things I get to do …

Alrighty … so the power of language is well documented (*never more enjoyably than in THIS EPISODE of the podcast “On Being”) and just lately I’ve been playing with “get to” instead of “have to”, or “should”.

I have to feed the calf.  I have to organise an early dinner for my kids tonight, so we can go out.  I should weed my veggie garden.  I should write that essay.

I get to feed the calf.  I get to organise an early dinner for my kids tonight, so we can go out.  I get to weed my veggie garden.  I get to write that essay.

Reminds me to have gratitude for the blessings that are wrapped up in those sentences.  Reminds me to look for the blessings.

Quick link dump, then.

Fab article here about the many and unexpected benefits of teaching kids philosophy in schools (YUM!!)  Even pro-business publications are making the case for it!

Parents want some life skills in schools, too, apparently.  Could we categorise philosophising as a life skill?  Man, teachers are going to be busy.

Good paper here, balanced and calm writing about adolescents and tech.  FLIP.   We gotta set some limits.

(OH MY GOODNESS it works here too.  Instead of “We have to set limits on our kids’ and our own tech use …We get to set limits on our kids’ and our own tech use.  Empowering.  Yeah!)

Anyway, This is a quote from that aforementioned paper:

The Pew Internet and American Life Project Foundation synthesized results from their survey of over 1000 technology stakeholders and critics in a report with the less-than-decisive, but I think ultimately accurate, title of “Millennials will benefit and suffer due to their hyperconnected lives”


Here is a list of scary things about the internet (with an outdated Halloween theme.  Sorry.)  And here is an article by a doctor from Harvard about what parents need to know (*Get to know!!) about children and mobile digital devices.  Kids and cellphones.  Y’know.

I read this some years ago, but it’s still great … and for some reason, this week it recrossed my path so, SHARE I shall.  Wild Play.  God, I loved the book Savage Park.

In other news, I was super proud of the kiwi doctor who has had self care put in the medical oath.  Is it called Hippocratic?

Finally, for joy’s sake:

Flower beards: I love them SO MUCH.

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, 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?

letters to editor

letter editor tallKia Ora friendly geeks,

This picture is one I just snapped from the Letters to the Editor page of the latest Tots to Teens magazine.  I am delighted to report that the article those readers found useful was one that I created.  You can read it here.  It’s a phenomenon I thought others would recognise, and LO!  IT is SO!

We are more alike than we know.  The ways we are the same are so many more than the ways we differ.  Important to consider this week, as we slide toward election day in NZ.  It is no secret that I am a left-leaning, progressive liberal and this is the way I will vote.  No matter your politics, I just hope everyone who can vote, does.  Especially the women!

A couple of links now … this is more of the stuff I’ve been sharing plenty of, it’s about the benefits of hand writing notes.  Laptops away!

And PRAISE BE for this wisdom … I love you Golden Bay!!!  It is wise for schools to switch off WiFi at lunchtime.  People need to practice being the ADULTS to their teens.  Wiser, and Kind.  Because without intervention, young people may wind up like THIS!  Thanks, Harvard Business Review, for highlighting the impending epidemic that is the inability relate to other humans!  JEEZ, LOUISE!!   Anyone else worried?? 

This is an important article about a worrying trend in early childhood education – the size of these centres is downright alarming and not conducive to quality!!  Interesting to juxtapose that article with this one, about school readiness.  Or not-readiness, as the case may be.

This is an awesome article from the Girl Scouts of America, about one of the ways that girlhood is sexualised prematurely and unnecessarily.  Catcalling. Ugh.  I remember that happening to me when I was ridiculously young, and the shame I felt … even though I’d done nothing wrong … UGH!  I’d have been sub-11.  UGH!!!

a few links on a Thursday

Kia Ora te whānau

What a week!  Had a beautiful workshop with teachers on Tuesday arvo, I’ll be back to work with the parents of the self-same preschool on Tuesday night.  Groovester.  Meanwhile, tomorrow I’m teaching a coupla workshops (play as springboard to classroom curriculum, yes, even in primary school!) and delivering a keynote (technoference-ish stuff).  Big!  Busy!

Irony not lost – perfect late-winter weather out there, and what am I doing?  Tapping away indoors, encouraging less engagement with screens by … what, what! … engaging with my screen.

Anyway, let’s share a few links, shall we?  First, from the Atlantic, an excellent piece about the free preschools of Boston.  Play, you say?  Well supported & educated teachers?  Radical!  (not)  Now, from the Guardian, enjoy this write up about the rise of low-tech schools in high-tech regions.

It’s been a wee while since I shared the excellent organisation known as TRUCE (teachers resisting unhealthy children’s entertainment) … their ideas are excellent and their toy guides are worth downloading/sharing.  Speaking of unhealthy entertainment, this is a link to a v good episode of the EXCELLENT ‘Hidden Brain’ podcast, from NPR.  This episode deals with the tomfoolery that exists within social media.  

Essential reading, now … This is an article from Psychology Today that just made my heart bounce with recognition. YES!  We know what works, evolutionarily.  We deviate at our peril!

All this stuff is worth paying attention to … apparently rates of empathy are on the decline, and as Dr Bruce Perry would say, empathy is both endangered and ESSENTIAL.

Finally, Life is Fine xxx


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

many things, much stuff

Kia Ora dear friends and lovely geeks

I’m just gonna dive into some link sharing, sans preamble.  Tons, today:

First, a link to a report about some research that reminds us to hold our babies, A LOT.  There is no such thing as too much!  (*unless your arms are sore, in which case you gotta get a sling).  And THIS is from the London School of Economics, about the role of money in children’s lives (spoiler that is not really a spoiler: inequality is not our friend).

Here is an interesting wee article from Mothering mag, it’s about breastfeeding practices all over the world.  Go, Mongolia, go!  And here is the Washington Post, reporting on research about fathers’ differing habits with their girl- or boy-babies.  Meanwhile, this is a li’l something from Harvard Medical School about the evolution of our brains.

So this weird thing happens now and then where the people raising a ruckus about the stuff I care about are those who seemingly sit on the opposite (i.e. Right!) of the political spectrum to me and my lefty ways.  It is true here, where a group of concerned New Zealanders are questioning the amount of screen time in schools.  Yeah, I’m worried too! On a similar subject: check out THIS from Scientific American, about the ways that students are better off WITHOUT a laptop in the classroom.   And one for good luck, research from Penn State about how texting is just too tempting for students.

Finally, cos I gotta sort domestic stuff before school is over and my kids need their mama, this is a link to a page from the excellent Conversation about parental involvement in education.  Irony!  Hello!  You’re never far away, are you?

living in all kinds of worlds

IMG_4071Yesterday there was lots of media chat from our Ministry of Education about the digital focus of this next chapter of NZ education.  That’s their priority.

Because we live in a digital world.


But as a mate reminded me, let’s just ensure we don’t lose sight of our natural focus.  Because we also live in the natural world.

And our relational focus.  Because we also live in a relational world.

An emotional world.

A sensory world.

And without a shadow of a lie, all kinds of sciences collide on the notion that there is a unifying reason we have evolved the brains and skills we have – the ones capable of the incredible and complex things our brains can do … like building iPads, for flip’s sake!

(I mean, I can barely understand the TELEPHONE , let alone bluetooth, wifi, or how to create an app.  Full credit to the mighty cortexes and superb fine motor skills!  Hooray for the opposable thumb!)

Friends, the reason we can do all that stuff is because we are social mammals.  Evolutionarily, we are not the strongest or the fastest.  But we win because we know how to function in groups.  We developed language.  Accumulated knowledge over generations.

We are top of the food chain because we have nurtured this brain into being.   And now we have this brain that has developed into something capable of witnessing itself for the first time in history (thanks to extraordinary brain imaging technologies).  I mean, at random, let me share an example of the profound stuff we are figuring out.  This is just one of a quadrillion things published, it just happened to hit my inbox this week.  From Harvard, about the way that pondering hardwired!  YUM!

I love what Dr Tara Brach says when she reminds us that with our understanding of neuroplacticity “We can train our ways of paying attention”.  She encourages excitement in living now: “at this juncture of our evolutionary history … we can actually evolve our own brains.  We can choose to pay attention in ways that open up our heart and mind”.

Right on!

So let’s try not to lose sight of all that.  The digital world is cool, but it’s our social brains that brought us here.  Undermine the health of them and … YIKES.  It’s like icing a beautiful cake but then obsessing so much about the icing that the cake itself might be raw.  Or mouldy.  Or something.

Here is a special treat … my dear friend Nathan courageously advocating for children on ‘Nine to Noon’ on RNZ. The question: Does NZ education policy align with recognised research?  (the answer … um … nope).  Love it.  Those parenting sections on a Thursday morn are often really good.  I miss them all the time but LOOK!  Oh, wondrous internet!  We can find them all here.

What a time to be alive!  Hot running water, and now all this!

Anyway, big thanks to the hardworking and glorious teachers of young folk in North Canterbury who came to the meeting yesterday.  Thanks to Swannanoa for hosting.  Amazing.  Can’t wait till next time.  But we failed to set a venue … d’oh.

If I may, I just need to clear a few tabs.

A few things from Scientific American, this one is why dads downplay their feelings, and it led me to the wonderland of journalistic adventure that is The Conversation, from Australia.  

This is a wicked downloadable pamphlet from the Campaign for a Commercial FreeChildhood, it’s a fact sheet about screen time and you need it.   You will be able to get one from the excellent people at the Amberley Medical Centre when we have our “Technoference” prez on the 2nd of August.  That’s a wednesday.

Nerd alert (Me, too) this is the Journal of the Psychology of Popular Media Culture, and with much love to soon-to-return-home Lauren for alerting me to Sherry Turkle, here is an amazing Ted Talk.


Stay warm, kiwis.  And stay cool, if you’re lucky enough to be somewhere warm.

x x x

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.

highly distracted

Kia Ora friends and gentlegeeks,

This collection of links is brought to you from a public space, some borrowed WiFi, and a store-bought beverage.

I find it hard to concentrate in the hubbub of shared spaces … LORD I would hate to be a student in one of today’s modern learning situations.  (If you followed that previous link, please behold the shocking posture of those poor children).  Meanwhile, that there link just led to this one: which reminds us how challenging the vast classrooms are for a great many kids, like those with auditory processing disorders.  I wonder if I have one?  Is that why I cannot concentrate with distractions?