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Academic Research Debunks Views That Online Gaming Affects Mental Health

Amanda J

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Psychology experts are debunking the negative aura surrounding video games and their impact on the mental health of children. A team from Oxford University carried out an intense research study involving more than 3,200 internet gamers. The results will surprise you, that is, if you had a negative perception of video games.

Ever since video games gained popularity in the 1970s, various sectors have linked them to young people’s psychological problems. That negativity continued to the 21st century, where games are not only in arcades but on computers, often live, on tv screens and mobile devices. Some games can be very intense and will have players sitting in front of the net for multiple hours.

It is two such games that the Research team from Oxford chose to tackle. Nintendo’s Animal Crossing is very prominent, and Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, a game created by Electronic Arts, is also loved by children and adults. The research team gathered essential data such as the length of time each player stayed on the game continuously from the game developers. The information eliminated the researchers’ need to speculate the length of time for the individuals and possibly miscalculate.

Additionally, players did a survey responding to questions about their gaming adventure, and the consensus was that they were doing well and enjoying the gaming experience. The team’s finding revealed that the duration of play, albeit small, had a favorable impact on the players’ wellbeing.

For so many years, parents and teachers, and some medical professionals, believed that under-performance from students often stemmed from their connection with video games. Surprisingly, video game use continues to increase despite those aspersions, and now cold water has been poured over the long-held unfavorable views regarding gaming.

The researchers’ peers might not have reviewed the findings, but what it has done is open the doors for more unified and in-depth research to get facts on gaming impact instead of opinions. The Oxford discovery has now laid at least a seed of doubt on suggestions that gaming can be attributed to aggression and addiction.

The researchers’ team conducted an extensive study due to donations from the Huo Family Foundation and sponsorship from the Economic and Social Research Council. They have acknowledged that the survey only gives a quick outlook into the impact of gaming on a player’s mental health rather than an in-depth one.

The researchers also believe that the varying experiences of the players while they played the game may have contributed significantly to their wellbeing rather than just the time spent playing. The research, even with its limitations, is the most significant step taken so far by any group to analyze players based on information outside of their input. Over the years, researchers usually depended on the gamers participating in a self-survey.

In the meantime, the group’s primary author, Professor Andrew Przybylski, says the advice parents and lawmakers received over the years was given without tangible evidence. He believes the correct way to disseminate information is by obtaining factual data from the gaming corporations. The Professor adds that their findings indicate video games are not particularly dangerous for your health but rather other events that may have impacted the players’ psyche.

He emphasized that playing video games can be a positive stimulant to the cognitive behavior of the players, and withholding the games can reverse that effect. The Oxford Professor adds that the opportunity to undertake the research based on real evidence places the team in a position to give legitimate data to health officials as they create policies.

Meanwhile, the research is great news for the gaming corporations, notably Sony, which just launched the Playstation 5 and the newest Xbox in the United Kingdom.

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New Research Reveals Dogs Can Aid Child Social and Emotional Growth

Jolie

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Many parents have been buying dogs for their children for so many years. Dogs have always been considered one of the most ideal pets by even health professionals.

For years, many psychologists and even scientists associated pet ownership with behavioral development in smaller children.However, there was no official research or data to support the claims. Parents who noticed the impact that dogs had on their young children continued to report this to other parents and whoever would listen.

Now, researchers have been popping up all over the globe detailing the benefits of dog ownership to children, especially those with social and development issues.

Dogs offer unconditional love and teach owners about responsibility, and recent research shows that they can also help children profit from improved social and emotional well-being.

The report was published in the Journal of Pediatric Research recently.

One Professor states that while they believed that dog ownership would bring certain benefits to the well-being of young children, they were shocked that the mere existence of a family dog was correlated with many positive attitudes and emotions.

Previous studies have shown that dog ownership causes adults and children to exercise more frequently than if they did not own one, according to the researchers. However, they emphasize that owning a dog and its impact on child advancement have still not been studied enough.

The team sent a questionnaire to more than 1,600 parents—among whom almost 700 owned a dog—with preschoolers between the ages of 2 and 5 who asked them how much their child had been interested in walking or playing with a dog for more than three years.

Parents were also asked to report on their child’s social-emotional growth, biological sex, sleeping patterns, and screening time, according to the analysis.

Researchers argue that children in dog-owned households were thirty percent less likely to participate in antisocial behavior, forty percent less likely to have trouble engaging with other children, and nearly thirty-five percent more likely to engage in thoughtful activities, such as sharing.

The study also showed that children who played with their dog more often (74 percent) were more likely to participate in thoughtful actions than those who played with their dog less often.

It’s a win-win for the owner and the dog, and the benefits are obvious from a simple blood test.

Dr. Rebecca Johnson, who is the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction Director, says that when we see, touch, hear or speak to our companion animals, beneficial neurohormones are released, generating a sense of goodwill, pleasure, nurturing, and happiness.

Meanwhile, stress hormones are blocked, Johnson said, and as a result, heart rate and blood pressure decrease, helping us handle stress in ways that are not detrimental to our wellbeing.

The authors said that more research is required to understand whether different types of pets have the same impact or whether the degree of attachment of the child to the pet makes a difference in their development.

Meanwhile, with every study being favorable or neutral, it’s a no-brainer that one should get a dog even for your own test.

Getting a pet should not just be viewed as a Christmas gift, but as a developmental tool(albeit a friendly and cuddly one) that can be the breakthrough your troubled child may need.

Either way, it wouldn’t hurt and is one of those tests that you can’t lose, whatever the result, as you’ll still have a fantastic play pal for the family.

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Grandma Celebrated Fifth Thanksgiving with a Young Man She Met Accidentally by Text

Liz L

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In 2016, a grandma from Arizona accidentally texted a stranger and invited him to her Thanksgiving dinner. The grandmother and the young man have celebrated the holiday together for four years, and despite the second-wave of coronavirus pandemic, they continued the celebration.  

Wanda Dench, a 63 years old grandmother, and Jamal Hinton, 21 years old, celebrated their 5th Thanksgiving in Mesa, Arizona. However, this year was different for them because her husband’s seat was empty at the dinner table. Wanda’s husband, Lonnie Dench, passed away after 43 years of successful marriage. He died of severe health complications caused by Covid-19. 

Wanda Dench was not looking forward to the Thanksgiving dinner because of her husband’s death. According to Dench, the past seven months was challenging for her. She said her husband was the most important person in her life. 

Wanda and Jamal shared a Thanksgiving dinner with her daughter and grandson and his girlfriend, respectively. The group decided to celebrate Thanksgiving so they could get tested for the virus before celebrating the event with their families. The purpose was to avoid the risk of spreading coronavirus. 

From strangers to Family 

Wanda Dench and Jamal Hinton are a pair of unlikely friends. However, a couple of accidental texts brought them together. Dench was married for 43 years, but her husband died of coronavirus in April 2020. 

In 2016, she wanted to text her grandson to invite him to the Thanksgiving dinner. However, the text went accidentally to a 17 years old Jamal Hinton when was in class. Jamal got confused that someone was claiming to be his grandmother in the text. 

Wanda also sent a smiling selfie of herself when she was at the workplace. Undoubtedly, she was not Jamal’s grandmother, but he still asked to have dinner with her. Wanda gave him a positive response and invited him to dinner. That’s what grandmothers do to feed everyone – she replied. 

So, Jamal Hinton went to her home for dinner, and two became friends immediately. The interesting thing to know is that Jamal and his girlfriend went on double dates with Wanda and Lonnie. 

According to Wanda Dench, there is no generational gap between them. All of them spent a good time, and they never ran out of topics for discussion. Lonnie and Wanda became friends with Hinton and his girlfriend. Today, they consider each other a family. 

Remembering Lonnie Dench 

For both Wanda and Jamal, it is great to spend time and celebrate Thanksgiving together. It is a lovely and cherished tradition, which bring love, warmth, and respect. However, it was different in 2020 without Lonnie Dench. 

Everyone in the family was missing Lonnie this year. According to Wanda and Hinton, Lonnie was a great man and a significant part of our friendship story. Hinton said Lonnie would have been very upset and angry if we decided not to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. 

He passed away in April 2020 after battling with the deadly virus. According to Wanda, Lonnie suffered from double pneumonia caused by the coronavirus. Wanda still remembers him and prays for his salvation. According to Wanda, Lonnie was her soulmate and her biggest cheerleader. 

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North Atlantic Whales Spotted Near U.S. Coast, Provides Boost to Critically Endangered Status

Jolie

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Black whales, also known as right whales, have become a critically endangered species over the years. Right whales are grouped into three different categories: the North Atlantic Right Whale, the North Pacific Right Whale, and the North Atlantic Right Whale. Known for their immense size and rough patchy skin, right whales are a fascinating sight to see within nature. Unfortunately, dwindling numbers have caused the species to end up on the Critically Endangered list, with numbers potentially dropping every day. While bad news tends to come in bunches, occasionally some good news will sparkle through. On December 4th, a right whale calf was found swimming with its mother, named Chiminea, off of Cumberland Island near Georgia.

Why was this such a big deal? Let’s explore that question together.

When the team of biologists at Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida saw Chiminea and her calf, they couldn’t help but showcase their absurd excitement. Whales throughout the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans have been struggling due to collisions with shipping vessels as a result of trade. According to reports, at least 25 of the 71 reported right whale deaths since 1970 have been a result of collisions by ship. The fact that Chiminea and her calf had made it so far was a miracle!

Melanie White is the Project Manager at the North Atlantic Right Whale Conservation Facility. When she saw the whale and its calf alive, it was a jolt of motivation to the entire team. White pointed out that the species is notably fragile, especially as the winter months begin to develop. The discovery of Chiminea and her calf was made just weeks after a North Atlantic right whale calf had washed ashore dead on the coast of North Carolina. Necropsy indicated that the aforementioned calf had passed away shortly after birth.

The reason that we call Right Whales ‘Right Whales’ is more simple than readers might think. The moniker was first attached to the three whales we highlighted above due to how easy they were to hunt, thus becoming the ‘right whale for the hunt’. Right whales are slow swimmers that stick close to shore, and they float after they die. Florida and Georgia are the only calving grounds currently known for right whales, so to see a successful birth is something to be celebrated. During the 2019 – ’20 season alone, 10 calves were born which shows a dramatic increase from the three that survived in the year prior. In order to ensure the continued survival of the right whale species, researchers and experts have agreed that at least 20 births per year are necessary.

At the time of this writing, experts estimate that there are roughly 360 North Atlantic Right Whales left in all of the oceans of the world. While ship strikes lead the way in causes of mortality, ocean noise, whaling, and even entanglement with fish equipment are other very real concerns. While there is no perfect recovery on the horizon for the right whales of the world, Congress is going to have to get itself back to work. According to NOAA Fisheries, conditions have become so devastating for right whales that they have begun to petition Congress for more funding, noting that current funding levels for whale support were ‘wholly insufficient’.

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The Anti-Cancer Properties of Common Weed – A New Discovery

Amanda J

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Scientists have recently discovered that a common weed in the cabbage family can stop breast cancer growth. The remarkable anticancer properties of common weed (thale cress) can lead to new and effective cancer treatments. 

Alessandra Devoto and his colleagues tested the efficacy of Arabidopsis thaliana leaves for inhibiting the growth of breast cancer cells in the laboratory. The professor and his team exposed both cancer and non-cancer cells to the leaves of thale cress. Scientists found that the leaves had stopped the growth of cancer cells. 

Many cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy, can harm the body’s healthy cells. However, the leaves of thale cress target the cancer cells without causing any adverse effects on normal cells, and such a new treatment can make a big difference for cancer patients. 

Alessandra Devoto, a professional at Royal Holloway University, has been working on this for the last 14 years. Professor Devoto and his colleagues Prof Nicholas and Dr. Amanda have recently published a research paper on their new findings. 

Is common weed an effective cancer treatment? 

Scientists have made substantial efforts in the development of effective plant-based medications for cancer and other diseases. For instance, Paclitaxel is a chemotherapy treatment for different cancers, including lung, ovarian, and breast cancer. It is an active ingredient that originated from the plant known as the pacific yew. 

According to Professor Devoto, thale cress has excellent anticancer properties and can stop various cancer cells’ growth. The professor called it the “Cinderella” of the medicinal plant world. The research findings of professor Devoto and his colleagues can be used further to develop novel cancer treatments. 

Although Arabidopsis thaliana is edible, most people consider it an invasive weed and avoid eating it. The common use of thale cress is in genetic research laboratories. Previously, researchers had no clue about its medicinal properties, but Devoto’s findings have led to new foundations in cancer research and have important implications for new cancer treatments.  

The research paper highlights that Jasmonate is a hormone discovered in jasmine that can induce specialized metabolites in plants. Some of these metabolites can be used as precursors of anticancer drugs. Although the research is at an early stage, it is fascinating that thale cress used in laboratories for decades has shown to have anticancer properties. 

The research of professor Devoto examined the effects of thale cress on breast cancer cells. The professor and his team look forward to testing the plant’s efficacy on other cancer cells in the future. However, Devoto has not presented any solid reason for the limitation of thale cress anticancer effect on breast cancer alone. 

According to Professor Smirnoff and Dr. Harvey, it is essential to use advanced biotechnology tools and techniques to understand metabolites’ bioactivities in cancer. 

Final Words 

Professor Devoto and his team have been working on the medicinal properties of thale cress since 2006, and their recent findings showed the plant’s anticancer properties. Researchers are looking forward to continuing their research on common weed for cancer. However, the study’s continuation will depend on different factors, including advanced tools, equipment, and funding availability. 

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Barber Shop Saves the Day for Wurstbar When Staff Gets COVID

Jolie

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The novel coronavirus outbreak has stunned the world in terms of health, business, and economy. The covid-19 pandemic has affected millions of people across the globe. Not only does the virus has led to unpredictable lockdowns, but it has also shut down many businesses, including small-medium businesses. 

Businesses are making efforts to follow social distancing protocols to protect their staff and customers from getting infected. Like many restaurants in the U.S struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic, Wurstbar N.J had established a new business model to meet the social distancing guidelines. 

Unfortunately, one of the staff members was exposed to the virus. The administration decided to shut down the business temporarily to stop the spread of the deadly virus. Many people thought that the restaurant was closed for renovations. However, the restaurant’s Instagram post says another story, highlighting that they are temporarily shutting down the business due to covid-19. 

Wurstbar has a loyal, dedicated, and hardworking staff. All members of the staff work as a team to provide the best services to their customers. Running the restaurant with non-infected employees was not an option for the small business. 

How Virile Barber Shop Helped Wurstbar? 

The management decided that the restaurant would remain closed until every exposed and non-exposed member is tested for covid-19. The purpose is to ensure everyone’s safety and encourage the staff to work confidently in a safe environment. 

The staff got tested for covid-19 and quarantined themselves. The word spread in the neighborhood, and within 24 hours, staff from Virile Barbershop stepped up and offered to run the restaurant to keep the business open until the impacted workers could all be tested and cleared.  

Andre Fersa, the Virile Barbershop owner, posted on Instagram that they would not let their neighbors at Wurstbar stay closed. That’s why the staff took over the bar and started selling beer, cider, and wine for outdoor seating only. Andre Fersa appealed to the people of N.J to visit the restaurant and support the business in these harsh times.  

Wurstbar employees thanked the community and praised the Virile Barbershop’s generous volunteers for keeping their doors open. Wurstbar posted to Instagram to pay their gratitude to the barbershop employees and other community members who stood by them in difficult times and supported their business. 

It is important to know that the pandemic has not only hit bars and restaurants but has equally affected all small businesses, including salons and barbershops. Although it is essential to meet the social distancing requirements to keep everyone protected from the deadly virus, small businesses should support each other in these difficult times. 

Virile Barber shop’s dedication to saving Wurstbar when their staff was infected with covid-19 is a great example of care and human values. It shows how small businesses can support each other during the covid-19 pandemic. Virile Barbershop went the extra mile for Wurstbar. Although this might not be the best news you hear all day, it is surely not the wurst.  

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