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.
Samsung One UI 3 update released for USA Galaxy S20 phones
Today the One UI 3 with Android 11 OS was finally released for the Samsung Galaxy S20 family of devices. If you’re using a Samsung Galaxy Note 20, there’s good news for you as well – just so long as “in the coming weeks” sounds like an amount of time you’re willing to wait for this same update. The Samsung One UI 3 with Android 11 OS update will begin to rollout today “in the US on Galaxy S20 series devices” per Samsung’s official press release.
The Samsung One UI 3 with Android 11 OS update includes a “new, refreshed design” that’ll revitalize and reinvigorate the Samsung phone experience. A Samsung suggested in its most updated set of details on the update, this includes “visual enhancements to highly important information on the home screen, lock screen, notifications, and Quick Panel.” This update also includes “new visual effects” for the device’s user interface, including Dim and Blur.
This update includes an improved set of abilities in the Samsung Galaxy S20 standard camera app. Samsung suggests that the auto-exposure system works better, and that autofocus has been improved. The standard Gallery app has an update that allows the user to better organize categories “to quickly find photos.”
This update adds the user ability to customize the “share sheet” for sharing images, videos, and documents. There’s a newly redesigned set of lock screen widgets that’ll allow users to view important information and control music without needing to fully unlock the device.
This update also adds “Samsung Free,” which might not be particularly welcome by some users. This is “a tailored channel full of news, games, and free content from Samsung TV Plus all available with a simple right-swipe from the Home screen. Cross your fingers we’ll have the option to disable this screen, or you can bet there’ll be feedback.
If you own a Samsung Galaxy S20, Samsung Galaxy S20+. or Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, you’ll likely find the One UI 3 with Android 11 OS update available this week. Drop in to your Settings and scroll all the way to the bottom to find System Updates – tap in and check!
Galaxy S21 S Pen must-have features for the stylus to thrive
There is no shortage of talk about the death of the Galaxy Note line next year and most of those revolve around one or two “facts”. Samsung is undoubtedly grooming the Galaxy Z Fold series to eventually take its place but perhaps more significant is how the Galaxy S21 will reportedly gain its signature feature, the Wacom-powered S Pen. That will naturally raise questions on whether the stylus is still relevant today, enough to justify the added cost of a digitizer for what most might consider an esoteric feature. There are actually a few things that Samsung can do to make sure it actually gets the message across this time.
It would almost be a shame if Samsung axed the Galaxy Note 21, given that it will be the series’ tenth birthday next year. That is also how long the S Pen has been in existence and it’s both amusing and tragic that there is still some confusion and doubt about its raison d’être.
Sure, the phone stylus has its share of fans and loyal believers and there are even some from Apple’s camp who continue to believe every year that the iPhone would finally support something similar. Unfortunately, Samsung itself may have contributed to the disillusionment and hesitation over what should have been its killer feature.
From the very beginning, the Galaxy Note line was poised to be the phone for productivity and serious work. While the early Android phones and iPhones allowed people to consume content on a small screen, the Galaxy Note’s large screen and stylus clearly indicated it wasn’t your typical smartphone. It may have been ahead of its time, though, as it would take years before Apple, who ridiculed its gigantic display, would itself upsize its iPhones.
But while the Galaxy Note had the hardware to sell its productivity and creativity message, it sorely lacked the experiences that would convince all but the geekiest of users. Android itself would have an app ecosystem problem that would last it for years but Samsung was pretty much a heavyweight back in those days.
Unfortunately, it didn’t use that influence to help things turn in Android’s favor, like convincing major brands or cultivating app developers to create long-lasting experiences around the S Pen. It was too busy reinventing the wheel and establish itself as a not-Android Android phone maker to focus on that.
Admittedly, Samsung did try to build an app that showcased the stylus’ power. It even made that S Note app available on mobile and Windows PCs, predating what Microsoft would later accomplish with OneNote. Unfortunately, S Note has undergone so many incompatible changes over the years that it felt unwise to put one’s digital life in Samsung’s basket.
Creativity and Productivity Redux
That’s not to say that the S Pen has outlived its usefulness. In fact, it might only be getting started. Smartphones have become truly powerful computers in our pockets that we can and do use for work these days. The app market, even on Android, has matured enough to support that use case. Samsung just needs to send the right messages to convince consumers that they will need, or even want, a stylus, messages that go beyond contrived and painful on-stage testimonies and demos.
A phone is not a tablet
It’s almost too easy to compare and contrast the Galaxy Note phones with the success of the iPad Pro line and its Apple Pencil. It’s easy enough to want those same experiences from Apple’s premiere tablets to be available on smartphones, too. While current handsets are definitely capable, it would miss out on the things that make a smartphone better than a tablet.
Samsung needs to sell the next S Pen-enabled phone not as a phone in its own right and not as a shrunken down tablet. It has to focus on experiences that take advantage of the phone’s size and portability, like quick note-taking anywhere, sketching out thumbnails, marking documents, and the like. Admittedly, Samsung already has laid the foundations for these, it just needs to make one more change.
Pledge of consistency
The S Note app, later Samsung Notes, are actually powerful tools for their times but few would consider it a reliable productivity tool the way some would look at Apple’s basic Notes app. Samsung’s note-taking app has changed drastically over the years, sometimes in incompatible ways that meant losing your old notes. It added new features, for sure, but also removed just as much. It is hard to trust a tool that would be the repository of your digital life and thoughts.
Your notes weren’t available elsewhere either, which made the idea of keeping them there less appealing. Samsung Notes now syncs with Microsoft OneNote, partially addressing that problem but it also creates a different problem. Now users will have to wonder how long before Samsung abandons its own Notes app, making it harder to invest in its features.
More stuff, less fluff
To be fair, Samsung has tried to get people excited about the S Pen but it almost seems like it ran out of ideas in the past years. Some of the new features, particularly the Bluetooth-powered gestures, felt pointless and useless anyway. Users don’t always need more new features and would probably appreciate it more if Samsung focused instead on polishing apps and experiences.
Developers, developers, developers
Android still has a bit of an app ecosystem problem even to this day. While iOS has one or two top apps in each category, Android would have half a dozen, few of which can be considered complete or almost perfect.
Google is pretty bad at long-term cultivation of apps and developers and Samsung is no different. Sure, it does highlight some apps and holds contests to motivate developers. These are mostly one-off marketing stints, however, and isn’t enough to keep developers invested in the platform, especially considering Android’s notorious monetization problems compared to iOS.
The Galaxy Note is on its way out, whether it happens next year or not. Its key feature, however, will most likely live on, even for a little while. Whether or not it becomes a defining feature of Samsung’s future premium flagships, however, will depend a lot on how Samsung handles its messaging.
All the pieces are in place and the time is ripe for a true stylus-enabled Android phone, but only if Samsung doesn’t squander the opportunity yet again.
Best Cases for iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro
This year Apple unleashed four all-new iPhone models in varying colors and sizes. No matter which one you choose, you’ll want a case to keep your phone safe. While the iPhone 12 Pro has a new ceramic shield display and a rugged stainless steel design, it’s still fragile enough that you’ll want protection from daily wear and tear. So, here’s a roundup of the best iPhone 12 cases and iPhone 12 Pro cases, as they fit both phones.
We’ve gathered a list of iPhone 12 Pro cases in several different styles from thin cases, rugged cases, clear cases to show off a specific color, a wallet case, and more. Either way, we’ll help you keep that expensive new phone safe.
Spigen Liquid Air Armor Case for iPhone 12
When it comes to buying a case for any phone, our first choice is usually Spigen. They offer a wide array of sizes, durability, colors, and more to fit any user’s style or needs at an affordable price. I use the Spigen Liquid Air Armor as it’s not too thin, nor is it too thick.
A perfect middle ground to keep your new iPhone stylish without being too bulky. The Spigen Liquid Air offers military-grade protection, a textured anti-slip finish, and air cushion technology in the corners for added drop protection. Buy it on Amazon
Shamo iPhone 12 Clear TPU Case
Some people just want a thin, cheap, lightweight case offering little protection and peace of mind without spending $40. We don’t blame you, which is why this clear TPU case for under $6 is a great option.
The Shamo’s clear TPU case is rugged, durable, shockproof, and has raised edges to keep that beautiful screen safe. Give it a try. Buy it on Amazon
Caseology Parallax iPhone 12 Case
Another great option is Caseology, which makes several styles similar to Spigen. Our favorite is the Caseology Parallax, as it utilizes a dual-layer design to protect your iPhone 12.
The Parallax has a soft impact-resistant TPU shell on the inside, surrounded by a tough polycarbonate plastic outer bumper shell. Then, they reinforce the corners and add a textured wavy back to prevent accidental drops. It’s a tremendous all-around case. Buy it on Amazon
Apple Silicon iPhone 12 Case with MagSafe
We know some people like to buy Apple-branded everything, including cases. And while Apple’s custom silicone cases for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 are great, they don’t offer a ton of protection for the price.
Still, it’s stylish, has a soft microfiber finish on the inside to keep the phone safe, and packs built-in magnets to work perfectly with MagSafe. Most cases still work with wireless charging, but this ensures a perfect Apple experience. Buy it on Amazon
Otterbox Commuter Series Case for iPhone 12 / 12 Pro
By far, one of the best cases for all iPhones and a brand you’ve likely owned before is Otterbox. They make durable and excellent products, built to last, and will keep that big screen and all those cameras safe. My favorite case from Otterbox is the Commuter series, as it’s not a brick, but still super tough.
Otterbox added textured designs on the sides for an improved grip, made the case tough as nails, and uses a new silver-based antimicrobial coating to protect against common bacteria that may end up on our phones. Buy it Now on Amazon
Smartish iPhone 12 Wallet Case
Convenience is more important than ever these days, so you might as well combine your wallet and phone into one. That way, you can grab your phone, keys, and go. The Smartish iPhone 12 and 12 Pro series of wallet cases are some of the best. They use comfy textured sides for a solid grip, a soft drop-resistant TPU shell, then raise the back enough that you can fit three credit/debit/ID cards plus some cash at the same time — safely.
Whether it’s three cards or one, they’ll never fall out. Previously known as “CM4” Smartish makes a great iPhone 12 wallet case worth trying. Buy it Now on Amazon
Spigen Tough Armor Kickstand Case for iPhone 12
If you’re looking for one of the best rugged iPhone 12 Pro cases, look no further than the Spigen Tough Armor. It’s an excellent dual-layer case built to handle whatever life throws at you.
They use a soft TPU inner core, a hard polycarbonate outer core, and impact-absorbing foam lines inside the case. Not to mention the nifty popout kickstand for hands-free Netflix, YouTube, or gaming sessions. Buy it Now on Amazon
Razer ArcTech Pro Gaming Case for iPhone 12
The best iPhone 12 case for gamers is probably the Razer ArcTech Pro, for several reasons. While it’s rugged, durable, and has dual-layered corners for added drop protection, it’s the overall design built for gamers that you’ll enjoy.
Razer added venting holes to the rugged case, then an all-new thermally conductive lining to help send heat out of the case for improved performance and battery life during those Fortnite matches. Plus, they added an antimicrobial coating to the back (because it’s 2020) to prevent bacteria buildup and promote good hygiene. Buy it Now on Amazon
AIMOSIO Aramid Fiber Minimalist Thin iPhone 12 Case
Minimalists looking for a sleek, stylish, yet functional case for the iPhone 12 will want to consider something made from aramid fiber.
The fibers are military-grade, bulletproof, yet super thin. As a result, you get one of the sleekest and most durable cases around. They’re a bit expensive and don’t keep the screen all that safe, but everything else about aramid fiber cases is great. Buy it Now on Amazon
Incipio Duo iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Case
Finally, for now, is the fantastic Incipio Duo case for the iPhone 12 series. Incipio thinks of everything when they build cases for new phones. For this year, the iPhone 12 Incipio Duo case offers 12-ft drop protection, which is huge. They use oversized raised edges around the bezel of the glass to keep the screen safe, not to mention tiny little rubber feet on the back to prevent your phone from sliding off surfaces like a table.
They claim the strong antimicrobial coating on the outside eliminates 99.9% of germs and bacteria from the case, which is essential these days. Buy it Now on Amazon
Disclosure: SlashGear uses affiliate links, If you click on a link in this article and buy something we’ll get a small cut of the sale.
Samsung One UI 3 update released for USA Galaxy S20 phones
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