A new study is making waves in the worlds of tech and psychology by questioning the basis of thousands of papers and analyses with conflicting conclusions on the effect of screen time on well-being. The researchers claim is that the science doesn’t agree because it’s bad science. So is screen time good or bad? It’s not that simple.
The conclusions only make the mildest of claims about screen time, essentially that as defined it has about as much effect on well-being as potato consumption. Instinctively we may feel that not to be true; technology surely has a greater effect than that — but if it does, we haven’t found a way to judge it accurately.
The paper, by Oxford scientists Amy Orben and Andrew Przybylski, amounts to a sort of king-sized meta-analysis of studies that come to some conclusion about the relationship between technology and well-being among young people.
Their concern was that the large data sets and statistical methods employed by researchers looking into the question — for example, thousands and thousands of survey responses interacting with weeks of tracking data for each respondent — allowed for anomalies or false positives to be claimed as significant conclusions. It’s not that people are doing this on purpose necessarily, only that it’s a natural result of the approach many are taking.
“Unfortunately,” write the researchers in the paper, “the large number of participants in these designs means that small effects are easily publishable and, if positive, garner outsized press and policy attention.” (We’re a part of that equation, of course, but speaking for myself at least I try to include a grain of salt with such studies, indeed with this one as well.)
In order to show this, the researchers essentially redid the statistical analysis for several of these large data sets (Orben explains the process here), but instead of only choosing one result to present, they collected all the plausible ones they could find.
For example, imagine a study where the app use of a group of kids was tracked, and they were surveyed regularly on a variety of measures. The resulting (fictitious, I hasten to add) paper might say it found kids who use Instagram for more than two hours a day are three times as likely to suffer depressive episodes or suicidal ideations. What the paper doesn’t say, and which this new analysis could show, is that the bottom quartile is far more likely to suffer from ADHD, or the top five percent reported feeling they had a strong support network.
In the new study, any and all statistically significant results like those I just made up are detected and compared with one another. Maybe a study came out six months later that found the exact opposite in terms of ADHD but also didn’t state it as a conclusion.
Ultimately what the Oxford study found was that there is no consistent good or bad effect, and although a very slight negative effect was noted, it was small enough that factors like having a single parent or needing to wear glasses were far more important.
Yet, and this is important to understand, the study does not conclude that technology has no negative or positive effect; such a broad conclusion would be untenable on its face. The data it rounds up are (as some experts point out with no ill will toward the paper) simply inadequate to the task and technology use is too variable to reduce to a single factor. Its conclusion is that studies so far have in fact been inconclusive and we need to go back to the drawing board.
“The nuanced picture provided by these results is in line with previous psychological and epidemiological research suggesting that the associations between digital screen-time and child outcomes are not as simple as many might think,” the researchers write.
Could, for example, social media use affect self-worth, either positively or negatively? Could be! But the ways that scientists have gone about trying to find out have, it seems, been inadequate.
In the future, the authors suggest, researchers should not only design their experiments more carefully, but be more transparent about their analysis. By committing to document all significant links in the data set they create, whether they fit the narrative or hypothesis or go against it, researchers show that they have not rigged the study from the start. Designing and iterating with this responsibility in mind will produce better studies and perhaps even some real conclusions.
What should parents, teachers, siblings and others take away from this? Not anything about screen time or whether tech is good or bad, certainly. Rather let it be another instance of the frequently learned lesson that science is a work in progress and must be considered very critically before application.
Your kid is an individual, and things like social media and technology affect them differently from other kids; it may very well be that your informed opinion of their character and habits, tempered with that of a teacher or psychologist, is far more accurate than the “latest study.”
Orben and Przybylski’s study, “The association between adolescent well-being and digital technology use,” appears in today’s issue of the journal Nature Human Behaviour.
How To Find Reused And Compromised Passwords In Safari
The macOS version requirement to use this feature is Big Sur or Monterey, but it worked fine in Catalina, as well. To get started:
1. Launch Safari on your Mac.
2. Once a new Safari window opens, click on Safari in the menu bar and select Preferences from the dropdown menu.
3. You should see a popup menu of Safari preferences — you’ll be under the General section by default. Select Passwords from the top menu to manage your saved passwords.
4. At this point, you’ll have to enter your system password to access your saved passwords.
5. Once you’re in, you’ll see a list of all your stored passwords. If you see a yellow warning icon next to any of the passwords, that means Safari has a security recommendation for it.
6. Tap the warning icon on the password to know its security status. If a password has been overused, if it is easy to guess, or if it has been compromised in a data breach, Safari will add a short comment. There’ll also be a link to the appropriate page so you can change your password (via Apple Support).
Whenever Safari is auto-filling your passwords in any field, you may also get a Compromised Password alert notifying you to change a password because it is weak, reused, or leaked.
This Electric Car Starts At Only $18,500, But You Only Get Three Wheels
The average commute, according to Electra Meccanica, is 40 miles. The Solo comes with 100 miles of range, which is more than enough to do your commute. Evidently, this car isn’t meant for much more than that, but many people — especially those who live in dense urban areas — don’t drive much further than work on a regular basis. Basic items like a briefcase, a few bags of groceries, and a set of gym clothes fit just fine in the back of the Solo.
Obviously, this ideal situation ends if you are a family with only one car. It also begins to lose its purpose if you enjoy a sporty feel because while you do get Bluetooth, USB charging, a rear-view camera, AC, and keyless entry, it isn’t exactly riveting to drive. It has a top speed of 80 mph, which is made possible by its 82 horsepower engine with 128 lb-ft of torque. All this power is sent to the singular rear wheel. It goes from 0-60 mph in 10 seconds, which is simply sluggish by any standard.
The interior of the Solo isn’t draw-dropping, considering the color variety you get is a few different shades of blacks and dark greys. However, the Solo does feature an LCD gauge cluster, which is a nice touch. What’s even nicer is that it comes with a singular heated seat.
This Tesla-Powered BMW EV Combines Classic Styling With Modern Power
One of the last produced examples of BMW’s E9 coupe was sold on Bring a Trailer for over $200,000, which is well within the BMW EV’s price range. But the Tesla-powered BMW CSI also has some historical significance, especially in terms of proper maintenance. It belonged to the late Saudi Arabian Prince Mashour bin Saud, who had four keepers tending to the car when it was purchased in 1978. Aside from having a taste of royalty, the BMW EV was also a rare right-hand drive model. Its paper trail reveals how its registration was changed from the prince’s original “2 BAT” to “BAT 9K,” including handwritten letters to Michael Gardiner, who was tasked with selling the car for him.
In 2019, the BMW 3.0 CSI was bought from Gardiner’s widow and was eventually brought over to established electric conversion specialists at Electric Classic Cars. The company, which successfully converted classics like a 1979 Porsche 911 and the original Volkswagen Beetle, did a complete overhaul on the iconic BMW both inside and out. Furthermore, this classic BMW EV even includes the original straight-six engine should its driver ever feel like going back to gas. Although electric conversion has kept this classic up to speed, let’s look at its other improvements.
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