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?


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.

Zoom Fatigue: How to Overcome

A whiteboard is shown and for each day of the week, scheduled online meetings on zoom or facetime.
Zoom Fatigue! Photo Illustration: Dave Cole/WSJ

Dear Ms. Smartphone: After a meeting or two on Zoom, and even a catch-up with girl friends, I am zonked out. Sometimes I skip meals because I feel so fatigued and crawl into bed. It’s just the opposite for my son, who is now home from college. He goes on Zoom in the evening with his friends, and stays on it for hours. Then he’s spry and awake! Is this an age thing or something else?  Rupa, Berkeley

Dear Rupa: A lot of parents are asking the same thing. For elders, it’s an age thing because we did not come of age in the time of zoom. And, the two-way technology is still evolving so there are lots of asynchronous moments and dropped connections to challenge our patience. In a previous post I noted how our physical communications depend on being able to interpret very subtle non-verbal cues like an upturned smile, the twitch of an eye, or the flick of the hair. Most of these cues are at a subliminal level. Zoom meetings, as well as informal chats with our friends, can be stressful for those of us used to processing our social cues differently. 

The Lack of Multitasking

Like you, I find video chats to be draining but for an additional reason; it’s the absence of multi-tasking. When you phone me, say on a voice call or text, I might be doing other things….but you can’t see that.  We have gotten used to being mobile and doing lots of (other) things when we have 2 way communication. That level of distraction works most of the time, but not in the car. Focusing for an extended time on the red dot of the camera feels like I am in line-up in a police station (not that I will confess to that!)

Search for Best Zoom Games

When your son goes on Zoom and feels spry afterwards, that’s because he engages with his friends and content, in an entirely different manner. There are lots of third-party sites to link to, The list of games is long…but familiar. Search for games to play on Zoom: you’ll find Monopoly, Battleship, Pictionary, Guess Who, and many many more. Then there are the ‘Drinking Game’ versions, like Battleship with shot glasses….you get the picture! And, to my point about multi-tasking, just one kid needs to be on a computer. The rest can join in on their phones.  That means that they do not have to stay stationary, with eyes glued to the red dot. They are probably moving around the room, browsing other screens, and, of course, eating and drinking.

THINK LIKE A TEEN

In these times of quarantine, I would encourage anyone to try out these games with an old established  friend and picture yourself as a young teen. Experiment together. Put it this way: Imagine that it was 1915 and your family had just installed a new Bell phone. You were advised to use it only for emergencies or something urgent. Now fast-forward to 1960, and you are a teen, able to spend hours after school conversing with friends on Bell phones. My point is that technology changes over time, and what is once serious business morphs into social play.