technology

  1. How much sleep does your teen really need?

    Look at all the research on kids and sleep, and two things become clear quickly:

    1) Kids don't need as much as most of us think they do, and
    2) They're still not getting enough anyway.

    One new study looked at 37 sleep guidelines for kids issued since 1897 along with more than 200 studies on how much nightly sleep kids have actually gotten during that time and found a few surprises.

    The number of recommended hours of sleep has decreased over the years, and no matter what those hours are or how much they've decreased, kids always manage to get an average of 37 minutes less.

    Anyone who's ever sent a kid to bed at 8:00 in hopes he or she might actually arrive there by 8:30 (or even 8:37) knows how that is.

    And even a century ago, people blamed technology for all those sleep-avoiding kids, according to the study published in the journal Pediatrics.

    Once upon a time, it was that newfangled lightbulb. Today, it's all the digital entertainment options kids have literally at their fingertips: videogames, text messages, music downloads and probably a few things we adults don't even know about.

    It's bad news for many kids because too little sleep has been linked to any number of physical and mental issues in people of all ages -- and in kids in particular, poor sleep has been connected to everything from obesity to low test scores.

    But surprisingly, the sleep guidelines that have been issued over the years have been based on little to no actual science.

    And while no one's saying kids should be allowed to play videogames until dawn, a new look at data on 1,724 primary and secondary school students across the country finds that kids between 16 and 18 years old actually do better on less sleep.

    Federal guidelines call for nine hours a night, but researchers found the kids with the highest test scores actually got around seven.

    Younger kids, on the other hand, needed a little more: Between nine and 9.5 hours a night for 10-year-olds and between eight and 8.5 hours a night when they reach the age of 12, according to the study in Eastern Economics Journal.

    Of course, research is one thing -- but people are different. Some need more, some need less. If the child or grandchild in your life is tired all the time, they're obviously not getting what they need.

    And if they're not studying when they're awake, then even perfect sleep habits won't boost the grades.

  2. Your iPad is a pain in the neck

    It's the very definition of a "First World Problem" -- how to hold your iPad without getting a crick in your neck.

    But it's enough of a problem these days to catch the attention of researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, who say most people hold their iPads -- and other tablets -- in ways that are almost guaranteed to cause neck pain.

    In tests on an iPad and a rival machine, the Motorola Xoom, the researchers found four basic positions: on the lap with a case, on the lap without a case, propped up on the desk slightly, and propped up all the way -- almost like a computer monitor.

    It's that last one they say is best for you... but that kinda defeats the purpose of a tablet, doesn't it? If you have to prop it on a desk, it's really just a computer with a smaller screen.

    So you can bet most people will keep their tablets in their laps -- and a quick Google search turns up plenty of complaints over what's been dubbed "iPad Neck."

    You can add that to the growing list of pains caused by high-tech gadgets.

    People get back pain from lugging around laptops, carpal tunnel from typing on them all day, BlackBerry thumb (or iPhone thumb) from the overuse of smartphones and who knows what's coming next -- Siri throat, perhaps, from the overuse of voice-activated features on their iPhones.

    None of this -- not the technology or the pain -- is going away anytime soon. But that doesn't mean you have to give up your tech to avoid the pain, either.

    Just be smart about your smartphones, tablets and computers and how you use them. Go online and get some ergonomic pointers for your device -- and don't forget to get up every now and then, move around and stretch your neck, wrists and fingers.

    And if you're going to fire up the Netflix app or watch some YouTube cat videos on your iPad, take the Harvard advice and prop it up on your desk.

    Your neck will thank you.

2 Item(s)