Posted by Dr. Brent Conrad from www.TechAddiction.ca
Parents’ advocacy groups in Canada and the US are successfully getting schools to ban wireless internet access due to health concerns.
It seems as though there have been more of these stories over the last year or so.
Although I think that keeping phones out of the classroom is a good idea (you are there to learn, not text, right?), is banning wifi in public places based on evidence or unjustified fear?
Points from the story:
- In May of 2011 the World Health Organization classified the RF signals sent via cell phones and wifi connections as “possibly carcinogenic”
- Health Canada states that there is “strong evidence” that current exposure levels to wifi signals are not dangerous and no additional precautions are necessary
- Some parents believe that their children have experienced headaches, nausea and heart problems due to exposure to wifi signals
- Magda Havas, a Trent University professor argues that there is research showing that exposure to radio frequencies leads to an increase in tumors for rats
- Dave Michelson, an electrical engineering professor at the University of British Columbia believes that wireless internet is safe and that groups trying to enforce bans are doing more harm than good
What do you think? Is our precious wifi access slowly killing us (get in line wifi, you have a lot of competition), or is this just a “sky is falling” overreaction with not enough evidence to back it up?
Original Article: WiFi foes fight to rid schools of wireless Internet
The family of a budding computer programmer have on Saturday launched a campaign to raise awareness about the health risks of playing online computer games after their son died following a marathon session on his Xbox.
A post-mortem revealed that 20-year-old Chris Staniforth — who was offered a place to study Game Design at Leicester University — was killed by a pulmonary embolism, which can occur if someone sits in the same position for several hours.
Deep vein thrombosis normally affects passengers on long-haul flights, but medical experts fear youngsters who spend hours glued to their consoles might also be at risk and have urged them to take regular breaks.
Professor Brian Colvin — an expert on blood-related conditions — said it was “unhealthy” for youngsters to spend long periods in front of their consoles.
“There’s anxiety about obesity and children not doing anything other than looking at computer screens,” he told The Sun.
David Staniforth has now launched a campaign to warn other parents of the dangers.
“Games are fun and once you’ve started playing it’s hard to stop.
“Kids all over the country are playing these games for long periods – they don’t realise it could kill them,” he told The Sun.
A coroner’s court in Sheffield was told how the youngster — who had no underlying medical conditions — was complaining of a low heart rate before collapsing outside a Jobcentre.
Staniforth’s distraught father said his son would spend up to 12 hours playing on his Xbox.
“He got sucked in playing Halo online against people from all over the world.”
Online computer games are extremely popular as thousands interact in shared science fiction worlds.
Reports of gamers collapsing after spending 15 hours in front of video games are fairly common throughout Asia.
In 2005, a South Korean gamer died after playing online games for three days without taking a break.
Microsoft — which manufactures the Xbox — said it “recommend gamers take breaks to exercise as well as make time for other pursuits.”
A summer camp designed to get young people to play video games is perpetuating New Brunswick’s problem of childhood obesity, according to one of the province’s most well-known promoters of healthy lifestyles among children.
The True Gaming Summer camp in Fredericton is operated on the premise that young people can learn a lot by the activities involved in playing video games.
Andrew Reimer, the camp’s founder, said the idea that playing video games can be good for young people is the reason why gaming is part of the daily activities in his private summer camp.
“It develops problem solving and just-in-time thinking. They have to make decisions at just that time, and so it’s a quick responsiveness in that way,” Reimer said.
The idea of putting young people in front of television screens even more is not sitting well with Gabriela Tymowski.
Tymowski, a kinesiology professor at the University of New Brunswick, who ran the province’s first child obesity clinic, said the video game camp is not encouraging healthy choices.
“It’s a bit of an oxymoron to talk about healthy video games. Why don’t we talk about healthy activity? Physical activity?” she said.
“Kids get off school, they leave the interior environment of the school, the bus, they into the house, open the fridge and then move to the screens,” she said.
A recent study by Active Healthy Kids Canada found that kids spend 6 hours in front of a screen on weekdays and more than seven hours on weekends.
The report also said 59 per cent of kids are sedentary between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. and only get 14 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity in that period.
“Children are interested in video games, they’re attracted to them, there’s a lot of stimulation there,” Tymowski said.
“And so parents are encouraged or want to put their children into an activity that the children will enjoy. But unfortunately, while their fingers may be dexterous and moving the rest of their body isn’t.”
The idea of trying to stifle the popularity of video games is a lost cause, Reimer said.
Gaming is part of the culture of young people so the youth camp organizer said he’s designing a program that allows them to take part in activities that they enjoy.
”I’m not sure exactly how a kid would be able to socially interact nowadays without having any video gaming background. I feel like they’d have a lot harder a time at like public school, because that is the common factor that kids have nowadays to make friends,” Reimer said.
The popularity of video games is also spreading to other members of the family.
Carl Callewaeart, an instructor at the Gaming and Animation Institute of Fredericton, said game developers say they recognize the issue and are shifting their approach when it comes to designing new games.
“Game developers know that in the past it was about targeting young kids. But now the parents play too, so now there are family packages,” he said.
“And when you play together there’s that healthy aspect- because you have quality time together.”
Not many blog posts here recently as I have been very busy writing TechAddiction’s second book How to Help Children Addicted to Video Games – A Guide for Parents.
After many months, the book is finally ready and I have to say I am quite happy with the final result. Every day I get requests from parents on recommended books for dealing with video game addictions in kids. I have probably read just about every book on this topic but I just could not find a book that offered what I was looking for: A clear, comprehensive, step-by-step, always up to date, workbook-style manual that not only educates, but describes exactly how to address video game addictions in teens and children.
With over 200 pages of specific tips, strategies, and interventions as well as detailed analyses of conversations between parents and children in the midst of a game addiction…I have tried to produce the most helpful and practical book available online or in print on this topic.
Hopefully I have succeeded.