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Jim Liebelt Christian Blog and Commentary

Jim Liebelt

Senior Editor of Publications for HomeWord

*The following is excerpted from an online article from University Herald.

Adolescents' alcohol use is influenced by their close friends' use, regardless of how much alcohol they think their general peers consume, according to a recent study.

"We've known for a long time that friends and peers have an influence on individual alcohol use, but there are no common studies that distinguished between the broader peer group and the friend group's influence on those decisions," Jonathon Beckmeyer, author of the study and an assistant professor at Indiana University, said in a statement.

For the study, Beckmeyer and his colleagues collected and analyzed data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. Each participant was 15 years old and was asked a series of questions related to how many teens their age and how many of their friends they thought consumed alcohol, and whether they had consumed alcohol themselves in the past year.

The study demonstrated that the participants' perceptions of how many teens in their direct friend group had consumed alcohol held more weight than the perceptions of how many of their peers overall were consuming. In other words, even if a teen perceived that many teens in general consumed alcohol, they were less likely to have experimented with it themselves if they did not think their friends drank alcohol.

"We're spending our time changing perceptions of the broader peer group, but really what might be the more key determinant of teen alcohol use is what's going on in their own friend group," Beckmeyer said. "Really working to encourage teens to make friendships with non-alcohol-using friends could be one of the more effective things parents can do to help."

The findings were presented on Nov. 19 at the American Public Health Association's Annual Meeting and Exposition in Louisiana.

Source: University Herald
http://www.universityherald.com/articles/13213/20141122/close-friends-have-more-influence-than-peers-on-teens-alcohol-use.htm

*The following is excerpted from an online article from NYMAG.

New research in a paper from Princeton University to be published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that playing video games five hours a week, may actually make people smarter. Skills learned for mastering games improves perceptual processing in the brain.

Researchers found that playing video games, even twitchy mainstream ones, can help with certain types of learning. Video-game players players are not only better at a type of perceptual processing connected to a variety of learning tasks, but that playing video games appears to cause an improvement in these abilities (one of the groups in the experiment was tasked with playing the action games Unreal Tournament 2004 and Call of Duty 2 for 50 hours, total, over the course of a couple of months).

"A key takeaway from this study is that playing action video games improves not just the skills taught in the game, but learning capabilities more generally," said Vikranth Rao Bejjanki, a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton and one of the study's co-authors (he was at the University of Rochester at the time of the research). "Previous research by our group and others has shown that playing action video games leads to improvements in a wide range of attentional, perceptual and cognitive skills. In this new study, we show that action gamers excel at a wide range of tasks because they are better learners, and that they become better learners by playing action video games."

Bejjanki was quick to point out that this is no excuse for bingeing on games — just five hours a week appeared to do the trick, he said. And researchers still have a lot to learn about this stuff — Bejjanki said future studies will, ideally, drill down a lot more deeply into the specifics of how video games affect human perception and learning: “In ongoing research, we are currently engaged in trying to uncover the precise characteristics of action video games that are essential for boosting players’ learning,” said Bejjanki. “So we're testing the importance of factors such as the amount of variability in the game, the need to make predictions at different time scales, and the pacing of the game.”

Source: NYMAG.com
http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2014/11/action-video-games-appear-to-make-you-smarter.html

What's Hot? 11/21/14

Trending Today on Twitter - 11/21/14
1. #ConnectionDay
2. #LamerCriminals
3. #NightChangesVideo
4. Mocking Jay
5. #HungerGamesMockinjay
6. #ImmigrationAction
7. #MTVStars
8. Pitch Perfect 2
9. Peeta
10. B.O.N
Source: Twitter

Trending on YouTube - 11/21/14
1. Hilarious Golden Retriever
2. Toronto Maple Leafs fans finish singing US anthem
3. Top Soccer Shootout Ever
4. Minecraft: Five Nights at Freddy's 2 Mod
5. Everything Wrong with Maleficent in 13 Minutes or Less
6. Pokemon Omega Ruby...
7. Little White Lie Trailer
8. Minnesota Food Taste Test
9. Pass The Salt
10. Minecraft Modded Cops N Robbers
Source: YouTube

iTunes Top 10 Singles - 11/21/14
1. Blank Space - Taylor Swift
2. Take Me to Church - Hozier
3. Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars) - Mark Ronson
4. Shake It Off - Taylor Swift
5. All About That Bass - Meghan Trainor
6. Animals - Maroon 5
7. I'm Not the Only One - Sam Smith
8. Jealous - Nick Jonas
9. Lips Are Movin - Meghan Trainor
10. Ghost - Ella Henderson
Source: iTunes

Top 10 TV Shows in Prime Time - Week Ending 11/16/14
1. NBC Sunday Night Football
2. NCIS
3. The Big Bang Theory
4. NCIS: New Orleans
5. Dancing with the Stars
6. Madam Secretary
7. 60 Minutes
8. Football Night in America - Part 3
9. Voice - Mon
10. Voice - Tues
Source: Nielsen Co.

Top 5 Free iPhone Game Apps - 11/21/14
1. Candy Crush Soda Saga
2. Dumb Ways to Die 2: The Games
3. Stick Hero
4. New Words With Friends
5. Call of Duty: Heroes
Source: iOSappStats

Top 5 Movies - Last Weekend
1. Dumb and Dumber To
2. Big Hero 6
3. Interstellar
4. Beyond the Lights
5. Gone Girl
Source: Rotten Tomatoes

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