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More Green Spaces Linked to Less Aggressive Kids

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There are numerous arguments for the benefits of city parks. Living near parks and other greenery has been linked to longer lives and less stress, as well as cooler temperatures and better air quality [PDF]. And now, scientists think that green space might also play a role in teenage aggression. 

A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, covered by PsyPost, finds links between how much green space there is around a child’s house and how aggressive they are as an adolescent. The University of Southern California–led study examined a 1287-person cohort of twins and triplets born in the early ‘90s in Southern California, periodically asking their parents about the children's aggressive behaviors between 2000 and 2012.

The researchers then compared how aggressive the children's parents described them to be—such as if they reported their child getting in fights, screaming, or threatening others—with how much green space there was within 1000 meters (3820 feet) of their home, using data on vegetation levels from the Global Agricultural Monitoring Project. They found that after accounting for temperature (heat has long been linked to violence), kids who lived near more greenery were less aggressive. 

Both in the short term (at one-, three-, and six-month follow-ups) and long, kids who lived in green areas for up to three years were less aggressive, at least according to what their parents reported. Being around more vegetation was linked to the equivalent aggression reduction of 2 to 2.5 years of age-related maturity, the researchers found. 

This doesn’t directly prove that trees and grass themselves cause kids to be less aggressive, although the researchers controlled for things like traffic, noise levels, self-perceived neighborhood quality, income, and more. It’s possible that there are some other factors in relatively treeless areas that could account for the behavioral changes but weren’t controlled for in the statistical analysis; for example, greenery tends to be a lot more prevalent in rich neighborhoods. 

If trees really can help calm kids down, which would make sense given green spaces' proven ability to lower stress, the researchers estimate that adding more vegetation to urban neighborhoods could lead to a 12 percent reduction in clinically significant adolescent aggression. In California, they estimate that could help about 9000 kids. 

Scientists already have begun recommending at least 30 minutes of nature time a week for health. This is a good excuse to make sure your teenager comes with you. 

[h/t PsyPost]

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New Website Lets You Sift Through More Than 700,000 Items Found in Amsterdam's Canals
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Amsterdam's canals are famous for hiding more than eight centuries of history in their mud. From 2003 to 2012, archaeologists had the rare opportunity to dig through an urban river that had been pumped dry, and now 99% Invisible reports that their discoveries are available to browse online.

The new website, dubbed Below the Surface, was released with a book and a documentary of the same name. The project traces the efforts of an archaeological dig that worked parallel to the construction of Amsterdam's new North/South metro line. To bore the train tunnels, crews had to drain part of the River Amstel that runs through the city and dig up the area. Though the excavation wasn't originally intended as an archaeological project, the city used it as an opportunity to collect and preserve some of its history.

About 800 years ago, a trading port popped up at the mouth of the River Amstel and the waterway become a bustling urban hub. Many of the artifacts that have been uncovered are from that era, while some are more contemporary, and one piece dates back to 4300 BCE. All 700,000 objects, which include, toys, coins, and weapons, are cataloged online.

Visitors to the website can look through the collection by category. If you want to view items from the 1500s, for example, you can browse by time period. You also have the option to search by material, like stoneware, for example, and artifact type, like clothing.

After exploring the database, you can learn more about its history in the Below the Surface documentary on Vimeo (English subtitles are coming soon).

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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The 10 Most Affordable Cities for Living Abroad
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Picking up your life and moving abroad is expensive, but just how expensive depends on where you choose to make your new home. Mercer's latest Cost of Living Survey reported by Travel + Leisure lays out which cities around the world are most affordable for expats, and which are the priciest.

For the report, Mercer compared more than 375 cities across over 200 metrics including cost of food, coffee, clothing, housing, gas, and public transportation. If you want to live abroad, the cheapest city to move to is Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. It's followed by Tunis, Tunisia in second place and Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in third.

The Cost of Living Survey also looked at the least affordable destinations for expats. Hong Kong is the most expensive, with Tokyo, Japan at No. 2 and Zurich, Switzerland ranking No. 3. Cities in Asia account for six of the top 10.

If you can afford it, there are plenty of reasons to spend time living outside your home country: Research has found that people who live abroad exhibit increased creativity, communication skills, and even earning potential. When planning your next long-term trip, consider these budget-friendly destinations.

1. Tashkent, Uzbekistan
2. Tunis, Tunisia
3. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
4. Banjul, The Gambia
5. Karachi, Pakistan
6. Blantyre, Malawi
7. Tbilisi, Georgia
8. Minsk, Belarus
9. Tegucigalpa, Honduras
10. Managua, Nicaragua

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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