The Internet & New Media

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By Akosua Kathryn Albritton
The following story is a reprint from the April 2003 Wired For Success column.  It makes a second appearance because the winter season is here.  Given all the great options we have on the Internet and features on the latest personal computers, being aware of one’s time seated before the PC monitor is an important health consideration.  This column borrows from the beer commercials to warn, “Computer users, please surf responsibly.”

Healthy Computer Use
The Internet and such New Media as DVDs, CD-ROM, CD burners, videoconferencing, and web casts give people the means to be entertained, informed, and to communicate with one another.  It’s possible to spend hours searching the globe or chatting with friends.  This sedentary lifestyle will lead to avoidable health conditions.  Carpal Tunnel Syndrome made news a few years ago.  The uproar died down, but the problem still exists.  This syndrome and other conditions arise because people are sitting too long.  Lack of movement stiffens the joints, ligaments, and muscles.  Sitting for long periods also affects the internal organs.  Movement invigorates the heart, liver, stomach, kidney, etc.  In fact, the bones stay strong when we stand, walk, or run.  Sitting softens them over time.
Another interesting occurrence is the dynamic of reading something stimulating and its affect on the muscles.  Positive and negative stimulation of the brain will set in motion the secretion of different hormones.  One common hormone is adrenalin.  When one strives to obtain information or engages in a stimulating conversation, the brain’s neurons are working, the heart may beat faster, and different hormones are released.  Being sedentary doesn’t allow the body to efficiently process and eliminate the chemicals produced.  For example, adrenalin seeps into the muscles.
Observe yourself.  Do you notice that your heart may pound, your eyes feel tired, or any part of your body has pain? When this happens, you’ve been on the computer too long.  Comfort may be found by adjusting the height of the chair and computer monitor.  More importantly it’s time to get away from the computer.  Get up and stretch for a few minutes.  Take a walk.  Look around the room.
Computer radiation is another concern.  While it is a very small exposure, it has an impact on the body’s electromagnetic field.  Charmaine Johnson, Wholistic Health Counselor, explains that placing a comb on top of the monitor breaks the computer’s magnetic field.  Ensure the comb’s teeth face away from you.  This columnist tested the practice and experienced significant relief.
Online Communities
The Internet not only brings distant and exotic locations to your desktop but your neighborhood, too.  Do you want to know what’s on the minds of Central Brooklyn residents?  Visit your neighbors online.  The St. John’s Recreation Center sponsors Crown Heights Live (www.crownheightslive.org).  They hail it “Brooklyn’s Internet Youth Publication.”  This Website features the art and words of Crown Heights’ teens.  It’s bright and plays Hip Hop while you read the various articles.  Visit the site or, even better, contribute to it.  They currently seek a Webmaster.  Bed-Stuy Online (www.bedstuyonline.com) is another place to meet your neighbors.  This site features news about the ‘hood and forums to discuss various issues impacting Bedford-Stuyvesant community and culture.  Both of these sites were featured in earlier issues of this column.  It’s great that they are still live with activity.
Meeting Notices
Latinos in Information Science and Technology (LISTA) sponsors the 3 Kings Fiesta Navidena Networking event Thursday, January 6th, from 7 PM to 19 PM at Branch NY, 226 East 54th Street, NYC.  For more information and registration, log onto www.a-lista.org.
The New York City Council’s Committee on Technology in Government will hold a hearing at Polytechnic University’s Dibner Auditorium Monday, January 10th, from 2 PM to 5 PM.  The hearing’s topic is “Oversight: Is Brooklyn Business Suffering From A Broad Band Gap.”  For more information, visit the Committee’s Web page, www.nyccouncil.info/issues/committee.cfm?committee id=106&ltsbdkey+5121.
Black Data Processors Association of New York’s (BDPA-NY) January Program meeting will be held Thursday, January 20th, at 6:30 PM at Consolidated Edison, 4 Irving Place in Manhattan.  Log onto www.bdpa-ny.org to learn more about this association.
Have an Internet story?  Know of an interesting website?  Contact me at akosua@plans4success.com

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