Sunday August 25, 2019

Hotter Weather Linked to Higher Use of Depressive Language on Social Media

Temperature rise by 2050 could increase suicide rates by 1.4 per cent in the US and 2.3 per cent in Mexico

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Facebook, Messenger and Instagram apps are displayed on an iPhone, March 13, 2019, in New York. VOA

Hotter weather increases both suicide rates and the use of depressive language on social media, says a new study that analysed half a billion tweets.

The research published in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests that the effects of climate change could be as devastating as the influence of economic recessions when it comes to increasing suicide rates.

Projected temperature rise through 2050 could lead to an additional 21,000 suicides in the US and Mexico, the findings showed.

“Surprisingly, these effects differ very little based on how rich populations are or if they are used to warm weather,” said lead researcher Marshall Burke, Assistant Professor at Stanford University.

Researchers have recognised for centuries that suicides tend to peak during warmer months. But, many factors beyond temperature also vary seasonally – such as unemployment rates or the amount of daylight – and up to this point it has been difficult to disentangle the role of temperature from other risk factors.

To tease out the role of temperature from other factors, the researchers compared historical temperature and suicide data across thousands of US counties and Mexican municipalities over several decades.

The team also analysed the language in over half a billion Twitter updates or tweets to further determine whether hotter temperatures affect mental well-being.

Conference, Privacy, Social Media
FILE – Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to logos of social media apps Signal, Whatsapp and Telegram projected on a screen in this picture illustration. VOA

They analysed, for example, whether tweets contain language such as “lonely”, “trapped” or “suicidal” more often during hot spells.

The researchers found strong evidence linking warmer temperature with higher suicide rates.

To understand how future climate change might affect suicide rates, the team used projections from global climate models.

Also Read: Underwater Glaciers Melting Much Faster Than Predicted

Temperature rise by 2050 could increase suicide rates by 1.4 per cent in the US and 2.3 per cent in Mexico.

“Hotter temperatures are clearly not the only, nor the most important, risk factor for suicide,” Burke emphasised.

“But our findings suggest that warming can have a surprisingly large impact on suicide risk, and this matters for both our understanding of mental health as well as for what we should expect as temperatures continue to warm,” Burke added. (IANS)

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Smartphones Do Not Damage Mental Health Of Adolescents

Spending time on phone not so bad for mental health

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mental health
For the mental health study published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, researchers surveyed more than 2,000 teenagers (aged between 10 and 15 years). Pixabay

In contrast to generally held views about the negative impact of using smartphones, researchers have found that teenagers spending time on their phones and online is not that bad for mental health.

“Contrary to the common belief that smartphones and social media are damaging adolescents’ mental health, we don’t see much support for the idea that time spent on phones and online is associated with increased risk for mental health problems,” said Michaeline Jensen, Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina.

For the study published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, researchers surveyed more than 2,000 teenagers (aged between 10 and 15 years). The researchers collected reports of mental health symptoms from the adolescents three times a day and also reported on their daily technology usage each night.

They analysed whether youth who engaged more with digital technologies were more likely to experience mental health symptoms but they found that increased digital technology use was not related to worse mental health.

Researchers said that teenagers who reported sending more text messages reported feeling better (less depressed) than kids who were less frequent texters. Advising against excessive use of technology, experts emphasised on its responsible use.

According to Samir Parikh, Consultant Psychiatrist and Director at Fortis Mental Health Programme in Noida, life for a young person needs to be well balanced with indoor and outdoor activities, and the studying time should be also balanced with the time to have fun.

Mental Health
The researchers collected reports of mental health symptoms from the adolescents three times a day and also reported on their daily technology usage each night. Pixabay

“TV, Internet, online games, social media needs to be used in limit and never at cost of peer interaction, family time, sports and studies. The key is to find the right balance. Using phones to connect with friends is good but students should also be well compensated with in-person interactions,” he told IANS.

Also Read: NRAI To Initiate Movement Against Online Food Delivery Apps

“Social media can be used positively to express views, choices and bring positivity. At the same time, children should be empowered with skills to deal with social media effectively,” he added. Adults need to be good role models and help shape the overall lifestyle balance for children.

“Content is as important as the user mindset and his environment to create a pathological condition called ‘internet addiction’,” Mrinmay Kumar Das, Senior Consultant, at Jaypee Hospital, told IANS. (IANS)