Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


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Generation mute missing out on real conversations

16-24 year olds are increasingly losing the ability to communicate face to face – or even on the phone. Telephone calls are now the 10th  most used function on a mobile phone. People who use their mobile phones for over 2 hours a day only spend 20 minutes actually speaking to someone on it.

Only 15% of them consider phone calls the most important method of communication compared to over twice that many who prefer instant messaging. In America 80% of millennials (born 1981-1997) felt more comfortable using text messaging rather than having a telephone conversation.

On the other hand 43% of adults over 24 years of age say phone calls are the most important means of contacting others, more than double the younger age groups.

Teenagers even prefer texting each other when with each other according to an Ofcom survey.

Ofcom said that respondents admitted to instant messaging, texting or e-mailing others even when they are in the same room. Just over quarter of adults did the same but the figures rose too 49% for teenagers.

Instant messaging services such as Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp are becoming more popular as wi-fi access becomes less of a problem as traditional texting is declining. Facebook Messenger claims to have reached 65% of the UK population via mobile phone and WhatsApp 47%.

When people are actually avoiding having a telephone conversation something is going wrong. But  the statistics show that time spent on phone calls in Britain reduced by 10% between 2011 and 2016.

Phil Reed, professor of psychology at Swansea University and an expert on internet addiction is concerned that the increased use of social media can lead to isolation and loneliness (a theme I have posted about regularly).

He says “Friendship involves reciprocity and empathy, which social media does not lend itself to. Talking we can interact, interject; we present ourselves relatively unedited”.

It seems young people are losing the art of conversation which is important in life. Not just socially but going for interviews and in adapting to new settings.

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Social media really is bad for kids (as if you didn’t already know this)

It only takes one hour a day on social media to make children unhappy, whether it’s Facebook or Snapchat or any other platform.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield asked 4,000 10-15 year-olds to rate how happy they were with different aspects of their lives.

They found that the more time children spent chatting online the less happy they were about their school and work, their appearance, their family and their life in general.

Spending only 1 hour a day on social networks reduced the probability of a child being completely happy with his or her life by 14%.

This is three times higher than the impact of being in a single-parent household and greater than the effect of playing truant.

However they did feel happier about their friendships. They just haven’t realised that social media friends are not real friends as previous research has shown. Spending time on social networks can actually make you feel more lonely.

Some experts argue that spending time on social networks diverse children from risky behaviours such as smoking and under-age drinking (but what about sexting?) while other studies show that it contributes to poor mental health, especially among girls. And in this study it was also the girls who felt worse about their appearance and their school.

90% of 16-24 year-olds use online social networks and younger users routinely get round the 13 year threshold for users. More than three-quarters of 10-12 year-olds have social media accounts. According to Ofcom children aged 8-11 send 11 hours a week on social media and 12-15 year-olds almost 19 hours, both figures double what they were 10 years ago.

But do the social network providers care? Of course not, it’s all about advertising revenue for them and the earlier they catch people the better as far as they’re concerned. You only have to look at the resistance of Google/YouTube to doing anything about the hate videos and pornography to realise what drives them. $$$$…

And it’s interesting that the likes of the late Steve Jobs and other Silicon Valley techno-billionaires didn’t allow their own kids to access social networks.


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Women don’t like macho men after all – but kind ones

Good news for all us wimps out there then?

A big salary, DIY skills, along with a strong sex appeal doesn’t do it for women who want a good relationship.

No, what they want is someone who is a good companion and has empathy.

Never mind sharing the household chores, just be a good listener and a friend.

This is according to recent research by the Marriage Foundation.

 

 

Low scoring characteristics

  • fixing things around the home (least desirable)
  • a sense of adventure
  • being strong
  • being sexy
  • being romantic

Higher scoring characteristics (in descending order)

  • being a friend
  • having an interest in children
  • having an interest in their partner
  • being kind
  • showing forgiveness
  • being a good lover
  • being protective
  • being funny
  • earning a decent salary

The survey found that 80% women still do most of the household chores but don’t mind as long as their partners spend time at home (so no nipping to the pub when she’s cleaning).

Three-quarters also did most of the childcare but half of them thought that was fair and said they were happy with their relationship.

The research director for the foundations said “almost any relationship thrives where there is kindness. Kindness is everything. It shows thought, consideration, care. It shows you notice and value. being kind is inactive decision that requires some kind of action. When somebody is kind it hugely attractive”.


British teenagers are among unhappiest in the world

119460-117532Only teenagers in Japan suffer lower levels of mental wellbeing.

Generation Z – those aged 15 – 21 – are happier in France, Germany, Nigeria, Turkey, China, the US, Indonesia, and Russia.

Anxieties about money, school and succeeding in life is what is undermining the mental health of teenagers in the UK.

However young Brits are considerably more enthusiastic about their country than most with more than 2 out of 3 saying it was a good place to live.

While teenagers in Germany and Canada rated their countries higher than UK teenagers , in France only half thought their country was a good place to live and only a quarter in South Korea.

The Varkey Foundation educational charity questioned more than 20,000 children around the world about their confidence, optimism, ability to deal with problems, decisiveness and friendships.

Extremism and the rise of global terrorism  was what worried British teens the most whereas in China it was climate change.

The findings suggest that British children are stressed and anxious with a high rate of mental illness. They feel stressed by growing up and what is expected of them. Half said that school made them feel anxious, followed by money worries. Four out of ten thought the world was becoming a worse place in which to live.

Only 15% of the teenagers questioned said they had enough time to sleep, relax and exercise – factors associated with wellbeing, Well perhaps if they spent less time on social media?

This generation of teenagers hold progressive views about gender equality, equal rights for transgender people, legalised abortion, and same-sex marriage. “Teenagers in Nigeria, Delhi and New York share many of the same priorities, fears , ambitions and opinions. Young people are passionate believers in the right to live the life that they choose, whatever their background, free of prejudice of all kinds”  said the Varkey Foundation’s chief executive.

However they are a generation that is deeply pessimistic about the future of the world


More evidence UK kids are not very happy

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119460-117532Eight-year-old children in the UK are less happy than those in Romania, Poland, Turkey and Algeria.

That’s according to a survey by the University of York which produced a report “Children’s Words

England came 13th out of 16 countries surveyed ahead of Nepal, South Korea and Ethiopia. Britain came in the bottom half of the ranking on many issues with body image and school life the main areas for concern. (For which you can probably blame social media, selfies and self-obsession)

The three most positive aspects were family, health, and safety but we didn’t rate higher than eighth on any of the issues which included friendship, personal well-being, and possessions.

The co-author of the survey report, Professor Jonathan Bradshaw, thought it was due to “the balance between the high levels of attainment and the social environment in schools. …with our push to raise our children’s…

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Marriage isn’t all it’s made out to be

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champagne_banner_our_wedding_500_wht_604For years scientists have said that married people are happier, healthier and wealthier than single people.

Well it’s not true!

Single people exercise more, have better health and more friends compared to married people.

Psychologist Bella DePaulo says earlier studies are flawed because they didn’t take into account the consequences of divorce. In most studies people for whom marriage was awful were excluded as divorcees were counted as singletons.

In reality married people are unlikely to see life as a continuous opportunity to learn new things and develop friendships.

They are more likely to be putting up with an unfulfilling job and a dwindling circle of friends a they await their end.

DePaulo says that for many people being single is a positive, rational choice and they are living the dream.

Lifelong singletons also have more fulfilling jobs and are more interested in self-improvement.

Married people who end up getting divorced…

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Facebook is for losers

figure_bed_computer_1600_wht_14033Most people who use Facebook do so to add positive updates but generally people who use Facebook tend to be more frustrated, angry and lonely.

This might be because positive updates from their “friends” make them feel inadequate.

Now researchers at Ohio University have discovered that people in a bad mood turn to social network sites and look up people less attractive or less successful than themselves rather than those more attractive and more successful.

Given a choice of profiles to look at on a new social networking link called SocialLink participants who had been put in a negative state of mind – by being given poor feedback on a test – spent more time looking at the profiles of people who were less attractive and less successful.

The message is if you’re feeling bad look for someone who’s feeling even worse and regain your emotional superiority.

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It’s been over a year since I posted about Facebook but my 4 year-old post “So many friends but still lonely” still regularly appears in my top 5 most-read posts so clearly strikes a chord..

My previous post about Facebook was eighteen months ago when I summed up the uses (or mis-uses) of Facebook in “Facebook Follies“.

But there’s so much stuff out there about Facebook it’s hard to keep up.