How much time should you really spend on social media? Experts weigh in

Story image for Social Media from Atlanta Journal Constitution

It may feel impossible to put your phone down and take a break from Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, but research shows limiting social media screen time can lead to better mental health.

» RELATED: The suicide rate for teen girls is the highest it’s been in 40 years — Is social media to blame?

A new study from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, suggests cutting down use to 30 minutes a day may improve well-being.

The scientists conducted two separate trials, one in the fall and one in the spring, and examined social media use among 143 undergraduate students ages 18-22 and monitored their habits for one week across three platforms — Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook.

» RELATED: Study: The more social media you use, the lonelier you feel

Researchers also surveyed the students’ mental health based on a multitude of factors, such as loneliness, self-esteem, anxiety, social support and depression.

After the baseline trials, they placed students in one of two groups. Participants in the first group continued using social media as they had, whereas the second was tasked with limiting use to 10 minutes per platform a day.

» RELATED: All teens need to be screened for depression, American pediatricians urge

Cutting down to just 30 minutes of use resulted in a “significant improvement in well-being,” study authors wrote. That group also experienced significant reductions in loneliness and depression compared to the control group.

Both groups, according to the date, showed significant decreases in fear of missing out and in anxiety, “suggesting a benefit of increased self-monitoring.”

This doesn’t mean you should cut social media out altogether or even that 30 minutes is the absolute most optimal time for users to spend on platforms.

» RELATED: Study: Instagram is the worst social media network for your mental health

“Here’s the bottom line,” study author Melissa Hunt said in a statement. “Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness. These effects are particularly pronounced for folks who were more depressed when they came into the study.

It is a little ironic that reducing your use of social media actually makes you feel less lonely,” she added. But “some of the existing literature on social media suggests there’s an enormous amount of social comparison that happens. When you look at other people’s lives, particularly on Instagram, it’s easy to conclude that everyone else’s life is cooler or better than yours.”

» RELATED: Perfectionism is a major issue for millennials and their mental health, study says

A 2017 study from the Royal Society for Public Health and Young Health Movement echoed Hunt’s sentiments. After surveying nearly 1,500 young people aged 14 to 24 from across the United Kingdom using 14 key metrics, they found Instagram had the most negative effects on body image, sleep and FOMO (fear of missing out) and mental health overall.

Instagram and Snapchat “are very image-focused and it appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people,” Shirley Cramer, the chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, said in a statement.

In general, Hunt and her University of Pennsylvania colleagues involved in the research urge folks to put away their phones “and be with the people in your life.”


Make social media accounts private, says survey of young

Young people face pressure from cyberbullies, peers and predators, says the charity Involve.

Thousands of young people have said that they want their Twitter, Instagram and other social media accounts to be automatically private as a way of protecting themselves from unwelcome attention online.

The proposal is one of the key changes that 3,400 young people aged 14 to 25 in England called for in a survey focusing on the huge rise in mental ill health seen in their age group in recent years.

Letting young people choose who sees their postings would help stop sometimes personal material being shared widely, which can lead to them being abused or bullied online.

“Social media is not always a great place for young people. They face significant pressures to conform to what’s ‘normal’ or desirable, comments from cyberbullies liberated by not being able to see their targets, and risks from predatory behaviour,” said Sarah Allan, head of engagement at Involve. It is one of two charities which have overseen the project, called MH:2K, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust.

“Making social media accounts automatically private would make young people fully aware of who sees what they post online. Young people have told us that they sometimes put themselves at risk by not understanding the implications of who they are making information available to.”

The teenagers and young adults surveyed also say they want:

  • Social media platforms to include an option to hide likes, followers and comments.
  • A “social media mental health service” through which they can access online support.
  • Schools to rethink punishments to reflect the fact that some pupils may be feeling low when they misbehave.
  • Teachers and everyone working with young people to undergo compulsory mental health training.
  • NHS mental health treatment for young people to be available in youth and community centres.

Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, last month urged the government to introduce a levy on social media firms like Facebook to help pay for the rising cost of mental health problems among young people.

“Any action to support young people’s mental health and wellbeing should be taken seriously, and these recommendations are particularly powerful given that they come directly from young people themselves,” said Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s national director for mental health.

“Everyone must start taking responsibility, including social media giants, to help stem the tide of mental ill health in our country so the NHS is not left to pick up the pieces of a mental health epidemic in the next generation.”

Theresa May has pledged to improve children and young people’s mental health and that the NHS’s forthcoming long-term plan, which is due early next month, will include a dramatic overhaul of services for them.

However, Prof Sue Bailey, the chair of the children and young people’s mental health coalition, said that while “the government is making positive strides, [it] still has a long way to go to realise its vision to radically transform child and adolescent mental health services”.

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And so, we have an update for you on some good news. Thanks to all the readers who have supported our independent, investigative journalism through contributions, membership or subscriptions, we are starting to overcome the urgent financial situation we were faced with. Today we have been supported by more than a million readers around the world. Our future is starting to look brighter. But we have to maintain and build on that level of support for every year to come, which means we still need to ask for your help.

Ongoing financial support from our readers means we can continue pursuing difficult stories in the challenging times we are living through, when factual reporting has never been more critical. The Guardian is editorially independent – our journalism is free from commercial bias and not influenced by billionaire owners, politicians or shareholders. This is important because it enables us to challenge the powerful and hold them to account. With your support, we can continue bringing The Guardian’s independent journalism to the world.

If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, enjoys it, helps to support it, our future would be so much more secure. For as little as $


Technology Will Provide The Edge To Make Urban Real Estate Scalable

The fast-paced advancement of computing technologies and concurrent boom of data have combined to increase the capabilities and efficiency of the analytics industry. In the real estate sector, sharpened analytics translates to an increase in volume, accuracy and relevance of insights. And as big data continues to gain a foothold in urban settlements (leading to the creation of so-called smart city movements), it is expected that these insights will gain more depth and relevance.

AI- and analytics-derived insights are critical to the long-term survival of urban centers. Predictive analytics can delineate viable real estate investment opportunities while serving as a mechanism to detect and assess future market trends. Tech-based statistical analyses of this sort are currently at the forefront of the world’s sustained drive to cut costs and increase productivity with scarce resources.

Better Construction For Fewer Resources

In line with deriving the most value from the currently available pool of scarce resources, technology is also pioneering the development of novel construction procedures that utilize half the resources and time needed by conventional means to produce even better construction results. Modular, offsite and prefabricated construction, for instance, leverage economies of scale, projectwide standardization of design elements and off-site prefabrication to shunt conventional construction bottlenecks.

The result is a dynamic construction process that is operational with the tightest of resources and deliverable to virtually every construction need of the 21st century. A significant number of startups have already adopted this ingenious style of construction and with their ongoing pilot projects are already demonstrating — to critical acclaim — the nascent benefits of modular construction to the real estate industry in general.

Smarter Cities For An Efficient Real Estate System

As the internet of things, increased connectivity, cloud computing and intelligent offices/residences all converge in the 21st century smart city, they usher in a new angle to operational efficiency in the real estate market. This synergy of innovative technologies and real estate — or proptech, as it is better known — exploits the inherent capabilities of next-gen technologies to provide a richer, fuller and more fulfilling real estate experience to all stakeholders in the real estate market.

In Hong Kong, for instance, Microsoft just recently teamed up with Ricacorp to launch an AI-powered platform that allows users to locate what would be ideal homes for them. Elsewhere in the city, VR and AR are providing buyers with a redefined viewing perspective. When there’s a need to inspect homes and other properties, distance is no longer a barrier. For cities like Hong Kong, where foreign direct investment in real estate is a major source of government revenue, providing buyers with an immersive buying experience is a welcome development.

More consequentially, however, the paradigm shift from conventional city frameworks to an interconnected smart city backed up by proptech is cutting operational costs for both real estate developers and consumers themselves. It is estimated that on full implementation, intelligent cities will prosper a cost saving of almost $5 trillion in the next four years. Driving these cost savings is the pivotal redefinition of how utilities are managed both on the micro scale by the consumer and on a macro scale by government agencies.

Reimagining Urban Centers

With global population peaking to all-time highs and given the fact that more than half of the world’s population dwells in urban centers, there’s a need for a more robust urban framework to accommodate the growing needs of urban centers. Technology presents an outlet to achieve this. Smart building systems maximize available urban resources to deliver an urban fit model of housing and living that adequately caters to the needs of urban dwellers while minimizing the environmental impacts of real estate. Environmental impact in this sense connotes both the physical impression of housing/office facilities and the effects these facilities have on the immediate environment.

Today, urban centers feature highly optimized real estate setups that defy traditional housing models. When paired with improved energy efficiency, smart grids and other components of smart cities (all derivatives of technology), they provide for a suitable model to foster sustainable urban settlement.

While the concept of smart cities and smarter home designs represents the advanced applications of technology to foster sustainability, other less complex but nonetheless effective tech derivatives are also being implemented to critical acclaim. Sharing and maximizing the use of available real estate is now possible thanks to the workings of startups. Transportation is taking a new dimension with the introduction of ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber. Sustainability is the key to the future of real estate, especially in densely populated metropolitan cities of the world. These ideas are being successfully implemented in the real estate industry and will continue to flourish under the tech-driven culture that is the current paradigm.


Watch the OnePlus 6T’s Indian launch here

OnePlus 6T got unveiled yesterday and now the phone is having a separate introduction in New Delhi, India. The global launch was broadcasted on YouTube and this one will be live and freely available as well.

The stream will be live at 8.30 PM IST when the event begins.

Although we know the OnePlus 6T comes with an UD fingerprint scanner, waterdrop notch, and Snapdragon 845, we are expecting to see prices and availability dates for the Amazon Exclusive device, and hopefully some local promos with gifts.


Talent Powers TV’s Social Media Engagement: Nielsen

Talent drives engagement when it comes to posts from social-media accounts owned by TV shows and networks.

According to Nielsen, which earlier this year started measuring Owned Account Performance as part of its Nielsen Social Content Ratings talent accounts generated almost 20 million engagements for their associated TV programs.

That represents about 30% of all owned engagement for series and special programming.

For a three-week period during this year’s fall series premieres, Nielsen Social Content Ratings measured over 160,000 pieces of TV content and over 250 million engagements coming from thousands of active owned accounts.

Findings within this timeframe emphasize the impact that different owned account types can have across the major social platforms when engaging with their TV audiences.

Source: Nielsen

Source: Nielsen

The TV celebrities with the most social media engagements in comedy shows were Kristen Bell of NBC’s The Good Place, Issa Rae from HBO’s Insecure and Tim Allen from Fox’s Last Man Standing.

Among stars of dramas, Taraji P. Henson of Fox’s Empire had the most social media engagement, followed y Josh Dallas from Manifest on NBC and Emily Andreas from Wynonna Earp on Syfy.

In reality, the top stars were Tyra Banks of America’s Got Talent, Joe Amabile of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars and Howie Mandel of America’s Got Talent.

Chris Hayes of MSNBC had the mos social engagement among news personalities, followed by Jake Tapper on CNN and Kate Pavlich of Fox News.

Talent accounts are particularly concentrated on Twitter. When it comes to talent for TV shows, 63% of their social media accounts are on Twitter. With athletes, Twitter accounts for 84% of accounts.

For programs, 39% of social media accounts were on Twitter with 37% on Facebook and 24% on Instagram. For networks, 41% of accounts are on Twitter, 34% on Facebook and 24% on Instagram.

Individual-level accounts for talent and athletes have higher shares of their engagement coming from Twitter than do the organization-level account types—56% of talent account engagement and 53% of athlete account engagement came from Twitter alone.

While Instagram represents roughly an equal share of engagements for network, program and talent accounts, it accounts for the vast majority of engagements for organization-level sports accounts with 88% of engagements for sports league accounts and 66% for team accounts, according to the report.

“Knowing how specific TV talent and program-associated accounts are performing across social media platforms opens up countless opportunities for programmers,” says Sean Casey, President, Nielsen Social. “Measuring a social media account’s impact is no longer a mystery. Now, TV talent, as well as the networks themselves, can quantify their account’s social engagement and leverage those insights to optimize their social strategy within their media mix. We can finally fill in more missing pieces around a television show’s total social footprint.”


Weekly poll: does Xiaomi Mi Mix 3’s unique design do it for you?

Foldable phones may resurrect the flip phone, but sliders may be the next big thing in the shorter term. The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 doesn’t have a keypad, instead the slider reveals the dual selfie camera – a solution to the notch problem while pursuing the all-screen front.

A pop-up camera requires a mechanism that takes up quite a bit of space. And in the case of the Find X, the top of the frame was cut off, which reduced rigidity. Plus, the slider allows for interaction with the phone – you can answer calls, for example, or launch the selfie camera. It makes a ton more sense than squeezing the phone to take a photo (really, Google and HTC?).

The sliding mechanism on the Xiaomi Mi Mix uses magnets instead of springs and there are no motors (all of which should improve durability). It’s not the simplest setup, but the added complexity to the design was well worth it – the 6.39” display is completely uninterrupted by unsightly notches and fits in a body more compact than a 5.5″ iPhone 8 Plus for example.

Speaking of, it’s a Super AMOLED panel with HDR support. You’ll get to enjoy the colorful interface of MIUI 10 on that, based on Android 9.0 Pie, which is running on top of the Snapdragon 845 chipset.

A 6.39 A 6.39
A 6.39″ screen with 19.5:9 aspect ratio and no notch

The Mi Mix 3 comes with 6GB or 8GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage. Later next month a special edition will launch with 10GB of RAM and 5G connectivity, but that may be a China exclusive. However, Europe is guaranteed to get a 5G model (without the 10GB of RAM) early next year.

The dual camera on the back of the phone is already touted as one of the best. You can check out an extensive selection of camera samples (in daylight and at dusk) if you want to see the image quality with your own eyes.

Besides the improved processing compared to the Mi Mix 2S, the new phone boasts high frame rate modes. It adds 60fps mode at 2160p resolution as well as 240fps (continuous) and 960fps (short clips) at 1080p.

The Mi Mix 3 packs impressive cameras The Mi Mix 3 packs impressive cameras
The Mi Mix 3 packs impressive cameras

The base version of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 costs $475/€420 in China, the 8/256GB one is $575/€505. The 10GB special edition will be $720/€630. Note that as part of the retail package you get a 10W wireless charger and a case specially designed for the sliding body.

At this point you should have already made up your mind – is the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 hot or not?


London Flavours releases street food-inspired crisp range

London Flavours releases street food-inspired crisp range

UK-based snack brand London Flavours has released new crisp range inspired by popular street food flavours.

Street food is growingly increasingly popular in the UK, and research conducted by MCA Insight claims that the UK’s street food market has grown around 9.1% from 2017, valued at £1.9 billion this year.

The new London Flavours Street Food range aims to capitalise on this, and three flavours will initially be available in the range: Pho, Teriyaki and Sticky Ribs, and all flavours will be available in 40g and 150g bags.

London Flavours spokesperson Josh Guest said: “our new Street Food range aims to inject more excitement into the UK crisps market, with a unique new range of flavours that reflect London’s food culture and diversity.

“We saw an opportunity to capitalise on the high consumer demand for adventurous new Street Food flavours and cuisines, infusing them into a delicious range of premium crisps.”

London Flavours also collaborated with London street vendor Salt Shed to create the Sticky Ribs flavour, and Salt Shed is featured on the packaging of the crisp flavour.

Salt Shed co-owner, Laurence Stevens added: “London Flavours, like us, are serious about quality food inspired by our city.

“Street Food is the way Londoners eat today, so we were delighted to work with them to create an irresistible Sticky Ribs flavour influenced by our own ribs”.


The sharp decline in housing stocks on higher rates is way overdone, top analyst says

Top-ranked analyst on his homebuilder upgrade

The sharp decline in housing stocks has been driven by investor fear that higher interest rates would “put the kibosh” on the real estate market, top housing analyst from Evercore ISI Stephen Kim told CNBC on Thursday.

The strong economy was “an enemy within” because although it benefited housing companies, it also drove rates up, Kim said on “Power Lunch.”

“Over the summer, you actually began to see a slowdown brought on by the rates and so people said, ‘Uh oh, here we go, it’s basically over,'” Kim explained.

Reflecting that concern, the Philadelphia Stock Exchange Housing Sector Index, which tracks several housing-related stocks, has dropped nearly 30 percent this year.

However, Kim thinks the housing sell-off at this point is way overdone.

While the higher end of the market “has actually started to show some signs of weakening,” the lower end remains strong, he said, arguing stock valuations in the sector “look very attractive.”

Meanwhile, Wharton School real estate professor Susan Wachter told CNBC she is not as optimistic.

“On the luxury end, there is some easing off on prices but not at the entry level. There, the demand exceeds supply,” she said. “So it’s simply hard to get that product out at the price points which it would be affordable.”

Wachter believes the housing market has peaked, saying buyers are going to dry up due to those higher home prices and climbing mortgage rates.


Nobel Prize winner Robert Shiller: I don’t expect a sharp turn in the housing market

Robert Shiller

The housing market may be slowing down, but Nobel Prize winner Robert Shiller told CNBC he isn’t fearful that a big downturn is ahead.

During the financial crisis, the fluctuation of home prices was the sharpest anyone had ever seen — and the word “housing bubble” entered the vocabulary, the Yale economist said.

Now, “you can call it a bubble” because home prices have been rising since 2012, “but it’s not the same. It’s more placid,” he said on “Power Lunch.”

“I don’t expect a sharp turn in the housing market at this point,” added Shiller, the co-founder of the Case-Shiller Index, which tracks home prices around the nation.

The impact of rising mortgage rates is already being felt on the housing market.

Rates started climbing in September and are now approximately a full percentage point higher than they were a year ago. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate is now around 5 percent.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Census reported that sales of newly built homes dropped 5.5 percent in September compared with August and were 13 percent lower compared with a year ago. The slowdown is worse than had been predicted, even with higher rates factored in.

The reading prompted Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group, to write in a note to clients: “Anyone watching home builder stocks or watching the data all year should not be surprised but it’s clear this important area of the US economy, highly sensitive to price and rates, has obviously slowed sharply.”

The latest S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, released last month, showed a slowing of the rate of price increases for July.


Poor healthcare in jails is killing inmates, says NHS watchdog

Overcrowding and staff shortages are making it difficult to care for prisoners’ health needs.

Almost half of England’s jails are providing inadequate medical care to inmates, whose health is being damaged by widespread failings, the NHS watchdog has told MPs in a scathing briefing leaked to the Observer.

Healthcare behind bars is so poor in some prisons that offenders die because staff do not respond properly to medical emergencies, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) says.

Mental health services for the 40% of inmates who have psychological or psychiatric problems are particularly weak, which contributes to self-harming and suicides among prisoners, according to the care regulator’s confidential briefing to the Commons health and social care select committee.

It blames chronic understaffing, problems getting to medical appointments and guards knowing too little about ill health to recognise problems.

The mixture of NHS and private companies that provide healthcare in England’s 113 adult jails and young offender institutions “frequently struggle to deliver safe and effective services”, the commission tells MPs.

However, it adds, this is often “due to issues outside of their control” such as shortages of prison and healthcare staff and the environment of jails not offering suitable space for consultations.

It adds: “In 2017-18 we completed 41 joint prison inspections [with the prisons inspectorate]. We found breaches of [CQC] regulations in 47% (19) of these inspections and took corresponding regulatory action, in some cases against more than one registered provider.”

The CQC ordered providers to take remedial action because the care offered to inmates was unacceptable in its quality or safety and breached the watchdog’s five fundamental standards that require providers to ensure services are safe, caring, effective, responsive and well led.

The document details a litany of problems including:

Mental health nurses are unable to assess, care for and treat prisoners because they are too busy responding to inmates having breakdowns or being given drugs.

Shortages of prison guards to escort them means prisoners are missing out on NHS appointments outside the jail.

Inspectors frequently find “inadequate mental health awareness among prison staff and their inability to recognise mental health issues and seek appropriate support for prisoners”.

Incarceration can worsen prisoners’ existing conditions or lead to them developing new problems as a result of “limited exercise and exposure to sunlight (causing vitamin D deficiency), poor diet, illicit drug availability, assault/injury, exposure to communicable diseases, psychological deterioration, self-harm and suicidal ideation”.

Follow-up inspections frequently reveal “poor progress in achieving the intended improvements”.

The charity Inquest said it was concerned about “repeated failings [by prison healthcare providers] around communication, emergency responses, drugs and wider issues of mental ill health and healthcare provision resulting in death.

“Evidence from our casework, supporting families whose relatives have died in custody, indicates that prisons are unhealthy and unsafe environments. A patient in prison has very little autonomy, control and access to medication and appointments. Prisons, at their core, are environments of toxic, high health risk,” said Rebecca Roberts, its head of policy.

In oral evidence to the committee in July Peter Clarke, England’s chief inspector of prisons, painted a bleak picture of inmates’ health and healthcare provision behind bars. Prisoners’ mental health was suffering because overcrowding means that many thousands do not have a cell to themselves, and cells must serve as living room, dining room, kitchen and toilet.

The illicit drugs trade in jails has led to a toxic mix of violence, fear, debt and bullying for many prisoners, Clarke added. As a result “they self-segregate and self-isolate, and instances of self-harm and suicide tragically flow from that”. Inmates’ inability to get to medical appointments, due to staff shortages, has produced “an inevitable knock-on effect on their health and wellbeing”.

Paul Williams, a Labour member of the select committee, which will publish a report into prisoners’ health next week, said: “In too many prisons a profoundly unhealthy environment and woefully inadequate staffing results in prisoners’ health getting much worse because of their time inside. Missed appointments lead to missed cancers, and severely mentally ill people are kept in cells instead of hospital wards.”

Professor Steve Field, the CQC’s chief inspector of primary medical services and integrated care, added: “During our programme of inspection in partnership with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, we have found some poor care and I have serious concerns that the issues we have found are affecting the health of some the most vulnerable people in society.

“I’m anxious that the issues highlighted in our evidence around mental health provision, staff training, particularly nurse and doctor training and inadequate pharmacist oversight of prescribing are dealt with as a matter of urgency.”

A government spokesperson said: “We are investing tens of millions of pounds extra in prison safety and decency. We are spending an extra £40m to improve safety and tackle the drugs which we know are fuelling violence and healthcare problems, including X-ray scanners and drug-detection dogs. Over 3,500 new prison officers have been recruited in the last two years which will help improve access to healthcare services.”