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A new study of dysfunctional use of smart technology finds that the most addictive smartphone functions all share a common theme: they tap into the human desire to connect with other people. The findings, published in Frontiers in Psychology, suggest that smartphone addiction could be hyper-social, not anti-social.
"There is a lot of panic surrounding this topic," says Professor Samuel Veissière, from the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University, Canada. "We're trying to offer some good news and show that it is our desire for human interaction that is addictive -- and there are fairly simple solutions to deal with this."
We all know people who, seemingly incapable of living without the bright screen of their phone for more than a few minutes, are constantly texting and checking out what friends are up to on social media.
The number of American teens with depressed thoughts has been increasing since 2012. Looking at the data, it's possible to rule out some factors that might be causing it, like economic inequality and academic pressure. Jean Twenge, author of "iGen," believes all signs point to increased smartphone use as the likely cause. Twenge says it's not necessarily the screen time but the time that's lost to smartphones that could be spent on more meaningful activities, like face-to-face interaction. Around 2012, something started going wrong in the lives of teens.
In just the five years between 2010 and 2015, the number of U.S. teens who felt useless and joyless – classic symptoms of depression – surged 33 percent in large national surveys. Teen suicide attempts increased 23 percent. Even more troubling, the number of 13- to 18-year-olds who committed suicide jumped 31 percent.
In a new paper published in Clinical Psychological Science, my colleagues and I found that the increases in depression, suicide attempts and suicide appeared among teens from every background – more privileged and less privileged, across all races and ethnicities and in every region of the country.
All told, our analysis found that the generation of teens I call "iGen" – those born after 1995 – is much more likely to experience mental health issues than their millennial predecessors.
What happened so that so many more teens, in such a short period of time, would feel depressed, attempt suicide and commit suicide?
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-number-of-teens-who-are-depressed-is-soaring-2017-11
Social networking is completely out of control these days. But do the things we do online make sense in real life? Follow me as as I test social media activity on unsuspecting New Yorkers! I partnered with Relationship Science and their new app MINE by RelSc
By Marcus Aurelius
I would take the lessons learned from social media about smooth and fast functionality.
Users don't want to have to title a photo.... maybe they just want to post it?
Comments need not be in some big box...with a huge profile photo next to each comment..... A link on their username is sufficient to lead to their profile page.
I would also make them "real-time" / "threaded" and "super-fast" (basically showing when someone else is typing.... thereby keeping people online to wait for someone replying.
Some would reply that forum comments are "for the ages" and are somehow written "in stone" compared to social media..... (Baloney!!)
I can go back to posts on FB from 10 years ago and read comments the same way we do on forums.
OH... and these new comment systems can be made SEO friendly. (Check out rt.com commenting system for example)
Video and audio chat are just add ons... for those companies trying to become infrastructure contenders.
One key component why forums aren't advancing against social media are the investment in apps by forums in general.
So basically... once all the above is done... AND THEN also offered in an APP... then I think forums would start to dominate again over time.
I should also add a comment about video as well.
Modern users of social media want to upload video directly to their "site" and have it play...
They don't want to worry about format.
They don't want it to be just a link for others to potentially play.
Facebook is now a VIDEO first company. Guess where the masses of people are spending their time as well? Seen YouTube.com lately?
Forums could/should try to take on this area as well. We have the advantage of better organization.
Google would not be able to relegate forum traffic to "internet drivel" as they like to currently. They would be forced to link to where the video is hosted. And in this case it would be on our forums and not on their YouTube.com
By Marcus Aurelius
There has been a lot of chatter about social media taking over forums traffic.
Do you think that social media has now created "forums" within themselves?
Will forums catch up to social media and start to improve their messaging and threaded replies?
I am starting to see a convergence of the two that I sometimes want to call forums 2.0.
Even this forum has much more capability that the forum 1.0 of even 10 years ago.
Dopaminergic neurons are located in the midbrain structures substantia nigra (SNc) and the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Their axons project to the striatum (caudate nucleus, putamen and ventral striatum including nucleus accumbens), the dorsal and ventral prefrontal cortex. (Credit: Oscar Arias-Carrión et al.)
People who frequently check Facebook on their smartphone tend to have less gray matter in a reward-related area of the brain, according to new research.
“Smartphones, Facebook – in short the digital world – is a major part of our lives,” the study’s corresponding author, Christian Montag of Ulm University, told PsyPost. “A better neuroscientific understanding of digital usage is of importance to also understand how our brains react and are shaped by digital societies.”
The study was published online April 22 in the peer-reviewed journal Behavioural Brain Research.
The researchers recruited 46 men and 39 women, and used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to examine the structure of their brain. Then, the researchers installed an app on the participants’ phones to record how long they spent on Facebook and how often they checked Facebook every day for five weeks.
Montag and his colleagues were particularly interested in the nucleus accumbens, a small structure located deep in the center of the brain. The nucleus accumbens is a core region of the mesocorticolimbic dopaminergic system, which plays an important role in addiction.
The researchers found that participants who opened the Facebook app more frequently and those who stayed on Facebook longer tended to have reduced gray matter volume in the nucleus accumbens.
“We were able to demonstrate that the nucleus accumbens, a central region of the SEEKING system — others call it the reward system — plays an important role in understanding Facebook usage on smartphones,” Montag said. “In short, the lower the gray matter volume in this area, the higher Facebook usage/frequency could be observed.”
“Indeed, frequency of Facebook checking can be compared to an energetic SEEKING activity,” the researchers wrote in the study, “whereas the users of the smartphones are checking their Facebook account in expectation of ‘Likes’, nice comments, etc.”
Does less gray matter in the nucleus accumbens lead to more Facebook use or does using Facebook lead to less gray matter? Because the study was cross-sectional, the researchers could not determine cause and effect.
“We do not know from the present data if low volumes in this area are a cause or consequence of Facebook usage. Therefore longitudinal studies are needed,” Montag explained to PsyPost.
“The present study investigated health young participants with ‘normal’ smartphone usage. Future research will show if excessive usage (which we did not investigate) could represent a behavioral addiction.”
The study, “Facebook usage on smartphones and gray matter volume of the nucleus accumbens“, was also co-authored by Alexander Markowetz, Konrad Blaszkiewicz, Ionut Andone, Bernd Lachmann, Rayna Sariyska, Boris Trendafilov, Mark Eibes, Julia Kolb, Martin Reuter Bernd Weber and Sebastian Markett.
Young people who spend a lot of time on social media — websites designed to bring people together — seem to be more isolated, new research suggests.
Ironically, the researchers found that the heaviest users of social media had about twice the odds of feeling socially isolated compared to their less “web-connected” friends.
The findings “remind us that social media is not a panacea for people who feel socially isolated,” said study lead author Dr. Brian Primack. He’s director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health.
Primack said past research has suggested that people who use social media the most are especially isolated. But those studies have been small, he noted.
The new study is the first analysis of social media use and so-called social isolation in a large group of people from across the United States, according to Primack.
But, at least one social media expert said the study leaves too many questions unanswered to offer people any practical advice.
The study included nearly 1,800 people aged 19 to 32. The participants completed a 20-minute online questionnaire in 2014. Half were female and 58 percent were white. More than one-third made at least $75,000 a year. The participants, who’d taken part in research before, received $15 each for the survey.
Researchers asked questions about how isolated the participants felt and how often they used Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine, Snapchat and Reddit.
Those who used the services more often — either in terms of the number of times they used them or in total amount of time spent on them — were more likely to report feeling isolated from other people, the investigators found.
“Compared with those in the lowest quarter for frequently checking social media, people in the top quarter were about three times as likely to have increased social isolation,” Primack said. Those who checked the least visited social media sites less than nine times a week. Those who checked the most visited social media sites 58 or more times a week, the study authors said.
The average time spent on social media was 61 minutes a day. People who spent more than 121 minutes a day on social media had about twice the odds of feeling isolated than those spending less than 30 minutes a day on these sites, the findings showed.
The authors noted that the study had limitations. One is that it wasn’t designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship. And, it’s not clear which came first — the social media use or the feelings of isolation, according to the researchers.
In addition, the study only looked at people aged 32 and under, so the findings may not be the same in older people.
Primack also pointed out that the study examined people’s use of social media as a whole, not specific sites. There’s no way to know if people who read glowing posts about their friends’ perfect vacations on Facebook are more or less isolated than those who prefer to watch YouTube videos of cats or bitterly argue about politics on Twitter.
If there’s a link between social media use and isolation, what may be going on? “It may be that people who feel more socially isolated use a lot of social media to try to increase their social circles,” Primack suggested.
“But both directions may be at work. People who feel socially isolated may reach out on social media to ‘self-medicate,’ but this may only serve to increase perceptions of social isolation,” he added.
The findings suggest that people who feel isolated may generally be unable to find a connection through social media, Primack said.
The answer may be going offline, he said.
“A much more valuable and robust way to deal with perceived social isolation would probably be to nurture true in-person social relationships,” Primack said. “Of course, social media remains a potentially powerful tool to help leverage those relationships. However, it is probably not such a strong replacement in and of itself.”
Anatoliy Gruzd is an associate professor at Ryerson University in Toronto who studies social media. Gruzd said the study is too limited and “cannot be reliably used to generate practical advice about isolation and social media use. There are still many unanswered questions and untested variables.”
For example, “being active on Facebook may indicate one type of behavior, while being active on something like Snapchat might indicate a very different type of behavior,” he said.
“The study also does not account for the level and type of participation in social media. For example, one can spend hours on Facebook just to browse pictures posted by others, while another person may be using the same amount of time to actively post and connect with others on Twitter,” Gruzd noted.
The study was published in the March 6 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
January 16, 2017
Taylor & Francis
One in five young people regularly wake up in the night to send or check messages on social media, according to new research. This night-time activity is making teenagers three times more likely to feel constantly tired at school than their peers who do not log on at night, and could be affecting their happiness and wellbeing.
1 in 5 young people regularly wake up in the night to send or check messages on social media, according to new research published today in the Journal of Youth Studies. This night-time activity is making teenagers three times more likely to feel constantly tired at school than their peers who do not log on at night, and could be affecting their happiness and wellbeing.
Over 900 pupils, aged between 12-15 years, were recruited and asked to complete a questionnaire about how often they woke up at night to use social media and times of going to bed and waking. They were also asked about how happy they were with various aspects of their life including school life, friendships and appearance.
1 in 5 reported 'almost always' waking up to log on, with girls much more likely to access their social media accounts during the night than boys. Those who woke up to use social media nearly every night, or who didn't wake up at a regular time in the morning, were around three times as likely to say they were constantly tired at school compared to their peers who never log on at night or wake up at the same time every day. Moreover, pupils who said they were always tired at school were, on average, significantly less happy than other young people.
"Our research shows that a small but significant number of children and young people say that they often go to school feeling tired -- and these are the same young people who also have the lowest levels of wellbeing. One in five young people questioned woke up every night and over one third wake-up at least once a week to check for messages. Use of social media appears to be invading the 'sanctuary' of the bedroom." Said author Professor Sally Power, Co-Director (Cardiff) Wales Institute for Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD).
The study findings support growing concerns about young people's night-time use of social media. However, because of the complex range of possible explanations for tiredness at school, further larger studies will be needed before any firm conclusions can be made about the social causes and consequences of sleep deprivation among today's youth.
Frequent social media use is correlated with a higher risk of eating disorders and negative body image, according to a new study based on a survey of young adults conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh. As always, it’s worth noting that correlation doesn’t equal causation, and a number of different explanations are possible – but the findings are certainly food for thought for parents, educators, and healthcare professionals who work with teens and young adults around these issues.T
The study, titled “The Association between Social Media Use and Eating Concerns among US Young Adults” and published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,” surveyed 1,765 adults ages 19-32 with questionnaires about their use of social platforms including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine and LinkedIn.
The authors then cross-referenced these results with data gathered by another questionnaire used to determine the risk of eating disorders in individuals, including anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder as well as distorted body image and other types of eating disorder.
Respondents who spent more time on social media were over twice as likely (2.2 times) to report factors putting them at risk of eating disorders or distorted body image, when compared with respondents who spent less time. Meanwhile, frequency of check-ins were even more closely correlated with these risk factors, with respondents who checked in most often 2.6 times as those who checked in least often to have risk factors.
The correlation was seen across categories including gender, age, race, and income, suggesting that it is a broad-based phenomenon. However, as noted above it’s unclear whether social media usage is causing eating disorders, or if (for example) people with eating disorders gravitate to social media for emotional support. People with eating disorders may also use social media for a different kind of emotional support, seeking out groups that encourage eating disorders, like the notorious “pro-ana” sites and “thinspo” forums – another scenario where social media works to enable a pre-existing condition.
Nonetheless, one obvious interpretation is that heavy usage of social media, with its increasingly visual content and emphasis on idealized images, is in fact causing or exacerbating eating disorders.
On that note lead author Jaime E. Sidani stated: “We’ve long known that exposure to traditional forms of media, such as fashion magazines and television, is associated with the development of disordered eating and body image concerns, likely due to the positive portrayal of ‘thin’ models and celebrities. Social media combines many of the visual aspects of traditional media with the opportunity for social media users to interact and propagate stereotypes that can lead to eating and body image concerns.”
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