quick and squinty

Geeks!

I have a bit of a headache and I suspect tech use is not helping.  Eyes are unhappy, so I’ll make this snappy.  Damn, I’m poetic under pressure!

K: so, let’s begin and end with podcasts, shall we?  The first one I have listened to already – it’s good.  From the Urban Monk podcast, with our new pal Dr. Freed.  IT was a response to this awesome article on Medium, which we’ve linked to previous like.

While we are reviewing the need for caution around familial tech use, check out this article from the Atlantic, wondering how much we know about the tech habits of parents.  I’ve been doing a TON of reading on this very topic, now that I have university library privileges (WHOOP!! WHOOP!!).

This is why we are joining in on Screen Free Week – at least some family members are.  We just seem to need to be reminded about other stuff we love doing.  Lego!  Cross stitch!  Playing guitar!

I get the irony that I am online posting this during said week, but I’m at least trying to clear tabs before children return home.  And this is not entirely entertainment media.  So there.

Here is an article from Scientific American about implicit bias (cos, why not?) and this is a link to an abstract for a paper about doing postgrad study with a title that made me smile.

And check out the smartypants commenter on this article from Mothering magazine.  Oh wait, that’s me …

While we’re talking parental leave and Mothering mag, here is an article about the attitudes of women around the world maternity leave laws in the US.  Mate.  I shake my head.  If a culture isn’t cherishing mamas and babies, that is called Devolution.

Finally, to get us back on track, behold the wisdom and wonder of Dr. Dan Siegel, interviewed here on the Doctor Paradox podcast.  This is the one I haven’t listened to yet, but will tend to that tomorrow during school hours!  Thanks to the lovely Dr. C for this link.

joy. ease.

Kia Ora geeks.

Those are my words du semain … the concepts I’m looking for in decisions great and small.  How do I increase joy?  And can I find ease in this?  Amazing what it does to a day.

I will increase joy if I can share some links with y’all before cooking a nutritious dinner for my peeps.  So here they come …

First, from the Atlantic, an article about the complex lives of babies.  Blank slates they are not!  Next, from Slate, a review of a book which encourages parents to consider a more German method of parenting (ie, let them roam!).  I appreciate that the review acknowledges the conundrum for folk who consider a parenting method which sits well outside of their own cultural norms.  Ouchie.

Here is a 20 minute interview from RNZ National’s Jessie Mulligan, about the science of perfect timing.  INTERESTING.  And HOORAY for the rise of the ol’ fashioned board game!  I’m in!

This is cool, from Harvard Medical School.  “Nature, meet nurture!”.

And an excellent perspective from the NY Times about teens and sexuality and pressure and sexism and the need to talk to both boys and girls, instead of just holding the girls responsible.  It’d be easier for girls to resist sending nude pictures if boys didn’t ask in the first place!  Right on!

deep breaths and crossed eyes

oh babyat last … I’ve made it out into my glorious office and photographed the OHbaby! mag which houses my article about Technoference.  Oh, friends and gentlegeeks, if money (and courage!) were limitless I’d rush off to Rome for the World Infant Mental Health Congress in May next year.  Just to hear Jenny Radesky and her “Digital Media in the Dyad” prez.  Swoon!

But alas … I’m neither rich enough NOR am I sufficiently brave.  Travel often feels pretty daunting.  I managed a trip to Canada last year, communing with other disciples of the Gospel according to Bruce. 

But a foreign language, another whole continent away?  For a New Zealander to even think about Rome you’d have to pad it with ages either side, to justify the costs.  Both the monetary expense and the time.  Uproot the whole family for a good month.  Spend as much as it’s going to cost to fix the laundry/kitchen conundrum.

Too much, too soon for this geek.

Ah … a wise local recently reminded me: for everything there is a season, etc.

For today, I’ll stay home with an ailing teen and tend to some office time.

First … may I share some links?

I’ll start with some light reading for the nerdily inclined … a paper published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.  It’s by Jenny Radesky and others, and then an awesome longread article by the Guardian about smartphone addiction … the dude who invented the “Like” button and his peers all send their kids to schools without screens.

Mark my bloody words:  To learn to think creatively enough to be able to build such immensely complex and innovative things as iPads and apps and pull-down refresh functions. … you gotta have a childhood full of relational richness and hands-on play.  Nature and sunshine and eye contact.  Opportunities to lose yourself in discovery and enjoyment.

Meanwhile … what are we like?

What are we actually like?

Honestly, I could go on all day.

Between the angsting about technoference (think of the children!  And not just to sell stuff to them!)  and the all the coveting I’ve been doing (WANT and WANT) I’ve barely had time for much else.  School holidays are over, of course, which changes things a bit.

Speaking of schools, there’s been another conversation about teaching values/life skills (dare I say it!  Social and emotional intelligence stuff!) in the classroom.  I’m kinda all for it, but remind us all that amazing things like Roots of Empathy, and the Nurture Groups, and other cool things exist.  We can call on existing ideas with evidence based results.  We can do better than dodgy posture and other forms of self harm.   We can find ways to heal.

We bloody well ought to.  Digital focus, my eye.

Life, eh!   What, ho!  What a ride.

 

quick … while the room is empty

you know, one of the more challenging bits of being outspoken about the dangers of tech overuse … my kids have zero tolerance for a hypocritical mother.  (Yummy blog post HERE from the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood about the Camp Grounded experience).  So school hols are a difficult time to get to my computer and do even the bare minimum.

But OH!  The links I have to share!

Here come a flurry thereof: First, from the Washington Post, this is AMAZING on so many levels!  This is your brain on Art … enjoy.  Next, further evidence, it seems, of our profound interrelatedness.  This is a snippet about some research done at Penn State, demonstrating how a mother’s relational wellbeing with her partner may have implications for her baby’s state.

Speaking of research: this is PROFOUND … it’s from MIT.  Behold the poetry of the academic abstract!  Wade through for useful insights.  Shared meals, touch.  Yup.

OH MY GODDESS I just loved this, from Mothering.com, about Mother Culture.  Sign me up.  I reckon Podcasts go a long way toward filling my head with juicy content.

Here is a small local piece of news (I think it’s from Rhode Island?) where students are requesting screen-free time in classrooms.   Poor buggers.  And it’s so modest, what they’re asking for.  Meanwhile check this out … an organisation called Protect Young Eyes, who are all about digital safety for kids.  As am I.

For the Halloween inclined, this is a list of costumes for girls … non-slutty costumes, non-princess-dependent costumes, thanks to the awesome “Mighty Girl” website.  In a totally different direction, here is a sheet for teachers … what you oughta know about adoption.  

This is a link to an odd and cool take on the relationship between sleep and brains (oooh!  Jellyfish!) and another conversation about brains and other creatures … what the heck, pusscats, poop, and brain parasites.  YOWZER.    Finally, and this is from Mothering as well, an article about what Self Care looks like when Mama is depressed.  Thank you.

Anyway, I have to share a pic of the most recent OhBaby, which has an article I wrote about Technoference … but the rain is relentless and my office (in a separate building, albeit on the same property!) seems a long way away.  So bear with, K?

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!