Social media, use or abuse?

By a show of hands, let me know who here is a social media user? Who has any social media account?

Now, raise your hand if you consider yourself a frequent user? What I mean by this is: Do you check your social media feeds multiple times during the day.

The use of social media networks is as common as eating or sleeping these days, especially for younger generations. However, there is a lot of debate if the use of these platforms is appropriate for teenagers or not.

Some research shows that the use of social media might make disorders such as ADHD, teen depression, oppositional defiant disorder, and teen anxiety worse.

However, new research counteracts these findings. A new study found that overall teen well-being goes down with the use of digital technology, but four per cent at most.

There is, however, some common ground where experts agree that the effects of social media use among teenagers undermine their mental health.

One of these elements is social comparison. Teens spend much of their time observing the lives and images of their peers; this leads to constant comparison, and this can damage self-esteem and body image. Moreover, it can lead to depression, particularly teen girls.

In general, teens report lower self-esteem and self-evaluation when looking peers on facebook and other social media sites.

They also report feeling better about themselves when making the so-called downward comparison — looking at profiles with fewer friends and achievements.

Another element is an increased risk to find spaces (forums) where teenagers encourage unhealthy and dangerous behaviours such as eating disorders or self-harm. However, social media can also inspire teenagers to develop healthy habits.

We have to consider that all this happens during the adolescence when peer approval and friendship are critical. As a result, social media supports the drive to connect with peers with both negative and positive effects.

On the one hand, teens say that they feel more connected to what is going on in their friends’ lives. On the other hand, they also spend more time with their friends online that they do it in person or at school.

Finally, addiction can be an effect of social media on teenagers. Scientists have found that social media overuse creates stimulation brain patterns similar to the patterns created by other addictive behaviours. Hence, the brain responds to social media the same way it responds to other “rewards”: releasing dopamine.

So, the big question is: what can be done to ensure teenagers safely use social media?

Fortunately, the answer is not very complicated. However, the implementation of it requires work and commitment from parents and guardians.

The first step is to observe the law! All social media sites have a minimum age requirement to open an account. In most cases is 13 years of age. Sadly, many parents do now intervene and in a large study conducted in Europe found that in the population aged 10 to 18 years, 78% of children under 13 had social media accounts.

The experts’ recommendation is to encourage the kids under 13 to engage in activities such as active playing, socializing and reading paper books. This requires creativity and commitment from parents and teachers to create an environment that promotes these activities and manages peer pressure.

The second step is to talk to the teens about what social networks are, the benefits and the potential risks. Once they are old enough to open an account legally, the experts agree that the mental structure is mature enough to understand this.

Additionally, teenagers require close monitoring of the content that they are exposed to, especially at the beginning of their social media journey. Once they become more proficient in discerning what content is appropriate and reliable, they will need to be granted more freedom.

Concluding, social media sites can be a source of encouragement, support and information when used correctly. But the skill set to navigate them safely needs to be developed, and this can only happen with support and monitoring from the parents and guardians.

-Stein

Coming home

In time, everything finds its way home. After a long journey, that time has come for me as I will be returning to my home city in Mexico.

This move closes a chapter of my personal and professional life that started over 18 years ago when I left my home searching for greener pastures.

However, the last stretch of this wild, wild ride that started when Switzerland welcomed me six years ago has been a fantastic adventure. Leaving this beautiful country is an experience loaded with mixed feelings.

It is sad to leave one of the best countries I had the opportunity to live in, but I am also happy to go back to family and friends.

As I make the balance of the things that I leave and take, it is great to see that I take with me a large number of extraordinary memories and experiences that have made me a better person, and leave exceptional friends with whom I have cultivated a relationship that will last a lifetime and that has made me a happier person.

I am sure this will not be a goodbye but a so long. Soon, we will we welcoming familiar faces here in Mexico with wide-open arms, tacos and a bottle of tequila at the ready!

-Stein

New book release date set!

It has been a long journey, I have learned and enjoyed a lot. But getting, at last, a release date for my first book, “When the land bleeds – short stories” brings a lot of emotion and excitement.

I am very grateful to the writing community that has been very supportive during this process. Without the advise, training and tips I received along the way, this would not have been possible.

Stay tuned, because on December 13th the book will be available on the Amazon store.

-Stein

My first book is ready!

Yes, I know. I have been absent and away for a long time. But this time I have a good excuse. I promise.

You see, a few months ago, seven to be precise I committed to write and publish a book based on a collection of short stories that have been laying around my hard drive for a few years.

Who knew that putting together a book and dealing with the publishing process was such a hard, long process. Well, not me, that is for sure!

I know that you seasoned writers that spit a 50,000 words novel every month will probably giggle at my naivety and ignorance. Well, go ahead and mock me for I have gone through the trying fires of writing, editing, edit again, edit some more and publishing and came out it if not a better, at least a wiser writer.

Yes! After many months of hard work, my first book, When the land bleeds is ready for publishing! It might not be the next New York Times bestseller, but it has been an incredibly enriching experience, and I am really proud of it.

Now, I can talk about front matter, back matter, ISBN acquisition like there is no tomorrow. I’ll spice up the conversation with chapter organization, book cover creation and of course a dash of a copyright notice. Don’t get me started on self-publishing because we will be up all night.

The book will be launched this December on Amazon in both, paperback and ebook formats.

I would like to take a moment to thank the writing community for all the help, tips and learning resources that I found in several blogs and online courses. Those tools made a significant difference and made the journey easier and much more enjoyable.

So, you see, this time I really have a good excuse for being away.

Now the problem is that I can’t stop thinking about writing another book, is this some kind of disease? If it is, I surely hope is not curable. Nothing beats the sheer pleasure of weaving a story that I would love to share with others.

4 Top SCUBA Diving Myths

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASCUBA diving has become a very popular sport. Everywhere there is a body of water (sea, ocean, lake) you will find most often than not a diving agency or club willing to teach you how to explore the marvels the underwater world has to offer.

However, there are still some common myths and misconceptions around that confuse and sometimes discourage non-divers to even try diving for the first time.

So, my fellow future divers (I have faith in you!) here are the 4 most common myths I have encountered during my diving days and the reality about them:

Myth #1. Divers carry a tank full of oxygen to breathe underwater

Surprisingly no. It is true that divers carry a tank (sometimes more than one, but we will discuss that on a different post). The tank is full of widely available, common air. Yes, the tank or cylinder (if you want to sound smart) is full of exactly the same stuff you are breathing while reading this.

For the brainiacs in the audience, air has only 21% of oxygen, the rest is a combination of other gases (mostly Nitrogen 78%) including argon and carbon dioxide.

The only difference is that the air in the tank is very dry. This is necessary to prevent rusting (humidity and metal don’t get along very well) and extend the tank lifetime.

There are special cases (technical diving, enriched air, etc.) when the tank might be filled with something different but the large majority of dives in the recreational world are done with common air.

Myth #2. Diving is all about how deep you can go

One of the most frequently asked questions I get when talking to non-divers is how deep can you go. When I tell them that my average depth is around 28 meters (92 feet) I can see the disappointment in their faces.

Depth is one of the elements about diving but not the only one. Diving is about the challenge of safely visiting an environment where humans are not commonly welcome (unless you can naturally breathe underwater, and if you can, please contact me immediately).

It is also about exploring the underwater world, full of life and colours that cannot be found elsewhere. It is about the excitement of visiting a sunken ship and imagining what life was onboard while exploring the scattered remains of the ship now home to countless different species of fish and coral.

The depth and the resulting increased pressure is something that divers spend a great deal of time understanding during training. In the end, all divers learn how depth and pressure work, but most importantly learn to respect them.
Different levels of diving certification will give you access to better dive planning and greater depths. But for recreational purposes, the depth limit is set at 40 meters (130 feet). Anyone that tells you stories about going deeper than that without the proper training/equipment is either lying or taking unnecessary risks.

The good news is that most of the life, action, and excitement can be enjoyed in the 10-25 meters (33-82 feet) depth range. So, as you can see, is not only about how deep you go but also about the entire adventure of discovering what the underwater world has to offer.

Myth #3. Shark Attacks

Thank you Hollywood and news outlets! Sadly when a shark attack occurs, the media immediately jumps and describes every gruesome detail of the incident and give the audience the impression that this kind of events is a common occurrence.

Nothing farther from the truth. Sharks are majestic creatures that will happily share their environment with the occasional visitor.

To put some perspective, consider that there are around 6 million active divers worldwide1 and according to the international shark attack file, between 1958 and 2016 there have been 2,785 unprovoked shark attacks, of which 439 were fatal2.

Simple math tells that: 0.0004% of active divers were attacked during a period of 58 years! Out of these incidents, 0.00007% were fatal. This is something the news outlets do not share when broadcasting a shark attack report.

To put even more perspective, according to the “list of 18 things more likely to kill you than sharks”3 available on the same report, it is far more probable to die of sun exposure, lighting or fireworks than a shark attack.

So, no, a shark attack is not something you should worry about while exploring the underwater realm. If you ever see one don’t panic, show respect and take a great picture! It will definitely grant you bragging rights.

Myth #4. Diving is a sport for guys only

No! No! and No! There is nothing that suggests that diving is a guys only club. On the contrary, most diving apparel companies produce equipment and apparel that caters for the girls’ needs and tastes.

There is also a growing number of female diving personalities and ambassadors that prove that diving is an all-inclusive sport.

The only requirement to get into diving is to get a proper training and certification from a reputable agency. There is absolutely no difference between males or females when it comes to the requirements and qualifications to get certified.

So, please if you want to dive, just go and do it! You will find that there are training alternatives available that will allow you to “discover” the experience before you commit to getting a full certification.

So, I hope that this clarifies a little bit more the wonderful world of underwater exploration and wish to see you soon making bubbles and enjoying the under the sea view.

-Stein

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Emotion in an image – Confidence

Continuing with the emotions in an image series the next stop is confidence.

I struggled with this one since the focus was self-confidence. The ability to trust in one’s abilities to face any challenge knowing that victory is always at hand.

I hope you enjoy this image and please let know what you think in the comments section.

-Stein

confidence

Emotion in an image – Depression

Describing an emotion with words is not always easy. It might be because an emotion is a complex combination of many things that are happening to us at the same time: The feelings, the place, the people around, the surrounding sounds and aroma, the sun setting in the distance all these contribute to convey a particular “emotion”.

The old “an image is worth a thousand words” saying is very true when it comes to representing emotions.

For this, I have started a personal project to create a set of images that I hope help to transmit the “true” feeling of a particular emotion.

Enjoy the images and let me know what you think in the comments section.

-Stein

Depression

“Why? Because Science!” is LIVE!

A fellow blogger has released after much work and effort her first book. I am personally attracted to the subject as it deals with science. If you have a chance, check it out.

Wander Woman Thea

Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me orgasmic pleasure to announce the grand arrival of my book, “Why? Because Science!” It drops TODAY on Amazon so click on the link below and get your electronic copy!

Why Because Science book

It would also be super awesome if you could help me promote this by sharing the link to your social media, recommending the book to friends, leaving a review on Amazon, and forcing it upon family members for Christmas. If this is going to be a success, I’m going to need all the help I can get from you, my blog family. And if you do help to promote the book on social media, please tag my Facebook page @whybecausescience in your comment, status, share, etc!

I’d really appreciate it. Happy reading, everyone!

Amazon: Why? Because Science book

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