Social media use increases depression and loneliness, study finds 0

The link between the two has been talked about for years, but a causal connection had never been proven. For the first time, University of Pennsylvania research based on experimental data connects Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram use to decreased well-being. Psychologist Melissa G. Hunt published her findings in the December Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.

Few prior studies have attempted to show that social-media use harms users’ well-being, and those that have either put participants in unrealistic situations or were limited in scope, asking them to completely forego Facebook and relying on self-report data, for example, or conducting the work in a lab in as little time as an hour.

“We set out to do a much more comprehensive, rigorous study that was also more ecologically valid,” says Hunt, associate director of clinical training in Penn’s Psychology Department.

To that end, the research team, which included recent alumni Rachel Marx and Courtney Lipson and Penn senior Jordyn Young, designed their experiment to include the three platforms most popular with a cohort of undergraduates, and then collected objective usage data automatically tracked by iPhones for active apps, not those running the background.

Each of 143 participants completed a survey to determine mood and well-being at the study’s start, plus shared shots of their iPhone battery screens to offer a week’s worth of baseline social-media data. Participants were then randomly assigned to a control group, which had users maintain their typical social-media behavior, or an experimental group that limited time on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram to 10 minutes per platform per day.

For the next three weeks, participants shared iPhone battery screenshots to give the researchers weekly tallies for each individual. With those data in hand, Hunt then looked at seven outcome measures including fear of missing out, anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

“Here’s the bottom line,” she says. “Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness. These effects are particularly pronounced for folks who were more depressed when they came into the study.”

Hunt stresses that the findings do not suggest that 18- to 22-year-olds should stop using social media altogether. In fact, she built the study as she did to stay away from what she considers an unrealistic goal. The work does, however, speak to the idea that limiting screen time on these apps couldn’t hurt.

“It is a little ironic that reducing your use of social media actually makes you feel less lonely,” she says. But when she digs a little deeper, the findings make sense. “Some of the existing literature on social media suggests there’s an enormous amount of social comparison that happens. When you look at other people’s lives, particularly on Instagram, it’s easy to conclude that everyone else’s life is cooler or better than yours.”

Because this particular work only looked at Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, it’s not clear whether it applies broadly to other social-media platforms. Hunt also hesitates to say that these findings would replicate for other age groups or in different settings. Those are questions she still hopes to answer, including in an upcoming study about the use of dating apps by college students.

Despite those caveats, and although the study didn’t determine the optimal time users should spend on these platforms or the best way to use them, Hunt says the findings do offer two related conclusions it couldn’t hurt any social-media user to follow.

For one, reduce opportunities for social comparison, she says. “When you’re not busy getting sucked into clickbait social media, you’re actually spending more time on things that are more likely to make you feel better about your life.” Secondly, she adds, because these tools are here to stay, it’s incumbent on society to figure out how to use them in a way that limits damaging effects. “In general, I would say, put your phone down and be with the people in your life.”

Melissa G. Hunt is the associate director of clinical training in the Department of Psychology in the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.

Rachel Marx and Courtney Lipson graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2018.

Jordyn Young is a member of the University of Pennsylvania Class of 2019.

 

Source: Sciencedaily.com

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Adverse Health Effects of Plastics 0

In addition to creating safety problems during production, many chemical additives that give plastic products desirable performance properties also have negative environmental and human health effects. These effects include

  • Direct toxicity, as in the cases of lead, cadmium, and mercury
  • Carcinogens, as in the case of diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP)
  • Endocrine disruption, which can lead to cancers, birth defects, immune system suppression and developmental problems in

Chemical Migration from Plastic Packaging into Contents

People are exposed to these chemicals not only during manufacturing, but also by using plastic packages, because some chemicals migrate from the plastic packaging to the foods they contain. Examples of plastics contaminating food have been reported with most plastic types, including Styrene from polystyrene, plasticizers from PVC, antioxidants from polyethylene, and Acetaldehyde from PET.

Among the factors controlling migration are the chemical structure of the migrants and the nature of the packaged food. In studies cited in Food Additives and Contaminants, LDPE, HDPE, and polypropylene bottles released measurable levels of BHT, Chimassorb 81, Irganox PS 800, Irganix 1076, and Irganox 1010 into their contents of vegetable oil and ethanol. Evidence was also found that acetaldehyde migrated out of PET and into water.

Recommendations

Find alternatives to plastic products whenever possible. Some specific suggestions:

  • Buy food in glass or metal containers; avoid polycarbonate drinking bottles with Bisphenol A
  • Avoid heating food in plastic containers, or storing fatty foods in plastic containers or plastic wrap.
  • Do not give young children plastic teethers or toys
  • Use natural fiber clothing, bedding and furniture
  • Avoid all PVC and Styrene products
Plastic Common Uses Adverse Health Effects
Polyvinylchloride (#3PVC) Food packaging, plastic wrap, containers for toiletries, cosmetics, crib bumpers, floor tiles, pacifiers, shower curtains, toys, water pipes, garden hoses, auto upholstery, inflatable swimming pools Can cause cancer, birth defects, genetic changes, chronic bronchitis, ulcers, skin diseases, deafness, vision failure, indigestion, and liver dysfunction
Phthalates (DEHP, DINP, and others) Softened vinyl products manufactured with phthalates include vinyl clothing, emulsion paint, footwear, printing inks, non-mouthing toys and children’s products, product packaging and food wrap, vinyl flooring, blood bags and tubing, IV containers and components, surgical gloves, breathing tubes, general purpose labware, inhalation masks, many other medical devices Endocrine disruption, linked to asthma, developmental and reporoductive effects. Medical waste with PVC and pthalates is regularly incinerated causing public health effects from the relese of dioxins and mercury, including cancer, birth defects, hormonal changes, declining sperm counts, infertility, endometriosis, and immune system impairment.
Polycarbonate, with Bisphenol A (#7) Water bottles Scientists  have linked very low doses of bisphenol A exposure to cancers, impaired  immune function, early onset of puberty, obesity, diabetes, and  hyperactivity, among other problems (Environment California)
Polystyrene Many food containers for meats, fish, cheeses, yogurt, foam and clear clamshell containers, foam and rigid plates, clear bakery containers, packaging “peanuts”, foam packaging, audio cassette housings, CD cases, disposable cutlery, building insulation, flotation devices, ice buckets, wall tile, paints, serving trays, throw-away hot drink cups, toys Can irritate eyes, nose and throat and can cause dizziness and unconsciousness. Migrates into food and stores in body fat. Elevated rates of lymphatic and hematopoietic cancers for workers.
Polyethelyne (#1 PET) Water and soda bottles, carpet fiber, chewing gum, coffee stirrers, drinking glasses, food containers and wrappers, heat-sealed plastic packaging, kitchenware, plastic bags, squeeze bottles, toys Suspected human carcinogen
Polyester Bedding, clothing, disposable diapers, food packaging, tampons, upholstery Can cause eye and respiratory-tract irritation and acute skin rashes
Urea-formaldehyde Particle board, plywood, building insulation, fabric finishes Formaldehyde is a suspected carcinogen and has been shown to cause birth defects and genetic changes. Inhaling formaldehyde can cause cough, swelling of the throat, watery eyes, breathing problems, headaches, rashes, tiredness
Polyurethane Foam Cushions, mattresses, pillows Bronchitis, coughing, skin and eye problems. Can release toluene diisocyanate which can produce severe lung problems
Acrylic Clothing, blankets, carpets made from acrylic fibers, adhesives, contact lenses, dentures, floor waxes, food preparation equipment, disposable diapers, sanitary napkins, paints Can cause breathing difficulties, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, weakness, headache and fatigue
Tetrafluoro-
ethelyne
Non-stick coating on cookware, clothes irons, ironing board covers, plumbing and tools Can irritate eyes, nose and throat and can cause breathing difficulties

Sources:

 

ecologycenter.org

Home Remedies for Hiccups 0

We have all been tormented by hiccups at some point in our lives those annoying, involuntary fits that can make it nearly impossible to carry on a conversation, eat a meal or even maintain a train of thought. Most people hiccup four to 60 times per minute during a bout of hiccups, and everyone has a specific, lifelong hiccup pattern.

The average hiccup spell can last from a few minutes to a few hours, but some people suffer from extended episodes that last days, months or even years. Hiccups that last longer than 48 hours are called persistent hiccups,and if they’ve lasted more than a month, you have intractable hiccups.

Both types can cause serious health problems and, in some cases, even death. For many of us, hiccups begin in the womb. The recapitulation theory proposes that fetuses use hiccups in respiration before their lungs are fully developed. This may help explain why premature infants spend up to 2.5 percent of their time hiccuping more than full-term babies.

Hiccup is an involuntary and sudden contraction of the muscles of the diaphragm. Normally, this action is repeated many times. A weird sound (hic) is produced. The sound is because of the epiglottis which closes when air suddenly tries to rush in. Hiccups are not as painful usually, though they can be very irritating at times. When they continue for a long period, they are very irritating.

Hiccups Causes:

  1. If you eat too fast, you can swallow air along with your food and end up
    with a case of the hiccups. Any other practices that might irritate the diaphragm such as eating too much (especially fatty foods) or drinking too much (drunk people hiccup) can make you prone to having hiccups.
  2. In these instances, your stomach, which sits underneath and adjacent to the
    diaphragm, is distended or stretched. Because they occur in relation to
    eating and drinking, hiccups are sometimes thought to be a reflex to protect
    you from choking.
  3. Sobbing or crying – Eating very spicy food,
  4. Consuming very hot food,
  5. Consuming excessive alcohol or soda,
  6. Coughing badly,
  7. Laughing badly.
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Scientific Causes of Hiccups:

During normal breathing, we take in air from the mouth and nose, and it flows through the pharynx, past the glottis and into the larynx and trachea, ending in the lungs. The diaphragm, a large muscle between the chest and abdomen, aids this airflow. It moves down when we inhale, and then up when
we exhale. The phrenic nerves control the movement and sensation of the diaphragm. Any irritation to these nerves induces a spasm of the diaphragm. This spasm causes a person to take a short, quick breath that is then interrupted by the closing of the epiglottis (a flap that protects the glottis, the space between the vocal cords). The sudden closing creates the sound we all know as a hiccup.

So, hiccups are the result of diaphragm spasms. But what causes the irritation that leads to the spasm? There are only a few culprits for common hiccups, which usually disappear within a few minutes. One of the main irritants is a full stomach a result of swallowing too much food
or air. A distended stomach pushes against the phrenic nerves of the diaphragm, increasing the possibility of irritation and, therefore, hiccups. A full stomach of spicy food can do double damage hot foods can be especially irritating to those nerves. As any smoker on a bender can tell you, excess
smoking and drinking alcohol can also cause hiccups. A rapid temperature change outside or inside your stomach, from a cold night or a hot beverage, can be irritating enough to induce hiccups. Finally, emotions shock, excitement and stress — can also trigger a hiccup fit. Persistent and intractable hiccups can have more serious causes. There are hundreds, from hysteria to heart attacks, but most fit into one of five categories: central nervous system problems, metabolic problems, nerve irritation, anaesthesia or surgery, and mental health issues. Because these causes are so varied and potentially serious, anyone suffering from hiccups for more than 48 hours should head straight to a doctor.

Home Remedies for Hiccups:

  1. Holding your breath and counting to 10 is one way some people can get rid of their hiccups. Other people say that drinking from the “wrong” side of a glass of water is the way to become hiccup-free.
  2. Putting sugar under your tongue might work.
  3. Pound 5-6 green cardamom. Boil in 2 cups of water. When it boils down to 1
  4. cup remove, sieve and drink while warm.
  5. Drinking water frequently in short durations is also helpful.
  6. Eating a bowl full of yoghurt with a pinch of salt is also a good home remedy.
  7. Tickling the throat with the cotton swab is also helpful.
  8. Drink one ounce of white vinegar.
  9. Sucking crushed ice provides immediate relief
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