Screen Time Is Damaging Us

Screen Time Is Damaging Us

UK Chief Medical Officers Got It Wrong

Forewarned is forearmed, but when it comes to using digital technology, that idiom falls on deaf ears. Not least of all, it seems, with the UK Chief Medical Officers.

They, in their wisdom, have decided that the evidence is not enough to give a stronger warning than, for example: Advise children to put their screens away while crossing the road or doing an activity that needs their full attention. It shouldn’t surprise me but it does; how warning in explicit detail that using mobile phones, for example, is seriously bad for your health, is an upward battle: People can’t be convinced to put them down. And with CMOs like Dame Sally Davies, we can hardly wonder why.

Of course, it’s an addiction, and when I started warning about this many years ago, that wasn’t a widely known fact, but today there’s no excuse; people are catching on. But what is less known is that not only does digital technology affect your brain chemistry but it also can change the structure of your brain and the brains of your children.

Simply put, there are, broadly speaking, three ways this technology can harm you;

  • Neurochemical/hormonal changes, e.g. addiction and stress
  • Damage to cellular structures, e.g. cancer
  • Structural changes to your brain

Due to the intricate and intimate interconnectedness of the brain, those three ways interweave in disharmony as destruction is conducted in the symphony of dis-ease. Therefore, we will deal with those points as they present – overlapping, and not necessarily separately.

Now before we get into the science of those above, some might ask is there really any harm? Well, although early in the research cycle and also mixed with anecdotal evidence, we are seeing data just from EMF radiation from mobile phones causing cancer (see Cancer section). Specifically, reports of cancer at the site where the phone was carried, e.g. in the breast tissue where the phone was slipped into the bra; and where the phone was used, e.g. the side of the face (see Cancer section).  Studies demonstrate that survival from those cancers decreases for every year the phone was used (see Cancer section).  So yes, the harm is real.

Stress

Electromagnetic fields (EMF) are emitted by devices such as mobile phones and wireless internet routers and base stations. And by now most of us are aware that EMF can be dangerous to our health. One of the ways it affects us is by acting on our stress system.

We’ve all heard of fight or flight, and have experienced the effects of that when placed in a dangerous situation, real or imagined. That can be, for example, being chased by a robber or a tiger: the body will undergo changes driven by the neuroendocrine system. One of those changes will be to raise cortisol, a hormone associated with stress.

Cortisol helps to lower non-essential bodily functions such as digestion, reproduction, growth and also helps suppress the immune system, all of which aren’t too important when chased by a tiger. It also helps with regulating blood sugar needed for energy to deal with the situation. There are multiple other uses for cortisol, but they are beyond our topic here.

Like all things in life, the human body and its component systems like to be in balance. Bad health and its sequelae tend to happen when one or all of those systems get out of whack. Therefore, increasing cortisol abnormally and prolonging that situation can have serious effects on the body.

Driving cortisol too high for prolonged periods can result in something we call adrenal fatigue. The symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue observed over decades by many clinicians include the following (see if you can recognise any in yourself):

Fatigue, breathlessness, brain fog, infertility, cold hands/feet, depression, heart palpitations, dry skin, irritability, low blood sugar, tired & wired, needing coffee to get going, weight gain, depression, anxiety, impaired memory, inability to concentrate …

Those are just some of the symptoms. Of course, many things can cause the above, not just adrenal fatigue, and that’s why working with a knowledgeable doctor or therapist is important if you are experiencing any of them.

It’s also important to mention that standard medicine does not yet recogniseadrenal fatigue and, as a consequence, patients with that problem become frustrated when they hit a brick wall at their GP’s surgery after countless tests and treatments fail to address the underlying problem.

Although data are mixed in this area, some studies are highlighting negative effects of EMF and psychobiological markers linked to stress such as cortisol.

Augner et al. wrote in Effects of exposure to GSM mobile phone base station signals on salivary cortisol, alpha-amylase, and immunoglobulin A that exposure to mobile phone base stations with radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) even at densities well below recommended safety standards of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) resulted in an increase in cortisol:

RF-EMF in considerably lower field densities than ICNIRP-guidelines may influence certain psychobiological [cortisol] stress markers.

Although sleep and cortisol are intimately connected, Akerstedt et al. writing in the Journal of Sleep Research note that sleep was affected by low frequency RF-EMF but did not see any difference in cortisol levels. They also make the observation that the levels of RF-EMF used in the experiment were significantly lower than those experienced in a normal city:

We found that the EMF condition was associated with reduced: total sleep time (TST), sleep efficiency, stages 3 + 4 slow wave sleep (SWS), and slow wave activity (SWA).

Even though the researchers report no difference in cortisol levels, the subjects had limited EMF exposure and, overall, cortisol was higher throughout the tests and my reading of the results revealed an apparent significant cortisol increase peaking at 2.30am. Nonetheless, any clinician worth his salt knows that disturbed sleep translates eventually into disrupted cortisol patterns and negative health effects. Had the testing gone on for a longer period and sleep significantly disturbed then I would expect cortisol levels to be altered.

Although it is relatively early in this area of research and data are mixed, some studies are showing an effect on sleep and neurobiological markers. And whether cortisol or other markers are raised or lowered, over a prolonged period of time, health will eventually decline.

Sleep, of course, is essential to life and adequate sleep is essential to being healthy. We call that sleep hygiene or simply put: getting enough good quality sleep.

The average adult heads off to bed after 11pm and some sleep immediately; others take a while. Some get to sleep around 1-2am and most raise their eyebrows when you tell them that they need to be in bed by 10.30pm. The next problem is using mobile devices, computers or reading a book on kindle, etc. before falling to sleep. Most of us are now aware that the light emitted from those devices – blue light – tricks our brain into thinking it’s day time. The effect of that is to artificially alter cortisol levels and suppress the sleep hormone melatonin.

Many negative effects can result from that, including abnormally high blood sugar and diabetes, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and even cancer.

When going to bed, the room should be cleansed of all electronic devices and light, even LED light from an alarm clock. Some people place their mobile phone under their pillow before sleeping; I’ve heard anecdotally of children doing the same. We’ll see how insane that is when we discuss EMF and cancer.

Social isolation and subordination

Social isolation and subordination can also cause an increase in cortisol as Sapolsky and Aberts demonstrated with wild baboons in Hypercortisolism associated with social subordinance or social isolation among wild baboonsThe lower down the pecking order, the higher the cortisol levels.

Social isolation is not only experienced by baboons, of course: it is  becoming more prevalent as we move deeper into our Silo worlds of Facebook and social media, with less real interaction and more immersion, one step at a time, into the virtual worlds. Inevitably, loneliness will also feature as social isolation progresses. Social isolation can have major effects on your health, even increasing your risk of death.  Joan Grif, writing in Critical Care Nursing, does a good job of presenting some of the evidence that supports that ever increasing reality of social isolation for adults (and now more and more children):

In contrast to the Dutch study,45 a 2013 United Kingdom assessment of 6,500 men and women 52 years and older over 7.25 years found that although loneliness and social isolation were both associated with increased mortality, after adjusting for other potentially influential variables, social isolation remained significantly associated with mortality (HR = 1.26; 95% CI, 1.08–1.48 for the most isolated), whereas loneliness did not (HR = 0.92; 95% CI, 0.78–1.09), indicating that social isolation was an independent factor raising mortality, but loneliness was not.10

Research examining loneliness has identified a variety of functional, psychosocial, and physiologic ill effects, including the following:

  • Diminished physical activity
  • Diminished motor function
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Disrupted sleep and daytime dysfunction
  • Impaired mental and cognitive function
  • Increased systolic blood pressure
  • Increased sympathetic tone and vascular resistance
  • Increased hypothalamic pituitary adrenocortical activity
  • Altered gene expression related to anti-inflammatory responses
  • Altered immunity

Many of the above involve disordered cortisol levels.

Regulators, parents and just sensible people would do well to read that list and then look at their children lost to their devices and social media; unchecked, what does the future hold for them? And what are the effects for them now from adopting a more isolated lifestyle and using those devices?

Scientists have revealed some worrying mechanisms regarding high cortisol in adolescents that may be prone to depression. This research demonstrates that mice genetically susceptible to depression developed depression when exposed to high cortisol during adolescence:

Sawa, director of the Johns Hopkins Schizophrenia Center, and his team set out to simulate social isolation associated with the difficult years of adolescents in human teens. They found that isolating healthy mice from other mice for three weeks during the equivalent of rodent adolescence had no effect on their behavior. But, when mice known to have a genetic predisposition to characteristics of mental illness were similarly isolated, they exhibited behaviors associated with mental illness, such as hyperactivity. They also failed to swim when put in a pool, an indirect correlate of human depression. When the isolated mice with genetic risk factors for mental illness were returned to group housing with other mice, they continued to exhibit these abnormal behaviors, a finding that suggests the effects of isolation lasted into the equivalent of adulthood.

Genetic risk factors alone were not enough to bring on depression:

Genetic risk factors in these experiments were necessary, but not sufficient, to cause behaviors associated with mental illness in mice,” Sawa says. “Only the addition of the external stressor — in this case, excess cortisol related to social isolation — was enough to bring about dramatic behavior changes.

But it’s OK because we can monitor our stress with our Smart phones …

Addiction

When asking patients over 30 if they have any addictions, most state no, and when questioned further about how much alcohol they consume and could they stop it, problems arise. Many people that drink socially don’t feel that they could ever be an addict, but as their alcohol consumption slowly increases year on year, they are faced with a reality that they might not be able to give it up so easily and are, in fact, suffering from addiction. The addiction creeps up slowly, and another area of addiction that has crept up slowly is computer gaming. Studying those addicted to computer games can illuminate our understanding of how computer usage may negatively affect all of us.

Kuss, Pontes and Griffiths writing in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry investigated the potential mental disorder (internet gaming disorder IGD) listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5):

The results indicate there are significant neurobiological differences between healthy controls and individuals with IGD. The included studies suggest that compared to healthy controls, gaming addicts have poorer response-inhibition and emotion regulation, impaired prefrontal cortex (PFC) functioning and cognitive control, poorer working memory and decision-making capabilities, decreased visual and auditory functioning, and a deficiency in their neuronal reward system, similar to those found in individuals with substance-related addictions. This suggests both substance-related addictions and behavioral addictions share common predisposing factors and may be part of an addiction syndrome. Future research should focus on replicating the reported findings in different cultural contexts, in support of a neurobiological basis of classifying IGD and related disorders.

China, the first to recognise that disorder, has 23 million such addicts and operates hundreds of retraining camps for this electronic heroin addiction.

Structural Damage

What about normal everyday usage of digital devices and social media as opposed to a gaming disorder? Structural changes in our brains are being reported in relation to social media usage. Montag et al. in a paper entitled Facebook usage on smartphones and gray matter volume of the nucleus accumbens demonstrate the negative effect of using social media on a significant part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. The nucleus accumbens is also known as the reward centre.

We recorded the actual Facebook usage of N = 62 participants on their smartphones over the course of five weeks and correlated summary measures of Facebook use with gray matter volume of the nucleus accumbens. It appeared, that in particular higher daily frequency of checking Facebook on the smartphone was robustly linked with smaller gray matter volumes of the nucleus accumbens.

Not only checking your Facebook but also Instagram was associated with changes to the nucleus accumbens. Worringly so, the amount of checking of the Facebook account or Instagram featured in that research was less than everyone I know. The question for future research is: does the use of social media affect the size of the nucleus accumbens or do people with smaller nucleus accumbens check more often? I’m confident it is the former, not the latter, that will be found to be proved.

A smaller nucleus accumbens is associated with two other important things: Traumatic brain injury and apathy:

The TBI [traumatic brain injury] group showed significantly decreased volume in the left nucleus accumbens … Results of our study revealed that increased ratings of apathy were significantly correlated with lower volume of the nucleus accumbens.

Structural changes in the brain, after using Facebook and social media, may be associated with a traumatic brain injury and apathy. Who would have thought? Now take a look around you and watch all those people ‘happily’ buried in their devices.

One of the chief neurotransmitters involved in reward circuitry is dopamine. When neurons that project to the nucleus accumbens are activated, dopamine is released. The nucleus accumbens is a major part of a dopaminergic pathway in the brain called the mesolimbic pathway that is stimulated in rewarding experiences.

As you can see, you and your children are getting major dopamine hits from using digital devices and social media as you are ‘rewarded’ for using them. Getting FB likes, or waiting for someone to like a post; waiting for email with unpredictable content; or looking at tweets restricted in text that just don’t satisfy us enough, all can stimulate that circuitry hundreds and thousands of times a day.

As those areas we have just highlighted are intimately connected to addiction, it doesn’t bode well for the young children of today that have unrestricted access to those devices and media.

Paulus et al. write in Screen media activity and brain structure in youth: Evidence for diverse structural correlation networks from the ABCD study:

Evidence from several recent studies is consistent with the hypothesis that changes of brain structure are correlated across areas with similar function that recapitulate functional networks (Geng et al., 2017), which has been termed maturational coupling or structural correlation networks (SCNs), and has been proposed as a putative region specific biomarker for developmental psychopathology (Saggar et al., 2015). Thus, brain regions that change together, i.e. increase or decrease in volume at the same rate over the course of years in the same individual, show structural covariance (Vandekar et al., 2015) or anatomical connectivity across individuals, reflecting synchronized developmental change in distributed cortical regions (Alexander-Bloch et al., 2013). For example, developmental changes in maturational coupling within the default-mode network (DMN) align with developmental changes in structural and functional DMN connectivity (Khundrakpam et al., 2017). These structural changes can also be affected by environmental characteristics, such as childhood abuse (Gold et al., 2016) or urban upbringing (Besteher et al., 2017), and have direct implications for brain functions such as general cognitive ability (Vuoksimaa et al., 2016), behavioral inhibition (Sylvester et al., 2016), and subjective ratings of empathy (Bernhardt et al., 2014). Finally, these maturational differences seem to be triggered by regional variation of gene expression having a direct impact on cortical thickness (Fjell et al., 2015). Together, structural brain changes are a consequence of a coordinated process that reflects an interaction between environment and genes that impact specific neural functions.

To you and me that translates as: areas of the brain that work together can undergo structural changes that may not be beneficial and may be associated with psychological pathology. The study had found such changes associated with using social media and computer games. They point out that there may also be positive changes, and that time and more research is needed to confirm the association with social media activity (SMA) and computer games.

Several studies have shown that maturational patterns show a strong covariance across brain areas of similar function (Alexander-Bloch et al., 2013; Geng et al., 2017; Sotiras et al., 2017). Specifically, several investigations have suggested that homologous brain areas (Khundrakpam et al., 2017) undergo coordinated cortical thinning guided by evolutionary novelty and functional specialization (Sotiras et al., 2017). Moreover, these structural brain-related changes have been related to individual differences for specific brain areas, e.g. the anterior cingulate to behavioral inhibition (Sylvester et al., 2016), insula to empathy (Bernhardt et al., 2014), ventromedial prefrontal cortex to anxiety (Newman et al., 2016), prefrontal cortex to levels of depression (Vijayakumar et al., 2017), and general cortical thinning to personality characteristics (Ferschmann et al., 2018). Other investigators reported altered resting state connectivity patterns between sensorimotor and cognitive control regions as function of screen-based media use and suggested that excessive screen time may adversely affect cognitive control (Horowitz-Kraus and Hutton, 2017). The current investigation adds an important new element to these prior studies. Specifically, SMA is related across subjects to areas that are important for sensory processing but also for higher order cortical functions, i.e. the prefrontal cortex and posterior cingulate. However, it is important to point out that SMA is related to several correlated brain structural patterns that are orthogonal, i.e. the latent variables describing the relationship between brain structure and SMA are not correlated. Thus, screen media activity cannot be reduced to a unidimensional impact on brain structure. Taken together, although there is some evidence that SMA-related latent variables are associated with more psychopathology and poorer performance on cognitive tests, there are other latent variables that show no such relationship. Thus, it is difficult to conclude that SMA related brain structural characteristics have uniformly negative consequences.

The authors also provide references to prior studies demonstrating habitual and gaming internet usage with brain structural damage:

In one study with 18 year-old college students, individuals with internet gaming addiction showed less gray matter volume in bilateral anterior cingulate cortex, precuneus, supplementary motor area, superior parietal cortex, left dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex, left insula, and bilateral cerebellum (Wang et al., 2015) than matched controls. Among young adult female habitual internet users, more gray matter volume of bilateral putamen and right nucleus accumbens and lower gray matter volume of orbitofrontal cortex were associated with more frequent use (Altbacker et al., 2016). Functional neuroimaging studies have provided some evidence that those with internet addiction fail to recruit frontal-basal pathways that are important in inhibiting unwanted actions (Li et al., 2014).

Effectively, the take home message from this research as you look at your children, grandchildren, friends and yourself is…Your brain is changing most likely as a result of screen time, in particular the cortex is thinning. And regardless of the caution being demonstrated here by the researchers, we know enough to know that something is drastically wrong with prolonged exposure to this technology. I think, at the very least, the precautionary principle should apply here. Let’s put it this way: I won’t be shocked when, in 10 years, they announce that social media and computer game usage have definitely changed the brain structure of two generations with irreversible and devastating effects.

Pall (2015) wrote a literature review titled Microwave frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) produce widespread neuropsychiatric effects including depression. In that, he raises worrying questions regarding the effects of exposure to EMFs, and hypothesises that they may be mediated via activation of voltage gated calcium channels (VGCC) in cells throughout our bodies. In other words, the EMF is causing certain channels in our cells to activate inappropriately that may lead to negative health consequences:

Pilla (2012) showed that pulsed microwave field exposure produced an almost instantaneous increase in calcium/calmodulin dependent nitric oxide (NO) signaling, providing strong evidence that these fields can produce an almost instantaneous VGCC activation. It is likely, that these EMFs act directly on the voltage sensor of the VGCCs to produce VGCC activation (Pall, 2015) with the voltage sensor being exquisitely sensitive to these EMFs because of its physical properties and location in the plasma membrane.

Barthelemy et al in the Journal of Environmental and Pollution Resrearch (2016) tested rats exposed to different radio frequencies:

Sprague Dawley male rats were exposed for 15 min at 0, 1.5, or 6 W/kg or for 45 min at 6 W/kg. Memory, emotionality, and locomotion were tested in the fear conditioning, the elevated plus maze, and the open field…

According to our data, total GFAP was increased in the striatum (+114 %) at 1.5 W/kg. Long-term memory was reduced, and cytosolic GFAP was increased in the hippocampus (+119 %) and in the olfactory bulb (+46 %) at 6 W/kg (15 min).

Siegel and Pikov (2010) writing in electronic letters also noted the effect of millimetre wave energy (5G) on nervous tissue:

Neuronal activity is a particularly good marker for gauging stimulus thresholds since the neuronal membrane is optimised for sensing and in conducting electrical impulses with millisecond temporal response. Several research groups [8– 18] have noted significant impact on neuronal activity induced in vivo by modest levels of millimetre-wave exposure (40– 130 GHz, 1 – 100 mW/cm2 , seconds to minutes) that are not much higher than the MPE.

All those effects, and others we may not be aware of yet, can have a deleterious effect on human health.

Cancer

There is a significant amount of literature available to raise serious concerns about the connection with modern technology and cancer, for example, mobile phone usage. Agostino Di Ciaula of the Division of Internal Medicine, Hospital of Bisceglie (ASL BAT), Italy; International Society of Doctors for Environment (ISDE), writes in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health a worthy review titled Towards 5G communication systems: are there health implications:

A meta-analysis exploring papers published until the end of March 2014 (24 studies, 26,846 cases, 50,013 controls) reported a higher risk of intracranial tumor (mobile phone use over 10 years) and for the ipsilateral location [same side as the ‘phone was used], although Authors indicated the need for further studies to confirm this epidemiological association (Bortkiewicz et al., 2017)…

Of note, a recent re-analysis (correcting for possible biases) of Canadian data from the multinational INTERPHONE study demonstrated an odds ratio of 2.2 for glioma (95% confidence interval 1.3-4.1, highest quartile of phone users vs non regular users), and an increased risk of meningioma, acoustic neurinoma and parotid gland tumors in relation to mobile phone use (Momoli et al., 2017)…

After the IARC statement, a case-control study has documented an increased risk of brain tumor in mobile phone users or after cordless phone use (latency >15-20 years)(Hardell et al., 2013). Additionally, a large study on 1678 patients with glioma demonstrated a decreased survival per year of latency for mobile phone use (Carlberg and Hardell, 2014).

When cancers formed on the same side as the phone was used, and for every year a phone was used, your chance of survival went down.

As with all relatively new areas of investigation, data will be somewhat mixed, but there is enough on the table to start being very concerned about this technology and the risk of cancer.

Mitochondria

Mitochondria are the power houses of each cell of your body that produce energy in the form of ATP constantly, for we only ever have approximately 5 seconds of stores at any one time.

In fact, we have to make our own body weight in ATP every day to survive. Without it, we simply can’t keep the engines going and we fall into serious illness and die, cancer being one of the outcomes of taking the mitochondria off-line.

Unfortunately, microwaves can damage mitochondria. Yan-Hui Hao et al in Effects of microwave radiation on brain energy metabolism and related mechanisms demonstrated that damage to mitochondria was caused by microwaves in a time and dose dependent manner:

Certain doses of MW radiation cause reduction in mitochondrial ATP synthesis. Zhao et al. [25] exposed male Wistar rats to pulsed MW radiation (30 mW/cm2, duration: 5 min). The results showed that the content of mitochondrial ATP in the hippocampus of MW-exposed rats dropped to the lowest levels 3 d after radiation and recovered 7 d after radiation, while the activity of the ATPases was greatly enhanced 3 d after radiation and recovered 7 d after radiation, suggesting a compensatory role played by this negative feedback regulation. Sander et al. [28] exposed SD rats to MW radiation with a frequency of 591 MHz at an average power density of 13.8 mW/cm2, which induced a reduced availability of ATP, resulting in brain energy metabolism disorders.

The authors also look at the individual enzymes that are effected leading to the mitochondrial damage:

As one of the key enzymes of mitochondrial energy metabolism, SDH [succinate dehydrogenase] binds to the mitochondrial inner membrane and catalyzes the dehydrogenation of succinate to generate ATP ultimately, forming a bridge between the Krebs cycle and OXPHOS.

MW radiation reduces the activity of SDH. Zhao et al. [25] exposed male Wistar rats to pulsed MW radiation (30 mW/cm2, duration: 5 min). The SDH activity of the MW-exposed rat hippocampus decreased significantly 6 h after radiation, resulting in abnormalities in mitochondrial energy metabolism. Wang et al. [29] exposed Wistar rats to high power microwave (HPM) radiation of 10, 30 and 100 mW/cm2 for 5 min, respectively.

Recovery of that enzyme was seen if the exposure ceased.

COX [cytochrome c oxidase] is embedded in the mitochondrial inner membrane and is the terminal complex of the mitochondrial electron transport chain. As another one of the key enzymes of mitochondrial energy metabolism, COX is the only enzyme to transport electrons to oxygen to produce H2O and ATP [30,31]. It is believed that 90% of intracellular molecular oxygen is utilized by COX [32].

Certain doses of MW radiation negatively impact the activity of COX. Wang et al. [33] exposed primary cultures of cerebral cortical neurons of Wistar rats to continuous MW radiation of 900 MHz, with SARs of 0.38, 0.76, 1.15, 2.23 and 3.22 W/kg, respectively, for 2 h/d for 4 to 6 d. The results showed that the toxic effects of MW radiation on COX activity accumulated and that there was a dose-dependent relationship. Xiong et al. [34] used MW radiation of 30 mW/cm2 to irradiate male Wistar rats. The decreased COX activity and the reduced expression of COX I/IV mRNA and COX I protein were found after MW radiation, illustrating that MW radiation impacted COX activity at multiple levels.

The problem we may have, as more digital technology is rolled out and 5G is established globally, is that we may not be able to remove ourselves from exposure to it, which doesn’t bode well for our mitochondria.

Hypermedia

Our ability to remain human and enjoy a healthy existence while we are alive depends on a fully functional brain, in particular a healthy working memory. We are all aware of the rise in neurodegenerative conditions, especially dementia, but few are aware of the problems we face as a result of digital devices and social media in just remembering in the first place.

How we remember is a developing area of research, but even now we do know quite a bit about how we remember. Of course, we need an ability to process information and store important information into our long term memory. We use working memory to help process information, but it doesn’t possess an unlimited potential: we can’t hold too many pieces of information at once to process – there are limits.  Once we go beyond four separate pieces of information, we will get problems processing that. Processing of information and ‘moving it’ into long term memory also requires attention to that information; once again, it is difficult with the multiple information hits we experience on the average web page or social media page. The delivery of multiple information hits is termed hypermedia. Dr Fransen, a researcher in this area, states it well:

At any given time, the working memory can carry up to three or four items. When we attempt to stuff more information in the working memory, our capacity for processing information begins to fail.

When you are on Facebook, you are making it harder to keep the things that are ‘online’ in your brain that you need. In fact, when you try to process sensory information like speech or video, you are going to need partly the same system of working memory, so you are reducing your own working memory capacity.

And when you try to store many things in your working memory, you get less good at processing information.

Researchers Uncapher, Thieu & Wagner found significant problems as a result of  hypermedia experience between  working memory and long term memory.

These findings suggest that chronic media multitasking is associated with a wider attentional scope/higher attentional impulsivity, which may allow goal-irrelevant information to compete with goal-relevant information. As a consequence, heavy media multitaskers are able to hold fewer or less precise goal-relevant representations in WM [working memory]. HMMs’ [heavy media multitaskers] wider attentional scope, combined with their diminished WM performance, propagates forward to yield lower LTM [long term memory] performance. As such, chronic media multitasking is associated with a reduced ability to draw on the past–be it very recent or more remote–to inform present behavior.

The result of that hypermedia experience over time  is to change our ability to fully process information, develop long term memory, and operate at our potential with everyday thinking, creating human beings that simply cannot mentally function as well as their forebears.

In conclusion, I think there is more than enough evidence to treat these devices and technology with caution. Exposure to them and EMFs should be limited, especially for children. For the very young, they should not be allowed on these devices, as damage done then may not be reversed. Regarding the roll out of 5G, it is apparent from the literature, although not covered here in this article, that no adequate safety studies have been done to satisfy its introduction, and it should not continue until those studies have been done.

Simple points, such as switching off the internet at night, and switching it off when not being used; hard wiring the house for internet instead of wifi; keeping ‘phones off the body; use airplane mode; use speaker phone etc…Get yourself and your kids out of the habit of being magnetically attached to the ‘phone. It is always there at your side … Addiction.

Remember, forewarned is forearmed.  Safety studies? Listen to Mr Blumenthal:

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