Despite the substantial increase in the number of adolescent smartphone users, few studies have investigated the behavioural effects of smartphone use on adolescent students as it relates to musculoskeletal discomfort. The purpose of this study was to explore the association between smartphone use and musculoskeletal discomfort in students at a Taiwanese junior college. We hypothesised that the duration of smartphone use would be associated with increased instances of musculoskeletal discomfort in these students. This cross-sectional study employed a convenience sampling method to recruit students from a junior college in southern Taiwan. All the students (n = 315) were asked to answer questionnaires on smartphone use. A descriptive analysis, stepwise regression, and logistic regression were used to examine specific components of smartphone use and their relationship to musculoskeletal discomfort. Nearly half of the participants experienced neck and shoulder discomfort. The stepwise regression results indicated that the number of body parts with discomfort (F = 6.009, p < 0.05) increased with hours spent using ancillary smartphone functions. The logistic regression analysis showed that the students who talked on the phone >3 h/day had a higher risk of upper back discomfort than did those who talked on the phone <1 h/day [odds ratio (OR) = 4.23, p < 0.05]. This study revealed that the relationship between smartphone use and musculoskeletal discomfort is related to the duration of smartphone ancillary function use. Moreover, hours spent talking on the phone was a predictor of upper back discomfort.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Bezboruah, T. (2010) Mobile computing: The emerging technology, sensing, challenges and applications. http://users.ictp.it/~pub_off/preprints-sources/2010/IC2010102P.pdf. Accessed 01 Dec 2012.
Smith A. (2012). 46 % of american adults are smartphone owners. Pew Internet & American Life Project.
Nathan, N., & Zeitzer, J. (2013). A survey study of the association between mobile phone use and daytime sleepiness in california high school students. Biomedical Central Public Health, 13, 840.
Ikeda, K., & Nakamura, K. (2014). Association between mobile phone use and depressed mood in japanese adolescents: A cross-sectional study. Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine, 19, 187–193.
Zheng, F., Gao, P., He, M., Li, M., Wang, C., Zeng, Q., et al. (2014). Association between mobile phone use and inattention in 7102 chinese adolescents: A population-based cross-sectional study. Biomedical Central Public Health, 14, 1022.
Chuang, Y. F. (2011). Pull-and-suck effects in taiwan mobile phone subscribers switching intentions. Telecommunications Policy, 35, 128–140.
King Car Education Foundation. (2011). 2011 Mobile phone use for young people report.
Simons, D., & Mense, S. (1998). Understanding and measurement of muscle tone as related to clinical muscle pain. Pain, 75, 1–17.
Sahin, S., Ozdemir, K., Unsal, A., & Temiz, N. (2013). Evaluation of mobile phone addiction level and sleep quality in university students. Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences, 29, 913.
Tsai, S. C. (2012). A study on mobile phone use behavior and its connection with interpersonal relationship and parent-children interactions for junior high school students in tainan. Forum of Education Research, 4, 1–21.
Hakala, P. T., Rimpelä, A. H., Saarni, L. A., & Salminen, J. J. (2006). Frequent computer-related activities increase the risk of neck–shoulder and low back pain in adolescents. The European Journal of Public Health, 16, 536–541.
Jacobs, K., & Baker, N. A. (2001). The association between children’s computer use and musculoskeletal discomfort. Work (Reading, Mass.), 18, 221–226.
Eapen, C., Kumar, B., Bhat, A. K., & Venugopal, A. (2014). Extensor pollicis longus injury in addition to de quervain’s with text messaging on mobile phones. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, 8, LC01.
Gustafsson, E., Johnson, P. W., & Hagberg, M. (2010). Thumb postures and physical loads during mobile phone use–a comparison of young adults with and without musculoskeletal symptoms. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, 20, 127–135.
Jonsson, P., Johnson, P. W., Hagberg, M., & Forsman, M. (2011). Thumb joint movement and muscular activity during mobile phone texting—A methodological study. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, 21, 363–370.
Hyo-Jeong Kim, D., & Kim, J. -S. (2015). The relationship between smartphone use and subjective musculoskeletal symptoms and university students. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 27, 575.
Dickinson, C., Campion, K., Foster, A., Newman, S., O’rourke, A., & Thomas, P. (1992). Questionnaire development: An examination of the nordic musculoskeletal questionnaire. Applied Ergonomics, 23, 197–201.
Chang, J. H., Wu, J. D., Chen, C. Y., SuMD, S. B., Yin, H. I., & Hsu, D. J. (2014). Risks of musculoskeletal disorders among betel quid preparers in Taiwan. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 57, 476–485.
Eapen, C., Kumar, B., & Bhat, A. K. (2010). Prevalence of cumulative trauma disorders in cell phone users. Journal of Musculoskeletal Research, 13, 137–145.
Sharan, D., & Ajeesh, P. (2012). Risk factors and clinical features of text message injuries. Work-Journal of Prevention Assessment and Rehabilitation, 41, 1145.
Karim, S. A. (2009). From” playstation thumb” to” cell phone thumb”: The new epidemic in teenagers. South African Medical Journal, 99, 161.
Lee H, Lee S, Choi YS, Seo Y, Shim E. (2013). A new posture monitoring system for preventing physical illness of smartphone users. Consumer Communications and Networking Conference (CCNC), 2013 IEEE. (pp. 657–61).
Lee, M., Hong, Y., Lee, S., Won, J., Yang, J., Park, S., et al. (2015). The effects of smartphone use on upper extremity muscle activity and pain threshold. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 27, 1743.
Chany, A. -M., Marras, W. S., & Burr, D. L. (2007). The effect of phone design on upper extremity discomfort and muscle fatigue. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 49, 602–618.
Dogu, B., Sirzai, H., Yilmaz, F., Polat, B., & Kuran, B. (2013). Effects of isotonic and isometric hand exercises on pain, hand functions, dexterity and quality of life in women with rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology International, 33, 2625–2630.
Granado-Font, E., Flores-Mateo, G., Sorlí-Aguilar, M., Montaña-Carreras, X., Ferre-Grau, C., Barrera-Uriarte, M. -L., et al. (2015). Effectiveness of a smartphone application and wearable device for weight loss in overweight or obese primary care patients: Protocol for a randomised controlled trial. BMC Public Health, 15, 531.
Michaleff, Z. A., Kamper, S. J., Maher, C. G., Evans, R., Broderick, C., & Henschke, N. (2014). Low back pain in children and adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analysis evaluating the effectiveness of conservative interventions. European Spine Journal, 23, 2046–2058.
This study was supported by Shu-Zen Junior College of Medicine and Management (SZPT10303006).
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
About this article
Cite this article
Yang, SY., Chen, MD., Huang, YC. et al. Association Between Smartphone Use and Musculoskeletal Discomfort in Adolescent Students. J Community Health 42, 423–430 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10900-016-0271-x
- Musculoskeletal discomfort