When I spoke recently to Faye Mishna about online bullying, she showed me, as an aside, a video of an iPad-savvy one-year-old who can’t work out why magazine images don’t scroll and zoom at the touch of a finger.
The video concludes with the line, “For my 1 year old daughter, a magazine is an iPad that does not work. It will remain so for her whole life. Steve Jobs has coded a part of her OS.”
Way to freak me out, Internet.
My first child just celebrated his first birthday and number two is due to touch down in November. Naturally, I’m in a perpetual tizz about the ubiquity of glowing rectangles. TVs are everywhere – restaurants, doctors’ waiting rooms, shopping malls, highway billboards. Not to mention my own collection of touch-sensitive devices courtesy of Jobs.
So far, we’ve been good about keeping our devices switched off when the boy is awake, but the New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum, suggests that might all change soon.
“As a new parent, I dutifully followed the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines—no TV until two,” she wrote recently. “I did so in the manner of other parents I knew, which is to say with my first child. By 2007, when I was juggling a two-year-old and a newborn, a little TV watching in the pre-early morning seemed pretty appealing.”
Way to freak me out, legacy media.
Am I crazy to worry that glowing screens are effectively the zombie apocalypse, eating my kids’ brains and leaving them obese, sleepless, aggressive and unable to concentrate on one thing for more than a few minutes?
That’s TV. What about tablets? On one hand, they seem better because the user is active rather than passive. On the other, they can be more immersive. Intuitively, a tablet feels as though it more thoroughly cuts a child (or adult, for that matter) off from the world.
There is no shortage of videos featuring kids and iPads.
I can watch them endlessly, and have such a wide range of personal reactions (Cute! Terrifying! Fun! Don’t hurt your brain! Ten years from now, you will dominate me technologically!) that I ultimately want to seek refuge in data. As it happens, Kotsopoulos is part of a research project aimed at finding out more about the effects of mobile devices on young brains.
“We are in the middle of a study right now with tablets – funded through the Ontario Centres for Excellence,” she told me. “The one we are investigating is the VINCI . The research is rather grey on the issue because most of the [current] research or policy statements do not consider mobile devices.”
Kotsopoulos and her colleague Joanne Lee run a program called LittleCounters. In these workshops, they use interactive whiteboards but they will wait to see the results of more research before they consider using tablets.This puts my mind at greater ease, as this fall, I’m planning to participate in one of these workshops with my son, and report back here. I will also update any new research results related to kids and mobile devices.
Way to not freak me out, world of university research.
University of Waterloo electrical and computer engineer delves deep into the health and safety of renewable energy
Nanotechnology is poised to become the next big thing in solar panels, but before that happens Siva Sivoththaman wants to ensure workers who make the panels and consumers who use them aren't endangering their health.
Most research into using nano particles in the manufacture of solar panels has focused on their potential for more effectively converting sunlight into energy. Scientists predict nano particles could boost efficiency from the current 20 per cent to about 60 per cent. But Sivoththaman, a University of Waterloo electrical and computer engineer, says we need to pay just as much attention to their safety. read more »
Trent University biomaterials expert tweaks crop-based oils to produce environmentally-friendly materials for wide range of products
When a World Health Organization study recently linked hot drinks to esophageal cancer, Suresh Narine realized one of his more obscure inventions might just become his most successful.
The WHO study concluded drinking beverages above 65C increases the risk of cancer, presumably because it burns esophageal cells on the way down. The problem is that most takeout coffee is hotter than 65C.
But in 2015, the Trent University biomaterials scientist designed a 'Goldilocks' travel mug to keep beverages at a constant 62C — not too hot and not too cool. The food grade liner in Narine's cup is made from soybean oil he tweaked in his lab to cool hot beverages to 62C within 15 seconds, and to keep it at that temperature for five hours. read more »
Queen's University chemical engineer Michael Cunningham modifies natural products to safely and effectively replace polluting chemicals.
A plant-based substance called cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) may be the most promising biomaterial most people have never heard of, says Queen's University chemical engineer Michael Cunningham.
Stronger than Kevlar, CNC is the crystalline form of cellulose, which is the chief ingredient in the cell wall of trees and other plants. While only recently available commercially (and only from Canadian company, CelluForce), it could eventually be used to make reinforced plastics that replace steel in cars, boats and even airplanes. The resulting lighter weight would mean transportation that uses less fuel and emits less greenhouse gas. read more »
Gerald McMaster is fascinated by creative people who move in an out of, or are influenced by different communities and cultures. At once nomadic and connected, their experiences formed the basis of his early research.
Today, the Ontario College of Art and Design University professor, curator, author, and artist is about to dive back into this area of research. He is launching a multi-year project that will examine the ways in which Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures interact, influence and inspire one another. read more »
Ten outstanding Ontario university scholars are being recognized for potentially life-changing research for women in Ontario and across the globe, as they look to develop health care in the areas such as HIV-care, contraceptives, and breast cancer.
The Council of Ontario Universities, with funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care introduced the Ontario Women’s Health Scholars Awards in 2001 to ensure that Ontario attracts and retains pre-eminent women’s health scholars. The awards aim to improve women’s health.
The 2016 recipients include postdoctoral, doctoral and master’s students from six Ontario universities. They each will receive scholarships of $25,000 to $50,000, along with research grants of $1,000 to $5,000.
This year’s recipients and their areas of research are:
Alisa Grigorovich, University of Toronto – how to create effective policies that address the sexual harassment of female workers by clients in Ontario residential long-term facilities.
Jocelyn Wessels, McMaster University – how female sex hormones found in contraceptives affect vaginal health and susceptibility to sexually transmitted infections.
Lori Chambers, McMaster University – the challenges and benefits to African immigrant women who are living with HIV and choose to work in prevention, treatment and advocacy for others with HIV.
Komal Shaikh, York University – assessing the effects of education-based therapy in treating and rehabilitating cancer survivors with cancer-related cognitive dysfunction.
Amanda D. Timmers, Queen’s University – how sexual arousal patterns vary across genders and how these variations can inform the treatment of sexual dysfunction.
Kelly Coons, Laurentian University – how to improve the ability of future health care professionals to counsel pregnant women on drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
Sara King-Dowling, McMaster University – how the development of girls’ motor skills affects their overall health and activity levels over time.
Denise Jaworsky, University of Toronto – how living in rural and Northern areas of Canada affects the ability of women living with HIV to access care.
Justin Michael, Western University – developing tools to allow for a single-visit radiation treatment for women with breast cancer to make things easier for those living far from treatment facilities.
Shira Yufe, York University – how to encourage breast cancer survivors to adopt healthy lifestyle and weight management habits.
Each of the researchers has spent countless hours studying topics related to women’s health and improving the lives of women in Ontario. Their research (full descriptions available here) will contribute to the way that Ontarians (and the global community) live, work and play. Congratulations are in order to the award recipients!