Boys at Exeter academy wear skirts in uniform protest – BBC News

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Media captionThese boys want to be cool in school

Some 30 boys have worn skirts to school in protest at being told they were not allowed to wear shorts.

The pupils from ISCA Academy in Exeter asked permission to modify their uniform because of the hot weather.

One of the boys who took part in the protest said: “We’re not allowed to wear shorts, and I’m not sitting in trousers all day, it’s a bit hot.”

Head teacher Aimee Mitchell said shorts were “not part” of the school uniform, as first reported by Devon Live.

For more on the school skirt protest, and other stories from across Devon and Cornwall.

Pupils said the idea for the protest came from the head teacher, who originally made the suggestion, although one student said he did not think she was being serious.

They said they hoped the school would reconsider its shorts policy as a result of the protest and the head has indicated it might be considered.

Image caption Walking to school, the pupils shouted “Let boys wear shorts”

Ms Mitchell said: “We recognise that the last few days have been exceptionally hot and we are doing our utmost to enable both students and staff to remain as comfortable as possible.

“Shorts are not currently part of our uniform for boys and I would not want to make any changes without consulting both students and their families.

“However, with hotter weather becoming more normal, I would be happy to consider a change for the future.”

Claire Reeves, whose son is a student at the school, said she had asked the school about her son being able to wear shorts, but was “shot down”.

“I feel extremely proud of them all for standing up for their rights. People are always talking about equal right for males and females and school uniform shouldn’t be any different”, she said.

The school uniform guidelines currently allow male pupils to wear trousers. Female pupils may wear trousers or tartan skirts.

Pupils may remove their ties but must carry them with them and shirts can be untucked in class but must be tucked in when they leave the classroom.

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‘I Love You, But…’: What Your Trump Vote Tells My Family

As the election approaches, I have not unfriended anyone on Facebook or turned away from them over their intended vote.

But I have to admit, when I hear people who love me say that they are voting for Donald Trump, it wounds.

I don’t mean that I’m irked or politically offended; I mean that it hurts my heart to understand that someone who claims to care about my family can excuse or embrace a man who has denigrated just about every aspect of who we are.

When friends tell me Trump’s “agenda” or “values” aligns better with their own, it chips away at my trust in how truly they care not just about people like me and my daughter but about us in specific.

It can’t help but tarnish my affection, dimming the luster of a bond premised on the belief of mutual respect. Why? Because a vote for this man is a vote for what he says about us.

I know you’re already thinking that this is unfair. That someone can still love us and vote differently. And that’s true in most years. But this election has lowered the bar of discourse so far, has diminished the American embrace of human decency so thoroughly, that I don’t really think that “I love you, but…” means very much when it comes to being loving right now. Hear me out.

I am a Latino son of an immigrant and a gay dad to daughter of African-American descent. To unpack how much Trump has said about facets of our lives is to stroll through a daily litany of mockery and dismissal. And when I look at what he has promised to do once elected, I see that we are a target.

When I adopted my daughter, everything was easier because my husband and I were legally married, something only true in two states at the time. At airports, hospitals, and schools, our legal bond to our child has never been in doubt.

Marriage equality has been one of the hallmarks of this century so far, now embraced by the majority of Americans, but Trump has said he’s seriously considering what can be done to roll that right backward. He’s also pledged to support legislation that would grant any person of any claimed faith the right not to serve or do business with any gay person. The bill is hatefully broad in its wording: we’re not just talking the famed bakers of wedding cakes but landlords, health care providers, employers, and anyone with a business.

Like people who say they care for me, Trump say his gay friends are “fabulous” but that this is bigger than them. He doesn’t think people like me need marriage rights for our families or the ability to shop, sleep, eat and be cared for everywhere that our straight fellow citizens can.

That can only be because we are seen as lesser humans which is, in fact, how he seems to see every group to which he doesn’t belong. In my household, we represent a lot of those groups.

Take my daughter, a child of African-American descent. Trump calls all people like her “the Blacks” a simple phrase that tells you so much. He has no sense of the diversity of the experience, whether in geography or values or status or needs. He has made this lack of perspective clear, by telling “the Blacks” that “their” schools, jobs, and lives are all terrible.

To Trump, people of color are so foreign and so the antithesis of what he’s selling that he threw one of his own African-American supporters out of a rally last week, because he assumed the man to be an enemy on sight. (In fact, the man had previously praised Trump on the record.)

That’s not surprising: When you decide an entire group of people is “the other,” snap judgments are like breathing. 

At least he considers “the Blacks” part of the nation. The last year and a half have been a time when Latinos all 55 million of us in this country have seen clearly what he really thinks of us.

It started with immigrants, all killers and rapists, to use his terms. (This applied only to Latino immigrants and not to people like his wife.) His venom expanded outward from there. When he said an Indiana-born judge couldn’t be trusted because he was of Latino descent, and when he threw an award-winning reporter out of a press conference because of his Latino bias, Trump revealed his innate bent toward racist generalization.

His level of ignorance reached its peak when he said he actually loves “Hispanics,” which he proved with a taco bowl. It was so base, so ridiculous, and so Trump. Reducing millions of diverse Americans to a food product for sale is just another reminder: To him, we aren’t people.

And yet, nothing compares to the depths of Trump’s grossness and crassness on the subject of women. This man wields women’s looks as a cudgel, diminishing their worth and credibility based on his scale of beauty; he boasts about how conquests bolster a man’s success; and he uses the topic of menstruation as a weapon.

He actively reveals a complete lack of boundaries when it comes to analyzing the bodies of women not just young enough to be his daughter, but his actual daughter, and girls far, far younger. It’s been upsetting enough to take that all in as a human being, period. But as a parent, it’s even worse.

It terrifies me. To vote for this man is to vote for the creepy uncle, the pervy boss, the guy who won’t take no for an answer. His gleeful boasts about sexual misconduct were labeled “locker room talk” but now that locker room could be the White House.

To excuse it—over and over—is to tell him he’s right in thinking that women and girls are less than men. To vote for someone so unapologetic in his sexism, to make him the face of your nation, is to tell girls that they must take whatever a man dishes out. No it tells everyone this. And my daughter’s future will be more dangerous as a result.

And these are just the messages of his words and deeds as they relate to my small household. I could expand outward to Muslim friends, my veteran relatives, or Jewish in-laws to reveal all the language and imagery Trump’s campaign has deployed to make clear that they are “less than” him and if they don’t like it, there’s more to come.

The imagery of this campaign is like none I can remember; when the KKK is doing “get out the vote” work for a candidate, it is no surprise that Trump signs show up effortlessly paired with lynched dummies or a bumper sticker depicting gay bashing.

Trump didn’t make these companion pieces himself, of course; but he has surely granted permission for people to not just indulge their worst thoughts, but to absolutely revel in them. He stoked a fire in people who have grown tired of making the effort to extend civility and human decency to those not like them.

What was once a goading whisper has become the roar of the crowd: It’s OK to embrace your secret feeling that all the “others” are not your people, are not equal to you, and, in being worth less, need not be treated with the same respect and privileges you enjoy.

Trump has made it fine not to only to embrace this deeply un-American sentiment but to say it with pride, to shout it out loud alongside thousands of your exuberant peers.

And then to vote it.

If you love me and you’re going to vote for Trump, I would like you to look me in the eye and say, “I’m OK with what Trump plans for you.” If you love my daughter, whose growth you have followed with joy, I want you to look her in the eye and say, “I’m OK with how Trump talks about you.”

Maybe dig out our holiday card from last year and, while looking at our smiling faces, practice saying to us: “You are less than me.”

Because that is what your vote for Trump says to my family.

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With 1 male left worldwide, northern white rhinos under guard 24 hours

Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya (CNN)At first glance, Sudan looks like any other northern white rhino: stout and agile, with square lips.

He grazes under the hot sun, his massive head lowered to the ground, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in central Kenya.
When he’s not napping in his enclosure, he waddles around the sprawling savannah, stopping briefly to drink water from a concrete hole.
    But Sudan is not just any rhino. He’s the last known male northern white rhino left in the world.
    For an animal on the verge of extinction, the fate of the subspecies rests on his ability to conceive with the two female northern white rhinos at the conservancy.

    24-hour security



      Rhino receives armed guards



      Gorilla gives birth to surprise baby


    Sudan’s female companions, Fatu and Najin, live at the conservancy, where experts are scrambling to ensure the subspecies does not go extinct.
    The animals are under 24-hour protection by armed guards. Rhinos are targeted by poachers, fueled by the belief in Asia that their horns cure various ailments. Experts say the rhino horn is becoming more lucrative than drugs.
    In addition to round-the-clock security, the conservancy has put radio transmitters on the animals and dispatches incognito rangers into neighboring communities to gather intelligence on poaching.
    The conservancy is also raising funds to help equip and train rangers who guard the rhinos.

    On the verge of extinction

    At 42, Sudan is elderly in rhino years. Fatu, 15, is a spring chicken, while Najin is 25.
    Though the three northern white rhinos are physiologically healthy, age might be a factor, says George Paul, the deputy veterinarian at the conservancy.
    “Sudan is currently old and may not be able to naturally mount and mate with a female,” he says.
    In addition, he has a low sperm count, which complicates natural and scientific efforts, experts say.
    Najin could conceive, but her hind legs are so weak, she may be unable to support a mounted male.
    “There has been recorded mating between different pairs over the last few years, but not conceptions,” Paul says. “Based on a recent health examination conducted, both animals have a regular estrus cycle, but no conception has been recorded.”
    And if one is not recorded soon, the beloved animal will go extinct.

    Alternative methods to conceive

    In a race against time, international experts are resorting to science to try to sustain the subspecies.
    The northern white rhino cannot mate with a black rhino, but there is a chance it could mate with a southern white rhino, Paul says. While southern white rhinos are not endangered — Ol Pejeta has 19 — they are a different subspecies from the northern white rhino genetically. Though the offspring would not be 100% northern white rhino, it would be better than nothing, experts say.
    A committee at the conservancy is also looking at various alternative reproduction techniques, including in vitro fertilization.
    “In other countries, success has been achieved with embryo transfer in a different rhino species, thus that, as a technique, can be presupposed to be the most promising,” Paul says. “However, consultations are ongoing amongst different reproductive technique experts on the way forward.”

    Countdown to extinction

    The need to preserve the northern white rhino is dire.
    “Realistically, we are looking at these animals dying in the next decade or so. But hopefully, using artificial methods of reproduction, we might be able to bring them back in the future,” Paul says. “This might mean that it will happen when the current animals are already deceased, but it could happen.”
    The conservancy acquired the northern white rhinos — two males and two females — in 2009 from a zoo in the Czech Republic. Suni, the other male northern white rhino at the conservancy, died last year.
    There are no known northern white rhinos left in the wild. A total of three remain in captivity worldwide — all in Kenya,
    Sudan, the only male left, is in a company of one.

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    What Depression Actually Is, Because Its More Than Just Being Sad

    Depression is doing everything you can to hide it. Because theres nothing glorified about it. Theres nothing beautiful about a bad night as you fall you your knees, in a silent scream, that no one hears because youre alone and you need to be until you get through it.

    Its the sleepless nights as you lay awake at 2 am staring at the ceiling.

    Its that time of year, you just get a little bit sadder for no reason.

    Its the tears you dont tell people you cry because you dont really know why youre crying, you just know you need to.

    Its the want and need to be around people but at the same time, you push them away.

    Depression is watching across social media, everyones highlight reels and you know its not an accurate depiction of their life yet you still compare yourself to them.

    Its the plans canceled last minute because you couldnt muster the strength to get out of bed.

    Its your alarm going off in the morning and you just want to go back to sleep.

    Depression is that cloud that doesnt seem to go away ever. And even in those happy moments, you cling to, you know its still hovering over you. Depression waits. It creeps and lurks. It waits for the best day of your life and your happiest moment just so the next one can be your worst.

    Its the fear of such happiness because you know its bound to fade.

    Its every good day, that are few and far between and that’s what you hang onto.

    Its the struggle in explaining to people when they ask why are you depressed? You just dont know and you dont know how to fix it. Its just a feeling you cant shake but youre learning to work through.

    Depression are toxic habits or people you gravitate towards.

    Its drinking the way you do because at least for a moment your pain is numbed. You know the effects lead to being even more depressed the next day. And you know alcohol is a depressant but being numb helps sometimes.

    Depression is the constant unbalance of things in your life.

    Its either overexercising and being at the gym for hours or staying in bed for weeks immobile.

    Its either sleeping too much or too little. But no matter what, youre always tired.

    Its eating too much or just never being hungry. Its someone asking, ‘When was the last time you ate?’ And you actually don’t know the answer.

    Its weight loss that people commend you for but you know even you couldnt help it.

    Depression is people asking if youre okay and you dont respond with Im sad. You simply say, ‘I’m tired.’

    Its the envy of looking at others and just wanting to be that happy. So you glamorize your own life so it appears that way.

    It’s that really scary moment when you open up to someone about what it is you deal with. And that new level of friendship you reach, when they welcome you with open arms and it almost brings you to tears.

    Its loving people unbelievably hard because youre still learning to love yourself.

    It’s looking ahead and looking forward to certain days in your life and really appreciating everything.

    And even though you might not say it, as often as you should, it’s the love you have for everyone in your life which gives you strength.

    Depression is becoming addicted to anything that gives you purpose. Whether its being a perfectionist in academics or becoming a workaholic. Its becoming the most involved in a group or organization because you need something to look forward to. Its excelling in sports because it really helps to have that and a team to fall back on.

    Its the need to be busy because if youre not youll spend too much time alone and everything will get worse.

    But more than that, depression is the person who would do anything to make others happy because someone elses happiness is their own.

    Depression is being overly observant because you know what its like to hide things, so you look for it in others.

    Its being the first one willing to help and being the person you wish you had. Knowing well, there’s nothing you can say or do but be there for them and that’s okay.

    But more than that, depression is a strength in you because theres nothing harder than overcoming demons within yourself.

    Its the trust people have in you, knowing they can turn to you without judgment.

    It’s the excitement you bring to others because even though you’re sad, you do love life.

    Depression is being the happiest, saddest person, people know but there’s a bit of beauty to someone who knows both emotions at such an extreme level.

    Depression is an appreciation and gratitude for life. It’s knowing no matter what happens things will get better.

    Depression is hope even in moments that seem hopeless.

    It’s not letting this define who you are but rather learning to live through it and being the example others can follow.

    Read more:

    Guam’s faithful look to God as North Korea threat looms

    Hagata, Guam (CNN)Father Paul Gofigan began his homily with a question for the parishioners in Guam’s biggest place of worship — the Catholic Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral Basilica.

    “If we were given 14 minutes to decide what to do with our lives, do you think you’d have enough time?”
    Gofigan was referring to the length of time the Guam Homeland Security department estimates it would take a North Korean missile to reach the island. It’s not idle debate.
      Last week, North Korean state media said it was drawing up plans to fire four missiles less than 25 miles from Guam’s coastline, placing the Pacific island in the center of the increasingly hostile rhetoric being lobbed between Washington and Pyongyang.
      No-one knows how close or how far the US may be from conflict with North Korea but officials in Guam have released a two-page fact sheet on how to survive a nuclear attack.
      Among the tips: don’t use hair conditioner. “It will bind radioactive material to you,” the sheet said.
      There’s no suggestion that any missiles fired from North Korea would be armed with nuclear warheads.
      Guam has been US territory since 1898 and, although its residents can’t vote, it’s home to two important military installations — likely targets for an adversary in any potential Pacific conflict.
        Caught in North Korea’s crosshairs, Guam’s largely Catholic population has been turning to its faith.
        Father Gofigan confesses it can be hard to find the right words for his congregation.
        “It’s very difficult to try to really, specially with the threat of a nuclear explosion… it’s very difficult to bring that message of inner peace.”

        Prayer, faith and family

        Of the nearly two dozen people CNN has spoken to about the looming threat, most have taken it in stride and nearly all of them have mentioned their religion.
          Their answers have centered around the idea that they can find peace through prayer, faith and family.
          Some arestoic,and say what happens is in God’s hands, even if they were to die. Others take a more optimistic train of thought — it’s in God’s hands, so no need to worry.
          “I’m sure that we all are worried but when we do trust in the Lord, we have to leave our worries up to Him,” local resident Maureen Lujan said.
          Domingo Santos, an 85-year-old survivor of the Japanese occupation during World War II, told CNN he asks himself what is going to happen, but falls back on his faith. “As a Catholic, I believe all I have to do is pray,” he said.
            Local resident Barbara Delgado told CNN she was getting her family prepared “for the what ifs.”
            “We have faith in our military defense — that they will protect us and of course we have also faith in Blessed Mother and Dear Lord,” she said. “They will watch over this island as they always have.”
            Despite the different answers, the importance of faith in Guam stands in stark contrast to North Korea — a communist state where atheism is the official policy and foreigners have been imprisoned for years for allegedly bringing bibles into the country.

              What you need to know about Guam

            ‘Taken over by faith’

            The pews in the cavernous cathedral were about a third full for Sunday mass — about average according to Father Gofigan.
            Construction on Guam’s first Catholic church began in 1669, after the arrival of Spanish priests.
            That building was damaged in WWII. The Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral Basilica stands on the same ground as its predecessor. Along with the Guam Museum, the church is one of the two most impressive structures that sit between the verdant mountains and vast ocean in the heart of the Guamanian capital of Hagataa.
            Catholicism is omnipresent in Guam. The island is 85% Roman Catholic, according to figures from the CIA World Factbook, and the island is dotted with churches, many in small villages, administered by the Archdiocese of Agana (another name for Hagataa).

              Trump to Guam: We are with you 1000 percent

            It’s testament to the power that religion holds here, perhaps at the expense of the culture of the island’s indigenous Chamorro people, who have been in Guam for about 4,000 years.
            “The first missionaries came here in the 1600s and brought the faith to our island,” Father Gofigan told CNN. “It’s really so rooted, so much so that some of our own culture has disappeared and been taken over by the faith.”

            Don’t worry

            At Sunday mass, Father Gofigan gave a special blessing to 18-year-old Leonard Calvo, an active participant in the church who’s headed off soon for his first year at the University of Notre Dame, a Catholic college in Indiana. He’s also the nephew of Guam governor Eddie Baza Calvo.
            Leonard’s faith played a role in choosing his college, and it plays a role in how he views the North Korea-US tensions.

            “It’s not really the first time that we’ve had this kind of situation,” he told CNN.
            Routine helps, he says, whether it’s going to mass or getting up early in the morning to fish on the beach.
            “Keeping calm and having faith, I think that’s really important for a crisis like this,” said the younger Calvo. “In the words of Bob Marley, everything’s going to be alright.”

            Read more:

            Are smartphones really making our children sad?

            US psychologist Jean Twenge, who has claimed that social media is having a malign affect on the young, answers critics who accuse her of crying wolf

            Last week, the childrens commissioner, Anne Longfield, launched a campaign to help parents regulate internet and smartphone use at home. She suggested that the overconsumption of social media was a problem akin to that of junk-food diets. None of us, as parents, would want our children to eat junk food all the time double cheeseburger, chips, every day, every meal, she said. For those same reasons, we shouldnt want our children to do the same with their online time.

            A few days later, former GCHQ spy agency chief Robert Hannigan responded to the campaign. The assumption that time online or in front of a screen is life wasted needs challenging. It is driven by fear, he said. The best thing we can do is to focus less on the time they spend on screens at home and more on the nature of the activity.

            This exchange is just one more example of how childrens screentime has become an emotive, contested issue. Last December, more than 40 educationalists, psychologists and scientists signed a letter in the Guardian calling for action on childrens screen-based lifestyles. A few days later, another 40-odd academics described the fears as moral panic and said that any guidelines needed to build on evidence rather than scaremongering.

            Faced with these conflicting expert views, how should concerned parents proceed? Into this maelstrom comes the American psychologist Jean Twenge, who has written a book entitled iGen: Why Todays Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood and What That Means for the Rest of Us.

            If the books title didnt make her view clear enough, last weekend an excerpt was published in the American magazine the Atlantic with the emotive headline Have smartphones destroyed a generation? It quickly generated differing reactions that were played out on social media these could be broadly characterised as praise from parents and criticism from scientists. In a phone interview and follow-up emails, Twenge explained her conclusions about the downsides of the connected world for teens, and answered some of her critics.

            The Atlantic excerpt from your book was headlined Have smartphones destroyed a generation? Is that an accurate reflection of what you think?
            Well, keep in mind that I didnt write the headline. Its obviously much more nuanced than that.

            So why did you write this book?
            Ive been researching generations for a long time now, since I was an undergraduate, almost 25 years. The databases I draw from are large national surveys of high school and college students, and one of adults. In 2013-14 I started to see some really sudden changes and at first I thought maybe these were just blips, but the trends kept going.

            Id never seen anything like it in all my years of looking at differences among generations. So I wondered what was going on.

            What were these sudden changes for teens?
            Loneliness and depressive symptoms started to go up, while happiness and life satisfaction started to go down. The other thing that I really noticed was the accelerated decline in seeing friends in person it falls off a cliff. Its an absolutely stunning pattern Id never seen anything like that. I really started to wonder, what is going on here? What happened around 2011-2012 [the survey data is a year or two behind] that would cause such sudden changes?

            And you concluded these changes were being brought about by increased time spent online?
            The high-school data detailed how much time teens spend online on social media and games and I noticed how that correlated with some of these indicators in terms of happiness, depression and so on.

            I was curious not just what the correlations were between these screen activities, mental health and wellbeing, but what were the links with non-screen activities, like spending time with friends in person, playing sports, going to religious services, doing homework, all these other things that teens do?

            And for happiness in particular, the pattern was so stark. Of the non-screen activities that were measured, they all correlated with greater happiness. All the screen activities correlated with lower happiness.

            Youve called these post-millennials the iGeneration. What are their characteristics?
            Im defining iGen as those born between 1995 and 2012 that latter date could change based on future data. Im reasonably certain about 1995, given the sudden changes in the trends. It also happens that 1995 was the year the internet was commercialised [Amazon launched that year, Yahoo in 1994 and Google in 1996], so if you were born in that year you have not known a time without the internet.

            But the introduction of the smartphone, exemplified by the iPhone, which was launched in 2007, is key?
            There are a lot of differences some are large, some are subtle, some are sudden and some had been building for a while but if I had to identify what really characterises them, the first influence is the smartphone.

            iGen is the first generation to spend their entire adolescence with the smartphone. This has led to many ripple effects for their wellbeing, their social interactions and the way they think about the world.

            Psychology professor Jean Twenge. Photograph: Gregory Bull/AP

            Why are you convinced they are unhappy because of social media, rather than it being a case of the unhappy kids being heavier users of social media?
            That is very unlikely to be true because of very good research on that very question. There is one experiment and two longitudinal studies that show the arrow goes from social media to lower wellbeing and not the other way around. For example, an experiment where people
            gave up Facebook for a week and had better wellbeing than those who had not.

            The other thing to keep in mind is that if you are spending eight hours a day with a screen you have less time to spend interacting with friends and family in person and we know definitively from decades of research that spending time with other people is one of the keys to emotional wellbeing; if youre doing that less, thats a very bad sign.

            A professor at Oxford University tweeted that your work is a non-systematic review of sloppy social science as a tool for lazy intergenerational shaming how do you respond?
            It is odd to equate documenting teens mental health issues with intergenerational shaming. Im not shaming anyone and the data I analyse is from teens, not older people criticising them.

            This comment is especially strange because this researchers best-known paper, about what he calls the Goldilocks theory, shows the same thing I find lower wellbeing after more hours of screen time. Were basically replicating each others research across two different countries, which is usually considered a good thing. So I am confused.

            Your arguments also seem to have been drawn on by the conservative right as ammunition for claims that technology is leading to the moral degradation of the young. Are you comfortable about that?
            My analyses look at what young people are saying about themselves and how they are feeling, so I dont think this idea of older people love to whine about the young is relevant. I didnt look at what older people have to say about young people. I looked at what young people are saying about their own experiences and their own lives, compared to young people 10, 20, or 30 years ago.

            Nor is it fair or accurate to characterise this as youth-bashing. Teens are saying they are suffering and documenting that should help them, not hurt them. I wrote the book because I wanted to give a voice to iGen and their experiences, through the 11 million who filled out national surveys, to the 200 plus who answered open-ended questions for me, to the 23 I talked to for up to two hours. It had absolutely nothing to do with older people and their complaints about youth.

            Many of us have a nagging feeling that social media is bad for our wellbeing, but we all suffer from a fear of missing out.
            Teens feel that very intensely, which is one reason why they are so addicted to their phones. Yet, ironically, the teens who spend more time on social media are actually more likely to report feeling left out.

            But is this confined to iGeners? One could go to a childs birthday party where the parents are glued to their smartphones and not talking to each other too.
            It is important to consider that while this trend also affects adults, it is particularly worrisome for teens because their brain development is ongoing and adolescence is a crucial time for developing social skills.

            You say teens might know the right emoji but in real life might not know the right facial expression.
            There is very little research on that question. There is one study that looked at the effects of screens on social skills among 11- to 12-year-olds, half of whom used screens at their normal level and half went to a five-day screen-free camp.

            Those who attended the camp improved their social skills reading emotions on faces was what they measured. That makes sense thats the social skill you would expect to suffer if you werent getting much in-person social interaction.

            So is it up to regulators or parents to improve the situation? Leaving this problem for parents to fix is a big challenge.
            Yes it is. I have three kids and my oldest is 10, but in her class about half have a phone, so many of them are on social media already. Parents have a tough job, because there are temptations on the screen constantly.

            What advice would you give parents?
            Put off getting your child a phone for as long as possible and, when you do, start with one that doesnt have internet access so they dont have the internet in their pocket all the time.

            But when your child says, but all my friends have got one, how do you reply?
            Maybe with my parents line If your friends all jumped in the lake, would you do it too? Although at that age the answer is usually yes, which I understand. But you can do social media on a desktop computer for a limited time each day. When we looked at the data, we found that an hour a day of electronic device use doesnt have any negative effects on mental health two hours a day or more is when you get the problems.

            The majority of teens are on screens a lot more than that. So if they want to use Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook to keep up with their friends activities, they can do that from a desktop computer.

            That sounds hard to enforce.
            We need to be more understanding of the effects of smartphones. In many ways, parents are worried about the wrong things theyre worried about their kids driving and going out. They dont worry about their kids sitting by themselves in a room with their phone and they should.

            Lots of social media features such as notifications or Snapchats Snapstreak feature are engineered to keep us glued to our phones. Should these types of features be outlawed?
            Oh man. Parents can put an app [such as Kidslox or Screentime] on their kids phone to limit the amount of time they spend on it. Do that right away. In terms of the bigger solutions, I think thats above my pay grade to figure out.

            Youve been accused by another psychologist of cherry-picking your data. Of ignoring, say, studies that suggest active social media use is associated with positive outcomes such as resilience. Did you collect data to fit a theory?
            Its impossible to judge that claim she does not provide citations to these studies. I found a few studies finding no effects or positive effects, but they were all older, before smartphones were on the scene. She says in order to prove smartphones are responsible for these trends we need a large study randomly assigning teens to not use smartphones or use them. If we wait for this kind of study, we will wait for ever that type of study is just about impossible to conduct.

            She concludes by saying: My suspicion is that the kids are gonna be OK. However, it is not OK that 50% more teens suffer from major depression now versus just six years ago and three times as many girls aged 12 to 14 take their own lives. It is not OK that more teens say that they are lonely and feel hopeless. It is not OK that teens arent seeing their friends in person as much. If we twiddle our thumbs waiting for the perfect experiment, we are taking a big risk and I for one am not willing to do that.

            Are you expecting anyone from Silicon Valley to say: How can we help?
            No, but what I think is interesting is many tech-connected people in Silicon Valley restrict their own childrens screen use, so they know. Theyre living off of it but they know its effects. It indicates that pointing out the effects of smartphones doesnt make you a luddite.

            iGen: Why Todays Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood and What That Means for the Rest of Us by Jean Twenge is published by Simon & Schuster US ($27) on 22 August

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            War Is Coming, The End Is Near, And The Tweets Are Fire

            Unsplash / Dawn Armfield

            If you haven’t heard about the threat of war between North Korea and the U.S., you have apparently stayed far away from all social media, news stations, and civilization in general, in which case, why are you even reading this? Go back to living in blissful ignorance.

            For the rest of us: if you’re kind of scared, you aren’t alone. Ever since the news that North Korea has been developing it’s nuclear weapons (and that the U.S. is certainly a target), the political atmosphere has been a little uneasy, and it doesn’t help that Trump is, per usual, adding to the fire.

            Is anyone really surprised? Hardly. No one loves a good pissing contest more than Donald J. Trump. But also, can we not right now??? We get it, your dick is bigger, now put the phone down.

            We might as well come to terms with the fact that this is inevitably the end. But it’s OK, guys nuclear war may be on the horizon, but at least the tweets are fire.

            All we can do is hope we get to experience everything we want to before it all ends, like the series finale of Game Of Thrones.

            Good luck out there, friends, and remember: if you ever feel like crying as your life spins out into an existential crisis, just check Twitter.

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            China bus crash kills at least 36, state media report

            A passenger bus in China crashed into the wall of a tunnel on Thursday, leaving 36 people dead and 13 injured, according to officials.

            The accident happened in an expressway tunnel in Shaanxi province as the passenger coach was in transit to Luoyang, a city in central China, from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, Xinhua News Agency reported.

            Minister of Public Security Gio Shengkun ordered an investigation of the accident, Chinese state-media reported.

            Highway accidents are common in China because of high speeds, aggressive driving and a failure to leave adequate braking distance.

            The World Health Organization estimates that traffic accidents kill around 260,000 people in mainland China each year — a rate of 18.8 in every 100,000 people.

            The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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            Facebook Introduces `Watch’ Video Product for Short Series

            Facebook Inc. will introduce a new video hub on the world’s largest social network Thursday, offering some U.S. users short episodic series from content partners including A&E, Major League Baseball and National Geographic, in a bid to capture more online advertising dollars.

            Facebook’s new video product called Watch.

            Source: Facebook

            The new section, called Watch, is meant to increase the amount of time users spend watching video by giving them a place to follow and discuss original shows, which can then be shared via their news feeds and in Facebook groups, according to product director Daniel Danker. It will organize shows by what’s most talked about, what friends are watching and what the user is following.

            “As people come to Facebook more and more to watch video, they want a reliable place to watch,” Danker said in an interview.

            Facebook paid to seed some of the original content that will appear in the section. Among the episodes: “My Social Media Life,” a reality show about internet celebrity David Lopez, and “Great Cheese Hunt,” in which Business Insider seeks out some of the world’s best cheese. Eventually, Facebook will roll out Watch to more users and show producers.

            “We’re hoping to see thousands of shows created” as the product gets off the ground, Danker said. “The shows that we helped fund are really a small portion of that, and will be a shrinking portion over time.”

            Facebook intends for the publishers to make money by splitting revenue from ads placed in the videos, or from creating videos with advertisers from the get-go. Facebook will bring in about 20 percent of the $83 billion advertisers spend online in the U.S. this year, according to EMarketer. Google receives about 41 percent of that revenue.

            The social media giant is just one of many technology companies funding original shows, from Snap Inc. to Google’s YouTube to Inc. Facebook’s approach bears more resemblance to YouTube than Netflix Inc. or Amazon given its focus on short-form videos designed to be shared online. The company also is backing a handful of TV-length episodes, but doesn’t want to fund videos in the long term.

            Facebook hopes to keep users watching video on its apps for longer — and win more advertising dollars — by making the content more social, encouraging commenting and sharing as the shows air.

            “The friend features will differentiate it,” said Matthew Segal, co-founder of ATTN, a digital media company. “You can do everything through the prism of your friends.”

            ATTN produced a couple of shows for Facebook, a health program hosted by actress Jessica Alba and a modern relationship advice show with Nev Schulman, producer of “Catfish.” Both are short-form, serialized programs that will be made available later this year.

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              Is ‘female health’ inclusive enough? Apps try to figure out the most accessible language

              Period apps are starting to figure out what language to use.
              Image: bob al-greene/mashable

              Last month, the startup Clue tried an experiment.

              “Help us evolve language around gender and menstrual health,” the period-tracking app’s account tweeted. “We’re testing ‘fem@le health’ instead of ‘female health’ to be more inclusive of our whole audience: women and people with cycles. Thoughts?”

              Responses were swift.

              “Only women have cycles, right?”

              “Do not ask me to be ashamed of having a period so that I can make other people feel comfortable.”

              “My thoughts are I HATE IT.”

              Clue is a period, fertility, and cycle app that lets its users track their menstrual cycles and reproductive health.

              Apart from the technology involved, figuring out what to call all of that has been one of the hardest parts of growing the 4-year-old app.

              Of the options out there, it’s one of the most progressive and mindful of gender-inclusivity: no pink, flowers, or gendered design.

              The Clue app.

              Image: screenshot/clue

              It also tries to use language that applies to all its users: women, trans men who have periods, users experiencing menopause who don’t have cycles, gender-nonconforming users, and anyone else who doesn’t identify with any of those categories. Traditional language surrounding “women’s health” often excludes many of the people who have downloaded Clue.

              Last year, the company settled on the phrase “female health” and wrote an explanation for why. Since “female” technically refers to sex, not gender identity, the company argues that, unlike “women’s health,” it doesn’t explicitly exclude users who don’t identify that way. “Reproductive health” can exclude people who aren’t using the app to track their fertility or users who are experiencing menopause. Phrases like “people with cycles” and “people with uteruses” similarly left some users feeling excluded.

              “I want us to find language that works and I want us to be as accessible as possible.”

              “We feel it best captures the area of health that Clue is currently designed to support, while being the least exclusive of all the ways to describe that biology,” the startup wrote in the Medium post about its choice.

              The best-available term seemed outwardly settled, although internally the staff has continued to evaluate these choices, until Clue tried out “fem@le health” in July. Since the startup had first explained the rationale behind its choice of language a year earlier, its audience had grown. Subreddits that sent anti-trans trolls to communities on the internet discussing issues of gender and accessibility had found Clue’s accounts, Director of Marketing Lisa Kennelly said.

              The way Clue chose to describe its app set off more bigoted bat signals than it had a year before. Basically, the tweet got a lot of hate.

              People objected to “fem@le health” from the progressive side, too. Some people who responded to Clue’s experiment said that the term incorrectly used the @ symbol, which serves a specific linguistic purpose when used in words like “Latin@.” Others agreed with Clue’s initial assessment that “female health” referred to biology, not identity, and it was just fine to leave as is.

              The entire episode served as a reminder that these conversations are still very much ongoingas it pertains to period apps and in broader culture. As conversations around gender and inclusivity have gone more mainstream with results both good and very bad in politics, media, and tech, a tweet like Clue’s represents a lot more than just one simple choice of phrase.

              More than one app

              Clue’s public-facing experiment revealed conversations that a lot of progressive startups are having: how do we reach as wide an audience as possible without excluding any of our customers?

              Thinx, in its better days, had its famous “people with periods” subway ads. The breastfeeding community has started to use the term “chestfeeding” to include trans men who nurse their babies, although most breastfeeding tech startups haven’t caught on yet.

              Despite these ongoing conversations, the overwhelming experience of choosing a menstrual tracker is still a gendered one.

              “If you go to your app store and type in ‘period tracker,’ youre still going to be inundated with flowers and the colors pink and purple,” said Cass Clemmer, a trans artist whose work helps counteract period stigma for trans and gender-nonconforming people. “Not that there is anything wrong with any of this, it just serves as another reminder that my period is something the world sees as inherently feminine.”

              And there are plenty of other period apps out there facing these choices in language that affect users like Clemmer. The app Dot in its materials refers to “anyone with a menstrual cycle,” but also “women.” Glow, “the world’s largest health community by women, for women” mainly talks about women’s health. Android’s Period Tracker is one of the culprits Clue hints at when it criticizes pink and floral design.

              They might not be as public as Clue, but they’re thinking about this too.

              “This is something that is really evolving for us,” said Leslie Heyer, president of Cycle Technologies, which runs the Dot app.”We want to be inclusive and understand that many people with periods dont necessarily identify as female.”

              “When we say, ‘Its designed for women with cycles between 20-40 days long,’ it helps clarify that were talking about menstrual cycles and fertility by giving potential users more context,” Heyer added. “Still, we think we can improve on this, and are continuing to evaluate how to be both inclusive and clear.”

              Reaching customers

              These are important conversations, and they’re tricky for companies whose goal is ultimately to reach as many customers as possible.

              Clue was prompted to start thinking about all of this in part by trans men who worked on its staff. The Berlin-based startup is dealing with these questions across multiple languages, too; it generally uses “people,” not “women,” in all languages but encounters some challenges in languages that use gendered adjectives and nouns. And the startup values education; it often tweets out facts about female health and menstrual health and aims to give its audience new, useful information.

              Beyond small language choices, apps can make a concerted effort to value inclusivity in all aspects of their design. Including options for customization of gender, including representations of different anatomy, asking for users’ pronouns if the app includes a conversation bot, and including a diverse selection of avatars of different genders users can choose are all other ways these apps can improve the user experience, Clemmer said.

              The important part for Clueand its peers working on menstrual healthis making sure everyone reading that information understands what it’s about without sacrificing inclusivity.

              “What we need to remember is that language is incredibly tricky and there are no perfect terms,” Clemmer said. “When it comes to finding descriptors for this area of health, the best that we can do is try our hardest to continue to adapt and evolve our language to ensure we are being as inclusive and humanizing as possible.”

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