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Could your car make you sick? Study highlights potentially cancerous toxins in vehicles

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Americans may be breathing in cancer-causing chemicals while driving, recent research suggests.

A study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology has sparked discussions about the potentially harmful toxins that could be lurking in the cabins of vehicles.

“Certainly the indoor air quality can cause health symptoms,” Dr. Ken Speath, M.D., the division chief and medical director for occupational and environmental medicine at Northwell Health on Long Island, New York, told Fox News Digital.

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It is important to be mindful of what you’re breathing in at home, at the office, at school and even in cars, according to Speath, who was not involved in the study.

“There can be situations where levels of harmful chemicals get high enough to potentially cause health harms,” he said.

Americans may be breathing in cancer-causing chemicals while they are driving, recent research suggests. A study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology has sparked many discussions. (iStock)

“A car is a closed small space — so whatever is in the air is certainly going to be breathed in.”

Research reveals ‘harmful chemicals’

The peer-reviewed study looked at 101 owned vehicles in the U.S., model year 2015 or newer.

The researchers concluded that harmful flame-retardant chemicals — including those suspected of potentially causing cancer and some neurological issues — may be polluting the air inside vehicles.

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“Flame retardant chemicals, which are intentionally added to vehicle interiors to meet flammability standards, are released into the cabin air from the materials to which they were applied,” lead author Rebecca Hoehn, a scientist at Duke University, told Fox News Digital.

“People in these vehicles may be exposed to these chemicals.”

Seat foam was the only material the researchers measured, Hoehn said, but other interior materials could also contain the chemicals.

driver in car

The researchers concluded that harmful flame-retardant chemicals — including those suspected of potentially causing cancer and some neurological issues — may be polluting the air inside vehicles. (iStock)

“Considering the average driver spends about an hour in the car every day, this is a significant public health issue,” Hoehn warned.

“It’s particularly concerning for drivers with longer commutes, as well as child passengers, who breathe more air pound for pound than adults.”

The chemicals detected in the car cabins included a flame retardant called tris (1-chloro-isopropyl) phosphate (TCIPP), which is currently being investigated as a potential carcinogen by the U.S. National Toxicology Program.

“Considering the average driver spends about an hour in the car every day, this is a significant public health issue.”

Other flame retardants — tris (1, 3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCIPP) and tris (2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP) — were also detected. 

These are “two Californian Proposition 65 carcinogens linked to neurological and reproductive harms,” according to a press release.

Higher concentrations of the flame retardants were found during warmer weather.

“We found that the same cars, sampled in both winter and summer, had higher concentrations of flame retardants in the cabin air during the warm summer months,” Hoehn told Fox News Digital.

Car fire

Flame retardants are added to vehicles to meet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, which mandated their use in the 1970s. (iStock)

Flame retardants are added to vehicles to meet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS 302), which mandated their use in the 1970s, the release stated.

Flame retardants have been the “focus of concern for some time,” Speath told Fox News Digital.

More information is needed to determine the health risks these chemicals pose in humans, he said.

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“A number of these have been demonstrated in studies to have health harms in animals,” he said.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean that would be true for humans, but it raises that possibility, so we need to study these chemicals more in relation to their effects on humans.”

woman driving a car

Higher concentrations of the flame retardants were found during warmer weather, the researchers said. (iStock)

Emanuela Taioli, M.D., PhD, the director of the Institute for Translational Epidemiology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, was also not part of the study, but shared her reactions.

“This is a very relevant finding, since it may prompt changes in cars’ upholstery, as well as in other parts of the car where there is foam,” she told Fox News Digital via email.

“We also want to know more about this finding and monitor whether it is replicated by other investigators.”

Other sources of toxins

Stephen Showalter, a home inspector and indoor environmental air consultant with Showalter Property Consultants in Maryland, said he typically interviews clients about their history of illness, then tests for potential sources of sickness in buildings, cars, RVs and boats. 

Mold is a common culprit when it comes to health issues triggered by one’s environment, he said in an interview with Fox News Digital.

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Dr. Daniel Johns, a member of the International Society of Environmentally Acquired Illnesses and a chiropractor who practices in Annapolis, Maryland, echoed Showalter’s concerns about mold-related health issues.

Johns also cautioned that cars can be a daily source of mold exposure.

“Any water that leaks from a window, sunroof or convertible can get into the carpet and cause mold growth,” he said during an interview with Fox News Digital. 

Mold in car

Mold is a common culprit when it comes to health issues triggered by one’s environment, according to an environmental expert. (iStock)

“Mold can start growing on a wet surface within 24 to 48 hours.”

For families with small children, spilled sippy cups could play a role when it comes to mold in cars, Johns warned.

“The water seeps into the upholstery and doesn’t get noticed or properly dried out, and the whole seat can become moldy,” he said.

“Mold can start growing on a wet surface within 24 to 48 hours.”

“Every time you sit on the seat, it releases a mold spore cloud into the car. Once that happens, you can’t clean it away. The upholstery must be removed and replaced.”

The impact of these potentially harmful pollutants can vary from one person to the next, experts told Fox News Digital.

Child strapped into car seat

For families with small children, spilled sippy cups could play a role when it comes to mold in cars, an expert warned. (Kids and Car Safety)

People metabolize chemicals and toxins in different ways, according to Taioli. 

“Metabolism happens through enzymes that the body produces,” he said. 

“Each of us has a different genetic profile that defines our metabolic capacity. As a consequence, the same amount of toxin may be metabolized better/faster by some, and worse/slower by others.”

Tips for ensuring safe interiors

While further research on car-borne chemicals is needed, experts say people can take measures to limit exposure.

“People may be able to reduce their exposure by ventilating their cars,” Hoehn advised. 

“For example, rolling down the windows to let out contaminated air, or pulling in fresh air with climate control systems, should reduce concentrations. 

“Ultimately, reducing the amount of flame retardants added to vehicles in the first place would provide the greatest reduction in exposure risk.”

Controlling your vehicle’s cabin temperature may also reduce exposure, she added. 

“Parking in a garage or shade instead of full sun may reduce the cabin temperature and limit the extent of flame retardant release,” Hoehn said.

The researchers also called for action from regulatory agencies and vehicle manufacturers. 

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“Ultimately, reducing the amount of flame retardants added to vehicles in the first place would provide the greatest reduction in exposure risk,” Hoehn noted.

“If flammability standards for vehicles could be revised to meet fire safety guidelines without the use of added flame retardants, risk of flame retardant exposure from personal vehicles could be greatly reduced.”

Car window rain

To prevent mold in a vehicle, experts recommend keeping your windows up when it rains or snows to prevent water from permeating the carpet or fabric. (iStock)

Having your car’s air quality and surfaces tested is one way to reduce the risk of exposure to allergens, toxins and chemicals, experts told Fox News Digital.

To prevent mold in a vehicle, Showalter recommends keeping your windows up when it rains or snows to prevent water from permeating the carpet or fabric.

He also cautioned about leaky air conditioners, which can foster mold growth in vehicles, and about leaving wet items in the car.

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Lastly, before buying a used car, he said it is important to check the vehicle’s history to make sure it doesn’t have flood damage, which can lead to mold and other issues.

If you think you are experiencing illness due to chemical exposure in your car, home or office, it’s best to see a health care professional to discuss your symptoms.

Fox News Digital reached out to several major car companies for comment.

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‘Viva Las Vegas’ stars Elvis Presley, Ann-Margret’s romance ‘couldn’t last’: 4 bombshells as movie turns 60

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Viva Las Vegas” is celebrating its 60th anniversary.

In one of his most well recognized roles, rock star Elvis Presley stars in the movie as Lucky Jackson, a race-car driver preparing for the Grand Prix, who along the way falls in love with the beautiful Rusty Martin, played by Ann-Margret.

A love affair, a sultry deleted scene and friction between the two leads made the set of the film just as exciting as the movie itself.

Here are some of the juiciest stories from the set of the iconic movie.

Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret starred together in “Viva Las Vegas” in 1964. (Photo by FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images)

ANN-MARGRET DESCRIBES HER ELVIS PRESLEY CONNECTION, REMEMBERS NIBBLING ON PAT BOONE’S SHOULDER

On-set romance

Elvis Presley and Ann-Margaret filming a scene for "Viva Las Vegas"

Ann-Margret wrote in her memoir that she and Elvis Presley had a brief romance while filming “Viva Las Vegas.” (Getty Images)

Although Elvis was in a relationship with Priscilla Presley at the time, he engaged in an on-set romance with costar Ann-Margret. 

The actress wrote about their brief romance in her 1994 memoir, “Ann-Margret: My Story,” explaining it came to an end when Presley got the impression Ann-Margret sold a story to the tabloids that the two of them were getting married.

“It probably couldn’t last,” Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz told Fox News in August 2017 of the relationship. “But they had a real meaningful connection with each other. They understood each other, they both come from small towns, they both loved motorcycles, and they both were uncomfortable in their spotlight of Hollywood… And I think that’s what connected them to each other during the duration of Elvis’ life.

“I think my understanding of it is we should all be so lucky to have a friendship that’s as meaningful as the one between Ann-Margret and Elvis Presley.”

Despite ending their romantic relationship, the two remained good friends until the singer’s death in 1977.

Ann-Margaret and Elvis Presley in yellow outfits

Ann-Margret and Elvis Presley remained close friends until his death in 1977. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

When speaking with Fox News Digital in May 2023, Ann-Margret looked back on her time making the movie fondly, sharing “it was a joy to work with E.P.”

In a separate interview with Fox News Digital in April 2021, Ann-Margret said she cannot think about “Viva Las Vegas” without smiling, adding “it was one of the happiest times of my life.” 

Aside from her friendship with Presley, Ann-Margret also had a close relationship with director George Sidney, who, prior to directing her in “Viva Las Vegas,” directed her in the movie musical, “Bye Bye Birdie.”

Ann-Margaret and Elvis Presley dancing in a scene for "Viva Las Vegas."

Ann-Margret says she and Elvis Presley “moved” to music the same way. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

ELVIS PRESLEY LEFT A LASTING IMPACT ON ANN-MARGRET, SAYS TCM HOST BEN MANKIEWICZ

Deleted scene

Elvis Presley and Ann-Margaret standing around the piano in "Viva Las Vegas."

A deleted scene from the movie features Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret singing a duet. (Photo by FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images)

While the movie has its fair share of song and dance numbers, 10 in total, it seems the 11th number was left on the chopping block, according to Country Living.

A deleted scene posted on YouTube starts with Presley playing the piano and singing “Today, Tomorrow and Forever” on his own. Soon after, Ann-Margret walks into the room and slowly starts to make her way closer and closer to Presley.

As they continue to sing together, a montage begins to play of the two characters engaging in different activities, including dancing, biking and waterskiing. The clip ends with the two falling to the floor laughing as they messed up a dance move.

“We felt music the same way. We would listen to music, we would look at each other and woo! We would be moving the same way,” Ann-Margret told Fox News Digital in May 2023.

The song was originally written for the film and was released on its accompanying EP. It was then re-released as part of the 2002 Elvis Presley compilation album, “Elvis: Today, Tomorrow, and Forever.”

‘The only problem’

Ann-Margaret and Elvis Presley dancing in "Viva Las Vegas."

Elvis Presley was reportedly jealous of the attention director George Sidney gave Ann-Margret. (Photo by FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images)

Although Ann-Margret and Presley were reportedly in love during the time of filming, Sidney revealed Presley was very jealous of the attention his costar was getting on set.

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“We made this picture, no problem. The only problem was Elvis didn’t want the girl Ann-Margret to have any close-ups,” Sidney once told the media. “He wanted all the close-ups. And he didn’t want her to have any numbers. Well, I said, ‘No… I’m directing the picture. I’ll do it my way.'”

Express reported the reason the final scene in the movie was done with a split screen is because Presley wanted to keep the spotlight on himself and appear in the final scene alone. This reportedly led the director to film Ann-Margret’s part of the scene separately and put the two clips together when editing.

The movie ended up being a box office hit, elevating the careers of both Presley and Ann-Margret. In addition to Elvis’ thriving music career with the release of his albums “Love Letters from Elvis” and “Promised Land,” he would go on to star in 17 more feature films. 

Ann-Margret went on to have a successful acting career and has had a series of successful residencies in Las Vegas. Her first performance in Las Vegas was in July 1967, which Presley attended. He also sent her a bouquet of flowers before each new residency opening night.

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‘Viva Las Vegas,’ the song

Elvis Presley playing the guitar

Elvis Presley wrote the song “Viva Las Vegas” for the movie. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

Presley wrote the song “Viva Las Vegas” for the movie, and it quickly became the theme song for Sin City, a city which also became synonymous with the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” as well.

The singer never performed the hit live, but it remains one of his most well-known songs. It was initially released as a single on the EP associated with the movie, which also featured three other songs from the film.

Presley would go on to have a long history with the city. He performed there for the first time in 1956 as part of the closing act at a show in the New Frontier Hotel. In 1969, he began a residency at the International Hotel, continuing to perform shows at the location until his final one in December 1976. 

While Presley died eight months later, in August 1977, he remains a major presence in the city. All throughout Sin City, Elvis impersonators continue to put on shows, act as ministers in wedding chapels, and visitors can hear his music played everywhere they go. 

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UN experts say South Sudan is close to securing a $13 billion oil-backed loan from a UAE company

U.N. experts say South Sudan is close to securing a $13 billion loan from a company in the United Arab Emirates, despite the oil-rich country’s difficulties in managing debts backed by its oil reserves.

The panel of experts said in a report to the U.N. Security Council that loan documents it has seen indicate the deal with the company, Hamad Bin Khalifa Department of Projects, would be South Sudan’s largest-ever oil-backed loan.

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The experts, who monitor an arms embargo against South Sudan, said in the oil section of the report obtained by The Associated Press this week that “servicing this loan would likely tie up most of South Sudan’s revenue (for) many years, depending on oil prices.”

U.N. experts say South Sudan is close to securing a $13 billion loan from a company in the United Arab Emirates, despite the oil-rich country’s difficulties in managing debts backed by its oil reserves. (Photo by TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images)

Hamad Bin Khalifa Department of Projects, registered in Dubai, has no listed phone number and its website isn’t working. An email address associated with the company bounced back. The UAE Mission to the United Nations declined to comment, saying Hamad is a private company.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 following decades of civil war that cost million of lives, and oil is the backbone of the young nation’s economy.

Soon after independence, South Sudan fought its own civil war from 2013 to 2018, when rivals President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar signed a power-sharing agreement and formed a coalition government. South Sudan is under pressure from the United States and other nations to more quickly implement the 2018 peace deal that ended the civil war and prepare for elections.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest update, South Sudan produced an average of about 149,000 barrels of liquid fuels per day in 2023. The landlocked country uses Sudan’s pipelines to transfer its oil to Port Sudan for shipment to global markets in an agreement with the Sudanese government, which pockets $23 per barrel as transit fees for the oil exports.

South Sudanese Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth told reporters in February that outside factors, including the civil war still raging in Sudan, have hurt South Sudan’s oil exports. He also said oil wells, which were water-logged by heavy floods during the past rainy season, weren’t yet fully operational.

The section on oil in the experts report said documents for the loan from the UAE company, signed between December and February by South Sudan’s minister of finance, indicate the loan is split into tranches.

According to the documents, around 70% of the loan is to be allocated to infrastructure projects, with the first payment in excess of $5 billion, the panel said. Following a three-year grace period, “the loan will be secured against the delivery of crude oil for a period of up to 17 years.”

The panel of experts raised serious questions about South Sudan’s oil-based debts.

South Sudan lost a case in the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes stemming from a $700 million loan it received from Qatar National Bank in 2012.

When the panel wrote its report, the tribunal had not reached a decision on how much the government would have to pay, but The Sudan Tribune reported Sunday that South Sudan has been ordered to pay more than $1 billion.

The panel of experts said it has also confirmed that the government owes $151.97 million to the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank stemming from a previous oil-related deal.

South Sudan was supposed to hold elections before February 2023, but that timetable was pushed back last August to December 2024.

In early April, South Sudan’s president warned lawmakers “not to cling to power just weeks after his former rival turned deputy proposed a further postponement of elections.

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The panel of experts said would be “a significant milestone” and warned that the country’s leaders are running short of time “to ensure divergent expectations do not fuel further tensions and strife.”

The experts also noted South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. in which an estimated 9 million of the country’s 12.5 million people need protection and humanitarian assistance, according to the U.N. The country has also seen an increase in the number of refugees fleeing the war in neighboring Sudan, further complicating humanitarian assistance to those affected by South Sudan’s internal conflict.

Feeling more hungry than usual? Expert reveals it could be due to this

If you’ve been feeling hungrier than usual, it could be due to your sleeping habits.

Human hunger is tied to circadian rhythm, according to experts, which means not sleeping enough can cause a greater appetite.

Dr. Christopher Rhodes, a nutritional biologist in California, explained in a conversation with Fox News Digital that a body deprived of sleep “seeks out energy by way of food.”

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“Sleep and eating are intimately linked due to their shared involvement in both metabolic signaling and your body’s circadian rhythms,” he said. 

“Just as we train our body on when to expect sleep, we also train it on when to expect food based on our typical mealtimes and dietary patterns throughout the day, which becomes part of our daily circadian cycles.”

Human hunger is tied to circadian rhythm, according to experts, which means not sleeping enough can cause a greater appetite. (iStock)

Poor sleep disrupts hormonal signaling — particularly cortisol, which impacts “metabolic rate and the crucial hormones leptin and ghrelin,” according to Rhodes. 

These hormones are responsible for controlling hunger and the use of energy, he noted.

Extreme disruptions in circadian rhythm — like insomnia or “all-nighters” — can cause a “ripple effect” throughout the body, according to Rhodes.

“Sleep and eating are intimately linked.”

“[This] can throw our natural rhythms out of whack and cause issues with our biological signaling, changes in hormone levels, chemical signaling and neuronal function,” he said.

“In turn, these imbalances can cause excess hunger and cravings as our body, deprived of the energizing effects of sleep, seeks to compensate by taking in more energy from food,”

woman lies awake in bed

Staying up late at night can throw off the body’s natural rhythm, according to experts. (iStock)

Low-quality sleep can also contribute to poor cognition and reduced brain function, which reduces impulse control, the expert noted.

When these effects are combined with added cravings, and as the body “desperately seek[s] ways to fuel itself,” that can lead to excess food consumption, Rhodes warned.

Curbing cravings

While it may be difficult to ignore cravings, Rhodes suggested some healthy ways to break the cycle of increased hunger and poor sleep.

It’s best to avoid snacking at bedtime, he said, as energy from snacks can keep you awake.

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“By and large, the best bedtime snack is none at all,” Rhodes said. “Food intake immediately before bed will cause a rush of nutrients and energy into your system, which can disrupt the natural circadian signaling that helps govern your sleep cycles.”

“Moreover, food before bed can often set off cravings for more food, which can further disrupt your sleep,” he continued. “Small snacks are typically not enough to meet our body’s satiety thresholds and can lead to more hunger throughout the night.”

Woman eating a doughnut and drinking soda in her kitchen

“It’s best to avoid the canonical ‘midnight munchie’ foods like junk food, cookies, ice cream, pizza and especially alcohol,” the expert said. (iStock)

It’s best to eat at least four to six hours before falling asleep, according to Rhodes, to allow the body to fully metabolize food and store excess energy that could disrupt sleep.

“Focus on foods that have a low glycemic impact and are slow digesting — like lean proteins, healthy nuts or fibrous veggies — to avoid blood sugar spikes,” he said.

LACK OF SLEEP COULD BE A FACTOR IN A ‘SILENT EPIDEMIC,’ EXPERTS WARN

It’s also best to avoid the traditional “midnight munchie” foods like junk food, cookies, ice cream and pizza, he advised — “especially alcohol, as it has been shown to have particularly adverse effects on sleep quality.”

Despite the preconceived idea that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, Rhodes suggested following your body’s natural hunger cues. 

“Breakfast is just another meal like any other, and not the end all be all of your daily well-being,” he said.

woman sits in front of an empty plate.

“If you don’t feel hungry in the morning, it’s best to just follow your body’s natural cues than to force yourself to eat a meal out of obligation,” Rhodes advised. (iStock)

“If you don’t feel hungry in the morning, it’s best to just follow your body’s natural cues than to force yourself to eat a meal out of obligation.”

There may be health benefits for some people who cut breakfast out of their diet, Rhodes mentioned, as studies have shown that intermittent fasting can have positive effects on blood glucose control, cognition and cholesterol levels.

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One easy way to boost energy and satiety throughout the day is to drink hot green tea or other balanced energy drinks that contain caffeine and L-theanine, to “provide sustained energy without jitters or a crash,” Rhodes said.

You sleep how you eat

The food you choose to eat can determine the quality of your sleep, according to experts.

“Quality of sleep can be altered by a number of nutritional factors, including blood glucose spikes, total caloric intake, vitamin and nutrient deficiencies, supplements, meal timing and more,” Rhodes said. 

“Insomnia and poor sleep quality have been linked with a higher risk of obesity in many studies.” 

Eat sleep split

The food you eat can determine the quality of your sleep, according to experts. (iStock)

It’s also important to avoid deficiencies in vitamins A, C, D, E, K, calcium and magnesium, which can affect sleep quality.

“Of these, magnesium supplementation may be the most beneficial, as it’s estimated that 75% of Americans are currently deficient, and magnesium supplementation is well-known to promote calm and support sleep quality,” Rhodes added.

“Insomnia and poor sleep quality have been linked with a higher risk of obesity.”

The most important aspect of maintaining good sleep and eating habits, regardless of lifestyle, is staying as consistent as possible in your day-to-day schedule, according to Rhodes.

“Stabilizing your circadian rhythms will help to improve cognition, mood, hunger signaling and sleep quality by avoiding the hormonal, chemical and neuronal disruptions that can be caused by inconsistent circadian signaling,” Rhodes said.

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“Eating the same meals in the same amounts at the same time every day and maintaining a consistent sleeping schedule will help retrain your body’s circadian rhythms and signaling, so that your atypical work and eating hours will become normal to your body.”

The expert suggested large batch meal prepping as a way to cut down on time spent cooking while also ensuring a “healthy, consistent meal” on hand when needed.

Woman preparing a nutritious meal in advance

Meal prepping is a great way to save time and ensure nutritious food intake, Rhodes said. (iStock)

For even better sleep, Rhodes recommended buying tools such as earplugs, night masks or blackout curtains to avoid distractions.

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“If needed, a melatonin supplement can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, and helps to accelerate adaptations to new sleeping schedules by normalizing sleep hormone production and circadian signaling,” he added.

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Summer is tick season, but these tips can help you avoid the bloodsucking bugs

Tick season is starting across the U.S., and experts are warning the bloodsuckers may be as plentiful as ever.

Another mild winter and other favorable factors likely means the 2024 tick population will be equal to last year or larger, some researchers say.

“It’s very bad and has only been getting worse,” said Susanna Visser of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

TICK BITES AND LYME DISEASE: WHAT TO DO IF A TICK BITES YOU OR YOUR PET

An increasing variety of ticks are pushing into new geographical areas, bringing unusual diseases. Exotic southern species like the Gulf Coast tick and the lone star tick are being detected in New York and other northern states, for example.

But the tick that experts warn of the most is a common blacklegged tick, which is found mainly in forests and spreads Lyme disease. Infection rates begin to peak in May, and U.S. health officials estimate nearly half a million Lyme disease infections happen annually.

Here’s a look at what’s expected this year and how you can protect yourself.

An adult deer tick, also known as the blacklegged tick, crawls on a fingernail at Connetquot State Park in Oakdale, New York on Dec. 27, 2011. (Bill Davis/Newsday RM via Getty Images)

TICK FACTS

Ticks are small, eight-legged bloodsucking parasites — arachnids, not insects — that feed on animals and sometimes people. Some ticks are infected with germs that can cause illness, and they spread those germs when they bite.

There is no widely accepted estimate of how many ticks there are from one year to the next, but there is a scientific consensus that they are an increasingly common health hazard in large portions of the United States.

Blacklegged ticks — also known as deer ticks, since they feed on deer — are among the most common ticks in the eastern half of the U.S. They were plentiful centuries ago, then diminished when forests were cut down and deer were hunted, and rebounded alongside deer and wooded suburbs. The ticks have spread out from pockets in New England and the Midwest over a wider range.

Tick populations cycle throughout the year and their numbers depend on a few factors. They like warm, humid weather, and more can be seen after a mild winter. The more deer and mice available to feed matters, too.

Overall, the blacklegged tick population has been expanding for at least four decades, researchers say.

“This is an epidemic in slow motion,” said Rebecca Eisen, a CDC research biologist and tick expert.

2024 TICK SEASON FORECAST

Weather can play a role in the severity of a tick season.

Very cold, dry winters can whittle down tick populations, but recent winters have been mild — a trend some attribute to climate change.

As Scott Williams, a tick researcher at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, said: “Winters are no longer limiting the tick population.”

Ticks can withstand the heat but tend to almost hibernate when it’s a dry summer. That happened in Maine in 2020 through 2022, said Chuck Lubelczyk, a vector ecologist at the MaineHealth Institute for Research.

But last year was a very wet year, and tick activity multiplied in Maine — the state with the highest incidence of Lyme disease in the country. Weather service predictions call for higher temperatures and precipitation, so “on paper, at least, it could be a very good year for the ticks,” Lubelczyk said.

In Wisconsin, adult ticks were out longer than usual due to a mild winter. The tick nymphs are starting to emerge, and a wet spring is setting the stage for the possibility that the population will be robust, said Xia Lee, an entomologist at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Ditto New York.

“It will be as bad as last year, or worse,” said Saravanan Thangamani, who studies ticks and tickborne diseases at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse.

WHAT IS LYME DISEASE?

Not all ticks are infected with disease-causing germs — about 20% to 30% of the blacklegged tick nymphs that emerge in the Northeast and Midwest this spring and into summer will be carrying the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, experts estimate.

Lyme disease symptoms tend to start between three and 30 days after a bite occurs and can include fever, headache, fatigue and a bull’s-eye-like rash. If you get bitten and develop symptoms, see a doctor to get treated with antibiotics.

HOW TO KEEP TICKS OFF OF YOU

Experts say the best thing to do is take steps to avoid a tick bite in the first place.

If you go outdoors, make note of wooded areas and where grassy properties start bleeding into wooded areas. Ticks tend to perch on ankle-level vegetation with their upper legs outstretched, waiting to latch on to an unsuspecting dog or human.

Try to walk in the middle of paths, wear light-colored and permethrin-treated clothing and use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents.

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HOW TO CHECK FOR TICKS

When you come inside, check for ticks. They can be found anywhere on the human body, but common spots include around the waist, behind the knees, between fingers and toes, on underarms, in the belly button and around the neck or hairline.

They are harder to see when they are young, so look carefully and immediately pull them off with tweezers.

The CDC does not recommend sending individual ticks to testing services for analysis, because a person might get more than one tick bite and the results from the tested tick may not be sufficient information.

Is this autonomous security guard robot the protection you need?


They’re not your typical office workers. Standing at 5 feet tall and cruising through the corridors at a leisurely 3 mph, these robotic guards are the latest addition to workplace security. 

Gone are the days of the traditional security guard. Now, robots are taking over the night shift and beyond.

robot security 1

How do these security robots work?

Cobalt’s robots are custom-built to navigate the unique challenges of each building, from ramps to elevators. They patrol the hallways, vigilant for signs of trouble – be it an unusual motion after hours or a door left ajar – and report their findings to a human-staffed call center.

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These robots can even spot things that might escape the watchful eye of a security camera. They can do this because they are equipped with a depth camera, heat-detecting thermal sensors, 4K cameras that can see 360 degrees, Lidar, as well as a Microphone array for listening and PA system for announcing.

robot security 2

Interactivity and assistance of the security robot

With a simple tap on the screen, employees can summon a 24/7 specialist to address concerns ranging from spills, unwelcome visitors or suspicious activity. This seamless integration of technology and human oversight lets real-life guards spend more time responding and less time observing now that Cobalt is carefully watching on patrol and reporting back what it detects.

WHAT IS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)?

ROBOT security 3

MORE: ELECTRIC HUMANOID ROBOT TO SHAKE UP THE JOB MARKET

Case study: DoorDash

DoorDash has embraced Cobalt’s robotic guards across its corporate sites. The result? Enhanced security operations with fewer sick days, no HR complaints, and a boost in both accuracy and response times for security and safety-related incidents.

robot security 4

MORE: THE SHAPE-SHIFTING UNDERWATER ROBOT PIONEERING THE DEPTHS OF THE SEA

Robots vs. humans: The numbers

The driving force behind this robotic revolution is money. It’s far more economical for companies to deploy robots for round-the-clock security than to rely solely on human guards. According to Forrester Research, opting for a robotic guard over a human can lead to substantial savings – around $79,000 annually. That’s a figure that’s hard to ignore for any business looking to optimize its operations.

5 Is this autonomous security guard robot the protection you need

MORE: APOLLO THE ROBOT JOINS MERCEDES-BENZ ASSEMBLY LINE PRODUCTION

The competitive landscape of the security robot

The security robot market is heating up, with competition between indoor and outdoor models. While Cobalt’s robots are indoor specialists, others like Knightscope and SMP Robots are venturing into both terrains, including malls, hotels and industrial sites. And let’s not forget drones, which are starting to make their mark in the security domain.

robot security 6

Challenges and considerations of security robots

Of course, it’s not all smooth sailing. Security robots have had their share of mishaps, from minor accidents to malfunctioning in critical situations. And there’s the human factor to consider. Sometimes, nothing can replace the reassurance of a human presence in times of distress.

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robot security 7

Kurt’s key takeaways

Despite the occasional glitch, the consensus is clear: Security robots are here to stay, and their presence is set to grow as the technology continues to advance. They may not replace human guards entirely, but they’re redefining the role and allowing humans to focus on more strategic tasks.

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What’s your take on these new robot guards? Do you think they’re as trustworthy as human security or are we moving too fast into a tech-driven safety zone? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.

For more of my tech tips and security alerts, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by heading to Cyberguy.com/Newsletter.

Ask Kurt a question or let us know what stories you’d like us to cover.

Answers to the most asked CyberGuy questions:

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California UPS driver shot, killed while in truck on break

Police have taken a suspect into custody after a UPS driver was shot and killed inside his truck in Irvine, California, on Thursday afternoon.

The shooting took place at around 3 p.m. near Chrysler and Bendix in the city, according to Irvine police on Facebook.

Sgt. Karie Davies told FOX 11 LA the UPS driver was on break and eating inside his truck when the suspect, who has not been identified, pulled up in a pickup truck and started shooting. Police believe the shooter was wearing a face mask.

USPS MAIL CARRIER SHOT AND KILLED ON THE JOB, POLICE OFFERING $250K REWARD FOR INFO

A UPS driver was shot and killed in what police believe was a targeted attack on Thursday in Irvine, California. (FOX 11 LA livestream/Screenshot)

Officers are working to determine if the driver and the suspect knew each other and if there was a potential motive behind the shooting, Davies said.

“We don’t know exactly what the relationship is between these two gentlemen, if any,” Davies said. “This definitely seemed targeted, meaning it wasn’t a robbery, didn’t appear to be a robbery.”

A few hours later, at around 6 p.m., authorities located the truck of the suspected shooter near Santiago Canyon Road and the Toll Road. The suspect barricaded himself inside his vehicle, but was eventually forced out of it after a chemical agent and a police dog were deployed, Davies said.

“He did not peacefully give up. He was lured out of the vehicle, or forced out of the vehicle by our SWAT team, but he is alive,” Davies said.

Silver pickup truck barricaded by police vehicles

The shooter accused of killing a UPS driver on Thursday in Irvine, California, barricaded himself inside his truck before police forced him out and arrested him. (FOX 11 LA livestream/Screenshot)

Community members told FOX 11 the UPS driver was known in the area and typically ate his lunch in the same spot.

“I mean he’s a friendly gentleman, he never really displayed any sort of attitude, any sort of negativity or anything like that. Just kind of like your normal delivery guy,” Kevin Sanchez told the outlet, adding that the slain driver had delivered their packages for years. 

CALIFORNIA MAIL CARRIER FIGHTS BACK AFTER GETTING SUCKER PUNCHED, VIDEO SHOWS

UPS issued a statement on the driver’s death and said the company will be assisting authorities in any way possible to “understand what happened.”

“Our hearts are heavy tonight with the news of the loss of one of our drivers in Irvine, CA. We are assisting authorities however we can to understand what happened. As a result of the ongoing investigation to find those responsible, we are deferring any additional questions to authorities. The safety and well-being of our employees is our top priority, and we are providing support and counseling services to our employees affected by this tragedy,” UPS said.

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Irvine police said the deadly shooting remains under investigation and urged anyone with information to call 949-724-7200.

“Thank you to the community for your concern as we investigated the tragic homicide that occurred today. Our hearts are with the victim and his loved ones,” the department wrote on Facebook.

Melanoma patients reveal stories for Skin Cancer Awareness Month: ‘I thought I was careful’

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Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. — with one in five Americans developing the disease by the age of 70.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, expected to take the lives of more than 8,200 people in the U.S. this year.

This May, for Skin Cancer Awareness Month, two melanoma patients are sharing their stories of how they overcame this invasive form of the disease.

SKIN CANCER CHECKS AND SUNSCREEN: WHY THESE (STILL) MATTER VERY MUCH FOR GOOD HEALTH

One even wrongly assumed that what she was experiencing “was just a normal part of aging and sun exposure.” Here’s what others can learn.

What is melanoma?

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that starts in the melanocytes, which are the cells that produce the skin’s pigmentation (color).

Most cases — but not all — are caused by exposure to ultraviolet light. Melanoma can affect people of all skin tones and types.

“Melanoma is one of the most common type of cancer in younger patients,” Nayoung Lee, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Health, told Fox News Digital.

Abby Weiner, pictured at left and at right with her husband and sons, was diagnosed with melanoma in Oct. 2023.  (Abby Weiner)

The prognosis is “very good” when melanoma is detected early, but the survival rate falls steeply when it is detected at a more advanced stage, she noted. 

“Melanoma can spread through the bloodstream to your lymph nodes and distant organs, so it is crucial to do regular skin exams to try to catch it at an early stage,” Lee said.

One mom’s story

Abby Weiner, 43, a wife and mother of three young boys living in Washington, D.C., had always been careful about protecting her skin from the sun — which is why her Oct. 2023 melanoma diagnosis was such a shock, she said.

“I had a spot on my cheek that started as a freckle and began getting darker and larger,” she told Fox News Digital. 

“I assumed it was just a normal part of aging and sun exposure.”

VACCINE FOR DEADLY SKIN CANCER SHOWS ‘GROUNDBREAKING’ RESULTS IN CLINICAL TRIAL

Weiner’s sister encouraged her to get it checked out — which led to a biopsy and diagnosis. 

“I was obviously shocked and frightened at first,” said Weiner.  

Her melanoma was removed using Mohs surgery, a procedure in which thin layers of skin are removed one at a time. 

“I required two procedures to remove the cancer and surrounding margins,” she said. “Now, most people don’t even know I had surgery.”

To others, Weiner’s advice is to remember to seek shade, wear sun-protective clothing, and apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher on a daily basis all year long. 

“If we were eating outdoors and there wasn’t a table in the shade, I would end up sitting in the sun.”

“I thought I was careful about protecting myself from sun exposure by wearing a hat or applying sunscreen when my family was at the pool or planning to be outdoors — but if we were eating outdoors and there wasn’t a table in the shade, I would end up sitting in the sun.”

Now, Weiner said she will wait a little longer for a shaded table, and she always keeps a hat and sunscreen with her.

“My sons used to have difficulty applying sunscreen and wearing hats, but now that they’ve seen the impact skin cancer had on me, they are more cooperative,” she said.

CANCER SCREENINGS: HERE ARE 5 TYPES AND CRITICAL INFORMATION TO KNOW ABOUT EACH

Weiner also recommends that everyone gets yearly skin checks with a board-certified dermatologist

“I have so many friends — and even my sister, who probably saved my life — who didn’t regularly see a dermatologist for a yearly skin check before they learned about my melanoma.”

One beach lover’s story

Steve Murray, 68, of the greater Washington, D.C. area, has worked in construction for several decades. 

During his childhood, Murray spent summers at the beach in Ocean City, New Jersey, and winter visits to Florida, where he was exposed to the sun and didn’t do much to protect himself.

In the late 1990s, Murray was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer, and squamous cell carcinoma, a variation of skin cancer that tends to develop in people who have had a lot of sun exposure.

In 2008, he was diagnosed with melanoma.

“My initial symptoms included itching and scaling on my head, followed by irritation,” he told Fox News Digital. 

“Then there was discoloration and irregularity in the shape of my moles.”

“You don’t notice at the time of initial exposure, but it haunts you later in life.”

Initially, Murray feared the worst — “mainly death” — but his dermatologist determined that the melanoma was only on his scalp and hadn’t traveled to his lymph nodes.

Like Weiner, Murray had Mohs surgery to get rid of the cancer — and he was cleared.

VIRGINIA HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT CREATES SOAP TO FIGHT SKIN CANCER, IS AWARDED $25K: ‘REMARKABLE EFFORT’

Since that diagnosis, Murray has had several more bouts of skin cancer.

In 2024, he underwent two surgeries for squamous cell carcinoma on his hand and back. 

Now, Murray visits the dermatologist every three to six months. Also, he always wears a hat, sunscreen and long sleeves whenever possible to protect himself from the sun.

Abby Weiner

Abby Weiner is pictured with her three young sons. “My sons used to have difficulty applying sunscreen and wearing hats, but now that they’ve seen the impact skin cancer had on me, they are more cooperative,” she said. (Abby Weiner)

Murray’s advice to others is to make sun protection a priority when outdoors.

“You don’t notice at the time of initial exposure, but it haunts you later in life when you start developing pre-cancers and skin cancers like squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma that require immediate attention,” he told Fox News Digital.

“Capturing these pre-cancers and cancers of the skin must be diagnosed early with regular checkups,” he added. “Failure to do so could lead to death.”

5 protection tips from an expert

Dr. Lee of NYU Langone Health shared five tips to help prevent potentially deadly skin cancers like melanoma.

1. Skip the sunbathing

“Avoiding a burn is really only half the battle — there is no such thing as a base tan,” Lee said. “Damaged skin is damaged skin.”

For a safer way to achieve a sun-kissed glow on your first beach day of the summer, Lee recommends using self-tanning products.

2. Wear sunscreen every day, in all weather and in every season

When applying sunscreen, Lee recommends using 1 ounce, which would fill a shot glass. 

IF YOU OR YOUR CHILDREN HAVE FRECKLES, HERE’S WHAT YOUR SKIN IS TRYING TO TELL YOU

“It should have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 and say ‘broad-spectrum’ on the label, which protects against the sun’s UVA and UVB rays,” she said. 

Reapply at least every 80 minutes, or more often if you’re sweating or swimming.

3. Use physical sunscreen

Physical sunscreen contains zinc or titanium, which is superior in efficacy to chemical sunscreen, according to Lee.

4. Learn how to do a skin self-exam

“Check your skin regularly so you know what’s normal and to notice any changes or new growths,” Lee advised. 

Skin check

“Not all melanomas are dark and scary-appearing,” a doctor said. “They can be amelanotic, which means they can be more skin colored or pink.” (iStock)

“Seek a dermatologist’s evaluation if you notice a changing, bleeding or persistently itchy spot.”

5. Apply the ABCDE rule

This is the best way to determine if any mole or blemish is cancerous, according to Lee. 

The ABCDE rule tells you what to look for when examining your skin

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The A stands for asymmetrical. “Noncancerous moles are typically symmetrical,” Lee said. 

B is for border, as the border of a cancerous spot or mole may be irregular or blurred. 

dermatologist skin check

The ABCDE rule is the best way to determine if any mole or blemish is cancerous, according to a dermatologist. (iStock)

C stands for color. “A typical mole tends to be evenly colored, usually a single shade of brown,” Lee noted. 

“Not all melanomas are dark and scary-appearing. They can be amelanotic, which means they can be more skin colored or pink.”

D stands for diameter of the spot or mole, which may be a warning sign if it’s larger than 6 millimeters, according to Lee.

If the spot is evolving, which is what E stands for, it might be of concern.

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Lee added, “Because melanomas can vary in appearance, it is important to see a dermatologist regularly for skin exams if you have a history of significant sun exposure, have many atypical appearing moles, or a family or personal history of melanoma so that you have an experienced set of eyes looking at any spots of concern.”

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health

Massive Ukrainian drone attack on Crimea causes power cutoffs in Sevastopol

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A massive Ukrainian drone attack on Crimea early Friday caused power cutoffs in the city of Sevastopol and set a refinery ablaze in southern Russia, Russian authorities said.

The drone raids marked Kyiv’s attempt to strike back during Moscow’s offensive in northeastern Ukraine, which has added to the pressure on outnumbered and outgunned Ukrainian forces who are waiting for delayed deliveries of crucial weapons and ammunition from Western partners.

Ukraine has not commented on the attack or claimed responsibility for it.

The Russian Defense Ministry said air defenses downed 51 Ukrainian drones over Crimea, another 44 over the Krasnodar region and six over the Belgorod region. It said Russian warplanes and patrol boats also destroyed six sea drones in the Black Sea.

Mikhail Razvozhayev, the governor of Sevastopol, which is the main base for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, said the drone attack damaged the city’s power plant. He said it could take a day to fully restore energy supplies and warned residents that power would be cut to parts of the city.

“Communal services are doing their best to restore the power system as quickly as possible,” he said in a statement.

Razvozhayev also announced that schools in the city would be closed temporarily.

Earlier Ukrainian attacks damaged aircraft and a fuel storage facility at Belbek air base near Sevastopol, according to satellite images released by Maxar Technologies.

In the Krasnodar region, the authorities said a drone attack early Friday caused a fire at an oil refinery in Tuapse which was later contained. There were no casualties.

Ukraine has repeatedly targeted refineries and other energy facilities deep inside Russia, causing significant damage.

Ukrainian drones also attacked Novorossiysk, a major Black Sea port. The Krasnodar region’s governor, Veniamin Kondratyev, said fragments of downed drones caused several fires but there were no casualties.

Belgorov Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said a Ukrainian drone struck a vehicle, killing a woman and her 4-year-old child. Another attack set a fuel tank ablaze at a gas station in the region, he said.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops were fighting to halt Russian advances in the northeastern Kharkiv region that began late last week.

The town of Vovchansk, located just 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the Russian border, has been a hot spot in the fighting in recent days. Ukrainian authorities have evacuated some 8,000 civilians from the town. The Russian army’s usual tactic is to reduce towns and villages to ruins with aerial strikes before its units move in.

Russia has also been testing defenses at other points along the roughly 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) front line snaking from north to south through eastern Ukraine. That line has barely changed over the past 18 months in what became a war of attrition. Recent Russian attacks have come in the eastern Donetsk region, as well as the Chernihiv and Sumy regions in the north and in the southern Zaporizhzhia region. The apparent aim is to stretch depleted Ukrainian resources and exploit weaknesses.

___

Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Handy hidden features on Instagram, X and Facebook


If you’re one Facebook argument away from lighting your social media accounts on fire, I don’t blame you. Before you log out for good, I’ve got a few hidden features that’ll make using your social media accounts stink a little less.

We’re giving away an iPhone 15. Enter to win now!

Stop video autoplay

  • Facebook: Maybe you want to scroll at work undetected or you just prefer the sound of silence. On desktop, disable autoplaying videos under Settings and privacy > Settings > Videos. On mobile, go to Settings & privacy > Settings > Preferences > Media.
  • X: On desktop, click More > Settings and privacy > Accessibility, display and languages > Data usage. On mobile, tap your profile picture to find Settings and privacy.

You can’t stop autoplay on Instagram, which is a dang shame — unless it’s one of my vids that pops up.

AI EXPERT: CHATGPT PROMPTS YOU’LL WISH YOU KNEW SOONER

Love it and list it

  • X: Organize people in private or public lists without following them. Maybe you make a list for cooking tips and another for gadget news — whatever floats your boat. Easy.
  • Instagram: Sort your saved posts into Collections — just like you do on Pinterest. Create a new collection by tapping and holding the bookmark icon below a post, then tapping the + (plus sign). Enter a name, like “Recipes,” and voila! View your collections by tapping the three lines in the top right of your profile, then Saved.

Pin your DMs

  • Instagram: Pin up to three chats to the top of your list for quick access. Just press and hold down on a conversation, then select Pin. No more scrolling to find your besties!
  • Messenger: You can pin an individual message in a chat. Super handy for remembering shared addresses or recipes! From a chat, tap and hold the message you want to pin and tap Pin. To see pinned messages in a chat, tap View Pins.
Icons of facebook, twitter, and whatsapp

The icons of X (then Twitter), Facebook and WhatsApp are seen on an iPhone. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

Say ‘shhhh’

If you’ve got a turbo-posting friend you want to see a little less from on Facebook or Instagram, tap the three dots on one of their posts and pick Hide. You’ll see their posts a little less often — without the drama of unfollowing them. You can also choose to Mute your pal altogether on the next screen.

Shake to report

Something not working correctly on Instagram? Don’t throw your phone across the room — shake it! This brings up the option to report a technical error. Pretty clever. FYI, this isn’t the place to report stalkers or abuse. To do that, tap the three dots next to a post or a username.

1-MINUTE TECH CHANGES FOR MORE PRIVACY

Split your life

Facebook finally realized we’re not the same people to our friends, family and colleagues. You can set up multiple profiles linked to your Facebook account. On the web version, click your profile picture, then click Create a new profile. Just use it for good, not trolling.

The poke is back

Technically, it’s always been there, but Facebook users are rediscovering the “poke.” What does it mean? Whatever you want it to — from flirting to just being funny. Head to your Pokes page to let people know you’re there, I guess.

Bonus: If you want to step away, try this

Ignoring apps that are literally developed to capture your attention is tough. There are settings built into your phone to make it easier. Namely, app time limits. 

The concept is simple: Set an amount of time you’re allowed to spend on an app, and once you hit it, you’re locked out. You can get around the limit — but remember you set it for a reason in the first place.

The Instagram logo

The Instagram logo is seen displayed on a smartphone. Instagram allows users to shake their device to report “bugs,” or instances of the app not working properly. (Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Use an iPhone? 

Before you begin, enable Screen Time on your device: Under Settings, tap Screen Time. Select Turn On Screen Time, followed by Continue.

Here’s how to set up specific app time limits:

  • Go to Settings > Screen Time and turn on Screen Time.
  • Tap App Limits > Add Limit.
  • Select as many categories as you want or choose All Apps & Categories. To select individual apps, tap a category, then find the app.
  • Tap Next and set the time limit. You can set an amount of time for each day by tapping Customize Days.
  • Tap Add when you’re finished.

TECH LIFE UPGRADES SMARTER THAN THE STUFF ON TIKTOK

How to set time limits on apps for Android

Android’s Digital Wellbeing works similarly. Note that different manufacturers put these settings in different places, so use these steps as a starting point.

  • Open Settings > Digital Wellbeing & parental controls.
  • Tap the chart. Next to the app you want to limit, tap Set timer.
  • Choose how much time you can spend on that app. Then, tap Set.

Just like that, you’re on your way to less doom scrolling.

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