For Greater Happiness, Limit Social Media Time, Studies Suggest

An impressively large study out of Italy confirms what many American researchers have found here at home: too much time spent on social media correlates negatively with wellbeing and happiness.

An impressively large study out of Italy confirms what many American researchers have found here at home: too much time spent on social media correlates negatively with wellbeing and happiness. And while American studies have often been limited to self-selected populations of college undergraduates, the Italian research, conducted alongside the country's National Institute of Statistics, gathered data from 24,000 Italian households corresponding to 50,000 individuals.


"[The survey] found for example that...if you tend to trust people and have lots of face-to-face interactions, you will probably assess your well-being more highly. But of course interactions on online social networks are not face-to-face and this may impact the trust you have in people online. It is this loss of trust that can then affect subjective well-being rather than the online interaction itself."

Particularly troubling to researchers was the amount of discrimination and hate speech commonly found in places where people go to express themselves and gauge the opinion of others. The team concluded that better moderation of social networks could greatly improve user experience and positively affect self-assesment of their wellbeing. This is the first time that use of social networks was addressed in such a large and nationally representative study.

I previously wrote about the role of social media in creating an echo chamber for inflexible ideology instead of diversifying the marketplace of ideas--an effect exacerbated by search algorithms that return results based partially on your past browsing history.

Ultimately the power is in our hands says University of Chicago neuroscientist John Cacioppo. In his Big Think interview he explains how we can use technology to create meaningful social interaction:

Read more at MIT Technology Review

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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Tesla Model 3 (Photo: Tesla)
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Metin Sitti and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute in Germany recently demonstrated that tiny drugs could be attached to individual algae cells and that those algae cells could then be directed through body-like fluid by a magnetic field.

The results were recently published in Advanced Materials, and the paper as a whole offers up a striking portrait of precision and usefulness, perhaps loosely comparable in overall quality to recent work done by The Yale Quantum Institute. It begins by noting that medicine has been attached to bacteria cells before, but bacteria can multiply and end up causing more harm than good.

A potential solution to the problem seems to have been found in an algal cell: the intended object of delivery is given a different electrical charge than the algal cell, which helps attach the object to the cell. The movement of the algae was then tested in 2D and 3D. (The study calls this cell a 'microswimmer.') It would later be found that "3D mean swimming speed of the algal microswimmers increased more than twofold compared to their 2D mean swimming speed." The study continues —

More interestingly, 3D mean swimming speed of the algal microswimmers in the presence of a uniform magnetic field in the x-direction was approximately threefolds higher than their 2D mean swimming speed.

After the 2D and 3D speed of the algal was examined, it was then tested in something made to approximate human fluid, including what they call 'human tubal fluid' (think of the fallopian tubes), plasma, and blood. They then moved to test the compatibility of the microswimmer with cervical cancer cells, ovarian cancer cells, and healthy cells. They found that the microswimmer didn't follow the path of bacteria cells and create something toxic.

The next logical steps from the study include testing this inside a living organism in order to assess the safety of the procedure. Potential future research could include examining how effective this method of drug delivery could be in targeting "diseases in deep body locations," as in, the reproductive and gastrointestinal tracts.

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https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Megamillions_tickets.jpg
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