she’s a clunky old girl

I’m talking about this website, but I could be talking about myself …?

Darlings, I can scarcely believe we are 3 days from Christmas already. I have not written this blog since flippin’ September, I keep hoping I’ll be ready for a relaunch/reconfigure/resomething but then I keep being busy with all the other things and not getting it done. So I delay, and delay, and here we are.

SInce September I have been concentrating on PhD stuff, namely a systemic literature review, which gobbled up most of October and all of November, part of December. It’s in a reasonable second draft form as I put everything to bed for Summer hols. Which I am loving. So much festive food prep, and not done yet

Oh, but early in December I was lucky enough to be invited to a private zoom meeting with the exceptional Stephen Porges. I took my questions about the physiological and psychological impacts of parental smartphone use in the presence of infants, and he both confirmed my findings (my fears!) and offered his customary wise, calm reassurance.

It would all help if we had codes of ethics for designers that encouraged people to think about children (won’t somebody please think of the children!!?!) as they design for tech. That previous link is a goodie about design, as is THIS link to calm tech … and here is a reminder of why we need such things – a piece from Fairplay (formerly the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood) about the nefarious lengths Facebook will go to to deceive young users.

I’m increasingly obsessed with older accounts of our interactions with tech – check this out, from 1969, asking whether tech can be humane. Sometimes people are so prescient and on to it … other times they get things all higgledy piggledy – like this piece that describes how futurists could foresee self-driving cars, but not women in the workplace.

Really, I think that’s what is at play in my corner of the world – people are so unused to thinking about the unique developmental needs of infants that they just have a big ol’ baby-shaped blind spot in their thinking about all manner of issues. I will keep working to shine a light and to change hearts and minds, but this will require tenacity, grit, and a self-care strategy!

Here is advice from A Mighty Girl about how to get beyond admiring little girls’ looks when you interact with them over the holidays. I get it – I love a frock and a ribboned hairdo – but let’s not let girls think that this is all we admire about them.

And for the love of God, don’t let your daughters get instagram.

My Christmas wish for everyone is that you will get to share family stories. Storytelling is a joy and a resource, as confirmed by this piece from Scientific American and as I reference this, may I offer a belated honouring of one of NZ’s storytelling treasures, RIP LIz Miller.

Now, how about some delights to end? THIS Is an amazing hot wheels racetrack that took an entire month to set up, and here is an awesome corner of the internet called Real LIfe magazine, this is smart writing from a young thinker, this piece is about logging off.

Which I will do, for the day, right about … NOW.

xxxx

reading, writing, thinking … a wee bit of stressing out.

Kia ora te whānau,

What’s up, lovelies? This picture shows me in my office, reading the latest OHbaby! magazine. There is an article in there I wrote about Joyful Routines, and I hope it will be of service to all those who read it!

If you could see the state of my office you’d encourage me to take a bit of my own advice, and get some joyful tidying/filing routines going on my desk. Sheesh! The paperwork piles are precarious!

Meanwhile, here are a few interesting links for the enjoyment of the geekily inclined. THIS is from our pals at the Center for the Developing Child @ Harvard. It’s a deep dive into childhood mental health, and it includes this doozy of a quote: “Most potential mental health problems will not become mental health problems if we respond to them early.”

Speaking of deep dives, HERE is a link to the Center for Humane Tech’s explanation of the importance of the “Facebook Files”, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, and HERE is coverage of the same from CNBC.

Different but connected (aren’t we all?) is this report from Professor Sir Peter Gluckman and colleagues, about the impact of screen use on children’s development. I was stoked that their summary included a reminder to new parents to monitor their own screen use and its impact on interaction. Vital! One more wee thing, about considering the role of Affective Neuroscience Theory in our convos about kids’n’screens, especially in these coronavirus days.

This is a lovely piece written by one of my faves, Keryn at the Brainwave Trust. It’s about using this pandemic as an opportunity to support resilience in our children. Good idea, especially cos it’d seem that this COVID scene is here to stay (WAH!) … all the more reason to share this funny bit of satire from McSweeneys. Or maybe you would prefer this utterly profane, hilarious, and relevant piece!!! (Brace yourself, its cussy).

What else? A bit of seed raising, some orphan lamb feeding, and a bit of research about wicker mending. Thinking, and then not thinking. Mindfulness … and sometimes mindlessness.

Happy Spring, y’all x x x

bit of a lockdown

Kia ora fam,

Those of us in NZ are having another wee lockdown. I’m using the time to work on an essay (qualitative research methods, baby) and embrace a bit of puzzle time.

Now I need to share a flurry of links, empty some tabs on my computer! FIRST: the questions concerning technology … so smart, so worthwhile. Let’s all read these questions and answer them honestly, nothing will ever be the same (or as lame) ever again!!

Here is some writing advice for young writers (and old writers, too … I DIG IT) and things to covet, from the School of Life.

Here is some funny/sad satire about early parenthood, from my mates at McSweeneys. Speaking of early parenthood, this piece from Stuff shares how many kiwi mums are taking less parental leave than they’d like AND sharing this once again … this resource from the children’s screen time network about being tech wise with baby.

The need for consciousness and a goal of being tech wise is REAL. Look … here is a thang from the NY Times about parents hiring digital coaches to help teach their kids good habits, and LEST WE FORGET the Ledger of Harms.

Shout out to my mate Deidre, whose research is written up HERE. She was my colleague when I worked at the other TTU (in Tennessee!) and she’s the person who first taught me about “clean data”.

OH more funny/sad observation from McSweeneys, this is about women and aging (Hi there!) and here is another piece from the New York Times – this is written as they send teens back to school after many months of lockdown, and it’s a call to disrupt existing smartphone habits. DO IT.

Meanwhile, researchers from NYU studying Facebook’s advertising methods have been KICKED OFF the platform … bit suss, eh? Speaking of suss, props to Sonia Livingstone for using her blog to highlight the need to elevate children’s rights in the digital world. UM …YUP.

In unrelated news, I’m practicing this song (having played very average beginner guitar 25 years ago, I’ve been sliding backward ever since) and we are considering a rejig of the hen run.

LIFE … she is a roller coaster. Happy & Sad at the same time. = SAPPY … it’s how I roll!

Zoom – it’s not just for weeping

kia ora my friends

Yeah, so … about 10 days ago I wept via zoom.

I’d been at an event the previous day, a public talk where I believed the content (which I saw as downplaying the risks accompanying our technological lives) had the potential to do harm to children. I see things as the 5 Rights Foundation see them: Tech’s exploitative relationship with children is a public health issue. Instead of acknowledging this, I heard false reassurances (“sure, play violent video games for hours at a time!), some in opposition to the recommendations of the likes of the World Health Organisation.

The hierarchical nature of pecking orders means that it wasn’t appropriate for me to stand up and yell “BS!”, although that’s what every cell of my body longed to do. For the love of everything that’s holy- ACKNOWLEDGE THE HARMS.

The act of suppressing that desire took a toll on my central nervous system – I was cringing so hard I did myself personal injury. For an hour and a half, I had to do slow, controlled abdominal breaths, the likes of which I would usually do during dental work for mere minutes at a time.

This combination of misinformation and physical suffering (not to mention the stiff whiskey I downed when I got home) left me out of sorts the next day. Not the best space for a productive work day … or, it turns out, a competent showing on zoom.

I wish I knew more about zoom etiquette – clearly I should have bowed out of that meeting. Is it rude if I’m the only one whose camera is turned off? I mean, I know Brené Brown is all the rage, but is the world ready for the “I weep on Zoom” level of vulnerability? Giddy up, y’all. Here I am.

In part, the weeping was because I got lost in comparison, perceiving myself as falling behind the other researchers. But in hindsight, I mostly wept because I longed for these other child-minded people to join me in feeling wounds that accompany the public misrepresentation of children’s needs. Unfortunately, it was hard to communicate any of that while my head was in my hands.

Forgiveness: after at least two good sleeps (my dad’s excellent rule) I was able to forgive myself for the weeping, I could contextualise my reaction and even stand in the power of “I wept because I care so bloody much about children!” – which is not entirely a bad thing, eh?

Anyway, if we can still be friends, I’ll share a few links and move on with my day.

Let’s start with a few Bruce Perry/NMT related links, shall we? First, here is a website called Be Rhythmic, which is a cornucopia of regulation-enhancing delights. THIS is a pdf about the amazing human brain, and check out these exceptional visual synopsis (synopses?) of Dr. Perry’s books.

A few techy links now, cos … y’know. First: check out this work from the University of Auckland, making a link between audible smartphone notifications, parenting style, and kids’ language development. This is an argument against instagram for kids (because … of course). And this is a link to a blog about Britain’s code of conduct for online design as it relates to children. Lo and behold, they call on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to inform their work: Children have the right to be safe from commercial exploitation (UNCRC Article 32).
Oh, if everyone were to honour that … there sure as heck wouldn’t be talk of Kiddy Insta!!

Here is a bit of info about the 5Rights “twisted playthings’ campaign, which seek to highlight the weirdness of toys that gather data and promote unhelpful ideals … One write up from the Washington Post, one from a site called Shots.net. Commercial exploitation of children? Yup.

I’d also like to draw your attention to the work of Thorn.org, who work to protect children from online sexual exploitation.

What else? This is a good article from Dame about living in an age of too much information (information is not the same thing as knowledge, and knowledge alone ain’t wisdom!!) and I’ll round this post out with some beautiful, playful bead art. ENJOY x x x

listlessness

Kia ora friends,

I asked someone I love “How are you going?” and they replied “Listless”. It hit me like a ton of bricks … feeling listless? Write a list! Had you ever noticed that? That listlessness is a literal translation of “that state of unfocused apathy that can accompany NOT HAVING A LIST”.

Me, I love a list.

Anyway, remember a while back I talked about chatting to a reporter for a Stuff article? Yes’m. Here is a link to that. Also from Stuff is this write up about a study happening via the University of Auckland which included the finding that one in 10 toddlers in NZ has 3 hours of screen time per day.

How I wish this gorgeous resource from School of Life was widely disseminated … it’s a book of screen free fun and I am covetous. And here’s another handy resource – a brochure from the Children’s Screen Time Action Network written for new parents and giving solid advice about tech use.

Speaking of the Network, I attended an excellent (online) talk by Dr.Jenny Radesky and Dr. Roberta Golinkoff and there is a recorded version of it here. It was about making wise choices if selecting tech for young ‘uns to use. The next one looks good, too, about Green Time.

Another video, this one from the Evolved Nest … please check it out. It’s just six minutes and SO GOOD. A summary of Darcia Narvaez’ amazing book Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality. Very much my cup of tea!

Something that is NOT my cuppa is described here in a piece by Fast Company … it’s about AI in the classroom and I say BACK OFF, GOOGLE. Surely that’s technochauvinism at its worst? Hey, speaking of Back Off Google … the most recent (and rather bloody gorgeous) issue of OHbaby! has an article I wrote … called “Google Strike”.

What else? Here is a gift from Common Sense Media about 10 steps to a better YouTube, this is a link to a piece from the Conversation about teen girls’ rates of depression being higher than boys’, and here’s Dr. Gabor Mate on why attachment is everything.

Take a moment to bask in the glow of Italian Library Music (I KNOW! Thanks, NY Times!), here is a Washington Post piece by Jean Twenge (y’know … wrote iGen) … about gaming disorder being the tip o’ the iceberg and this is a Canadian news source reporting on sexism in academia. Gross.

Things I want to re-introduce to the world include THIS important report from the 5rights foundation in the UK, about the influence of persuasive tech in the lives of children. It’s called Disrupted Childhood and I wish everyone would read it.

I have a couple of McSweeneys pieces to share: both hilarious and tragic at the same time. Beyond bittersweet! This one is about women returning to offices, post-pandemic, and this one is a “to do list” for your baby’s 15 minute nap – frankly this is a moment for listlessness.

supermoons and chickenpox

Good morning darlings,

Stayed up late last night to check out the blood eclipse super lunar extravaganza (almost 11pm when I went to bed … CRIKEY that’s late for this geek!). Worth it, dashing out onto the freezing deck and marvelling at the magic (I know, science, not actually magic …BUT STILL).

Thankful that Little Girl’s chickenpox saga was in its second week during the lunar excitement, because last week I’d have been too tired to wait up and behold the spectacle. Chickenpox would have – ahem – eclipsed the eclipse. It was almost like having a baby in the house again – broken sleep, lots of active, hands-on caregiving, needing to put a wee rashy body in the sunshine. A lot! With thanks and praise to the awesome Story Store podcast from the CBC! You got us through the calamine lotion sessions. What a sadness that there are no new episodes on horizon. You will be missed.

In other news: I got my copy of Bruce Perry’s new book “What Happened to You?” in the post (written with some unknown co-author … Oprah blimmen Winfrey is who!!) and I’m enjoying slowly making my way through that. It’s a super read – here’s an excerpt – it’s just taking me a while as I am also reading the amazing ‘The WEIRDest People in the World” by Joseph Henrich (click here for a write up in the NY Times), as well as the fascinating “The Attention Merchants” by Tim Wu (here is a review in the Guardian) and I have yet to finish Sarah Wilson’s “This One Wild and Precious Life” (read about it on the RNZ website). So glad that Ms. Wilson shines a light on the dangers of hypercapitalism (speaking of which – this is also a great book) and the challenges of life in a society still reeling from neoliberalist nonsense.

“Can’t control your tech use? That’s YOUR FAULT! Never mind that big tech is largely unregulated, never mind that we are in an enormous experiment, never mind that the your psychological vulnerabilities are being exploited by attention harvesters … it’s on YOU!” Same neoliberalist argument gets trotted out for all kinds of things – the great Pacific garbage island is YOUR FAULT for not recycling devoutly enough. Never mind that a handful of corporations produce most of the waste, never mind that regulators don’t insist on cradle-to-grave corporate responsibility … ETC!

Anyway, I was a bit naughty in just ordering another book, which I JUST DID. It’s called “Goodbye Phone, Hello World” by Paul Greenberg and you can read about here, also from RNZ.

Speaking of Goodbye Phone … major admiration and respect for a Chch high school for doing away with the phones and allowing their kids to be unplugged kids! It’s working!

In other news, I was super delighted to learn of this excellent resource from my Pals at the Children’s Screen Time Action Network, about tech use in the presence of infants. I mean, talk about important! And SO my cup of tea! Amazing. The only resource of its kind that I am aware of! And this is precisely what I obsess about for a living (well, not really for a living … but as a PhD student, so … um … y’know …)

Also fascinating (albeit somewhat depressing) is this piece from the Guardian about older adults’ relationships with tech. A place where we live … we are snails. OMIGOODNESS. The stress that emerges as a result of reading that research review must be countered by some cosy yoga, thank you Adriene.

Did I share this yet? An excellent piece from a nursing journal about the experience of new babies in a frequent facemask world. I think it’s so important that we continue to use our mature skills of mind mindedness to consider how life is for today’s babies (apparently we’re calling them Generation Alpha. I thought Gen Q was better – hubby and I invented that. But I’ll go along with Gen Alpha if it encourages contemplation of infant experience!). We must remember that their access to faces (which is SUPER IMPORTANT for optimal development … hello still face paradigm, G’day Polyvagal Theory!) … babies are having limited access as a result of masks, sure … but also as a result of our PHONES.

Beware! And I can feel my face sitting in a blank affect. I’m going to sign off and wish you all an emotive, expressive, and temperate time of it until we meet again x x x arohanui x x x

Thanks for today’s lovely pic … Photo by Ahsan Avi on Unsplash.

Screen Free Week, and other delights

About flippin’ time I posted to my dear ol’ blog, and showed off this most recent issue of OHbaby!, in which I have an article called “Use it Wisely”. It’s about … yup … devices & tech use.

Heaps has been happening since last we geeked out together – I’ve been a tad bedridden and coughy for a bit, we’ve had 2 weeks of school hols, and prior to that I had a poster presentation of my research at the Child Wellbeing Research Institute Symposium at UC the other week – shout out to all the dedicated supporters of whānau who attended! I also managed a phone call with a reporter at Stuff, thankfully before I lost my voice and things got all Stevie Nicks husky over here … anyway, I’ll letcha know what comes of that interview.

SO I figure that I’d better make this snappy, because if I start enjoying myself too much here on my computer I’ll be violating my terms of SFW2021, which we started this morning! For our family, using devices for work and essential communication is OK, but entertainment media and idle chatter are not. We can use the actual telephone for random chat, and avail ourselves of the wonderful array of screen free entertainment that is always available to us but is sometimes overlooked in our enthusiasm to watch The Crown. Instead, this week we will be listening to records, reading books, playing games, making music, drawing, cooking, building with Lego, on & on! Need more ideas? Here are 111 of them.

Alright – for something rich, deep & inspiring, look no further than this deliciousness in report form from Omidyar.com, whose work is thoroughly deluxe. Reimagining tech, capitalism, all of it. (because Lord knows capitalism has a lot to answer for …) Omidyar recognise the need to honour the work of caregivers … which this caregiver both digs and appreciates!

For a couple of different but important angles on tech stuff, here is the website of Reset Australia – Reset are all about addressing the threats posed to democracy by rampant online nonsense, and I’d also like to share this fantastic website from a fellow NZer … the Light Project , which is all about having sane and healthy conversations about pornography. Jeepers, we could use some sanity around this issue, eh.

What else? You may have heard that the sickos at Instagram are trying to launch a platform for children … RESIST. There is empirically gathered evidence pointing to the negative wellbeing effects associated with that platform in particular, and there are QUITE enough issues for our young people without pushing that baldedash on ever younger citizens. Harvesting of data and promotion of body image issues? NO THANKS, ZUCKERBERG.

A cool article here, about empowering infants & toddlers in group care, written by Dr. Katherine Bussey (holla!) and I always appreciate the excellent research reviews published by my pals at the Brainwave Trust … Kia Ora Keryn!!

Here is a beautiful performance about appreciating people’s faces – a bit harder when we are masked up, perhaps? Speaking of which, talk about unintended consequences … here is an important discussion paper about infants’ experiences of a masked world, and here is a write up about an app for mothers which looks helpful, I just HOPE it comes with a caveat about choosing when to use it in a way that is biologically respectful of babies’ needs …?

Oh, and I’ve got book club tonight.

Take care, friends. x x x

productive procrastination

Kia Ora lovelies,

I think the key to productivity is to ensure that you have something useful to be cracking on with while you are procrastinating from another thing. Not in the mood to exercise? Work on your conference presentation. Don’t feel like working on that? Do some reading and note taking. Can’t face that job? Go for a brisk walk. OH LOOK … now you’re doing the exercise you didn’t want to do in the first place! Ta-dah!

A few links to share today, then I’ve gotta get back to work. Submitted an article this morn, plenty more missions awaiting my attention!

First up: Tomorrow is Phone Free Day, a surefire way to lessen procrastination! Shout out to my pals at the UCDeFLab for rallying the troops. You could think of this as a lovely warm up for Screen Free Week!!

Good timing for many: check out this article from the Washington Post about the side effects of a year lived onscreen for kids in the US, and here is a write up about research highlighting the need to resist the behavioural crutch of giving screens to tiny children. They might seem to settle now, but really they’re just delaying their ability to develop self-settling skills. Meanwhile, work from researchers in South Australia concludes that excessive screen time is delaying school readiness.

Let ’em play! Unplug the devices and PLAY!

I’m hoping you saw this piece from Stuff, about awesome Māori dads. For more about the biologically respectful practices of traditional parenting by tangata whenua, check this out.

Some random bits and pieces, now: an excellent essay about understanding TikTok by Kyle Chayka (I understand this: it’s another mechanism for harvesting data!), a new post by the folk at Sensible Screen Use about privacy in schools (and I understand this: Google classroom = more harvesting of data!) and a kinda cool bit about libraries extending their services outdoors during the pandemic.

Here is a cool site I’ve just discovered which shares tech stories from around the world (it’s called “rest of world” which tells you quite a lot, really!) AND because it’s cooling down in New Zealand we are all about firewood around here – so I’m sharing these beautiful images of covetous living rooms with lovely fireplaces x xx ENJOY x x x x

worrying, and then worrying some more

Pandemic + massive earthquakes + tsunami warnings = worrying.

Oh, and we have a trip booked to fly from rural South Island idyll to shaky capital city on other island … TOMORROW. We are supposed to be visiting my 94 year old grandmother. What to do? Unsure when we will get to go, if we decide to postpone.

I’m waiting to hear what Dr. Ash will say at his 4pm briefing – that oughta tell me if the country is likely to stay at current alert levels, or whether they will change, trapping us in Wellington. What I would really like to know is whether the quakes are done for now. I’m not sure anyone can say.

So I worry. Which is as effective as trying to solve an algebra problem by chewing bubblegum, as the lyric goes.

Speaking of lyrics: should I stay or should I go?

I vote stay home, but i am but one member of the family, so I might find myself outvoted. UGH. This is gross. Help me, Polyvagal Theory! Save me, Stephen Porges!

on holidaying like you mean it: zozo and zozi, babies!

Kia Ora New Year newbies and lovely friends. Sitting down at last to share some bits and pieces on the dear ol’ blog.

Like … here I am drinking tea (you can’t tell, but trust me) and enjoying the latest OHbaby! magazine. Yup, happy to have an article in there .. it’s about routines v. go with the flow … what Dan Siegel would call “the river of integration”, but kinda from the baby’s point of view. Anyway, shout out to the visionary new editor Kristina for a great issue, and mad love to outgoing marvel Marianne as she works on nesting with her next baby x xx

Meanwhile: what else? I have been inching an academic article over the finish line for a v. flash journal – I will report back once complete. Like most, we have had a busy time of Christmas and New Year’s malarkey, lots of delicious feasting and loving gifting and a fair bit of grateful hanging out with our friendlies. Have I mentioned lately how grateful I am for New Zealand’s privileged position during this global pandemic? “Go hard, go early” said Jacinda. And so far the borders are holding steady.

We do not take these freedoms for granted – our bi-cultural family hosted a Thanksgiving meal, we had a lovely afternoon of celebrating the groovy mark I got for my Master’s thesis ( as the late Julia Child would say “a party without cake is just a meeting”) and there have been a couple of house parties in there, to boot. Busy, happy, joyful, messy, busy, exhausting, wonderful life.

Meanwhile, here are a few links before I sign off … a refreshingly solutions-focused emphasis to some of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) stuff, courtesy of NPR. It’s about the stress buffering impact of positive experiences in children’s lives. Speaking of a positive spin on things, here is a gorgeous little cartoony representation of some important behavioural concepts – I first heard this method of framing things from Stuart Ablon, who is quite the business.

Here is a family friendly collection of episodes from the legends at Radiolab, and while we are in a podcast state of mind, behold the latest episode of Your Undivided Attention, which is dazzling. And it references the legendary Fred Rogers. And yes, it is solution focused, with Eli Pariser making such smart analogies between the design of public spaces and online fora. I said fora. Having done a bit of playground design (and having learned at the feet of legendary teachers) I feel like I can dig this metaphor. Oh, and I own this book. Am I a town planner, or just kidding?

More from me later … lots of thinking going on in between trashy novels and domesticity.

Arohanui x x x

PS! Important announcement! In response to my daughter’s scrawling penmanship, I read her “2020” as ‘zozo’, and it occurs to me that this year must be zozi, next year will be zozz, and then I think it’s zoze, and 2024 could be zoza. At a stretch, we could follow that with zozs, zozg, (which, admittedly are a bit lame) but then you round out the decade with zozy, zate (best I could do) and perhaps zozg to finish.

No? Just an idea.