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Kids Turn Violent As Parents Battle ‘Digital Heroin’ Addiction

On August 28, The Post published a piece by Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, “The Frightening Effects of Digital Heroin,” that was based on his book “Glow Kids.” In it, he argued that young children exposed to too much screen time are at risk of developing an addiction “harder to kick than drugs.” The response was overwhelming, generating more than 3.3 million views on The Post’s website and hundreds of letters from anxious parents. Now Dr. Kardaras writes about this parental revolt against digital heroin and reminds readers of the worst effects of the obsession.

Experienced sailors, Barbara McVeigh and her husband exposed their children to the natural beauty near their home in Marin County, Calif. — boating, camping and adventuring in the great outdoors. None of this stopped her 9-year-old son from falling down the digital rabbit hole.

His first exposure to screens occurred in first grade at a highly regarded public school — named one of California’s “Distinguished Schools” — when he was encouraged to play edu-games after class. His contact with screens only increased during play dates where the majority of his friends played violent games on huge monitors in their suburban homes.

The results for Barbara’s son were horrific: Her sweet boy, who had a “big spirit” and loved animals, now only wanted to play inside on a device.“He would refuse to do anything unless I would let him play his game,” she said. Barbara, who had discarded her TV 25 years ago, made the mistake of using the game as a bargaining tool.

Her son became increasingly explosive if she didn’t acquiesce. And then he got physical. It started with a push here, then a punch there. Frightened, she tried to take the device away. And that’s when it happened: “He beat the s–t out of me,” she told me.

When she tried to take his computer away, he attacked her “with a dazed look on his face — his eyes were not his.” She called the police. Shocked, they asked if the 9-year-old was on drugs.He was — only his drugs weren’t pharmaceutical, they were digital.

In August, I wrote a piece about “digital heroin” for the New York Post, and the response was explosive. More than 3 million readers devoured and shared the piece — though not everyone agreed on its message. Some readers felt that the notion of comparing screens and video games to heroin was a huge exaggeration.

I understand that initial response, but the research says otherwise. Over 200 peer-reviewed studies correlate excessive screen usage with a whole host of clinical disorders, including addiction. Recent brain-imaging research confirms that glowing screens affect the brain’s frontal cortex — which controls executive functioning, including impulse control — in exactly the same way that drugs like cocaine and heroin do. Thanks to research from the US military, we also know that screens and video games can literally affect the brain like digital morphine.

In a series of clinical experiments, a video game called “Snow World” served as an effective pain killer for burned military combat victims, who would normally be given large doses of morphine during their painful daily wound care. While the burn patient played the seemingly innocuous virtual reality game “Snow World” — where the player attempts to throw snowballs at cartoon penguins as they bounce around to Paul Simon music — they felt no pain.

I interviewed Lt. Sam Brown, one of the pilot participants in this research who had been injured by an IED in Afghanistan and who had sustained life-threatening third-degree burns over 30 percent of his body. When I asked him about his experience using a video game for pain management, he said: “I was a little bit skeptical. But honestly, I was willing to try anything.” When asked what it felt like compared to his morphine treatments, he said, “I was for sure feeling less pain than I was with the morphine.”

Sure enough, brain imaging research confirmed that burn patients who played “Snow World” experienced less pain in the parts of their brain associated with processing pain than those treated with actual morphine. The Navy’s head of addiction research, Cmdr. Dr. Andrew Doan, calls screens “digital pharmakeia” (Greek for pharmaceuticals), a term he coined to explain the neurobiological effects produced by video technologies.

While this is a wonderful advance in pain-management medicine, it begs the question: Just what effect is this digital drug — a narcotic more powerful than morphine — having on the brains and nervous systems of 7-year-olds addicted to their glowing screens?

If screens are indeed digital drugs, then schools have become drug dealers. Under misguided notions that they are “educational,” the entire classroom landscape has been transformed over the past 10 years into a digital playground that includes Chromebooks, iPads, Smart Boards, tablets, smartphones, learning apps and a never-ending variety of “edu-games.”

These so-called “edu-games” are digital Trojan horses — chock-full of the potential for clinical disorders. We’ve already seen ADHD rates explode by over 50 percent the past 10 years as a whole generation of screen-raised kids succumb to the malaise-inducing glow. Using hyper-stimulating digital content to “engage” otherwise distracted students creates a vicious and addictive ADHD cycle: The more a child is stimulated, the more that child needs to keep getting stimulated in order to hold their attention.

Research also indicates that retention rates are lower on screens than on paper and that schools without electronics report higher test scores. And then there’s Finland. A standard bearer of international excellence in education, Finland rejected screens in the classroom. According to Krista Kiuru, their minister of education and science, Finnish students didn’t need laptops and iPads to get to the top of the international education rankings and aren’t interested in using them to stay there.

Yet in the US, there is a national effort to give kids screens at younger and younger ages as parents worry that their little ones may somehow be “left behind” in the education technology arms race — the data be damned.But not all parents are drinking the screens-are-wonderful Kool-Aid — some are fighting back.Cindy Eckard, a Maryland mother of two, is launching a grassroots campaign to create legislation to limit screen time in schools and is testifying in front of a state Senate subcommittee hearing this month.

“I was shocked to learn that the Maryland State Department of Education had no medically sound health guidelines in place before they put so many of our children in front of a computer every day . . . The schools keep encouraging more screen time in the classroom without any regard for our children’s well-being,” Eckard told me. “Our children are owed a safe classroom environment, and right now they’re not getting one.”

Some parents are opting out of public schools for less technology-dependent schools. Many Silicon Valley engineers and executives, for example, put their kids in non-tech Waldorf schools.Others, like longtime educator and consultant Debra Lambrecht, have decided to create new tech-free school models. Debra has created the Caulbridge School, a distinctly “Finnish-style” school that is intended to serve as a template for future schools throughout the country.

“The argument for technology in the earlier grades is often rooted in the fear of children falling behind. It is true that most children will use technology in their jobs and everyday life. It is also true that most children will learn to drive a car,” Lambrecht said. “Certainly we would not give a 7-year-old child the car keys to give them a jump-start to be a more skillful driver. In the same way, we want to ensure children can effectively use technology as a tool and will bring all of their best thinking, creativity and innovation to bear.”

A Long Island mother recently contacted me because her 5-year-old son in kindergarten was going to be forced by the school to use an iPad. When she complained and threatened to pull her son out of school, her school district threatened to call child protective services. I spoke to her school’s superintendent, and he agreed to let her son opt out of using an iPad. But all the other kindergartners still need to use iPads for standardized-testing purposes. That Long Island mother has already reached out to her local legislators.

That seems to be the key. Parents need to educate themselves, find their voices and speak up. If enough parents organize, push for legislation and put pressure on their schools to limit screen time in school — as well as to delay the grade levels that screens are introduced into the classroom — then we might have a chance to slow down this digital epidemic.

Indeed, even the respected AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) has just this month modified their screen recommendations suggesting more tech-cautious guidelines: Children younger than 18 months, no digital media; ages 2 to 5, no more than one hour daily, to be “co-viewed” with parents.

But many, myself included, think these recommendations still don’t go far enough. Because of what we know about screens as “digital heroin,” I believe that kids below the age of 10 should have no interaction with interactive screens (iPads, smartphones, Xbox). There should be warning labels on such interactive screens that read: “Excessive Screen Usage by Children May Lead to Clinical Disorders.”

Meanwhile, back in Marin County, Barbara pulled her son out of his suburban tech-filled public school and enrolled him in a more rural, less tech-oriented school. So far, she’s seen huge improvements in his behavior.

She just found out last week that all fourth-graders in her son’s new school will begin learning the increasingly popular skill of “coding” to design video games. Even in this rural hamlet school, kids were allowed to play violent video games indoors rather than having to go outside to play during recess.

She is now hoping to get political about this issue and to reach out to legislators to end the digital madness in elementary schools. “I am prepared to go to war with our public education over technology use. This is wrong,” Barbara said with the determined voice of a mother fighting for her child’s life.

“I feel like there is a war going on against our children,” Barbara said. “And it’s come so fast that we’re not even questioning it.”

 

SOURCE… nypost.com

The Ultimate Exercise

It may sound bizarre, but Johnson crawls every day to strengthen her core muscle groups.
“You can crawl in many ways. You can crawl on your hands and knees. You can also prop up on your toes and just hover, one or two inches above the ground, which is really going to pull in those core muscles and work those muscles effectively,” said Johnson, a physical therapist at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program.
“Then, as you start to move, you’re working on your shoulder girdle, you’re working on your hips,” she said. “If I could give one exercise to almost everybody, this would be it.”
Crawling has been used as a physical therapy tool, Johnson said, and now it has been adopted for strengthening and fitness.
The idea of turning crawling like a baby into exercise has been championed by the training system Original Strength, which repurposes fundamental movements into a fitness regimen.
According to Original Strength, when you crawl, you’re “pressing reset” on your central nervous system and revisiting the mobility patterns you learned as a baby.
Patterns such as crawling not only require motor skills, they involve the vestibular system, a sensory system associated with balance and spatial orientation, said Justin Klein, a chiropractor and CEO of Got Your Back Total Health in Washington, who has incorporated crawling into his practice.
“It’s like resetting the central loop in the nervous system to bring all of the parts involved in coordination, movement and reflexive stability into synchronization,” Klein said.
“You have to really work to be able to breathe, keep your head up and crawl at the same time, all while keeping your pattern,” he said. “That’s the kind of thing where, if you are being really mindful within your crawl, it is harder than it looks.”
Klein always recommends crawling as exercise to his patients, he said, from professional athletes to those injured in car accidents.
Denard Span, a center fielder for the San Francisco Giants, has included crawling in his strength and conditioning training, Klein said. When Span was with the Washington Nationals, he was Klein’s patient and learned how crawling translates directly with movements used in baseball, such as a certain cross-crawl pattern seen in throwing and batting.
To spread the word, Klein hosted a Crawl on the Mallevent this month in which participants crawled the National Mall.
But as Klein, Johnson and other enthusiasts insist that the crawling movement will help your body regain the strength, mobility and stability you had in your youth, other experts remain skeptical.
“To me, the benefit is that it’s an efficient exercise,” Simpson said of crawling, adding that he hadn’t heard of the exercise before now.
“Based on the position you are in when you’re crawling, you have to contract your abdominal muscles, and you also have to use your back muscles and your other core muscles to maintain that position and propel yourself,” he said. “My one word of caution would be for anyone with knee pain. Crawling on your hands and knees is rough on the knees, but there are some types of crawling exercises where you are up on your feet rather than your knees, which would be safer for the knees.”
Crawling also should be avoided if you have wrist, shoulder or neck issues, said Jacque Crockford, an exercise physiologist at the American Council on Exercise.
She added that crawling on all fours, with the knees off the floor, further activates the core muscles and the body’s ability to balance.

Learning how to crawl

To crawl on all fours, with your knees off the floor, experts recommend to follow these three simple steps:
  1. When on your hands and knees, place your wrists under shoulders and knees under hips
  2. Next, keep your back flat and straight, as you lift your knees about 2 inches off of the ground
  3. Finally, start crawling by moving your opposite hand and foot just 2-3 inches forward all while keeping your knees off of the ground and your back level — repeat with your other hand and foot

Questioning the crawl

More research is needed to scientifically support the argument that crawling “resets” your central nervous system, at least within the physician community, said Dr. Scott Simpson, a faculty member at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine, who specializes in sports medicine at Stony Brook Orthopaedic Associates.
“Crawling, we’ve all done it, but just like when babies and toddlers squat with perfect form, over time, our adult bodies begin to resist these primal and very effective movement patterns,” Crockford said.
“As the fitness industry evolves, we are seeing more and more trainers, coaches and teams go back to these primal roots by implementing movement patterns like crawling, bending, lunging, rotating into their programming,” she said. “Crawling can be helpful to those seeking to challenge their body in a way they may have not tried since before they could walk, literally.”
As Johnson, the physical therapist at the Mayo Clinic, put it, “Crawling and other natural movement patterns are not a fad or fitness craze but a return to the fundamentals of movement.”
Yet, will crawling catch on in popularity among gym-goers? Experts aren’t so sure — but if it does, don’t be surprised if its name changes.

What’s old becomes new again

Though crawling might seem new, Shape magazine fitness director Jaclyn Emerick said she has seen exercise enthusiasts crawling before — but it was called something else.
In 2012, Equinox fitness clubs offered a class called Animal Flow, in which participants crawled around the gym animal-style, she said.

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“Fitness can be like something in fashion where it was trendy or in style at one point, and then it goes away for a while, and then it comes back,” Emerick said.
“Crawling is super accessible; it’s body weight. To a lot of people, it feels new, so anything that feels new is exciting, and they’re more willing to try it, and it’s not something that requires you to do for a very long amount of time. You can maybe do some intervals with it,” she said. “Crawling doesn’t have to eliminate other good things that exist — you’re seeing people compare this, like ‘it’s the better plank’ — there’s room for lots of good things. It’s just another cool move, another cool exercise to add to your arsenal.”
Certain exercise movements that require you to focus on your balance can improve your working memory, according to a small study published last year in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills.

Balance may help your brawn and brain

The study involved 65 adults between the ages of 18 and 59 who were separated into three groups. One group required the participants to complete various dynamic exercises — such as crawling and climbing trees — for two hours. The exercises also required participants to balance and be aware of their movements and the positioning of their bodies, which is called being proprioceptively aware.
“If you think of crawling or balancing, you have to plan where you’re putting your feet. You have to plan where you’re putting your hands so you don’t lose your balance. It’s this idea of us being aware, proprioceptively aware, but also being dynamic in that awareness. We have dynamic movement involved,” said Tracy Packiam Alloway, a psychologist at the University of North Florida who conducted the study with her husband, Ross Alloway.
Another group in the study participated in a yoga class, and the third group sat in a two-hour classroom-style lecture in which they learned new information. Before and after the groups participated in these tasks, they completed a working memory test.
After comparing the test scores, the researchers discovered that the adults in the exercise group had improved working memory scores compared with those in the classroom and yoga groups

Traditional Tai Chi Chuan for Strong Body & Still Mind

Yang Cheng Fu is the Tai Chi Master who put internal martial arts on the world map. His decision to teach the art on a broader basis than just to martial artists seeking advanced martial arts practices has withstood the test of time. One hundred years down the line the art is the most practiced of all tai chi styles and is rich in diversity, texture and expression, with many successful practitioners.One of Yang Cheng Fu’s most generous contributions was to allow the writing down of what he considered to be the 10 most important points to show in your Yang Style tai chi practice:
1. Emptying the thoughts and raising the head as if the crown of the head is pressed up against the heavens
2. Hollowing the chest to raise the back
3. Loosening up the waist
4. Distinguishing between substantial and insubstantial
5. Sinking the shoulder and weighting down the elbow
6. Using Yi (intention of the mind) and not physical strength
7. Co-ordination of both the upper and lower body
8. Internal and external in togetherness
9. Continuity without breakage
10. Seeking stillness within movement
There are many different books that give commentary and explanation of each of these points, but the ones that he himself gave are already very clear. A quick search on the internet will easily yield them. Although translations differ, if you are resolute about wanting to achieve a good level of competence in all of the above points, you will undoubtedly grow a strong foundation in the art in preparation for advanced Yang style concepts and principles to be added.
When I began Tai Chi, the importance’s of these points were made abundantly clear through repeated demonstration of the effect they have on internal energy development and application. As time went on it became clear that as a basis for advanced practice these points must be in place. Further that, with awareness, all items within the syllabus train all ten points as a minimum. My personal feeling is that it was invaluable for me to have access to intensive training that allowed deeper exploration into the points with a group of people willing to set aside their egos and cooperate in mutual growth in the art. I hope all of you can gain a similar experience because if even one of the points is not understood and manifested in what one is doing, development in the art begins to tail off. This most assuredly was not Yang Cheng Fu’s desire as, if properly understood, the points are very solid stepping stones that allow all practitioners to flourish and reach their goals within the art.

So as your interest in the art rises, make sure that the skills demonstrated in your Tai Chi community is alive with these points. If not – go and get them from another community, bring them back and nourish the practitioners around you. In this way Yang style will become stronger and stronger as time goes on.
SOURCE….Read the full story

Traditional Tai Chi Chuan for Strong Body & Still Mind

Yang Cheng Fu is the Tai Chi Master who put internal martial arts on the world map. His decision to teach the art on a broader basis than just to martial artists seeking advanced martial arts practices has withstood the test of time. One hundred years down the line the art is the most practiced of all tai chi styles and is rich in diversity, texture and expression, with many successful practitioners.One of Yang Cheng Fu’s most generous contributions was to allow the writing down of what he considered to be the 10 most important points to show in your Yang Style tai chi practice:
1. Emptying the thoughts and raising the head as if the crown of the head is pressed up against the heavens
2. Hollowing the chest to raise the back
3. Loosening up the waist
4. Distinguishing between substantial and insubstantial
5. Sinking the shoulder and weighting down the elbow
6. Using Yi (intention of the mind) and not physical strength
7. Co-ordination of both the upper and lower body
8. Internal and external in togetherness
9. Continuity without breakage
10. Seeking stillness within movement
There are many different books that give commentary and explanation of each of these points, but the ones that he himself gave are already very clear. A quick search on the internet will easily yield them. Although translations differ, if you are resolute about wanting to achieve a good level of competence in all of the above points, you will undoubtedly grow a strong foundation in the art in preparation for advanced Yang style concepts and principles to be added.
When I began Tai Chi, the importance’s of these points were made abundantly clear through repeated demonstration of the effect they have on internal energy development and application. As time went on it became clear that as a basis for advanced practice these points must be in place. Further that, with awareness, all items within the syllabus train all ten points as a minimum. My personal feeling is that it was invaluable for me to have access to intensive training that allowed deeper exploration into the points with a group of people willing to set aside their egos and cooperate in mutual growth in the art. I hope all of you can gain a similar experience because if even one of the points is not understood and manifested in what one is doing, development in the art begins to tail off. This most assuredly was not Yang Cheng Fu’s desire as, if properly understood, the points are very solid stepping stones that allow all practitioners to flourish and reach their goals within the art.

So as your interest in the art rises, make sure that the skills demonstrated in your Tai Chi community is alive with these points. If not – go and get them from another community, bring them back and nourish the practitioners around you. In this way Yang style will become stronger and stronger as time goes on.
SOURCE….Read the full story

The Future Of Charging Your Phone Will Soon Be A Breeze

Has it ever happpened to you, that you just dont have enough juice in your phone durimg a critical moment in your day? Well, a new technology will soon save us from our self inflicted misery High-tech fabrics could soon allow you to charge your devices on the go simply by standing outside on a sunny, breezy day.Researchers have developed a ‘hybrid-power textile’ that generates electricity from both sunshine and motion, using a combination of solar cells and triboelectric nanogenerators.So far, a segment roughly the size of a sheet of office paper can create ‘significant power’ just from being held out a car window – and in the future, they say this technology could be integrated into tents, curtains, and even garments.

The researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology say this method could one day allow clothing to harvest energy to power smart phones and GPS.Their current design is just 320 micrometers thick, and is woven together with strands of wool.‘This hybrid power textile presents a novel solution to charging devices in the field from something as simple as the wind blowing on a sunny day,’ said Zhong Lin Wang, a Regents professor in the Georgia Tech School of Materials Science and Engineering.To create the material, the researchers constructed solar cells from lightweight polymer fibers and wove these in with fiber-based triboelectric nanogenerators.These can generate electrical power from mechanical motion, including rotation, sliding, and vibration.

‘The backbone of the textile is made of commonly-used polymer materials that are inexpensive to make and environmentally friendly.‘The electrodes are also made through a low cost process, which makes it possible to use large-scale manufacturing. According to the team, just a 4 by 5 centimeter piece of the fabric can charge a 2mF commercial capacitor up to 2 volts in just one minute of sunlight and movement.And, on a cloudy day, the fabric was able to generate ‘significant power’ when blowing in the wind on a cloudy day.‘That indicates it has a decent capability of working even in a harsh environment,’ Wang said.So far, tests have shown the fabric will survive repeated and rigorous use, and the team is working to see just how durable it really is over longer periods of time.In the future, they plan to optimize its capabilities for industrial uses.

SOURCE…www.dailymail.co.uk