Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Parents should help their kids map out a boundary between helpful and harmful cellphone use

Are cellphones addictive? If cellphones are addictive, would you take your kids off one? Both questions are controversial and pose serious challenges for parents because teenagers are presently using cellphones more often in school that they seem to be dependent on those devices.

What is addiction? www.psychologytoday.com, defines it thus:

Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (e.g., gambling, sex, shopping) that can be pleasurable but the continued use/act of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities, such as work, relationships, or health. Users may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others.

Parents, you can do more! Source: Wikimedia Commons
So, do cellphones fall into this category? Parents should be on the lookout for telltale signs that cellphone use by their kids are causing problems. Some students have been ingenious in using cellphones to cheat in class. College students have been reported to be agitated when their cellphone is not with them which behavior could result in internal and external conflict in the classroom. Your kids could find themselves unable to face the vagaries of life if they dodge behind a cellphone when challenging and awkward situations arise in school. Parents should be on the lookout for telltale signs.

This conclusion and more were arrived at in an extensive study of the cellphone use of college students in 24 cellphone activities of which 11 were found to be close to being termed addictive. The activities include calling, texting, emailing, banking, taking photos, using apps like iPod, Bible, Google Maps and Pinterest. Texting, sending emails and checking on Facebook took much of the students’ time than necessary.

Parents should help their kids map out a boundary for cellphone use. A useful tool like the cellphone should not turn out to be a device that should disrupt their lives because they lacked self-control. I think this is a call for action.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Want to take notes? Better to use a pen and paper even when a keyboard is handy.

I was surfing the sciencedaily.com site and found this release which states that for better recall of conceptual facts, it is better to take long notes than transcribe on a laptop. The article might be old but I believe it is useful.

What are the reasons given? In brief:
  • When it concerns remembering conceptual information, taking long notes with your pen or biro triumphs over taking notes using your laptop.
  • As for recalling common knowledge or facts, both methods of transcription were found equally adequate.
  • Your mind tends to process the information it receives while taking long notes; when using a laptop for taking notes, most persons just write out what they hear verbatim without processing them. One more reason why when you’re involved in an important meeting or session, you’d better go for taking long notes with a pen and paper.
  • Lastly, long note takers tend to recall facts jotted down a week or more after the original notes were taken better than persons who typed them out originally using a laptop.

Overall, even where taking notes on a laptop will be the norm, the good old pen and paper still triumphs, especially when that note will be important weeks later.

How much of your High School knowledge can you still retain on entering University - new report

When you were in high school what was more important to you: passing your exams so you can qualify for University education, or understanding in-depth the subjects being taught so you can use them later in life?

To be honest, the latter was more important to me, but on the day of my matriculation at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, to study Zoology, I decided University teaching and learning was a whole new ball game. I had to change my orientation in learning from cramming facts to understanding reasons.

I believe I’m not the only guilty party. A recent report from the University of East Anglia’s leading researchers in education and sciences reveals that many university freshers struggle to remember basic concepts from their A-levels.

Is the problem at the doorstep of teachers at the high school levels or the fact that they students have to adjust to a different approach to learning at the university level, or on the motivation of the students themselves, the report doesn’t tell. Yet, the report involved students from the leading UK universities committed to research and outstanding teaching and learning experience, or the Russell Group. These highly motivated students could only remember forty (40%) percent of what they learned at the A-levels.

That calls for concern for all parties involved. Maybe A-level curricula has to be redesigned to reflect our age of iPhones and smart phones, where a considerable number of high school students even use these devices in class, or at the undergraduate level.

Wherever the solution lies, it is instructive to know that the longer it takes you to enter the university after you’re A-levels, the lesser of your A-level knowledge that will be retained. It calls for sober reflections, right?


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How to prevent sudden death due to heat strokes from sporting activities

Prior to a sporting event detecting persons who could develop cardiovascular diseases or suddenly fall dead from a cardiac arrest is a challenge. Sudden death during sporting events, especially endurance races of 10 to 20km, is likely in a high number of both professional and amateur athletes. Cardiac arrhythmia, often termed irregular heartbeat, has been reported more often than heat stroke as a cause of sudden death during sporting events.

On the other hand, Lior Yankelson, MD, and Pinchas Halpern, MD, are of a different opinion; life-threatening events during endurance races are more likely to be caused by heat stroke than by cardiac arrhythmia, especially in warm climates. The high incidence reported is not limited to sporting or endurance races but is also found in college football players, high school athletes and experienced runners who were thought to be immune.

What then are some ways to prevent heat stroke during sporting events, and other causes of cardiovascular collapse?
  1. Acclimatization to warm climates
  2. It is recommended that athletes give themselves a 10 to 14 days period of environmental acclimatization before engaging in endurance races. Event planners should also acknowledge the need for athlete proper adjustment to the racing environment. Of 10.9 million runners assessed in the United States during a 10 years period, 59 (incidence rate: 0.54 per 100,000 participants) had cardiac arrest.

  3. Recently ill or persons recuperating from a febrile illness should be discouraged from participating in endurance races.
  4. Exercising imposes heat stress on the body and elimination of body heat is necessary for proper adjustment. Fever impairs the ability of the body to do this.

  5. Prompt diagnosis.
  6. When heat stroke is promptly diagnosed, health care providers can immediately initiate cooling therapy. Athlete’s temperatures are usually monitored using rectal or core probes and where necessary, cooling procedures are instantly instituted. It is a challenge though to record core body temperatures during physical activity. A potential solution is an ingestible telemetric body core temperature sensor.

  7. Routine screening.
  8. Mandatory screening of all athletes prior to participation in competitive sports has been recommended where cardiac death is a possibility. For screening to work, the benefits should be higher than the costs, effective tests should be available, and it can be proved that avoidance will prevent the risk. Some events carry out a pre-participation electrocardiogram (ECG) screening. Exercise or cardiac stress testing have also been used. Some events require participants sign a declaration of “good health” which might not be adequate enough.

  9. Don’t forget water.
  10. Ingest adequate amount of water during sporting activities, including endurance races. Also, take electrolyte drinks and have frequent rest breaks.

Since the number of persons participating in endurance races is on the increase, (see statistics), it is important therefore to recognize the risk of sudden death during sporting events as an increased challenge.

The material from this blog piece was inspired by: Life-Threatening Events During Endurance Sports. Is Heat Stroke More Prevalent Than Arrhythmic Death?