Can Scary Movies Be Good for You?

It seems that scary movies may have therapeutic effects by way of relieving anxiety. It may seem counterintuitive, but some recent research is now weighing in on the subject:

https://elemental.medium.com/horror-movies-can-be-good-for-anxiety-b542ac8dbed7

 


Do Screens Really Stunt Kids’ Brains?

Apparently, time spent viewing screens can stunt development of white matter in the brains of 3- to 5-year-olds, according to recent research by John Hutton, a pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the study leader.

On the other hand, the article points out that:

Daniel Anderson, a professor emeritus in psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who was not involved in the study, says that while it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that screen time is bad for kids, there are alternative explanations for the result. “We know that real-time interactions with adult caretakers are really important for language development in young children, and we know that screens can’t fill that gap,” he says. “What they may have found simply is that screens are a proxy for minimal parent-child interactions.”

The article goes on to say that Hutton agrees with Anderson’s interpretation. Here is the link to the piece from Elemental Medium:

https://elemental.medium.com/do-screens-really-stunt-kids-brains-b491d62e9ed3


New Research Says Screen Time for Youngsters May Actually Be a Good Thing

A study by Andrew Przybylski of the Oxford Internet Institute has found that screen time for children may actually be beneficial, in contrast to other studies that have nearly universally concluded that screen time is bad. Przybylski takes issue with the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which are:

  • children between 2 and 5 should be limited to “one hour a day of high-quality programming”
  • infants between 18 and 24 months can have screen time so long as it’s high quality and with a caregiver
  • babies shouldn’t be exposed to screens other than video chat

Przybylski and his colleagues used the same data set from the National Survey of Children’s Health via the US Census Bureau between June 2016 and February 2017 to come to different conclusions than those reached by, among others, Jean Twenge,  “one of the most prominent critics of letting children have screen time and the author of the book iGen, which argues that technology is making kids less happy.”

The two researchers disagree with each other, needless to say. Here’s the link to the article in MIT Technology Review about the new study.

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/614619/screen-time-is-good-for-youmaybe/?utm_source=newsletters&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=the_download.unpaid.engagement

 


A Historian’s Perspective on Networks

Niall Ferguson, a British ex-pat now living in the USA and a member of Stanford’s Hoover Institution, has given a very engaging interview about the relationship between ideas and the networks that propagate them. It’s an insightful piece and one I recommend highly.

“One should never decouple ideas from the network structures that propagate them.”

 


Great Video on Social Media Engineering

This video was uploaded by Donna Roberts in another blog and I was so impressed by it that I decided it needed more exposure. This video reinforces the very critical book about Facebook by former Zuckerberg early-stage mentor/supporter Roger McNamee, Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe.

It reveals the neurological science being exploited by social media programmers to hack our brains, hence the segment’s title, “Brain Hacking.”


Mass Shootings and the Media

People keep talking about what should be done to put an end to mass shootings and killing in general. People mention things like assault weapon bans, universal registration, red flag laws, and so on. Some folks think the Second Amendment should be repealed. But it seems to me, as someone who has worked with, studied, and interacted extensively with the media industry, that one thing is being overlooked: The role and responsibility of our media channels in perpetuating all this mayhem.

I think we need a media code of ethics that says simply, “We refuse to publish the name and likeness of anyone who is accused of, suspected of, involved in, or convicted of the killing of another person.”

If the media would cut off access to our eyes and ears by these killers (actual or alleged), they would lose part of their incentive to engage in such acts. Would it be a cure-all? No, of course not. Would it help? I think so. And no doubt some media channels—especially some so-called social media channels (that are actually anti-social)—would still seek to sensationalize and publicize these acts and their perpetrators.

But if the so-called mainstream media and the major social media purveyors were to take away the chance of getting public notoriety for their acts, it would eliminate one source of satisfaction for these mindless killers, who deserve no satisfaction at all.

That’s my two cents. Who will take up this banner?


Social Media Saves a Life

Social media have been taking somewhat of a beating in media reporting lately, it seems. Here is a story of how social media saved someone’s life. Clearly, the expansive reach of social media is a good not to be minimized.

https://elemental.medium.com/the-unexpected-health-benefits-of-social-media-e345032668b9


Smartphones and Screen Time: Good and Bad Effects

Here’s an interesting article that takes a nuanced look at smartphone usage and its effects, particularly on teens. The author notes that while there are many who describe a correlation between the rise of smartphone usage and teen mental health issues, there are also those who point out the potential positive aspects of smartphone usage for youth having a hard time who find relief in reaching out through social media on their phones. Here is an excerpt:

“Dr. Ramsey Khasho, chief clinical officer at Children’s Health Council in Palo Alto, who works with youth in crisis, argues that it’s reductive to begin and end discussions of mental illness among youth by talking about smartphones and social media. According to Khasho, one of the reasons we see a rise in youth hospitalizations for mental health is because we’ve increased awareness of mental illnesses, making it more acceptable for parents to access treatment for their children.

“’I think we need to focus less on the social media part of it,’ he says. ‘There are many kids who are isolated and are able to get support through social media.’”

Here’s the link to the entire piece:

https://elemental.medium.com/the-complicated-relationship-between-screen-time-and-depression-95908a433186


A Different View of Screen Time

Can spending a lot of time on screens really be detrimental to one’s physical and/or mental health–especially for children? There are a lot of people who say yes, but apparently, a recent study is disputing this position. The article about the study notes three main takeaways:

  • Leading pediatricians say the assumption that screen time is behind problems is not really supported by research.
  • The danger has more to do with a screen being a gateway for unwanted intrusions into a child’s life.
  • While recommendations are difficult based on the limited amount of research that has been done, the report offers a few.

Put another way, it’s not so much about how much time is spent on screens as it is about what content is being viewed. Here’s the link:

https://bigthink.com/screen-time-okay?rebelltitem=4#rebelltitem4

 


The Orwellian Nightmare, 21st Century Edition

Time magazine has published an excellent article on the George Orwell 1984 outcome that we are now living under, in a way that Orwell would never have imagined. It turns out, it’s not state surveillance we need to fear, it’s surveillance by private businesses. The author, Shoshana Duboff, coins the terms “surveillance capitalism” and and “instrumentarian power” and notes:

“Instrumentarian power delivers our futures to surveillance capitalism’s interests, yet because this new power does not claim our bodies through violence and fear, we undervalue its effects and lower our guard [emphasis mine]. Instrumentarian power does not want to break us; it simply wants to automate us. To this end, it exiles us from our own behavior. It does not care what we think, feel or do, as long as we think, feel and do things in ways that are accessible to Big Other’s billions of sensate, computational, actuating eyes and ears.”

The psychological effects this is having are not be underestimated. The article is here:

https://time.com/5602363/george-orwell-1984-anniversary-surveillance-capitalism/?utm_source=time.com&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=the-brief&utm_content=2019060710am&xid=newsletter-brief

 


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