Compassionate Neuroscience

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U.S. students suffering from Internet addiction: study

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Crackberry is no joke.

American college students are hooked on cellphones, social media and the Internet and showing symptoms similar to drug and alcohol addictions, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Maryland who asked 200 students to give up all media for one full day found that after 24 hours many showed signs of withdrawal, craving and anxiety along with an inability to function well without their media and social links.

Susan Moeller, the study’s project director and a journalism professor at the university, said many students wrote about how they hated losing their media connections, which some equated to going without friends and family.

“I clearly am addicted and the dependency is sickening,” said one student. “Between having a Blackberry, a laptop, a television, and an iPod, people have become unable to shed their media skin.”

Moeller said students complained most about their need to use text messages, instant messages, e-mail and Facebook.

“Texting and IM-ing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort,” wrote one of the students, who blogged about their reactions. “When I did not have those two luxuries, I felt quite alone and secluded from my life.”

Few students reported watching TV news or reading a newspaper.

The American Psychiatric Association does not recognize so-called Internet addiction as a disorder.

But it seems to be an affliction of modern life. In one extreme example in South Korea reported by the media, a couple allegedly neglected their three-month-old daughter, who died of malnutrition, because they were on the computer for up to 12 hours a day raising a virtual child.

In the United States a small private U.S. center called ReSTART, located near Redmond, Washington, opened last year in the shadow of computer giant Microsoft to treat excessive use of the Internet, video gaming and texting.

The center’s website cites various examples of students who ran up large debts or dropped out of college due to their obsession.

Students in the Maryland study also showed no loyalty to news programs, a news personality or news platform. They maintained a casual relationship to news brands, and rarely distinguished between news and general information.

“They care about what is going on among their friends and families and even in the world at large,” said Ph.D. student Raymond McCaffrey who worked on the study. Loyalty “does not seemed tied to any single device or application or news outlet.”

(Reporting by Walden Siew; Editing by Patricia Reaney)

Mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn

Reduction in Recidivism in a Juvenile Mental Health Court: A Pre- and Post-Treatment Outcome Study

Reduction in Recidivism in a Juvenile Mental Health Court: A Pre- and Post-Treatment Outcome Study
Juvenile and Family Court Journal 60, no. 3 (Summer), © 2009 National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

A review by Monic P. Behnken, David E. Arredondo, and Wendy L. Packman of an evaluation of the Court for the Individualized Treatment of Adolescents (CITA, a prototype Juvenile Mental Health Court in Santa Clara, California) is presented along with admission criteria.

Click on the link above to download this publication. Further publications by or featuring Dr. Arredondo are available for download on the Publications & Media page of his Information for Clients website.

Caltrain calls Palo Alto train-track suicides a ‘cluster’

San Jose Mercury News, 8/24/09

SAN CARLOS — With a third Palo Alto student apparently committing suicide on the Caltrain tracks in just four months, railroad officials, educators and mental health professionals described the deaths Monday as an extremely rare “cluster.” […]

“There is a real problem at this high school and in Palo Alto — these children are killing themselves and they’re doing it in a particular way,” said clinical psychiatrist David Arredondo, a national consultant on teen suicide. “We need less blame and more understanding of what’s really going on in the culture of these high schools.”

[…] Also, a group of health care providers has been meeting to analyze the specific circumstances, and determine where there are holes in mental health services for local children in crisis. The group includes psychiatrists, student counselors and other professionals from Palo Alto and Stanford University seeking to dispel the stigma surrounding common mental health problems such as depression.

According to a study, 8.5 percent of high school sophomores in California attempt suicide, which is the third leading cause of death for that demographic, right after homicide. And according to research compiled for the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, 57 Bay Area youths ages 15 to 24 committed suicide in 2007. Of those, 14 were in Santa Clara County and four in San Mateo County. […]

Mentally Ill Offenders Strain Juvenile System – NYTimes.com

Donald has been in and out of mental health programs since he attacked a schoolteacher at age 5. As he grew older, he became more violent until he was eventually committed to the Department of Youth Services.

“I’ve begged D.Y.S. to get him into a mental facility where they’re trained to deal with people like him,” said his grandmother, who asked not to be identified because of the stigma of having a grandson who is mentally ill. “I don’t think a lockup situation is where he should be, although I don’t think he should be on the street either.”

via Mentally Ill Offenders Strain Juvenile System – NYTimes.com.

Activity is Key to Toddlers’ Mental Growth

Play trumps background factors in developing a child’s cognitive ability
CHILDREN WHO TAKE PART IN a wide variety of activities from an early age show more advanced brain development by three years old, according to a new report from the Scottish Centre for Social Research (SCSR).

Published as part of the Growing Up in Scotland (GUS) series, the study is the latest in an ongoing project commissioned by the Scottish government to track 8000 young Scots born between June 2002 and May 2005 from infancy into adolescence.

The sample of families was carefully selected to represent Scotland’s various urban, rural and economic backgrounds. The results are expected to inform future policymaking on issues such as welfare and education, in particular its Early Years Framework, an initiative launched last year to tackle health and social inequalities.

The GUS Report shows children who were often read to at 10 months and who did lots of activities like painting and singing at almost two years old scored better on language development and problem-solving skills by the time they were almost three.

The findings are particularly striking because they reveal that parents who involve toddlers in simple activities such as being read to, drawing or singing can have an positive impact, independent of socio-demographic factors.

Catherine Bromley, deputy director of the SCSR, admitted the results were “surprising”. She told the Sunday Herald: “There’s always a sense when you’re looking at this kind of data that you’re seeing quite big differences in experiences of children from more deprived backgrounds, compared to their more affluent counterparts.

“But, given the fact we know the activities are very deeply connected to the social background, we had to look at whether the activities were having an effect on cognitive ability simply because they were tied to their socioeconomic advantage, or whether they were having an independent effect. I probably wouldn’t have been that surprised if none of the activities had been that significant, and it had simply been socio-demographic factors driving it. But actually, we did find that, even when you control for the socio-demographic pattern, the activities in themselves did make a difference.”

The sample was restricted to children whose parents were not degree-educated and who came from lower-income households, comparing those whose parents had provided a lot of regular activities in their early years with those whose parents had not, and the same results emerged.

However, there was strong evidence that economic inequalities determined the extent to which children participated in educational, cultural, social and physical activities. Children from less advantaged homes were least likely to have been to events or on trips, and were more likely to be inactive. Those from the 15% most deprived areas of Scotland also recorded the lowest cognitive ability scores.

But Bromley was keen to emphasise that parents do not have to pay for expensive toys and hobbies, or engage in “very intellectual” pastimes to improve their child’s development. Trips to the library are as just as valuable as trips to the zoo, she said.

“The overarching finding is more to do with the range, variety and number of activities. You don’t have to be playing very intellectual games with your children, it’s just a case of singing or reading or drawing, as long as they’re doing it regularly. It’s about getting the message across that these kinds of things are important, but pushing the message that’s it’s not about punishing parents for not being able to afford trips to the zoo.”

Children’s Minister Adam Ingram added that bedtime stories or games in the park could make a huge difference to young children’s development.

“We know the uncertainty that the recession is bringing for families across Scotland, but this demonstrates that it’s time and attention that form the building blocks of development,” said Ingram. “Experiences in the early years can have a striking impact on future chances, and it can be startling how quickly disadvantaged children fall behind.

“By breaking these cycles of disadvantage we can help all of our young people play their part in a more successful Scotland.”  

 Helen McArdle

The Sunday Herald

10:22pm Saturday 14th March 2009