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

is jet lag an agent of disregulation, or is it just me?

 

Kia ora te whānau … whaddup homies

Got back from beautiful Banff yesterday, where I spent a little too much of the remarkable International Symposium for the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics stumbling about in an overtired state, searching for English Breakfast tea, or fighting back tears.  Oh, unless it was one of those moments where I simply succumbed and had a wee cry.

Perhaps I could apply Dr Perry’s excellent awareness of biological rhythms and accept that fluffing around with the circadian rhythm of wake/sleep (not to mention leaping across the equator and confusing summer/winter) is bound to create discombobulation.

So more links will follow when I have caught up with myself.  Right now I’m practicing compassion, and housework.  x x x

canada

an old friend has just rung to tell us that the magnificent Gord Downie has announced that he has terminal cancer.  This link will take you to an article about that handsome young Prime Minister telling you more.

Justin Trudeau.  His name is Justin Trudeau.

And Gord Downie is the super cool singer (and perhaps songwriter?)  for the Tragically Hip.  I think he’s also the songwriter.   I’ll ask my husband, who is a huge fan of the Hip. Or I’ll ask the internet, which knows all sorts of things.

My husband and i had a Canadian soundtrack running in the background when we met and fell in love.  Blue Rodeo.  Sarah McGlachlan.  And yes, The Tragically Hip.

It all feels a bit poignant and personal, praps a bit cosmic, because this news come as I am packing my bags to go to Banff for the symposium of excitement.

Things to do:

  • load up with excellent music – increase quota of Canadian tunes, check podcasts.
  • Rapidly develop a comprehensive understanding of telecommunications and use this to practical effect (!)
  • Siphon toiletries into tiny plastic bottles.
  • play matching pairs with Little Girl
  • tidy up the raised veggie bed with Big Girl
  • print off paperwork for flights, etc.

ZOINKS x x

ps three links I just gotta share today …

First, an EXCELLENT article from the Atlantic about how kids learn resilience, a piece from the Harvard Business Review about the importance of emotional intelligence in leadership, and THIS is amazing “The Invisible Burden that Leaves Moms Drained” … This really resonated and I’m totally inspired to read more from the researchers cited in here.  You?

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

overthinkers anonymous

Dear www.baby.geek.nz

You are a dear wee website.  You have given me a place to file my thoughts and preserve a gigantic number of links (* or portals to wonderlands of learning and discovery, as I like to think of them).

You’re a bit of a secret, though, which is cool, but there is this thing I love to imagine you doing.  Just quietly.  I love to imagine that you, www.baby.geek.nz, have improbably become a useful launchpad, catapaulting conversations between thinking parents and scattering chat among other assorted family-folk.

In a world gone bonkers, only you manage to somehow bring together a pot pourri of links that is JUST SO MY CUP OF TEA.  Which shouldn’t surprise me, because I posted every darned last one of them.  Beginning with THIS, my very first blog post.  Awww, cute.

I do love you, darling website, and I promise I can change.  Please, baby(geek), just give me a little more time.  I dream of a bright future for us,

love,

Me xx

End scene.

Anyway, I’m obsessing more than usual about these notions of communication and internet and purpose because last week I went to a Social Media 101 training day.   Holla, Enterprise North Canterbury!  Tumeke, Simplify & Amplify!

It’s all very fascinating, and I kinda dig learning about the psychology of marketing, and why people do stuff and how to get them to do the stuff you think they oughta, I am horrified by what my dear late mother would’ve called the Coca-colonisation of the world.  The blatant and aggressive enslavement of populations by corporations too slick and sneaky to be outfoxed.  Really, I think we should all buy less.  Use less.  Do more for ourselves.  

And the whole technology of twitter and facebook and all their chums is flippin amazing.   As a tool, it’s the way to find all the peoples who care about the things.  Nana over here has to do some work … cos I’d love to find some thinking mamas and I think that’s where they are and yet I FEAR the lure of the devices.  Both for myself and for all of us!

Pads and Macs and smart phones and regular (dumb?) phones … OH … behold these amazing ads from China about resisting the phone addiction FOR THE CHILDREN …

… here’s the thing …. I’d love it if we could all get the fact that societies of useful adults – that is, adults who are kind, competent, smart, healthy, capable, or at least not incompetent dicks – those sorts of adults are more likely if they were gifted responsive, warm, calm, loving care while they were babies.  There.  It’s that simple.  I said it.

Not just me.  Heaps of people.  Like Harvard’s Center for the Developing Child.  Heaps.

And you cannot tell me, not even for a second, that the brains of human young will be as effectively nurtured by distracted adults whose faces glow from their device du jour than they will be by an adult available to meet their gaze, respond to their vocalisations, and make up lame songs.

Ladies and gentlegeeks, I think we gotta unplug more.  For ourselves, and sure as the dickens for our babies.

I mean, I’m all for the flow of mindfulness teaching, (at school!  Love it.)  I am generally very Mindful of Mindfulness, but I can’t help but think we wouldn’t need quite so much mindfulness training if we just spent a wee bit less time skittering between devices and leaping between operating systems.

It’s like how we eat tons of fatty food and then obsess about weight loss.  I’m talking about us as a culture, not YOU.  Or ME.  Just all of us, you know?  Truly: if we did like Michael Pollan … “eat food, not too much, mostly plants” and then went for walks and did some yoga then VOILA!  Wellness.

Sorry.  I’m a bit didactic and grouchy tonight.  I’m angsting.

Yeah, I angst about encouraging folks deeper into the digital world and further from the juicy messy deliciousness of real life.  And yet I love the handiness of a magical box that sings the commercials of my youth and finds me amazing recipes and connects me to people I love, all over the world.

What the flip.  Modern life … I need me my online yoga before bed.  Love you, Adriene, my electronic friend!

Irony, she lives.