Alarmist Science News Headlines May be Terrible for You, and Now We Know Why

Wired just published an article with an appalling title, “Screens May Be Terrible for You, and Now We Know Why.” A quick skim of the article — what the majority of Facebookers posting or clicking will give, I’ll bet—underlines words and phrases like “breast cancer,” “obesity,” and “depression.” These highlighted phrases link to compelling scientific studies associating artificial light exposure at night with a depressing list of woes. What does the technology-fearing headline consumer conclude? Working at a computer, watching television, and texting are killing me…and my Minecraft-obsessed children!

Freelance science journalist Brandon Keim’s article itself is actually interesting and scientifically sound. However, Keim’s claim is NOT that screens in particular are bad for us, but that ANY kind of light we are exposed to after the sun goes down, when we are supposed to be getting quality shut-eye mind you, is statistically linked to a myriad of troubling health problems. The alarming news is that we should turn off ALL of the lights — and perhaps in particular LED lights — when it is time to go to bed. With the data presented, the reader should conclude that it’s not just my iphone or my television set that is killing me and making me fat and depressed, but any artificial light at nighttime, for example my next-door neighbor’s security light, my bedside reading lamp, or my kid’s nightlight. But, rest assured dear reader, this same science says that in the daytime — when these sources of light pale in comparison to the glorious sun — you are free to enjoy the glow of that screen.

by Molly F. Wetterschneider (March 19, 2015)