Smartphone Addiction Can Lead To Depression and Loneliness

The study focused on older adolescents, a population researchers say is important because they largely grew up with smartphones and they are at an age and transitional stage in life

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Smartphone
Understanding the direction of the relationship between Smartphone dependency and poor psychological outcomes is critical for knowing how best to address the problem. Pixabay

In a bid to rest the debate on what comes first — Smartphone addiction or depression — a new study has found that young people who are hooked on to their smartphones may be at an increased risk of depression and loneliness.

A growing body of research has identified a link between smartphone dependency and symptoms of depression and loneliness.

However, it’s been unclear whether reliance on smartphones precedes those symptoms, or whether the reverse is true — that depressed or lonely people are more likely to become dependent on their phones.

In a study of 346 participants, ages 18-20, researcher Matthew Lapierre and his collaborators from University of Arizona found that smartphone dependency predicts higher reports of depressive symptoms and loneliness, rather than the other way around.

“The main takeaway is that smartphone dependency directly predicts later depressive symptoms,” said Lapierre, assistant professor in the department of communication.

“There’s an issue where people are entirely too reliant on the device, in terms of feeling anxious if they don’t have it accessible, and they’re using it to the detriment of their day-to-day life.”

In the study, which will be published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, Lapierre and his co-authors focus on smartphone dependency rather than on general smartphone use, which can actually provide benefits.

Understanding the direction of the relationship between smartphone dependency and poor psychological outcomes is critical for knowing how best to address the problem, said Pengfei Zhao who co-authored the study.

“If depression and loneliness lead to smartphone dependency, we could reduce dependency by adjusting people’s mental health,” Zhao said.

“But if smartphone dependency (precedes depression and loneliness), which is what we found, we can reduce smartphone dependency to maintain or improve wellbeing.”

Smartphone
In a bid to rest the debate on what comes first — Smartphone addiction or depression — a new study has found that young people who are hooked on to their smartphones may be at an increased risk of depression and loneliness. Pixabay

The researchers measured smartphone dependency by asking study participants to use a four-point scale to rate a series of statements, such as “I panic when I cannot use my smartphone.”

The study focused on older adolescents, a population researchers say is important because they largely grew up with smartphones and they are at an age and transitional stage in life where they are vulnerable to poor mental health outcomes, such as depression.

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“It might be easier for late adolescents to become dependent on smartphones, and smartphones may have a bigger negative influence on them because they are already very vulnerable to depression or loneliness,” Zhao noted.

When people feel stressed, they should use other healthy approaches to cope, like talking to a close friend to get support or doing some exercises or meditation, the researchers suggested. (IANS)

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Google Maps Allows Android Users to Share Locations Using Plus Codes

The update aims at easy sharing of locations using Plus Codes

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Plus Codes
Android users can now share their location using Plus Codes in Google Maps. Pixabay

Google Maps app for Android has received a new update where users can share their locations using Plus Codes.

Google Maps has the option to show Plus Codes since August 2015. The new change, however, is aimed to expand Plus Codes usage by allowing users to easily share their locations.

A Plus Code is essentially a digital address and it’s derived from latitude and longitude coordinates. It can be generated for any location.

“The technology to generate Plus Codes is also open source, which means the technology is easy and free to use, so anyone can see how the technology works and develop their own applications for any use case,” David Martin, Director of Program Management, Google Maps, said in a statement on Friday.

Users will be able to tap on the blue dot representing their current location and get a Plus Code for it.

Plus Code
Users will be able to tap on the blue dot representing their current location and get a Plus Code for it. Wikimedia Commons

Alternatively, they can long tap on a spot to put a pin on it and get a code for that.

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Alongside the Plus Code, the application will also show other options including options to see nearby places, share your location and save your parking.

Once the app shows the Plus Code on the screen, one will be able to copy it just by tapping on it. Now, one will be able to share it among contacts by pasting it on apps like WhatsApp, Messages and more. (IANS)

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80% Maharashtra School Students Don’t Report Cybercrimes: Survey

It is also reportes that 33% students deleted content due to which they were targeted for cybercrimes

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cybercrimes
37 per cent of the students revealed that they were affected by some sorts of cybercrimes. Pixabay

At least 80 per cent of school students in Maharashtra aged between 10-17 do not report cybercrimes they face online to their parents, teachers and the police, a new survey revealed on Thursday.

The study done with 1,148 children studying in the 6th-9th standard across 18 schools in Maharashtra, found that 33 per cent students deleted content due to which they were targeted for cybercrimes, while 31 per cent informed their friends about it.

The survey by a non-profit startup Responsible Netism and Cyber Peace Foundation, Maharashtra State Council of Educational Research and Training (MSCERT) was conducted between October 2019 to February 2020 to understand internet usage trends of children across Maharashtra.

The research found that 37 per cent of the students revealed that they were affected by some sort of cybercrime including their accounts being hacked, cyberbullying, being threatened online, harassment by strangers and even receiving pornographic content.

“Millions of kids in Maharastra today are being exposed to cybercrimes owing to the ease of access and anonymity that internet offers,” Sonali Patankar, Founder President, Responsible Netism, said in a statement.

Cybercrimes
60 per cent of students faced other Cybercrimes such as cyberstalking, online gambling, etc. Pixabay

“Our research points to the fact that technology companies are not stringently safeguarding the interests of children towards ensuring their cyber wellbeing,” Patankar added.

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The findings showed that at least 60 per cent of students faced other crimes such as cyberstalking, online gambling, body shaming, added to inappropriate groups online, threatened online, etc.

According to the study, 46 per cent of the students revealed that they were dependent addicted to their devices (phones, tablets, computers) and it affected their studies. The report also revealed that Whatsapp and Tiktok are the two most-used apps by children in the state while PUBG and GTA are the most popular online games amongst children. (IANS)

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Bullying a Common Factor Leading to LGBTQ Youth Suicides: Researchers

LGBTQ youth are more likely to be bullied than non-LGBTQ youth

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bullying
LGBTQ youth suicides are mainly caused because of bullying. Pixabay

Researchers have found that death records of LGBTQ youth who committed suicide were substantially more likely to mention bullying as a factor than their non-LGBTQ peers.

For the findings, published in the journal ‘JAMA Pediatrics’, the research team reviewed nearly 10,000 death records of youth aged from 10 to 19 years who died by suicide in the US from 2003 to 2017.

While LGBTQ youth are more likely to be bullied and to report suicidal thoughts and behaviours than non-LGBTQ youth, this is believed to be the first study showing that bullying is a more common precursor to suicide among LGBTQ youth than among their peers.

bullying
bullying is a more common precursor to suicide among LGBTQ youth than among their peers. Pixabay

“We expected that bullying might be a more common factor, but we were surprised by the size of the disparity,” said study lead author Kirsty Clark from the Yale University.

“These findings strongly suggest that additional steps need to be taken to protect the LGBTQ youth — and others — against the insidious threat of bullying,” Clark added.

The research team used data from the National Violent Death Reporting System, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-led database that collects information on violent deaths, including suicides, from death certificates, law enforcement reports, and medical examiner and coroner records.

Death records in the database include narrative summaries from law enforcement reports and medical examiner and coroner records regarding the details of the youth’s suicide as reported by family or friends, the youth’s diary, social media posts, and text or email messages, as well as any suicide note.

Bullying
Among 10 to 13-year-olds, over two-thirds of LGBTQ youth’ death records mentioned that they had been bullied. Pixabay

The team searched these narratives for words and phrases that suggested whether the individual was LGBTQ. They followed a similar process to identify death records mentioning bullying. The study found that death records from LGBTQ youth were about five times more likely to mention bullying than non-LGBTQ youth’ death records.

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Among 10 to 13-year-olds, over two-thirds of LGBTQ youth’ death records mentioned that they had been bullied.

Bullying is a major public health problem among the youth, and it is especially pronounced among the LGBTQ youth, said the researchers.

“By showing that bullying is also associated with the life itself for the LGBTQ youth, this study urgently calls for interventions that foster safety, belonging and esteem for all young people,” said study researcher John Pachankis. (IANS)