Ally Johnson '20 using her laptop.

By Ally Johnson ‘20

The Alumni Association wouldn’t exist without the strong community of Terps - our alumni, current students, family members, faculty and staff. Their contributions to the Alumni Blog offer unique and fresh perspectives on everything from career advice, binge-worthy TV shows and podcasts, tackling life after graduation and more.

As a generally health-conscious individual, not to mention a current student in the School of Public Health, I am always on the hunt for new podcasts that bring me up-to-date on the latest health news and trends. Most importantly, I want to make sure that the information I receive is accurate, research-based and easy to absorb. 

With Wise Traditions by Terp alumna Hilda Labrada Gore ‘83, I’ve found a podcast that delivers in these areas and truly meets my needs as a listener. The Terp alum host, known to her listeners as Holistic Hilda, aims to be a voice for healthy living and encourages vibrant health across all ages and stages of life. 

The Wise Traditions podcast embraces wisdom from the past to inform health in the present. The podcast takes a holistic approach to health, covering topics that range from our food system to the benefits of alternative medicine. Different episodes cover light therapy, acupuncture, gut health and giving a “makeover” to the traditional school lunch. 

I recently listened to an episode called Screen Addiction, released on January 20, 2020. While this particular episode aired prior to the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S., I found this topic very relevant to examine. In our current environment of social distancing and self-quarantine, screens (laptops, televisions, phones, iPads, etc.) are readily available for children and adults alike. 

Without a doubt, modern technology provides so many opportunities for us to take advantage of during this time, such as online learning and teleworking. It allows us to connect face-to-face with friends and family, and it provides entertainment, news and frankly, a distraction.

This episode of Wise Traditions sheds light on the other side of our technology that we sometimes forget - the addictive nature. Hilda and guest speaker Katie Singer examine the chemical processes behind this, specifically the impact of prolonged exposure to screen time. 

Here are my top 5 highlights from this episode: 

1. Some negative consequences of excessive screen time exposure are addiction, agitation, memory loss and distractedness (ie. the need to check a text message while driving a car).

2. The frequencies that are required to operate our mobile devices actually activate something called the Dopamine Effect, which has to do with the brain’s reward system. It is the same chemical process that the brain goes through during drug and alcohol addiction, where there is a “feel good” signal sent to the body that leads to repetitive behavior.

3. Screen addiction impacts children and adults alike, as we are all exposed to this technology in great amounts. As an example, children may be using chromebooks at school all day and then come home to play video games after work. Adults may stare at a computer screen all day at work and then continue to use their smartphone throughout the evening.

4. By reversing the effects of electronic screen time on their children, parents can boost social skills, end meltdowns and even raise grades. Kim and Hilda discuss a 4-week program designed by child psychiatrist Dr. Victoria Dunckley on how to do so. 

5. Interactive screen time is significantly more hazardous than passive screen time, contrary to popular belief. While overstimulation of the brain occurs in both cases, research by Dr. Dunckley greatly demonstrates this.

I encourage you to go back and listen to the full episode yourself! Take the time to browse the other content that Hilda has available on the Wise Traditions podcast, as I am confident that you will find it both applicable and highly captivating. 

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