Category Archives: Life & Style

Social media might not be as harmful to wellbeing as originally thought, study suggests

Ever since social media was introduced with the likes of Facebook, Myspace and MSN Messenger, there have been concerns about what it could be doing to our mental health.

Studies have been conducted for years focusing on the effects different platforms have on people’s wellbeing, with most concluding it can be harmful, especially among teenagers.

But a new study conducted by the University of Oxford finds this to be false, concluding that the impact social media has on wellbeing is “trivial”.

The study asked 12,000 10-15 year olds how long they spent on social media a day, and how satisfied they were in different parts of their life. Professor Andrew Przybylski explained to BBC News that “99.75% of a person’s life satisfaction has nothing to do with their use of social media”.

So why do so many believe it does?

 

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The study investigated teenagers social media habits between 2009 and 2017: image courtesy of Unsplash

WNOL spoke to people about social media to find out if the study’s findings are reflected by the general public.

“It can be really addictive,” says one woman, who uses most platforms on a daily basis.

Another woman believes it can have an impact wellbeing, especially if someone already has an insecurity. “I think it can either bring on mental health issues, or it can escalate them and heighten them. I think any little comment can start something quite serious.”

This coincides with the study, which argued that other investigations into social media haven’t considered teenagers who might use social media more often because they already have mental health problems.

Tobias Dienlin, a media psychologist at the University of Hohenheim who was part of the research team on the study, says he predicted the results.

“If you asked me before the study I would have said, I don’t think we’ll have strong effects, it’s very unlikely. But I can understand people who are reading the news would be surprised.”

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When asked if social media could be used to improve mental health, one man WNOL spoke to believed the damage had already been done. “I feel like the negative effects are more apparent than the force that’s trying to overcome that,” he explains.

“Everyone should reflect on their social media usage,” Tobias says in response to many people still believing social media harms their wellbeing, but tries to reassure users that they shouldn’t be as concerned as they are.

“We shouldn’t ring the alarm when there’s not really an alarm to be rung”.

He believes that more research needs to be conducted on the same scale as the Oxford study. “The research we are currently doing is still in its infancy, there’s still so many things we can improve”.

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Veganism ‘trend’ is helping the environment

The BBC recently revealed that over 1 million animal species are in danger. The UK became the first country to declare climate change as a national emergency. We are being told we have only 11 years to change our ways.

Within the article, the BBC also mentions how many will have to think about eating more fruit and veg and less meat. 

According to ourworldindata.com, livestock takes up around 80% of global agricultural land, and as humans, we consume around 300 million tonnes of meat a year. Unsurprisingly, this is causing a lot of strain on the environment.

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Livestock produce 18% of greenhouse gasses, which is more than all emissions from ships, planes, trucks and other transport put together. Farming animals are also a cause of deforestation and degeneration. 

Lifestyles like Veganism have taken off in the past 10 years, with it being held as the biggest trend in 2018. Many praise the lifestyle for its health benefits and its impact on the earth. BBC Good Food says that if everyone in the world went vegan, the worlds food-related emissions would drop by 70%. 

Vegan lifestyles boast to help you lose excess weight, lower blood sugar, improve the functioning of the body and even protect you against cancer. 

It was also revealed within the article that in order to save the planet, people may have to begin consuming less meat and leading a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. It was revealed by fact.org that 2-3% of the UK is vegetarian, and meat consumption has actually fallen in recent years. 

Many are jumping on the bandwagons of ‘no meat Monday’ and ‘veganuary’ to push themselves to try the lifestyle. 

Studies show that most vegans are aged 16-24, with now half a million vegans on the streets of the UK. No longer is it dedicated to the hippies; even bodybuilders are getting in on it, supplying evidence to the myth that they need animal protein to gain muscle. 

Food, in general, is responsible for over one-quarter of all greenhouse gasses, with dairy and meat being the biggest culprits for the carbon footprint. 

Of course, older generations are not as forthcoming with their diets, with many luxuriating in their now rationales world. but more and more people are choosing the no-meat life, which is another thing that can be done to help the environment thrive. 

Study finds students are advocating for and practising lower alcohol consumption

Freshers week: a fortnight popularly known for heavy drinking, partying, and ”getting blackout drunk, making friends, and not getting judged for it.”

The drinking culture associated with university provides a wide range of wine filled occasions worthy of head splintering hangovers.

Nevertheless, according to the National Union of Students, the demand for alcohol-free university events and residential halls is on the rise, with almost a quarter of students actively advocating for the cause.

A Brief History of Sports

A survey completed by 2,215 undergraduate university students explored student’s behaviour, attitudes, and perceptions towards alcohol use.

This survey found that one in five students don’t drink alcohol at all and recognized a shift in drinking habits amongst students and the perceptions of alcohol in relation to their peers and selves.

Two-thirds of students strongly believe that excessive alcohol consumption is widely accepted because it is the “easiest way to fit in.” “I think it can be super toxic and foster casual alcoholism without anyone even realizing,” says one student. 

While plenty of students are still regularly going out and dropping money on tequila shots, the typically regarded stereotype of students spending the majority of their time getting wasted is getting further and further from reality.

NUS claims that the financial pressures of students are leading to a shift in students’ drinking habits.

Nevertheless, universities are stating that a wide range of factors are leading the students decreased drinking indulgence. An increased awareness of health, wider diversity of faiths, and the rise of alternative sources of entertainment should be taken into account when looking into the drinking habits of students.

Despite this research, 79 percent of students still believe that getting drunk is a “right of passage” and a massive part of university culture. A mere one in ten university students are aware of responsible drinking activities and campaigns on their campus.

The NUS vice president of welfare, Eva Crossan states, “it is clear that students’ drinking habits have changed with a comparative section of the student population not drinking at all. While many students are making active decisions about their drinking, it is concerning that university life is still strongly associated with excessive alcohol consumption.”


Featured Image VIA https://pxhere.com/en/photo/1562761

Soundcloud Image taken by Jillian Keith

Are universities using therapy dogs in place of counselling?

Therapy dogs have been increasingly turning up at universities across the UK. With exams, coursework and dissertations, student stress is at an all-time high and student unions and societies are trying to help students relax. A cute, cuddly little animal has become the solution.

The logic of using a fluffy animal to make people happy is irrefutable, but many students are concerned with university priorities. Mental health has become an increasing problem for universities with one in four students experiencing some form of mental illness. 63% of students say that they feel stress that interferes with their day to day lives with a majority of it coming from university itself. Much like the NHS, university counselling services are stretched thin and are staffed at a quarter to a third of what is required. For every one full-time counsellor, there are 5000 students to be cared for. This isn’t good enough.

The idea and intention of therapy dogs is a good one. But we have to question whether the funding that goes into these animals could be used in a better way. However, the cost of the dogs is a tiny margin of what’s needed to help fund university counselling services.

There is also the question of those students who are either allergic to dogs, scared of them, or simply don’t like them. What help are they getting to relax?

Many students feel patronised by the idea and think that it reduces the importance of mental health. However, it’s important to note that these services do not pretend to be the solution to the crises many students face.

Some students think universities also need to consider their workloads and the pressure it puts on their students.

It’s not just a problem for UK students.

And some are angry at the idea that therapy dogs are needed at all.

More funding is essential to keep university counselling services going. The mental health care system in the UK is consistently struggling to help those who need it, and students are being increasingly affected by funding cuts to these services. Therapy dogs are a nice idea but are in no way a replacement for genuine mental health care.

Header image credit: The Guardian

De-stressing Doggies take on Degrees

Universities are starting to use dogs to de-stress their students around exam time. Therapy dogs are now popping up in university nursing areas around the UK to try to battle the ongoing mental health issues which are slowly rising. 

With the rates of student suicides growing, many universities are looking for ways to help students stay calm, especially during the dreaded exam period. Some people disagree with the idea, but Middlesex University has brought in two captivating canines to tackle the issue. 

Ice was happy, an ex guide dog, was happy to meet us. He now spends his time giving love back to the students who need him.

“We do drop in sessions and on Mondays we do walk arounds through lectures” Josh, dog carer and nurse, introduces us to Maisie and Ice. The two Labradors are dressed in red sashes and name tags depicting their status within the university. 

“We care about not just the students but the dogs as well, we’re always sure to not put them in an unsafe environment.” 

Labradors tend to be the chosen dog for therapy, however they also welcomed a boxer, but after an unfortunate incident where Josh’s bag was used as a toilet, he was sent home for bad behaviour. 

“The dogs have to be assessed before they can be seen by students.” When they’re not comforting a student, Maisie and Ice can be found with their owners who work at the university. Ice living out the winter of his life after successful years as a guide dog. 

Josh, Maisie and Ice all pose for a photo before starting their rounds of Middlesex University.

It’s not only for comfort, many come to overcome a fear. Through regular visits with the two dogs, both 8 years old, Josh confirmed many students had overcome their fear of dogs. 

“Sometimes they’re not stressed out, we get a lot of students who are just homesick and miss their pets”. The canine duo give them the love that many crave when they’re away from home. Homesickness is one of the leading reasons of depression within students, a study by Huffpost. 

Nevertheless, Josh thinks it has benefited the students very well. “I think everyone should do it. It’s such an easy thing to achieve, you’ve just got to find the right dog.” 

There is only one problem with dogs in university. Hair Everywhere. 

What your £20 for a NUS student discount card actually goes to

Walking through a fresher’s fair, a student is often first greeted by the welcoming bright teal sign of the NUS. More formally known as the National Union of Students, the famous brand is commonly known for offering students some of the best discounts in the United Kingdom.

Aside from the massive discounts NUS offers, when a student signs up for the union, they join a group of over seven million students aiming to use their education in order to create a fair and prosperous society.

Nevertheless, 61% of students are unaware of what the NUS does for their university environment. And even so, of the 39% who are “aware” of what the National Union of Students does, 86% thought that the organization was just their NUS Extra Card that allows them to get discounts.

Founded in 1922, as an effort to make peace after the first world war, their mission still remains to promote, defend, and extend student rights allows them to fight discrimination and injustice through democratic representation, campaigning, and targeted action.

Through the help of students across the nation, the NUS is able to bring together the collective interests of their members in order to develop research that influences national policy and take on issues that affect the lives of students now and in the future.

The National Union of Students is a voluntary membership organization consisting of 600 students’ unions. That’s more than 95 percent of all higher student unions in the United Kingdom. When a student pays £20 for their discounted student railway card or the extra 20% off at Boots, they agree to uphold and support the three core values of the NUS: equality, democracy, and collectivism.

The latest elected officers of the NUS focus on pursuing equal opportunities for everyone to fully participate in a society of students to celebrate diversity. The NUS also aims to “[build] open, transparent, and accessible democratic structures that increase performance and strengthen accountability.”

Furthermore, their message strongly resonates with the quote, “unity is our strength” by constantly promoting the idea that students’ unions are more effective when they work with each other on a local, national, and international level.

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Within every student’s union lies a desire to provide wide-ranging research and discussion about the policies of further education, higher education, society, citizenship, union development, and welfare.

Spanning across Great Britain, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and Northern Ireland, the NUS also campaigns and defends the rights of highly marginalized and underrepresented groups such as black students, disabled students, LGBTQI+, and women.

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Although it may seem like the NUS does nothing but give you 10% off at Pizza Express and lead the funding and mission student unions, their recent movements and parliamentary wins for students are very present for plenty of individuals.

Student’s right to protected student deposits in the private rented sector, exemption from Council Tax, Young Persons Railcard, and Endsleigh Student Insurance are all due to the constant efforts of the NUS.

Less known strides towards a more student-friendly world have been made by the NUS as well. In the past three years, the National Union of Students has managed to help 48,000 international students who were wrongly deported after falsified English language tests were turned in.

The NUS is also the reason why students over the age of 30 are still able to receive student loans.

When founded by Sir Ivison MacAdam, his vision for the future involved providing “hope for tomorrow.” Giving a voice to their seven million members from all walks of life and fighting for a better student environment for the future.

Read all about what the NUS is doing to not file bankruptcy here.

Love at first swipe: the age of online dating

Before Millennials and Generation Z’s made swiping left and right niche, conversations of online dating would only be spoken about in hushed tones in loud bars all across the world.

So when did online dating become so popular? And more importantly, does it even work?

According to a study published in September 2018, online dating is completely reinventing what it means to date in the 21st century.

But don’t expect a You’ve Got Mail romance immediately.

The start of most interactions online nowadays is seldom without a short gallery of each person’s best photos and a short biography incorporating witty taglines or relatable likes and dislikes.

The addictive nature of apps like Tinder, Bumble, Hinge and Grindr are making it easy for the younger generation to take advantage of this dating method – often referring to it as a dating version of Pokémon GO.

Finding love is possible. It might have been easier for Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, but there’s a lesson here – don’t let your jealousy of other people overshadow your own journey.

Speaking with university students from all over the world, the balance between successful relationships and people still looking was about equal.

The online dating industry is quickly becoming a massive market. Research firm IBISWorld predicted that dating services would be a $3 billion (approximately £2.3 billion) industry in 2018.

In the age of laborious “swiping”, surviving the highs and lows is your sole initiation into the dating game.

We all get through it, usually with lots of great stories to tell.  

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