Screen Violence and Youth Behavior: New Questions

In today’s world, many parents, educators, and policymakers are asking whether video games are good or bad for children and adolescents. Indeed, it’s a topic experts have studied and talked about here on more than one occasion, agreeing, for the most part, that violent video games and media are linked to aggressive and violent behaviors in their players. But according to a new article co-written by School of Family Life professor Sarah Coyne, the question most educators and policy makers are asking—are video games good or bad for children and adolescents?—is much too simplistic. They suggest a different, more “nutrition-based” approach.

What Research Says So Far About Violent Video Games and Their Effects

Dr. Coyne and her co-authors analyzed existing meta-analyses concerning video game aggression and violence. “A large body of evidence reveals that violent media can increase aggression,” she says, citing a census study done by Common Sense Media. “Indeed, the effects of screen violence on increased aggressive behavior have been reviewed and affirmed by numerous major scientific organizations, [and] a comprehensive meta-analysis found that exposure to violent video games increases aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, physiologic arousal, hostile appraisals, and aggressive behavior and decreases prosocial behavior (eg, helping others) and empathy. These effects occur for male and female subjects of all ages studied, in both Western and Eastern countries.12

That being said, Dr. Coyne and her co-authors also noted that that are many potential cognitive and social benefits of video game play, and that well-designed video games can be great teachers, since they help players develop sensory processing and cognitive skills. Not all video games are violent, and of course, no risk factor taken alone can cause a child to behave aggressively.

More research is needed to truly explore the negative–and positive–effects of video games on those who play them, they say: large-scale studies of at least 50 000 participants that take into account all known major risk and resilience factors for the development of aggressive and violent behavior tendencies. The study should follow the same large sample of children from an early age through early adulthood, they recommend. They also recommend a similar large-scale, multi-site, multi-year study to further develop and test media exposure interventions to determine what works best, for policy makers and consumers to implement.

A Better Way to Think of Media Exposure?

The authors suggested thinking of media exposure as a diet. It’s important to consume media in moderation, and consumers should make sure to take in more helpful than harmful content. And, the consumer’s age has to be taken into account. In the absence of those large-scale studies, but with the evidence that has been gathered so far, they and other researchers suggest that parents can most effectively help their children and adolescents consume a healthy “diet” of video games and media by actively monitoring their use, and engaging in and conversing about media with their children, rather than strictly restricting media use. Families can also monitor media exposure by implementing simple rules and setting limits to screen time.

 

Relief and Recovery: How Do Disasters Disrupt Routine Behavior?

How do disasters affect communities? If you’ve followed the impacts of the recent Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, or Central Mexico earthquake disasters, or if you’ve ever experienced one yourself, you’ll know that the devastation varies from place to place and from disaster to disaster. It can often take years to assess the damage and to reach a new normal. Even harder to assess, though, but in some ways more important, are the effects of various disasters on the people, over time. In a recently published study, sociology professor Michael Cope found that Louisiana communities affected by the 2010 BP oil spill traversed the road to recovery in widely different ways, depending on their core industries, and that community sentiment, in general, served as a protective factor that ameliorated lifestyle disruptions.

 

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What happened in the BP oil spill?

The Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig, contracted by British Petroleum (BP) exploded in April 2010, about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana. The wreck killed 11 people, and the rig spewed millions of gallons of oil for months before scientists finally stopped the flow. At the time of the oil spill, Louisiana produced 25 percent of the nation’s seafood. The state was also the nation’s second largest producer of natural gas and third largest producer of petroleum. The U.S. government placed strict short-term restrictions on fishing and drilling in areas affected by the oil spill, and the fishing industry suffered for years as a result of the oil spill’s impact on the environment.

How did the oil spill affect the community?

Research on people’s general reactions to disasters shows that those disasters have to be viewed not as “single-point-in-time events, but as processes of social disruption that play out over time.” Dr. Cope’s research relied on a telephone survey administered to people living in communities affected by the oil spill. The survey was conducted in five waves, with the first wave administered while the oil spill was active and the last wave administered in April 2013.

The results suggest that the oil spill disrupted people’s routine behaviors (including sleeping and working). The extent of disruption lessened over time, as people’s behaviors normalized again, but people who worked in (or had relatives working in) the fishing industry experienced the most disruption. This makes sense, given the devastating short-term and long-term impact of the oil spill on their livelihood. Too, residents of affected communities reported disrupted lives three years after the spill.

The good news? People who demonstrated positive sentiment toward their communities (in other words, people who liked the places where they lived) experienced less disruption than others did. Their positive community sentiment buffered the effect of the oil spill on their routine behaviors.

What next?

Dr. Cope, an FHSS professor who co-authored this article with a team from Louisiana State University, wrote that issues like disaster recovery warrant continued attention and research. “This study,” they said, “adds to the chorus of researchers who have long contended that planners need to recognize disasters as social processes linked to long-term antecedents and long-term consequences.”

 

 

A Reason for Hope: How Transcendent Hope Inspires Us to Do Good

How can hope inspire us to do good? Better yet, how can it inspire us to be good? C. Terry Warner, an author and emeritus professor of philosophy, shared a few ideas at this semester’s recent bi-annual Reason for Hope Conference, hosted by the Wheatley Institution.

He shared the story of the The Other Side Academy, a live-in school that boards adult criminals and substance abusers looking for a fresh start after they’ve hit rock bottom, to demonstrate the difference between short-term and long-term hope, and how recognition of those different kinds of hope, and feeling both, can truly change lives.

The academy’s residents often begin their two-year stay with a sense of hopelessness or of “imminent hope,” defined by Dr. Warner as short-term, passing hope. The residents usually become discouraged, and they doubt that they can change.  Dr. Warner compared their mindsets to those commonly held by many people: “Our mental constructs both enable and limit our experience. Our mentality is, in this sense, prejudicial.”

But, as other people invite residents of Other Side to do good things and to be better people, the residents acquire a sense of transcendent hope, with the idea that these invitations to do good in and of themselves disrupt and intrude on the residents’ negative mentalities. They begin to recognize that they can change, and they find increased confidence in themselves, the future, and others. The academy’s programs give residents work experience, and its strict rules teach them self-control, but its success depends on each resident’s commitment to change.

Dr. Warner said that anyone can change, but we can only do so if we’re motivated by a call to goodness that originates outside ourselves. That call to goodness interrupts our negative (and often cyclical) thinking, and then it plants a seed of transcendent hope in each of us. “Transcendent hope is a hope that goodness will prevail,” he said. For Dr. Warner, the gospel brings transcendent hope into his life. He specifically mentioned the light of Christ and its permeating influence on every person who has ever lived.

Dr. Warner concluded by referring to scriptures that discuss how all goodness is rooted in God and Christ. “But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.” (Moroni 7:13)

What is the Wheatley Institution?

The Wheatley Institution is an on-campus entity that enhances BYU’s scholarly reputation while enriching faculty and student experiences. It lifts society as it preserves and strengthens its core institutions.

What invites you to do good and be good?

Let us know in the comments below!

Why BYU Students Should Read Fiction and Nonfiction… For Fun

“Books are a uniquely portable magic,” Stephen King said. But the problem is that most people don’t read for fun, and that means that they’re missing out on literary magic. A recent survey by the National Endowment for the Arts suggested that only 43 percent of adults read a work of literature in 2015. The survey excluded assigned reading to focus on people who read for fun, and the results revealed the lowest percentage of adult readers since the NEA began tracking reader data in 1982.

BYU students are no exception. Between their classes, homework, part-time jobs, and social lives, few students pick up books to read for pleasure. One article published by The Daily Universe suggested that students prefer reading during the summer, when they have much lighter loads. But what are the benefits of reading fiction, and why should you do it as often as possible? New psychological research suggests that readers are more empathetic than other people are, probably because reading trains the mind to put itself in other people’s shoes. Those findings have been replicated by many studies in the past few years.

FHSS has a reading list on its website, and we’re going to suggest two of our recent favorites to our readers. These are works of non-fiction written by our own professors, but they provide food for thought and fun.

  • A World Ablaze, by history professor Craig Harline. This book tells Martin Luther’s story, but it’s no history textbook. A World Ablaze reads like a work of fiction, and Harline’s storytelling will keep you flipping pages all the way to the end. Keep checking our blog for more information; we’ll publish a detailed post about the book next week.
  • Friends are fun, and psychology professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad wrote a chapter in a recent book about the psychology of friendship, about what it means to be a friend and how we can befriend those across the race, ethnicity, gender, and orientation spectrums. This chapter also addresses what happens when a friendship turns sour, the effect of friendship on our mental health.

One of the most valuable things college students can learn is how to find books that interest them. Luckily, the Harold B. Lee Library ranks among the best college libraries in the nation, so you can find thousands of titles right on campus. You could also check out Pioneer Book on Center Street or purchase books through Amazon. If you don’t know what kind of books you yourself might be interested in, you might want to ask your roommates or favorite professors what they’re currently reading. For book recommendations, search #bookreviews, #amreading, #booknerd, or #bookstagram on Instagram.

What’s your favorite recent read?

Let us know in the comments section!

Student News: The BYU Farmers’ Market and How it Creates Community

Autumn is well under way, but there are still a few weeks left in BYU’s own farmers’ market. While students might not necessarily think of that market as important to their experience here, it can in fact provide them with multiple benefits, not the least of which is a greater sense of community. Research is beginning to show that that sense has started to erode with the explosion in popularity of online shopping, and is something that many scholars, including Professor Michael R. Cope, in our department of sociology, have studied. In that sense, farmers’ markets in general could be seen not only as a boon to students, but also a solution to societal problems.

Benefits to Students of Farmers’ Markets

  • connecting with your local community: You see other students on campus every single day, but you might not often get the chance to interact with local families and businesses. This is one way to immerse yourself in the experience of college life, a period most often experienced only once in a lifetime.
  • getting access to fresh produce: Now that you’ve been back at BYU for a month, you’re probably ready to eat something besides ramen or spaghetti. Give your physical health a boost by adding fresh produce to your diet.
  • experiencing local culture: In addition to offering produce, the farmers’ market includes booths for baked goods and arts and crafts. There are often live music performers present, so you can also become more familiar with the local music scene. It’s a way to “live in the experience,” as Michael Featherstone, an alum of our Economics department, said in their most recent magazine.
  • making grocery shopping fun
  • making a difference in the community

BYU’s Farmers Market takes place every Thursday afternoon through October 26 in the south parking lot of the LaVell Edwards stadium.

What other value do farmers’ markets provide?

The Sociology Behind Farmers’ Markets

“As our local communities increasingly shed their traditional production and consumption functions,” said Professor Cope in a 2016 study, “they may also increasingly fail to imbue their residents with identity and connections to larger social realities.” In other words, the less goods a community produces and the fewer goods bought within that community, the higher the likelihood that its residents will feel “hyper-individualized.” The good news is that research strongly suggests that farmers’ markets tie communities together as civic-minded people converge. The Local Food Movement (LFM) is a project that champions that cause and backs many of the 8,000 farmers’ markets around the country. It aims to help communities develop more self-reliant and resilient food networks, improve local economies; and have an impact on the health, environment, community, or society of a particular place.

From a sociological standpoint, their objectives are admirable, possibly even necessary. The bad news: despite that, farmers’ markets aren’t always inclusive. The number of female shoppers is significantly higher than the number of male shoppers, and shoppers are disproportionately white and highly educated. But it’s important not to view the LFM as an egalitarian movement taking on the Goliath of agribusiness. Instead, Wheaton College sociologist Justin L. Schupp suggests that “the more interesting prospective framing of the LFM could have the movement admitting its potential for intra-group stratification while working further toward its stated goals of the democratization of food access.”

Vendors and shoppers at farmers’ markets have the right idea, but they would increase their community impact if they operated in more low-income neighborhoods and attracted a wider variety of people.

The Geography Behind Farmers’ Markets

Common sense tells us that farmers’ markets bring communities together, but it doesn’t fully explain how or why that happens. Interacting with other people fosters a sense of community, but can geography teach us something about farmers’ markets as well, their benefits to students, and their role in creating more unified communities? While shoppers can find farmers’ markets all across the United States, there is geographic disparity in their distribution. There are higher percentages of farmers’ markets in communities in California, New York, and Midwestern states than in southern states; farmers’ markets are also more common in urban areas than in rural areas. Are those communities more tight-knit or egalitarian? Do many students shop at farmers’ markets?

While research doesn’t yet point to direct answers to those questions, it does show that those who do shop at those markets tend to not visit the markets nearest to their own homes, and that the LFM has a ways to go in terms of helping to establish farmers’ markets in more low-income and ethnically-diverse neighborhoods (Schupp, 2016).

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The Status Quo of Farmers’ Markets

Be that as it may, farmers’ markets continue to grow not only in number but in symbolic value. From 1984 to 2001, farmers sold goods in a large market at the base of the World Trade Center, but the morning of 9/11 was the market’s last day of operation — until June 20, 2017. The newly reopened market is located next to the Oculus. Security is tighter than you’d find at another farmers’ market, but vendors are fairly optimistic about its future.

In fact, the entire future of American farmers’ markets is bright. The number of markets has boomed since the 1970s, and it doesn’t look like they’re going out of style anytime soon.

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Benjamin Madley to Lecture on an American Genocide

Genocide, according to the United Nations, is “…acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”  Benjamin Madley, an associate professor of history at UCLA, applies the term to describe the treatment of American Indians in mid-19th century California in his book, An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe. In two weeks, Dr. Madley will lecture at an FHSS event to argue that California Indians didn’t fare much better than Armenians, Rwandans, or even European Jews during the Nazi regime.

You’re invited

  • Who: Dr. Benjamin Madley, hosted by the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies
  • What: A presentation on the American Genocide
  • When: Thursday, September 21st, from 11 a.m. to noon
  • Where: B192 JFSB (the Education in Zion auditorium)
  • Why: To discuss important historical events that often lack awareness and understanding
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Courtesy of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies.

An American Genocide

An American Genocide, in which Dr. Madley estimates that 9,000 to 16,000 California Indians were killed from 1846 to 1873, has been reviewed by The New York Times, Newsweek, The Nation, and many others. Some of Dr. Madley’s fellow historians have criticized his book for applying the term “genocide” to the conflicts between Americans and California Indians. Gary Clayton Anderson, a history professor at the University of Oklahoma, challenges Dr. Madley’s death toll estimates and characterizes the California massacres as “ethnic cleansing.” The reasoning? Dr. Anderson argues that government policy never supported mass killings, so the genocide label might be inappropriate.

But An American Genocide details murders and massacres carried out by vigilantes, state militias, and the United States Army. Dr. Madley “methodically [gives] examples of each and [tags] the incidents like corpses in a morgue,” according to Richard White of The Nation. A seasoned historian, Dr. Madley also compiles many accounts of the incidents in nearly 200 pages of appendices. Every reader can weigh the evidence and conclude whether or not the incidents were genocidal.

Dr. Madley developed a passion for the interactions between indigenous groups and colonizers during his childhood; he was born in Redding, California, and lived in Karuk Country in northwestern California. Dr. Madley has earned degrees from Yale University and Oxford University, and he has authored many journal articles and book chapters.

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Courtesy of UCLA’s Department of History.

 

How do you think historians should apply the modern definition of “genocide” to historical events?

Four Benefits to New Students of Attending the New Student Orientation FHSS Breakout Session

It’s that time of year again: Fall, school, and New Student Orientation. The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences will host its breakout session on Friday September 1st from 3-5pm. The event starts with a presentation by the Advisement Center in B002 of the JFSB that will cover:

  • Information about the Advisement Center
  • Information about advisors and career paths
  • Myths regarding the liberal arts

Following that will be tables manned by representatives of the individual departments, as well as other college entities. in the Southeast Breezeway of the JFSB Courtyard. Those tables will include

  • Economics
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • The School of Family Life
  • Geography
  • Neuroscience
  • Anthropology
  • FHSS Writing Lab
  • Office of Civic Engagement.

The Dean’s Office will have a table and representatives will be available to answer any questions you have about the college.

If you’re a new student, what are the benefits of attending FHSS’s New Student Orientation?

1. Learn about different majors

Trying to figure out what to study can be daunting. Taking advantage of NSO to ask various department representatives about their department can help you decide what you want to study.

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2. Build connections

Because you are interacting with faculty and department representatives, you will be able to establish a valuable connection early on. The connections you form during your time here will serve you long after you graduate.

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3. Meet people with similar interests

You can never have too many friends! Take this opportunity to meet people who are interested in the same things you are. giphy (1)

 

4. Get a cookie!

The Dean’s Office table will be giving out cookies. Enough said.

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Be sure to stop by the JFSB on September 1st to learn more about the wonderful opportunities offered by the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences!

Tips for Surviving Finals

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It’s the end of the semester; in a matter of days you’ll be free to binge watch The Crown, go visit your family, and sleep. But there’s one thing you have to do first: survive finals. Long, stressful, draining finals. But they don’t have to be that bad. We in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences want to help you get through these emotionally exhausting times. So, we present to you eight tips for surviving finals, as suggested by various FHSS students on Twitter, and learned by experience.

Tip #1: Pack Snacks

When you’re hungry you can’t focus. And when you can’t focus, you can’t study. And if you can’t study, you fail. Nobody wants that. But be sure to keep the snacks healthy. While caffeine can keep you awake, the crash can kill any chance you have of doing well. So whether you’re burrowed in the library or camped out at home, just remember that one apple can mean the difference between an A and a B.

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Tip #2: Sleep

Recommended by FHSS student Samantha Hawkins, who says:

You retain more and test better when you’ve had enough sleep. Don’t overdo it, but don’t cut yourself short either.

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Tip #3: Stay off electronics.

Unless, of course, you’re using them to study. But stay as far away from Netflix, apps, and social media as you can! Think you’ll go on Instagram  just for a minute to see if T-Swizzle posted something about her cats? Wrong! Four hours later and you’re on Facebook stalking some random dude you knew in middle school. Trust me, non-study related internet use is a bigger waste of your time than the new Ghostbusters.

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Tip #4: Go outside.

Every few hours, take some time to poke your head outside. Leave whatever cramped corner of the library you’re currently living in and go take a walk. Do a lap around the WILK. Climb the RB stairs. It doesn’t really matter. Whatever you do will help wake you up and clear your head, two things you need if you want to study efficiently and test well. If you don’t, pretty soon you’ll end up just like Spongebob.

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Tip #5: Take an hour to relax.

Take some time for yourself. Take a hot bath, watch your favorite movie, jam out to your music. Obviously, don’t make this a day(s) long affair- just let yourself breathe for an hour. (Unless of course, you’re two days away from finals and have just started studying.) This will lower your stress and help you focus.

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Tip #6: Before the Test,Wake up early.

This gives you some time for the last minute cram sesh. It also allows you to get to the testing center (or wherever your test is) early. This will help you relax and feel more prepared. Besides, who wants to wake up late and have to run to the testing center?

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Tip #7: Calm down.

You can do this. You’ve prepared and you’re going to kick this test in the butt.

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Tip #8: After the Finals,Congratulate Yourself.  

You’re done! Yay! And you learned so much! (Hopefully)

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Good luck!

What do You do to Prepare for Finals?

GIFs courtesy of giphy.com

Five Things for Students to do over Thanksgiving Break in Provo

Say you’re a student who will be staying in Provo over Thanksgiving break, due to limited funds, home being too far away, the need to study, or other reasons. But you feel like you need to do something fun, something that will help you catch the spirit of the holidays. Consider these five fun activities around and about town as possibilities:

Play Football at Kiwanis (or any other) Park

This is a tradition you can keep anywhere. So, grab your friends or anyone else who’s in Provo over break, get a football, and duke it out at the park. You can play it for as long or as little as you like. But, if playing football isn’t your thing, you can always watch it on TV. Snow is expected on Thursday, so it could well look like this:

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See a Movie

Disney has a long history of releasing films in November- in recent years around Thanksgiving. This year is no exception: Moana is coming out on November 23, the day before Thanksgiving. But if that’s not your style you can also go see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, if you haven’t already.

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Plan an Escape

Head over to GetOut Games. The premise of this is pretty cool. You go with a group, get locked in a room for 60 minutes, and then solve puzzles to find the way out. Rooms range from Egyptian Tomb to Zombie on Chain. It can be pricey, $14-$20, but if you want to treat yourself (since it is a holiday), it might be a good option to do with friends.

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Learn to Cook

Nothing tastes as good as your mom’s cooking, but with a little effort, you can start getting there. Use this time to master the culinary arts so that when you do go home, you can wow your family. Besides, what else are you going to do with the leftovers? You can only eat so many turkey sandwiches…

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Get Ready for Christmas (After Thanksgiving)

On Friday, you can bring out the tree and the tinsel. Bake some cookies (see number 4). Dance to “Jingle Bell Rock.” Or, my personal favorite, watch a Christmas movie! Thankfully, you have a ton of options: Elf, A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Christmas Story, and the Hallmark Channel, to name only a few.

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What will you do this Thanksgiving?

Feature photo courtesy of Flickr.