Instability Among Underprivileged Families: a Cause and Consequence of Poverty

We’d like to believe that the largest difficulty in a child’s life would be not finding the exact color of crayon they’d need to finish drawing a picture. But with the rise of divorce and single parent families, children are forced to live with more and more instability in their lives. “The rate of family change that we’re seeing in the first five years of life is simply overwhelming children’s ability to cope,” stated Dr. Kathryn Edin at the 2017 Hinckley Lecture.

While levels of family instability and complexity are at an all time high, these difficult situations are disproportionately found among disadvantaged families rather than the American population as a whole. The unplanned birth of children into unestablished and young relationships are both the consequence and cause of poverty.

Learn more about the trapping impact of poverty on individuals and the consequential instability in families by watching this excerpt from Dr. Edin’s lecture.

This post is one of many in a series of videos available on our BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.

Instability and Complexity in American Families

Today’s families are changing, as we’ve discussed here and here. Our School of Family Life professors are studying more and more types of families with more and more complex relationships. At our college‘s 2017 Hinckley Lecture, Dr. Kathryn Edin addressed the impact of instability and complexity on many American families. As parents break up, then re-partner, then bring new children into the family dynamic, Dr. Edin explained that “the parental roster is unstable” and “the child has multiple adults in and out of his or her life, claiming the role of mom or dad.” This dynamic is both a consequence and a cause of poverty.

Learn more about instability and complexity by watching this two-minute video, and stay tuned for new videos as we continue to explore these issues.

Dr. Edin’s full lecture is available here.

This post is thirty-fourth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.

Research Shows That People Who Get Divorced or Are Widowed Have the Worst Health

This post is eighteenth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.

Research, as we’ve mentioned here and here, shows consistently that people who are married have better health. It follows, then, that divorce or widowhood can have a significant impact on both mental and physical health. Dr. Linda Waite, a sociologist at the University of Chicago and a 2010 Hinckley presenter at BYU, found that people who were married and stayed married to the same person had consistently better health than those who had remarried after a divorce or loss of a spouse, had been divorced or widowed and not remarried, and those who had never married. Interestingly, in terms of physical health, those in the second group who had been divorced or widowed and not remarried reported the worst physical health, those who had never married reported only 12% fewer negative health events, and those who had remarried after divorce or widowhood reported 27% fewer negative health events than the divorced or widowed. Still, that last group suffered 21% more incidences than the “always married.”

 

The previously married also reported worst emotional health, with those who had never married not far behind.

 

The short video below highlights the results of her research, shared in a 2010 Hinckley lecture by Waite. The full video can be viewed here.

 

 

 

What are the Health Advantages of Marriage?

This post is seventeenth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.


Want to know how to be healthier? Get married! University of Chicago professor Dr. Linda Waite studied marriage and its effects on people and found that the institution improves the health of those in it. She said, in a 2010 Hinckley lecture, that it gave men confidants and purposes in life beyond themselves. Statistically speaking, she said, they also:

  • Sleep better
  • Eat better
  • Drink less
  • Smoke less

Women get different things out of marriage, namely financial stability. Because women can generally depend more on men to provide for them financially, they are able to spend more time with the children. Women who are married with kids generally spend less time working than they did when they did not have kids.

“It’s extremely important that marriage produces social connections,” Waite added. “It connects people to an intimate other and that’s probably the most important single connection and can’t really be overrated.”

The Marjorie Pay Hinckley Chair was created to strengthen, understand, and research families as well as create strategies to bolster families through challenges such as learning disabilities, social development, and single parenting.

Research Says that Marriage Makes You Live Longer

This post is sixteenth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.

What’s the secret to living longer? According to Dr. Linda Waite, it’s marriage. In a 2010 Marjorie Pay Hinckley Lecture, Waite shared her research showing this. She studied 100 American couples over eighteen years, charting their marriages, divorces and, deaths. She found that women who were married lived longer than women who never married, were divorced, or widowed: “Marriage keeps women alive,” she said, and the same was true for men, to an even greater extent, all else being equal. “When you look at the most basic, most fundamental health indicator,” she said, “it’s very clear that married people are advantaged.”

Dr. Waite graduated with a doctorate in Sociology from the University of Michigan in 1976. She is the Lucy Flower Professor in Urban Psychology at the University of Chicago.. She researches social demography, aging, the family, health, working families, and the link between biology, psychology, and the social world. The Marjorie Pay Hinckley Chair, which sponsored Waite’s lecture, was created to strengthen, understand, and research families as well as create strategies to bolster families through challenges such as learning disabilities, “social development,” and single parenting.

Dr. Brad Bushman: Pro-social Video Games are Good

This post is twelfth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and  your family live better lives.

Are all video games negative? According to Dr. Brad Bushman, a 2014 Hinckley presenter, there are negative effects of violent video games, but there are positive effects of pro-social games.

Bushman lists video games that encourage kindness and helpfulness. He studied young adults who played pro-social, neutral, or violent video games. The young adults were assigned to give another young adult a puzzle. They could pick the difficulty level. If the person could figure out a certain number of puzzles within a certain amount of time, they got ten dollars. Bushman used this experiement to understand if pro-social games help people be kind.


As we mentioned in previous posts about his lecture on the subjects of measuring aggression in teenage boys and other effects of violent media, Dr. Bushman acknowledges that adults have the right to choose what media they consume, but he advocates making these effects on children known. Realizing that some of his findings are unpopular with mainstream channels, Bushman challenges popular conceptions by taking painstaking efforts to design his studies in accordance with the scientific method.

His studies have been published in prestigious scientific journals. He has testified in the U.S. Congress on topics related to youth violence and aggression, and has served as a member of President Obama’s committee on gun violence.

Since this topic can be controversial, we encourage viewers to watch the full lecture and the Q&A session that follows for a more complete look at these findings.

Bushman received his Bachelor’s in Psychology from Weber State in 1984 and holds an MEd in Secondary Education from Utah State University (1985), Masters in Psychology and Statistics from the University of Missouri (1987 and 1990 respectively), and a Doctorate in Social Psychology from the same school in 1989. He is the Rinehart Chair of Mass Communication at Ohio State University and teaches both psychology and communication classes. The professor has been featured in media such as BBC, NPR, and the New York Times.

The Marjorie Pay Hinckley Chair was created to strengthen, understand, and research families as well as create strategies to bolster families through challenges such as learning disabilities and single parenting.

 

Does Violent Media Desensitize You? Yes, Says Dr. Brad Bushman, Hinckley Presenter

This post is tenth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and  your family live better lives.

Does violent media desensitize you? According to Dr. Brad Bushman, a 2014 Hinckley presenter, it does. In research that he conducted where he examined the brain waves of video game players of both the violent and non-violent types and then showed them neutral images (such as mushrooms), negative images (such as a dead dog or a child with a birth defect), and violent images (such as a man with a gun being pushed down his throat), he found that those who played violent video games were less shocked by the violent images than those who played non-violent video games. He said, “They’ve become numb to violent images. They’re not shocking anymore.”

Bushman received his Bachelor’s in Psychology from Weber State in 1984 and holds an MEd in Secondary Education from Utah State University (1985), Masters in Psychology and Statistics from the University of Missouri (1987 and 1990 respectively), and a Doctorate in Social Psychology from the same school in 1989. He is the Rinehart Chair of Mass Communication at Ohio State University and teaches both psychology and communication classes. The professor has been featured in media such as BBC, NPR, and the New York Times.

As we mentioned in previous posts about his lecture on the subjects of measuring aggression in teenage boys and other effects of violent media, Dr. Bushman acknowledges that adults have the right to choose what media they consume, but he advocates making these effects on children known. Realizing that some of his findings are unpopular with mainstream channels, Bushman challenges popular conceptions by taking painstaking efforts to design his studies in accordance with the scientific method. His studies have been published in prestigious scientific journals. He has testified in the U.S. Congress on topics related to youth violence and aggression, and has served as a member of President Obama’s committee on gun violence.

The Marjorie Pay Hinckley Chair was created to strengthen, understand, and research families as well as create strategies to bolster families through challenges such as learning disabilities and single parenting.

Since this topic can be controversial, we encourage viewers to watch the full lecture and the Q&A session that follows for a more complete look at these findings.

Two-Minute Video on the Effects of Violent Video Games

This post is ninth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and  your family live better lives.

Dr. Brad Bushman, as we mentioned last week and like various faculty members in our college, is an advocate for making the effects of video games on children known so that they and their parents can make informed decisions. Realizing that some of his findings are unpopular with mainstream channels, Bushman challenges popular conceptions by taking painstaking efforts to design his studies in accordance with the scientific method. At a 2014 Hinckley presentation, he related how he did a study on aggression in which he assigned teenage boys to play either violent or nonviolent video games, and then see how they would react when competing against each other.

A group of 14-year-old boys were randomly assigned to play a violent or non violent video game for twenty minutes. After their game-time, the boys rated how cool they thought the game character was, and how much they wanted to be like them. Then, the boys competed against each other to see who could push a button the fastest. The winners got to blast the losers with sound. The winners could chose the duration and level of sound. The winners were told that levels eight through ten could cause permanent hearing damage (though they actually would not.) Some of the winners did indeed choose to blast the losers with those levels of sound, making comments like: “I blasted him with level 10 noise because he deserved it. I know he can get hearing damage, but I don’t care.” The results of his study are reflected in 140 others.

Watch the full lecture here for more information.

 

Hinckley Lecture: Sparks and Solution for Fragile, Poor families

Poverty is a large and complex topic of research, as is family instability and complexity. Both can be daunting subjects to understand. However, Kathryn Edin has spent decades researching and living among poor families, and shared some of the insights she’s gained since writing books like $2 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America at a recent presentation on campus, sponsored by the Marjorie Pay Hinckley Chair. “Family instability and complexity,” Edin  said, “are both consequences and causes of poverty. It is more common among low-income families. And they are at an all time high.”

So, what, if anything, can be done to address the core problem of family instability and complexity in poverty? Edin said it comes down to SPARKS.

What are SPARKS?

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SPARKS are Supported Pathways through the Arts, Recreation, Knowledge, and Schools. They are activities or programs that help children or teenagers identify themselves outside of their hard home life. They find themselves. Eventually, they make better family decisions because they can mentally get out of their difficult upbringing. “Emerging RCT evidence suggests that these positive youth development activities can have a dramatic impact on family formation and family stability among disadvantaged youth,” said Edin.

Edin shared her encounter with three teenagers living in complex and unstable families. Despite their home challenges, these teens connected with something outside of themselves.

“They found something that defined them…that consumed them,” said Edin. She described these teen’s experience as a “life-saving identity project.” For one Baltimore teen, Vicky, it was pigeons. She cares for pigeons, and has a goal to take them flying in every park in the city. Edin said this was the first level of a SPARK. Vicky identified herself with her love and care for her birds, not the horrors that occurred in her own home.

Bob found identity with Pokémon and Japanese anime. He found friends who identified with him as well as gaming, anime, and the arts. Bob dressed in goth clothes as his way of drawing the line between his street upbringing and his identity. Bob’s SPARK connected him to friends with similar interests, and was his way out of street life.

Cody’s SPARK was the most effective, as it was with an institution—the police academy. Police used to question Cody on the street, but after he joined the academy, cops saw his academy medallion and befriended him. Edin described Cody’s SPARK as the highest kind: “It’s like he jumped onto a moving train—there was already direction, good mentors, and service opportunities.”

Career/academic program SPARKS showed the most dramatic results and influenced young men in the following ways:

  • 33 percent more likely to be married
  • 46 percent more likely to be a custodial parent
  • 30 percent more likely to live independently with child and partner (21 percent for women)

High quality after-school programs affected pregnancy by up to 50 percent.

Many schools are no longer teach the arts and music because of budget cuts. Police academies have also been cut in some cities. These programs are often SPARKS for children and teens.

“We’ve got to create real pathways to follow SPARKS so that the bridge gets them to the other side,” said Edin.

 

Societal Systems That Foster Family Progress

“Ill-timed and unplanned pregnancies [are] the biggest contributors to unstable, complex, and fragile families,” Edin said. By extension, birth control is a central issue, a “how” of every child being planned and well-timed. But for those children already born, child support, paid by non-custodial parents to aid in the raising of children, is perceived as the most significant institution to fragile families. Fathers feel that the child support system does not ensure that they will see their children, and it handicaps them if they fall behind on payments.

“Why can’t child support be the mechanism that says to co-parents they’re in this for life?” said Edin. She called upon graduates of this university to consider working with these co-parents to get along. Then, parents will better be able to build “strong durable childhood bonds that last all the ways past the first five years, to high school graduation, college, and beyond,” said Edin. She lamented community college degrees that are losing their value in this ever-progressing world. Young adults from poor communities and unstable families are going to college more, but they often cannot finish college and end up in debt. “We are robbing these hopeful, aspiring kids of their dreams,” Edin said.

“But this is not hopeless,” she said. “We need to try things. She said classrooms need to be filled with students like those at BYU, who are invigorated to change and impact society for good.  Universities are one place to begin feeding students into important avenues.

 

The whole lecture can be seen here.

 

“You Never Murdered Anyone? BIG DEAL,” Says Dr. Brad Bushman.

This post is eighth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and  your family live better lives.

Most parents aren’t worried about violent video games turning their children into killers, said Frank Bushman, a 2014 Hinckley presenter. They’re worried about how violent video games affect their relationships with others. They ask: “How do these games affect how they treat me? How do they affect how they treat their siblings, their peers, and others? How do they affect how they see the world? How do they affect how they see women? But there are other effects of violent media beside whether you’re going to kill somebody.

If a person has played violent video games and have never killed anyone, they’re just like the majority of Americans. According the U.S. Census, the population was 308,745,538 in 2010. That same year, the FBI estimated that 14,748 people were murdered. That’s only .0048% of the population. With such a small percentage of murders, nearly everyone can boast that they’ve never killed anyone. And yet people use the phrase “I’ve never killed anyone!” to justify their violent games.


Bushman focuses his research on the positive and negative effects of different media content. He received his Bachelor’s in Psychology from Weber State in 1984 and holds an M.Ed in Secondary Education from Utah State University (1985), and Masters in Psychology and Statistics from the University of Missouri (1987 and 1990 respectively), and a Doctorate in Social Psychology from the same school in 1989. He has the Rinehart Chair of Mass Communication at Ohio State University and teaches both psychology and communication classes. The professor has been featured in media such as BBC, NPR, and the New York Times.

While acknowledging adults’ rights to choose what media they consume, he is an advocate for making these effects on children known. Realizing that some of his findings are unpopular with mainstream channels, Bushman challenges popular conceptions by taking painstaking efforts to design his studies in accordance with the scientific method. His studies have been published in prestigious scientific journals. He has testified in the U.S. Congress on topics related to youth violence and aggression, and has served as a member of President Obama’s committee on gun violence.

The Marjorie Pay Hinckley Chair was created to strengthen, understand, and research families as well as create strategies to bolster families through challenges such as learning disabilities, “social development,” and single parenting.

Since this topic can be controversial, we encourage viewers to watch the full lecture and the Q&A session that follows for a more complete look at these findings.