Smartphone Users Develop Swiper’s Thumb

August 6, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. excessive /ikˈsesiv/ (adj.) – going beyond what is needed
Example: Excessive use of electronic devices involves health risks.

2. on the rise /on ði raɪz/ (idiom) – increasing in quantity or frequency
Example: The number of smartphone users is on the rise.

3. prolonged /prəˈlɔŋ-d/ (adj.) – continuing for a long period
Example: Prolonged sitting can cause back pain.

4. manifest /ˈmæn əˌfɛst/ (v.) – to demonstrate something
Example: Arthritis manifests as joint pain.

5. deformity /dɪˈfɔr mɪ ti/ (n.) – the condition of losing one’s original form or shape
Example: The car accident gave her serious facial deformities. 


Read the text below.
Recent research suggests that excessive smartphone use increases thumb size.

UK company O2 Mobile Life reported in its study involving 2,000 participants that the dominant thumbs of people who are using smartphones expanded by fifteen percent. This latest phenomenon in human evolution is on the rise, with one out of eight users aged eighteen to thirty-four developing this irregularity as a consequence of constant swiping and tapping of phone screens.

Hand therapist Nicola Goldsmith pointed out that prolonged thumb activity, such as swiping, adds up to the stress in the ligament at the base of the thumb, contributing to muscle power. This manifests as thumb enlargement, also called Swiper’s Thumb.

Another survey conducted by global network company Deloitte revealed that Americans check their mobile phones forty-six times a day on average. Majority of the respondents do so in the middle of shopping, watching television, and even dining out. Apart from texting, making calls, and sending e-mails, people typically use their smartphones for participating in social media, taking photos and videos, and reading the news.

A condition related to Swiper’s Thumb is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. However, Carpal Tunnel is considered a medical condition, while Swiper’s Thumb is only a physical deformity. Carpal Tunnel arises from hand use patterns and is characterized by numbness. Another condition related to excessive phone use is Text Neck, a type of repetitive strain injury involving neck cramps from habitual bending to look down at devices.

While a remedy for Swiper’s Thumb is yet to be found, preventive measures such as decreasing thumb activity and using a bigger phone can reduce the risks of developing this deformity.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Aside from developing physical deformities and injuries, how else can excessive smartphone use affect an individual?
·         What are the possible difficulties one might encounter with having a bigger thumb?

Discussion B

·         How would life in your country be different without smartphones?
·         Do you think people have become too dependent on smartphones? Why or why not?

August 6, 2016