Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best mental health (and mental-health adjacent) articles that you may have missed this week. This week, we’ve got Olympics, Snapchat and the dangers of frictionless spending.
“Posso, who published the research in the International Journal of Communication, said: ‘The analysis shows that those students who play online video games obtain higher scores on Pisa tests, all other things being equal…When you play online games you’re solving puzzles to move to the next level and that involves using some of the general knowledge and skills in maths, reading and science that you’ve been taught during the day.'”
As The Guardian notes, the relationship is correlational — so we can’t say video games improve academic performance. Nor can we say that social media use worsens it, though the study found a negative link. We can safely say that 184 straight hours of No Man’s Sky won’t do great things for any part of our lives, though.
“‘But I thought taking part in sport was good for your mental health?’ I hear you say. You are not wrong. Physical activity of any kind, be it through exercise or organised sport, has been proven to be hugely beneficial to our mental well-being. It can improve your mood, boost self-esteem and confidence, for example. However, there is a definite line between being physically active a few times a week and training and competing for elite-level sport, which exposes athletes to a number of challenges, physically and psychologically.”
Writing for Silicon Republic, Irish Olympian Jessie Barr shares the pitfalls of competing at the highest levels of any sport.
“Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. It doesn’t take a fancy psychology degree to tell me that social media is a profound anxiety trigger; there are filters that invite me to cover up my flaws and spaces for captions that make me feel like a rookie during open-mic night. Apparently, I’m not alone in feeling this way; a survey concluded that social media acts as a “tipping point” for those who are predisposed to anxiety, with over half of the surveyed group attributing social media to heightened insecurity.”
Social media can be an excellent means of reaching out to others and feeling connected to friends and family — but it can also be a stressful performative experience that focuses on brand building over real connection. This Vogue piece explores how smaller, more intimate networks can feel a lot less overwhelming.
“One by one, the steps in between you and debt are being eroded by the creation of a “frictionless” cash system. It’s a perfect shitstorm for people with money trouble and people who are rapidly becoming acquainted with money trouble. It’s making people ill—and it’s making ill people poorer.”
VICE offers this painful reminder of how easy it is to spend yourself into a hole on a bad night when you have easy access to digital purchases like IAP or Steam games — and how much worse it can be when you lack job security because of your mental health.
“On a questionnaire that measured mental health and wellbeing—where lower scores were considered healthier—people who volunteered scored about 10.7, compared to the average score of 11.4 among people who didn’t volunteer. Volunteering may “provide a sense of purpose,” the researchers write in the study, while helping maintain social networks that are critical as people age.”
Time covers a new study that shows that volunteering is good for your mental health — and we already knew it was good for physical health, particularly as you age. If you’re looking for opportunities to volunteer, here’s one option.
And that’s it from us this week. If you’re in Chicago, some of the Take This team will be at Bit Bash this weekend. We won’t have an AFK Room, but our Boxes of Hope will be available. As for me, I’m taking a little vacation this weekend, so I won’t be playing the WoW pre-Legion patch or No Man’s Sky. How about you?
Whatever you’re up to, take care of yourself — and each other — and we’ll be back on Monday.