How can this possibly be my first link share of 2023?

Well, crikey. Blame the workload (helloooooo data collection!), blame the family, heck – blame me if you like. It’s been a long-ass time since I posted, but the good news that accompanies this is that I have a backlog of fascination for you to peruse.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin!

First, may I share this super practical piece from Oregon Public Broadcasting about supporting young people’s positive body image through purposeful use of … you got it … smartphones/screens. Because let’s face it – as those behind this lawsuit understand, social media messes with people’s minds, and especially the young fellas. In breaking and yet unsurprising news from Bloomberg, Zuckerberg had been warned about this very thing.

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again – I volunteer to give that young man a crisp and hearty slap.

Here’s a smart essay about the creepiness of AI, and this is another smart essay, about attention.

I highly recommend this article from the Cut, about the trap that is inherent in giving a child their first phone, and LISTEN! How have we not been following the work of the Institute of Digital Media and Child Development? (Thanks to my colleague at Auckland Uni for the detective work).

Speaking of child development, here’s a wee piece I wrote for OHbaby! a while back, it’s about play and toys and it’s tech free (no surprises there). And here’s what Scientific American assert is the best way to soothe an infant. Hot tip: It has absolutely nothing to do with birthing in a full face of makeup. Ew.

This is an alarming description of the ways that TikTok tracks you across the web, and this is about an increasing number of schools and universities who are banning the platform from their campuses.

I love this, from the Washington Post, about making children peer reviewers for science writing, to ensure its digestibility, and this is pretty interesting … from Stuff, about the rise of for-profit childcare in NZ. Also ew.

Three quick links to end this … all more personal than I usually post here! This is a review to an amazing concert I was lucky enough to attend, here is a piece about George Michael and the injustices of “that” scandal (because I have loved him since I was a literal child) AND I’m super proud of my friends who hosted this gig. For flip’s sake, Tennessee. Stop reinforcing the stereotypes of small mindedness and redneckery, would ya please?

Dear Screen Free Week 2022,

SFW2021_SocialIcon-1.png (1080√ó1080)

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 ūüôā x x x

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.

look for the helpers

flatten curveKia Ora my friends.The beautiful image to the left is one of the series of free, lovely downloads from the awesome people at The Old Try.

You know what awesome Fred Rogers is quoted as saying? “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‚ÄúLook for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.‚ÄĚ”

Oh, bless you Mr. Rogers.

Look for the helpers, my friends.

Like here: in Singapore. And here: Yoga with Adriene.

 

And look for the beauty – like those aforementioned prints, like these phenomenal cross stitch patterns, and like this bit of amazing news about the return of swans and dolphins to the canals of Venice.¬†¬†And how lovely to witness adults being playful, as in this collection of lockdown vids from Huff Po.¬†I know … it’s confusing.¬† The ‘net is both blessing and curse.

A couple of COVID specific screen time resources here, for all the kids spending extra time at home …there is a well-timed webinar coming right up from our friends at the Children’s Screen Time Action Network, and¬†Common Sense Media will help you tread a little more carefully in the digital world, and I humbly offer an article I wrote some months (years!) ago, with some info about offline play for little ‘uns.¬†

Also: cut yourself a little slack, in the meantime! Good enough parenting, darlings.  Feel those feels and let the kidlets feel theirs too!  

We still gotta be careful about all the time online, pals. This is an article from the Guardian about how YouTube is an agent of radicalisation (if you didn’t hear this episode of the Undivided Attention podcast interviewing Guillaume Chaslot, it explains this notion v. well).

What else? Gotta bring it on home so I can go meet little girl off school bus.  Yup, still running in NZ.

Here is a guest post I wrote, about screen free week in NZ.  

And finally: RIP Ron Lally.  He was a tireless advocate for children and he helped change my professional trajectory.  He was kind and decent to me, we hung out both here and in Cali, and we in the field have lost a giant.

I only recently learned of his death, and I wept.

a love letter to my wrinkles

Photo on 27-01-20 at 1.52 PM #4Dear Wrinkles,

I like how when I gently separate the smile lines around my eyes, it reveals little pale stripes. This tells me that the summer (and my life!) has involved so much laughter and amusement that it has altered our landscape, creating little white valley floors.  Cute!

And as for that monstrous chasm between my eyebrows (aka my “MacGyver line“), I kinda love you too.¬† You exist like a sheer cliff face because you reflect the depth of my care, my concern, my outrage. With so much trouble in the world, none of us oughta have an unfurrowed brow.

Babies in cages? Languages dying? Planet heating?¬† …Until we can sort out a thing or two, there is too much to frown about.

Yikes, just today I have learned about the untimely death of poor Kobe Bryant & his little girl. Consider their surviving family … right there is grounds for a compassionate frown!

Other things that are frown-worthy: the increasing concerns surrounding smartphone use in the presence of our babies, that previous link from the NZ Herald, and over here in a professional setting from the good folk at The Conversation: same, same.

Anyway, Just letting a couple of things off my chest before January runs away on me.

And she’s a big one, e hoa ma. January 2020. New decade.

Oh, George Michael sang it beautifully back in the day:

Now everybody’s talking about this
New decade
Like you say the magic numbers
Then just say goodbye to
The stupid mistakes you made
Oh my memory serves me far too well

That was released in 1990, which does not seem that long ago to me! I still think that album sounds totally relevant. Current. But realistically, heaps of things have changed. It was 30 frickin years ago. I was 15. Now I’m a motherless mother of 2, a wife and homeowner. I can still dance to George Michael but let’s make it snappy cos I’ve got to get dinner ready.

Life changes. Which brings me back to the love letter to my wrinkles. …

My vestige of valleys. The creasy crew, the liney lot. You are a series of stories on my face, and I wouldn’t be without any of you. The longer I live, the more of you there shall be.¬† So, while I’ll continue to wear sunscreen everyday and slather on the moisturiser at night, I’ll welcome each of your entrenchments as evidence of a life lived fully.

Love,

mm x x x

PS, In other news, here is an article I wrote for OHbaby! a while ago about looking after our beautiful bodies, this is an article from Scientific American about the brain’s penchant for our bodies being exercised, and – similarly – HOLLER to the other peeps who are enjoying Adriene’s 30 day yoga programme = HOME. I’m about to do day 24! No frowning there.

’tis the season …

IMG_0570Kia Ora friends,

Here is a picture of me reading the latest OHbaby! under the Christmas tree… because
’tis the season for a link dump, fa la la la laaaaaa…

This excellent summer issue of OHbaby! holds an article I wrote, and many I didn’t!¬† All good though!

With apologies for having abandoned this faithful blog in recent weeks, I return with a plethora of interesting reading for the geekily inclined.

First up, hot off the (virtual) press: Here is an excellent piece from the NY Times, written by Tristan Harris (he of Center for Humane Tech fame).¬† It’s about our dear wee Paleolithic brains dealing with the Godlike capacities of tech. Then you might read this article from vox.com, it challenges the idea that our relationships with tech are aligned with evolution.

Some interesting stuff here about the youth: this piece from our pals at Sensible Screen Use is about the potential legal ramifications for schools & boards if children are harmed by their tech use while at school, here is an article linking teen smartphone use with ADHD, and this is an article from Ed Week about how bad kids are at spotting fake news, and LOOK! You can counter that by sharing this awesome resource about fact checking skills for students (thanks, Mike Caulfield!).

Let’s just ask the question, then: does educational technology really help students learn?

Check out the flash new website of the magnificent Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, and then ponder this article, which alleges that parents only spend 24 more minutes per day with their kids than they do with their phones.

A couple of gorgeous links here celebrating PLAY and specifically loose parts play. Loose Parts were all the rage in ECE circles toward the end of last century, and I”m happy to see discussion of their awesomeness again. THIS is an article from Penn State University, about observing children during such play, and this is from closer to home, from Education HQ.

Here is a report which confirms what you probably already instinctively knew: Work-Life conflict is stressing us out, and this is a report from Common Sense Media about youth screen use in 2019.

A few more tech links, now: this is a link to Richard Freed’s blog.¬† His latest piece reminds people about the parallels between the tech industry and the tobacco industry, blaming the individual user for becoming addicted (rather than amending the addictive nature of the products…).\ HERE is a story about learning to think (without the internet) again, and THIS is from the Guardian in the UK, another little something about the immorality of Facebook as they count alcohol and gambling amongst childrens’ interests. Nice! (not).¬† Which is worse?¬† That nonsense, or THIS spying by the period tracker app and the pushing of antenatal products by FB advertisers?

How about some yumminess to close … I LOVE this, from Scientific American … what can we learn from the advice we’d give our younger selves? (My advice: frown less & smile more, and always always always with the sunscreen!) here is a wonderful article from Simplicity Parenting about knife skills for kids (I’m so into it!) AND from New Dream.org … ideas for simplifying the holidays.¬†¬†

Arohanui, y’all x x x

the kindness of strangers

Mims-Ad-Facebook-Landscape

Kia Ora ladies and gentlegeeks,

It’s Labour weekend, and sunny.¬† I gotta go have yummy family time or at least get my sorry self into a shower, but first, I must express my gratitude to all the kind young mamas-to-be who have been enquiring about participating in research.

I was just hanging washing and reflecting on the generosity and curiosity of these familiar strangers. I’m an ol’ hippy from way back and I’d describe my vibe as :Feeling the love.

Tell you what though, my beautiful moment was marred by the realisation that I didn’t have sunscreen on my arms and that is reckless behaviour.

I’ll need a few Brene moments and a revamp of the morning routine.

Thanks to colleagues at OHbaby!, Plunket, KiwiParent, Family Times, and Tots to Teens, and the Brainwave Trust … also thanks to¬†my buddy Nathan. What are these lovelies up to? They are helping to spread the word the research project I’m part of at the University of Canterbury.

Which circles me back to the warmth and gratitude I’m feeling toward the young women who have reached out via email…¬†Arohanui x x x

Anyway, if I may return to the business of this blog and do a quick link dump? Then I’ll go rip into Labour Weekend.

First up: this link will take you to a well researched, well written article about kids and tech, by Keryn O’Neil at Brainwave.¬† Kia Ora.

And teacher friends … look at this exceptional blog about teaching media literacy to students. It’s called Four Moves, it’s all about fact checking, and it’s the work of Mike Caulfield, in the Pacific Northwest of the USA, but I’m going to leave you to check that fact.¬† Labour Weekend, etc., that’s why.

This is an interesting finding, from The Conversation in Australia, about how teens who don’t play organised sport seem to be pretty much as active as their pals who do.¬† Although perhaps those findings wouldn’t apply to the young uns described in this story from the Guardian, about overuse of video games.¬†

And I cannot get enough of this podcast. I adore Dolly Parton (remind me to tell you the story about the time I saw her at Nashville airport TRUE STORY) and I love Radiolab so this is a win.

 

PS GO THE MIGHTY ALL BLACKS.

I ruin parties!

Kia Ora ladies and gentlegeeks,

How to ruin a party, in two easy steps.

1) introduce yourself to a small group

2) explain that you’re researching the impact of parental distraction by smartphones on the parent:infant relationship.

That’s kinda why I call myself Captain Buzzkill.¬† Because I can’t sit and pretend everything is OK while babies are having their caregivers seduced and distracted by the dopamine machines.

Because I can’t switch this off!¬† A staunch child advocate knows no rest! The other night hubby and I were out on a Saturday night (that previous link is an awesome song but it is a YouTube video … RESIST – do not click on recommended videos, and here is why.)

ANYWAY we were attempting to both rock and roll to a visiting musician’s best efforts,¬†and he was riling up the crowd with “it doesn’t matter who you are, we all get a say” kind of messages, and instead of anything resembling a “woooo – hooooo!” the best I can do is lean into husband’s ear and say “not babies, though.¬† They need advocates”.

So edgy and cool am I!

Last night I had the great privilege of a rant and a talk with a group of whńĀnau in my own neck of the woods. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again I LOVE PLAYCENTRE

This coming hard on the heels of a joyful Saturday, getting to hang out in a roomful of loving professionals associated with Homebased childcare in New Zealand.

Lovely, lovely!

I was grateful for someone’s question last night about my imagined and desired guidelines for families to support them in making wise digital choices in the presence of babies. Off the top of my brain I came up with three good ones, and I’ve since thought of another worth including. These are based on the months and months of reading, writing & thinking I’ve done about tech and the years and years of reading, learning, writing, thinking & teaching about child development, families, relationships, attachment, behaviour, etc!

You get it, I am a baby geek.

Anyway.  The guidelines so far look like this:

  1. Save it till they Sleep
  2. If you must use tech, say “excuse me”
  3. Keep your phone in your bag in the next room
  4. Make routines (food, sleep, dressing) device free

Each of these can use some explanation and unpacking, but not now my friends.  I have to go do some domestic stuff before the evening shift begins!

Some of the resources we talked about were

  • humanetech.com¬†(+awesome podcast! “your undivided attention”)

computers, compassion

Kia Ora ladies and gentlegeeks,

If you are in NZ, I hope the school hols are treating you kindly.  Today has been a great day for a warm fire, baking and puzzles.  Soon I shall get serious about creating a delicious dinner for my crew.  Till then, I gotta lotta quality links to share.

Shall we?

First, I’m a little into the whole notion of Technology Shabbats, brainchild of Tiffany Shlain.¬† I heard about them via promotion for¬†the upcoming webinar from the Children’s Screen Time Action Network.¬† Those webinars tend to be pretty awesome.

There are a great many reasons to try something like a tech shabbat, to declare yourself a member of the resistance.¬† We are part of a mass experiment and our brains are changing as a result¬†…. or should we say, our brains are being changed.¬† There is something intentional and manipulative at play, although many will deny it.¬† Like Google.¬† Jeez, Google. You do WHAT?¬† Profit from pedophiles with your crazy recommendations and asymmetric algorithms?¬† Taste the shame.¬†

What to do?¬† If you’re New York rich, you might hire a coach to help raise phone-free kids,¬† which would be lovely, because all sorts of suboptimal outcomes are associated with too much tech … like these things in this blog post by Rae Pica, and read about¬†diminishing physical skills¬†in that there Australian article.¬† Pals, tech insiders don’t use the stuff like we’ve been coerced to.¬† Children are being predated on by the tech companies as well as the weirdos on their platforms.

Sigh.¬† Too much tech gets in the way of lots of other important things that children need to do.¬† They have WORK to do (they need “love, attention and plenty of free time”), if they are to be allowed to be thought “ready for school” at the appropriate age.¬† They gotta figure out how to make sense of emotion, they need adults helping them to process trauma¬†before it gets lodged in their bodies, and they gotta climb trees.

I mean, we all gotta get outside more, preferably to dig in the dirt.  We are going to have to continue to raise a little hell, like this mama in Maryland who I salute from afar as she advocates for saner screen use in her school.  Put books in all waiting rooms!!

a little light reading

Photo on 28-05-19 at 1.08 PMKia Ora e hoa ma,

This picture shows me holding a few of the books I’m kinda simultaneously reading.¬† How’s the attentional bandwith, you may ask?¬† Yeah, well you oughta see my piles of papers … and the electronic files all over my desktop (the ones awaiting printing!).¬† Does your brain ever feel itchy with the awareness of it all?¬† At least I have the blessed luxury of this website as a place to clean up the jumble of my tabs!¬† Let’s do that now, eh?

First, a comprehensive report from our cousins across the Tasman, about the first 1000 days and the opportunities for investment, support.  Brought to my attention by the good peeps at ARACY: the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth.  Kia Ora!

Next, a few links about early childhood education.¬† This is a report¬†emphasising the importance of ECE¬†from a financial perspective, here are a few goodies from the awesome Evolutionary Parenting website (ECE as allocare … when it’s done well, I say “hell, yeah!”), and here is a piece about play based learning in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Now … this is a small but important piece about the problems with using food as a play material¬†in ECE settings.¬† I’ve had this debate – I distinctly remember a training in San Diego, CA, in about 1999, where I explained that kiwi early childhood teachers hadn’t been using food in play since I could remember.¬† And friends, I trained in the early 90’s, not yesterday.¬† BUT… full disclosure: I have never been able to reconcile my effortless acceptance of removing rice/pasta etc from collage areas AND my deep, abiding love of play dough.¬† I am a work in progress.¬† ¬†Speaking of food: random link here from Harvard Medical School: new findings in praise of broccoli.¬† Yum!

Now, some links about play … here is an article from the New York Times about the adventure playgrounds that seem to be coming back into vogue (right on!) … reminds me of the one I long to visit in Tokyo, featured in the book Savage Park (which I devoured).¬† Whilst on the topic of adventurous play, the NY Times article references some research done here in NZ, and you can read about it HERE.

Oh, while we are thinking about international research … this piece from the awesome Conversation website is about talking to babies all over the world, and included the shocking stat that 95% of the world’s developmental science research is done on only 5% of the world’s populations.¬† Holy ding dong!

Now, from Psychology Today … it’s about letting toddlers help.¬† While we are talking about toddlers, I humbly share a piece I wrote a few years back for my pals at OHbaby! mag.¬† I adore toddlers and will defend them, always.

Hey … I talked about the Evolutionary Parenting website back there?¬† Here is a link so you can listen to her founder, Tracy Cassels, interviewed by Australian breastfeeding advocate, Pinky McKay.¬† I seriously rate Pinky, I just wish she didn’t encourage mums to include their phones and tv remotes in their breastfeeding support package, alongside their water bottles and (awesomely named) boobie bikkies. What’s my beef?¬† I insist that we must all¬†Beware the still face of parental phone use!¬†

For now, I am going to hurl a slew of tech related links at you, then do some non-computer stuff my damn self!  My shoulders insist!  

Right ho, so this is a piece I wrote for the fine folk at Tots to Teens, here is a piece from the Guardian about how people’s lives have changed since they got phones for their kids (the good, the bad …) and here are a bunch of links to reports from the 5rights peeps in the UK.¬† I was wowed by their “Disrupted Childhood” report, about persuasive tech.¬† And now (irony!) I want to stay online and read all the others!

THIS is a good read, from Forbes, about the push toward ‘personalized learning’ (ie, tech in classrooms) and here is something about tech in the home from a dad’s point of view, from the San Francisco Chronicle .¬†While we’re thinking of dads, here are some interesting findings about paternity leave in Spain.

What else?¬† A cry for more time being barefoot, some interesting findings from Australia about elitism, sexism, and the size of your school’s sport’s fields, and just because it’s been ages since I linked to the Talaris Institute and they’re awesome … check out these language links.¬† Speaking of language(!!), with thanks to the Distinguished Professor who shared this blog (Discussion is the Food of Chiefs), enjoy.

Getting harder to type now, cos my fingers are crossed … why?¬† Because I’m sincerely hoping the Wellbeing Budget will bear awesome fruit.¬† Now gird your loins as you read this li’l something from the Spinoff about the problems with Plunket’s founder.¬† Now, I adore Plunket as a supporter of families in NZ, but I don’t think it hurts to acknowledge that historical figures are flawed, and for contemporary biographies to describe more than one side of a person.

I don’t wish to end this post on such a downer note, so instead, here is an inspiring snack¬†(I’m obsessed with that stuff!), an item I covet shamelessly, and finally …¬†¬†a lovely guided meditation.

Blessed be the geeks!