Is Michael Phelps addicted to online gaming?


By Brooke Strickland

We’ve recently seen Michael Phelps stun crowds and fans all over the world with his agility and raw talent in the Olympic swimming races.  No one can deny it: Phelps is a truly gifted athlete and has proven himself as one of the elite. But in a recent interview where Phelps admitted that he plays the online video game Call of Duty for up to 30 hours a week, many people may wonder:  is his athleticism and dedication to the sport of swimming in jeopardy?  Almost all of his free time is spent playing the game.  Once a person starts playing more than an hour or two a day, this at some level, begins interfering with regular day-to-day activities.  Liz Woolley, founder of Online Gamers Anonymous says, “It can be even more dangerous for people like [Phelps] who are highly driven and competitive, which of course elite athletes and swimmers have to be.  The games can be used as an escape from the pressures of training or competition, but it has to be moderated carefully or it can have terrible repercussions.”[1]  Think about it – 30 hours a week is almost a full time job.  That kind of time spent in front of a tv or computer screen will start interrupting the routines and daily activities in one’s life. 

Video game addiction is starting to become a popular discussion among doctors and psychologists around the world.  It has been shown to generate increased dopamine levels in the brain, similar to what a drug or alcohol addict experiences while “using.”  The competition that players experience while gaming gives them the feeling of a high, and when overused, this can be an addictive force that keeps people coming back time and time again to play. 

Call of Duty is a graphic and violent game that has very lifelike avatars battling each other in war.  The violence and potentially addictive nature can have severe negative health effects, such as migraines, carpal tunnel syndrome, interrupted sleep, backaches, and irregularities in eating or defecating.   

Video game addiction is real.  If you or someone you know is addicted to technology or video games, visit www.hooked-on-games.com for more information about how to get help.  




[1] “Michael Phelps’ Call of Duty obsession may be destructive video-game addiction, expert says.” Yahoo Sports. July 26, 2012.  http://sports.yahoo.com/news/olympics--michael-phelps--call-of-duty-obsession-may-be-destructive-video-game-addiction--expert-says.html  Accessed August 5, 2012.

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Get rid of the gadgets


By Brooke Strickland

Smartphones, laptops, Kindles, iPads.  The list goes on and on.  Everywhere you turn it feels like there is a new technology to learn about.  It’s easy to become attached to these gadgets, too.  Your email is connected to them, texts are pouring in, and it’s true that there is a benefit to that.  But, when technology takes over and it becomes an all-consuming part of your life, it can become a powerful and even addicting force in your daily life.  Even Silicon Valley higher-ups are recognizing this force and are encouraging people to unplug from technology for a bit.   

Technology creators are aware of the addictive force some of the devices have and video game makers are feeding on it as well. Even  Zynga/Farmville co-founder admits to encouraging technology addiction.  He explains that he has helped addict millions of people to dopamine, a neurochemical that has been shown to be released by pleasurable activities, including video game playing, but is also seen in other types of addictions such as drug or alcohol use.  We’re done with this honeymoon phase and now we’re in this phase that says, ‘Wow, what have we done?’ said Soren Gordhamer, who organizes Wisom 2.0, an annual conference he started in 2010 about the pursuit of balance in the digital age. “It doesn’t mean what we’ve done is bad. There’s no blame. But there is a turning of the page.” [1]

The root of the source is that humans long to be connected with each other.  These devices give us a way to do that, and in many cases, people become attached to the easy way to interact and connect with one another in an instantly gratifying sort of way.  Some find it hard to balance regular life with the integration of technology, so finding ways to unplug and recharge internally are important. How can you do this?  Try small steps.  Turn off your phone at night and leave it in another room.  Don’t get on your laptop or Kindle before bed.  Read a real book.  Enjoy a heart to heart conversation with your spouse. 

An email response can wait until the morning.  Recharging your soul and your relationships are more important.

Internet and technology addiction is real.  If you or a loved one is addicted, read more at www.hooked-on-games.com.




 

[1] Richtel, Matt. “Silicon Valley Says Step Away From The Device.”  New York Times. July 23, 2012.  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/24/technology/silicon-valley-worries-about-addiction-to-devices.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=general  Accessed July 26, 2012

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Child Behavior and Dental Fillings Linked


By Brooke Strickland

Tooth decay is nasty.  And it’s now a chronic part of many children’s lives due to poor hygiene and the lack of consistent, regular brushing and flossing.  Millions of school age children have cavities because of this, and now, new research shows that non-metal dental fillings in children can also contribute to behavioral issues. The study analyzed data from a study called The New England Children’s Amalgam Trial, and found that when compared with children that have metal fillings, the children with composite or tooth-colored fillings made with BPA derivatives have higher incidences of anxiety, depression, and social stress. Patients that have fillings are exposed to BPA byproducts when the cavity is filled and throughout the wear and tear, some of it can leak out into the body. Fillings are still considered safe and effective methods of treatment, and BPA has been found in much higher concentrations in other products other than dental materials, but this study proves that there should be some kind of re-evaluation of fillings and what goes into them.[1]

BPA , a chemical that can hinder with how hormones work successfully in the body, has come under a lot of scrutiny in recent years because of the harmful effects it can have on the body. Some of these effects can include developmental problems in children and heart disease in adults.

The key? Cavity prevention.  First up: avoid lots of sugary foods that can build up on the surfaces of your teeth.  Limit your kids’ sugar intake is not only good for their teeth, but can also cut back on hyperactivity or other behavioral issues.  Next: parents need to stay on top of brushing and flossing with their kids.  Encourage them every night to brush and floss. Make it a routine.  If you have younger children, make a game out of it.  Making it fun will help them be an active part of their overall health and get them excited to take care of their teeth.  If your kids are older, an incentive or reward program might do the trick. 

The bottom line is, you only get one mouth and taking care of it is essential. 




[1] Wade, Leslie. “Dental fillings linked to kids’ behavior problems.” CNNHealth.  July 16, 2012. http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/16/dental-fillings-linked-to-kids-behavior-problems/  Accessed July 26, 2012.

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Are eggs good for me?

By Brooke Strickland

I feed my daughter a scrambled egg every morning.  The reason?  The health benefits of eggs are incredible and far outweigh any negative things you’ll hear about them. 

Did you know that eggs are great for your eyes?  They can help reduce the risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.  They contain high levels of lutein, vitamin D, and zeaxanthin, has only 70-80 calories, 9 essential amino acids, and contains 6 grams of high quality protein.  Because they’re high in protein, you’ll feel fuller for longer and you’ll snack less in between breakfast and lunch.  In addition, they contain choline, which has been shown to help improve adult brain function and helps prevent fetal brain development and prevent birth defects with pregnant women. 

Eggs have gotten a bad rap in years past, but in fact, there are a lot of positive reasons why you should incorporate them into your diet on a regular basis.  Need some cooking or recipe ideas on how to incorporate these little beauties into your health regimen?   How about adding them into a scramble chocked full of fresh broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes, and spinach?  Talk about a healthy and filling way to start your busy workday!  Or, add them into a breakfast burrito full of potatoes and veggies.  How about a frittata with spinach, tomatoes, and ham?  Or even better, make hardboiled eggs and include them into your lunch or snack time routine at work.  An egg and smoked salmon sandwich is a decadent way to eat them, or make an egg salad and pile it onto fresh-baked bread for dinner. 

There are hundreds of ways to eat and enjoy eggs.  The important thing to remember is to not load up the egg with a lot of cheese or greasy meat, which adds fat and unnecessary calories and additives.  Eat the egg as it comes to get the most nutrients out of them.  They’ll become your new best friend!

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How do I get my baby to sleep through the night?


By Brooke Strickland

Sleep deprivation for new parents is a shocking introduction to parenthood.  Everyone talks about preparing for it, but there’s nothing really that can prepare you for the amount of sleep you’ll lose in those first few months of your newborn’s life.  While the moments with your new little one are precious and fly by quickly, they can also feel like they’re going on forever, because with sleep loss, everything seems worse.  And according to a recent survey from BabyCenter that asked 1,000 new moms what their number one complaint was, sleep deprivation and exhaustion are at the top. In fact, 29% of new mothers can’t remember the last time they slept a full 8 hours. [1] This is draining – no doubt!  Fatigue can certainly overrun everything going on in your life and can make you feel forgetful, cranky, and generally unhappy.  So, how do you get your baby to start sleeping through the night?

Sleep training techniques are discussed in great length among pediatricians and parents.  After all, after days, weeks, and months of losing sleep, you’re likely desperate to find something that helps your baby sleep for a long stretch of time.  Author of The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler offers several tools for teaching your baby that bedtime is near.  We won’t go into all of them here, but there are a couple key tips that medical professionals and parents alike can agree on. We’ve included them here.

  • Routine:  Babies and toddlers love routine.  They thrive on it, really.  So finding a routine that works for you and your kids on a nightly basis is key.  Pick a bed time and stick to it.  About an hour before, dim the lights and have your kid participate in some activities or routines that help him or her wind down.  Read some books.  Take a warm, soothing bath.  Sing songs.  While you can’t really teach a newborn to sleep through the night until they’re at least 4 months old, there’s no harm in starting them on a nightly routine as early as a few weeks old.
  • White noise:  White noise is your baby’s friend.  Babies don’t always need a quiet room to sleep in. In fact, white noise is soothing to them, as it mimics sounds they heard while in the womb.  So look for noise that is low pitched and rumbly and see if it works in soothing them to sleep.

Most of all, take some moments to yourself as a parent.  Try to get a 10 minute nap in here, take a walk and get some fresh air when you’re feeling overwhelmed, and most of all, try to make the most out of the moments with your little blessing. 

 




[1] Karp, Dr. Harvey.  “Sleeping babies and kids make happy parents.”  June 9, 2012.  CNN.com. http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/06/09/sleeping-babies-and-kids-make-happy-parents/?hpt=he_bn6 Accessed June 28, 2012.

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