Need Bluelight Glasses?

Do I need blue light glasses? How do I separate fatigue from facts?

This is a stamdard chart showing the electromagnetic spectrum wavelength. Humans perceive visible light as colors because of these different wavelengths.
Will glasses block the blue light?

Dear Ms. Smartphone: I saw my gorgeous daughter-in-law for the first time since the lockdown, and was surprised she now wore glasses. When I asked, it turns out these are not prescription glasses, just a frame with special lenses to filter out “blue light”  from the computer screen. This is all new to me.  Is it useful and should an older person, like me, be filtering the blue light too? Esther, Corinthian Island

Dear Esther: Chances are that your daughter-in-law spends a lot of time on the computer now that the office is closed and business is conducted remotely. Until the lockdown, office workers could break-up their screen time with in-person meetings, voice phone calls, and a beverage break. Now, it is straining on the eyes (and well being) to focus on a single screen, or multiple ones, for eight to ten hours a day. It’s  hard to sort out the effects of general eye fatigue from the specific effects of blue light.

Citing from a Harvard Health report, blue light is visible light with a wave length between 400 and 450 nanometers. LED displays and specifically the backlight displays on smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers look “white” but they are emitting blue light. These high wave lengths have more energy per photon of light than other colors so at high enough doses, they could cause damage when absorbed by various cells in our body.

As more computer users worry about their eyes and clamor to get protective eye gear, others claim that this is just aggressive marketing and up-selling. Many medical experts refute the claims. I encourage you to read up more and try to sort it out.

Smartphone Display

That said, why not check-out what’s baked into your own smartphone? There has been a different, but related concern: blue light from phones interferes with the circadian clock, that is adaption between night and day.

On your iphone or ipad filter out blue light by going to the Display and Brightness screen, and then tapping the Night Shift setting. On an Android look in Settings>Display>Blue Light filter.  To further protect, consider getting a special screen protector for your computer and smartphone – it will block light in the 380-500 nanometer range throughout the day (not just night). 

Age Spectrum…Light Spectrum

I have an interesting anecdote to pass on. When I last visited my ophthalmologist in 2019, the clinician told me she was seeing more young children with vision problems. She encourage me, a.k.a. Dear Smartphone,  to tell parents to withhold Ipads and phones from kids.  BTW,  blue light effects are not confined to young people and office workers. It is thought that it might hasten macular degeneration in older folks. Note that for every research study pointing in one direction, there seems to be refutable evidence in the other. But, if you liked the fit and look of your daughter-in-law’s glasses, why not try a second pair?


Invest in Stocks by Phone?

Brand new investors are using their smartphones to buy and sell stocks. What are the trade (offs).

Robinhood is a site to buy and sell stocks. Three smartphone screen shots are shown, which mimic how a real trade would take be placed.
Robinhood trading platform

Dear Ms. Smartphone: You mentioned an investment in last week’s column so I decided to write you about that. I am finding myself with a lot of time on my hands, and not a lot of cash since I was laid off from construction in March. I opened up an account with a brokerage account that trades stocks and they have a no-fee policy. So, I log in there to buy and sell stocks. My wife says I am spending too much time on my phone, but I think that I am learning something new, and hope to make some spare cash on the side.  A.J., Alameda

Dear A.J.   You are not alone as thousands of new “retail clients” (industry talk) have jumped on the trading bandwagon during this crisis. You only need a brokerage account and a smartphone to get into the market.

One reason is that without sports to wager on, bettors have turned to day trading. Both professional and recreational gamblers are now in the stock market, according to Sports Illustrated. Once these traders are able to return to their regular activities, remember a quote from the venerated investor Warren Buffett: It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked.” (source: MarketWatch).

Invest in What you Know!

The other reason people are investing is that, like you, they have time, and need cash. DearSmartphone is not certified as an investment advisor, but she is on solid ground when she recommends that you do your homework, invest in companies or industries that you know something about (home builders? construction? materials?), hold a diversified portfolio and don’t put up the money you would normally use to pay the rent.

A concern, as your wife notes, is the time you amass on your phone now that you’ve become a stock trader. In recent times, but before smartphones, a stock broker (i.e. the certified investment advisor!)  would spend all day, at a desk, on a computer, following the market and individual stocks for clients. With changes in technology, everyone can now be their own stock broker, and move in-and-out of the market with lightning speed. 

The Social MediA of Wall St.

This new trading environment is volatile. It seems chaotic and it is susceptible to “fake news” and rumor. When it comes to investment tips, ads can be bought, ideas can be planted on social media or in newsletters, and CEO’s can spin speculative but hopeful stories. Any of these messages will rapidly diffuse into the larger information mainstream that investors, like yourself, tend to read or see. Those sources, not necessarily the underlying financials of the company, may swing the stock, options, and futures market up- and -down in micro-seconds. 

So, do use your smartphone to keep on top of the message stream and identify whether the sender and the story are credible (the research I mentioned). The Securities and Exchange Commission notes (2015) that social media can provide benefit for investors, but is also presents opportunities for fraudsters to engage in market manipulation or “pump and dump” schemes. It’s almost  like reading email: you are less susceptible if you know how to identify the spam and get rid of it.

As you spend more time on your phone with your stocks, I encourage you to ask if this is how you want to invest your two most precious resources: these are your time and your attention. You are channeling them to your device so make sure you enjoy the ride!

Post A Snapchat Birthday?

Mom wants to be a good sport and post Happy Birthday on Snapchat.

This is a yellow birthday cake with the logo of Snapchat on the top, where the candles would normally be. The images was posted on Pinterest.
Pinterist…Sweet Sister Cakes

Dear Ms. Smartphone: When I asked my older daughter how to surprise my younger daughter for her birthday, she suggested that I make a card for her on Snapchat. I didn’t know that the girls  were using Snapchat, and now I don’t know how to make this card! What do you advise? Samantha, San Francisco

Dear Samantha: First, I assume your daughters are age 13 and older and Snapchat does not produce “cards” like Hallmark!  The intricacies to post and send make it the province of those under age 25. Put it this way, if you and I can figure out how to navigate Facebook or Instagram, we are probably not the audience Snapchat wants to attract.  That is, unless we are corporate sponsors or advertisers. 

The ‘cards’ that your daughter suggest might be “homemade” filters and stickers- upgrade options you customize on Snapchat, but for a fee. The fee is based on ‘Time’ X ‘Reach’. Sorry, calculating that is beyond DearSmartphone’s playgrade (!sp!)

But, the learning curve for making a post and having it come out as you planned could be fairly steep. That’s because the gesturing is different than in other apps, and features are hidden from plain view. But, again, that’s the point! said this Time reporter, when it first launched. New features were added to the platform this summer.

Ephemeral

I hunch that your daughters will get a big chuckle circulating Mom’s home-made birthday Snap to their regular friends. But your photos and short videos are  “alive” for only 24 hours and then they disappear. So, unless you “pay to play” with the filters, you do not have to worry about making a permanent mistake; the content is ephemeral. 

The simplest thing may be to take a mug or video of you with other family members , add stock (no fee) stickers and filters and then post or share. Here are “educational”  videos about making a birthday greeting on Snapchat . Watch at your own risk! Maybe your older daughter and her friends will continue to make more celebratory stories with you (although I doubt it). If not, remember to close your account!

Birthday Gift…

Have you thought about the cake and an alternative birthday gift? You could give your daughter a few stock shares in Snapchat and in so doing, link her  between the virtual world and the real one.  When the stock did its Initial Public Offering back in 2018 it opened at $17.00 per share. Today (June 12) the shares are only  $20.18. So maybe your daughter, the stock, this platform, and this new reality platform will all reach maturity together!  Happy augmented birthday.