Anything you can do, I can do too

Mike the Psych's Blog

Violent offences and sex attacks, increased alcohol consumption and partner abuse, have all increased dramatically for women.

Gone are the days of ladylike behaviour. Increasingly women are copying the worst behaviours of men. They are just as likely as men to troll partners online; they are swearing more than men (who have cut down); and drinking more than ever before.

Teenage girls in the UK are twice more likely than boys to get drunk than almost anywhere else in Europe where it is the other way round. They are also more likely to be drink-driving than men from the age of 30 with a doubling of the number of women convicted for it since 1998.

figure_behind_bars_anim_500_wht_3524There are currently almost a hundred women in prison for violent behaviour, up a third, and over a hundred serving time for serious sexual offences, three times the number, compared to ten years ago.


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Women & men have different body clocks

stick_figure_sleeping_1600_wht_5121If you are a woman and reading this in bed because you can’t sleep – well it’s not all your fault.

Women are going to bed later than they should and waking up later than they should because their circadian clocks are two hours ahead of mens’ but they feel they have to go to bed at the same time as their husbands or boyfriends (is that really true these days?)

So they are more tired at night but more alert in the morning and may be prone to insomnia (as women are 50% more likely to have sleep problems).

The circadian clock in our bodies regulates sleep-wake cycles and makes us feel alert or tired at appropriate times and is also responsible for jet-lag when we change time zones.

Humans can have different circadian rhythms and research on teenagers has led to some school starting lessons later to match them.

Girls more depressed & you can blame social media

stick_figure_liking_it_500_wht_9170On the face of it today’s young people have never had it so good. Teenage pregnancies are down, fewer of them smoke and they drink less than previous generations.

So what have they got to be depressed about?

Well they spend an awful lot of time on social media, posting selfies, seeking approval from others. “Like me, like me” they seem to beg.

It’s a recipe for disaster and means they are continually comparing themselves with others. And it’s all artificial.

They spend hours making themselves up for selfies. I’ve taken loads of photographs at parties and invariably the women want to check the photos to make sure they’re OK.

Whether its posting selfies or posting posed photos on Facebook using cats, cuddly toys and even their babies as accessories, it’s all about wanting approval. Over half of teenagers are said to spend more than three hours a day on social media. (I’ve posted before about my views on Facebook)

And this is the most risk-averse generation we’ve seen for ages and maybe that’s part of the problem. No-one dares misbehave any more in case it gets on social media (as it will) and is then held against them later in life e.g. at job interviews.

It’s been said that young people work harder at schools. I don’t believe that for one minute. Exams are easier, course work is often group work and there has been such grade inflation over the years (at all levels in the education system) that you can’t rely on the grading system.

Nonetheless there has been a 10% increase in girls being treated for depression and a 50% increase in self-harming. For boys there has been a decrease over the same 10 year period.

The psychological distress reported includes sleep loss, inability to concentrate, feeling unhappy and worthless. Girls report suffering these twice as much as boys (30% of girls).

Whether or not social media is totally to blame it clearly plays a part. The head of the charity Sane believes the internet has played a huge part. No longer can students get relief from school or peer pressure at home. It’s now always-on.

But lets not forget pushy parents. Kids from better off families report higher levels of stress and anxiety. Lower status children seem to suffer less – perhaps because they have lower expectations, or maybe because they are more resilient.

Schools which have banned smartphones report better results. Parents need to think about reducing screen time and switching off the wi-fi.

As I’ve posted before about smartphone users – Get a Life!

The government has promised to put £1.4 billion into providing mental health support for young people. Maybe we should start helping them closer to home.


Boys need a leg up at school but treating them like girls?

babies_with_blocks_spelling_learn_1600_wht_13401The latest research on children’s achievements suggest that there are a million lost boys out there.

These are the boys who have fallen behind girls in the communication skills they need to cope in class.

The research by the charity Save the Children and researchers from Bristol University says that this gap exists regardless of social class.

A professor of education at Bristol University said ” We found gender affects literacy attainment and language development irrespective of social class and includes boys from middle-class homes.

The worst affected area was Merseyside, where 5-year old boys were 17% behind girls in reaching expected standards in language and communication skills. But even in Rutland, which has low poverty levels, the gap was still 14%.

Girls are ahead of boys in all 152 local council areas in England.

This is worrying because children who fall behind before they reach school tend to stay behind. Boys who are behind at age 5 are four times more likely to fall below expected reading standards by the age of 11.

They struggle to pay attention in class and find it hard to follow lessons or develop friendships. They are also less likely to get good GCSE results and A levels, complete degrees (already there are fewer boys than girls going to universities), get a good job and are more at risk of poor mental health.

A spokesman for Save the Children  said “this research gets to the nub of why boys fall behind. It shows that even before they walk through the school gates they are at a disadvantage that trails them through life.

The researchers say that parents can help bridge the gap by bringing up boys more like girls.

The research shows that parents spend less time on activities that develop language skills with their sons rather than their daughters.

They sing more nursery rhymes and songs and do more drawings and paintings with girls than they do with boys. So parents can do more with their sons in this regard and also get them to talk more about their activities. They can also read story books as well as non-fiction books to get them interested in reading for pleasure (Dads take note especially).

The other problem boys have is their ability to concentrate and focus. So playing word games and completing drawing tasks can help them build up their concentration and attention span.

Save the Children is recommending having a graduate teacher in each nursery to boost boys’ levels of literacy before they get to school.

The report makes sense but the idea of bringing up boys more like girls is a misleading headline.

It’s been argued for years that there are too few male role models in nurseries and primary schools and the way young pupils are taught is more girl-friendly. Something I posted on several years ago.

The secret to giving the perfect gift

shopping_bag_solid_color_with_presents_1600_wht_7000Psychologists and consumer researchers have come up with some important points about selecting the perfect gift for your loved ones.

  • Choose a gift that reflects you – it will make the recipient feel closer to you
  • Don’t add a secondary i.e. cheaper gift to an expensive one. People average the value so the cheap gift ends up devaluing your main gift.
  • If you are in a romantic relationship choose a gift that reflects your similarity. Men are less tolerant than women in this respect.
  • Don’t spend too much too early in a relationship. If you spend less later you appear mean and then it’s downhill from then on.
  • Don’t give presents that hint or joke that you want to change people. So no deodorant.

And “there appears to be no relationship between the cost of a gift and the extent to which it is liked or preferred” according to psychologist Professor Adrian Furnham writing about the Psychology of Christmas Gift Giving.

Men remember that women are far more tolerant of poorly chosen gifts so don’t get too pessimistic about your relationship if you don’t get what you wanted. And young men often see gifts as “fiscal foreplay” that can make expensive gifts seem like a sexual bribes.

All I want for Christmas…….




Good news for little boys

stick_figure_hitting_beach_ball_1600_wht_8083If you are bright and have a professional career such as a doctor or lawyer you will outlive average women for the first time according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

Boys born between 2007 and 2011 can expect to live to just over 82 years of age, just a little bit longer than average girls. However girls also in the professions can still expect to live three years longer to 85 years of age.

Men have been closing the life expectancy gap steadily over the last 30 years to an average age of 79 (compared to an average women’s life expectancy of 82 years) although the poorest men will only live until 74 (compared to the poorest women at 78).

Women, even if from the lowest socio-economic groups, have always lived longer than well-off men  but that has changed. Why?

The decline of the mining industry and the move from physical labour in manufacturing to service industries have reduced deaths from accidents and industrial disease and the reduction in smoking (more men smoke than women and were heavier smokers) has also contributed together with improvements in health care.

However, despite being an advanced economy – the fifth largest in the world – the poorest people in the UK still live shorter lives by several years than their wealthier counterparts.

The North-South divide still exists

figure_good_choice_1600_wht_12897Babies born in the affluent South can expect to live 8 years longer than those born in the North-West.

Girls born in the Chiltern, Buckinghamshire, which includes Amersham and Chesham, are likely to be the longest lived alongside boys from south Cambridgeshire.

They can expect to live until they are 86 compared to a girl born in Manchester who has a life expectancy of 80, and boys born in south Cambridgeshire can expect to live to 84 compared to 74 for a boy born in Blackpool.

Overall life expectancy has risen as older people receive better health care and overall it is now just over 79 years for people living in England and Wales.

Health differences are strongly linked to economic status and lifestyle including smoking, obesity and alcohol abuse.

Many people now survive heart attacks, strokes and even cancer but this also means that more people are living with multiple chronic conditions.

To make matters worse up North people are moving South in search of the good life – or jobs at least.

The North has lost a quarter of its population over the last 100 years and now only has just under 30% of the total population of England.ONS figures show that there are only about 800 businesses per 100,000 population compared to ver 1,00 in the rest of England. Household income after tax is below the national average everywhere but for affluent North Yorkshire.

The happiness rating in the North is 7.3, just less than the 7.4 average but students seem to like the universities. Unfortunately most of them move back South when they have graduated.

Of course we suffer in the North from having a poor infrastructure. Having led the way in the Industrial Revolution no-one seems to care any more.

See the other serious North-South divide and perhaps a less serious one