Instagram Users Love Terrible Photos, Gaming Is Good For Families, And Other Surprising Studies Of The Week

This sure won't help all of the criticism that Instagram is filled with pretentious, over-filtered pseudo-photography: It turns out that all of the qualities that make Instagram photos popular are also the same traits that point to, um, really crappy photography. Sorry, guys: You're not Ansel Adams quite yet.

Philadelphia research firm Curalate examined the photos that garnered the most "likes" across Instagram, and found that they shared a number of key traits. Typically, the photographs were: predominantly one color, usually blue; very bright; desaturated; and had a lot of background space. All of the above are hallmarks of cheap, Polaroid-esque photography, according to experts.

It may be time to rein in those sunset shots, guys. For more of this week's surprising studies, read on...

Image: knster/Flickr

PG-13 Films Have Most Violence

Sorry, parents. That useful film-rating system is sort of off when it comes to gun violence: a study in next month's Pediatrics journal reveals that your average PG-13 movie features 2.6 incidents of somebody shooting someone else. Per hour. Incidentally, that's a significant increase on the gun violence in your typical R-rated films. R ratings tend to come from profanity and nakedness, but gun violence doesn't necessitate the same rating: a PG-13 stamp can be slapped onto most shooting-driven action films.

The Ohio researchers said they were "shocked," and that their research undermined the entire American film-rating system. (Steady on, guys.) "It's really just an R," one researcher said of the average PG-13 film, "but because they keep a couple of curse words out, they can get that lower rating." So there you have it. Nothing is safe.

Image: DreamWorks

Heavy Metal Lovers Have A Specific Personality Type

Over in London, researchers just spent a while conducting a study on, um, the personality types of heavy metal fans. At the United Kingdom's University of Westminster, a research team examined 414 British individuals' personality types in light of their preference for music. The results: Open, confident, risk-taking personalities tend to prefer rock and heavy-metal music. So you can tell that to whoever bangs on your door to get you to turn it down. Har!

And heavy metal fans specifically? Well, they tended to exhibit, and we quote: "more negative attitudes toward authority, lower self-esteem, greater need for uniqueness, and lower religiosity" than fans of other musical genres. Oh, and in light of that, it appears that heavy metal might actually be good for you: "The catharsis afforded by heavy metal may, in turn, help boost self-worth and promote positive self-evaluations among those with otherwise low self-esteem." wrote the study's authors. 

Overdoses Are A Growing Problem

According to a report released Tuesday, drug poisoning, ie. overdoses, has hit an all-time high in America. Worse, the trend shows no sign of stopping. The study is featured in The American Journal Of Preventative Medicine, and reveals that drug poisoning has now become the number one cause of injury deaths in America.

And the trend is growing pretty much everywhere: rural areas, inner-city hubs, you name it. In the last three decades, deaths by drug poisoning have increased by 300 percent nationwide. Prescription drugs are to blame for the majority of deaths, but 90 percent of those fatalities are caused by oral drugs, both illegal and legal. More than two percent of Americans admit to regularly using prescription drugs without a medical reason for doing so. That figure keeps increasing — and so does the number of deaths by prescription overdose.

Childhood Trauma Linked To Teenage Obesity

This is sad: a new study indicates that those who undergo childhood trauma might be more prone to weight problems later in life. Instead of asking teenagers to self-report their degree of trauma, which could produce questionable results, the research group asked more than 800 mothers to fill out surveys about their children when they were 4, 9, and 11. The kids were then given a full evaluation when they turned 15.

Of the 848 15-year-olds in the study, 260 were considered overweight. Researchers found that those who'd undergone several stressful life experiences were 50 percent more likely to be overweight. Though they'd suspected that girls would be more prone to "stress eating," the study found that boys who'd experienced a lot of stress were just as likely to be overnight as their female counterparts.

Insomnia Is Even Worse Than You Thought

Insomnia hasn't got the best rep, but it's about to get worse. A new data study from Norwegian and Finnish researchers indicates that insomniacs are more likely to face major health disasters such as — deep breath — anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, whiplash, rheumatoid arthritis, headaches, asthma, and heart attacksLots of reasons to keep you up at night...

Earlier research had suggested that insomnia puts you at risk of premature death (oh, good, even better!) but until now it wasn't known that the condition is a risk factor for quite so many illnesses. "The link to heart attacks is particularly interesting," one researcher noted. "One possible explanation is that sleep problems raise the stress response of the body, which has a negative impact on the function of the heart." Well, "interesting" is one word for it...

The Family Who Games Together, Stays Together

This Thanksgiving might be a good time to start a family video-game tradition. Researchers at Australia's Queensland University of Technology have revealed that co-operative gaming — that's to say, several family members all playing different roles in the same video game — can strengthen family bonds, improve kids' social and psychological well-being, and just generally provide all sorts of festive bonding. Plus, it moves way faster than a game of Risk.

"Games that kids are playing require lots of strategy, require teamwork and while they're playing they're chatting about things going on in their life," said one co-author. "So it's a social experience at the same time." The Queensland researchers went as far as to suggest that kids who don't play video games are at risk of being less socially capable than their gaming peers. Not playing games limits your awareness of pop culture, the study indicated, and so kids feel left out. You'll want to send this to your mother...