Got Too Much Technology?

More teens than ever are on a technological overload!  So what’s keeping them from the great outdoors?

A Center for Innovative Health Research article states, “three-fourths of teens 12-17 years old own cell phones and their texting surpasses that of young adults.  There is an interesting gender gap: girls send around 3,952 text messages a month, and boys tap out comparatively paltry 2,815 text messages a month.”  Combine that with takDSCF2906ing and posting pictures, another favorite past time.  Teen Vogue notes that “As of press time, more than 31 million Instagram photos have been hashtagged #selfie, and according to a recent study from Pew Research Center, 91 percent of teens have posted a photo of themselves online.”  And that’s just selfies on Instagram!

There’s definitely a “screen fever” epidemic among teens.  It can lead to health problems.  In his presentation at the 119th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Larry D. Rosen, professor of Psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills stated that “Daily overuse of media and technology has a negative effect on the health of all children, preteens and teenagers by making them more prone to anxiety, depression, and other psychological disorders, as well as by making them more suscepitlbe to future health.”  Worry about being left out of happenings online can lead to sleep loss which, in turn, affects functioning the next day.  Dr. Rosen recommends removing your smartphone, tablet, and computer from your bedroom at least one hour before going to sleep.

So it looks like it’s time to turn off the phone and ipad, lay off the game controller, and give the TV a rest.  Here’s a little advice on how to rejuvenate after the school year and purge some of the adverse effects of technology use.  Spend your summer months wisely and find activities that get you back to face-to-face friendships, outdoor explorations, and the wonders of nature!DSCN7251

Protecting Coral Reefs

Coral reefs cover a mere 0.2% of the world’s oceans, yet they house over a million different species and produce a substantial proportion of the world’s oxygen.  However, these ‘rainforests of the sea’ have declined by nearly 50% in the past 50 years.

Sea temperature rise, sedimentation, ocean acidification, pollution, and overfishing are all key contributors to the overwhelming statistic that approximately six-tenths of the world’s reefs are now at risk due to human activity.

Coral reefs are unique and delicate structures made up of tiny individual organisms called polyps.  Living within the polyps are tiny microscopic algae called zooxanthellae, which give the magnificent structures their bright colors.  The two organisms live in a symbiotic relationship, whereby they provide each other with essential requirements including nutrients and shelter.  A coral is said to be ‘bleached’ when the polyps expel the zooxanthellae from their structure due to environmental stress.

Coral reefs are extremely sensitive and can only live within the narrowest band of environmental conditions, with even the smallest of changes having severe detrimental effects.  For example, in 2005 a sea temperature rise of just one degree centigrade between July and November resulted in the bleaching of 90% of the coral in the US Virgin Islands (1).  Coupled with the onset of disease and the increased stress on the corals, 51.5% of the coral was lost during the following 12 months (1).  These shocking statistics are not isolated; they are evident around the globe.

So how can we help to prevent the loss of arguably one of the most important ecosystems on earth?  It’s surprisingly easy!  There are many small steps that anyone can take that will make a huge difference:

  • Conserve water. The less water you use, the less waste water that will end up as run off in the oceans.
  • Don’t throw your trash in the ocean. It endangers both the coral reef and the organisms that live within the reef ecosystem.
  • Don’t use chemical fertilizers or pesticides. They will eventually end up in the ocean having detrimental effects on the coral.
  • Are you a diver? If so, don’t touch! Make sure your fins and tank are away from the coral so it doesn’t get damaged.  One little branch could have taken hundreds of years to grow!
  • Use public transport! Emissions from fossil fuels contribute to sea temperature rise, thus in turn bleaching the coral.
  • Spread the word! Many people are unaware of the threat that coral reefs are under…so tell them!  Unless you spread your knowledge and passion, this essential ecosystem will be lost from our oceans.





About the Author: Growing up with a passion for the ocean, Mieles now  spends her time teach marine science and water sports.  Any spare moment is spent on the water catching some wind or waves at her local beaches in South Wales!

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