Pamela Rutledge: The Wired Child - Impact of Social Technologies


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Lecture given at the American Museum of Natural History as part of their series on "The Wired Child: The Impact of Technology on the Brain."

The focus was on the positive psychology of social technologies and how that influences the sense of individual and collective agency and self-efficacy.

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  • You’ve been hearing about the impact of technology on the brain, as the title of this course suggests. As I understand it, you’ve seen some examples of research looking at the impact of some specific types of content in games and other media.I’m going to focus on the technologies of the last 15 or so years, since we’ve had social technologies. Social media is about having a conversation. That’s what we’re here to do tonight. Most of all, I’d like to talk to the things that are on your minds. It’s not possible to be awake and aware and have questions and concerns about the things around us. So please, if you have things you’d like to add, ask or comment upon, do not hesitate.
  • So here’s a roadmap for my thoughts this evening.I’d like to take you on a little journey across the new media landscape, how the structural changes have impacted individual beliefs, Media Landscape & NetworksThe Impact Of ChangeMoral Panics & Cognitive ResistanceBiological Bases Of MotivationHierarchy Of NeedsRewiring MaslowHow Technology Amplifies BehaviorThe New Normal  I will show you some examples of how technologies have changed the way people can do things but more importantly, it’s changed their beliefs about what they can do. That is the real impact on the human brain.
  • Original communications were restricted by time and place. Harder to share, but easier to control and public access to information was limited.
  • The mass media model—what we now think of as traditional media-- is one-to-many. One message was distributed to many people. In this model, information access is wider, but still controllable. The small number of distribution channels means information is filtered by the producers.
  • What we have now is a “mash-up” of the first two: Web 2.0 and social media have taken the power and distribution qualities of mass media and made it personal by creating peer-to-peer communication that allows for the creation and exchange of user-generated content, and produces links and connections that are dynamic and constantly changing. The new media landscape profoundly affects the ability to connect people with resources.
  • In 1967, the social psychologist Stanley Milgram did a series of experiments called the “Small World Studies” to measure the distance between nodes. He wanted to learn approximately how many steps—from person to person— it would take to connect one random person with another.
  • Milgram tested this by asking random people in Omaha to forward envelopes to a lawyer in Boston. They could send it right to the person if they knew him or they could send it to someone they believed would be more likely to know the person he named.
  • Each person who received an envelope repeated these instructions until the envelopes reached their target.
  • Based on this research, Milgram claimed that there were an average of 6 steps between any two people in the world, making the world of communication much smaller than anyone had previously imagined!
  • Six degrees of separation was before the Internet. This is our socially connected world. How many of you have connected with someone, either an old friend or just someone with a similar interest that would not have been possible before the Internet?
  • Facebook is just one application within one type of social media—it’s a social networking site. There are several kinds of social technologies: search engines, collaborative sites like wikis, tagging like digg or Technorati, and blogs and microblogs. They are all interactive information organizers, just in different ways. All types of social media create connections and respond dynamically to the user.
  • We can break down the impact of social technologies into two parts: structural and experiential. Information flows both ways—between people and on demand.It is available 24/7 without regard to time or placeAt the same time, the growing connections increase awareness of communityParticipation is easy.Overcomes time, geographic and sociocultural constraintsFlattens hierarchiesAbundant information shifts premium to ability to filter not access information
  • The features of social technologies have a less obvious but more profound psychological impact. They fundamentally shift power to the user—whether it’s socializing, researching, or shopping. It create new expectations aboutaccess and feedbackhaving a voice and being heardtransparency, participation, and collaborationindividual and collective agency Our expectations are changed because we now have avenues to speak up, take action, to participate, to contribute, to exchange ideas, to show our support, to receive validation and feedback and to become engaged in communities.
  • This has been an extraordinary year for social media. In December of last year, we saw, and I mean literally—all of us around the world saw— a young Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire in a violent statement of protest against local government abuse. The abuse wasn’t unusual, but the reaction was. The knowledge of the protest triggered a cascade of uprisings and unrest across the Arab world that led to the toppling of governments.
  • We also saw the Red Cross raise $5 Million dollars in donations through text messaging and PayPal within only 24 hours of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. There was a similar outpouring of support for Japan.For all the remarkable commercial applications of technology, these kinds of things—spontaneous social actions--underscore the human side of this the paradigm shift we all talk about. The real change, and the real power, comes from the way that social technologies enable the human spirit. Sometimes the results are profound social upheaval like the Arab Spring,
  • …other times it’s frivolous and humorous creative expression, like posting and commenting on silly pictures of cats with badly spelled captions. But even the frivolous displays are not pointless. Social media has released an extraordinary amount of human energy. The question we want to ask is: Where does it come from?
  • I understand that it’s complicated now. It used to be so much simpler. Televisions were for watching television. Phones were for making phone calls. I asked a girl the other day why she didn’t wear a wristwatch. She looked at me like I was from another planet, held up her cell phone and said “duh, that’s what this is for!”People are using technologies for all kinds of things in ways we didn’t expect. We ourselves are producers and distributors as well as media consumers. We watch television on our computers, we stream our music from the cloud, and we defy physics, collaborating on projects without any regard for the time-space continuum. Is there no respect for tradition or the way things have always been done?
  • This question of respect is on the minds of pretty much everyone born before about 1985. The question is really: is there no respect for me?Because massive change like we’ve had with social media, is a threat to our individual identity—to how we think about ourselves and how the world we life in is supposed to work. Psychologically, it is not surprising that there is a discomfort and fear when it comes to adjusting to new technology. No one wants to feel useless, no one likes to feel like a beginner again.It’s like showing up to play rugby with tennis gear. Some of you are part of the Net-Generation. Some of us just wish we were part of the Net-Generation. The fact is that the Net-Generation is wired differently; their brains just aren’t the same.This isn’t surprising and it isn’t bad, it’s just different. Those born in the Net-Generation have a social media brain, but the rest of have mass media brains.We also have a short memory! It wasn’t all that long ago that media was personal and collaborative like it’s becoming again. In the history of media technologies, mass media was not the dominant form for all that long.   
  • Humans have always used media to communicate and bring people closer together. Some people do worry about social media being isolating, but the truth is that...Mass media was isolating. It was non-participatory and uni-directional, controlled by a few and distributed to the many. Before we had mass media and Lady Gaga, we had sheet music and people gathered around the piano to learn the songs. We told each other stories and we gathered at the local square. It was participatory media but on a very local scale. The astounding thing is how quickly we adapted to mass media as ‘normal.’ Here’s a brief history of media technologies from the first recorded human communications about 10,000 BC to the Egyptians and paper, Medieval balladeers, smoke signals, and then the beginning of mass media, the printing press. But the more “mass” mass media got, the more one-way it got. By the late 1950’s, televisions were in living rooms around the world, and for next 40 years or so, media technologies were dominated by the most passive and least participatory of media we have had: radio, television and films. That period with the redarrow is the time that created our mass media mentality.
  • Here is a pie chart (really a tart chart) that shoes the amount of mass media time relative to all media communication. Mass media made a huge psychological mark, but relative to the history of human communications, it just this very, very small bit of the pie. That tiny piece set our beliefs about what was ‘normal’ – and what was normal was passive, controllable audience. On a side note, as you start to examine your assumptions, keep in mind the science of “management” and “marketing” were also invented during a this vision of normal.
  • New media technologies allow for all kinds of freedom. Why aren’t we dancing in the streets? Because it’s new and different.Different = scaryWhat happens when things change fast? We have to change. The human brain makes sense out of the world by making assumptions – unconscious schema or mental maps about how the world works. Radical change challenges these beliefs and creates cognitive dissonance – the psychological discomfort that comes when new information doesn’t match with what we belief.Adaptation takes effort and a willingness to change.
  • Change challenges our basic assumptionsHistory is full of examples of resistance to change. Rationalizing the resistance provides relief from the cognitive dissonance of change. There are always reasons why new technology is dangerous. For example,
  • In 1883, a medical journal reported that schools exhaust children’s brains with complex and multiple studies and that excessive study is a leading cause of madness.ComstockAround the same time, Anthony Comstock, Secretary and Chief Special Agent for the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice attempted to have dime novels banned because“vile books and papers are branding irons heated in the fire of hell and used by Satan to seer the highest life of the soul. Evil reading debases, degreases and perverts and turns away from lofty aims to follow examples of corruption and criminality
  • Went to the White House to plead his case against the gramophone which he believed would cause vocal cords to shrivel. He predicted it would be the end of people gathering to sing.
  • In the 1930s, Parents were warned that radio would diminish children’s performance in school and that the “compelling excitement of the loudspeaker” would disturb the balance of excitable mindsTelevision, we know, was especially troublesome and was predicted to cause the vulgarization of American culture and destroy the emotional and intellectual capacities of a generation of children, not to mention the promotion of Rock and Roll.
  • Now there’s the Internet and social networks. Headlines:CNN: "Email 'hurts IQ more than pot'," Telegraph: "Twitter and Facebook could harm moral values" Telegraph: "Facebook and MySpace generation 'cannot form relationships'Daily Mail: "How using Facebook could raise your risk of cancer."
  • Wide generational gapsThey have political impactSocial concerns influence the funding for research to identify the harm to children from media technologies. Becoming embedded in policy in knee-jerk reactionsCase in point is California’s ban on violent video games which was reviewed by the Supreme Court in Brown vs. Entertainment Merchants Association and found to be unconstitutionalIssues of free speech were the deciding factor, but the regulations in CA were a political response to research about the impact of video game violence on behavior. This research gets a lot of publicity because it makes good headlines. The opposing voices raising questions about methodology, overstatement of effects and funding sources don’t get equal time in the press. For example, much of the fMRI work presented in the hearings was funded by an anti-media organization.They can bias researchFundamental beliefs can influence how questions are asked, how variables are defined, and how things are measured, and how they are interpreted and reportedJust because results are reported in numbers, doesn’t mean they are true or infallible. The public’s lack of understanding of statistics and probability leads to blind acceptance of authorities showing numbers. Our OMG, it has a p<.05, it must be true. But there are many things that can influence statistical significance, such as sample size and confounding variables—things that influence the outcome that you aren’t taking into account.. Sometime read the book “How to Lie with Statistics” by Darrell Huff. You’ll never look at research the same again.They ignore the complexity of the media environmentCorrelations often referred to as “links” are not the came as causality. For examples, A headline that reads teen pregnancy linked to socially explicit media implies that by watching socially explicit media teens are encouraged to be more active. That is how our bias leads to interpretation. It is, however, equally as likely that sexually active teens seek out more sexually explicit media. It is more likely that a complicated set of socio-economic factors influence social behaviors, income, education, peer relationships, parental relations, parental guidance, adult supportDistract energy and resources from the real problemsSuch as teen violence, pregnancy, drug useThey ignore the subjective experience of media useContext and meaningImages and scenes taken out of contextGame play or media use in situations where not normalFor example, most video game experiences are social, either playing with others online or playing in a group
  • Let’s say that media technologies do all the terrible things that people worry or believe they do, from Satan’s fire of hell to social isolation and antisocial violent behavior. Then what?Who here thinks we can make all this technology go away? That people will stop using social technologies?Even at Cisco, a company who you would expect to be on the cutting edge of technology use, 60% of their employees report ignoring company social media policies
  • Technologyis not going away. It’s like a hammer – you can do good things and bad things with a hammer.Restricting technology is a defensive play and a condescending one.It assumes that the users have no ability to learn or make judgments.It is based on a mass media model of societyThe alternative:Figure out how technology can help people grow and flourish by facilitating their fundamental goals and motivations
  • It seems only right that I at least mention the brain, given the title of the series. The brain has three parts with distinct jobs. The Neocortex is the conscious command center. It’s the part you THINK is in control. The limbic system or mammalian brain is the center of emotions. The primitive reptilian brain or the brain stem control our human instincts and automatic functions, like breathing. Information is processed in the brain starting at the senses. The first gatekeeper is the reptilian brain whose first and foremost goal is survival. All information is evaluated against that goal. All actions and motivations are fundamentally based on that instinct.This includes social behaviors.The biological drive of survival is at the basis of all other human motivations and goals in one way or another.
  • Anyone who has studied psychology, marketing or management is likely to have come across Abraham Maslow’s widely applied hierarchy of needs model for human motivation. Maslow’s Hierarchy breaks down needs into five levels and his theory states that needs at the lower level of the pyramid have to be met before people move up to the higher ones.It goes like this:At the very bottom of the pyramid are very basic biological and physiological needs, such as air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, and sleep.After those are satisfied, people move up to safety needs. These are protection, security, order, laws, limits, and stability.Third, at about at the center are belongingness needs. These are family, collaboration, affiliation, community, and groups.The fourth, above belongingness, is esteem needs. These are the needs of achievement, responsibility, social validation, and reputation.And the fifth, at the top is self-actualization or the desire for personal growth and fulfillment. But here’s the problem with Maslow and other traditional models of motivation. It’s not possible to meet any of these needs without social connection.
  • Human motivations are inter-related and interactive starting from the hub of human connection. Social connectivity is the driving force of human behavior. From the beginning of time, it was not possible for human beings to survive without collaboration and connection. There was no way a single human could take on a sabre-tooth tiger, hollow out a cave, or care for a children while hunting down food to eat. It’s more true now than then. Our reliance on each other grows as societies became more complex, interconnected, and specialized.
  • Social behaviors manifest in every interaction, online or off.Let’s look at some specifics and see how they show up in technology and why they are compelling from a biological point of view:The system of human needs—shelter, safety, leadership, and community, trust—is dependent on our ability to connect with others. Social behaviors adapt to the environment to support basic human needs. Throughout recorded history to the present, people who joined together in groups improved their chances of survival and progress. A pattern of social behaviors that support human needs is reflected in successful social technologies.Collaboration and teamwork: We humans need collaboration and teamwork to control our environment and be safeReciprocity and trust: We need to develop reciprocal and trusting relationships for collaboration to be effectiveSocial comparison: We need social comparison to establish organizational structure, leadership and order Social validation and social identity: We need social validation and social identity to maintain emotional engagement and loyalty to our mates and our groupLearning, competence, and respect: We need to develop improve our competence and generate respect in order to contribute to the things that promote group survival
  • Kids don’t want to do their homework but they will spend hours building out Sim City, balancing the tax policies necessary to promote growth with the restrictions necessary to be eco-friendly, or they’ll spend hours making video mash-ups of favorite songs and images, or even uploading photos for their friends.An insightful taxi driver once said that to drive in New York City, “you have to want it.” He’s right. People have to want to change, because, like fighting your way through the streets of Manhattan, it takes effort. The effort to change is only sustainable when you are fulfilling your own goals. That takes internally generated or intrinsic, motivation. In other words, YOU have to want it. For motivation to be intrinsic, it must get past the reptilian brain into your command center. To do this it must satisfy those fundamental goals.Intrinsic motivation is at the heart of the behavioral shift we’re seeing around the world because social technologies reinforce the same human goals and motivations that ensure survival 
  • As parents, educators or businesspeople we spend untold hours trying to figure out how to motivate people. That’s quite remarkable when you remember that humans are inherently intrinsically motivated. As babies we are naturally curious, adventurous problem-solvers who are most interested in how we can interact with our world. The ability to act with impact – to have agency, is the greatest and most satisfying reward.Intrinsic motivation requires three basic things: autonomy, mastery, and relatedness. When you look at it, these are just another way of describing our basic motivations and goals.Autonomy is free-choice, and personal relevance. This is the same ability to control our environment that ensures our safetyMastery is the ability to learn and gain competence. This is the same behavior that enhances our social capital and creates value for the tribeRelatedness is the sense of belonging and social context that makes an activity inherently valuable. This is the equivalent of social validation and social identity that establish emotional engagement, trust and commitment to the group.
  • Let me give you an example of how social technologies impact individual motivation. Meet Bob. Bob is a digital native. From his mobile device, Bob can access all kinds of information without going to the library or opening a file folder, he can connect to others in his social circle without moving his feet, he can seek out professional colleagues and job opportunities beyond his circle without putting on a tie. If he’s lost he can figure out where he is, without having to ask for directions. He can play games with his brother two time zones away and find out who is in the neighborhood to meet for a beer after work.Bob can have relevant information from every domain in his life delivered to him on demand instantaneously any time of the day; he can stay connected to the people and things that matter to him, and effectively interact with his world. In other words: Bob doesn’t have a smartphone. He has a personal empowerment device in his pocket. He has:The ability to control his environmentThe ability to develop mastery by learning to use new tools and by being able to access everything from ‘How To’ videos on YouTube to free university courses at MIT.He can connect in any number of ways to maintain a sense of relatedness.Bob has this level of connectivity all day, every day, 24/7. This is one of his core assumptions about how the world is supposed to work, just like when we come home and flip on the light switch. And it isn’t just how the world works; it’s how he works in the world. This is where someone usually says: “Yeah, yeah, but that’s all virtual. It’s not real. The poor guy is just a delusional, isolated, pathetic, social media addict.”
  • But he’s not and here’s why:Neuroscience research shows that the brain does not distinguish between real and mediated experience; both fire the same neural pathwaysMediated experiences don’t replace face-to-face experiences. That is reptilian brain thinking. There is nothing that says you have to throw out your car keys when you get a Facebook page. Research shows, in fact, that social networks enrich relationships rather than diminish them. Social media provides a touch point and continuity that are essential to relationship building. Psychologists studying the development of interpersonal attachments observed toddlers interacting with their mothers at playtime. The toddlers would periodically come back to their mothers to touch them, to get the reassurance that they were still there. That pattern is a normal part of all relationships throughout the lifespan. Social media offers that continuing touch, providing the continuity and stability that builds trust and support. It provides the fabric of connection that bonds people together. 
  •  The positive psychology “Broaden and Build” theory describes the way that positive experiences, emotions and interactions build upon one other to create an upward spiral. Each time we increase our confidence in our abilities to act, whether we are the little girl with the mouse, Bob with his smartphone, or a fruit vendor in Tunisia, we have a broader base to continue building upon. Social technologies have given people unprecedented control over their lives. We act and, because we are linked in real time, we see the actions others take and we can interact with them. Individual actions inspire group actions; groups inspire individuals. The most exciting thing is that we are training new generations to believe they can act; to believe that an individual can make a difference. It changes everyone’s expectations about their ability— and their responsibility—to contribute.
  • Think about how quickly Google+ has caught on. The “group” features facilitate our ability to manage social connections. It solidifies the feeling of ‘groupness’ because groups can be created at a more intimate size. It also allows us to draw boundaries to keep some information and behaviors safe.By comparison, think about the new Facebook app, Spotify. Spotify is intended to increase social collaboration by sharing any music you listen to immediately with your friends. Will it be a success? No. It violates the autonomy and safety rules—you feel out of control and exposed.
  • When social networking site first launched, all kinds of social media ‘experts’ (of which there are thousands) predicted that older populations wouldn’t adopt these new technologies—They were too complex, too different, and too time-consuming. But was “would the elderly adopt new complex technologies?” the right question to ask?Or was the right question: “would elderly people learn something new if it allowed them to stay in touch with family and friends at a time of their life when connection and legacy are the most important and mobility is most difficult?’ As you know, older people are the fastest growing users of social technologies, the number of users in the US rose 88% from May 2009 to May 2010. And it’s not because they want to play Farmville or online poker. Social technologies allow people to stay in touch when they couldn’t or wouldn’t otherwise. It provides a link, the glue in the ‘between’ places that holds people together. My 86-year-old father has a Facebook page so he can keep up with his grandkids that are spread out all over the U.S. At Christmas, instead of “what’ve you been doing this year?” It’s more like “how’d that anthropology class go, or I liked the picture of your choral group!” Intimacy comes from the frequency of contact, from the amount of personal disclosure—the things we know about each other. That’s what creates the emotional bonds and trust. A side benefit to using sites like Facebook and YouTube is that they help keep the older brains active, and stave off memory loss. Senior citizens who frequent social networking sites have more flexible brains. Internet has also been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression because of it allowed seniors to develop greater social support.An increasingly common cross-generational gift is giving parents or grandparents a lesson on Facebook or Skype. One family celebrated their grandmother’s 90th birthday by creating an online album full of pictures, recorded messages, and videos—something she could access and enjoy long after the party was over. 
  • Like Bob, we continually interact with our environment. Every connection—mediated or otherwise—provides social validation and engagement. A Twitter or a text message reinforce connectedness, an accomplishment even as small as interacting with a live wallpaper on your phone subtly reinforces the belief that when you act, the world responds. Clay Shirky in Cognitive Surplus tells a story about a young girl watching a movie on television that who jumped up in the middle of the movie and ran around behind the television looking for something. The assumption by the adults was that, like many children before her, she was looking for the characters on the backside of the television screen, not understanding that it was a two-dimensional projection. Wrong. She was looking for the mouse. Her assumption was that media was interactive. She liked the movie and she wanted to participate. This is exactly what’s happening out there. When we like something now, we want—and expect—to participate.More and more interactive books, such as iPad-based The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmoreinvite children to take part in the reading experience. In the process, they are turning them into active participants in their own education and changing, like the little girl looking for the mouse, their expectation about how they, as individuals, can interact with information and control experience. Soon, that same little girls will be running her hand across the screen instead of looking for a mouse. But what she won’t be doing, is sitting there, passively watching, waiting for someone else to interact for her. 
  • We are creating a new “normal.” The new normal has blurry boundaries among technologies and information channels, and among businesses and customers and consumers as producer and distributors. The ability to contribute and to bring information and connection to ourselves on-demand means we are actively pulling autonomy and power toward ourselves. People are no longer held hostage by lack of information whether it’s comparison-shopping for appliances, current market prices for farmers in Senegal, or faster access to cash resources in Kenya. The Red Cross successfully raises funds using social media. They are successful for the same reason that the citizens of Egypt were successful. People believe they matter, they believe that they can make a difference, and they have proof of the impact. When people believe they matter and can make a difference; they engage. The systems around them have to adjust. So here is the new normal:
  • The new normal is giving kids a public voice while teaching literacy skills. This is the OLPC program in Uruguay.According to Miguel Brechner of Plan Ceibal (OLPC Uruguay) who evaluated the project's successKids are more motivated to go school and to do homework. They are not repeating grades. The OLPC also meant thousands of children for the first time received official identification documents to receive the laptops.
  • What happens in businesses when employees value transparency and collaboration? Management styles change.
  • What happens when we have to redefine the relationships between business and customer based on value? Gone are the days of trapping your customers in marketing channels with a price discrimination strategy. Customers talk across channels to each other. The keywords for marketing and management are ‘respect’ and ‘value.’ In this environment, you reach out to customers in ways that create fans and brand advocates. When I pulled this screen shot, Lego customers had contributed 10,884 videos for sharing on the Lego website. That’s 10,884 acts of love.  
  • What happens when we have unlimited ability for creative expression? We get LOLcats, for sure, but we also get new voices and the intellectual benefits and innovative solutions of creative play.
  • What happens when people have access to inexpensive digital media tools? They redefine media content as culture. This is a video mash-up of eight artists tracks posted to share with friends and get feedback. Artists and record companies are forced to consider new business models and intellectual property issues. 
  • What does social change look like in a globally networked world? Self-efficacy shortens the gap between individual and collective agency.
  • What happens when people figure out that gamification is compelling communication? We use it to increase awareness and engagement in advocacy issues like hunger. For every word you define correction on, a few grains of rice appear in the bowl. When you bowl is full, it empties and donates 10 grains of rice through the World Food Programme.
  • Gaming is also put to creative uses for fundraising. In this relief effort, the people at Facebook and Zynga collaborated so that certain types of game play on Farmville would generate donations.
  • What happens when people what to have more control and hands-on experience and are no longer content to contribute to traditional big charities? They seek out ways engage with Do-It-Yourself philanthropy through organizations like, that allows donors to select people whose projects interest them to provide all or a portion of a micro-loans.
  • What happens when you connect have networked connectivity? You unleash ‘free time’ resources and allow people to use their time and skills to help others. sends out requests for help from nonprofit organizations. These are specific calls for help on things such as copy-writing or marketing plans. Volunteers can select a project to help when they have time available. 
  • What happens when you crowdsource science? You get good answers, much faster. Scientists in Seattle invited gamers to find a solution to unfolding DNA strands in AIDS research. The gamers succeeded solving a problem in two weeks that scientists had not been able to do over the previous two years.
  • When people can hear each other, they respond. There is a lot of concern about people grouping in tribes, how all this media choice lets’ people reinforce their own beliefs rather than expand them. That’s true in some senses, but consider this:Grouping with like kinds is a survival response, not a social failing like we tend to describe it. If we want people to expand, we have to acknowledge the natural response rather than deny it.It’s not possible in this global world to remain totally clueless. You may choose very distinct political channels to support your beliefs, but I guarantee you you will hear about breaking events because of things like Twitter that have immediacy and multiple voices. New information and images will sneak in whether you want it or not. In September 2010, syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage and his partner created a YouTube video to inspire hope for LGBT youth facing harassment and bullying. They wanted to let kids know it does get better.Within 2 months, the “It Gets Better Project” (TM) turned into a worldwide movement, inspiring over 10,000 user-created videos viewed over 35 million times. Contributions have come from celebrities, activists, and politicians as well as regular people—both gay and straight.
  • What happens when you inspire people to believe that individuals can make a difference? You turn individual agency into collective agency. You get participatory social change.
  • What happens when the technology serves fundamental human goals? You get old people on Facebook.
  • Here’s where I see the social media environment heading:The distinction between online and offline is no longer relevant. Technologies and applications will continue to close the gap and blur the boundaries.Vodafone Buffer Buster campaign is a good example of this blending, using Augmented Reality to create an Alternate Reality Game turning the real world into a collaborative game play platform. The massive trend to mobile emphasizes the importance of personal environments. We may be global, but mobile let’s us celebrate and develop local again. This will impact everything from work to civic engagement, such as tele-commuting and Micro-volunteerism.Global visibility creates empathy, like we saw in the outpouring toward the Haitian and Japanese crises. The combination of individual agency and global awareness will be reflected in a trend toward social responsibility at all levels of business. Marketing is starting to move in the direction campaigns centered on social causes, such as Nike’s “About a Girl” campaign.An example is the TOMS shoes one-for-one businesses model set up to donate one pair of shoes for every pair a customer buysPeer-to-Peer culture flattens hierarchies and increases the demand for transparency and authenticity. That put pressure on governments, institutions, organizations and individuals to increase social responsibility and accountability and will increase innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • As you can tell, I am very positive about the potential for technology. I have no doubt about its success commercially, but I am especially excited about the social implications of increasing peoples’ sense of agency, power, and responsibility and I hope you are too. Our brains are how we make sense of the world. The most important impact on the human brain is to change our worldview. Ask any cognitive behavioral therapist. Technologies have not only changed the way people can do things, they have changed our beliefs about our own ability to take action. They are giving each one of us a new picture of ourselves.If we engage proactively with technology, we have the potential to empower an entire generation of responsible global digital citizens.
  • Pamela Rutledge: The Wired Child - Impact of Social Technologies

    1. 1. The Wired Child:How Social Technologies Impact the Brain Dr. Pamela Rutledge Director, Media Psychology Research Center American Museum of Natural History October 6, 2011
    2. 2. Social media is about psychology, not technology
    3. 3. Roadmap Media Landscape & Networks The Impact Of Change  Moral Panics & Cognitive Resistance Biological Bases Of Motivation Hierarchy Of Needs  Rewiring Maslow How Technology Amplifies Behavior The New Normal
    4. 4. Technology Has Rewired the World
    5. 5. Communications Model: Few to Few
    6. 6. Mass Media Model: One to Many
    7. 7. Network Model: Many to Many
    8. 8. The Small World Studies
    9. 9. BostonOmahaWho Do You Know…
    10. 10. BostonOmahaWho Do You Know Who Knows…
    11. 11. BostonOmahaWhat a Small World!
    12. 12. Social Technologies AreInteractive Information OrganizersMany types Information searches Folksonomy/Tagging Blogs Wikis Social NetworkingSimilar properties Participatory Interactive Constantly changing Create social connections Respond dynamically to user
    13. 13. Interactive ⌘ On-Demand ⌫ Asynchronous ⌥ Broad AccessImpact: Structural & Experiential
    14. 14. Net Generation Has New Assumptions We expect to participate, be heard, collaborate, and connect.By doing so, we increase our our empathy, our social capital, and our efficacy beliefs.
    15. 15. Technology is the new oxygen
    16. 16. Changing Roles and Uses
    17. 17. Is There No Respect?
    18. 18. 10,000 BC 4,000 BC 1000 AD 1440 1860 1920 1950 1995 2004 2011(NOT TO SCALE)Brief History of Media Technologies
    19. 19. Mass Media’s Piece of the Pie
    20. 20. • New is different • Different is scary • Adaptation takes effort • Willingness to changeOld Game + New Rules = Cognitive Dissonance
    21. 21. History is Full of Moral Panics Over the Introduction of New Technologies
    22. 22. People will forget how to use their memories if they can write things downSocrates
    23. 23. Vile books and papers are …used by Satan ... to debase, pervert and turn away from lofty aims to follow examples of corruption and criminalityAnthony Comstock
    24. 24. Because of the gramophone, our vocal cords will shrivel upJohn Phillips Sousa
    25. 25. Parents beware: The compelling excitement of the loudspeaker disturbs the balance of excitable minds1930s Radio
    26. 26. Now
    27. 27. Why Do Moral Panics About Media Matter?  Drive distance between generations  Become embedded in public policy  Bias research  Ignore the complexity of the environment  Divert resources away from real problems and more effective interventions  Disregard subjective experience of media use
    28. 28. Let’s say that media technologies are as awful as everyone fears. Then what?
    29. 29. Technology is Just a Tool
    30. 30. The Biological Imperative
    31. 31. Self- actualization EsteemMaslow’sHierarchy Belonging and Loveof Needs Safety Biological and physiological
    32. 32. Esteem, ReputMaslow Food, Shelt er & Sex ation & CompetenceRewired:Social Community, Safety, OrdConnectivity Belonging er & & Love Certainty
    33. 33. Social Behaviors Based on Survival Collaboration Reciprocity Trust Social Validation Social Identity Competence
    34. 34. Human Motivations and Goals
    35. 35. • Autonomy • Mastery • RelatednessIntrinsic Motivation
    36. 36. Meet Bob
    37. 37.  The same neural patterns  Mediated experience enriches face-to-face  Adoption driven by connection goals  Social media provides glueOnline And Offline Merge
    38. 38. purpose resilience optimism competence agency self-efficacy engagement autonomy mastery relatednessTechnology Enables Individual Action
    39. 39. Google+
    40. 40. Grandma’s On Facebook
    41. 41. Where’s the Mouse?
    42. 42. The New Normal: Blurring Boundaries
    43. 43. The New Normal: Learning to Blog
    44. 44. The New Normal: Collaborative Management
    45. 45. The New Normal: Customers as Fans
    46. 46. The New Normal: Creative Participation
    47. 47. Mash-up of 8 artists’ tracks:• Black Eyed Peas• Katy Perry• Snoop Dogg• Jay Sean• Nicki Minaj• Flo Rida• David Guetta• Kings Of LeonThe New Normal: Remixing Culture
    48. 48. The New Normal: Civic Engagement
    49. 49. The New Normal: Gaming for Good
    50. 50. The New Normal: Donating Through Gaming
    51. 51. The New Normal: DIY Philanthropy
    52. 52. The New Normal: Micro-Volunteerism
    53. 53. The New Normal: Citizen Science
    54. 54. The New Normal: It Gets Better
    55. 55. The New Normal: Participatory Social Change
    56. 56. The New Normal: Old People on Facebook
    57. 57. Going Forward No distinction online and offline More mobile means more autonomy  Increased celebration of local Increasing global awareness Flattening hierarchies  Respect, authenticity, and transparency  New business models & entrepreneurship
    58. 58. The most important impact on the human brain is this: Technologies have not only changed the way people can do things, it’s changed their beliefs about what they can do.
    59. 59. Thank You.Dr. Pamela RutledgeMedia Psychology Research Center@mediapsychology