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Podcast Episode 25: Smartphones

This month we celebrated 25 episodes and over 1 million downloads of the Useful Science podcast. We couldn't have reached this milestone without our listeners, so thank you! Consider supporting our podcast by checking out the ways you can help us at the bottom of this email.

Most of you (more than 82% in fact) listen to our podcast on your tablet or smartphone. There is no question that smart devices are part of our daily lives, but can we make them work even better for us? On Episode 25, hosts Joshua Conrad Jackson, Ian Mahar, Michael Gaultois, and Cameron Spencer take on three studies about smartphones, covering the optimal amount of screen time for teens, using mindfulness meditation apps to reduce stress in the workplace, and whether couples who have rules for phone use are happier. Listen here or on your favorite podcast app.

Want more? Our top three most downloaded episodes are Interview with the Harmony InstituteAmbient noise, email checking frequency, and academic tracking, and Male faces, sex frequency, and organic beef.

Our Top Summaries This Month


Even short breaks of less than a minute help people stay focused and attentive during demanding tasks. Watching dog videos during breaks can also make such tasks feel less stressful. Consciousness and Cognition.
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One night of sleep loss impaired working memory in women, but not men, although neither men nor women felt as though they had worse memory the next day. Journal of Sleep Research.
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For women aged 18 to 32, mental well-being may be supported by following a Mediterranean-like diet rich in leafy vegetables, beans, fruits, nuts, and fish, whereas men the same age may improve mental well-being by more generally avoiding diets heavy in fast food. Nutritional Neuroscience.
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Newborns fed with their mother's milk had greater microbial "richness" (more variety of bacterial species) than those fed with formula. PLOS ONE.
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Among adults in the U.S., diets with about 50% carbs were associated with reduced mortality risk, whereas low- and high-carb diets (less than 40% or more than 70%) were associated with higher risk. This risk increased when carbs were replaced by animal fat or protein, and decreased when replaced with plant-based foods. The Lancet Public Health.
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Eating red meat and white meat had similar effects on cholesterol over a four week period, whereas eating non-meat proteins lowered cholesterol. Regardless of meat intake, diets that were higher in saturated fats increased cholesterol. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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15-year-olds who had a moderate amount of daily screen time reported better mental well-being compared to those who had very little (less than 1-2 hours) or a lot (more than 5-6 hours) of screen time each day. Psychological Science.
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Employees who regularly used a smartphone app to perform mindfulness meditation for 10 minutes or more per week experienced greater well-being and less perceived job strain (workload and intensity). Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.
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Couples who had rules for not monitoring each other's cell phone usage and not repeatedly contacting each other via cell phone reported less relationship satisfaction than couples who did not have these rules. Communication Quarterly.
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