Computers And Your Health

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Physical Health
There are some physical problems that can be caused by computer use such as eyestrain, blurred vision, fatigue, headaches, backaches, and wrist and finger pain. One kind of health problem that occurs is repetitive stress injuries, which is when doing the same thing over and over causes hand, wrist, shoulder, or neck pain. Using the keyboard and the mouse can cause repetitive stress injuries.One repetitive stress injury that is related to repetitive finger movement is carpal tunnel syndrome, which is a painful condition of the hands and wrists. Another repetitive stress injury is related with typing on the smaller keyboards of mobile devices and this is called DeQuervain’s tendonitis. There can also be many eye problems caused by looking at a computer screen for too long.

Another concern is hearing loss because many portable media devices can be turned up too loud and cause hearing problems. There is also a concern with radiation that can be emitted from wireless devices. There are ways to avoid these physical health problems caused by computers. One way is to make sure that you are comfortable while at the computer and that you use a good chair that will be supportive for your back and neck.It is also important to just be aware of these possible physical health risks caused by computers because it is something that is often overlooked.As mentioned before, most people today interact with some type of computer daily. We have learned that there are many risk factors associated with the extended use of computers. Some of those risk factors include eye strain, fatigue and upper and lower body discomfort. Luckily, there is a solution to these problems. It is called ergonomics. Ergonomics is a technology which focuses on making the workspace as functional, safe and comfortable as possible.

One thing computer users should consider when using the computer is wrist strain. It is important for the user to keep his wrists as straight as possible. Some causes for a bent wrist can be the keyboard being too low or high, or it being tilted upward. A solution to this can be to adjust the keyboard to the appropriate height or adjust the height of the chair. Another solution could be to use a split keyboard or what is known as an ergonomic keyboard. Another risk people face with extended use of the computer is back discomfort or even back disorder. This can be caused by an inadequate chair that lacks support for the back. It can also be caused from lack of foot support or from slouching due to fatigue. Some solutions to these problems would be to use a lumbar cushion or to utilize a foot rest.

It is also important for a user to take frequent breaks and change positions often. Many people today are exposed to extended computer use whether it is for a job or for entertainment. It is important for computer users to know the risks associated with over-usage and to be familiar with ergonomics in order to create the safest and most comfortable environment for themselves.

Stress of Ever-Changing Technology
Today we see a lot of kinds of changes that are causing a great deal of stress and anxiety. Most of these changes are directly related to the digital revolution and have only become problems in the last 10 to 20 years. Some people can’t figure out how to connect the game station to the TV. The cell phone rings just as the person about to walk out the door. Modern technology has infiltrated the workplaces, people’s cars and their homes.

According to the Angus Reid, 14% of Canadian workers identified new technology in the workplace as a significant source of stress. Never before have individuals been asked to adapt as rapidly. Instant communication and exponentially growing technology lead us to one of the few absolute truths – Technology change is constant. Technology has reconfigured the nature of work and our social relationships on the job. People feel overwhelmed by the volume of emails and calls that they receive. Though people cannot stop this technology roller coaster, they can use a variety of practical strategies to develop resilience and renew and replenish themselves. Some of the simplest skills that the people can learn to be more resilient to stress are deep relaxation and self-care. It can convert fatigue into energy and restlessness into calmness.

Emotional Health
Because of our fast growth and use of technology there are many positive advantages of using computers and much more; however, in recent years emotional health has become an important factor with the use of computers and technology. The use of computers in general can cause much stress and anxiety for workers in different fields today. When computers were first introduced to the working field, secretaries had to learn how to change from a typewriter to a keyboard. Many people now widely understand the use of computers, but the downfall is keeping up with the changing technology. Every few years a new system, computer design, etc. are updated and sent out to the market. This makes operating a company more difficult when programs and systems need to be updated.

Because the Internet can be accessed 24/7 the stress of being “on-call” is worrisome to many workers. They worry they do not have enough down time to themselves, after they come home from work that day. In the U.S. information is right at citizens’ fingertips, which can sometimes create an information overload. There is always news to be caught up with, as well as catching up with email, text messages, and social media as well. Many can become exhausted from being on the computer (or cell phone) too much. This is called burnout which is long-term exhaustion and diminished interest in work. A more common type of “emotional health” deals with teenagers who have a technology addiction. Social media plays a huge role in this now today.

Internet Addiction
Many people today are addicted to the internet. Additionally many people do not know that they are addicted to the internet. There are many signs of internet addiction as well. For example if you ever feel like you are always thinking about the internet that would be a good sign. If a person is using the internet increasingly in order to receive satisfaction, and if you are continually failing to cut back on using the internet, those are also signs of addiction. If you ever feel restless or depressed while not on the internet, or feel like you are on longer then intended to be, those add to come signs of internet addiction. If some or all of these signs describe a person then they are addicted to the internet. Some tips on breaking this internet addiction on your own are to understand that you have a problem with the internet.

Next is to build coping skills. Many people become addicted to the internet because it is their outlet for stress and anger. Being able to change the way a person copes with their problems would be extremely beneficial. There is also therapy, counseling and support groups to take advantage of and help with this addiction like any other. It is important to be able to overcome an internet addiction to be able to fully appreciate life and not be concentrated on intangible items and ideas like the ones on the internet.

TECHNOLOGY ACCESS

The U.S. Digital Divide
Though the exact percentage is argued over by the experts, we can be happy to know that in the United States the digital divide continues to shrink. About 80% of the population of the United States uses the Internet. They use the Internet at school, work, home, and everywhere else. It’s rare to find a Mcdonalds, one of the lowest common denominator eating establishments, that doesn’t have a Wi-Fi connection. Computers and Internet access are always getting cheaper, which is great news because staying connected to the world is such an important quality. We stay alive and thrive through building relationships of all different kinds and the Internet is a powerful means of obtaining these relationships. Not only that, but most jobs today require the use of the Internet in one way or another.

Due to the importance of the Internet however, ideally the statistic of users in the United States would be closer to 99%. According to Forbes, there are several reasons why some people have never used the Internet or don’t use it very often. The biggest percentage of them said they don’t want or need to go online, because they’re either too busy or because they think the Internet is a waste of time. A slightly smaller number of them said it is difficult or frustrating to go online, either because they don’t understand or are physically unable.[29]Ultimately, the importance of the Internet is understood the world over, meaning that the digital divide in the U.S. will continue to shrink so our country can stay competitive with Europe and Asia especially.

Global Digital Divide
The Global digital divide is an issue that our world seems to be facing more and more as time goes on. Like the US Digital divide, it is a comparison of groups of people with access to technology but on a global scale instead of a country scale. The problem arrises when one country’s people has more access to technology and /or communications than another country. Most developed countries have a majority of their population with some access to technology, however it seems that many developing countries lack the technological accessibility that the others have. The largest problem caused by this is the lack of education.

The internet today is such a source of information that one could potentially gain their entire college degree while hardly ever stepping foot in a classroom. Many people around the world lack the opportunity to gain an education because of their lack of access to the internet and other technology that would help them to learn things at a faster, easier, or more efficient rate. The internet has so many uses: school courses, communication, language tutoring, translations, calculations, and so many more.

More On The Digital Divide
The concept that is called the digital divide is the reality that technology, specifically computers and the Internet, is not available to all individuals. The digital divide is thought to be based on physical access to computers, Internet, and related technology. Some people consider the people that have access to computers and the Internet but do not understand how to use it are also part of the category of people that do not have true access to digital technology. One article explains that there are multiple dimensions to the digital divide. It claims the difference in not necessarily determined by the access to the Internet, but by access to ICT (Information and Communications Technologies) and to Media that the different segments of society can use.

Other factors that should be considered are the quality of connection to the Internet and the cost of access to the Internet. Researchers also report that disadvantages can take such forms as lower-performance computers, lower-quality or high price connections, difficulty of obtaining technical assistance, and lower access to subscription-based contents. The reason that the digital gap is a concern for society is that information and communication technologies are vital to quality civic life. One article explains that access to new technology splits clearly along socio-economic class lines.

According to U.S. census data, more than 30 million homes have no broadband access, most of them concentrate in some of the poorest parts of the country. According to another survey 84% of the teachers surveyed felt that today’s digital gap is leading to greater disparities between affluent and disadvantaged schools. Technology can inform people by creating mutual understanding about different cultures and societies; technology also plays a part in education and governmental reform. By lessening the digital gap economic equality, social mobility, and economic growth will be more readily available.

Assistive Technology
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires companies with more than 15 employees to make reasonable accommodations for anyone that has known limitations. Nowadays, there is hardware and software specifically designed to aid individuals with physical disabilities. The most common technology that has been introduced is used to help those who are visually impaired or hard of hearing. There are various input devices available today to assist users communicate, usually on the computer.

Braille or large-print keyboards, one-handed keyboards, switches, eye tracking systems, pointing devices, and voice input devices are all used today. In addition to the various input devices, there are output systems as well. The most common one is a screen reader that can read text information for the blind. There are also printers that can print in Braille instead of the conventional ink. Assistive technology is not always the best option, however. Often times it can be too expensive for the individual and not match their exact needs. Devices should be researched and tried out before purchasing. Training for these devices also needs to be taken into consideration. For example, what if this technology stops working for the user?

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Braille, the text language for the visually impaired.

So how do some of these assistive devices such as Braille keyboards, one-handed keyboards, eye tracking systems, pointing devices, and voice input devices work? First off, made up of raised dots that signify a “language,” and thus can be read by touch, Braille keyboards allow the visually impaired population to type and enter any text for the computer in Braille. Secondly, to assist people with limited movement of only one hand, each of the one-handed keyboard’s key contains two letters (accommodating both the left and right side keys on a conventional keyboard), making it easier for all keys to be reached with just one hand. They also provide with the ability to input data to the computer hands-free through speech recognition systems. To act as mouse alternatives, many other pointing devices like foot-controlled mice (controlled solely by the feet), head pointing systems (directed using simple head movements), and eye tracking systems (tracking the movement of the eye) are commonly used. To add on to all these types of outstanding assistive technology, there is also another alternative input system known as “sip-and-puff” system, which is activated by one’s inhaling or exhaling!

Next, once the data has been input into the computer using any of these assistive input devices, assistive output devices come into play. These devices include screen readers, which read aloud all the text information on the screen; Braille displays act similar to Braille keyboards as they continuously convert screen output into Braille form. Lastly, there are also Brailleprinters—sometimes known as Braille embossers—which transfer and print computer generated text into embossed Braille output. Therefore, instead of the traditional ink, the embosser creates raised dots on a page for the visually impaired to read.

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

Green Computing
This refers to the use of computers in an environmentally friendly manner, but computing is not currently as environmental friendly. According to the guide to greener electronics only 2 out of 18 of the Pc are considered on the green rating. The reason is because companies are subjected to make energy and hence cost saving in the face of rising electricity prices.

One of the activates that could help environmental savings is existing hardware which can be in place of it there are software’s called LittleGreenGenie. This software permit certain individuals to measure reduce and carbon offset from computer use. Its stats that it takes about 1.8 tons of chemicals, fossil fuels and water to produce a typical desktop computer and there’s about one billion PCs sold. Although putting a computer on standby or sleep mode will save a lot of power, people are unaware that shutting down a computer doesn’t completely turn it off because the computer power supply will remain physically switched on. This leads the motherboard still partially on waiting for a signal to boot up again. The following are certain tasks that can be beneficial in reducing energy consumption which are lower power hard drive, visualization, cloud computing, energy effecting coding, improved repair, re-use recycling and disposable and less pollutant manufacture.

Solar Power

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Instead of reducing energy consumption and electricity costs, another option is to use solar power. Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity using photovoltaic cells. These cells can be packaged into a frame, and a frame into an array, based on how much solar power is needed for the building or area. The process has slowly become cheaper due to our increase in technology and knowledge of solar power. As of right now, we are considered to be in our third generation of solar power because of our use of new materials like nanotubes, silicon wires, and solar inks. This is a step up from the first generation, which used solely silicon as a material, and then the second generation, which used thin-film solar panels.

As the capability of solar power becomes cheaper, more products are incorporating solar power as a power source. Examples of this are the solar powered phone charger and solar powered calculator. Solar powered calculators have been around for a while because calculators do not require much energy, so the solar panel is very small and therefore cheap. The solar powered charger has come out more recently because the newer flexible technology made it feasible to produce. Solar power has been a greener way to consume energy.

Recycling of Computers and Other Electronics

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Given the reliance of the commercial world on computer technology it is easy to overlook the inherent unsustainability of computer production. Computers have become embedded in contemporary culture and play a crucial role in the global economy, but as the industrialized world continues to degrade the environment one must become aware of the negative impacts of computer use and consequently work with possible ways to reduce them.

The Chicago Recycling Coalition states that, on average, 240 kg of fossil fuels are consumed in the process of producing a desktop PC. In a time when fossil fuel supplies are decreasing at an alarming rate it is important now more than ever to be conscious of consumer decisions. The issue of fossil fuels aside, computers contain arsenic and mercury while computer monitors can contain several pounds of lead. This is one reason why simply disposing computers into landfills is problematic. Instead, the Chicago Recycling Coalition advises consumers to donate computers to various organizations and charities, give older computers to family and friends who need them, and find locations that offer recycling services. The EPA provides a utility that helps consumers and manufacturers know where they can donate or recycle their electronics. Mobile devices, PCs and TVs make up the “Electronic Devices” category, and after selecting a device one can choose a company to see what services are offered.

E-Waste
E-trash, or e-waste, is a growing problem in modern society. The issue of dealing with the huge amounts of electronics that are being outdated and thrown away asks the question; what do we do with all this junk? Although e-waste only makes up about 2% of America’s trash in landfills, it comprises 70% of the country’s toxic waste. A lot of this toxicity is because of the huge amounts of lead that can be found in electronics. Between 20 and 50 million metric tons of e-waste is disposed of every year, but only about 12.5% of e-waste is actually recycled properly. It is important to recycle e-waste not just to protect the environment but also to harvest the high amounts of precious metals within the electronics. Just in cell phones alone, over $60 million in gold and silver is dumped ever year.

A lot of “e-waste” is actually not waste at all, and can be recycled and reused if dealt with properly. E-waste is unfortunately shipped to developing countries illegally, which is not a responsible or ethical way of managing the waste. In order to ensure that your e-waste is properly recycled you should find a recycling center near you.

Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005
There’s no question that copyright laws are pushed to the side when it comes to copying illegal things such as movies, music, and videos. People act as if there is nothing to risk, and it does not matter if you break the law. However, the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, which was passed in 2005, made these offenses just a little bit more serious. The law worked to make three offenses more defined and punishable than they were before. First, it made sure that no one was allowed to bring a camcorder into a movie and record it. This works to stop people from selling movies that they do not have legal copyrights to. Second, it worked to make sure that there was no illegal prerelease of movies that had not yet been released to the public. The act actually states that this offense is punishable by a large fine or even time in jail. Finally, it allowed certain technology to be installed into DVD players that permits the user to automatically skip or mute entire portions of a DVD, allowing them to get passed crude, violent, or inappropriate parts that they would not have wanted to watch. Basically, the law just worked to reinforce previous copyright laws that seemed to be pushed aside without users giving them any consideration.


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