December 17, 2019

Tech giants including Tesla and Apple sued after Congolese children die in cobalt mines

(Independent) ‘These companies – the richest companies in the world, these fancy gadget-making companies – have allowed children to be maimed and killed to get their cheap cobalt,’ lawyer alleges.

Some of the biggest names in consumer technology have been accused of being complicit in the deaths of children from the Democratic Republic of Congo who were mining a metal integral to their devices.

Tesla, Apple, Microsoft, Dell and Google‘s parent company Alphabet have been identified in a lawsuit as part of a system of forced labour that 14 families claim led to the death or serious injury of their children.

The children cited in the landmark lawsuit had been put to work to mine cobalt – a metal vital to the production of technologies including smartphones and computers.

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December 16, 2019

Blue light from phones and TVs may not be as disruptive to your sleep as originally thought and night modes could actually confuse the brain

(Daily Mail) 'The common view that blue light has the strongest effect on the clock is misguided', said Dr Tim Brown, from the University of Manchester.

'In fact, the blue colours that are associated with twilight have a weaker effect than white or yellow light of equivalent brightness.'

Dr Brown and his colleagues said natural light during twilight – the period between sundown and night – is blue, so blue light at night was actually more natural.

The common belief is blue light imitates daylight and reduces levels of Melatonin, a hormone which regulates the body clock and is naturally lower by day.

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November 30, 2019

Smartphone use is an addiction for a quarter of youngsters - study shows

Experts find one in four youngsters are using the devices in a way that is consistent with behavioural addiction.

A quarter of children and young people are problematic smartphone users and are using the devices in a way that is consistent with behavioural addiction, research suggests.

The study, by researchers at King College London and published in BMC Psychiatry, analysed 41 studies published since 2011 on smartphone usage and mental health involving more than 40,000 under-20s Read more here...

November 9, 2019

Child Abusers Run Rampant as Tech Companies Look the Other Way

(The New York Times) Though platforms bar child sexual abuse imagery on the web, criminals are exploiting gaps. Victims are caught in a living nightmare, confronting images again and again.

The two sisters live in fear of being recognized. One grew out her bangs and took to wearing hoodies. The other dyed her hair black. Both avoid looking the way they did as children.

Ten years ago, their father did the unthinkable: He posted explicit photos and videos on the internet of them, just 7 and 11 at the time. Many captured violent assaults in their Midwestern home, including him and another man drugging and raping the 7-year-old.

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November 8, 2019

END GAME Death from 24-hour gaming marathons, collapsed lungs & match-fixing: how intense world of e-sports breaks teenage stars

(The Sun) IT is the baffling new frontier of online fame, a snowballing industry where teenagers can earn millions from the comfort of a sofa.

Yet this week, the all-consuming pressure of professional e-sports took its toll on one British star, who broke down in tears after being caught cheating on Fortnite.

The shocking death of a 17-year-old teen after an all-night gaming marathon on Monday was a cruel reminder of the physical toll of gaming.

The lifeless body of Piyawat Harikun was found by his dad after he suffered a stroke in Thailand, with medics believing his non-stop addiction to battle games could have been to blame.

It follows the case of Brian Vigneault, a 35-year-old dad-of-three who streamed his World of Tanks sessions on the website Twitch, mysteriously passing away in Virginia in 2017 during a 24-hour gaming event.

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November 7, 2019

China fears young people are addicted to video games. Now it is imposing a curfew

Hong Kong (CNN)China has announced a curfew on online gaming for minors among new measures aimed at curbing video game addiction.

The official government guidelines will be applied to all online gaming platforms operating in the country, mostly notably Tencent, the world's biggest gaming company.

Under the new rules, gamers aged under 18 will be banned from playing online games between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. On weekdays, minors can only play for 90 minutes, while they may play up to three hours per day on weekends and public holidays.

The guidelines also place restrictions on the amount of money minors can transfer to their online gaming accounts. Gamers aged between eight and 16 years old can only top up 200 yuan ($29) per month, while the maximum amount for those between 16 and 18 will be 400 yuan ($57).

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November 4, 2019

MRIs show screen time linked to lower brain development in preschoolers

(CNN) Screen time use by infants, toddlers and preschoolers has exploded over the last decade, concerning experts about the impact of television, tablets and smartphones on these critical years of rapid brain development.

Now a new study scanned the brains of children 3 to 5 years old and found those who used screens more than the recommended one hour a day without parental involvement had lower levels of development in the brain's white matter -- an area key to the development of language, literacy and cognitive skills.

Higher screen use was associated with less well-developed white matter tracts throughout the brain.

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November 4, 2019

Screen time might be physically changing kids’ brains

(MIT Technology Review) The study: Forty-seven 3- to 5-year-olds took a test to measure their cognitive abilities, and their parents were asked to answer a detailed survey about screen time habits. The answers were scored against a set of screen time guidelines put out by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The kids also had their brains scanned in an MRI machine.

Brain changes: The scans revealed that kids who spent more time in front of screens had what the authors call lower “white matter integrity.” White matter can be roughly thought of as the brain’s internal communications network—its long nerve fibers are sheathed in fatty insulation that allows electrical signals to move from one area of the brain to another without interruption. The integrity of that structure—how well organized the nerve fibers are, and how well developed the myelin sheath is—is associated with cognitive function, and it develops as kids learn language.

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