Most of you probably can’t live without technology. It is quite impossible to picture out your life without your handy tech gadgets by your side. After all, they sure make your life easier and you can avoid doing manual labor especially all those mundane yet tiring household chores. Of course, it has its downsides too. First off, you need to shell out money in buying and maintaining these gadgets and appliances. Repairs can be costly too. Running it takes some getting used to as well. Then, expect to see a rise in your electric bill as these appliances eat up way more electricity than you are used to.
Aside from these headaches that we have somehow already managed to overcome these past few decades, modern technology now threatens your health. Even medical experts consider these tech gadgets to be health risks because of the radiation they emit, the addiction that they have become, and how it messes up a person’s sleeping pattern over time. Bedtimes are pushed further as people today can’t seem to put their smartphones down. From social media to games, you can’t help but tinker with it until the wee hours of the morning.
A study on child development reveals that the use of mobile phones among children and adolescents’ impacts their sleep, mood and mental health. This special section of Child Development, edited by Dr. Zheng Yan and Dr. Lennart Hardell, adds important information to the research in this area. Dr. Zheng Yan explained said that there are nearly three billion children and adolescents in the world and most of them were, are, or will be various types of mobile technology users, interacting with and being influenced by mobile technology in numerous ways.
The findings revealed that risks of using mobile phones and its radiation impacts brain development. Mobile technology affects cognitive control and attention in contexts such as parenting and early brain development. Risks of sexting increases risky behaviour through peer pressure and social media interaction. Mobile technology also affects sleep, mood and mental health.
The findings suggested that mobile technology may pose potential dangers and areas where development may be supported. An important example is the work summarised by Dr. Lennart Hardell concerning radiation and brain development. Yan further explained that today’s mobile technologies have become a very unique and powerful influence on child and adolescent development.
These modern contrivances emit harmful blue light because of its short wavelengths. It’s not that big of an issue during the day but it is when night time falls because of its impact on the body’s melatonin levels, the hormone that signals “sleeping cues” so you can rest and relax after a long day’s work. It also throws your body clock or circadian rhythm off; making your sleep suffers and affects daytime performance too.
Sleep is an important part of development, especially during the teenage years. In modern societies, smartphone use has become commonplace. Many people read books, news, or emails on their smartphone prior to retiring for the night. However, this may not be a wise idea. The blue LED light emitted from smartphone screens mimics the morning sunlight, confusing your body’s natural circadian rhythm, possibly making it harder to fall asleep and get the quality sleep that you need.
A new study by Yoko Nose and colleagues in Child’s Nervous System examined the physiological effects of late-night smartphone use on a group of 36 boarding school students in Japan. Being in a boarding school, the students’ schedules involving mealtime, lights-out, and wake-up times were regimented. As they were not allowed to have computers or televisions in their dorm rooms, the smartphone was their only form of blue LED light emitting technology. The coed-students, ranging in age from 15 to 18 years, were divided into two groups matched for age, gender and exercise habits. One group was allowed greater than 120 minutes of smartphone use each night, and the other group was limited to less than 60 minutes of smartphone use nightly. Prior to beginning the study, the students underwent a baseline evaluation following an overnight fast, including body temperature, anthropometric measurements, and electrocardiogram. After awakening each morning during the eight-day study, the students’ vital signs and temperatures were reassessed.
This bright blue light that is as bright as sunlight itself confuses the brain and makes it think it is still day when it’s actually time to retire to bed. It disrupts your sleeping cycle leaving you unable to sleep until the early morning hours and consequently feel a drop in energy during the day. It all fits together, unfortunately. It’s true that your smart device has made you more connected to the world at large through the World Wide Web and opened up a lot of new opportunities as well but its serious health drawbacks are also valid reasons to make you question your priorities. Should you really devote all your free time fiddling with your gadgets rather than leading a healthy and active life without sacrificing sleep in the process?