Monthly Archives: January 2019

Research Finds that Screen Time is as Harmful as … a Potato.

Stop worrying so much about kids playing Fortnite and other games.  New research finds that screen time is as harmful to children as … a potato.

“Researchers at the University of Oxford have performed the most definitive study to date on the relationship between technology use and adolescent mental health, examining data from over 300,000 teenagers and parents in the UK and USA. At most, only 0.4% of adolescent wellbeing is related to screen use – which only slightly surpasses the negative effect of regularly eating potatoes. The findings were published today in Nature Human Behaviour.

“Our findings demonstrate that screen use itself has at most a tiny association with youth mental health,” says lead researcher Professor Andrew Przybylski, Director of Research at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford. “The 0.4% contribution of screen use on young people’s mental health needs to be put in context for parents and policymakers. Within the same dataset, we were able to demonstrate that including potatoes in your diet showed a similar association with adolescent wellbeing. Wearing corrective lenses had an even worse association.”

In comparison, smoking marijuana and being bullied was found, on average, to have a 2.7 times and 4.3 times more negative association with adolescent mental health than screen use. Activities like getting enough sleep and eating breakfast, often overlooked in media coverage, had a much stronger association with wellbeing than technology use.

The method used by the researchers, called Specification Curve Analysis, revealed the reason there seems to be no firm scientific consensus on screen use and mental health. “Even when using the same datasets, each researcher brings different biases with them and analyses the data slightly differently,” says Amy Orben, College Lecturer at the Queen’s College, University of Oxford, and author on the study. “Of the three datasets we analysed for this study, we found over 600 million possible ways to analyse the data. We calculated a large sample of these and found that – if you wanted – you could come up with a large range of positive or negative associations between technology and wellbeing, or no effect at all.” In other words, “We needed to take the topic beyond cherry-picked results, so we developed an approach that helped us harvest the whole orchard,” adds Przybylski.

In order to remove bias and examine practical significance (rather than statistical significance), the researchers used information from other questions in the same dataset to put the statistical findings on screen use in context. “Research’s reliance on statistical significance can yield bizarre ‘results'”, says Orben. “We need to look at the size of the association to make a judgement on practical significance. If you told me the amount of time a teenager spends on digital devices, I could not do very well predicting their overall wellbeing, as only 0.4% is associated with technology use.”

“Bias and selective reporting of results is endemic to social and biological research influencing the screen time debate,” says Przybylski. “We need to put scientific findings in context for parents, policymakers and the general public. Our approach provides an excellent template for data scientists wanting to make the most of the excellent cohort data available in the UK and beyond.”

Method:

The data was drawn from three large-scale representative datasets: Monitoring the Future (USA), Youth Risks and Behaviour Studies (USA) and the Millennium Cohort Study (UK), totalling over 300,000 individuals surveyed between 2007 and 2016. The findings were derived using Specification Analysis Curve method, which examined the full range of correlations relating digital technology use to child and adolescent psychological wellbeing. Details on methodology and all necessary code to reproduce the analysis are available in the paper’s supplementary material.” – From EurekAlert! Press Release.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-01/uoo-tue011419.php

 

Virtual Reality Helps Students with Autism to Improve Social Skills in the Real World

virtual reality                                                                                                                                       CREDIT: Nils Jorgensen/REX/Shutterstock

has reported on the success of research on Virtual Reality (VR) interventions for people with Autism.  As a father of a son with Autism and as a teacher of students with Autism, I appreciate the value of VR Interventions to create a safe and realistic space to practice social skills.

From the article in Variety –

“We found that students who received the virtual reality experienced increased in their understanding of social skills,” Rowland continues. ”This increase was significantly different from students that did not have access to the virtual reality experience. We also found that students who learned from the virtual reality experience were also able to generalize their understanding to non-virtual environments. Finally, students expressed a level of understanding and presence in the virtual reality experience enhancing the learning experience and understanding of the social skill being described and in which the student interacted.”

“There are a wide variety of social encounters that are based on our targeted users’ own social encounters,” she explains. “This includes both school-based encounters, like classrooms, cafeterias, and will soon include daily life encounters like movie theaters, sporting events, etc.”

“The social encounters vary in complexity based not only upon the user’s age and specific social need but also upon negative or positive feedback within the environments itself. If the user is progressing, the difficulty is increased to assure the user is always being challenged. In addition to the level of complexity of each situation, the situations are categorized, allowing for two-dimensional complexity optimization.”

“In theory, the more realistic and immersive, the less processing is required,” says [Justin Ehrlich, Ph.D.].

Read the full article here; https://variety.com/2018/digital/features/voiss-interview-vr-hmd-1203086576/