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New technologies: An ongoing debate

New technologies: An ongoing debate

Toronto, June, 2nd, 2017. “Reforming the World” is the theme of the latest issue of WACC’s international journal Media Development. Marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, authors explore different aspects of how mass media and, more recently social media, can be said to be transforming the world we live in. “By their very nature new technologies raise questions that previous generations had not considered. Each generation develops its own tools, ethical practices, and means of assessment for communication - basically for an ecosystem that has reached equilibrium,” writes Paul A. Soukup in an article titled “A shifting media ecology: What the age of Luther can teach us”. Soukup goes on to warn, “However the older tools, practices, and means may not fit when the new arrives. Not surprisingly, people have trouble predicting what might happen and even more trouble faced with evaluating something new that presents a great number of affordances, that is, sets of possibilities and opportunities to do many different things.” Taking a contemporary approach, Philip Lee, the journal’s editor, contributes an article on “Ten theses knocking on the door of public communication”. Noting WACC’s contribution to the democratisation of communications, Lee notes that: “One of the pillars of communication rights is the imparting and exchange of information and knowledge, which are essential to tackling issues related to poverty, health, education, politics, governance, gender equality, the environment and the use of new technologies.” He concludes with ten theses “illustrative of communication rights that everyone might reasonably claim as essential to good governance, good citizenship, and democratic accountability.” In “What does the Reformation mean today?”, Ralf Peter Reimann sees the Reformation as a turning point in European history, but also as a global event. He makes a comparison between then and now: “Today, we live in an interconnected and interdependent globalized world, a result of a process which started five centuries ago when America was discovered and Spanish and Portuguese ships circumnavigated the world. Again, we are in the middle of a media revolution; it is no longer the printing press but high speed Internet which disseminates information worldwide in a fraction of a second.” These new technologies have partly created a post-truth era in which false news and fake facts contest traditional news values. In “The post-truth phenomenon: A challenge to WACC”, Fr Benjamin Alforque poses the question: “What does “post-truth” mean in our advocacy for communication rights, access to communication technology, and truth?” Finally, Domenico Fiormonte reviews “The Digital Humanities from Father Busa to Edward Snowden”. He asks: “Who are we really? Or rather not us, but the creation through our digital footprint of an alter ego that the algorithms of Google or Facebook decree is more ‘true’ than the other (which we mistakenly believe still to exist)... And does it still make sense to investigate the instruments of production and preservation of memories and knowledge when we no longer have any control over them?” Stimulating questions in what can only be an ongoing debate. Discover more here.  
Instagram worst social media app for young people's mental health

Instagram worst social media app for young people's mental health

London, May, 24th, 2017 (CNN). Instagram is the most detrimental social networking app for young people's mental health, followed closely by Snapchat, according to a new report by the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. Their study, #StatusofMind, surveyed almost 1,500 young people aged 14 to 24 on how certain social media platforms impact health and well-being issues such as anxiety, depression, self-identity and body image. YouTube was found to have the most positive impact, while Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter all demonstrated negative affects overall on young people's mental health. Instagram -- the image-saturated app with over 700 million users worldwide -- topped the list in terms of negative impact, most notably among young women, stated the report, published Friday. Instagram draws young women to "compare themselves against unrealistic, largely curated, filtered and Photoshopped versions of reality," said Matt Keracher, author of the report. "Instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren't good enough as people add filters and edit their pictures in order for them to look 'perfect,' " an anonymous female respondent said in the report. To tackle the problem, the Royal Society for Public Health has called for social media platforms to take action in order to help combat young users' feelings of inadequacy and anxiety by placing a warning on images that have been digitally manipulated. "We're not asking these platforms to ban Photoshop or filters but rather to let people know when images have been altered so that users don't take the images on face value as real," Keracher said. "We really want to equip young people with the tools and the knowledge to be able to navigate social media platforms not only in a positive way but in a way that promotes good mental health," he added. The survey concluded that while Instagram negatively affected body image, sleep patterns and added to a sense of "FOMO" -- the fear of missing out -- the image app was also a positive outlet for self-expression and self-identity for many of its young users. Professional YouTuber Laci Green, a health vlogger with 1.5 million subscribers, said that education surrounding mental health issues in a digital age is an educational imperative for young people. "Because platforms like Instagram and Facebook present highly curated versions of the people we know and the world around us. It is easy for our perspective of reality to become distorted," she said. "Socializing from behind a screen can also be uniquely isolating, obscuring mental health challenges even more than usual." Green added that it is important we lay the groundwork now to minimize potential harm as the first generation of social media users become adults. YouTube was the only social media platform that demonstrated an overall positive impact on young people's mental health in the study.