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.
A Capable, Complicated Answer To Going Electric
Regular Sorento ownership starts at $30,090 (plus $1,325 destination), with Kia’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine. Step up to the Sorento Hybrid, however, and Kia adds electrification and takes away engine capacity. Priced from $36,690 (plus destination), there’s a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine that — with the assistance of an electric motor — nudges up power while also improving fuel economy.
In fact, you get 227 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, reasonable if not excessive, compared to the non-hybrid’s 191 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque. Rather than the continuously variable transmission we’re used to seeing in mild hybrids, Kia instead relies on a six-speed automatic. The non-hybrid Sorento gets two more gears in its auto.
With both engines, front-wheel drive is standard on the lower trims and all-wheel drive is an option. Kia’s system has a center-locking differential, too, though it’s hard to imagine Sorento owners venturing too far off-road with their SUVs. It’s a $2,300 upgrade on the Sorento Hybrid EX and standard on the Sorento Hybrid SX Prestige (from $42,490 plus destination).
Google Pixel 8 Pro Gets A Serious Upgrade: Here’s What’s New
The front camera doesn’t change from the previous model, and clicks selfies at 10.5MP with a 95-degrees-wide field of view. Unlike the rear cameras, aperture values also remain the same on the front camera. But even with the same underlying hardware, the Pixel 8 Pro can now click sharper selfies thanks to the valuable addition of autofocus.
Speaking of other improvements, the Pixel 8 Pro gets better video recording capabilities with improved HDR+ recording, powered by what Google calls “Video Boost.” The Pixel 8 Pro is also the first to extend Night Sight to videos. In addition, the Tensor G3 chip has been reported to bring support for AV1 encoding at resolutions up to 4K at 60fps.
That means the Pixel 8 Pro will be more efficient at compressing raw video footage to web-compliant formats without much loss in quality. Further, the Audio Magic Eraser will eliminate distracting background noise and unwanted sounds from the audio.
Besides video, the Pixel 8 Pro also gets a horde of software features for photography. First, as previewed at Google I/O 2023, Magic Eraser is expanding new AI-based editing features that can create and fill portions of an image, and this tool is now called “Magic Editor.” Secondly, “Best Take” will help you fix or replace any unpleasant parts of a photo, ensuring you always have the best possible pictures.
These Are The Cheapest Places In America To Buy A Car
Before we list the cheapest cities across the U.S. to buy used cars, it is important to know that the national average price for a used car stands at $34,227. However, if you happen to shop in Cleveland-Akron (Canton), the average price of used cars sold in the area is $2,769 lower than the national average, with the typical used car costing just $31,458.
Buyers in Cincinnati, Ohio, come in at a close second with an average used car priced at $31,622. There isn’t much difference between the rest of the cities in the top 10, with Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, Va., coming in at as the third least expensive city with an average used car costing $31,901 there.
The rest of the list includes cities like Fresno-Visalia, Calif. ($31,912), Orlando-Daytona Beach, Fla. ($31,971), Detroit, Mich. ($31,990), Columbus, Ohio ($32,177), Pittsburgh, Pa. ($32,286), Indianapolis, Ind. ($32,418), and Oklahoma City, Okla., ($32,443).
There are a few reasons why these cities are cheaper places to buy a used car. One is that the cost of living in these cities is generally lower than in other parts of the country. Another reason is that these cities have a lot of competition among used car dealerships. This competition drives down prices and gives buyers more bargaining power. Finally, these cities are all located in the Midwest and Northeast, which are two regions of the country that are known for having more used cars on the market. Having a larger selection of used cars to choose from means you are more likely to find a good deal.
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