Tips & Tricks

Magnets & Electronics

By Abby Schreiber

I’m not going to lie - I definitely waved a magnet around my computer monitor while I was growing up. Those “pretty rainbows” it created fascinated me! But, in truth, I was one second away from damaging my monitor permanently.

Why is it that magnets have such an adverse effect on electronics? Here’s a bit of an explanation.

The name “electronic” comes from the electrons that they store. These electrons are “charged.” Magnets, as you may know, have charges of their own: positive or negative. Depending on the strength of the magnet, some electronics (like the computer monitor I mentioned early) can have their electrons disrupted by these magnetic charges.

With many electronics, the magnet isn’t strong enough to do irreparable damage - especially not in the short period of time it would take you to notice the distortion. In fact, most modern electronics wouldn’t be affected by magnets at all. But VHS tapes are a different story.

The tape used to store memories within a VHS is magnetic - magnets are used to write footage onto the tape in the first place. In fact, the tape is coated in iron oxide or iron cobalt. The placement of these substances help your VCR display the correct images. Because of that, magnets can also be used to erase footage. In the case of VHS tapes (or even cassette tapes), the damage tends to be irreparable.

In my humble opinion, I’d just keep the magnets stuck to the fridge.

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