Restless and Unfocused: Is this technology a plug in drug?


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Session for 'Children Matter'

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  • 15 mins, via skype (alongside 3 other topics children/tech) then discussions/recap…
  • Prenksy 10 years ago … better description visitor/resident (more a state of mind than ‘born with it’ therefore not age dependent)
  • Do like this example from Prensky though .. We’re blaming the technology for culture/behaviour… put the technology in with everything else – kids get bored as with any other toy…
  • Similar has been said for a while … this 2003 book…
  • When things feel out of control… we get moral panics… these problems may be here, but are we looking in the right direction for the solutions?
  • Note this study done by someone selling £250 fixing course… certainly possible use iPads, etc. as e-babysitters, but that is a parental choice … and is a range of evidence that giving kids e.g. the right kind of vocab apps improves their vocal ability sorry – don’t know what those apps are called…
  • Childwise 2010 found that it was a ‘badge of honour’ to label self as ‘addicted’…
  • Research demonstrates that for social beings, social media is another means of being social … more problematic for those who not in that zone…
  • UK stats?
  • Only 20% truly fit the definition of “digital native” ….Characteristics: relaxed problem-solving approach to making technology work, preference for multi-tasking, information over hardware, open/unrestricted approach to collaboration – online/offline. “Roughly 20 per cent of our sample (at most) appeared to correspond with this stereotype.”
  • Nostalgia/rose-tinted glasses, does all time have to be “educational” … we may want kids to engage – but have we given them things they want to escape from … blaming the technology is not good here…
  • Family life has changed… connectivity continues… a chance to maintain connections
  • More frequent contact … keeping connections…
  • One of the biggest fears that attention is divided between multiple acts (for years have had music/laptop on etc) not necessarily a new thing, although there are more options/opportunities (all part of the fact that much of parenting has become focused on giving children every opportunity … v child focused)
  • Are different types of multi-tasking… distractive and constructive …
  • Returning back to that emphasis that we’re maybe looking for the wrong cause…
  • Are noticeable changed behaviours - generational rather than technological – but technology enabling chunks of it … e.g. we see as interruptions – kids see as part of being connected. Seen evidence that they see it as of core importance to leave their phones on to be available to their friends …. Including at night (which is when will then be tired in the morning, and will impact, e.g. schoolwork).
  • Online tends to exaggerate what we are already … have I found a space which fits my personality type?
  • It’s not just the kids who are dual (or more) screening … every time BBCQT comes on, my Twitter feed fills up with people talking about it – I don’t really have to WATCH it .. Though I’m more likely to as I want my own perspective on the debate…
  • Important to note our own behaviours and therefore what seems to be acceptable for kids… if we’re spending all our time hooked into phones, what does that say to kids... Have heard from a couple of people working in schools recently that children are turning up at nursery/early days of school with very poor vocab – not because THEY are spending time on tech, but because their parents are, and therefore aren’t paying attention/engaging with the kids so not getting the conversation time required to develop language…
  • The machine doesn’t care … but it may take time in the beginning (when family got TV)
  • Parents don’t feel that they know enough to help/control their kids, so tend to lock things down/panic…?Like swimming lessons, etc..
  • Turn it off at mealtimes, bedtime, take time out for digirest, etc but don’t demonise the technology in the process … can allow some kids creativity that would previously have been expressed through pens/pencils, etc..
  • The technology doesn’t take aware responsibility of parents (and tech industry, and schools who e.g. set homework requiring the internet) to use the same parenting skills that have worked for years…
  • So – what do you think? Is it more complex than the headlines make it? Is technology the problem/the solution … or are there several shades of grey at work?
  • Restless and Unfocused: Is this technology a plug in drug?

    1. 1. RESTLESS ANDUNFOCUSED: ISTHIS TECHNOLOGYA PLUG IN DRUG?Dr Bex LewisResearch Fellow in Social Media and OnlineLearning, CODEC, Durham UniversityDirector, Digital Fingerprint@drbexl@digitalfprint@bigbible@ww2posterhttp://www.childrenmatter.netImages Purchased: Stockfresh
    2. 2. Digital Native?Image Purchased: Stockfresh
    3. 3. The Screen Age• “We live in a screen age, and to say toa kid, „I‟d love for you to look at a bookbut I hate it when you look at thescreen‟ is just bizarre. It reflects ourown prejudices and comfort zone. It‟snothing but fear of change, of beingleft out.”• Prensky‟s worldview really stuck withme. Are books always, in everysituation, inherently better thanscreens? My daughter, afterall, often uses books as a way toavoid social interaction, while myson uses the Wii to bond withfriends.
    4. 4. Is it the “technology”?“Tapscott (1998) suggeststhat talk of children‟saddiction tocomputers, and the threatthey pose to family life isevidence of an anti-technology bias.He points out that peopledo not talk about bookaddiction but rather usemore positive termssuch as voraciousreaders to describechildren who spendtime on this hobby.”
    5. 5. Moral Panics…• Every new medium has, within a short time of itsintroduction, been condemned as a threat to youngpeople. Pulp novels would destroy their morals, TVwould wreck their eyesight, video games would makethem violent. Each one has been accused of seducingkids into wasting time that would otherwise be spentlearning about the presidents, playing with friends, ordigging their toes into the sand. In our generation, theworries focus on kids‟ brainpower, about unusedsynapses withering as children stare at the screen.People fret about television and ADHD, although thatconcern is largely based on a single study that has beenroundly criticized and doesn’t jibe with anything we knowabout the disorder.
    6. 6.
    7. 7. Truly Addicted?• Often kids will describethemselves as „addicted‟to the internet. Most arenot, although they areprobably online toomuch.• Addicts are defined bymaking something THEmost importantthing, moodchanges, needing moreto achievehigh, withdrawalsymptoms, conflict, andrelapses.
    8. 8. Willard: Keep Your Life in Balance:Avoid Addictive Use• Excessive use of technologies =“resulting in lack of healthyengagement in other areas of life”similar to any other addictions.• Pew Internet: those using digitaltech are also very engaged inother activities. Simply anotherform of communication for thesocial.• Other studies highlightdepression/social anxiety/suicidethoughts, but as correlations, notcauses.
    9. 9. Usage Stats.. (Childwise 2012)• Between 1997-2011• PC/Laptop at home from 50% to 100%• Own device, less then 20% (all ages) toaround 60% (5-10); 85% (11-16)• Accessing the internet at home from 20% to80% or more.• By 2011• Tablet ownership less than 20%• Never accessed the internet: 3%• Device in own room 50% (7-10), 75% (11-16)• When used• All times of day, but more frequently afterschool til early evening (7-16)• How much used• In 2001 accessed 2.3 times a week, now 5.2times,• Per day remains at just under 2 hours a day.
    10. 10.,000Children
    11. 11. Bigger (Family) IssuesGillis (1996) – moral panicsabout „time famine‟ have along history, and families oftenseem to have exaggeratedtheir togetherness…When children spend timeplaying on their computers, itcan be a good break from the„time-disciplined‟ focus ofschool, exam pressures, etc.With a computer in their ownroom can escape e.g. maritalconflicts, nags, chores, siblings…
    12. 12. Deeper Connections…• Their grandparents live far awayand we only see them once ayear, so Skype calls are a great wayfor them to keep in touch.(Parent, 3-5 & 6-9)• Facebook … is a brilliant tool forcommunicating messages todispersed groups of people and formaintaining contact with friends andloved ones, and allowing a moreintimate involvement in familylives, e.g. grandparents sharingtheir grandchildren growingup, even if they live far away.(Parent, 18+)Responses fromquestionnaire#digitalparenting research
    13. 13. Multi-Taskers?
    14. 14. All Bad?• DistractiveWatching TV ondemand, videos,playing games =pulling away fromstudy.• ConstructiveChildren have relatedIM/music/search openwhilst working onsomething.
    15. 15. Pew Internet Research 2012“We‟re all going to end up being moredistracted, shallow, fuzzythinking, disconnected humans who cannotthink or act critically. But this wont bebecause of the internet, itll be because ofthe loss of values and resourcing of thingslike education and civics and the ridiculousdegree to which popular media, etc., areinfluencing our culture, values, etc.”
    16. 16. Pew Internet, 2012• “I don‟t think there‟s anything inherently bad or anti--‐social about smartphones, laptops, or any othertechnology. I do, however, believe we are entering anera in which young adults are placing an inordinatelyhigh priority on being unfailingly responsive anddedicated participants in the web of personalmessaging that surrounds them in their daily lives.For now, it seems, addictive responses to peerpressure, boredom, and social anxiety are playing a muchbigger role in wiring Millennial brains than problem--‐solving or deep thinking.”• David Ellis, director of communications studies at YorkUniversity in Toronto
    17. 17. Butterfly Brains?Image Purchased: Stockfresh
    18. 18. Dual-Screening? Just the Kids?
    19. 19. Parental Role Models?Image Purchased: Stockfresh
    20. 20. Slave to the Machine?We like to pretend thatwe‟re in hock to ourmachines “must take thiscall” etc. … but themachines don‟t care whatwe do… do you really needto check Facebook every 5minutes?“Sometimes a mildobsession can be helpfulwhile you become literate ina new medium, but then youneed to be able to make itwork in terms which fit inwith whatever you want todo with your life.”
    21. 21. Too Scared to Engage?• The issue we see is thatmany parents lackconfidence in the use ofmodern technology,some dont have regularaccess to theseresources and aretherefore unable tosupervise or even beaware of what theirchildren might, or mightnot be getting up toonline. (Parent, 13-15)Image Purchased: Stockfresh
    22. 22. There is an off-switch…Image Purchased: Stockfresh
    23. 23. Core Parenting Skills!• I dont understand why parents cant just be parents.My sons like to play with tablets and video games toobut when I feel theyve played long enough or theystart getting obsessive, I tell them theyre done andto play with something else. If they give me a hardtime, I remove the item in question and put it in mycloset. Then they go play with something else.• At first, they tried throwing tantrums (just like withanything else), and just like every other time theyvetried, it got them nowhere so they stopped. End ofstory.• Theres a special word that a lot of people seem tohave forgotten. Its only two letters long but is one ofthe most powerful words in the English language."NO". Learn it, live it, love it. Youre not doing yourkids (or yourself) any favors by letting them controlyouCharleseye comment on Purchased: Stockfresh
    24. 24. @drbexl @digitalfprint @bigbible Credit: iStockPhoto