Alex Eben Meyer

Alex Eben Meyer

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Too much screen time?  
A study led by the Yale Department of Psychiatry and Columbia School of Nursing examined the relationship between screen media activity (SMA) and children’s mental health. Researchers analyzed SMA in 5,166 youths, ages 9 and 10, who participated in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study—the largest long-term analysis of brain development and child health in the US. They found that youths who spent the most time with digital technology were more likely to exhibit problems such as depression, anxiety, and social anxiety when they reached ages 11 to 12. This association between excessive screen time and mental health problems appeared to be related to specific changes in brain development. The authors note that the findings may help identify individuals at greater risk.

Preaching prudence
Can stories shift our economic choices? According to a recent SOM study of two decades of sermons by leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the answer is yes. The researchers found that, when sermons included narratives warning against excessive debt, areas with large church membership tended to have lower indebtedness than areas with fewer members. Additionally, such sermons—given just prior to the 2007–09 financial crisis—may have helped LDS members to avoid taking on excessive mortgages. While economists usually explain financial choices using metrics like unemployment rates and wages, Thomas Steffen, an associate professor of accounting, notes, “It makes intuitive sense that the stories people discuss could influence decisions.” The study also suggests that better understanding of the power of narratives could help policy makers design more effective ways to guide economic behavior.”  

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