Can Technology Use Lead to a Low Quality Night of Sleep ???

Have you ever wondered if answering late night text messages, gaming at night, or watching a show could affect the quality of that nights sleep? Well, it can! Research shows that using some type of device before bed is directly linked to our health. Meaning that using a device before bed can make it harder to fall asleep or even decrease the quality of that nights sleep. After reading this post, I hope you will be able to recognize if this problem relates to you, and how you can prevent it.

So, what exactly is the problem behind devices? One problem is the blue light. Blue light is known for helping us stay awake throughout the day. Actually, some factories are lit with blue lights to try and keep workers awake during late shifts. In addition, the blue light suppresses melatonin. Melatonin is a key hormone that controls sleep cycles. So, the lack of melatonin makes it harder to fall asleep.

The second problem being that when we are on our devices, we are usually doing something that intrigues us. This is another factor that keeps us awake. It causes your brain to start thinking it needs to stay awake.

Unfortunately, this problem impacts teens the most. This is because we happen to use our phones the most because we always want to be informed and up to date. But, what most people don’t realize is that teens actually need more sleep than adults. Teens also go through a lot of brain changes which could effect their sleep, and device use just adds to it. Dr. Chris Seton says, “The screens not only take away sleep because they take up time, but they make kids more wakeful”. In fact, between the years 2010 to 2016 there has been a major increase in the amount of complaints about deficient sleep for 18-24 year olds. Meaning, this problem is just getting worse.

Now you may be thinking; what can I do to prevent this from happening to me?? A lot actually! One thing you can do is dim the light on your screen. Another thing is to try and put your phone away 30 minutes before going to bed so your brain has time to relax. Some people actually found a way to “red shift” their phone between the hours 9pm- 7am. This means that your iPhone doesn’t use a blue light between those hours.

I never knew how much our devices affected our sleep. In fact, I’ve been struggling to fall asleep lately and I think my phone could be the problem. I will definitely be changing my habits in the future. I hope this post can help do the same!

Johnson, Cathy. “How Technology Use Messes with Your Sleep and What You Can Do about It.” ABC Health News, 20 Oct. 2016,

Ware, Arista. “How Technology Impacts Sleep Quality.” Sleep.Org, Sleep.Org, 13 Nov. 2014,

“Trend Hunter.” Trend Hunter,

New Movement to Slow Smartphone Integration with Kids


I remember a specific time that I was babysitting last year for a 10-year old girl last year. She had just been given a cell phone in order to stay in contact with myself and her mom for after-school pickup. When she was handed the small flip-phone, she immediately opened it and began trying to use the phone’s nonexistent touchscreen, and was dumbfounded when I told her the buttons on the keypad were the navigation for the screen. In the moment, I thought it was a very funny situation, but it also shocked me to think about how she just assumed it was a touch screen.

It made me realize how even though I am only 10 years older than the girl I was babysitting, our perceptions of technology (and more specifically smartphones) is extremely different. People in my age group grew up right on the edge of the smartphone revolution, with the first widely successful smartphone, the iPhone, released in 2007. To me, the idea of a cell phone with actual keys and no touchscreen is not a foreign concept – it brings back middle school memories of nail-polished Motorola Razr phones, and the clicking sound of LG Env keyboards flipping open and closed.

I recently stumbled upon an article on Facebook that discussed the “Wait Until 8th” pledge, a pledge that families have begun taking in which parents promise to not give their children smartphones until at least the eighth grade. The main argument behind the pledge is that “childhood is too short to waste on a smartphone.” The pledge is supported by medical professionals and public figures speaking on how phones disrupt sleep, and create “unrealistic social pressures” on children in elementary and middle schools. Even Bill and Melinda Gates are cited as an example of a family who did not allow their children to have smartphones until the age of 14. Since its launch in March 2017, over 2,000 families have signed Wait Until 8th. This number continues to grow, with the pledge now present in 49 states and over 500 schools.


Personally, I did not receive a cell phone at all until I was in the 5th grade, and I was given my first iPhone when I was a freshman in high school. Some of my elementary classmates had iPhones in as early as 6th grade, but recently I have seen children far younger than this age walking around with smartphone in hand. I have seen the effect that smartphones have had on myself and those around me throughout my adolescence, and I agree with the argument that the “Wait Until 8th” pledge makes on smartphones’ impacts on sleep, schoolwork, mental health, and general well-being. Smartphones give access to countless sources of information and connectivity, both positive and negative, and many parents are struggling to keep up with the fast-paced rate of change in content available online.

“Wait Until 8th” is just one example of the increasing awareness that modern society has begun applying to technology’s role in the upbringing of children and teens. It seems that mental health and social interaction have become more and more of a focus among today’s youth, and pledges of this nature may help to strengthen this movement. However, the decision is ultimately up to the parents; the heavily-integrated role that technology plays in today’s world is a new dynamic, and it can be difficult to determine where the cutoff point lies in terms of the appropriate age group for cell-phones, smartphones, or any mobile device to be introduced.


Smith, Chris. “The First iPhone Just Turned 10: Here’s Every Single iPhone Apple Has Made So Far.” Boy Genius Report Online, BGR, 29 June 2017. Accessed 29 August 2017.

Tate, Allison Slater. “’Wait Until 8th’ movement asks parents not to give young kids smartphones.” TODAY Online, TODAY, 17 August 2017,  Accessed 30 August 2017.

“Wait Until 8th.” Wait Until 8th, Wait Until Accessed 31 August 2017. Image.

“Why Wait?” Wait Until 8th, Wait Until Accessed 30 August 2017.

Social media: Key player in Venezuelan protests

Social media has become one of the most empowering and influential ways to expose and broadcast an event on the Internet. Anyone can become a journalist; thus, technology has allowed us to access many social media platforms and connect with millions of people around the world. For instance, Facebook and Instagram have implemented the Live Streaming function which facilitates users to see raw and real-time events.

Technology is now being used to expose the harsh reality of Venezuela. This country was once one of the riches countries in Latin America; however, today is one of the most repressed countries in the world. Under President Nicolas Maduro’s regime, Venezuela is now known to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world. There has been countless protests against the president, but Maduro has consolidated his power, making the country an Authoritarian regime.

There is no freedom of speech, making all mass media outlets censored by the government. This is why Venezuelans are recurring to social media with the hopes of letting the world know what its truly happening. Some of the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram posts were made viral during the ongoing protests, making #SOSVenezuela #PrayforVenezuela #VzlaUnidaContraElFascismo trending hashtags.

Despite the live-blogging efforts, the Venezuelan government blocked most of the posts that could defame them. However, they have brought so much international attention it is inevitable to deceive. As said by USA Today, More than 14 million people in Venezuela own a smart phone, which allows them immediate access to the news.

Personally, I see how my Venezuelan friends at Penn State make an effort to disseminate through their social media accounts what their families and friends back in Venezuela are living first-hand.


Don’t underestimate the power of social media, specially for millennials, who are tech savvy. It is a great tool to let your voice be heard and inform people of relevant issues happening in the world.

Barakat, C. (2014, February 21). Social Media and the Uprising in Venezuela. Retrieved August 30, 2017, from

Ellis, S. (2017, August 29). The collapse of Venezuela, explained. Retrieved August 30, 2017, from

Wilson, P. (2014, February 19). Social media key for Venezuelan protesters. Retrieved August 30, 2017, from

Tech Can Save Lives During Times of Disaster

Hurricane Harvey has caused devastation to multiple communities in Texas recently, with houses and businesses being completely flooded, and roads filling up like lakes to make travel nearly impossible. Through all of this, search and rescue efforts continue to save people from the terrors of flooding. Finding those in distress has been made significantly easier through the use of technology, including apps and social media.

For Hurricane Harvey, many people have been using the walkie-talkie app Zello to communicate their location on a station specifically for those who are stranded. Once survivors share their location on the channel, they can be rescued. Additionally, those in Texas have turned to Facebook and Twitter in order to communicate their location to the world. The Cajun Navy has created a map that is linked to a Google form, where users can fill in their name and location, and it will pop up on the map for responders to see.

However, this is not the first time we have seen the benefits of technology in natural disaster relief. After the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, Dr. Paul Gardner-Stephen developed a mesh network that allowed Haitians to communicate using their cellphones without an established connection. Additionally, the Red Cross was using a mass text messaging application that allowed them to send short messages to all of the working mobile phones in an area. These messages would include survival tips and other important information.

In both cases, it is clear that communication is vastly important to successfully aiding those areas affected by natural disasters. It is obvious that technology is playing a huge part in guaranteeing the safety of more and more citizens in these situations. In my opinion, it is a great example of why we need technology in our society today. Although we tend to get some negative backlash for being such a technology-focused society, our advances in technology are helping to aid those in difficult situations. Often, technology is developed to solve problems, and this is one example of technology that does a great job at mitigating the problem at hand. The infographic below, courtesy of Eastern kentucky University Online, is a great overview of recent disasters and how technology was used in said disasters.

Larson, Selena. “Stranded Hurricane Survivors Use Zello App to Get Help.” CNN Tech, CNN, 28 Aug. 2017, Accessed 29 Aug. 2017.

Lane, Edwin. “How Technology Is Changing Disaster Relief.” BBC News, BBC, 24 Sept. 2014, Accessed 29 Aug. 2017.

“When Disaster Strikes: Technology’s Role in Disaster Aid Relief.” Eastern Kentucky University Online, Eastern Kentucky University, Accessed 29 Aug. 2017.Infographic.


Is Social Media Good for Our Generation?

Jean M. Twenge has been studying the habits of various generations for 25 years. As Twenge was studying the habits of the most current generation, what she calls iGen, she noticed some interesting patterns. First, she noticed that members of generation iGen were hanging out with their friends less, going on dates less, and even having less sex than previous generations. Twenge determined that this difference in generations was the result of social media. Teens and other members of iGen spend much of their time communicating with their friends via Snapchat and other platforms on their phones as opposed to communicating face-to-face.

Additionally, Twenge found that social media had additional negative psychological effects. The more time members of iGen spent on social media, the more inclined toward depression and suicidal thoughts they were. This makes one wonder how much benefit social media can possibly offer if the side effects can be so drastic. According to Twenge’s research, doing basically anything besides consistently getting on social media is better for your mental health.

Personally, I found this information really shocking, because it makes my generation seem as if we are missing out on the basic aspects of life (hanging out with friends, dating, etc.) to play around on our phones. The attachment to technology that is portrayed in this article is not inaccurate at all, and it makes me somewhat uncomfortable that we accept it as so. I am not suggesting everyone should go off the grid, but I am saying that we may benefit from monitoring our social media usage.

With social media becoming such a huge part of people’s lives today, it is hard to say whether its social domination will ever plateau. If it doesn’t, the consequences could change a generation completely. Being raised as a social media generation has had a huge effect on the members of iGen. This points to the power that technology can have in a society, and how something that seems as harmless and simple as Twitter or Facebook can actually have huge consequences and make a large impact. In this sense, it is the information technology that has completely defined a generation. The infographic containing the data from Twenge’s research can be found below.

Twenge, Jean M. “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” The Altlantic, Sept. 2017, Technology sec. The Atlantic, Accessed 25 Aug. 2017.

Twenge, Jean M. “The Smartphone Generation: A Statistical Portrait.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Monthly Group, Sept. 2017, Accessed 28 Aug. 2017. Infographic.

The Dangers of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is being used to do a lot of great things in the world from helping create better music playlists to revolutionizing autonomous cars. As AI starts to be used for more and more things, however, the potential for misuse increases. Elon Musk was one of many businessmen who sent a letter to the UN urging them to put autonomous weapon systems–weapons that can identify and attack targets without any human intervention–on the list of banned weapons that countries can not possess.

There is a new danger as AI becomes more main stream that it will be used for negative things, such as creating weapons that are far quicker and more lethal than anything we currently have. These new weapons could identify enemies as opposed to friendlies and choose who to target. This is a dangerous road to go down because it puts a lot of power into the hands of computers.

The UN has begun to hold meetings on how to address the issue of AI-backed weapons and warfare. Musk himself is a big supporter of AI, but he has also warned of the dangers of it just as much as he has praised it. He has many plans for AI given his role in Tesla, but he has been strongly opposed to allowing it to have a place in war and weapons.

Personally I think that the UN needs to place some restrictions on AI and warfare. The effects of not doing so could be devastating for the world as future conflicts play out. I am fascinated by all of the good that AI has brought to the world and the amazing things it has allowed us to do like self driving cars, but warfare is definitely a place where I think the creativity needs to be limited and watched over.

It will be very interesting to see if and how the UN chooses to restrict or limit the use of AI in weapons. There are very real dangers that can come from AI and this is a prominent one that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.


Artificial Intelligence and Education

An interesting aspect of this course is the use of a tool called BBookX, both in the creation of our course textbook, as well as the use of BBookX by students to complete an assignment later in the course. At a high level, BBookX is designed to help instructors find free resources, and quickly combine them in to a textbook. In the education technology world, this is considered a tool to facilitate the creation of Open Educational Resources (OERs). Two aspects of this software that make it compelling to examine from an IST perspective:

The BBookX iteration loop

Human-assisted machine learning – BBookX uses machine learning algorithms, that work on top of Wikipedia, to try and find the most interesting and relevant content a user is searching for. They algorithms are conceptually similar to the algorithms that power websites like netflix and amazon; the more the algorithms ‘know’ about you, the more accurate they become. In BBookX, you search for articles, you accept or reject articles that are returned, and by participating in this activity, the algorithms get smarter, returning more interesting and relevant content each time you go through this iteration loop.

Design-based research – Over the last two years, we spent time collecting data from both students and faculty that use BBookX. Through the application of a DBR approach, we discovered that the tool isn’t being used as an OER book creation tool. Rather, it’s being used a brainstorming or ideation tool. Users are interacting with the algorithms in a way to discover new content, that can then be included in a lecture, homework assignment, or case study (Pursel et. al., 2016)*.

We will learn more about artificial intelligence later in this course, including things similar to BBookX that use AI to support education. We’ll also look at AI in more mainstream areas, such as self-driving cars. AI is a great example IST topic, because it combines elements of technology, working with a wide range of information, and intersects with people in fascinating, sometimes unanticipated, ways!

* Pursel, B., Liang, C., Wang, S., Wu, Z., Williams, K., Brautigam, B., … & Giles, C. L. (2016, April). BBookX: Design of an Automated Web-based Recommender System for the Creation of Open Learning Content. In Proceedings of the 25th International Conference Companion on World Wide Web (pp. 929-933). International World Wide Web Conferences Steering Committee.