Winter at last

Kia ora darlings,

Temperatures make a gal say BRRRRR, but the power of love oughta keep her warm. Full disclosure: I am typing this with a heater blowing on my toes and a scarf wrapped around my head and neck.

I have so very many links to share, today: first up is something I worked on with Kate Barber for Family Times, aiming to give sensible advice to parents in these bananas times. Hopefully the impending Matariki celebrations in NZ (new year, really!) will shift the bananas flavour of things. Redemption. Repair. Renewal.

Next, something I wrote years ago, about new parenthood, and another oldie-but-goodie is in this list of past articles from Ngā Tau Tuatahi. Where are they all? I might have to scan/post, like it’s the olden days. Speaking of the olden days: remember THIS, from North and South? JEEZ it caused ripples at the time. Yup, I’m quoted in there.

Now let’s change gears: please enjoy this bit of tragi-comedy from McSweeneys. Satire so apt it hurts me. (PS: MUMS RULE).

Next: an excellent blog post about “making the internet small again” and here now is the blog of the incomparable Pasco Fearon, who will encourage you to think about child development. Another awesome child development blog here = the laughing baby. And howzabout this … a lovely resource for new parents, from the UK.

Forgive me if I’ve shared this before, but it’s important: this is research exploring the impacts of starting one’s life during the COVID 19 pandemic. How are babies doing? Speaking of COVID, this is good, from Scientific American, about weighing up risks, and here is a link to the World Health Organisation’s COVID data-o-rama.

Similarly, I don’t know if I have shared this before either, but it’s bloody fascinating. The human Screenome project. Sheesh is the word!

Nearly there … a responsible tech jobs board … and you might need a new job because I’m about to wind out this post with a bunch of coveting … a book about the design of childhood (the untold story of blocks! Yes!) some BEAUTIFUL Māori and Pasifika toys from It Takes a Village, an oldie but a goodie textbook from Oxford University Press and some beautiful downloadable bits and pieces from Flow Magazine (we miss you).

Finally: we can now buy environmentally sensible bean bag fillers in NZ (mine have arrived and await the messy filling bit – if you live in Chch they’ll fill ’em for you in their warehouse AND there is a new Nick Mulvey album GET EXCITED x x x

Dear Screen Free Week 2022,

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Dear Screen Free Week 2022,

Hey, old friend! It’s been a while. We have an intimate history, you and I, and I just want to acknowledge your validity – as well as my emotional absence. You know I have promoted you locally in the past, and in 2020 I purchased your merch – I love wearing my SFW t-shirt, even though we all abandoned the pressure and pleasure of taking the week off screens during that first bit of pandemic.

The thing is – this year, I have utterly failed in sharing the news of your arrival. I’ve been so flipping flat out with my doctoral confirmation process and the fresh rigours of family life … I simply failed to get it together for flyer-printing and press-release-sending. And now the week is upon us, I’m not even sure I can rally the family for an in-house SFW. Now, quick – get me some Brene Brown in an IV, because the shame that accompanies this apathy (? is it apathy?) is IMMENSE.

So let’s try a regroup. One of the real missions of this week seems to be about challenging accepted autopilot patterns – especially with regard to entertainment media. I’m all for that. But I guess I’m already pretty self-aware around this. I barely doomscroll the news anymore, I don’t use social media, and I’m purposeful about selecting uplifting and delightful things to watch.

What I crave, and I’m not sure how I will achieve this for some months (*see prior point about confirmation, etc!) is a total break from ALL tech. Not my phone, no cell service or wifi, not my laptop or word processor … not even a podcast (shock, horror). I would like my brain and body (mate, my eyes are sore at the end of a desk day!) to experience a total screen tech rest. Books and magazines, pens and paper, records and cds. Long walks and daydreaming. Rest. Not sure husband and children would tolerate this, so it could wind up being a solo expedition of some kind, and it may be a long while before she gets it.

Meanwhile, take care. See what you can rustle up during Screen Free Week, even if it’s just a solitary night off the telly, with library books for company, instead.

Actually, that sounds pretty great 🙂 x x x

and the year goes March-ing on

Hello darlings,

Crikey dick. March already. Makes me a bit clammy on the palms, as I have SO MUCH WORK to do, and a finite amount of daily brain power.

In the meantime, I would like to share a slew of links with you.

First, a couple that specifically deal with TikTok (ugh). This is from Wired, and it’s about the company’s desire to host/post longer videos (even though longer videos stress users out). Why would they do that, you ask? To sell more advertising, of course!! Speaking of advertising on TikTok, check out this craziness, about ADHD medication being pitched to youngsters. Again: ugh.

Here is a link to some work from George Washington University, about the peddling of COVID-19 misinformation to parent groups, which reminded me of this from NZ’s Stuff about ‘mumfluencers’ (that word deserves another one: ugh!). ALSO: same but different, this is from Wired about the ways that the internet is failing mums-to-be.

What depressing news can I share with you, next? How about this, from the BBC, about how popular children’s game Roblox has been invaded by pervs (are we surprised?) but LEST WE FORGET, before we go blaming children for being enticed by the online world … kids’ screen habits are very much a reflection of their parents’ habits, and as this piece from the Atlantic reminds us, those parental habits MATTER.

Speaking of kids’ habits … this is a piece from the Newsroom in NZ about screen time, and I’ll invite you to compare and contrast that with an opinion piece from the Washington Post about how social media use is a much more useful yardstick than just ‘screen time’.

I’ll end with three hopeful-ish links … first, from the Guardian, about the value of prioritising in-person intimacy over our smartphones, and THIS from the BBC … it’s about ditching the smartphone and howzabout this from the Atlantic, encouraging connection to nature.

I mean … we are human mammals. We are part of nature. Jeez. With that in mind, I might rug up against the early-autumn chill and eat lunch outside. Arohanui! x x xx

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