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.

 

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.

Playcentre, baby

Kia Ora Geeks, what’s up?  So Little Girl and I started our week with a beautiful visit to the Playcentre in Leithfield.  I wanted to follow up with a few links from our conversation there.

First: May I say how much I love Playcentre as a movement, a philosophy, and a thing in general.  It’s uniquely kiwi, supportive of families (therefore is grounded in Bioecological theories of human development, whoop whoop!) and it is a monument to play.  And play rules.  That’s that. As I told the lovely Kate, who is writing about the morning for a Playcentre publication, being in a Playcentre makes me proud to be a New Zealander.

I also happen to adore Kay Henson, who runs that Monday morning session at Leithfield Playcentre.  What a lucky little village.  And what lovely, devoted mamas all hanging out that day.  I am grateful to have spent some time with you all.

I see the way you attend so patiently, selflessly, (exhaustedly!) to your settled, loved, inquisitive children.  I see you.

Some of the things I wanted to follow up:

This is a good intro to temperament theory, and, to follow on, here is an article about the concept of Goodness of Fit.  And this article does a lovely job of explaining Self Regulation and highlights the link between it and Goodness of Fit.  Good times!

An extension of our temperament conversation led us into talking about Elaine Aron and her Highly Sensitive Person work.  Check out more here.

A couple of musical links now: first with regards to behaviour.  This is Accentuate the Positive, which is more than just a classic tune.  It’s also a great strategy for dealing with our families.  It’s a behaviour management anthem, about choosing your battles, and celebrating the bits that are going well!

The next musical link is a live version of Dixie Chicken by Little Feat, from the year of our Lord, 1977.  It’s for Dixie and her mama.

What else?  Here is a link to learn more about Madga Gerber, this is a book I highly recommend, this is one of the Buddhist inspired parenting books I wouldn’t live without (I chatted with one mama about this), and won’t you please have a peruse of my writing page for many expansions of some of the topics we discussed.

Finally, this is a random and cool link from Mothering mag about baby birds and the power of song … ooooh.

Speaking of birds, I’m off to give my poorly chook a spa treatment.  I wish I was kidding.

life after the Olympics

220px-Daisy_chainwe are fans of the Olympic games, in this house.  It’s one of the only times that our rigid “No TV in the mornings” rule gets bent.

Little Girl and I have had several re-enactments of races, victories, and awards ceremonies.  She likes to gaze reverentially at an imaginary flag being raised, and has a warm way of congratulating other imaginary competitors on their good runs.

The weird bit is how she’s turning everything into competition, now.  An example, from yesterday, as she’s gathering daisies off the lawn: “Pretend I won the flower-picking competition!”  Flower picking as competitive event?  Break my heart!  Go on!

I’m not a particularly competitive person, so my instinct is to detract from this trait.  One beautiful strategy for turning away from rampant competition is to embrace the wonderful world of yoga.  I’m on my mat several times a week, and will feel more competent in supporting my kids to enjoy their bodies and their own practice having had the great fortune to attend a day of training with the beautiful Michaela from Yogi Kids.  Namaste (now let’s play!)

What else?  A flurry of important, informative and slightly depressing links from Australia.  First, from the Early Trauma and Grief Network, an excellent PDF about supporting children who have witnessed family violence.  I’ve linked to it before, but I’m linking to it again because it worthy: it dispels some myths and is altogether excellent.   This is a link to the website of an organisation called Lifespan whose mission is to prevent suicide, and please behold this (important!  Slightly depressing!) from the Valuing Children Initiative … it’s about public perception of children.

This is an important li’l piece written by a Scientist … it’s about keeping the ‘A’ in STEAM (instead of narrowly obsessing about STEM).

This is a report from the Pew Charitable Trust, summarising vast amounts of information about the efficacy and awesomeness of Home Visiting (unnecessary captials, I know!  But I flippin love home visiting).  Kiwi Midwives do some home visits, Plunket do a little (and used to do more) and Parents as First Teachers (PAFT) have just tragically had their funding cut!

A couple of gifts from Scientific American, and then I gotta go be an attentive parent once more.  First: Data Visualization and Feelings (I feel that I flippin love this, so what does that look like?) and finally, here is neuroimaging exploring what new thoughts look like as they take shape in the brain.

link-o-rama because that’s what we like

Kia Ora geeks

First up: here is a guest post I wrote for the OHbaby! blog.  It’s about work travel and missing one’s family.  Stuff like that.

Next, this is an excellent PDF from Australia, about the realities for young children who observe family violence and HERE is a 3 minute video from the Center for the Developing Child that I think you will dig.  Cos you’re into stuff like this, or you wouldn’t be here.

This article is about the value of handwriting, and here’s why you oughtn’t read in the car.

Finally, from Harvard, something for the brain geeks … about visual cortex neurons.  Wooooohoo!

link salad

Ladies and Gentlegeeks,

I sat down to share some links with y’all and had to pause the job in order to take Little Girl outside with warm gears on, so we could crunch the ice on some puddles.  The reason for my playful outdoor interruption?  This article from the Guardian about the important role of language in maintaining a positive relationship with the natural world.

Next: a collection of videos dedicated to exploding brain myths.  Enjoy.  Less enjoyable, but equally important, here is a report from the Australian government about children’s exposure to family violence.  If that has you reeling, here is a slew of info from the American Psychological Association about increasing adult resilience.

Another gathering of useful links from another amazing crew is this collection from the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

I’ve been revisiting my appreciation for Motivational Interviewing as a result of seeing a (FRICKIN’ AMAZING) presentation by Stuart Ablon at the conference in Banff.  His Collaborative Problem Solving approach seems to have a bit in common with MI.  Add it to the list of stuff I love!

Just a few more.  A li’l something from Scientific American about the ways that diversity makes us smarter,  some examples of how Richard Scarry books (which we adore, round here) have been made more relevant to today’s audiences, and finally, because Little Girl has been asking heartbreaking questions lately, some links for talking with your kids about death.

Life!  It’s amazing.  It’s awful.  And in between, there’s laundry.

x x x

talking, writing, and handouts

Kia Ora te whānau  … what an unseasonably warm day it is in North Canterbury.  The trees say “autumn” but the temperature says “summer”.

Tomorrow kids (in NZ) will return to school and kindergarten and their families will return to a term-time state o’ mind.  I’m always on the fence about it … could use some more time with the kids, not stoked about packing lunches, but pretty thrilled to reinitiate the ebb and flow of a consistent routine.

And a few days back I had the great pleasure of working with some lovely kindergarten teachers and early childhood folk are my TRIBE so it was super yummy.  I will now have a crack at attaching a link so that you can download the handouts, as promised.  Wish me luck.  My computer is a bit antique and my blog software due an update!  Here we go:

OK.  That’s going to be more complex than I thought.  The files are too big.  I will need to figure out how to make them smaller and do that again.

Bear with.

Meantime, here are some links to edify and entertain:

Here is an article from Scientific American about creativity (*it’s more than just rehearsing!) and I’m loving this link from Mothering about healthy eating on a tight budget.  For tips about child health of a different kind, I’m sending you anew to the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, specifically their resource ‘Healthy Kids in a Digital World’.

This link will take you to a website from Australia, called Kids Matter, telling us three ways to help children become more confident, and check out this explanation of normal sleep expectations … a gift for tired parents, also from Mothering.com.

Here’s an interesting notion about brain hacks to increase motivation, from NPR, and TIME magazine have an article here warning of the practice of time-outs in child discipline.  Discipline = to teach.  And what are we really teaching, hmmm?  x x x

benefits of bailing

mar 2016 ohbabeKia Ora geeks!  Here is the latest issue from our friends at OHbaby!  I am proud of the piece I wrote in there, about quitting, and I enjoyed many other gems, tooski.

Speaking of OHbaby!, I wrote an article for the Winter 2014 issue, about maternal anger.  Just last week, one of the mamas I interviewed at the time sent me this article from the Guardian, about expressing emotions around children.  She reckons we were ahead of the curve.  How exciting, for a reclusive hermit anti-fashionista!

Now let me share these great many links with y’all.  From the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, this is a fab resource promising real-life strategies for reducing screen time.  Next, because who doesn’t love a good infographic, this is a resource from Zero to Three summarising the impact of poverty on early child development.

And from the Child Trauma Academy (I promise not to use the word ‘resource’ again …) is this excellent slide series/video about … well, child trauma.   Similarly awesome is this report from the Berry Street whānau in Australia.  They do amazing work for children and families and they call on the CTA wisdom to do so.

Also from Australia: this news report about a Mother’s milk bank, and this from Scientific American will tell you what wee babies can see that we no longer can.  Also from Scientific American: this article describes how the wiring of your brain reveals the real you.

Some research and a grunty report now … Here is some open access research about how Mindful Parenting lowers stress in children (frankly I should flippin well hope so!!), while this research identifies types of humour exhibited by children, and links them to resilience.   This report from the USA examines what investments are needed to get kids ready for school.

Finally, this from the Independent newspaper tells us what parenting techniques have been used by parents of successful children (*would love to see a definition of what ‘successful’ means) and BOY OH BOY would I love to do some shopping at Kanikani Kids.  Tino ataahua enei!

american football v. cricket

Mine is a household populated by NZ born and US born people.  Usually it’s harmonious, but today we have the Superbowl being broadcast at the same time as the Black Caps vs. Australia.  There is a small degree of discontent!

The ways we express our culture are many, are they not?

Anyway, I’d consider watching nothing at all, in the hope that I’d get a wee bit bored.  Because boredom is splendid – here is a l’il something from Scientific American to that effect.  Ah, and if you get truly, magnificently bored, you may get to have a wee sleep.  And there isn’t much more awesome than sleep.

I’d also love to share this link to a yummy write up about life in a responsive classroom.  Gotta love it!  And please forgive the facebook-y nature of this link, but it’s dreamy.  About healthy body image talk and motherhood.

Speaking of healthy body images and motherhood – have you seen this?  The magnificence of breastfeeding on Sesame Street?  Dig!  You know what else I dig?  Yoga practice.  

Right.  My three year old is in danger of becoming v unpopular with the TV watching men. There is nothing developmentally unreasonable about HER behaviour …!