Internet addiction research ‘lacks insight’

Researchers at Swansea University and other institutions who claim links between the Internet and ill-health lack “insight” an expert has said.

professor-phil-reed
LACKS INSIGHT: Professor Phil Reed’s research lacks insight, a digital addiction expert has said. Courtesy: PHIRE Scientists.

Swansea University researchers, Professor Phil Reed and Rebecca Vile, made the claims in a study in collaboration with Dr Lisa A Osborne from Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University (ABMU) health board and Dr Michela Romano and Professor Roberto Truzoli from the University of Milan.

Jonathan Bishop is the CEO of Action on Digital Addiction and Cyberstalking. “My recent research on ‘digital addiction,’ and studies from the 1990s, show they do not know what they are talking about,” he said. “People with ill-health, whether they have social phobia or other anxiety disorders, turn to the Internet and social media like a comfort blanket.
Once called ‘crackberries’ when Blackberries were the leading smartphone, people with digital addiction use their digital devices as a distraction, when in the past they might have used chewing gum, cigarettes or similar.
Instead of blaming people for using their devices to access the Internet, the researchers at Swansea University, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board and the University of Milan, should be finding new ways to help people deal with their underlying health problems.

Jonathan Bishop’s book, Psychological and Social Implications Surrounding Internet and Gaming Addiction, is published by IGI Global.

Merthyr School pupils win South Wales Engineering Competition

The Afon Taf High School Year 9 pupils competed in the Engineering Team Challenge against 22 other schools from across South Wales. The competition was held at several venues across South Wales late last year including the University of South Wales, Parc Y Scarlets, Swansea University and Cardiff University.

The Engineering Team Challenge is designed to inspire pupils to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM subjects) as well as give them an insight into how rewarding a career in engineering can be. This year the main activity was based around Coastal Engineering, to show an aspect of Civil Engineering which is a vital part of our infrastructure, as unfortunately recently demonstrated around the UK. Over 300 school pupils took part in the Challenge of producing an optimum Coastal Structure to defend a model village, town and energy suppliers from a tsunami wave.

The team from Afon Taf High School produced a design for the costal defence structure which very effectively defended the model town from the destructive tsunami wave. Combined with their great performance at the ‘cardscraper’ activity (making the tallest tower out of play cards), they gathered more points than any other team throughout the week to become the south Wales Engineering Team Challenge 2015 overall winner.

Julie James AM is the Deputy Minister for Technology and Skills at the Welsh Government.
IT GIRL: Julie James AM is the Deputy Minister for Technology and Skills at the Welsh Government. Courtesy: Obtained from YouTube.

Each pupil received individual cinema tickets as their prize and the school was presented with a trophy by the Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Julie James AM. “I’m delighted to award Afon Taf High School Year 9 pupils with their Engineering Team Challenge trophy and prizes,” she said. “I have to say I was extremely impressed with their design and their evident enthusiasm for the Challenge.
The Welsh Government is committed to increasing the number of young people that study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.
Competitions like the Engineering Team Challenge are a great way of encouraging young learners to develop an interest in these subjects which have the potential to lead on to highly skilled and well paid careers.

Cliff Smith is the Headteacher at Afon Taf High School. “I am extremely proud of the way our pupils performed in this competition,” he said. “Such opportunities can spark a pupil’s interest in having a career in engineering.
We are fortunate at Afon Taf High School to have an outstanding engineering and technology department with state of the art facilities and teachers who both inspire and motivate pupils to achieve their full potential.

Emma Davies is Head of Design and Technology and STEM Co-Ordinator at Afon Taf High School. “The event was absolutely fantastic,” he said. “It really gave the pupils an insight into engineering and what a career in the sector would involve.
The coastal engineering activity was challenging, but also fun and the tour of the university raised their aspirations and lots of the pupils expressed an interest in studying engineering at degree level.
It is fantastic that an all-female team won the challenge as I have been actively promoting the subject as an option for the girls to take at GCSE level.
I feel that this has given them the confidence to do so.

Keith Jones is the Director of ICE Wales Cymru. “Civil engineering is a diverse, fascinating and exciting industry, where you can literally shape the world in which we live and make a real difference,” he said. “We – engineering institutions, industry and academia – must do more to show this crucial generation of schoolchildren, their parents and their teachers, the range of opportunities on offer.
Schools also have a duty to lead the drive in overcoming outdated perceptions about careers in engineering, and ensure they are accessible to all.
It is estimated that engineering companies will need nearly 200,000 people a year with engineering skills by 2022.
This means we need to double the number of apprentices and graduates entering the industry. This is the scale of the challenge we face, and this is why collaborative, inspirational competitions like Engineering Tea Challenge are so important.
Civil Engineering is a fascinating and rewarding career and it is a delight and pleasure to work with pupils at schools to show them how civil engineers help the infrastructure of Wales.

Swansea University in ‘favourtism’ charge

An Internet trolling expert whose company participated in the European Union funded Institute of Life Sciences program has blasted Swansea University who runs the scheme alleging favouritism to Swansea University staff over his own research venture.

Liberal Democrat Mike Day is alleged to have edited Wikipedia to spin the 2011 Welsh devolution referendum result. Courtesy: Twitter
CONTRACT OUT: Former Institute of Life Sciences manager Cllr Mike Day cancelled the contract Crocels had with the European Union funded venture, following disagreements over the use of the building for Crocels’s Trolling Academy Project. Courtesy: Twitter

Jonathan Bishop ran the Trolling Academy within the Institute of Life Sciences at Swansea University, founding it in 2011. In March 2012 relations became strained when Liam Stacey was convicted for trolling and Swansea University would not allow the media on campus to interview Bishop about trolling . It is understood that Swansea University took steps to try to prevent the association of ‘The Trolling Academy’ with the university, even though there were no issues between its formation in Autumn 2011 and the media frenzy around Liam Stacey in March 2012. The incident was followed by the manager of the Institute of Life Sciences, Cllr Mike Day, cancelling the contract Bishop’s company had with the Institute of Life Sciences, even though Bishop’s company was meeting the terms of the ‘deminimis funding’ his firm received from the program.

Bishop’s charge of favourism is directed at the fact that Swansea University academic, William Merrin who is an Associate Professor of Media Studies at Swansea University, is due to speak at the University of Glasgow on 13 November 2013 in a speech titled, ‘Annoying the world: Defence of Trolls.’

As Bishop explains, his integrity was questioned by Swansea University, whom he said has acted unethically. “It comes to something that Swansea University implied I could damage its reputation by the association of The Crocels Trolling Academy with Swansea University,” he said. “It was revealed that they disciplined Liam Stacey not for racism, but for damaging their reputation.
Swansea University seem so concerned with their own reputation, they forget what they are there for and why they are receiving public money from the European Union and the Welsh Government, which is to benefit the people of Wales and the local economy.”

Bishop said that the alleged favouritism shown to William Merrin was unfair. “It is totally unethical for Swansea University to censor my Internet trolling research initiative, yet to allow its own members of staff, such as William Merrin to make speeches and write papers and books on trolling, when few people knew what was prior to Liam Stacey in March 2012,” he said. “William Merrin has described himself as the head of the ‘Centre For Lulz Research, the Vice-President of the Universe and a troll,’ which are titles that if anything should belong the the Trolling Academy and myself respectively.

Cardiff Metropolitan University ‘edits’ Leighton Andrew’s Wikipedia page

Cardiff Metropolitan University has become the latest higher education institution to be embroiled in the Wicigate scandal.

It has been revealed that computers located at the university formerly called University of Wales Institute Cardiff have made critical edits of the page about Welsh education minister Leighton Andrews, who the university management have differences of opinion with.

A computer user at the newly renamed university using the IP address, ‘193.62.97.117,’ edited Wikipedia to say that it “refused to merge and threatened legal action in a bid to remain independent unless Andrews could produce a business plan to support his case.” And also that “however in late 2012 he u-turned and announced, he would no longer be seeking to do this.

GRAPHIC: A computer user at the Cardiff Metropolitan University edited Leighton Andrew's Wikipedia page with unfavourable comments. Courtesy: Screen-grabbed from Wikipedia.
GRAPHIC: A computer user at the Cardiff Metropolitan University edited Leighton Andrew’s Wikipedia page with unfavourable comments. Courtesy: Screen-grabbed from Wikipedia.

Earlier this year Crocels News revealed that a computer at Swansea University had been used to edit Wikipedia, including making homophobic remarks. Comments by the unknown user included that academic Russell Deacon, “is a personal friend of the Cheeky Girls,” that  another academic, left Swansea University for Cardiff Metropolitan University for a “record breaking £1.3million pound,” and that this move to Cardiff Metropolitan University by by that academic was “pending a medical, and work permit

Additional edits by the same computer at the Cardiff Metropolitan University included being of a promotional nature to boost the university’s reputation. One edit was about the university’s department called Cardiff School of Art and Design (CSAD):

CSAD has nine ‘Subject’ areas: Fine Art, Ceramics, Architectural Design & Technology, Product Design, Graphic Communication, Illustration, Drawing, Textiles and a history and theory subject area called Constellation. All of its ‘Subjects’ can be studied at undergraduate, (BA/BSc) postgraduate (MA/MDes/MFA/MSc) and at research degree level (PhD) or Professional Doctorate (PDoc). CSAD has a number of partner colleges who deliver its Art & Design Foundation Diploma, HNCs, Foundation Degrees and a further BA on its behalf. CSAD has a jointly delivered MDes in Experience Design with the Samsung Art and Design Academy in South Korea as well as a number of other partnerships as far away as Los Angeles and Australia.

Other edits by accounts based at Cardiff Metropolitan University included to main page about the university, which is against Wikipedia’s conflict of interest rules, as well as to rival university pages, which is also against Wikipedia’s rules.

Swansea University student expelled

Convicted Swansea University student Liam Stacey had been told by the tax-payer funded institution his conviction for trolling means he will have to give up most of his rights under the Human Rights Act 1998.

Stacey, who was convicted of making racially aggravated posts on Twitter, was told the conviction means his full rights to an education, rights to associate with his peers, and rights to assemble on the Swansea University campus will be denied. “He will remain excluded from the campus,” a spokesperson said. “Swansea University deplores racism and has policies in place to ensure equality for staff and students.
We take the actions of this student very seriously, which is why he is no longer part of our campus community.

CUFFED: Liam Stacey is led away by police for drunken tweets. Courtesy: Press Association.
CUFFED: Liam Stacey is led away by police for drunken tweets. Courtesy: Press Association.

Swansea University usually takes a less tough line on racism. In 2006, Swansea University’s Andrew Morgan warned “Once we start being selective about free speech there is no freedom of speech,” following Leeds professor Frank Ellis claiming black people have a lower IQ than white people. In 2001, Swansea University professor, Heini Gruffudd, was criticised for publishing a Welsh language course book containing jokes about rape and a cartoon of a Welsh holiday home on fire. At the time Swansea West Assembly Member Andrew Davies showed concern. “I found them very offensive and am making urgent inquiries as to whether the publishers received any public funds to produce these books,” he said. “Furthermore, I am seeking re-assurances from Swansea education chiefs that these materials are not being used in publicly-funded courses.” A spokesperson for Swansea University said at the time: “The publications are unrelated to Mr Gruffudd’s work at the university. They are published privately and we can’t comment on them,” they said. “It is up to readers to make up their own minds.

Swansea University suggested they were not treating Liam Stacey any less favourably than Swansea University staff Andrew Morgan or Heini Gruffudd when they were caught up in racism rows. “We are mindful that he (Liam Stacey) has been given a prison sentence, and therefore has already paid a price for his actions,” a spokesperson said about Liam Stacey. “He has expressed genuine remorse and we are satisfied that he understands that his behaviour was unacceptable, and damaging to the University.
Given the sanctions he has already faced and the contrition he has shown, and that he is a final year student, we have taken the exceptional decision to allow him to sit his exams.

Crocels responds to Paul Z Myers allegations

Crocels, which is a multimedia education and community regeneration partnership based at the Institute of Life Sciences within Swansea University, has sought to clarify allegations made by notorious Internet abuser, Paul Z Myers, and his followers.

Mark Beech, who is Crocels’s Personnel, Strategy and Quality Officer, has said that the false allegations that Crocels has no associations with Swansea University have come about because of a misunderstanding of its relationship with the government-funded Institute of Life Sciences programmed it runs. “Crocels entered into a contract with Swansea University on 13 July 2010 to be part of its Institute of Life Sciences programme, with the intention we become resident there full time when our medical products are on the market,” he said. “The allegations of Paul Z Myers and his sick website followers who targeted our director, Jonathan Bishop, that he made up such an association because we are not on the Institute of Life Science’s website is totally false, as we will be on there when we become full tenants.

Beech sought to clarify difficulties Crocels was currently having with Swansea University. “Since our director, Jonathan Bishop, announced he will be standing for election against Mike Day, who is the commercial manager of the Institute of Life Sciences, we have had problems,” he said. “Most recently this occurred when Mike Day refused to let Jonathan Bishop, who is an Internet trolling expert, be interviewed by Sky News when the story of Swansea University student, Liam Stacey, broke.
Crocels has been running the Trolling Academy since 21 October 2011 and we have only had problems with Swansea University directly, and not just Cllr Mike Day, since the news broke.
We are currently in the process of taking legal advice, so it would be inappropriate to comment further other than to say we expect these issues to be resolved.

QU'RAN: Paul Z Myer's desecrated the Qu'ran and posted it online. COURTESY: Obtained from PZ Myer's website.
QU’RAN: Paul Z Myer’s desecrated the Qu’ran and posted it online. COURTESY: Obtained from PZ Myer’s website.

Paul Z Myers is a notorious abuser of people who share different beliefs to him. On one occasion he desecrated the Qu’ran and posted it to his website. Further details of this are on the Trolling Academy’s website at: http://trollingacademy.org/online-safety-sociability/750/paul-myers-hate-against-islam/

Peh Ng is a senior member of staff at the University of Minnesota Morris and defended Myers’s supposed right to allow false allegations to be made. “I have no jurisdiction over what Paul Myers wrote on his own personal blog,” they said. “Myers’ blog does NOT reside on university property and has no affiliation with the university.

Swansea Student in Fabrice Muamba Racism Tirade

A 21-year-old student at Swansea was arrested on Saturday after the drunken posting of racially offensive Twitter comments following mocking the cardiac arrest of footballer, Fabrice Muamba.

The comments appeared on the Twitter account @liamstacey9, which has since been taken down, but a censored version appears below.

Councillor Jonathan Bishop of the Trolling Academy based at the Centre for Research into Online Communities and E-Learning Systems within Swansea University said he had never seen such obscene language on the Internet in the whole of his 18 years on the Web. “This was not an act of trolling as it was done out of pure anger and not for a laugh” he said, “This was what we call ‘Enhanced E-Venger Flaming’ and is done by people who are so caught up in the moment they will hit theenter key immediately in order to get vengeance against someone who wronged them

Cllr Bishop said the police have a number of computer law statutes they can bring charges under. The Malicious Communications Act 1988 which was used against ‘RIP Troller‘ Sean Duffy is one option. The Communications Act 2003 used against Jamie Counsel who tried to start a riot is another possibility. Asthe Telecommunications Act 1984, which was used against Gavin Brent who posted threatening remarks about the police online.

He warned however, that is was more importance for justice to be done than punishments to be issued. He said, “For there to be language this vile language suggests an underlying psychological problem, which can be down to abuse from others which is often let out at the least opportune moment, and it is more than likely they will do it again

Often the perpetrators of Internet abuse have been abused themselves and need help.” He added, “Whilst it certainly does not excuse their actions they have often ether being born into poverty, denied opportunities in life, orsocially excluded in other ways

Cllr Bishop’s Trolling Academy has a dedicated section on its website where people who might have seen the abusive messages can get access to sources of support appropriate to their needs for dealing with any trauma.

Autism cause discovered

A researcher based at Swansea University is set to explain a possible cause for autism in a poster at a psychology conference in Wales, linking this and other social impairments to impairment in a vulnerable brain region called the prefrontal cortex.

Cllr Jonathan Bishop’s poster, “The role of the prefrontal cortex in social orientation construction: A pilot study” will present the result of a study that shows autism, and other conditions that cause social or emotional functioning are caused by impairment in the pre-frontal cortex.

Cllr Bishop has surveyed a number of journals covering medical conditions such as schizophrenia, autism, ADHD, occupation health conditions, and drug misuse. He found that there was strong evidence to support the link between prefrontal cortex dysfunction and ‘social orientation impairment’. He said: “The prefrontal cortex can be sub-optimised in a number of ways, from traumatic births to social exclusion and from traumatic stress to substance misuse.
“Understanding this will go some way to solving the social orientation impairments caused by such damage.

Cllr Bishop’s poster will present an equation that he believes will be essential in providing early warning mechanisms in online social networks like Facebook to detect when members are at risk from emotional damage due to cyberbullying which result in the same outcomes as autism.

Those interested in learning more about this topic can speak to Cllr Bishop at the British Psychological Society’s Welsh Branch’s First Annual Conference on Sustainable Well-Being on 10 September 2011 at Glyndwr University in Wrexham.

University of Glamorgan debaters in prestigious debating final

Competing at its first ever inter-varsity debating competition, the University of Glamorgan broke to the final of the John Smith Memorial Welsh Mace debating competition finals in Swansea.

Despite being listed in the University of Glamorgan’s first B-team, Hywel Price-Evans and James Wheatley became the first ever debating team from the University of Glamorgan to reach the finals of the John Smith Memorial Welsh Mace debating competition. The final motion was “This house would allow assisted suicide.

Hywel Price-Evans and James Wheatley
FINALISTS: Hywel Price-Evans and James Wheatley are the first University of Glamorgan debating team to reach the final of the first ever John Smith Memorial Welsh Mace contested by the institution. Courtesy: James Brimble, Chair of University of Glamorgan Debating Society.

Held at Swansea University, the John Smith Memorial Welsh Mace attracted a total of 16 teams in the Championships from Swansea, Lampeter, Aberystwyth, Cardiff and Glamorgan. Jonathan Bishop and Colin Nosworthy completed the University of Glamorgan’s line-up as the first ever A-team, finishing in the top half of those present.

James Brimble is the Chair of the University of Glamorgan Debating Society. “James and Hywel were the first proposition,” he said. “Even though they put up a fine performance Helen Jarman and Amy Thomas from Cardiff University were announced the winners.
Congratulations to the two teams from Glamorgan.
James and Hywel and Jonathan and Colin who did a marvellous job on the day.

Cardiff University will now travel to Cork to represent Wales against the Winners of the English, Irish and Scottish Mace Competitions on 15 March 2003.