raise your hand if you’re fed up

Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 12.35.10 PMKia Ora my friends.  Here is the image that accompanies the Proceedings of the 2nd International Neurosequential Model Symposium from 2016.  Y’all, I was there!  I presented (and sobbed.)  And guess whose scrappy l’il piece closes out this auspicious document?  Can you even stand it?  Because I’m not sure I can!

Now I need to share some links, before my cranky old bones prohibit any more computer work.  First, get ready for outrage, and then please share it with at least a half-dozen of your pals in education.  This is an article about the way that Google has infiltrated schools and is making loyal clients of children, and praps it’d be a good time to brush up on the ways that a Google search is not a neutral beast.  How many of the children googling away in their classrooms today know this?  How many of their teachers have even considered it?

NOW, then: check this out … from PC Mag, no less, making the case for less tech in classrooms.  It exposes that same notion: that tech in schools is for the benefit of advertisers and companies, not children.  UGH.  And LOOK at the lengths that tech companies will go to, distancing themselves from the idea that they have a part to play in child wellbeing: “Our children’s apps aren’t directed at children.”  PARASITES.   We simply must share the truth about the ways that we (and worse, our kids) are being manipulated!  Love you, Tristan Harris!!

For resources, info, inspiration and community in the fight against such nonsense, please behold the proceedings from the first Children’s Screen Time Action Network conference.  I know, you gotta get online.  Irony is a funny gal.  And ALL HAIL Maryland, who seems to be leading the way in having legislative challenge to the “all-tech, all-the-time” school landscape.

Instead, we gotta emphasise what children need.  They need time with their family (mate, I LOVE this article ….) They need actual humans to read them stories.   They need adults to pay attention to what they actually need!  And they need schools that do more than just market to them.

Meanwhile, we need to spend time offline (quiet time alone, every day!  SWOON!) we need to resist the pace of the on-demand lifestyle, we need a bloody good night’s sleep, and we need community.

An article here from Mothering with a new take on the ACE study, and this is a link to an article I wrote aaaaages ago, for our pals at OHbaby! mag.

a wildly satisfying life!

What’s up party people?  Kia Ora te whānau!

I have just committed an act which could be described as mildly rebellious OR exceptionally sensible, depending upon yer point of view.  When I could have (should have?) been hitting the books I was, instead, undulating my spine with the exceptional Kelle Rae Oien, who has been in NZ teaching.  How lucky am I!?!  Such joy.  So sweaty!

I adore her language when she expresses her desire for her students to live lives that are wildly satisfying.  Wildly satisfying!  I dig that contrast.  It’s like … passionately content.  Enthusiastically calm.  Playfully satiated.  Wildly satisfying.  Yeah, imma keep that one!

What else?  Just had mother’s day … probably a good time to share this excellent article from Harper’s Bazaar about emotional labour (aka invisible labour, aka mental load, aka kin keeping).  Oh, young women, study before you procreate!  The mental and practical energy that it takes to keep the home fires burning while you’re committing the audacious act of betterment is something that you cannot possibly know, yet.

Casserole, school trip, reference list.  Dishes, flu shots, literature review.  Wha …?

Now, some links.  Let’s clear a few tabs before I do battle with the referencing software.  I know, I know, that is NOT the attitude.  Not doing battle with, playing with!  I’ll play with it…

First … here is an article that freaked me right out.  It’s about the ways that millennial parents are raising their children.  I could weep.  The needs of human infants have not changed, just cos our technology has.  Interesting that the writer acknowledges the longing that “parennials” (millennial parents, apparently) have for simpler times.

Meanwhile, from the Atlantic, another look at the tech habits of parents.  This deserves multiple and repeated reads, cos I tell you what, it’ll take you to some terrifying places.  Like this and this.

And you know the bit that kills me, crazy baby lady that I am?  There is this cyclic thing going on, where new motherhood seems “boring”, and sure enough the literature points to women going online (eg during the intimate act of breastfeeding) because they are bored and seeking distraction.  But by succumbing to the distraction, mothers aren’t practicing SEEING their babies.  Really seeing them.  And we know that with older kids, the distraction leads to child misbehaviour, which leads to parental dissatisfaction, which makes a big’ol’ downward spiral of technoference.

Boredom? What would happen if we could sit quietly with that, and even lean into it.  Incredible things happen when we let ourselves just go with the tricky things that motherhood offers us – even exhaustion!  (My struggles with describing invisible labour – what do those struggles offer me?  I’ll report back!)

I remember when my girls were babies, (1 pre-, 1 post- smartphone) people would confess to being bored/lonely at home with their infants, and I would think that if they could only see their babies as the exceptional scientists, sociologists and artists that they are, and if we honoured the power of home visiting as transformative in the lives of families, then mamas would be neither bored nor lonely.  There is something afoot with our culture that we deny so many people the chance to KNOW babies before they become parents themselves, then we physically isolate new mothers (now with a damaging tool for adult communication/distraction at their fingertips) and all the while we radically undervalue infants (and therefore parents).

Anyway, I gotta get dinner sorted before school pick up.  We do a Meat Free Monday, and I try and make it extra delicious, so my omnivorous family won’t grouse.  Also, it’s swimming lesson day for little girl, so time’s a-wasting.

Quick round up of the tabs I need to clear … an article from NZ’s Stuff website about the Modern Learning Experiment.  I’m far from convinced, especially about the “screens for all!” attitude of it all.  A couple more things about schools: this from Sir Ken Robinson (oh, hell yes!  Dance is as important as mathematics!) and I would also like to share a quote that has been rocking my world:

“We’ve bought into the idea that education is about training and “success”, defined monetarily, rather than learning to think critically and to challenge. We should not forget that the true purpose of education is to make minds, not careers. A culture that does not grasp the vital interplay between morality and power, which mistakes management techniques for wisdom, which fails to understand that the measure of a civilization is its compassion, not its speed or ability to consume, condemns itself to death.”


― Chris HedgesEmpire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

LOVE THAT.

For no good reason, read about an inspiring, alternative method of farming, here.  Here is a gorgeous blog post about childrens’ spontaneous singing , and finally, an article from Mothering magazine, about missing your mother.  I posted a comment at the end of the piece which I’m kinda disappointed the author hasn’t acknowledged.  Maybe she doesn’t know how to.  I will keep a compassionate heart.  But only just.

 

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.

 

All hail the Amberley Medical Centre!

Kia Ora friends and geeks,

It was almost a week ago that a group of noble parents (and this geek) gathered together in Los Amberleys to discuss Technoference.

Even since that night, more extraordinary stuff has crossed my desk.  Both are long-form articles from the Atlantic, and both are worth a read.  This one asks whether Smartphones have destroyed an entire generation, (answer: possibly) and this explores even more deeply the ways that our phones can distract even when they’re turned off.

This is a TED talk by Tristan Harris, one of the founders of the Time Well Spent movement, and here is his article.  Share it with your kids!

Another awesome TED talk that I’ve shared previously (but I’m consolidating a bunch of stuff for my new Technoference buddies, so bear with!) is THIS, by Sherry Turkle, and I urge you to listen to this outstanding interview from the Podcast “On Being”, with Anil Dash, about Tech’s Moral Reckoning.  AMAZING.

If I’d promised you more, please let me know, and I will share it.  For now, I’m going to get away from this screen.

x x xx

articles, links and love

IMG_5134Tena koutou, e geek ma.  Here is the sweet cover picture of the latest issue of OHbaby!  I’m proud of the articles in there that I created … one is full of wisdom from my friends/colleagues (i.e., frolleagues) and the other is about play.  YEAH.

Speaking of wisdom: check out this excellent interview from Scientific American about an education system producing “smart fools”.  Robert Sternberg is talking about the situation in the US, but I wonder how different things are here in NZ?  Discuss.

You know what would help?  An emphasis on the li’l kid versions … like promoting social-emotional learning in preschools, as described by this work supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

This link will take you to an account of how infant massage just might have benefits that extend even beyond the all-important mother:baby relationship, and here is a serious set of trauma statistics.  All the more reason for solid relationships: they anchor us when the world gets stormy.  Which it does.  And probably will.

This link is from Zero to Three and has some chilling news about the impact of the most recent US budget on the lives of children, families, and the poor.  Speaking of the T-word, check out this beautiful and horrifying art installation in New York.

Now: from the Chicago Tribune … about the way that smartphones can interfere with relationships EVEN WHEN THEY ARE SWITCHED OFF, and what a surprise, more research about how tech use is interfering with relationships, this from BYU.

Those of use who’ve studied how kids grow & learn won’t be surprised to learn that all this ‘technoference’ points to problematic child behaviour … as described in this study in the journal Child Development.  The study is also reported in a reader-friendly way … right here.   

Join the resistance!  Behold: Time Well Spent.  Check out the work of Sherry Turkle (thanks, Lauren), Anil Dash, and consider a relationship with Common Sense Media.

My husband shared this cynical piece from Slate with me, on Mother’s Day … It’s kinda funny but also a bit depressing, so I will make this my final gem for the day: a link shared with me by my Big Girl, from the beautiful Flow magazine.

April? May!

Kia Ora friends

Sometimes family circumstances chew us up and spit us out.  As I pull rumpled bits of life back together, straighten them out like tin foil, I am grateful when they fit back together but open to the notion of rearranging the whole thing, altogether.

Anyway: what I’m saying is, April slid through my fingers like water.  Much love and big ups to the warm and loving group of early childhood teachers I workshopped with in late April.

A few links that have been on my mind and in my heart:

This is about how we are manipulated as we move around the internet.  It’s written by someone who was a Design Ethicist for Google, and is a magician.  Brilliant.  Important.  Makes me wonder why our children are being allowed internet technologies at school without being given information to allow them to critically think about the ways they’re being toyed with.

Because oh-ho-ho how they are being toyed with.  Did you see this?  About the leaked info demonstrating how cynical and uncaring Facebook are in the way they use information about their users, including (especially?!) vulnerable youth.

Meanwhile: something positive and cool … next Tuesday this event is being held at the Champion Centre, thanks be to IMHAANZ!  Can’t wait to get all up in Prof Jean Clinton’s sphere of influence!

Other goodness: this from Taranaki where their Circle of Security programme is being expanded HURRAH! and in Minnesota there are doulas helping incarcerated mamas.

Gratitude.

grief! you again.

So sad today, my friends.

a mate has been helping us rebuild our deck.  He has been bringing his buddy & neighbour, day after day for what feels like all summer.  This buddy has demonstrated himself to be a kind, authentic, funny dude.  A warm and gentle guy who happens to kick ass on the drums when he’s not working hard and making great suggestions with the deck.

He was here on Friday and was due back on Monday morn.

This morning, unexpectedly, he died.  30 years old.  Leaving behind a bewildered woman, and two little kids, all of whom he spoke about with such pride and love it was visible in his face.

I’m reeling.  So, so sad.

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.

 

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 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