You know it’s a good time of the year for psychology “news” when the American Psychological Association holds its annual convention. Why? Because they push out a bunch of sexy press releases about presentations at the conference.
Case in point, “Social Networking’s Good and Bad Impacts on Kids,” a presentation that presents a seemingly-random selection of research findings about social networking websites like Facebook from the past few years.
This quickly gets turned into an exclusive focus on the negative aspects of the talk — “Facebook tied to poor mental health in teens: What parents must know” (CBS News), “Too Much Technology Breeds Health Problems in Teens” (Patch.com), and of course the inevitable, “Is constant ‘Facebooking’ bad for teens?” (MSNBC.com). Talk about making a mountain out of not even a molehill (since this wasn’t new research, just a summary of what we already know).
Absent from all of the news reporting is context, as usual. So-called journalists simply take what is said at the conference or in the APA press release, consider it factual, and report on it accordingly.