reluctant radicalism – cell phones at school. The new smoking. Ugh.

My big girl is thirteen, she’s just started high school.  And she is one of very, very few children whose parents have not put a cellphone into her hands.

I’m hearing of subtle and insidious ways that the staff’s behaviour (interval/morning tea time is announced with “OK, phone time!”) and policies (“take a photo of the school notice with your phones”, “we will text you if there’s a change”) seem to blindly assume that more tech is better.

I’ve yet to find a representation of an opposing view, questioning or critical thinking.  I have not seen evidence of an awareness for the need for a balanced approach.  There have yet to be conversations about responsible use of the tool, or the risks associated with it.

Risks, you say?  Ummm … yup.

Let’s review a handful of studies dealing with cell phones and adolescents, shall we?

Intensive cell phone use was associated with female sex, rural school location, good family economy, smoking tobacco, excessive alcohol consumption, depression, cell phone dependence, and school failure. More health education is needed to promote correct and effective cell phone use among adolescents. Factors associated with intensive use and dependence should be considered for possible intervention activities.

 

With apologies for the random and non-APA status of my references, a citation for that is here: Mercedes Sánchez-Martínez and Angel Otero. CyberPsychology & Behavior. April 2009, 12(2): 131-137. doi:10.1089/cpb.2008.0164.

Or check this out, from the journal of BMC Public Health, in 2011:

High frequency of mobile phone use at baseline was a risk factor for mental health outcomes at 1-year follow-up among the young adults. The risk for reporting mental health symptoms at follow-up was greatest among those who had perceived accessibility via mobile phones to be stressful. Public health prevention strategies focusing on attitudes could include information and advice, helping young adults to set limits for their own and others’ accessibility.

 

Here are some findings from another paper dealing with the mental health issues:

Measured cell phone use (CPUse) to include the device’s complete range of functions.

 

CPUse was negatively related to students’ actual Grade Point Average (GPA).

 

CPUse was positively related to anxiety (as measured by Beck’s Anxiety Inventory).

 

GPA was positively and anxiety was negatively related to Satisfaction with Life (SWL).

 

Path analysis showed CPUse is related to SWL as mediated by GPA and anxiety.

 

You can find that here: Computers in Human Behavior  Volume 31, February 2014, Pages 343–350

There are risks to the mental health of our children.  That’s not all:

There are many academic papers dealing with the development of scales to measure cell phone addiction in adolescents, (because this is a universal problem!) (eg: Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing . Dec2009, Vol. 39 Issue 6, p818-828).  We don’t even know the longterm effects on our eyesight, posture, and fine motor functioning.  There is some evidence to suggest there are negative impacts on our reproductive health (and to be clear: I really want grandchildren some day!)

This is a bit like our attitude to tobacco a century ago!  Everybody’s doing it, let’s hope for the best!!

School is where our kids are supposed to become smarter, and yet the use of smartphones has been proven to dumb us down;  OBSERVE:

Lower analytic thinking associates with increased Smartphone use.

 

Results suggest that people offload thinking to the device.

 

Supports conceptualization of Smartphone use as a type of cognitive miserliness.

That’s from the journal Computers in Human Behavior, Volume 48, July 2015, Pages 473–480, a paper called The brain in your pocket: Evidence that Smartphones are used to supplant thinking.  

More dumbing down happens with excessive use of social media:

There was significant relationship between Facebook use and anxiety, while cell phone owners perceived themselves as more outgoing, cheerful, and sensitive. A significant proportion of teenagers indicated that their cell phone was inextricably wrapped with their identity and even their sense of self-worth. Results from the survey suggested a statistically significant, negative relationship between Facebook activity and math grades of the respondents.

 

That’s from a paper called: Facebook Use and Texting Among African American and Hispanic Teenagers.  An Implication for Academic Performance  It was written by E. Bun Lee and published in 2014.

This paper (Adolescent in-school cellphone habits: A census of rules, survey of their effectiveness, and fertility implications, it’s from the journal called Reproductive Toxicology, Volume 32, Issue 3, November 2011, Pages 354–359) looked at school policies, check out their recommendation at the end:

All schools banned private use of cellphones in class. However, 43% of student participants admitted breaking this rule. A high-exposure group of risk-takers was identified for whom prohibited in-school use was positively associated with high texting rates, carrying the phone switched-on >10 h/day, and in-pocket use.

The fertility literature is inconclusive, but increasingly points towards significant time- and dose-dependent deleterious effects from cellphone exposure on sperm. Genotoxic effects have been demonstrated from ‘non-thermal’ exposures, but not consistently.

There is sufficient evidence and expert opinion to warrant an enforced school policy removing cellphones from students during the day.

 

We clearly need debate, discussion, calm heads and reasonable policies that have been designed by adults (those of us with the fully formed cortexes) to protect children.

This is lunacy.  A device that is associated with a host of negative health outcomes is having its use encouraged without question.

Kids: it’s morning tea time.  Get your tobacco out.  Have at it.

 

The Centre of Champions

Kia Ora friends,

I had a lovely morning with the dedicated and delightful crew of the Champion Centre earlier this week.  We buzzed out about the work of The Child Trauma Academy, specifically the gems from last year’s International Symposium on the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics.  I wonder which keen Kiwis will attend next time?

Hey: remember how I referred to the existence of Brain Maps but I didn’t really teach about them because I’m not qualified in the appropriate ways?  Well, here is some more info about them … perhaps you’re thinking of becoming NMT certified and nek minnit, I dunno, completing your PhD …?

In no particular order, I said I’d share various things … the book I recommended so highly (*don’t just order it, actually read it!!) is The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk.  Mind Blowing stuff.  Here is a link to a lecture he gave … thanks YouTube.  Y’all are great.

So great!  Here is another YouTube link: this one to a talk by Stuart Ablon – he of the “Kids Do Well if they Can” mantra.  Dig this.  I reckon this fulla is the business.

And in conversation with Marie, her beautiful daughter and dreamy grandbaby, I referred to the beautiful work that the Brainwave Trust had done in carefully & rationally reviewing all the info about the impact of group care on babies.  Check out a short, long, and aural version here.  

Such a joy to work with such dedicated, giving professionals.  Arohanui x x x

Kia Ora, 2017

220px-Daisy_chainAren’t you a tantalising new year then, eh?  Unfolding provocatively, with your opportunities and stressors, joys and delights!  I welcome you!

Quick few links to share, then I’m gonna crack on with my yoga practice – 31 day challenge, love you Adriene!

First up, please join me in celebrating the values of scheduling fewer activities for our children.  This term we have Big Girl about to start high school and Little Girl gearing up for primary school … I have hit ‘pause’ on ALL activities.  Swimming, piano: PAUSE.  We’ll pick ‘em back up term two.  Let’s all catch our breath with a new system, first.

Here is an article from the NY Times about a loving librarian (dreamy … the moral of the story is TURN UP for what you believe is important) and on the subject of books, check out these wee beauties, from Japan.  COVET!

From reading to writing: those of us with children and things to say will appreciate this article, from the Guardian.  I have not shared with my Geeky brothers and sisters yet, but OH MY CRIKEY GOODNESS look at this amazing project I’m getting to work on just now. Careful what you wish for!

Here is an article from Scientific American about the changes to our brains after pregnancy (just as well, really) and from the Atlantic, an article about the amazingness of babies.  It blows my mind how many people still think that infants are ‘blank slates’ and still haven’t received the memo of their magnificence!!

This is interesting: an examination of the skills that job seekers need to thrive … of course we all know that the best time to influence job seekers is DURING THEIR INFANCY!  Thanks, Professor Heckman!  For realz, how long has it been since you brushed up on The Heckman Equation?

Time to crack on.  My yoga mat, she calls to me.  And my kids will awaken at any moment! x x x

Shout out to the kin-keepers at Christmas-time

Hello friends.

Kin-keepers: I see you.  People like me: the card-senders and list-writers and picnic-packers of the season.

Kin-keeping is all the stuff we do to maintain strong bonds with friends & family. It’s the name given to the invisible raft of tasks that supports the rich social connections required for optimal health.

It’s thinking ahead to get the ingredients for your dad’s favourite birthday dinner.  It’s remembering to call your mother-in-law on the day of her medical appointment.  It’s about making a list and checking it twice.

This is often invisible work, but it deserves to be a separate line-item in the imaginary time budget of our lives, but because it tends to morph itself into the general busy-ness of family life (pack the swimming bag, unload the dishwasher, soak the collars) even those of us who facilitate the lion’s share of the kin-keeping underestimate the demand it places on our resources: time, energy, funds.

Ideally, kin-keeping is a joy.  With a little bit of breathing room about it, a gift for a friend can be a loving creation (I love making smart-arse cross stitches for my significant ladies) and preparing a casserole for an ailing relative can be a lovingkindness meditation.  But when time is short and energy is stretched, buying the gift or making the meal can feel more like pressure – even resentment – than love.

At this time of the year, when New Zealanders are preparing for the whole world to shut down for a few weeks, with school prizegivings and work dos, let alone a massive feast to cater, it can be really hard to find that breathing room to create a joyful kin-keeping heart.

I find it much easier to take the advice about slowing down, being mindful, practicing gratitude if I identify kin-keeping for what it is.  Give it a name.  Recognise what a vital function I am performing for my family when I remember that Little Girl will need a gift for Olivia’s 5th birthday on Sunday.  (CRIKEY that’s tomorrow.  No worries.  Zero panic.  She’ll be right, etc.)

How about this for a cool name: te ahi kā.  I am told that this is what the first New Zealanders would have called the person who (quite literally) keeps the home fires burning.  There are hunters, there are gatherers, there are gardeners, and there is te ahi kā. 

I salute your work all the year round, but I especially honour you now, 8 days from Christmas with kids rattling around hereafter.  All that food, those bathroom wipe-downs, the gift-wrapping: it all happens in the service of family relationships, and that makes it such noble work.

Someone has to keep the meals chugging and the laundry flowing, and I sing a song in your name.

Arohanui, keepers of kin, ahi kā ma.

x

 

 

 

 

running somewhat behind …

oh baby dec 16I got my latest issue of OHbaby! magazine a good week ago, but life has been so intense and my children so needy that I have not had an opportunity to tell you about it.  It includes my Open Letter to the Dads of Aotearoa.  I hope you will read it and enjoy it.

Speaking of Dads, check out this interesting research as described in the Guardian … it tells how a man’s attitude to fatherhood impacts his kids’ behaviour.  We are not even talking about his actions, just his attitude.  INTERESTING.

More later.  To close I’ll share that my family and I are currently obsessed with Bad Lip Reading … Star Wars, Presidential Debates, High School Musicals, all of it.  It makes me laugh till I cry, which is a phenomenon I adore!

Now, to get in the washing and make the dinner and unpack from the school trip …

Thankful for … Los Amberleys

Kia Ora Friends

The weekend has almost evaporated.  I’m trying hard to get a bit of rest in, after a huge day of cooking a thanksgiving feast for our half-American family.  The trees and pollen of late springtime are having their way with my respiratory system, and I could use a lie down!  Later, I promise.

SO: we had a buzz-out about all sorts of stuff at the Amberley Medical Centre’s forum last week, and – as promised - here is an intro to Temperament research, and here is an assessment scale.  More on that later!

Here is a talk by Bruce Perry, thanks be to YouTube, and if you’d like to muck around with the “think of child rearing in terms of what our ancestors did” idea, I recommend “The World Until Yesterday” by Jared Diamond, and “The Continuum Concept”, by Jean Liedloff.

**AND … I”m adding these in later … here are a couple of pieces I’ve written on the concept of Good Enough Parenting.  This is from the Newsletter of the Brainwave Trust,  and this was written for OHbaby! magazine.  ENJOY **

Better go, as I am trying to model healthy screen habits.  That’s step one, peeps.  A great book on this topic is “The Big Disconnect”, that’s your homework!

disasters: natural and unnatural

Another natural disaster has had its way with my community.  Thanks a lot, Rūaumoko.

So I’m gonna share this excellent resource again – the Open Letter to the carers of  Infant/Toddlers.  The mums and dads and others looking after the small humans.  It was produced by IMHAANZ (the Infant Mental Health Association of Aotearoa/New Zealand).  There is another, equally awesome, on their website.  It deals with sleep and it is here.

We will be well advised to learn how to respond intelligently to trauma.  If in doubt, check back with Bruce Perry and the Child Trauma Academy. 

And do some yoga.  After all, the body keeps the score.

nearly November

geez.  I know everyone says time speeds up as we age, but this year is beyond ridiculous, isn’t it?

I can feel myself on the verge of becoming one of those people who just keeps the Christmas decorations up, year round.  Because I’ve barely put all the tinsel into its boxes and back in the barn … and it’s time to get it all out again!

Anyway, my geeky brothers and sisters.  There are plenty of links I’d like to share with y’all today.  Here they come, with no particular order and no promise of snazzy segways in between …

A couple of foodie bits first, this about children’s ‘pester power’ when it comes to the marketing of junk food, and this one wondering about the alleged secrets to getting children to eat their vegetables.

This is a report from our Families Commission, back in 2013, reviewing evidence of efficacy for parenting programmes targeted at supporting vulnerable parents, and here is a similar (albeit more recent) effort from the UK.  Meanwhile, this is what the state government in Western Australia is up to, to help vulnerable families.

What else?  Um … Here is the You Tube channel of Stony Brook University’s Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics.  We’ll never run out of stuff to view, eh?

This link will take you to a publication from the American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s about virtual violence (and children’s exposure to it …) AND here is something v useful from the Australian Council for Educational Research.  It’s going to be very useful for classroom teachers, it’s about the implications of exposure to trauma.  Speaking of trauma (aren’t we always?) this is a link to a useful website about such thangs.

Finally, from the magnificent Center for the Developing Child, a paper about using the Science of child development in Child Welfare systems.

thinking out loud … why ‘Self Care’ is vital, and ‘Me Time’ is gross

Whaddup geeks?

Happy holidays to the kiwi families.  I’ve a list of jobs as long as my person, but I’m as happy as a clam about it, because most of them speak to my hermit like tendencies.  Clean the glasshouse?  Happy to.  Muck out the calf’s stall?  No worries.

Go to the supermarket?  Awwwwwwww … Can’t someone else do it?

So yesterday I had an excellent lunch and rant and conversation with some hard working and wise education legends in North Canterbury.  While we were examining the woes of the world (I was possibly blahing about the impact on child development of growing up in a society whose leadership values measures of GDP more than indicators of Human Flourishing)  I laid on the table my profound dislike of the phrase “Me Time” … and my seemingly paradoxical, overwhelming passion for Self Care.

“They are not the same thing.  One is about indulgence, the other is about nurture.” I offered. And the women agreed, adding that there is an element of separation in one that is not necessary in the other.

I will be back to this.

I’m not done.  But for now I need to get some firewood in and do a spot of forward bending.  Yoga is self care, you know.  Not me time.

I wonder

sept tots teens eleanor wonderHello friends, Kia Ora e hoa ma

A couple of things to update before I go heat up leftovers and pick some silverbeet leaves to throw on top (oooh, exotic!).  I was supposed to go to the fruit and veg shop today but when I pulled up outside I discovered I left my wallet at home.  Durrr.   It’s times like this I love my huckery old silverbeet plants.

But that’s not the point.

I wanted to share this cool link from the Lammily doll people about the creation of their new, realistic boy doll, and please enjoy this delicious gift from the folks at TRUCE (Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment) … this about using books to spark play.  

This is a link from the LA Times about the fear raising of a nature-phobic generation (not here.  Not yet.  Thank God(dess)…) AND you will see in today’s picture that Little Girl is reading the latest issue of Tots to Teens, which features a wee article I wrote.

I wonder what it’s about.  I’m being silly.  It’s about Wonder.

Finally, a giant shout out to my friend and colleague (*frolleague?) Sarah Best.  She is a writer, a teacher, and a like minded play enthusiast who spent her birthday weekend here with her husband, staying with my family.  Arohanui!!  x x x