March 20, 2012

Children and Their iPads

Filed under: children,iPhone — drwatson @ 8:34 pm

Child on an IpadThe correlation between video games and childhood obesity has been studied since the rise of video games in the early 80’s.  Since then, video games have become more enticing, more realistic, and more compelling than the video games of old.  The iPad and similar devices are new platforms that lead to this path of larger children and adults because of its portability and long battery life.  Children are spending more time with their iPads than they are engaging in physical activity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), obesity in 6-11 year old children has gone from 7% in 1980 to nearly 20% in 2008.  There was an increase within adolescents aged 12-19 from 5% to 18%.   Many media outlets emphasize the need for children and iPads as a replacement for the television and video games, though that doesn’t answer the original question about whether these forms of distraction are good in the first place.

In order to remain healthy, the CDC recommends that the average child do at least 1 hour of physical activity each day.  Here are some of the differences between obese and healthy children:

Obese children:

  • Are at higher risk for heart disease.
  • Are more likely to develop diabetes.
  • Are at greater risk for bone and joint problems.
  • Are candidates for psychological problems such as poor self esteem.
  • Are at an increased risk for certain types of cancers.

Healthy children:

  • Have increased physical activity.
  • Have lower risk of types of cancers.
  • Have healthy eating habits.

Not only do iPads increase the likelihood of obesity, but they stem the child’s cognitive abilities as well.  The iPad acts as a babysitter, and children’s attention spans are lowering.  The number of iPad apps for children is rising as a result of this trend.  With more children having iPads and mobile devices at their disposal, the market is becoming saturated with educational applications.

Benefits of Children and iPads

The iPad can also positively influence a child’s cognitive ability.  Because of the interactive nature of the iPad, children are learning their numbers and letters, engaging with shapes, and more.  A few positive applications include: Fish School, an application which teaches children their numbers and letters, Math Bingo, where children get to fill out math problems on a bingo card, and 123 World Geography, a coloring exercise for children to learn their world geography.

Developers are also creating iPad apps for children with special needs.  Those special needs children are becoming more socially adept, receiving language skills, and more.   There is also an increase in confidence with special needs children as a result of their interaction with the iPad.

While obesity and cognitive dysfunction are concerns when children use iPads, the positive effects of iPads and children can be accentuated with limited use.  Parents should limit their child’s iPad use to between 1 and 2 hours a day, and use the remaining time for interaction, physical activity, and unstructured play.

June 10, 2009

Your own DNA on your iPhone?

Filed under: DNA,Illumina,iPhone,iPhone app,Uncategorized — drwatson @ 5:26 pm

Want your DNA sequenced? Well now it will only put you back about $48,000, incredibly this is half of what it used to cost you.

This service is being offered by a San Diego biotechnology company call Illumina. The whole process of even getting your DNA is quite the ordeal. First you must sit down with a physician and get a prescription. You must wait for a specific amount of time to go by; this is most likely to allow you to think, “Hmm, do I really need to be spending $48,000 to get my DNA sequenced?”If you do come to the conclusion that you have quite a substantial amount of cash to burn, then you will receive an Apple computer that is loaded with your DNA sequence and the software for reading it. The computer, which luckily you get to keep, will have all 3 billion DNA letters that make your genome encoded.

CEO of Illumina, Jay Flatley, went on to say, “We thought it was important to get on this track. Starting now is going to improve any of the kinks in this system.” But why would a company want to develop something that currently is unable to be marketed to a vast amount of people? The better question is why do MANY companies want to create their own DNA sequencing software?

Harvard University researcher and co-founder of Knome (Another company that does DNA sequencing, however for $99,000), George Church may have the answer. “It’s like the early days of cell phones. You wanted to get out there and get lots of geographical territory, no matter what it took.”

Many companies now seem to be preparing for the no-so-distant future that may include a significantly cheaper cost for DNA sequencing, and when DNA sequencing becomes very widely used in the field of medicine.

Flatley has a mash up of software on his iPhone that may one day allow somebody like me and you to look at our DNA. This specific software belongs completely to Illumina, and he says, “It’s a hint of where we think things are going.” Soon everyone may be walking around with their own sequenced DNA on their phones, technology; you’ve got to love it.

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