Millennials are literally losing their grip thanks to computers

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If you're a millennial reading this: congratulations. We're amazed your weak, puny hands were able to pick up your device and click the link.

We're joking, of course – but the authors of a recent study looking at hand strength may not be.

According to a report published in the Journal of Hand Therapy, the past 30 years have seen young adults swap manual labor for computers and handheld devices. And it's taking a toll on their digits.

The study looked at grip and lateral pinch measurements taken from a sample of 237 "healthy millennials" aged 20-34, and compared those figures with similar readings taken in 1985.

The results were revealing. It found that the men now aged 20-34 had weaker grips and hand strength than those of the same age in 1985.

Women aged 20-24 had the same problem, while those ages 25-29 had weaker grips in their right hand. Women between 30 and 34 was the only group to have similar grip strength to those in 1985.

Elizabeth Fain, one of the study leads, suggested that the demise of grip strength is down to a shift in working practices.

"Work patterns have changed dramatically since 1985, when the first norms were established," she told NPR. "As a society, we're no longer agricultural or manufacturing ... What we're doing more now is technology-related, especially for millennials."

Health effects of smartphones and tablets

The use of handheld devices has exploded over the past two decades, and young adults have been leading the way.

According to ComScore, 81 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds own a smartphone, the highest proportion of any age group.

But grip strength is not the only potential health side effect from using computers and handheld devices.

The Vision Council says 4 out of 10 millennials spend at least nine hours on digital devices each day, and the vast majority of adults look at digital screens for at least two hours a day.

Many of these suffer from eye irritation which has come to be known as "digital eye strain," with the council advising people take regular breaks from their screens to give their eyes a rest, or to use special lenses that minimize the glare.

The Daily Telegraph meanwhile reported the rise of handheld devices has brought with it a rise in back and neck complaints among young people, according to the British Chiropractic Association.

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