Why Cell Phones Are Dangerous for Kids – and other news

by DavalosMcCormack on January 27, 2009

So, stop me if you’ve heard this before. If you walk around chatting on your cell phone rather than watching where you are going, you are more likely to walk into things like lamp posts, cars and open manholes.

Well, it’s bad for adults and a new study says it’s just as bad for kids.

The study was done at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The researchers created a virtual environment to measure how 77 ten and eleven year old children crossed a street while chatting on a cell phone.

They found that all of the kids were more likely to exhibit risky behavior when crossing the virtual ‘street’ and chatting on the phone. That included taking up to 20 percent longer to cross the ‘street’. They also found that 43 percent of the children were more likely to be hit by a vehicle or have a close call than when they weren’t talking on the phone.

This time the children got off easy. When a car ‘hits’ you in the virtual world it doesn’t hurt. They won’t be quite so lucky if it happens in the real world.

It’s an important lesson for all of us to pay attention to the world around us, particularly when crossing the street. So next time you see someone crossing the street and chatting on the phone snatch it out of their hands, smash it on the ground and yell “Don’t you read Healthy & Simple”. Now that’s risky behavior.
Sending emails while asleep

A lot of people find it hard to leave work at the office, but this next story beats all of them.

An article in the journal Sleep Medicine describes the case of one Ohio woman who suffers from severe insomnia. To help her get some rest she was given a prescription for 15 milligrams of the drug zolpidem (think Ambien!).

Apparently that night she got up, while still sound asleep, went to her computer, keyed in her login name and password, and then sent three emails.

According to the researchers this is the first documented case of what they call “complex nonviolent cognitive behavior occurring during sleepwalking”. Unfortunately, the report neglected to tell us who she wrote to or what she said, but next time you hit the send button by mistake you can say, “Sorry, I was asleep!”
Previously Ambien has been linked to people reportedly getting up – while still asleep – and raiding the fridge for ice cream and other tasty treats, or even for getting in their car and going for a drive. One man recently froze to death after sleepwalking out of his house during a bitterly cold night.

So, think twice before taking that pill. You may end up getting a lot more than a good night’s sleep!

Hearing voices – ease up on the coffee

Why it seems like it was only a few days ago that we were touting the health benefits of drinking coffee, specifically that it may help protect the brain against dementia. Now comes a new study saying “not so fast”.

The study, in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, (where do they come up with these titles) surveyed more than 200 students at Durham University in the north of England.

The students reported drinking an average of 141 milligrams of caffeine daily, but more on days when they were ‘under stress’. How much is that? Not that much actually considering that a Grande coffee at Starbucks has 330 mg of caffeine.

Anyway, those students with higher caffeine consumption were more likely to have hallucination-like experiences, such as seeing things that were not there or hearing voices.

The researchers, reassuringly, say this doesn’t necessarily indicate undiagnosed mental illness, that many normal healthy people experience these things in their lives.

But I have to say, I drink a couple of Grande coffees a day and I’ve never heard voices. I did however go to university in England (not Durham but a fairly similar size one) and I can definitely point out other activities that might explain the hallucinations.

Maybe the caffeine isn’t the problem, it’s the lack of sleep and the magic mushroom smoothie that’s to blame!

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