This week’s question would appear to answer itself: It is the rare person who emerges from an hour’s scrolling feeling healthy, rejuvenated, and better-prepared to take on the vicissitudes of the day. The general consensus among the terminally online would seem to be that the internet is a miserable place just barely made tolerable by the idiots and well-meaning naifs whose screw-ups at least provide something to ridicule. But is there a scientific basis for this generalized feeling? How has social media actually impacted mental health, per the research? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of experts to find out.
According to Chris Barry, professor of psychology at Washington State University, whose work focuses on adolescent self-perception and social media engagement in adolescents and young adults:
It’s somewhat difficult to determine cause and effect with social media. It could be that social media impacts mental health, but it also could be that certain people who are feeling distressed and lonely seek out social media. So it’s a little bit of a chicken-and-the-egg situation.
In news that should be unsurprising to anyone trying to find housing or merge onto Interstate 90 anytime near rush hour, Spokane and Kootenai counties together saw more than 100,000 new residents over the past decade, according to recently released U.S. Census data.
Such an increase, and the national trend of increasing population away from rural areas and closer to more urban and suburban areas, will almost certainly influence electoral politics in state Legislatures, said Travis Ridout, a professor of government and public policy at Washington State University.
“It means more power for the cities and suburbs, and less power for those rural areas,” Ridout said.
Neither Washington nor Idaho will gain any new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Representation in that chamber of Congress is determined by a formula based on a state’s total population that was written in 1940.
Teresa Bendito-Zepeda and a few companions went door to door during a summer morning last month, coaxing the farmworkers at this migrant housing complex to a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic in an empty apartment.
Anna Zamora-Kapoor, an assistant professor in sociology and medical education and clinical sciences at Washington State University, said repeated nudges for people to embrace vaccination are important.
Latinos are not generally reluctant to be vaccinated and will do so if access is easy and they can ask questions of a Spanish-speaking provider, Zamora-Kapoor said.
“If I had to run a campaign to promote the COVID-19 vaccine, I would say something along the lines of, ‘the best gift for your family is to get vaccinated,’ ” she said. “The idea is to emphasize that the vaccine is protecting not just you, but also your family and those around you, those you love.”
A virtual museum and library of more than 2,500 digital literary works from around the world, called The NEXT, is available for anyone to view at the-next.eliterature.org. Created by WSU Vancouver’s Creative Media and Digital Culture program with staff and faculty of the Electronic Literature Lab, The NEXT was created for the international arts group called the Electronic Literature Organization.
Launched on May 24, “the museum responds to the growing need for open-access, travel-free cultural and research experiences for today’s public and scholars, making its archives accessible for the next generation of readers,” a news release noted.
Visitors can interact with collections of more than 50 videos, 4,000 images, 3D models and interactive GIFs. In April, the project was awarded second place in the Podium Competition of WSU Vancouver’s Research Showcase.
The latest exhibit called “Trans(creation): A Celebration of the Art of Agusto de Campos” is on display at the website through Dec. 30.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) released hundreds of an endangered frog species into the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge last week.
Native to the Pacific Northwest, the northern leopard frog used to be all over North America. Over time, their numbers have rapidly diminished in parts of Washington, Oregon and western Canada.
“The Washington state population of northern leopard frogs has a unique genetic variation relative to the rest of the species range, and they are part of the natural diversity of amphibians of the region,” said Erica Crespi, WSU associate professor of biology.
“We are working to keep them here!”
WDFW first collected northern leopard frog eggs back in the spring of 2021. After several months of growing in the Oregon Zoo and Northwest Trek, the frogs were ready to be released.