How Gadgets and Digital Screens Are Harming Your Child

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How Gadgets and Digital Screens Are Harming Your Child

The amount of time children spend watching digital screens is worrying. Children don’t seem to get tired of watching TV or playing with the iPad. This obsession with gadgets is a matter of concern, but the immediate worry is about its adverse impact on their vision.
Why gadgets and kids don’t mix well
Kids use gadgets for playing games, chatting, browsing or watching movies. The activity is usually so involving that they don’t take their attention off the screen. They also don’t pay attention to things like posture, screen distance, and brightness, which can adversely affect their vision and health.

Staring at electronic screens for extended periods causes discomfort. You suffer from dry eyes, eye irritation and find it difficult to focus for a while. Spending too much time in one posture can also result in neck and back ache. If you are finding it difficult to cope with screen time, imagine what your child’s eyes must be going through.
Digital screens have become an inseparable part of life. You can’t wish them away or keep kids away from them, but you can minimize their impact on your children. The first step is to understand what you are up against.

The consequences of too much screen time
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average child spends about 8 hours a day watching electronic screens. Gadget use among kids increases with age. Although it cannot be said with certainty, research indicates that children spending too much time staring at screens are at higher risk of long-term vision problems. Apart from televisions and video games, most gadgets came in the last two decades. While the immediate effects on children can be observed, their long-term effects are unknown.
According to researchers, children who spend a lot of time with gadgets are likely to develop temporary myopia (nearsightedness). Fortunately, the effect is transient and the eyes recover a few minutes after they switch to a non-screen activity.
The effect of spending a lot of time watching screens is not limited to the eyes alone. Apart from symptoms like dry eyes, burning sensation, double vision and blurry vision, people also complain of headaches and posture-related problems like neck and back pain. Doctors now call this set of symptoms as “computer vision syndrome”.

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When people use electronic screens, they blink less. On an average, a person blinks about 15 times in a minute. Due to the high attention required while using an electronic screen, this rate can drop to less than 5 times in a minute.

Blinking is a natural mechanism that keeps the eyes moist, lubricated and clean. A lower blink rate causes dry eyes and irritation. The severity varies according to the type of activity and the level of engagement. A video game, therefore, creates more eyestrain because you have to constantly watch and respond to what is happening on screen. Desktop computers and wall-mounted televisions can make it worse because they make you look upwards. This makes you open your eyes wider and expose more surface area of the eye to evaporation.

Electronic screens can generate images with a lot of brightness and contrast and they can vary these images in a fraction of a second. They also reflect glare from surrounding light sources like lamps and windows. Your eyes have to frequently respond to changing light levels. Watching a screen that is too dim or bright compared to the surroundings also causes eye strain. Your eyes have to adjust when you switch from the screen to the surroundings. The frequent dilation and contraction of pupils results in eye fatigue.
Most modern gadgets come with LED screens because they produce clearer pictures and consume less power. The amount of blue light emitted by these screens is a matter of concern. LED screens emit a lot more blue light compared to LCD screens. Although research is limited, many optometrists suspect that blue light can cause irreversible damage to the retina. This can increase the risk of macular degeneration and cataract.
The macula is the central part of the retina and is crucial to good vision. Macular degeneration can make daily activities like reading and driving impossible. With age, the lenses of the eyes start to yellow. For adults, this provides a limited natural defense against blue light, but children are vulnerable. Blue light can also interfere with the biological clock and affect sleep.

Protecting children from the adverse impacts of electronic screens

If your child complains of burning eyes, you must review the amount of time they are spending with gadgets. Here are some tips that will help.

Limit screen time
Limit the amount of time your children spend watching TV. Limit other gadget time to an hour a day for small children and two hours a day for school going children. Break this allowance into two or three sessions to reduce eye strain.

Encourage children to play outdoors
Gadgets encourage sedentary habits which are bad for the body and mind. Encourage children to spend some time outdoors for activities that require them to move about and interact with other children. Playing outdoors with the dog or other kids is more fun than watching an animation movie for the umpteenth time. Spending time outdoors also exercises long distance vision and reduces the chances of myopia.
Don’t use gadgets as babysitters
Keeping your children busy with gadgets or TV may allow you to do whatever you want in peace, but it’s a bad idea. Instead, keep them occupied with healthier alternatives like creative toys, coloring books or storybooks.

Ensure that your child gets adequate sleep
Children should sleep for about 10 hours a day. Sleep allows the eyes to recover from strain.

Ask them to take regular breaks and blink often.
To prevent dry eyes, ask your child to blink two to three times whenever their eyes begin to hurt. Eye strain can be reduced by taking small breaks to look at something other than the screen. Most opticians advocate the 20-20-20 rule. Take a break every 20 minutes and focus on something about 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Ensure that kids maintain the right distance from the screen
While using a computer or other personal device, the eye should be at least 20 inches away from the screen. Don’t let children sit too close while watching TV. If your child prefers to sit close to the screen, get his or her eyes tested to rule out myopia.

Don’t let them use gadgets in the dark or in sunlight
Kids may not pay attention to lighting conditions when they are engrossed in an activity. Discourage the use of gadgets in a dark room or in bright sunlight. Screen brightness should not be three times darker or brighter than the surroundings. If the device has an auto-brightness mode, enable it. This automatically adjusts screen brightness according to ambient light.

Digital screens cause eyestrain and other related symptoms like vision difficulties and headache. Kids are more vulnerable than adults and spending too much time with gadgets can affect their vision. It is difficult to keep children away from gadgets, but you can take steps to minimize the adverse effects.

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What’s Best Choice? Skipping a Workout or Skimping On Sleep?

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So you stayed up way too late watching House of Cards and now you’re staring at your alarm clock, wondering if you should still wake up early and drag your butt to the gym. Normally, you’re up and at ‘em like a champ, but sleep-deprived supersets sound like anything but funzies. Should you skip your workout and sleep in—or suck it up and head to the gym?

The answer all depends on whether or not you can nap tomorrow, say experts.

If You Can’t Nap…

Catch up on sleep. We’re officially giving you a sleep expert’s permission to snooze. “Studies show that when people get less than six hours—meaning they were sleep deprived—they’re more prone to athletic injuries,” says Robert Rosenberg, D.O., board-certified sleep medicine physician.

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In other words, if you want to stay injury-free and maximize your sweat session, you need adequate zzz’s first. Heading to the gym when you’re bleary-eyed can actually work against your fitness goals—and the ill effects can carry into the rest of your day. “Your alertness and performance can suffer,” says Cathy Goldstein, M.D., a sleep specialist at the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center. That’s not so great for things like dominating a work project or, you know, driving. What’s more, because short sleep can alter hunger hormones, you could end up eating more calories than you burned exercising, she says.

Your fix: Stay in bed the extra hour. If you normally wake up at 6 a.m. for your
workout, sleep in until 7 a.m. While it’s important to maintain a consistent wake-up time most days, sleeping in a bit (we’re talking one hour, not three) isn’t a huge deal when you need it, says Rosenberg.

If You Can Nap…

Wake up early and go to the gym. Yes, even if it’s a weekend, says Goldstein. Sure, that sounds harsh, but hear us out. One factor that controls your ability to get to sleep at night is your internal clock (a.k.a your circadian rhythm), which is controlled by your morning light exposure, she explains. When you sleep in, you expose yourself to sunlight later than usual, which tells your body and brain you should go to bed later, too—leaving you stuck in an endless cycle of never being able to rise and shine for the gym. “For that reason, I think morning workouts at the same time each day are great for your sleep,” says Goldstein.

Your fix: Take a quick siesta—for no more than one hour—before 2 p.m., says Goldstein. You’ll wake feeling refreshed, without interrupting your normal circadian rhythm, she says. Set an alarm so you don’t oversleep—anything longer than an hour will cut into your shut-eye later that night.

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Oh, and if you’re chronically shorting yourself on sleep, change up your priorities. “Make up time for sleep by cutting out NetFlix binges as opposed to cutting out your workout,” says Goldstein. (Easier said than done, but okayyy.)

This Article is originally published  in : Women’s Health

Transitioning your kids back to school

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See how to take tiny steps that can help them adjust to back-to-school season.
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1. Getting Back to It
After a summer of swimming parties, outdoor activities and lazy play days, it’s natural for your child to dread the return to a more structured school schedule. Transitioning back to school doesn’t have to be a struggle, though. Prepare your child for the changes the school year will bring by discussing expectations and arranging fun activities to build the excitement.

2. Arrange Playdates
Allow your child to get back in touch with friends or meet new classmates by arranging playdates before the first day of school. You might also ask the principal for a class roster with contact numbers.

3. Adjust Bedtimes
If your summer schedule includes staying up late and sleeping in, it’s time to get back to a school sleep schedule at least two weeks before the first day. Prevent bedtime battles by gradually adjusting your child’s bedtime before school starts.

4. Implement Routines
Parents should begin to implement school routines and schedules at least a week or two before school starts, says Christina Soriano, an art specialist in New York City schools. “Use a timer and make it a game,” suggests Soriano. “Have your child complete basic actions, like packing and unpacking schoolbags and lunch boxes, creating a designated space for doing homework and other activities, and having a sign by the door that reminds kids what should be in their bag the night before.”

5. Shop for Supplies
Fuel your child’s excitement for the beginning of school with new gadgets and supplies for the classroom. Make it specific for your child and allow her to pick out a backpack, colorful folders and brand new pens and pencils. Plan a special day to pick up supplies and a special lunch outing to celebrate the start of the school year.

Source: everydayme.com

The brain’s Claustrum helps to Regain Its Lost Functions

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Picture from : FB Hashem  Al-Ghalili

Scientists from George Washington University published an amazing study arguing that they had found the “on-off switch” to the human brain, a veritable key to consciousness. The researchers found that when they stimulated a particular portion of the brain of a woman with epilepsy, she reliably slipped into a storing, near-catatonic state. When they removed the stimulation, she “awoke” and had no memory of the lapse in time. Called the “claustrum,” this area of the brain is poorly understood — but since the consciousness study, it has unsurprisingly attracted attention from brain researchers.

One study published this month in the journal Consciousness and Cognition may have constrained the realm of possibility for claustrum function, by conducting a study using combat veterans with deep traumatic brain injuries affecting the claustrum. What they found suggests that the prior results showing that stimulation of the claustrum can forcibly sever the brain from the conscious mind may have been due to the peculiarities of that patient, an epileptic who had undergone brain surgery in the past. In their combat veterans, who have a variety of other brain-related injuries in addition to their claustrum damage, the results were quite different.

They found that patients with claustrum lesions have an increased duration, but not frequency, of losing consciousness — showing that the claustrum may be related to regaining, but not ending, the state of active consciousness. That’s important, since the claustrum has been implicated in the maintenance of certain forms of coma and certain forms of dissociation.

The claustrum receives information from all over the cerebral cortex.

The claustrum (technically the claustra, since there’s one per hemisphere) sits near the center of the brain and seems to have a large-scale coordinating function. It receives signals from virtually every portion of the neocortex, looking architecturally not all that unlike the corpus collosum, of A Scanner Darkly fame. In both cases, destruction can lead to truly odd and unsettling psychological effects — could stimulating one little patch of your brain really forcibly disengage the brain’s engine from its drive shaft, leaving a person coasting in an involuntary neutral gear?

As mentioned, the newest research seems to say that, thankfully, the claustrum might not offer that kind of off switch. Patients with permanently damaged brains can sometimes adapt to get lost function out of some other brain structure, however, so it’s possible that people will claustrum lesions (as opposed to reversible electrical stimulation) show different effects.

However, things are more complicated than that. There’s some evidence that the hallucinogenic drug known as salvia may work partially by affecting the claustrum — specifically, inhibition of the kappa-opioid receptors that are so common on its surface. Due to the impossibility of feeding college kids salvia in an ethics-approved study, the academic literature on this is based largely on the self-submitted trip-out reports on sites like Erowid.

If the claustrum does play some large-scale coordinating role in the brain, that could explain why salvia can cause the brain to interpret visual information in such bizarre ways — the parts of the brain that are good at visual tasks aren’t being properly engaged to actually do them. And it might also explain why it’s possible for someone with a damaged or inhibited claustum to receive visual information through the optic nerve, but not consciously see that visual information with the higher brain and snap back to reality.

There may be a whole textbook about it, but the claustrum is still poorly understood.

Francis Crick (of Watson and Crick fame) spent much of his career pushing for continued study of the claustrum, which he believed was the seat of consciousness. We now know that’s not true — people can be quite conscious with their claustrum partially or entirely destroyed. But it may be to be one of the crucial elements in taking the many powerful but limited portions of the brain, and letting them complement each other’s abilities. It’s been called the conductor of the brain’s orchestra.
As scientists begin to understand these systems-level structures in the brain, our understanding of concepts like attention, memory, and perception could change dramatically. And with them, concepts like intention, self-awareness, and self.

 

Source: Extreme Tech

 

 

Four (4) Surprising Factors in Raising a Well-Rounded Child

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It’s amazing how far a parent’s support can go. Whether it’s cheering your child on during soccer,building her confidence for a recital,or encouraging her to try a new instrument, the effort you put into her growth can influence her success.

In a country obsessed with private tutors and extra-curricular classes, psychologist-educator Queena N. Lee-Chua explained that home and family still play the most important role in a child’s learning. After conducting her own study with family counselor Maribel Sison-Dionisio at Ateneo High School, she discovered some very surprising factors in what makes a little achiever, such as…

Not with tutor

1. The time your child spends with you, not with his tutor.

Lee-Chua found out that more than 80 percent of honor students never had a professional tutor. Instead, they had their parents.

“The first 10 years of our (children’s lives) are essential not just for building relationships, but for developing good study habits as well. Investing time and effort, especially in the early years, (provides) a steady foundation for lifelong learning and may prevent future problems,” she wrote.

Own place and materials

2. A place of her own and the right materials.

Surrounded by technology, children these days are accustomed to watching TV, browsing through the net, playing games, or listening to music as they study or do projects.

But Lee-Chua didn’t agree with achiever kids who thought they performed better with these distractions. For them to really concentrate and learn, she recommended a quiet place to study with a solid routine.

She also advised providing enough educational materials for children to turn to. Books, websites, shows, and even games can make learning easier and more fun.

Reading to your child helps too. In fact, Lee-Chua encouraged, “For parents with pre-school kids, for those who haven’t done so yet – start reading to (and with) them. Make reading a bedtime ritual.”

Don’t just stop with hitting the books though, because it’s important to have…

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3. Short chats and long discussions.

Encourage your child to talk to you about anything. Ask her about what happened in her day. Get to know who her friends are. Learn about her hopes and dreams.

Showing interest in what she likes can give you the opportunity to help her set personal goals that you can work with together. Lee-Chua advised, “When the child is old enough, discussion and guidance about personal goals (e.g. he wants to be on the basketball team but at the same time, he wants to do well academically) should be constantly done.”

Involving your child in family discussions is important too. It sounds like a big step, but actually exchanging opinions – even if you feel you are right and your child’s idea conflicts with yours – shows that her thoughts and feelings count as much as yours, boosting her self-confidence.

Talking about both the big and little things in her life will not only make her more open to you, but it will also help shield her from peer pressure as she grows older. Lee-Chua explained, “…one way to prevent negative influences is to be constantly present, so that our (children do) not have to turn solely to peers for affirmation.”

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4. Communication is especially key when your child needs

No one is perfect, and your child will eventually encounter a challenge she’ll find difficult to overcome. The important thing is to remain loving and supportive.

Lee-Chua wrote, “Unconditional acceptance is the rule – however, acceptance is not enough. When their child gets low grades, parents do their best to help (by tutoring him themselves, researching reference materials, consulting the teacher, or rethinking the balance of academics and extra-curricular activities).”

It’s also important to never compare your child with others. Instead, instill in her the belief that she creates her own success. It’s not a matter of genetics, luck, or talent. Rather, it’s about putting in the effort to rise above mediocrity.

And it doesn’t hurt to celebrate successes. Lee-Chua added, “When based on fact and done with love and joy, this measure of family pride also bolsters the child’s and the family’s self-esteem.”

Your child’s love for learning starts with you. You play the biggest role in shaping her attitude, and it’s you she’ll turn to for the most support.So remember, the more you give, the more your child can achieve.

Parts Of Your Body You Shouldn’t Touch With Your Hands

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Think of your body like it’s a temple: It’s yours to use, but there are some sacred spots you shouldn’t put your grubby hands on.

“Research shows that hands play a major role in the transmission of germs,” says Kelly Reynolds, PhD, an associate professor in the Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona. “Even after proper washing, hands and fingers are rapidly re-contaminated from the surrounding environment.”

Your Face

You can use your hands to wash your face or apply skincare. But otherwise, keep your paws off. When you rest your hands on a germy surface and then bring them to your forehead, it increases your likelihood of getting sick—and breaking out, too. Your fingers contain oils that can plug your pores, says Men’s Health dermatology advisor Adnan Nasir, MD.

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Your Ear Canal
You should never stick your fingers—or anything else—in your ears. “Introducing anything into the ear canal can tear the thin skin that lines the ear canal,” says John K Niparko, MD, professor and chair of the department of otolaryngology-head & neck surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

If you feel a persistent itching sensation in your ears, see an otolaryngologist rather than trying something DIY. “An otolaryngologist can assess the problem—whether it be wax accumulation, eczema of the skin, or infection—like swimmer’s ear, for example. A tailored program of treatment, ear hygiene, and moisturizing of the skin should be put into play,” says Niparko.

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Your Eyes

Unless you’re putting in contacts or washing away a particle that found its way into your peepers, keep them off limits. You can easily introduce germs into your eyes, says Men’s Health ophthalmology advisor Kimberly Cockerham, MD. Those bugs could cause anything from pinkeye to a scarier infection. Follow her simple rule: “Don’t touch and don’t rub.” And if you do experience itchiness, dryness, or contact lens discomfort, talk to your eye doc. He or she can address the underlying issue.

Your Mouth
Recent research from the U.K. found that people put their fingers on or around their mouths an average of 23.6 times per hour when they were bored at work. And they still did it 6.3 times an hour when they were busy! That’s a problem: In a landmark study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, a third to a quarter of germs tested transferred from study subjects’ fingers to their mouths. Maybe you should think about stealing your kid’s pacifier.

The Inside of Your Nose
Quit digging for gold: In a 2006 study of ear, nose, and throat patients published in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, nose pickers were 51% more likely to carry Staphylococcus aureus bacteria in their schnozzes than those who kept their hands off.

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The Skin Under Your Nails

Lots of nasty bacteria, including staph, can live there. “Your nails should be short to reduce the chances of bacterial carriage, and such nails only need a gentle nail brush to remove debris and often,” says David De Berker, MRCP, consultant dermatologist at the British Dermatology Center.

“Picking tends to create trauma in its own right,” he says, “and then any bacteria or yeast can cause further problems—sometimes resulting in a pattern called onycholysis, where the nail lifts off the nail bed.”

 

Credit: Prevention.com

 

How to Edit Your Paper

During a writing project for school it is common for the teacher to require you to switch papers with a classmate so that a fresh pair of eyes can catch any little mistakes or make suggestions to improve readability. That’s because your teachers know that it can be difficult to edit yourself. We tend to glaze right over our own work!

One of the most difficult parts of editing yourself is knowing when to do it, and when not to do it. It is natural for a writer to want to write well the first time.As we write, we tend to rework troublesome sentences or constantly check for grammatical errors.
However, this “editing interference” can hinder the writing process.In order to function as both a writer and an editor, you must be able to separate the two.First do your job as the writer and creator, then take a step back and take a look at your work from an editing point of view. This way you’ll be able to read with a fresh perspective.Once you begin the editing process, there are several tricks that can help you catch the little errors in typing and improve the fluidity of your work.

1. Make Printouts.
Often students want to reread their work from the computer screen and fix it as they go. However, this can actually slow the editing process down. When you print out your work, you can mark corrections and notes more quickly as you read.

2. Read out loud.
Sometimes when we read, our brain can fill in gaps without our knowledge. If we are missing a word somewhere, especially in our own writing, our mind will automatically fill in the blank.
Try thinking like your audience.
You know yourself and your intentions, but try to see your work from a totally different perspective. How might your parents interpret your work? How would a teacher, fellow student, or brother?

3. Watch your timing.
While you might want to take a break between writing and editing, don’t take too much time. You want your eyes and your mind to be fresh, but you don’t want to lose interest in your work. It is easy to get distracted by other projects and just want to be done with your writing. The more time you let go by, the more likely you are to let it go.

4. Reorder.
It is easy to become too familiar with your work and thus harder to catch simple mistakes. Try reading each sentence as a separate entity, in any order. You can start with the last sentence and work your way to the beginning.

Once you feel you’ve done all you can on your own, it is still helpful to have an outside perspective.
Letting a peer read your work will not only help you with your present work, but will help you in your future endeavors as well.You can discover your strengths and weaknesses and develop them over time.
Also, being able to receive creative criticism is one of the most challenging and valuable lessons of all.Whether you are looking to writing as a career or just to get through school, there will always be someone grading or editing your work.

source: Easy English Lessons/Doctors Hangout