The Voice Of A Generation

Why we shouldn’t move away from the physical book

What effect does the screen have on our bodies and minds?

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Nowadays, a lot of people (myself included) have access to online resources for education. We can buy digital books instead of physical books to read and we can browse websites such as Wikipedia and BBC Bitesize to learn about Science, but this convenience comes at a price!

With the ever-increasing availability of technology, we find ourselves staring at a screen for long periods of time. Young people, especially. The school environment is becoming more digital, so much so that physical books might become forgotten about and replaced by digital books. But with convenience comes a price! Ever heard of the blue light?

Blue is one of the colours in the “visible spectrum”. It is the colour that sits almost at the end of the spectrum, above violet. Below violet is ultraviolet, which we cannot see and which causes us serious harm when we are exposed to it. The spectrum is arranged from top to bottom in the order of low-to-high energy. It starts at red and ends at violet. The reason why the sky is blue is because of blue light rays.

There are positives and negatives to being exposed to blue light.

Positives:

  1. It boosts alertness, although this can be both a positive and a negative.
  2. It’s very important in regulating circadian rhythm, which is the body’s natural sleep cycle.
  3. It’s included in light therapy to treat seasonal affective disorder.

Negatives:

  1. It disrupts the sleep cycle.
  2. It increases the risk of macular degeneration, which can lead to permanent vision loss.
  3. It causes eye strain, although one can increase their eyes’ comfort by wearing computer glasses.

The first two negatives can be serious problems, but we usually find ourselves having a problem with our sleep cycle. For young people at school, studying with digital books before bedtime causes their sleep cycle to be disrupted, which can cause lack of sleep and distract them from being at their very best for learning. It can also cause mental illness. It may not be a serious issue now, but as the world becomes more digitalised, the issue may grow in the future.

How does the emission of blue light disrupt our sleep cycle?

At night, blue light powerfully suppresses the production of melatonin in our body. Melatonin is a hormone we produce for controlling our sleep cycle. Usually, the melatonin levels rise during the evening, remaining at a high level throughout the night, and then dropping early in the morning.

I don’t think physical books will disappear in the future. Physical books are bought much more frequent than digital books. There are pros and cons to buying both. Personally, a physical book feels much more satisfying to read than a digital book and it has more value!

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