I met my girlfriend’s parents – and realised I had once slept with her father

She is everything for me and I was going to propose — but now he has Advised me to Finish it with her

Five decades back, I went through a bi phase and used to sleep with pretty much everyone which came together, including other men. This changed once I fell in love with my new partner, who is everything to me. I recently met with her parents and halfway through lunch realised I had slept with her daddy. I was planning to propose, but when my partner and her mother were off, he told me to finish it with his own daughter. I am clearly in love — shall I simply ignore him, or tell my partner?
I’m not convinced you could ever have a comfortable future along with your new partner. Hiding the fact would lead to toxic secret-keeping that might be equally harmful in the long run. If this entire family was as open-minded and sexually available as possible, it may be possible that you become a part of it. However, the father — the former lover has made it crystal very clear you won’t be welcome. Walk away now, and avoid the massive pain that would otherwise be levied on your spouse, her loved ones as well as yourself.
Continue reading…

Wellbeing app becomes a Unicorn

  • Boost happiness – how can you use digital technologies to assist in improving client happiness?
  • Reduce pressure – how can you utilize digital technology to help reduce customer stress?
  • Reduce pressure – how do you use digital technologies to help lessen customer stress?
  • Construct self-esteem – how do you use digital technology to assist in improving client self-esteem (self-respect or even self-regard)?
  • Boost focus – how can you use digital technology to help improve customer focus (focus )?
  • Better sleep – how do you use digital technology to assist clients sleep better at night (e.g. by resolving the problems keeping them alert!) ?

Already the poster-child of all Apple’s top program fad of the year, Calm now unites the exclusive club of ‘unicorns‘ (private businesses valued at more than $1bn), via a brand new $88m round of funding, The present world population of unicorns now stands at around 300, along with the Calm app is the earliest in the digital wellbeing space.
These simple human-first questions will allow you to deploy digital technologies in a means that enriches human health.

What exactly does your new look like on Calm?
In the event you have been in any doubt regarding the rising importance of wellbeing, now ’s $1bn valuation of this popular wellbeing app Calm should provide you pause for consideration.
One simple and practical activity for many brands would be to envision what your manufacturer would seem like on ‘Calm’. To do this, easy ask yourself how to use digital technologies to ease the health goals on the brand new program.

In a world where digital technologies gets a bad rap for being a danger to health, Calm shows the prospect of electronic to benefit wellbeing too.

Why The Gun Debate Will Never Be Resolved

Do you remember the Sneetches? In one of Dr. Seuss’s most popular books, he told about a society with Star-Belly Sneetches who had “bellies with stars” and Plain-Belly Sneetches who had “none upon thars.” The Star-Belly Sneetches were the privileged elite and the Plain-Belly Sneetches were discriminated against, not being invited to “frankfurter roasts, or picnics, or parties or marshmallow toasts.” Quite a predicament for the Plain-Belly Sneetches.

But then a stranger comes into town, Sylvester McMonkey McBean with a contraption to put stars on the bellies of the Plain-Belly Sneetches. Problem solved, right? Not so fast! Once all the Plain-Belly Sneetches had stars, the Star-Belly Sneetches felt like they needed to do something different to differentiate themselves, so they all had their stars removed. The society began to swing back and forth from putting stars on to taking them off until they were a mix of both again (right back where they started, except no one could remember “whether this one was that one or that one was this one. Or which one was what one or what one was who.”)

This story is usually used as a parable to teach the woes of discriminating against people for superficial reasons, but there is another lesson to be drawn here. Societies don’t tend to become homogenous, they tend to stabilize around an ideal level of diversity. If you push too far in one direction the scales will tip back the other way so that the point of stability is always achieved.

In the Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins describes this as “an Evolutionarily Stable Strategy.” In any community where you have some “Hawks” (aggressive and ready to fight to resolve their problems) and some “Doves” (more collaborative and more likely to retreat if things get violent) the community will eventually stabilize to a set ratio of Hawks vs. Doves.

Related: Guns: Why Everyone’s Arguments are Wrong

Why does this happen? Because when there are too many Hawks they become more likely to fight with one another and a small handful of Doves will begin to thrive and multiply by staying out of the fray. But if there are too many Doves, a small handful of Hawks can quickly take power by asserting themselves forcefully, stifling the Doves and increasing the ranks of the Hawks. Invariably, a stable ratio is ultimately found (usually with more Hawks than Doves, BTW.)

In other words, the gun control debate is as futile as the fight over stars on the beaches of the Sneetches. By all means, advocate for the policies that you would like to see–that is how a democracy works. But realize you may only be able to tip the scales so far before it swings back in the other direction. The Hawks will never convince all the Doves that their way is right and the Doves will never convince all the Hawks that their way is right. We are just going to have to learn to live with each other in spite of our differences . . . just like the Sneetches.

The post Why The Gun Debate Will Never Be Resolved appeared first on The Psychology of Wellbeing.

Four things that happen when you turn Facebook off for a month

A new large-scale randomised controlled trial (RCT) has been run to assess the effects of taking a four-week break from Facebook.

RCTs are typically used in clinical trials to assess the efficacy and safety of drugs and therapy.

For Facebook, which has been accused of having drug-like effects on users (addiction, dependency, psychological side-effects), an RCT may seem appropriate, as well as represent the gold standard in scientific research.

This RCT (download link) was conducted by Stanford University researchers in late 2018, with 2,844 Facebook users. Half were randomised into a treatment group (taking a four-week break from Facebook), and a non-treatment control group who continued to use Facebook as normal.

Taking a four-week break from Facebook had the following results

  1. You feel happier. Taking a Facebook break improved people’s subjective sense of wellbeing. They felt happier and more satisfied (and less bored) with their life, whilst less anxious or depressed. Overall, the effect of taking a Facebook break on subjective wellbeing was 25-40% as strong as established positive psychology interventions offered by therapists and coaches.
  2. You get an hour back, every day. Taking a Facebook break freed up an hour of time per day. Interestingly, participants chose not to replace their extra hour with other online time. In fact, they reduced other online time. Instead, they spent more time offline, with friends, family – or TV.
  3. Your views become less polarised. Taking a Facebook break reduced extreme views on issues, and increased understanding of alternative views. However, a Facebook break also reduced attention to news and knowledge of current affairs, indicating that Facebook has become a key news channel for Facebook users.
  4. You value Facebook less. Consistent with standard models of addiction, taking a Facebook break reduced demand for Facebook after the experiment, resulting in a persistent reduction in Facebook use.

The full study can be downloaded here.

Allcott, H., Braghieri, L., Eichmeyer, S., & Gentzkow, M. (2019). The Welfare Effects of Social Media (No. w25514). National Bureau of Economic Research.

Do Digital Detoxes Really Work?

Jocelyn Brewer, a psychologist who specializes in issues with technology, recently published a provocative article suggesting that “digital detoxing is the tech equivalent of a juice cleanse—and neither of them work.

I happen to be a long-time fan of Jocelyn’s (I’m taking the liberty of using her first name as I feel I know her—she participated in a Twitter Chat we hosted a while back and I’ve been following her on Twitter for a couple of years now.) What I like about her work is she takes a nuanced approach that acknowledges the complexity of life with technology. She uses a “digital nutrition” analogy to suggest that we should think about technology the way think about food. Rather than demonizing technology as inherently bad, we should be establishing the right “nutritional” guidelines around healthy consumption.

I think Jocelyn gets it right most of the time, and the digital nutrition analogy is a good one, and one I have used in my own speaking and writing. But I took exception to her recent article. I actually think there is an aspect about “digital detox” that doesn’t fit well with the digital nutrition model.

It has to do with what I will call the “response curve.” If you drastically reduce your food intake, by going on a fast for example, you will find it easy at the beginning, but over time, the hunger pangs begin to kick in, making it increasingly difficult. After several days of an extreme caloric reduction your overall health and wellbeing will eventually start to decline. If the fast continues too long you could eventually die of starvation.

With a tech detox, the response curve looks almost exactly the opposite. The first moments of being without technology (imagine the moment you realize you left your phone at home after leaving for a one week trip) would bring a spike of anxiety. But as you spend more time without technology, you may find that your wellbeing does not continue to decline but actually improves. You may realize you didn’t need the tech as much as you thought you did.

I need to admit here, that I have very little data to support this claim. But from what I observe in the one- to two-day tech detox retreats that we do in our spas, this is what we find. The three benefits that we repeatedly see are:

  1. People realize that many of the things they were doing with technology were not as important as they thought they were.
  2. People become more aware of other things that they have been sacrificing for technology.
  3. People connect more meaningfully to the people they are with at the time.

People who stop eating food for a while rarely come to the conclusion that food is not as necessary as they thought it was.

I think what Jocelyn might say here is that I’m not taking into account all of the great supportive (read “nutritive”) aspects of technology that would also be lost in these experiences . . . and she would be right. This is where the digital nutrition model holds up really well.

And she also makes a great point that digital detoxes are not helpful if you immediately return to your unhealthy consumption habits pre-detox (which invariably happens in most cases.) But it’s hard to get someone to intelligently reflect on healthy technology habits when they are currently treading to keep their head above the digital stream. It’s like asking someone to think about the impact of drug use while high. Or to use the digital nutrition analogy, maybe it’s not a good idea to ask someone to start a healthy diet while they are fist deep in a quart of ice cream.

Jocelyn’s main point, which I agree with, is that we need to avoid “the binge-purge cycle” and “reclaim a sustainable relationship with technology.” I just happen to think that stepping away from technology for a few days might be a good way to find a clear vantage point from which to see what that relationship might look like.

The post Do Digital Detoxes Really Work? appeared first on The Psychology of Wellbeing.

Chief Medical Officers release new screentime guidelines for children and young people (infographic)

Today the United Kingdom Chief Medical Officers (CMO) have released new evidence-based guidelines on screentime and social media for children and young people (CYP). The full guidelines can be downloaded here, and a summary infographic in jpg and pdf can be found below

Top recommendations include

  • Leave screens out of the bedroom at bedtime
  • Limit screentime sessions to fewer than two hours
  • No screens at mealtimes
  • No screens doing activities that require full attention (including crossing the road)
  • Be aware of and adhere to your school’s policy on screentime
  • Use screentime management features such as Apple’s Screentime and Android’s Digital Wellbeing
  • Make children (and parents) aware of the potential risks of sharing photos and personal information online

There are recommendations not only for parents, educators, and health professionals, but also for online businesses. The Chief Medical Officers recommend the establishment of a voluntary code of conduct that outlines a duty of care for young people using their digital properties. This could include more effective age verification, clear terms of use that children can understand, ensuring only age-appropriate advertising, and enforcing their own terms and conditions.

In terms of screentime, one recommendation that is notable by its absence is a proposed daily or weekly time limit.

This is deliberate, for two reasons.

First, the guidelines note that not all screentime is the same, in terms of quality, content or effect, so bunching all screentime together into a limit makes little sense.

Secondly, the Chief Medical Officers’ report points out that there is an absence of good research or evidence available that would enable them to propose evidence-based time limits.

There is a considerable body of research evidence linking elevated screentime and social media use to wellbeing problems, including anxiety, insomnia and depression. But this research is correlational, and the direction of cause and effect has yet to be established. For example, it is quite possible that people with insomnia turn to their screens when they can’t sleep, rather than screens cause sleep problems.

After a review of the evidence about the alleged harmful effects of excessive screentime, the UK Chief Medical Office concluded

“…no causal effect is evident from existing research between screen-based activities, or the amount of time spent using screens, and any particular negative effect” 

However, the report emphasises that this not mean there is no effect, just that we need more research. And because screentime and social media represent major shifts in time use of children and young people, they recommend a precautionary approach.

So in the interim, these evidence-based CMO guidelines are based on what we do know – including the insight that wellbeing depends on adequate sleep, exercise and social interaction. To the degree that screentime displaces these activities, elevated screentime may have a negative effect on wellbeing (this is known as the ‘displacement’ effect – where screentime displaces activities known to promote wellbeing). Hence, the CMO recommendations, which are focused on minimising the displacement effect.

Infographic PDF version. Full Report.

Raising Digital Natives

Warning: this post is at least twice as long as the typical articles on this blog. I hope you find it is worth your time . . .

As a father of two boys, now 6 and 7 years old, I’m thinking a lot about what it means to be raising digital natives in the modern age. We are the first generation to be raising kids who are born into the age of mobile technology, and we are completely underqualified, having had no personal experience of what it is like to grow up with technology. What do the experts say? There are no experts . . . this is a new frontier and we are all trying to figure out how to navigate in this strange new world.

This week, I gave a talk to the parents at my sons’ school and gave them 5 ideas for thinking about how to raise kids in the age of technology:

  1. Delay technology use and ownership until appropriate levels of maturity and responsibility are demonstrated.

I can think of few advantages to giving kids earlier access to technology. The technology is getting easier and more intuitive to use, so it’s not like kids need a “head start” on figuring it out. And we don’t even know yet the long-term impact (on vision, on posture, on mental health, on emotional wellbeing) of kids who grow up staring at screens from a young age. What we do know is that technology is a powerful tool and it can be easy to get into trouble. It is also a bit of a “Pandora’s Box.” Once you open that door, it is very difficult to get it closed again.

In the U.S., there is a campaign called “Wait until 8th” urging parents to pledge not to give their kids a smartphone until 8th grade (or around 14 years of age.) This is a big commitment considering the average age for a first smartphone is now 10 years old (and dropping every year.) The nice thing about this campaign is it is so much easier to stick to if you can get an entire school or community to agree to the same policy. Otherwise, the social pressure ramps up pretty quickly and even the most resolute parent ends up caving in (which is why the age for smartphone usage keeps dropping.) The Wait until 8th slogan is a good one: “let kids be kids a little longer.”

It is easy for parents to give up under the pressure and the feelings of inevitability that seem to be part and parcel of technological progress. But there are pockets of inspiration, like this family that managed to raise a teenage girl to the ripe old age of 18 without ever having a smartphone. I’ve heard lots of parents express regret at giving access to technology too soon, but the few families who manage to delay seem pretty happy with the outcomes.

  1. Develop important skills for managing technology, relationships and presence in the digital age.

We understand that kids need to develop and mature before they get access to a motor vehicle. But many parents seem to be OK to simply “hand over the keys” to technology to their young kids. Considering a smartphone contains all the world’s information and a connection to every person on the planet, good or bad, it is a pretty powerful tool and a responsibility that should not be given lightly.

We should help our kids to develop technological literacy the same way we allow them to gradually develop driving skills. Kids aren’t just handed a car at a very young age. First, they observe their parent driving. Then they get some education around driving in school. Then they are allowed to drive with adult supervision, and finally they get their own license. Eventually, once they have proven themselves responsible, they might even get their own car, but only after all the other steps have been passed.

Technology should also have this progressive approach. It is all too easy to use technology as the digital babsitter, and plop kids in front of a screen while we are busy doing something else. But kids need interactive learning experiences, where they can use technology with an adult by their side, learning about the potential challenges and risks along with the amazing benefits.

Not only do kids need to learn how to use technology, they also need to learn how to not use technology. I hear a lot of parents say, “I had to get my son a smartphone because he has a 45 minute bus ride to school, and I don’t want him to get bored.” If we teach our kids to turn to technology to fill every moment of boredom or discomfort, this strategy will stay with them their entire life. In doing so, we strip them of the opportunity to learn how to be alone with their thoughts, how to manage their own emotions, and how to be creative in figuring out what to do, or how to connect with those around them. The technology is a great tool, and it’s nice to have, but it always comes at some sacrifice. Sometimes, it’s better to let kids be bored.

  1. Define appropriate boundaries and etiquette for healthy technology use.

It’s hard to find clear guidelines for “healthy” technology use. The platforms are changing so rapidly, we don’t really know what is healthy. The American Academy of Pediatrics gives the following guidelines:

Children under 18 months      >>           no screen time

Children 18-24 months            >>           limited high quality programming with parents

Children 2-5 years                     >>           1 hour per day, high quality programming with parents

Children 6 years                         >>           Consistent limits, and monitor sleep and physical activity, etc.

All ages                                         >>           Designate media-free times and media-free zones for family interaction

                                                       >>           Ongoing interaction about online citizenship and safety

For Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, we created a “Digital Wellness Manifesto,” where participants can fill in the blanks to create their own household rules around technology. Items include:

“These are the three things I will do in the morning before looking at technology:________________,_________________,________________.”

 “Each week, I reserve this day for non-digital activities with loved ones:____________________.”

Naturally, the rules will vary family by family and household by household. But everyone should have some guidelines in place to keep technology use in check.

To see what happens when no boundaries are in place, check out this family who made an experiment out of giving their kids unfettered access to technology for a full weekend. Chaos ensues.

  1. Diminish the impact of technology use on real world social interactions.

A couple of weeks ago I was at my younger son’s rugby match and one of the kids had his father’s cellphone. Immediately, all of the kids gathered around to watch him play video games. I’ve seen this countless times: at the beach, in a restaurant, out on a boat, at a playground; as soon as one child has a device, the social dynamic completely changes. With a device, the kids immediately become glued to the screen. Without a device, they have to figure things out, they have to be creative, a leader has to emerge, they have to figure out how to work together.

Bringing a phone into a social setting removes great opportunities for kids to develop social skills. And the device doesn’t only impact that child, it changes the dynamic for every child in the vicinity. As parents, we hope to teach our kids not to use devices around other children who don’t have them and not to allow devices to interfere with real-world social interaction.

  1. Demonstrate healthy technology usage and etiquette with our own actions.

Ok, let’s be real. This may be the hardest one on the list. We can withhold technology from our kids and tell them they have to brush their teeth in the morning before they look at a device, but how good are we really at practicing what we preach.

In my case, the answer would be a resounding “not very good.” While our family has sheltered our children from screens (we don’t even have a TV) I have spent much of their early years staring down at my phone or ipad. Hypocrite much?

As my kids are getting older (and more savvy about the ways of the world) I have realized that my behavior needs to change. So recently my wife and I have created a new household rule: we do not look at screens in front of our kids. This doesn’t mean we are off of technology, we just keep it undercover. If we need to look at a device, we slip into another room, keeping out of sight of the little ones. One consequence of this is that we spend a lot more time in the bathroom now (try to keep that visual out of your head the next time you get a text from me.) But when we come back into the living room, our devices are put away and we are more connected to each other.

I don’t know how impactful this strategy will be on the development of our kids, but for us personally, I think it has been profound. Some people would argue that they have a million reasons why they must be more connected to their devices. But actually, technology tends to give us the feeling of being productive, without actually helping us to get anything meaningful done.

Keeping technology out of sight of our kids has forced me to bring out certain “ancient artefacts” such as paperback books, clocks, wristwatches, a camera for taking pictures, and my old metronome for guitar practice. The advantage of these outdated “single function” devices is that they allow you to focus on what you intended to do without opening up a window into a whole other world of notifications, e-mails and social media. When I do need to get some real work done, I sit down at my computer, do what I need to do, and then can be more present for the rest of the day. So in my case, cutting back on technology use at home has made me more productive, not less. Most importantly, I am modeling for my kids that we don’t use technology when around other people, an important lesson that will be hard to enforce if we can’t exhibit it ourselves.

These are the topics I’m thinking of in my own family for how to raise digital natives. Your strategy may be different. But the main thing is to have a strategy. Without it, our kids’ relationship to technology will be determined by the technology companies and their advertisers. Not good!

Our kids are young enough that we can still afford a certain level of naivete about what is coming. Some parents of older kids laugh at some of my suggestions and say, “yeah, good luck with that!” I realize none of this is easy and it will only get harder as our kids get older and our technology gets smarter. If you have found something that works for your family, I would love to hear about it.

 

by Jeremy McCarthy

Follow me on twitterfacebook or instagram.

See my recent talk on “Wellness in the Age of Technology” from the Global Wellness Summit:

The post Raising Digital Natives appeared first on The Psychology of Wellbeing.

Technology Detox in Kitzbuhel

 

The Hills are Alive . . . with the Sound of Wellness

I am just arriving to Cesena Italy for this year’s Global Wellness Summit and I find myself reminiscing about the summit from two years ago in Kitzbuhel, Austria. Kitzbuhel, a small town in the Austrian countryside, was the perfect setting for a wellness conference because the whole area oozes wellness. Every hotel is a “wellness” hotel, the “aufguss” sauna culture is everywhere, and the entire countryside is a giant playground for outdoor sports.

This was the year that I launched the Digital Wellness initiative for Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and I had spent much of the year traveling around the world and talking to people about their challenges with technology. It was through these conversations that I came to realize how pervasive the impact of technology on wellbeing actually was. I met with people from cities all around the world, and they all had stories to tell of the challenges they had establishing boundaries around their technology use.

But not in Kitzbuhel. In rural Austria there was a different reality. Parents did not use Ipads as babysitters, teens were not glued to their screens all day, and adults did not spend their spare time staring at monitors.

I could see why. During my brief stint in the glorious beauty of Kitzbuhel, I wanted to spend as much time outdoors as possible. I went running every morning. When there were breaks in the conference, I strolled around the scenic town, I hiked up the mountain, or I “schvitzed” in the sauna. Who had time to waste on Facebook?

It made me realize the power of nature. The backdrop of Kitzbuhel affords residents and visitors the opportunities to play, to move their bodies, to relax, to appreciate beauty, and to share amazing experiences together. I wanted to move there.

But in the urban environments where I live and had been traveling, those opportunities are increasingly scarce. We come to the cities seeking wealth, information, opportunities, and productivity. But we leave the beauty of the natural world behind, trading in the Garden of Eden for our concrete cells. With less space to move, fewer opportunities for play, less beauty to appreciate, and more barriers between people, city residents turn to technology to fill the void.

And fill the void it does. We urban denizens get great benefit from our devices. Peering through our little screens we find great beauty, amazing entertainment, and rich sources of knowledge. Perhaps most importantly, we can establish meaningful connections with other people all around the world.

But the benefits of technology come with a price. With less opportunities to move our bodies, we turn more to technology for play and entertainment, and our bodies become less accustomed to moving. Technology brings great convenience, and we become dependent and less self-reliant. And while we turn to technology to counteract urban loneliness, making connections with people through virtual networks, we become less able to connect in real life.

Technology becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more we use it, the more we need it. Virtual activity replaces physical activity. Virtual memory replaces mental memory. Online relationships replace real connections. Artificial intelligence replaces intelligence. Some futurists predict that eventually, we will upload our consciousness into the cloud and shed ourselves completely of our messy and flawed physiological systems.

But not in Kitzbuhel. In Kitzbuhel, you need to use your body, if only to force it—heart pounding and lungs heaving—up to the highest peaks you can find, to soak in the sun rising over the black Schwarzee lake. In Kitzubhel, you celebrate your messy, sweaty physiology in elaborate sauna rituals that bring the mind and body to new heights. In Kitzbuhel, you begin to wonder why you ever thought it was a good idea to spend time staring at your devices.

As I travel to Cesena for this year’s summit, I wonder if I will find a similar magic in the Italian countryside. I’m hopeful that I will.

 

By Jeremy McCarthy

Photo Credit: rbitting Flickr via Compfight cc

Whitepaper: Wellness in the Age of the Smartphone

Video: Wellness in the Age of Technology

 

The post Technology Detox in Kitzbuhel appeared first on The Psychology of Wellbeing.

Facebook and Mental Health

Today’s guest post is by Michael Kaplan, a video essayist with a YouTube channel called OneHandClap dedicated to original ideas on interesting topics.

In an ironic turn, the recent controversy surrounding Facebook and Cambridge Analytica eclipsed another controversy brewing months before. As 2017 came to close, the million-dollar question surrounding the company was, Does Facebook make us depressed?

Back in December, even Facebook itself posted an article on its official blog, titled, Hard Questions: Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad For Us? The post cites a number of studies that prove spending time on Facebook can threaten well-being.

One study from the University of San Diego and Yale found that people who clicked on four times as many links or liked twice as many posts as the average person reported decreased mental health in a survey. In their findings, increases in “likes clicked,” “links clicked,” or “status updates” were all associated with decreases in mental health. Another study from the University of Michigan found a noticeable difference in mood between students who were assigned to read Facebook versus talking to friends or posting on the social media site. The results showed a worse mood for passive Facebook users.

And this second study brings us to the more important question of how Facebook brings us down. For a thorough dive into what truly addict us to the site, ultimately leaving us feeling unsatisfied, check out this video, which explains the subject in depth:

The video presents arguments from two former employees, Sean Parker and Chamath Palihapitiya, who claim that Facebook was designed to prey on its users’ neurochemical reward systems. Dopamine, the chemical released in the brain during certain activities, such as exercising, finishing tasks at work, and finding food, has also been found to surge during social interactions. The brain desires cooperation and connection, so it sends reward signals in the form of dopamine when this cooperation or connection occurs. It could be something as simple as carrying a couch up a flight of stairs with a friend, or as profound as telling your partner you love her.

Because the brain cannot distinguish between, an interaction in real life and one on Facebook in terms of dopamine release, these rewards systems are integral to Facebook’s interface. Even the little red notification, or the ping sound we’ve all become accustomed to, produce a similar dopamine release.

The key insight in the video is that Facebook knows these dopamine hits are essential to their business model, the main driving force bringing people back to the site over and over and over again. Knowing this, they’ve ramped up notifications over the years, spiking our dopamine levels for something as mundane and uninteresting as someone having gone “live” a few hours ago, or a belated birthday, or even just to tell you that you haven’t posted in a while.

What happens, then, is a uniquely modern phenomenon. Your brain is rewarding you with dopamine for a successful social interaction, but in reality, no genuine connection has occurred, creating a disconnect between the chemical reward system in your brain and your actual lived experience.

Obviously, Facebook can depress its users in a number of ways. People often assume others’ lives are happier than theirs because of how their friends present themselves online. Teen brains are now trained to be distracted based on the interface alone. But this feeling, the dopamine hit followed by immediate disappointment with the reality of a meaningless notification, seems central to the deflating feeling Facebook can produce.

References and recommended reading:

Shakya, H., & Christakis, N. (2017). Association of Facebook Use With Compromised Well-Being: A Longitudinal Study. American Journal Of Epidemiology. doi: 10.1093/aje/kww189

Verduyn, P., Lee, D., Park, J., Shablack, H., Orvell, A., & Bayer, J. et al. (2015). Passive Facebook usage undermines affective well-being: Experimental and longitudinal evidence. Journal Of Experimental Psychology: General, 144(2), 480-488. doi: 10.1037/xge0000057

Photo Credit: nodstrum Flickr via Compfight cc

 

By Michael Kaplan (OneHandClap )

The post Facebook and Mental Health appeared first on The Psychology of Wellbeing.