Tag: tech advice

Screen Time Tied to Health Issues

Do you feel panicked if you leave home without mobile phone in hand? Do you find it difficult to sit in the house without browsing the internet on your devices? Are your children spending much of their classroom hours on tablets? Screen time has taken over most people’s daily lives, but at what cost? A 2014 report from Nielsen found that adults log a total of 11 hours of screen time per day.

Delaney Ruston, a physician and creator of the documentary “Screenagers,” which explores young people’s use of digital devices, discovered kids spend an average of 6.5 to eight hours per day looking at screens. All of this time glued to digital devices has profound effects on physical and mental health, and many experts are advising people to cut back on the time they spend on their devices.

Brain Damage

Multiple studies indicate that spending considerable time on screens can produce atrophy (shrinkage or loss of tissue volume) in gray matter areas of the brain, according to reports in Psychology Today. These are regions of the brain where processing occurs. One of the most affected areas includes the frontal lobe, which governs executive functions like planning, prioritizing, organizing, and impulse control. Another vulnerable area is the insula, which is tied to a person’s capacity to develop empathy and compassion for others. Research also shows that white matter can be compromised, which translates into loss of communication between cognitive and emotional centers within the brain.

Vision Problems

Staring into screens for extended periods of time can damage areas of the eyes and result in computer vision syndrome, which is characterized by trained eyes, blurred vision and headaches. The Multi-Ethnic Pediatric Eye Disease Study, conducted by researchers and clinicians from the USC Eye Institute at Keck Medicine in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, has found that exaggerated screen time and insufficient sunlight exposure has more than doubled incidences of myopia (nearsightedness) among American children in recent years.

Sleep Disturbances

University of Gothenburg psychologist Sara Thomée, a lead researcher into the effects of screen time on the body, says the blue light from digital devices suppresses the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, keeping people from having restful sleeps.

Overstimulation

Screen time can cause hyperarousal, which may be more notable in children than adults, according to research published in Psychology Today. Regular amounts of screen time can cause the brain to be in a state of chronic stress, which can short circuit the frontal lobe. This may lead to addictive behaviors, rage, inability to recover from minor frustrations, and hyperactivity.

Screen time is profound and may be hurting minds and bodies. Many people have set goals to reduce the time they spend on electronics to improve their personal health.

Navigating Tech Choices For School Use

Technology is essential in the daily lives of students. Whether it’s kids learning their ABC’s or graduate students pursuing advanced degrees, technology has transformed the way lessons are taught and learned. Statistics support the notion that technology in the classroom is irreplaceable. According to data from the tutoring resource PracTutor, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and various colleges, 98 percent of schools have one or more computers in the classroom. In addition, 77 percent of teachers use the internet for instruction, while 40 percent of teachers report students use computers during instructional time in the classroom. Many instructors now assign homework that must be completed online.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development looked at computer usage among 15-year-olds across 31 nations and regions. Many students in high-performing nations reported spending between one and two hours a day on a computer outside of school. Because computers are so necessary in and out of the classroom, families and students may want to revisit their options before buying new devices.

Desktop computer Desktop computers used to be the go-to for families and students, and there are still many reasons why desktops make sense. In addition to their relatively inexpensive sticker price, desktop computers allow students to customize their packages according to their needs and get a powerful operating system in the process. New and advanced processing speeds also mean that many desktop computers can be relied on for educational purposes while also being fast enough to handle recreational gaming. One of the main disadvantages of desktop computers is their lack of portability. Desktops are not easily moved, and if repairs are necessary, it can be a hassle to have them fixed.

Laptop computers Over the last decade, laptop computers have become more popular than desktop computers, largely because of their portability. Laptops are designed to be taken from place to place, so students can use them for note-taking in the classroom and then studying at home. Although laptop processors have just about caught up to desktop processors, they may be lacking the processing pop unless consumers are willing to pay more for laptops with high performance. Another shortcoming of laptops is that they generally have smaller screens than desktop computers, which can make working on fine details more challenging.

Tablets Tablets offer the most in terms of portability. They’re lightweight and small and offer a wealth of access in a compact package. Today’s tablets offer much more than the first such devices to hit the market. Some can run apps and equivalent programs that were once exclusive to desktop and laptop computers. Tablets also tend to be less expensive than desktops or laptops. Where tablets may fall short is in the peripherals. It’s difficult to connect backup drives and other accessories to tablets.

However, with advancements in cloud-based storage, this may not be an issue. Also, note-taking on virtual keyboards may be more challenging, and working on tablets’ small screens can be tiresome over time. Convertible tablet/laptops are now emerging to bridge these gaps. Shopping for a new computer can be complicated, but basing purchases on need rather than want can help guide the process.