Whether we like it or not, electric appliances and gadgets have occupied a major position in our day to day lives. Though they were invented to make life better for us in the first place, it is an undeniable fact that many of the gadgets have a negative influence upon the quality of our lives in some ways. As we cannot live without them in this modern world and they are a necessary evil, we have to find ways to reduce the negative impact of those modern appliances. Let us see some of the gadgets that we commonly use, the problems arising out of their use, and the ways of minimizing the negative effects arising from their use.
Though it might be considered as a good source of family entertainment and a good way to wind-down after a hectic day, too much television viewing can be very bad for us. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children below the age of 2 years should not see any TV and those above 2 years should be restricted to 2 hours of viewing per day. However researches indicate that if Video games/ DVD watching is also included there are some teens who average about 35 hours per week (more than double the recommended maximum view time!) in front of the tube. This definitely eats into the time that can be spent on more productive activities.
The scenes witnessed in TV programs even in so-called family programs or soaps are often not recommended for teen-viewership when they are highly impressionable. For instance, there are studies to prove that children exposed to repeated scenes of violence (fight sequences) did not appreciate the physical harm that such acts can cause to others and were found to be insensitive to the trauma of victims of violent incidents. This is explained by a phenomenon called “Psychological overload” where the mind learns to accept scenarios to which it is repeatedly exposed and thus prevents the person thus exposed from experiencing “strong feelings like sympathy” in situations similar to that. Similarly, unrealistic portrayal of characters or stereotyping that is common in most programs can blunt a young adult’s ability to evaluate persons/ situations from realistic perspectives.
Even discounting the psychological effects of such a viewing pattern, on a very gross level we find that family members have very little time to talk and understand each other better due to the amount of time they spend in front of the screen. The warmth of relationship is something that the distant tube cannot provide; but we have a generation of children which has grown up not knowing how much they are missing in terms of a joyous family interaction by merely sitting glued to television programs for hours together.
The solution to this lies in reducing TV viewing time to a great extent, and in spending the time in family chatter instead. We have much to learn from each other as persons and no artificial media can substitute human warmth and interaction when it comes to improving emotional intelligence. So, we should put our foot firmly down and reduce the TV viewing time of the family in the best interests of everyone.
Though computers have become almost indispensable today, too much time in front of the screen can be damaging to the eyes. Dryness of eyes, weakening of optical nerves, blank stares developed as a result of staring at the screen for hours together, idiopathic head-aches, and mood swings are some of the negative effects that arise due to spending too much time in front of the computer continuously. Lap tops have the added “honour” of even reducing fertility of men (due to the high temperature arising out of constant usage).
The solution lies in taking a break from the screen at least for at least 3 mins for every one hour of computer usage. We can simply close our eyes or walk out of the work-station and train our eyes on distant greeneries so that the “blank stare” syndrome is avoided. Laptops are best used keeping an insulating medium like a wooden plank or a file folder between our laps and the laptop to avoid exposing our body to the “heat” of the gadget.
Children should never be allowed to immerse themselves in computer games that have too vivid graphics because it curtails their ability to visualize things for themselves. The mental imagery that is developed when reading novels or stories or while listening to good story-tellers is much more vivid than even the best designed graphics. But repeated to exposure to good quality graphic games makes the child blind to such joys of the mind where the young mind imagines things, and recreates wonderful scenarios merely from vivid descriptions depicted in stories. Cultivation of active reading habits is better than passive viewing of graphic models/ games.
In fact, there are parents who feel proud that their tiny tot will not trouble anyone and will sit silently for hours if its favourite computer game is loaded on to the system. This is not correct. Children should be allowed to make a “nuisance” of themselves – to run around the house, to break things, to ask uncomfortable questions to adults, to shout, and in short – they should be allowed to be children – wild and active. By restricting them to the screen at young age, we are encouraging sedentary and passive life-style which will be manifest as myriad problems when they grow up.
Psychological dependence on computers and how it impacts personal lives:
I recently came to know of a young man who was so addicted to “Face Book” on the internet that he lost out on his MS fellowship – Face Book seemed more important than his course! Unfortunately, this is just not a stray incident of a misguided youth who behaved like a juvenile; there are many intelligent persons around the globe who perform below their true potential as their quality time is spent online in various activities including chats, unhealthy online debates (or gossip!), or addictive searches (there are many who indulge in ego-searches – searching for one’s name, one’s school name in websites, etc. just to “feel good”). In another instance, a young woman divorced her husband after just 3 months of marriage because she found it more enjoyable to play computer games and the husband was considered as an “intruder” in the happy relationship between herself and the fantasy world in her computer! Believe me, it is only the tip of the ice-berg……the two bizarre instances I have quoted are just symbolic of a wider raging psycho-pathology that is sweeping the world populace in various ways.
The virtual world seems more real to many young adults than the real world! This is definitely not a healthy sign.
I will go as far as to say that almost everyone today is addicted to the computer in one way or the other that impacts our life in various ways – it can be the chronic obsession to check emails at the death of night thus spoiling sleep rhythm, the chronic obsession to “search” matter on google or other search engines even if you are armed with all the relevant facts, the chronic obsession to log on to chat rooms while your dear and near ones are longing for your company in just the next room, and so on.
We need to understand that computers were invented to make our life easier and they should serve us. It should never be that we venerate our systems to an extent that they Lord over us! We should discipline ourselves to spending only “productive” time before our systems – i.e. we should avoid the tendency to sit before the system just for the heck of it, but simply log off once our tasks are over.
Well, there are cases when the person has to be really online due to professional compulsions. In such cases, keeping an amethyst crystal can heal the person and prevent health disorders arising out of over-exposure to electrical waves.
Similarly, keeping fresh cucumber slices over the eyes can prevent eye strain and dark circles beneath the eyes.
Cars, bikes, elevators, etc….
A person can be healthy only if he/ she takes minimum amount of physical exercise every day and the day is also generally interspersed with optimum physical activity. Taking a walk of at least 3 km. per day can prevent most heart-ailments and blood-pressure complaints. But with the improving “standards of life” manifest in the form of every mode of transport, we take very little walk. There are persons who need to take out their bikes or worse even their car for even the street-corner mall – a distance of hardly 150m!
These persons, apart from harming their bodies by depriving it of necessary exercise, also contribute to environmental pollution by unnecessary use of vehicles that emit poisonous carbon-monoxide fumes to the atmosphere. The use of vehicles for transport cannot be avoided, but at least we should limit the usage to a healthy minimum and should switch to more eco-friendly fuels (for instance, restrict use of diesel vehicles; use car parks – people going along the same route from the same neighbourhood can share cars to reduce the number of vehicles plying on the road, etc.). Similarly, one should prefer to take a flight of stairs rather than use the elevator as far as possible. Taking short walks now and then is the greatest good that you can do to your body.
Optimal use of refrigerators
While refrigerators have become almost indispensable for storage of food items, it is not necessary for a single family to have 2 or 3 fridges! Though there are environment mandates that restrict the usage of CFCs in refrigerators in most developed countries (CFCs are the major culprits in depleting ozone layer), there are many developing countries where such CFC models still rule the roost! Even in nations where CFCs are restricted, HCFC or HFCs that are used instead still contribute to global warming – even these chemicals are not completely ozone safe – the only consolation being that they deplete lesser ozone! But, they use 10% more energy and contribute in a greater way to global warming. So, the only solution lies in at least limiting the use of refrigerators as complete avoidance of a refrigerator is not feasible due to various reasons, and these are indispensable for pharmacies to store medicines. A big family living in various apartments of a building society can just share one fridge; each branch/ division of an office need not have a refrigerator – they can just share one fridge for their usage. Small adjustments like these by different groups can reduce the overall impact on our environment.
Microwave ovens/ heating appliances
Researches indicate that microwave cooking can distort the molecular structure of foods – this can range from decrease in bioavailability of nutrients (thereby reducing the body’s ability to assimilate the nutrients) to the more dangerous formation of carcinogens (cancer causing molecules) from basically harmless amino-acid chains of protein substances (this is markedly observed while heating milk and other cereals rich in proteins using microwave ovens). Studies of Dr. Hans Ulrich Hentel (Switzerland), Dr. Lita Lee of Hawaii, and other short-term studies have documented the effects of microwave cooking on food substances and the adverse impact on health. The studies indicate such effects ranging from increase of leucocytes, decrease in haemoglobin levels, and decrease in level of lymphocytes.
In Comparative Study of Food Prepared Conventionally and in the Microwave Oven, published by Raum & Zelt in 1992, at 3(2): 43, it states “A basic hypothesis of natural medicine states that the introduction into the human body of molecules and energies, to which it is not accustomed, is much more likely to cause harm than good. Microwaved food contains both molecules and energies not present in food cooked in the way humans have been cooking food since the discovery of fire. Microwave energy from the sun and other stars is direct current based. Artificially produced microwaves, including those in ovens, are produced from alternating current and force a billion or more polarity reversals per second in every food molecule they hit. Production of unnatural molecules is inevitable. Naturally occurring amino acids have been observed to undergo isomeric changes (changes in shape morphing) as well as transformation into toxic forms, under the impact of microwaves produced in ovens.
Dr. Lita Lee says that microwaving baby foods can convert certain trans-amino acids into their synthetic ciz-isomers. Further one of the amino-acids, L-Proline was converted into its d-isomer which is known to be neurotoxic (poisonous to nerves), and nephrotoxic ( poisonous to kidneys). – Ref. Lancet, issue of Dec 9, 1989.
So, ideally we should use conventional cooking methods over microwave ovens or at least limit the usage of the ovens. In no instance should you use microwaves to heat baby formulae. If you do use microwave ovens for cooking, consume the foods at least half an hour later to avoid impact of the residual waves on your body tissues.