – all in one place. So it’s not surprising that we end up spending a better part of our day on our gadgets including our phones. But did you know that these convenient pieces of technology could give you some serious diseases?
And we’re not talking about the usual stop-or-you-will-ruin-your-eyesight lecture (it’s real FYI, and is called computer vision syndrome) that parents often give us. These diseases are quite unique to the posture, activities and the way we use our phones, tablets and laptops. Here’s a lowdown on five of them:
Possibly one that we’re all prone to because, can you imagine keeping in touch with people without WhatsApp, Messenger, Viber and a ton of other instant messaging apps?
The condition, as the name suggests, is caused by excessive use of the thumb and fingers for texting, among other things. This lady for instance, who was also the first person to be diagnosed with Whatsappititis, woke up one day with wrist pain because she held her 130 gram phone for six hours the previous day and continuously used both her thumbs to reply to text messages.
2. Tech neck
Is head bowed, shoulders hunched and eyes glued to the screen a common posture in your lifestyle? Be warned, it could be making you prone to tech-neck, which causes skin to sag around the neckline, drooping jowls (the lower, fleshy part of your cheek) and creasing of the skin on your clavicle. And apparently, the strain this posture (where we lean our necks down by 60 degrees) places on our neck equivalent to the weight of a seven-year-old.
Many people even resort to cosmetic surgery, particularly those in the corporate world and show business to remove the physical signs of this condition.
3. Smartphone Pinky
Heard of the smartphone pinky? No that’s not a new game but has to do with something we do quiet unconsciously – holding the phone with our pinky finger supporting most of its weight.
The problem here is that the edge of your smartphone places pressure on the last joint of your pinky, making it prone to pain and deformity.
4. Toasted skin syndrome
Sounds like something right out of a zombie film doesn’t it? Guess what it’s caused by – keeping the laptop on your lap for long periods of time.
The syndrome is characterized by skin discolouration on the upper legs and thighs due to exposure to heat from the laptop. The condition was first described in 2004 and the youngest person to be diagnosed, as of 2010, was an avid gamer all of 12-years-old.
5. TFAD, FOMO, SA and so on
When it comes to how we consume technology, there are psychological disorders galore. You may have heard of Twitter and Facebook Addiction (TFAD) and selfie addiction (SA) but Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) and Cyberchondria are less commonly discussed, but the list of course, is near endless.
Even with the incessant ‘ping, ping!’ of notifications, people may develop the FOMO disorder, especially those who are avid users of social media. You don’t want to be the last person to know about what your social media friends are doing and you may also end up comparing yourself to that friend who just posted a picture of themselves at the Niagra Falls.
Cyberchondria meanwhile, has to do with every other person being a self-proclaimed medical expert, thanks to the internet. This disorder however, isn’t just self-diagnosing but assuming the worst possible outcome and inducing anxiety. For instance, you have a headache? But no, the internet says it could be a symptom of brain tumour and now you’re doomed because you believe it.
Of course, self-diagnosis isn’t new. Hypochondria has been around for much longer, but as this PC World article aptly puts: “Cyberchondria is just hypochondria with a broadband connection.”