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Now showing 1 - 7 of 7
  • Publication
    Afterword to the Issue “Adolescents in the Digital Age: Effects on Health and Development”
    (2016-01-01) Romer, Daniel; Rich, Michael
    The articles in this thematic issue suggest both opportunities and hazards for the health and development of adolescents in the digital age. We place these concerns in the context of improving health for young people in the US and elsewhere, and suggest that based on evidence uncovered to date, increasing digital connection may be having no less favorable than adverse effect on adolescents.
  • Publication
    The Role of Parents in Problematic Internet Use Among US Adolescents
    (2016-01-01) Bleakley, Amy; Ellithorpe, Morgan; Romer, Daniel
    The internet has transformed the way youth communicate, learn, and network, with implications for their broader social, psychological, and physical health and well-being. With the technological capability of accessing the internet from anywhere, at any time, paired with the enormous variety of internet activities in which youth engage—from social networking to chatting to streaming videos to playing games to watching television content—instances of problematic internet behavior have emerged. We conducted an online national survey of 629 US adolescents ages 12–17 years old and a matching survey of one of their parents. We investigated the relationship between problematic internet behavior and parental monitoring, parental mediation of internet use, and parental estimates of their adolescent’s time spent using computers. Analyses showed that problematic internet use was associated with less parental monitoring and parental mediation and poorer parental relationships. Adolescents that spent a lot of time on the computer were also more likely to engage in problematic internet use. Although we cannot determine the direction of the relationships, results support the important role of parents in adolescents’ problematic internet use.
  • Publication
    Reanalysis of the Bridge et al. study of suicide following release of 13 Reasons Why
    (2020-01-16) Romer, Daniel
    Bridge et al. recently presented a time series analysis of suicide rates in the US following the release of the 2017 Netflix series “13 Reasons Why.” Their analysis found a powerful effect of the show on boys ages 10–17 for nine months after the show was released in April 2017. I questioned this finding on two grounds. First, contagion would be expected to be stronger for girls than boys for this story, and second their analysis did not take into account strong secular trends in suicide, especially in boys from 2016 to 2017. I reanalyzed their data using a simple auto-regression model that tested for changes in rates after removing auto-correlation and national trends in suicide. I found that the increase for boys observed by Bridge et al. in April was no greater than the increase observed during the prior month before the show was released. There were also no effects in later months of that year. For girls, I found a small but nonsignificant increase in suicide in April that was unique to that month, potentially consistent with a combined protective and harmful effect of the show. In total, I conclude that it is difficult to attribute harmful effects of the show using aggregate rates of monthly suicide rates. More fine-grained analyses at the weekly level may be more valid but only after controlling for secular changes in suicide that have been particularly strong since 2008 in the US.
  • Publication
    Graphic Warning Labels Elicit Affective and Thoughtful Responses from Smokers: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial
    (2015-01-01) Evans, Abigail T; Strasser, Andrew A; Peters, Ellen; Emery, Lydia F; Romer, Daniel; Sheerin, Kaitlin M
    Objective Observational research suggests that placing graphic images on cigarette warning labels can reduce smoking rates, but field studies lack experimental control. Our primary objective was to determine the psychological processes set in motion by naturalistic exposure to graphic vs. text-only warnings in a randomized clinical trial involving exposure to modified cigarette packs over a 4-week period. Theories of graphic-warning impact were tested by examining affect toward smoking, credibility of warning information, risk perceptions, quit intentions, warning label memory, and smoking risk knowledge. Methods Adults who smoked between 5 and 40 cigarettes daily (N = 293; mean age = 33.7), did not have a contra-indicated medical condition, and did not intend to quit were recruited from Philadelphia, PA and Columbus, OH. Smokers were randomly assigned to receive their own brand of cigarettes for four weeks in one of three warning conditions: text only, graphic images plus text, or graphic images with elaborated text. Results Data from 244 participants who completed the trial were analyzed in structural-equation models. The presence of graphic images (compared to text-only) caused more negative affect toward smoking, a process that indirectly influenced risk perceptions and quit intentions (e.g., image->negative affect->risk perception->quit intention). Negative affect from graphic images also enhanced warning credibility including through increased scrutiny of the warnings, a process that also indirectly affected risk perceptions and quit intentions (e.g., image->negative affect->risk scrutiny->warning credibility->risk perception->quit intention). Unexpectedly, elaborated text reduced warning credibility. Finally, graphic warnings increased warning-information recall and indirectly increased smoking-risk knowledge at the end of the trial and one month later. Conclusions In the first naturalistic clinical trial conducted, graphic warning labels are more effective than text-only warnings in encouraging smokers to consider quitting and in educating them about smoking’s risks. Negative affective reactions to smoking, thinking about risks, and perceptions of credibility are mediators of their impact.
  • Publication
    Introduction to the Issue “Adolescents in the Digital Age: Effects on Health and Development”
    (2016-01-01) Romer, Daniel
    This thematic issue brings together papers by researchers who are studying the ways that today’s adolescents interact with their peers, families, and the larger media environment in the digital age. The contributors highlight both the challenges and the opportunities that this new age presents for the healthy development of young people.
  • Publication
    Conspiracy theories as barriers to controlling the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S.
    (2020-09-04) Romer, Daniel; Jamieson, Kathleen Hall
    Rationale: The COVID-19 pandemic poses extraordinary challenges to public health. Objective: Because the novel coronavirus is highly contagious, the widespread use of preventive measures such as masking, physical distancing, and eventually vaccination is needed to bring it under control. We hypothesized that accepting conspiracy theories that were circulating in mainstream and social media early in the COVID-19 pandemic in the US would be negatively related to the uptake of preventive behaviors and also of vaccination when a vaccine becomes available. Method: A national probability survey of US adults (N = 1050) was conducted in the latter half of March 2020 and a follow-up with 840 of the same individuals in July 2020. The surveys assessed adoption of preventive measures recommended by public health authorities, vaccination intentions, conspiracy beliefs, perceptions of threat, belief about the safety of vaccines, political ideology, and media exposure patterns. Results: Belief in three COVID-19-related conspiracy theories was highly stable across the two periods and inversely related to the (a) perceived threat of the pandemic, (b) taking of preventive actions, including wearing a face mask, (c) perceived safety of vaccination, and (d) intention to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Conspiracy beliefs in March predicted subsequent mask-wearing and vaccination intentions in July even after controlling for action taken and intentions in March. Although adopting preventive behaviors was predicted by political ideology and conservative media reliance, vaccination intentions were less related to political ideology. Mainstream television news use predicted adopting both preventive actions and vaccination. Conclusions: Because belief in COVID-related conspiracy theories predicts resistance to both preventive behaviors and future vaccination for the virus, it will be critical to confront both conspiracy theories and vaccination misinformation to prevent further spread of the virus in the US. Reducing those barriers will require continued messaging by public health authorities on mainstream media and in particular on politically conservative outlets that have supported COVID-related conspiracy theories.