The glaring rectangles in our offices, pockets and living rooms are causing a range of ailments that didn't afflict previous generations. Here's a breakdown of some of the weird aches, pains and disorders that we now have to deal with.

1. Computer vision syndrome

Dry eyes. Headaches. Blurred vision. Vertigo. Neck pain. These are just of the symptoms that come from staring at a computer screen for extended periods over the course the day. Researchers have found that office workers shackled for uninterrupted periods often battle to focus and struggle with a range of physical ailments.

According to the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, this syndrome affects about 90 per cent of the people who spend three hours or more a day at a computer. A similar prevalence rate was also captured among students in Malaysia.


While no similar study has been conducted in New Zealand, the large population of office workers in New Zealand will invariably struggle with the impact of some of these symptoms.

2. Nomophobia

Coined during a 2008 survey commissioned by researcher YouGov, Nomophobia refers to the irrational fear of being out of cellular phone contact. The word itself is an abbreviation for 'no-mobile-phone-phobia' and refers to the anxiety that people feel when they don't have access to their phones.

The study found that 58 per cent of men and 47 per cent of women struggled with the phobia, feeling stressed or anxious when they didn't have access to their phones.

A further study conducted by YouGov in the US in 2017 showed the effects of the disorder are more pronounced in younger people, with teens reporting the highest levels of anxiety when they were without their phones.

The study showed that 38 per cent of teens didn't think they could last even a day without their phones.

Given research into the problem are still in their infancy, there is currently little empirical evidence on how to effectively treat it.

3. Mouse finger

Clicking a mouse or punching away on a keyboard might seem like innocuous activities. However, repeated thousands of times day after day, these simple acts can damage the small tendons in your hands and fingers – in turn leading to feelings of discomfort, numbness and tightness.


While not officially categorised as a repetitive strain injury, mouse finger might start in the finger before progressively moving up the wrist into the forearm.

Mouse finger most pronounced among workers, such as developers and graphic designers, who rely heavily on the tool to get their jobs done on a daily basis.

Possible solutions to the problem include taking regular breaks, buying a contoured mouse or alternating between a mouse and a trackpad.

4. Phantom vibration/ring syndrome

Ever feel your phone vibrate in your pocket only to take it out and realise that no one has contacted you? That feeling of certainty coupled with the subsequent confusion is referred to as 'phantom vibration syndrome'.

While it most commonly affects men on account of them carrying their phones in their pockets, the psychological trick can also manifest as phantom ringing.

Although this condition is annoying more than harmful, psychology professor Larry Rosen has expressed concern about what this suggests in considering the human relationship with technology.

"I think it's a fascinating phenomenon," Rosen said in an interview with ComputerWorld.

"I think it comes again from anxiety. Our body is always in waiting to anticipate any kind of technological interaction, which usually comes from a smartphone. With that anticipatory anxiety, if we get any neurological stimulation, our pants rubbing against our leg for example, you might interpret that through the veil of anxiety, as 'Oh, my phone is vibrating.'"

5. Digital hangovers

Much like a night of knocking back the beersies, bingeing on online content can also trigger feelings of physical unwellness.

Exhaustion, headaches and sore eyes are just some of the physical ailments Britons reported in a survey in 2016.

One in three Britons are suffering from sore eyes, while a further 17 per cent admitted that they have severe headaches after using technology for prolonged periods.

Some 45 per cent admit too much technology leaves them exhausted, while 26 per cent say they feel drained after looking at a screen for too long.

A further concern is that extended exposure to digital content also increases the chances of the user being impacted by online addiction or the myriad psychological impacts of social media.

Depression, anxiety and low self-esteem are just some of the conditions that users regularly report.