Mobile Phones and Your Health

Before we start, you may have noticed that a couple of blog posts have been published earlier than anticipated this week.  Yesterday I sent the ‘5 mins more…‘ post a day earlier than I meant to.  It happened earlier in the week also. Sorry about that, the WordPress site we use has a button that says ‘Update’ on it,  which is essentially a ‘save’ button. Occasionally this very same button changes it’s function to ‘Publish’. It’s the same button, same place and the same colour. I habitually manually save as I go – too many scars – and this multi-function button is catching me out. Sorry if this has caused any confusion.

OK, here we go:

Not everyone has a mobile phone, or for that matter a smart phone, this much we understand. If you are one of these people, I hope you will still be entertained and informed by today’s post.

I’ve added quite a few links to webpages in this blog post, more than usual. Clearly if you read all of them it would take you beyond the 5 min time period allotted. Pick an area that you are interested in and read some of the pages I’ve linked to.

To summarise  (not much of this will surprise you):

  • Fatal car crashes related to mobile phone use are skyrocketing – and you will go to prison for a long time if you cause one.
  • The link between brain tumours and mobile phones is as yet inconclusive.
  • Your eyes will suffer if you look at any screen for too long.
  • We are becoming psychologically addicted to our phones.

Mobile Phones and Driving

‘Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel.’
Jim Morrison

I’ve had a good surf around the web to find statistics on mobile phone related car crashes, and as usual there’s more stats out there for the US than UK – but all webpages seem to agree that it is a massive and under reported problem (Business Insider and Brake).

Recent changes to the law mean that, if convicted of minor mobile phone related offences, you can face up to six points on your license plus a £200 fine. It’s cheaper and safer to invest in a hands-free kit.

Just out of interest here’s a fascinating, if morbid, site detailing what you’re most likely to die from if you’re an American.

Mobile phones and Your Head


There’s some information on the Cancer Research website if you wish to dig deeper.


An increasing number of studies are showing that we are becoming psychologically addicted to our phones. The word nomophobia was coined in 2010 during a study commissioned by the UK Postal Service. It describes people who exhibit signs of anxiety if they do not have their phone with them, if their phone is running out of charge, or haven’t looked at it for in the last few minutes. If you’re interested, have a look at the All about counselling page and Nomophobia: A rising trend in students to test yourself to see if you have nomophobia.

Mobile Phones/Screens and Your Eyes

Prolonged periods of look at any screen can cause damage to our eyes. Have a look at Keeping your eyes in a digital world and keep the  20-20-20 suggestion in mind.


Find us some trustworthy UK statistics on mobile phones and traffic incidents (that are not published in newspapers).


Post any tips or sites with details of how to stay healthy in the digital world.






Vampire Power


We should all be aware of our power consumption, not only from a personal financial perspective, but also as a responsibility to the planet. As the strap line of a well known supermarket says, ‘every little helps’, and when it comes to a 40 million people switching off their televisions at night, rather than putting them on standby, that can make a huge difference.

Power and financial cost

Have a play with this tool to ascertain how much energy you are using with devices and how much money (all be it in dollars) they might be costing you every year.

Vampire Power, Standby Power, Phantom Power

The above are all names for the power that our devices use when you are not using them. (It’s not always bad as some devices require some power going to them to retain information.)   In America this costs 19 billion dollars a year.

Mobile Phones

There are somewhere in the region of 40 to 60 million mobile phones in the UK. How many of their chargers are on right this minute, with no phone attached to them? Is yours on at home right now?

According to a number of studies, 50% of the power that our phone chargers use happens when we are not actually charging our phones – so switch them off. There’s also plenty of evidence to show that third party chargers can use even more energy this way, and can also be very dangerous when left on, or even being switched on at all. Be very careful, and avoid 3rd party charges if you can. Feel free to Google ‘Third party phone charger danger’ if you wish to inform yourself.

Our Planet

Well… I don’t think we need to go into that so much here. There’s a seemingly endless amount of writing on this subject freely available to everyone. Many articles report that somewhere in the region of 97% of all scientists believe it’s happening, and that it’s a man and woman made problem. I threw a stick and found this article, but you can find your own.

As consumers the cumulative use of the population is the issue. It’s easy to find statistics that confirm that it costs less than a pound to charge your phone in a year – but what price is that if there was a billion phones sold in 2016? Of course mobile phones are not the only culprits, in fact they take up a minuscule part of the over all need for power, and perhaps that’s the scariest thing about it.


Did you know that our University was awarded £1 million from the HEFCE Revolving Green Fund for the Combined Heat and Power plant on the Cambridge Campus Sustainability at Anglia Ruskin University. Find something on our site related to this area that you didn’t know, or think should be brought to our attention,  and share it in the comments.


Find me some recent statistics about UK power use, and post in the comments.


Find an up-to-date article about alternative forms of energy that you found interesting.

















Photograph taken on iPhone, processed with the Snapseed app, text created with the InstaQuote app.

Today I’d like to talk to you about using your mobile phone/devices or even an actual camera, to take photographs.

If you do not take photos, you will still hopefully find this interesting.

Why use photographs in your work?

  • Many studies suggest that as many as 40% of people are visual learners.
  • Photographs can accelerate understanding by illustration.
  • Photographs can help people to retrieve information from memory.
  • They break up text in presentations.
  • Using your own photographs means you don’t’ have to ask permission to use them!

According to Ofcom more people now have mobile phones than laptops and PCs, and 2017 is set to see mobile users take literally trillions of photographs. So, if we’re going to take photos with our devices, let’s look at how we might take better ones.

My 5 top tips for instantly better photographs

  1. Bend your knees. Photographs taken at eye level are usually more engaging. Bend your knees if you’re taking photographs of people who are sitting down or who are smaller than you. Get closer, or crop more tightly later when processing, to achieve a more intimate shot.


Eye level is often more engaging


Bend your knees rather than titling your camera

  1. Switch OFF your flash. If something is far away and it’s dark, your flash is useless. (Your flash is useless at concerts!). Classrooms are surrounded by windows and often have lights on, so you will rarely need a flash in that situation. Switch the flash back on if it’s too dark, obviously.


switch off your flash

  1. USE your camera and experiment with it. Look at what you have shot and remember what worked and what didn’t. Get used to deleting lots and lots of photos and keep just the good ones.

N.B. This point may draw criticism from many photographers. I’m not asking you to ‘spray and pray’ as it’s often referred to, nor am I advising you to spend the entire event taking photos, but DO use your camera more, and review what you shoot critically to make them better next time.

  1. Be aware of and use the rule of thirds. People don’t just need to be in the middle of your shot. Most portraits, landscapes, film, TV shots, and most paintings, comply with the rule of thirds, or deliberately break that rule.
middle  middlethirds


Nobody likes having their photo being taken, by the way. Be positive with your subject, and brave. Suggest that they turn their shoulder VERY slightly towards you as it makes it look less like a mug shot.

NB: It’s not always easy to see a scene in thirds (and it’s not a law to do that either), but once you see it, you will see it everywhere – have another look at the Mona Lisa, the Hay Wain or TV programmes like the news and imagine lines on the image, like the one above.


  1. Apps: It’s become rather trendy to announce that you didn’t use a filter on your photograph, but in reality professional photographers spend hours processing and editing their shots – just don’t over do it (OR really over do it!).

img_2812Too far?! (taken with a free app called Prismo)

It’s often a matter of taste, BTW. This shot was quickly processed with an amazing app called Snapseed. Do you like the one on the right more or less I wonder?


Lots to choose from today:

Create an educational meme using your device and apps (I used InstaQuote on the image at the top of the page) and make the quote pertinent to your work or inspirational, and email it to me With your permission I’ll post the best ones on this blog for everyone to see.


Take a photograph considering the 5 tips above, and email it to me and I will give you feedback on it. With your permission I’ll post the best ones on this blog for everyone to see.


Let us know how you might find photography useful in your work. Or give us an example of how you have used photography.


Find some recent statistics related to mobile phone and photography (using Google), and post it in the comments.


Let us all know of any photographic apps you have found that you like.




All photographers were rubbish at it when they started.

Put your camera down occasionally and enjoy the event/gig/your life.


Speech to Text to Speech


All new smart phones, tablets and computers (that have a microphone input), have speech to text and text to speech either built in to them, or will support software that will do it, and more often than not that software is free. This enables you to dictate text into any app/piece of software (email/webpages/notes/Word etc.)

Why is it a good idea?

Using these technologies can be hugely beneficial to people with dyslexia and dysgraphia, and visual impairments. They can also be beneficial to people with repetitive strain, or any number of physical disabilities. Individuals who are attempting to communicate in a non-native language can also benefit.

These technologies may well be useful to you in your day-to-day work, and life. I’ve noticed a growing number of people using this technology to dictating quick notes,  diary entries, etc., just because it’s quick and easy.


Today we’d like you to do one of the following:

  • Click on an appropriate link for your device and have a go at writing a note, or get it to read a screen for you, and tell us how you got on in the comments section of this post. Watch this YouTube video to find out how to enable Speech to Text on Apple devices. Or text to speech on Apple devices and Android phones. Google it if I haven’t given you a link to instructions for your device.


  • Click on the picture below, watch the video, then leave a comment on this blog post NOT on the video page please, about anything you found interesting or useful. Sian Shaw has been using tablets to assess her students and recently gave a (very quick) talk about it at one of our TeachMeet events. Sian details how her students are using the voice to speech app to facilitate inclusivity and accessibility, as well as it being a really handy thing for anyone to do and use.



Going further:

Your 5 minutes will be up for today, but as usual we’re keen to give you as much as we can. If you did not watch the video above as part of your task, then please do, as we think you will be inspired.  There are a number of tools out there for dictating text, or reading screens that you may also find interesting:

Using speech to text in Word

Typing with your voice with Google

Information about Dragon Dictate





5 Days of Digital Literacy is back on Monday

Hello, 5 Days of Digital Literacy is back this coming Monday (6th of February, 2017) so we thought we’d drop you a line to cover some admin for newcomers, and some news and information on digital badges.  Please read all of this post whether you’re new to 5 Days or not.


We thought you might be interested to see some statistics since the course started back in October 2016:

  • 292 people are currently following the blog
  • 2,411 comments have been made by you
  • 13,459 views of the posts
  • 1,474 tweet activities (tweets, reposts, likes, mentions, etc)
  • 438 digital badges have been awarded through
  • 1,973 instances of activity with those badges (sharing, linking to LinkedIn, etc)

Welcome to newcomers

Signing up to this WordPress blog is essential if you wish to make comments, receive your digital badges, and have the posts sent to you automatically. You will find a ‘Follow’ section somewhere on this page (usually down the right hand side). Please enter your work email address into the field provided and press the ‘Follow‘ button. You should then receive an email asking you to confirm that you wish to join the blog. Please read the rest of this post newcomers, it may help you with the course.

Digital Badges

  • Congratulations to everyone who has engaged with the course, completed activities, and received their digital badges. Everyone who has completed all 5 activities from any one month on this course should have received their digital badge by now. Well done and please continue. If you think you should have received a badge and haven’t, then please contact me on – BUT please read this page before doing so, as it may contain the answer you need.
  • A fair few people have completed 5 activities but not from the same month and so will not have received a digital badge yet. To receive a digital badge, you must complete 5 activities within the same month, as they are grouped in themes. We have, so far, posted 3 lots of 5 activities, and they ran in October, November and December 2016. You can see which month they were released right next to the title of the post. A bit of scrolling has to be done to find where you are – some of you may wish to scroll back, and fill in some of the gaps.  Please contact me by email if you think you should have received a badge, and haven’t:
  • There’s also a number of people who do not have a account set up and so cannot receive the badges they have earned. If you wish to receive a badge, you need to go to and set up an account with your work email address.
  • We get a lot of queries about how you can show your badges to other people. Once you have a Credly Account you can share them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or simply through Credly itself, and you could happy make reference to them on your C.V. The answer to this question can be found using Google. But here’s the link anyway.

Activities: IMPORTANT

  • Post your answers to the activities in the comments section of the post the activity is set. Just click on the link ‘leave a comment’ next to the title of the post.
  • Please read the activities carefully and answer them as requested.
  • There is a considerable amount of admin attached to this course, so following the instructions will save us work, and make your experience more enjoyable.

Finally: Please let people know they can still join in. Each month has different content.  We will pick up answers to the activities from all posts at any time, and this course will remain open.