「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


Do you have the iHunch?

By Tan Ying Zhen


You know what the iPhone and the iPad are. Have you heard of the "iHunch"?

A New Zealand physiotherapist, Steve August, coined the term to refer to how we contort our bodies when we are using our smart phones. Other terms for it include "text neck" and "iPosture," according to a New York Times article written by social psychologist and author Amy Cuddy.

Think about your posture. Or look in the mirror the next time you are using your phone and pay attention to how your head and neck feel. Do you feel any stress or ache?

According to the same article, the average head weighs about 4.5 to 5.4 kilograms. As we are using our phones, our necks are usually bent forward by about 60 degrees. This increases the stress on our neck to a startling 27 kilograms.

The bad effects of the iHunch aren't just physical. Cuddy cited various research studies, including one of her own, that showed how damaging bad posture could be on our self-esteem, memory, mood and behaviour. Generally, slouching causes us to be more negative in what we say, think, and do.

In one particular study, researcher Shwetha Nair and her team compared interview responses between two groups of participants. One group sat upright. The other group slouched. They found that slouchers not only had lower self-esteem and greater fear; they were also more negative in what they said. Therefore, they suggested that sitting upright "may be a simple behavioural strategy to help build resilience to stress."

Cuddy's article left such a deep impression on me that I started to pay attention to my posture, and my phone usage habits. Unfortunately, I failed at reducing phone usage because it has become such a crucial tool in both my work and private life. I check email, send text messages, and read the news on my phone every day. I also use it for social media such as Facebook and Instagram, both of which help me to keep in touch with friends whom I don't get to meet.

On the other hand, my increased awareness of the iHunch has improved my posture. So although I still use my phone as much as before, I sit up straight and I keep my head up even when I'm looking at the screen. It's a little counter-intuitive at first, but I got used to it and it feels almost natural now to hold my phone at eye level. I've also tried to stretch and massage my shoulders regularly throughout the day.

The next time you use your phone, try sitting upright too. If you can feel the difference as well, encourage your friends and family to do the same to battle the iHunch.



The Japan Times ST: January 15, 2016

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2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版