No one wants to give up their smartphone, despite the health and safety risks these electronic devices may impose. Up until the other day I felt the same way. You couldn't pry it out of my cold, dead hands. But that was before I read about a frightening new condition that is being linked to smartphone use. When I told my boomer friends about it, they had the same reaction I did: Shock and horror.
I’m not talking about brain and neck tumors that could result from the electromagnetic radiation that these devices emit. That’s old news. Besides, nothing’s been proved, or won’t be until long-term study results are available — in 15 to 25 years, researchers say. But the way smartphone sales are soaring we may not have to wait that long for those results. According to the latest United Nations Telecom Agency Report, worldwide cell phone subscriptions have topped 6 billion, more than triple what they were a decade ago.
I’m not referring to people using their smartphones behind the wheel, either. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at least 9 people a day are killed and more than 1,060 people injured in crashes that involve a distracted driver. That's just in the United States.
So far I’ve been willing to accept the above risks to my health and life. But what I can’t accept is this new revelation: According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, smartphones can make you look prematurely old. There’s no medical name for this condition, at least not yet. Until there is I’m calling it "smartphone face." I may be one of its victims.
I read about smartphone face on a cosmetic surgeon's website. His office is in Minneapolis, where I live. I went on his site after looking at my mug in the mirror while shaving. I couldn’t believe how droopy my face and neck had become. I thought maybe some nips and tucks might be in order. Little did I know — and was about to find out — that the reason I'd aged so much is because I'm always on my cell phone.
The doctor's website contains a statement that he attributes to the ASAPS: “Lines and creases may develop if you spend an excessive amount of time texting and checking your email on your smartphone. The constant downward gaze caused by smartphone use may be causing some individuals to experience more lines and creases on their neck than would appear naturally. Even if your face maintains its youthful volume, signs of aging on the neck can give you away.”
His website cites a Manhattan cosmetic surgeon who offers a “BlackBerry facial,” which includes cleansings, peels and hydration treatments.
The obvious cure for smartphone face isn’t costly surgery or treatments. It’s giving up my smartphone and all of its apps. But as vain as I am I don’t see how I can ever be without it. I’ve gotten used to being honked at for still checking messages in my car when the stoplight turns green. I no longer die of embarrassment when someone calls me at a concert or live theater event and I've forgotten to put it on vibrate. I guess I’ll have to accept this new side effect: It’s not a brain tumor or a car wreck, for God sakes. It’s only wrinkles.
Only wrinkles? I think l will book that appointment with the Minneapolis cosmetic surgeon. Consultations are free.