Study suggests a direct link between screen time and ADHD in teens


Image: Study suggests a direct link between screen time and ADHD in teens

Adding to the list of health concerns associated with excessive screen time, one study suggests that there could be a link between the length of time teenagers spend online and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The two-year study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), observed more than 2,500 high school students from Los Angeles.

Digital media and the attention span of teenagers

A team of researchers analyzed data from the teenagers who had shorter attention spans the more they became involved in different digital media platforms for the duration of the experiment.

The JAMA study observed adolescents aged 15 and 16 years periodically for two years. The researchers asked the teenagers about the frequency of their online activities and if they had experienced any of the known symptoms of ADHD.

As the teenagers’ digital engagement rose, their reported ADHD symptoms also went up by 10 percent. The researchers noted that based on the results of the study, even if digital media usage does not definitively cause ADHD, it could cause symptoms that would result in the diagnosis of ADHD or require pharmaceutical treatment.

Experts believe that ADHD begins in the early stages of childhood development. However, the exact circumstances, regardless if they are biological or environmental, have yet to be determined.

Adam Leventhal, a University of Southern California psychologist and senior author of the study, shared that the research team is now analyzing the occurrence of new symptoms that were not present when the study began.

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Other studies about digital engagement have implied that there is an inverse relationship with happiness. The less people used digital media, the more they reported feeling an overall sense of happiness. (Related: The social media paradox: Teens who are always online feel more lonely.)

The researchers concluded that the teenagers might have exhibited ADHD symptoms from the outset due to other factors. However, it is possible that excessive digital media usage can still aggravate these symptoms.

Fast facts about ADHD

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is commonly diagnosed in children. However, it can also be diagnosed in older individuals. ADHD can be difficult to diagnose. Since several symptoms of ADHD are similar to normal childhood behaviors, the disorder itself can be hard to detect.

The symptoms of ADHD may include forgetting completed tasks, having difficulty sitting still, having difficulty staying organized, and having trouble concentrating or focusing.

  • Men are at least three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than females.
  • During their lifetimes, at least 13 percent of men will be diagnosed with ADHD, as opposed to only 4.2 percent in women.
  • The average age of ADHD diagnosis is seven years old.
  • The symptoms of the condition will usually manifest when a child is aged three to six years old.
  • ADHD is not solely a childhood disorder. At least four percent of American adults older than 18 may have ADHD.

This disorder does not increase an individual’s risk for other conditions or diseases. However, some people with ADHD, mostly children, have a higher chance of experiencing different coexisting conditions. These can make social situations, like school, more difficult for kids with ADHD.

Some coexisting conditions of ADHD may include:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Bed-wetting problems
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Conduct disorders and difficulties (e.g., antisocial behavior, fighting, and oppositional defiant disorder)
  • Depression
  • Learning disabilities
  • Sleep disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Tourette syndrome

Minimize your child’s ADHD risk by reading more articles with tips on how to manage their internet use at Addiction.news.

Sources include:

Lifezette.com

Healthline.com

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How the Internet is making us stupid


Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows, asks if the Internet is changing the way we think.

Head with binary data in background

Is the Internet changing the way we think?

Although the world wide web has been around for just 20 years, it is hard to imagine life without it. It has given us instant access to vast amounts of information, and we’re able to stay in touch with friends and colleagues more or less continuously.

But our dependence on the internet has a dark side. A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the net, with its constant distractions and interruptions, is turning us into scattered and superficial thinkers.

 

I’ve been studying this research for the past three years, in the course of writing my new book The Shallows: How the Internet Is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember. But my interest in the subject is not just academic. It’s personal. I was inspired to write the book after I realised that I was losing my own capacity for concentration and contemplation. Even when I was away from my computer, my mind seemed hungry for constant stimulation, for quick hits of information. I felt perpetually distracted.

 

Could my loss of focus be a result of all the time I’ve spent online? In search of an answer to that question, I began to dig into the many psychological, behavioural, and neurological studies that examine how the tools we use to think with — our information technologies — shape our habits of mind.

 

The picture that emerges is troubling, at least to anyone who values the subtlety, rather than just the speed, of human thought. People who read text studded with links, the studies show, comprehend less than those who read words printed on pages. People who watch busy multimedia presentations remember less than those who take in information in a more sedate and focused manner. People who are continually distracted by emails, updates and other messages understand less than those who are able to concentrate. And people who juggle many tasks are often less creative and less productive than those who do one thing at a time.

The common thread in these disabilities is the division of attention. The richness of our thoughts, our memories and even our personalities hinges on our ability to focus the mind and sustain concentration. Only when we pay close attention to a new piece of information are we able to associate it “meaningfully and systematically with knowledge already well established in memory”, writes the Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel. Such associations are essential to mastering complex concepts and thinking critically.

When we’re constantly distracted and interrupted, as we tend to be when looking at the screens of our computers and mobile phones, our brains can’t to forge the strong and expansive neural connections that give distinctiveness and depth to our thinking. Our thoughts become disjointed, our memories weak. The Roman philosopher Seneca may have put it best 2,000 years ago: “To be everywhere is to be nowhere.”

In an article in Science last year, Patricia Greenfield, a developmental psychologist who runs UCLA’s Children’s Digital Media Center, reviewed dozens of studies on how different media technologies influence our cognitive abilities. Some of the studies indicated that certain computer tasks, like playing video games, increase the speed at which people can shift their focus among icons and other images on screens. Other studies, however, found that such rapid shifts in focus, even if performed adeptly, result in less rigorous and “more automatic” thinking.

In one experiment at a US university, half a class of students was allowed to use internet-connected laptops during a lecture, while the other had to keep their computers shut. Those who browsed the web performed much worse on a subsequent test of how well they retained the lecture’s content. Earlier experiments revealed that as the number of links in an online document goes up, reading comprehension falls, and as more types of information are placed on a screen, we remember less of what we see.

Greenfield concluded that “every medium develops some cognitive skills at the expense of others”. Our growing use of screen-based media, she said, has strengthened visual-spatial intelligence, which can strengthen the ability to do jobs that involve keeping track of lots of rapidly changing signals, like piloting a plane or monitoring a patient during surgery. But that has been accompanied by “new weaknesses in higher-order cognitive processes,” including “abstract vocabulary, mindfulness, reflection, inductive problem solving, critical thinking, and imagination.” We’re becoming, in a word, shallower.

Studies of our behaviour online support this conclusion. German researchers found that web browsers usually spend less than 10 seconds looking at a page. Even people doing academic research online tend to “bounce” rapidly between different documents, rarely reading more than a page or two, according to a University College London study.

Such mental juggling takes a big toll. In a recent experiment at Stanford University, researchers gave various cognitive tests to 49 people who do a lot of media multitasking and 52 people who multitask much less frequently. The heavy multitaskers performed poorly on all the tests. They were more easily distracted, had less control over their attention, and were much less able to distinguish important information from trivia.

The researchers were surprised by the results. They expected the intensive multitaskers to have gained some mental advantages. But that wasn’t the case. In fact, the multitaskers weren’t even good at multitasking. “Everything distracts them,” said Clifford Nass, one of the researchers.

It would be one thing if the ill effects went away as soon as we turned off our computers and mobiles. But they don’t. The cellular structure of the human brain, scientists have discovered, adapts readily to the tools we use to find, store and share information. By changing our habits of mind, each new technology strengthens certain neural pathways and weakens others. The alterations shape the way we think even when we’re not using the technology.

The pioneering neuroscientist Michael Merzenich believes our brains are being “massively remodelled” by our ever-intensifying use of the web and related media. In the 1970s and 1980s, Mr Merzenich, now a professor emeritus at the University of California in San Francisco, conducted a famous series of experiments that revealed how extensively and quickly neural circuits change in response to experience. In a conversation late last year, he said that he was profoundly worried about the cognitive consequences of the constant distractions and interruptions the internet bombards us with. The long-term effect on the quality of our intellectual lives, he said, could be “deadly”.

Not all distractions are bad. As most of us know, if we concentrate too intensively on a tough problem, we can get stuck in a mental rut. But if we let the problem sit unattended for a time, we often return to it with a fresh perspective and a burst of creativity. Research by the Dutch psychologist Ap Dijksterhuis indicates that such breaks in our attention give our unconscious mind time to grapple with a problem, bringing to bear information and cognitive processes unavailable to conscious deliberation. We usually make better decisions, his experiments reveal, if we shift our attention away from a mental challenge for a time.

But Dijksterhuis’s work also shows that our unconscious thought processes don’t engage with a problem until we’ve clearly and consciously defined the problem. If we don’t have a particular goal in mind, he writes, “unconscious thought does not occur.”

The constant distractedness that the net encourages—the state of being, to borrow a phrase from T S Eliot, “distracted from distraction by distraction” — is very different from the kind of temporary, purposeful diversion of our mind that refreshes our thinking. The cacophony of stimuli short-circuits both conscious and unconscious thought, preventing our minds from thinking either deeply or creatively. Our brains turn into simple signal-processing units, shepherding information into consciousness and then back out again.

What we seem to be sacrificing in our surfing and searching is our capacity to engage in the quieter, attentive modes of thought that underpin contemplation, reflection and introspection. The web never encourages us to slow down. It keeps us in a state of perpetual mental locomotion. The rise of social networks like Facebook and Twitter, which pump out streams of brief messages, has only exacerbated the problem.

There’s nothing wrong with absorbing information quickly and in bits and pieces. We’ve always skimmed newspapers more than we’ve read them, and we routinely run our eyes over books and magazines to get the gist of a piece of writing and decide whether it warrants more thorough reading. The ability to scan and browse is as important as the ability to read deeply and think attentively. What’s disturbing is that skimming is becoming our dominant mode of thought. Once a means to an end, a way to identify information for further study, it’s becoming an end in itself — our preferred method of both learning and analysis. Dazzled by the net’s treasures, we have been blind to the damage we may be doing to our intellectual lives and even our culture.

The Internet Just Slipped From the Hands Of the United States


internet-free

Short Bytes: Following the decline of the US Senators’ plea for declaratory and injunctive relief against NTIF, the control of the Internet’s Domain Name System has been transferred to the private nonprofit ICANN which was founded in 1998. The change has taken effect on October 1.

The internet was a pet project of the US military which was funded by DARPA (formerly ARPA). A vital thing to the internet is the Domain Name System (DNS) and the United States, the creator of the internet, has been controlling it since more than two decades. You can read more about DNS and its working in our article: What is DNS (Domain Name System) and How it Works ?

Initially, when the internet was not so popular, the US used to look after the domain name system. The task was later shifted to the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) in 1998 which is a division of the nonprofit ICANN. But the US government, faced as NTIA, still had the control over the operations of the IANA.

Other countries have been pressurizing the US to isolate itself from the operations of ICANN and IANA. The control has begun shifting from the hands of the US but efforts have been made to halt the process. Senators from the states of Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma and Nevada filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of Texas.

Sen. Ted Cruz, who has been on the front foot in the story, believes the control of internet slipping from the hands of the US would lead to its censoring by authoritarian countries.

“Imagine an internet run like many Middle Eastern countries that punish what they deem to be blasphemy,” Cruz said in a Sept. 14 hearing. “Or imagine an internet run like China or Russia that punish and incarcerate those who engage in political dissent.”

In the final decision on Friday, the declined the request for “declaratory and injunctive relief” against NTIA. As of October 1, 2016, ICANN will have the sole authority over the IANA functions.

“This transition was envisioned 18 years ago, yet it was the tireless work of the global Internet community, which drafted the final proposal, that made this a reality,” said Stephen D. Crocker, chair of the board of ICANN.

“This community validated the multistakeholder model of Internet governance. It has shown that a governance model defined by the inclusion of all voices, including business, academics, technical experts, civil society, governments and many others is the best way to assure that the Internet of tomorrow remains as free, open and accessible as the Internet of today.”

The Domain Name System is important to the existence of the internet. Without this address book, it would have been impossible to access a website on the internet. You won’t be reading this news if there was no DNS. The recent stewardship transition, began 18 years ago, doesn’t affect the normal internet users like us.

Ready for the Internet of Robotic Things?


Devices will monitor events, fuse sensor data from various sources, use intelligence to determine actions, and ultimately control physical objects.

IoRT is real, although it’s still in the initial stages. In the consumer space, for instance, there’s iRobot.

You’ve likely heard of the Internet of Things (IoT). How about the Internet of Robotic Things (IoRT)?

The concept, first described a few years ago in a report by ABI Research, involves the ability of intelligent devices to monitor events, fuse sensor data from various sources, use local and distributed intelligence to determine the best course of action, and then act to control or manipulate objects in the physical world.

 IoRT is real, although it’s still in the initial stages, said Dan Kara, practice director of robotics at ABI. Installations are ongoing, as are product announcements from vendors, he says. For example, FANUC announced the initial results of a collaborative development effort with partners Cisco, Rockwell Automation, and Preferred Network .

The joint effort resulted in the FIELD system, an advancedanalytics, middleware, and IoT infrastructure platform for FANUC Computer Numerical Control machines and robots, as well as peripheral devices and sensors used in industrial automation systems.

Using FIELD, Kara said, companies can capture operational data from multiple sources in real time, which can then be analyzed and acted upon to optimize manufacturing processes while reducing downtime.

In the consumer space, there’s iRobot. “The company maintains that the next frontier for home care products are intelligent robots capable of exploiting cloud-based applications and services, along with smart home integration,” Kara said. It will use Amazon Web Services, a cloud infrastructure services platform, as the basis for connecting consumer robotics products with cloud-based applications and services.

Generally speaking, the robotics sector will be accelerated by IoT initiatives, Kara said. “This is similar to the case of the mobile communications market, which exploded over the last 15 years,” he said. Huge amounts of money and other resources were directed into the mobile sector, resulting in the development of new, low-cost, powerful technologies.

“The robotics community has benefited from this work,” Kara said. “Low-cost, miniature cameras and accelerometers developed for mobile phones and tablets provide just one example. Similarly, the robotics sector benefited from the technical ‘tailwinds’ resulting from massive amounts of spending and research for defense robotics systems in the early 2000s.”

In terms of practical capabilities, IoT technologies, architectures, and standards can be used to provide robotics systems with access to back-end data and compute services in the cloud, input from pervasive, sensored devices in their working environment, and communication with other robotics systems.

“Both commercial and consumer robotics systems can benefit from these capabilities,” Kara said. For commercial systems as a whole, IoT, and supporting technologies will increase the intelligence of individual robotics systems, as well as entire IoRT ecosystems, Kara said.

“Smart edge devices can share embedded, local data with robotic systems, describing themselves and providing other information,” Kara said. “Combined with additional data captured using the robot’s onboard sensors, this enriched set of information can be used by robotic systems to make decisions locally and then act accordingly. Alternatively, this information can be augmented with distributed data and processing in the cloud and subsequently acted upon.”

Data security, management, and standards are all challenges in this area, Kara said, but they will not stop progress. “There is a huge impetus behind the IoT market right now, and these issues will be resolved,” he said.

How This Sixth-Grade Teacher’s Warning About the Internet Went Viral on Facebook.


Melissa Bour was concerned by what her students were posting on Facebook. Instead of lecturing, she created a viral post to demonstrate the power of social media.

may 2015 everday heroes melissa bour

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of 2014, Tulsa, Oklahoma, sixth-grade teacher Melissa Bour received a friend request on Facebook from one of her students. She didn’t accept the request, but a quick browse through the girl’s friends list revealed the names of dozens of kids from her classroom. Many of the students’ Facebook pages were completely public, meaning even strangers could trawl through the kids’ personal photos and messages.

“I saw middle fingers, students dressed inappropriately, and extremely foul language,” Melissa says. “It was disturbing.” When she brought up her discovery in class, the students were unfazed. So she created a post of her own.

With a bright green Sharpie, she wrote on a piece of paper in all caps, “Dear Facebook: My 12-year-old students think it is ‘no big deal’ that they are posting pictures of themselves … Please help me … [show them] how quickly their images can get around.” She put a picture of the letter on her Facebook page and asked people to share it.

In hours, it was shared 108,000 times across dozens of states and four countries. She deleted it after eight hours, but it continued to circulate. “I wanted to show them that it’s on the Internet forever,” she says.

As she explained the results of her experiment in class, the students’ “eyes got bigger and bigger,” she says. “It scared a few of them into deleting their pages completely,” she says. Others have removed inappropriate posts and utilized privacy settings to manage their pages.

Her intention wasn’t to scare them off social media but to push them to be mindful of what they post. Melissa says, “I tell them, ‘Just because everyone else is sharing doesn’t mean you have to.’ ”

The Internet May Be Changing Your Brain In Ways You’ve Never Imagined


Five years ago, journalist Nicholas Carr wrote in his book The Shallows: How The Internet Is Changing Our Brains about the way technology seemed to be eroding his ability to concentrate.

“Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words,” he wrote. “Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”

In the book, which became a New York Times bestseller and Pulitzer Prize finalist, Carr explored the many ways that technology might be affecting our brains. Carr became particularly concerned about how the Internet seemed to be impairing our ability to think deeply and to focus on one subject for extended periods.

Today, social media and digital devices have an arguably greater place in our lives and hold on our attention spans than they did in 2011.

So what has  changed since Carr wrote his seminal work five years ago? We chatted with the journalist and author about how our increasing interactions with mobile technology might be affecting the most important organ in our bodies.

Since you wrote this book, the Internet has only taken on a bigger role in our lives. What are some of the main changes you’ve observed in the way we interact with technology? 

When I wrote the book, the iPhone was still very new and the iPad had just come out. Social media wasn’t as big as it is today. So when I wrote the book, I was thinking about laptops and computers but not so much about smartphones. Of course, now the main way that people interact with the Internet is through mobile devices.

In the book, I argued that what we created with computers and the Internet was a system of distraction. We got the great rewards of having basically unlimited information at our fingertips, but the cost of that was we created a system that kept us in a state of perpetual distraction and constant disruption.

What psychologists and brain scientists tell us about interruptions is that they have a fairly profound effect on the way we think. It becomes much harder to sustain attention, to think about one thing for a long period of time, and to think deeply when new stimuli are pouring at you all day long. I argue that the price we pay for being constantly inundated with information is a loss of our ability to be contemplative and to engage in the kind of deep thinking that requires you to concentrate on one thing.

To me, all the things I worried about have become much worse now that we carry around this permanently connected device that we’re constantly pawing at. Things are very different in a way that makes the things I worried about worse.

Research has found that millennials are even more forgetful than seniors. What do we know about how technology is impacting our memory?

Technology definitely has an effect on our memory. What happens is that to move information from your conscious mind (what’s known as the working memory) into your long-term memory requires a process of memory consolidation that hinges on attentiveness. You think about the information or rehearse it in your mind in order to form a strong memory of it, and in order to connect it to other things that you remember.

If you’re constantly distracted and taking in new information, you’re essentially pushing information into and out of your conscious mind. You’re not attending to it in a way that is necessary for the rich consolidation of memory.

Since I wrote The Shallows, there have been some very interesting studies which show that we seem to be less able to form long-term memories than we used to, thanks to technology. Onestudy out of Columbia University showed that when people know that they’ll be able to find information online easily, they’re less likely to form a memory of it.

Are you also concerned about this lack of depth, or shallowness, in our social interactions? 

That isn’t something that I’ve studied much, but I think there are some indications that this kind of culture of constant distraction and interruption undermines not only the attentiveness that leads to deep thoughts, but also the attentiveness that leads to deep connections with other people.

One study I mentioned in the book seemed to show that the more distracted you are — the more your train of thought is interrupted — the less able you are to experience empathy. So distractions could make it more difficult for us to experience deep emotions.

In the book you talk about the “dark side” of brain plasticity. What does that mean? 

Neuroscientists have discovered that the brain is plastic, meaning that it’s very malleable or adaptable. Our brains are constantly adapting at a physical level to our environment. You can imagine that what’s really changed our environment in the past 10 or 20 years is the Internet and social media.

A lot of people will assume that if our brains can adapt, then our brains will adapt to the flow of information and all will be well. But what you have to understand about neuroplasticity is that the process of adaptation doesn’t necessarily leave you a better thinker. It may leave you a more shallow thinker.

What you have to understand about neuroplasticity is that the process of adaptation doesn’t necessarily leave you a better thinker. It may leave you a more shallow thinker.

Our brains adapt, but the process of adaptation is value-neutral — we might get smarter or we might get dumber, we’re just adapting to the environment.

Are you optimistic about any of the ways we currently seem to be adapting? 

No. It’s the ease with which we adapt that makes me most nervous. It doesn’t take long for someone to get used to glancing at their smartphone 200 times a day. We’re creatures of habit mentally and physically.

When you develop that habit of distraction, it becomes harder and harder to back away and engage our minds in deeper modes of thinking.

Is there anything we can do to keep our mental faculties intact, or is it pretty much hopeless at this point?

Well, you can use the technology less and set aside your phone and spend a good part of your day trying to maintain your focus and not be interrupted. The good thing about that — because of the plasticity of our brains — is that if you change your habits, your brain is happy to go along with whatever you do.

What makes me more pessimistic is that we’re kind of building our personalities and our entire societies around this new set of norms and expectations that says you need to be constantly connected. As long as we continue going down that path it’s going to be ever harder for us to buck the status quo.

There’s a ton of research being done on technology and the brain. What sort of findings are you most troubled by? 

There are studies suggesting a loss of cognitive control — not only a loss of attention, but a loss of our ability to control our mind and determine what we think about. One researcher from Stanford pointed out that the more you acclimate yourself to the technology and the constant flow of information that comes through it, it seems that you become less able to figure out what’s important to focus on. Instead, your mind gets attracted just to what’s new rather than what’s important.

We can see signs of that in the compulsiveness with which people become attached to the streams of information that swirl by your eyes.

What do you say to people who argue that at every stage of history, we’ve been up in arms about new technologies that ultimately proved benign — and that the Internet is no different?  

We’ve never had a technology like a smartphone before — a technology that you carry around with you all day long and are pretty much constantly interacting with. Even television was traditionally segregated into different parts of the day — it wasn’t like people carried around a TV in their pocket.

This is a very different kind of technology that we’ve created for ourselves that does interfere with our thoughts. We’ve never had a media technology that so shapes the way our mind works.

The Internet Can’t Replace Real Human Interaction.


A Rosh Hashana reminder of the power of sacred spaces


Watching people assemble for services on Rosh Hashana, I was struck anew by a powerful reality of houses of worship: They remain that rare place in American society where people of different ages sit together in common cause. Yes, people gather at a sports arena or concert, but that is to watch, not to participate. Besides, the baby in the stroller and the 93-year-old are not usually found at the same concert. In a world where community is increasingly difficult, and atomization is becoming the norm, Prayer is a moment of togetherness.

Sociologist Robert Putnam famously wrote about the shrinking of social capital more than a decade ago. Observing that bowling leagues declined as more and more people chose to bowl alone, he cast his eye about society and saw the fragmentation in almost every sphere of public life. Political parties are less attractive, social clubs and groups less cohesive and prevalent. Now more than ever in history we can function autonomously, sitting at home, watching TV, getting our news from the Internet, paying our bills online, and ordering up everything from food to books to videos to lawn furniture, all without moving from one spot.

Not so if you attend a Synagogue or Church or Mosque. Many houses of worship now stream their services, yet they are still designed as places for people to come and join together. The inevitable frictions and joys of human contact are central to prayer. Each year after the holidays I receive letters of complaint about people who were talking, disturbing those who sat near them. But I get far more letters of appreciation as people renew acquaintances, see children grow from year to year, feel the mysterious, sad tug of realizing that certain faces are no longer there, and remembering that a video screen cannot match the anxious thrill and warm spark of human contact.
An old Jewish story has it that two men, Schwartz and Goldberg, were walking to the synagogue. A neighbor, spotting them traveling together, stops and asks: “Hey Goldberg, I understand why you are going to synagogue—you are a believer. But Schwartz, you aren’t religious. Why are you going?” And Schwartz answers, “Goldberg goes to talk to God. I go to talk to Goldberg.”

I long ago learned that most people do not come to the synagogue for doctrine. They come for one another. In the hallway encounters, in the catching up—yes, even in the gossip—there is the tie of community that runs deep in our nature.

The decline in attendance at churches and synagogues is sad for those of us who care for religion, of course. But it is also sad to see the waning of one of the last great institutions that brings people together. Yes, the synagogue is full of problems and politics, but that is just another way of saying it is full of people. Here is a place that welcomes us, sublime and sinful as we are, and asks us to share together with others who are no better and no worse. The Internet will be humming when you get home. The news will be ready at a moment’s notice. In the meantime, you will have interacted with other human beings, and perhaps, had a moment to encounter God.

Porn and video game addicts risk ‘masculinity crisis,’ says Stanford professor — RT News


Men who play video games “in excess” and watch online porn are facing what has been called a masculinity crisis, according to a leading US psychologist.

Reuters/Robert Galbraith

For those who think online video games and porn are passive online activities that have no real consequences in the real world, take heed.

Psychologist Philip Zimbardo interviewed 20,000 young people in the United States, 75 percent of them male, and found that excessive, solitary playing of video games and watching porn is seriously damaging the social development of young men.

“Our focus is on young men who play video games to excess, and do it in social isolation – they are alone in their room,” Zimbardo, who just released a book on the subject, entitled“Man (Dis)Connected,” told the BBC in an interview.

“Now, with freely available pornography – which is unique in history – they are combining playing video games, and as a break, watching on average, two hours of pornography a week.”

Zimbardo says “excessive” use of video games and pornography is not necessarily a matter of specific time, but rather the psychological change in mindset that such isolated activities produce, where the individual begins to feel he’d rather be doing that particular activity than anything else.

Phillip Zimbardo, 82, is a psychologist and a professor emeritus at Stanford University. He is perhaps best known for his 1971 experiment in which students were asked to play the roles of ‘guards’ and ‘prisoners’ in a mock prison. Intended to continue for two weeks, the experiment was aborted in less than a week as the initially normal ‘guards’ eventually became sadistic and the ‘prisoners’ became submissive and depressed. Zimbardo has also written introductory psychology books, textbooks for college students, and other notable works, including The Lucifer Effect and the The Time Cure. Zimbardo is the founder and president of the Heroic Imagination Project.

“When I’m in class, I’ll wish I was playing World of Warcraft. When I’m with a girl, I’ll wish I was watching pornography, because I’ll never get rejected,” he explained. The brains of young men are actually becoming “digitally rewired” by these new pastimes.

Zimbardo says that one of the consequences is the so-called“porn-induced erectile dysfunction,” or PIED, where young men who should be sexually active are “having a problem getting an erection.”

“You have this paradox – they’re watching exciting videos that should be turning them on, and they can’t get turned on.”

While playing video games and watching pornography are not necessarily bad activities, they can begin to have a negative effect on the social development of individuals if used in excess, the psychologist said.

He believes that parents need to take more control of the situation by taking simple steps, like keeping a journal for tracking how much time is being set aside for a variety of different activities, like doing homework, reading and writing.
At the same time, schools need to rethink their sexual education requirements, and instead of placing excessive emphasis on the physical side of relations, talk more about communication and expressing emotions, he said.

“We need to set standards of excellence, and be aware that there is a problem in the first place,”Zimbardo said.

Russian student invents bracelet to tackle computer addiction .


Russian students have invented a unique bracelet capable of preventing kids from spending too much time in front of a computer. Tracking children’s biorhythms, it can even autonomously switch off computers, averting possible health-related consequences.

RIA Novosti/Igor Zarembo

The bracelet is currently in the final stages of development at the Academic IT School of Perm State University, with a model ready for production expected by the end of year.

“The project is aimed at lowering the psychological pressure experienced by the personal computer users. It’s especially important for children as we live in the 21st century when kids have unlimited access to computers, which don’t always have a positive effect on them,” Dmitry Zotin, the bracelet’s inventor and an Academic IT School student, told RT.

It’ll be “more like parental control,” but it’ll be the hardware and software, not parents, managing the time spent by the youngster in front of a PC, he explained.

Spending too much behind the computer can make it hard for children to sleep at night and increase risk of attention problems, anxiety, depression and even obesity, medics warn.

The bracelet will be tracking the child’s cardiac rhythm and skin temperature, using Bluetooth to transfer this data to a program installed on the computer.

Based on the physiological data, the software will decide whether to change the computer’s settings, adjust screen brightness, block certain parts of the operating system or even shut down the whole PC.

The program will also record all actions performed by the user on the computer, including mouse clicks, buttons pressed and others, to provide him with advice on how to use his time in front of the monitor more effectively.

It’s going to be “an enforcement procedure” for the children, Zotin said, adding that the bracelet will turn the computer off automatically if the kid ignores the program’s warnings that he or she spent too much time in social networks or playing.

As for adult users, the bracelet will inform them that they are tired or stressed and advise to change activity or take a break, he added.

Zotin says that in the future his invention may also be introduced in offices to monitor how effectively employees use their time behind the computer and to ensure they get enough rest from staring at the screen.

The bracelet is currently only compatible with desktop computers, with no plans yet to make a version for tablets and video game consoles.

Is the Internet ‘full’ and going to shut down?


Reports state that the Internet is running out of space — but is this really a problem? Do we have to worry about it?

Reports this week have claimed that the Internet is in danger of becoming “full” because the number of Internet connections rose above a crucial limit. A small number of sites could have been taken momentarily offline by the issue with the infrastructure supporting parts of the Internet.

MOVE ON? Is the Internet ‘full’ and are we in for a rocky ride over the next few weeks?

The issue revolved around a limit on the number of concurrent connections made to routers that underpin the Internet. These operate in a similar manner to home routers spreading data about the global Internet, rather than simply within a single address.

“Old hardware that is at least five years past its end-of-life sulked, because it ran out of memory,” explained James Blessing, chair of the Internet Service Providers Association, which has close to 300 members across the U.K.

“The problem revolved around TCAM memory — which is like an address book — getting full,” Mr. Blessing told The Guardian. “The default settings have 5,12,000 entry spaces. It reached 5,12,000 entries last week when an Internet service provider (ISP) had a problem and leaked some address space, which caused some older boxes at other ISPs to fail.” ISPs have known about this issue for a while. Cisco, which manufactures a large chunk of the hardware used by ISPs, put out a notice about the issue in May, but some ISPs have been slow to fix the problem.

“There is a fix for the issue — you can simply change some values on the boxes and then restart the entire machine,” said Mr. Blessing. “Unfortunately these boxes have hundreds of customers attached to them so getting permission from them all to do that is a pain.” That has caused some ISPs to put off the reboot, which would momentarily take websites connected to the box offline, until it caused a brief issue last week.

Because some of the properties that suffered issues are interlinked it created larger domino-like problem for other sites.

Mr. Blessing explained that if an ad-server was hit, then ads wouldn’t show up on websites making them look broken, or if an authentication service that lets users log into other sites with a single username and password — like Facebook, for instance — then those sites would be disrupted.

Safe for now

The issue could be described in a similar manner to the Y2K bug — something that could have caused major issues for the Internet if it hadn’t been fixed, but the fix was simple and in most cases completed within plenty of time.

“In the grand scheme of things, it’s tiny,” said Mr. Blessing. “It’s a glitch, glitches happen.” “If someone at an ISP hasn’t noticed it by now, it’s too late as the default table is over 512,000, so nothing that had this problem is now connected to the Internet and working,” he said.

“We’ve had the glitch and nothing further will happen now concerning the 512,000 bug.” The advice from experts is that if Internet users haven’t noticed any issues by now they won’t see anything happening from now on. The Internet is safe for now.