Saturday, September 22, 2018

How Too Much Screen Time Affects Kids' Bodies And Brains

article by Alice G. Walton
published on
It’s no longer controversial to suggest that humans and their smartphones aren’t always a healthy combination. Strong research has been coming in over the last several years, suggesting that looking at screens for hours a day can have some serious health and mental health consequences. Even some of the developers of these products have admitted guilt about their creations, and confessed that they don’t even let their kids use them. A couple of recent studies highlight the connection, and an infographic below expands on it.
One new study finds that time spent on screens is linked to not-so-great shifts in brain connectivity, while reading is linked to more beneficial changes. The researchers, from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, had families rate how much time their kids spent on screens (smartphones, tablets, computers, and TV) and how much time they spent reading actual books. The children’s brains were scanned, to assess how regions involved in language were connected, and it turned out that screen time was linked to poorer connectivity in areas that govern language and cognitive control. Reading, on the other hand, was linked to better connectivity in these regions.
Another recent study found that the brain chemistry of kids who fell into the category of smartphone or Internet addiction was different from that of non-addicted kids. In particular, changes were seen in the reward circuits of the brain, in the ratio of the neurotransmitter GABA to other neurotransmitters. (Interestingly, these changes generally reversed when the teens went through cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for their addiction.) And other research has reported that cells in one of the reward areas of the brain, the nucleus accumbens, are activated when participants view Instagram pictures with more “likes," which again suggests that social media use can tap into addiction pathways.

But what may be even more important than looking at the brain is looking at the behavior and the psychology of kids who use screens. Researcher Jean Twenge’s famous work has shown strong links between time spent on screens and depression and suicidality in teens. A recent study of hers reported that teens who spent more time on screens in the form of social media, internet, texting, and gaming thought about suicide a lot more than kids who didn’t: about 48% of those who spent five or more hours a day on their phones had thought about suicide or made plans for it, while 28% of the teens who spent only one hour per day on their phones. In fact, teens who spent more time doing sports, homework, socializing with friends in real life, and going to church had a lower risk for both depression and suicide.

"These increases in mental health issues among teens are very alarming,” said Twenge, who’s also the author of iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy--and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood--and What That Means for the Rest of Us, in a statement. “Teens are telling us they are struggling, and we need to take that very seriously."

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

In ‘Screenagers,’ What to Do About Too Much Screen Time

Saturday, February 18, 2017

It’s ‘digital heroin’: How screens turn kids into psychotic junkies

This is an interesting article written by By Dr. Nicholas Kardaras August 27, 2016 | 7:54pm New York Post.

Susan* bought her 6-year-old son John an iPad when he was in first grade. “I thought, ‘Why not let him get a jump on things?’ ” she told me during a therapy session. John’s school had begun using the devices with younger and younger grades — and his technology teacher had raved about their educational benefits — so Susan wanted to do what was best for her sandy-haired boy who loved reading and playing baseball.
She started letting John play different educational games on his iPad. Eventually, he discovered Minecraft, which the technology teacher assured her was “just like electronic Lego.” Remembering how much fun she had as a child building and playing with the interlocking plastic blocks, Susan let her son Minecraft his afternoons away.
At first, Susan was quite pleased. John seemed engaged in creative play as he explored the cube-world of the game. She did notice that the game wasn’t quite like the Legos that she remembered — after all, she didn’t have to kill animals and find rare minerals to survive and get to the next level with her beloved old game. But John did seem to really like playing and the school even had a Minecraft club, so how bad could it be?
Still, Susan couldn’t deny she was seeing changes in John. He started getting more and more focused on his game and losing interest in baseball and reading while refusing to do his chores. Some mornings he would wake up and tell her that he could see the cube shapes in his dreams.
Although that concerned her, she thought her son might just be exhibiting an active imagination. As his behavior continued to deteriorate, she tried to take the game away but John threw temper tantrums. His outbursts were so severe that she gave in, still rationalizing to herself over and over again that “it’s educational.”
Then, one night, she realized that something was seriously wrong.
“I walked into his room to check on him. He was supposed to be sleeping — and I was just so frightened…”
She found him sitting up in his bed staring wide-eyed, his bloodshot eyes looking into the distance as his glowing iPad lay next to him. He seemed to be in a trance. Beside herself with panic, Susan had to shake the boy repeatedly to snap him out of it. Distraught, she could not understand how her once-healthy and happy little boy had become so addicted to the game that he wound up in a catatonic stupor.
There’s a reason that the most tech-cautious parents are tech designers and engineers. Steve Jobs was a notoriously low-tech parent. Silicon Valley tech executives and engineers enroll their kids in no-tech Waldorf Schools. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page went to no-tech Montessori Schools, as did Amazon creator Jeff Bezos and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
Many parents intuitively understand that ubiquitous glowing screens are having a negative effect on kids. We see the aggressive temper tantrums when the devices are taken away and the wandering attention spans when children are not perpetually stimulated by their hyper-arousing devices. Worse, we see children who become bored, apathetic, uninteresting and uninterested when not plugged in.
But it’s even worse than we think.
We now know that those iPads, smartphones and Xboxes are a form of digital drug. Recent brain imaging research is showing that they affect the brain’s frontal cortex — which controls executive functioning, including impulse control — in exactly the same way that cocaine does. Technology is so hyper-arousing that it raises dopamine levels — the feel-good neurotransmitter most involved in the addiction dynamic — as much as sex.
continue reading:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Is it possible to live without social media?

Is resistance futile?

Social media are an inherent part of today's life and we cannot deny it. Ones upon a time I was refusing social media in my home, not even getting a smartphone. I did not want to be victimized by it, this term may seem a little too intense for such a situation but this is really how I was perceiving it.

I witnessed the change in my own home when my husband got his first smart phone, a while ago, the first Iphone that my son is so proud to own today, hoping it will have some great value in the future.
Smartphone were already chronophage, and not close to how much it is today.
Social media develop as fast as the plague in the middle-age and with it come the need to be part of it.

After year of resistance, I end up getting a smartphone just to be on the same pace as my middle-schooler kids and be able not only to fully understand them but eventually help them through it.
Well, in some way, they also had to help me through it as well, or should I say push me into it. I surely knew Facebook, "forced" by friends to join as it was the only way to see their children growing. But I also had to join Instagram, the juvenile version of Facebook.

it is insane how many hours our teens are spending on Instagram or Snapchat! They suddenly take many picture while before they would barely take their regular camera anywhere. And they are reading a lot, unhappily nothing important with sadly really bad grammar and even sometime bad langage.

But the fact is that with those social media they stay in touch no matter how far away they are of each other. And this is rather great. It really is friendship without frontier, this being the positive side of social media.

Unhappily there is also some dark side in it, harassment and cyber-bullying being one of the darkest. Being chronophage is certainly the more insidious. The more followers-following they have the more sollicitation they get. And they are in a hurry to read every single new post...

Well I am proud to not become a "victim" of social media, to not have turn on the notification part of it so I can still keep my peace and quiet environment and check WhatsApp when I decide to do so and not when my phone whistle.

However, I do have now some social media on my smartphone and I have to recognize that I excluded myself from some "community" life by refusing it for so long. Do I regret that choice? not a second. But having some today made me understand better why I do need to let my teen have some too and at the same time how important it is to teach them how to stay free of it. This is a real challenge as it can become quickly addictive. And there are a few ways to use social media, some teens accumulate "friends" or "followers" they are looking for numerous "like" on their post to feel "popular". They may have hundred or even thousand of followers that they do not even know! You can find teens who post tone of pictures of themselves, becoming little Instagram models, building their own celebrity.

So the challenge is to make sure that they are using those social media for something meaningful like staying in touch with real friends, and to not see all their free time collapsing in a chronophage screen.

It's a little like how to dominate the machine. May the force be with them.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The impact of reality Tv on our teens

this articile will raised many importants questions
August 11, 2014
Posted in: Hot TopicsTeenagers
Kim Kardashian was preparing to have her baby.
Instead of making sure she had her hospital room reserved and her bags prepared, she was instead on the phone with members of her “glam squad” to make sure they would be available to ensure her hair and makeup were perfect for the day of her delivery. Her sisters chastise her vain behavior as being “typical Kim,” and it is apparent where her values lie.
Meanwhile, on another cable channel, female socialites of Beverly Hills prepare for a dinner party. Almost as soon as the women arrive in their designer clothes, the wine, catty remarks and tears begin to flow. Throughout the booze-fueled dinner, the women accuse each other of spreading rumors, and the yelling and finger-pointing ensue. A typical dinner party for the “real” housewives.
Reality television is a huge part of our television viewing culture. It may be clear to many adults that not all is “real” in the world of reality TV. However, how do children and adolescents understand the world of reality TV? What could reality TV be teaching adolescent girls, in particular, about what is valued in the real world? And, how does it affect their attitudes, beliefs, self-image and behavior?
Research has shown that reality TV has an impact on the values of young girls and how they view real-life situations. That being the case, it’s important to take a look at some of the standards portrayed on reality TV.
What are some of the common themes in reality TV?
Physical Beauty And Sex Appeal
Many reality shows depict women idealizing beauty and thinness, giving the impression that a woman’s value is based on her appearance, and that popularity is derived from beauty. Competition shows such as America’s Next Top Modelperpetuate this ideal, as women compete with one another to gain a lucrative modeling contract. Plastic surgery shows such as Botched, as well as the former Dr. 90210 and The Swan feature people altering their appearance and becoming more satisfied with their looks and quality of life after surgery. Many cast members of other reality shows, such as The Real Housewives franchise, are very open about their numerous plastic surgeries.
Keeping Up with the Kardashians features the life of a family that spends a great deal of time and money on appearance, with a consequent rise in fame and popularity of its girls and women.  Their Instagram pages, often followed by young fans of the show, are full of “selfies,” bikini and modeling photos. Photos that feature their “ordinary” everyday lives are highly sexualized, including the pages of the youngest teenage members of the family. This practice perpetuates the notion that “real” people gain popularity and happiness by focusing on their appearance—and to be successful, personal image, even at a very young age, should be laced with sexuality.
Materialism And Excessive Partying
Other common values perpetuated by reality TV include materialism, and an idealization of a hard-partying and “celebrity” lifestyle without regard for consequences. Both Rich Kids of Beverly Hills and Shahs of Sunset feature the lives of privileged young adults living in southern California. They take extravagant trips, wear designer clothes, spend a lot of money on alcohol-fueled parties, and are rarely seen working regular jobs. The cast of The Jersey Shore spends an entire summer binge drinking to excess, participating in risky sexual behavior, engaging in physical altercations, and even being arrested. Despite their obvious poor behavior and decision-making, their popularity continues to grow.
For anyone who has seen the 2013 movie The Bling Ring, this is an extreme example of how emulation of the celebrity and reality TV lifestyle can cause issues in teens. The movie is based on the true story of a group of teenagers in southern California who were responsible for the “Hollywood Hills robberies,” in which they robbed the homes of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Audrina Patridge and several other celebrities. The teens idealized the party and high-fashion lifestyle that is often featured in gossip magazines and reality TV, and subsequently robbed the homes of celebrities to fuel this lifestyle. Although this is an extreme case, it does demonstrate the ability of this type of media to influence the values placed on materialism and excessive partying.
Aggression And Bullying
Reality TV typically reveals inappropriate behavior within peer groups, often promoting interpersonal drama, aggression and bullying. For example, women inThe Real Housewives franchise gossip, back-stab and behave aggressively, condescending and catty toward one another. The expression of relational aggression between females seen across several reality shows gives girls the idea that gossiping is a normal part of a female relationship, that it’s in girls’ natures to be devisive and competitive with one another, and that being mean earns respect and is often necessary to get what you want.
As we try to discourage bullying, gossiping and other forms of interpersonal aggression between young girls, it’s unfortunate that reality shows often feature adults behaving in exactly this manner, all the while continuing to gain popularity in mainstream media.
Lack Of Focus On The Importance Of Intelligence And Real World Success
While reality TV seems to place emphasis on sex appeal, materialism, hard-partying and relational aggression, it does not emphasize the fact that many women on these shows are highly intelligent and successful in their real lives.
For instance, Adrienne Maloof, a former cast member on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, is a successful entrepreneur as a co-owner of several business ventures that include Maloof Productions and the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. However, it was her divorce and disputes with other female cast members that were her main focus on the show. Married to Medicine, a show featuring the lives of doctor’s wives and female physicians, focuses primarily on the conflicts among the women, not on their successful medical practices.
How To Talk With Your Children And Adolescents About Reality TV
It’s important to know how to talk to your kids about the blurred line between reality and reality TV. Since reality TV has such a strong foothold in American pop culture, it is likely not going anywhere or changing its content any time soon. However, parents can learn how to help their children critically appraise what they see in the media.
Tips for critical appraisal of the media:1  
  1. Watch one or more reality TV shows with your teenager: First, ask what shows your teen is watching, and then determine which shows are appropriate for the age and maturity of your child. It might be that you decide that a young teen, like a 13-year-old, should not watch certain shows that a 16-year-old teen would be permitted. If you introduce “TV rules” such as these in your home, you might consider viewing the shows alone first before determining which are appropriate for your child. When watching a show with your child, feel free to make the statements or ask the questions posed in the tips below.
  2. Make a clear statement about the reality of reality TV shows: This is important, since kids need to know that while reality TV appears to be “reality,” it is a sensationalized reality of the television world. Nevertheless, it has an impact, and like many TV shows, can serve as a foundation for imitation.Example: “You know these shows are NOT REAL. They look like real life but are written just like other shows.”
  3. Find out what your child thinks is real: Start a conversation to gauge how your child views reality TV. There is no way of knowing what she thinks unless you ask. You can pose these questions about reality TV in general, or about a specific show that your child is watching. Examples: Ask her to describe what is going on in the show to get a sense for how she thinks people look and act. What is good or bad about some of the behavior you are watching together? Does she think people act in real life as they do on reality TV? If so, what has she seen among her peers or adults that resembles what she is seeing on reality TV?
  4. Find out if TV images affect your child’s self image and values: Reality TV and popular culture can dictate what is “cool,” and what it means to be accepted. Find out if your child is emulating values portrayed on reality TV.Examples: Does she envy the lifestyle of the charchters? Is there anything she would change about herself or wish she could do after seeing a particular show? What values are being displayed in the show? What are her values?
  5. Talk to your child about why she likes certain characters: It may be enlightening to find out why your child likes or dislikes certain characters. This can indicate what values your child may or may not be reflecting.Examples:What connections is she making between herself and the reality TV characters? Why does your child find certain characters appealing? Explore if that character is truly admirable, or is there something else that makes her or him seem cool. Does that character make a good role model?  Would she like to behave similarly to that character? Who does make a good role model?
  6. Ask your teenager about what her friends are watching: Most kids watch the same shows, as it gives them common ground for conversation. Ask about her friends’ reactions to certain shows, episodes and/or behaviors. Examples:What do her friends think is cool? Would her friends want her to act like the characters in the show? Would she want her friends to act in certain ways?
  7. Help your child develop critical responses to what she observes on reality TV: Talking to the television and commenting when something seems unreal or scripted can help your child develop these critical skills. Use commercial breaks to discuss these elements or pause the show when you want to take a break and talk. Examples: Ask your child, “What is going on here? What is the message in this part of the show?” If your child cannot come up with answers, you can say, “I see people being really self-centered and vain, or nasty to a friend.” Your commentary may help initiate a conversation about the content of the show at any given point.
Although the programming of reality TV can be highly entertaining, it’s important to be aware of the messages and values that these shows often portray. More importantly, it’s essential to be aware of what our children are watching so that we can teach them how to recognize and process the skewed values of television reality. This is tricky, as this programming easily deceives viewers into believing it is a true reflection of the real world.
However, by following the tips above, your child can ultimately learn not to accept what is portrayed on reality TV as the truth, but rather to think more critically about what the characters are doing, and why they are behaving in certain ways. This knowledge will give your child the tools to develop stronger values, and a more solid self-esteem that is free from the influences of reality TV.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

About sexting

An interesting article was post in the New York Times about Sexting. It is asking some important question about this new practice which become ordinary for some may be more than we think...

Is this a new phenomena? not really.
What is new and scary is the "no right to forget" aspect of it as much as how a picture or any post can become viral and have uncontrollable consequences...
Words fly away, writings remain.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Superficial, atrociously stupid Scream Queens started on Fox

So the new Fox series is supposed to be an horror-comedy?
This totally poorly written carrying all the superficial value of any teen series those days + a copy-paste cheap recipe from basic horror movie without the development of character.

The worse is that teen may not dare to see and say how unhealthy and annoying the series is because it is so advertised that it looks that this the TV show every teen has to watch

Those teens are as usual obsessed by popularity, looks, fashion... and let's not forget seduction and sex.

Add to that recipe gore and violence and you get a show that any middle-schooler could shoot with his smartphone.

In case they wanted to play a caricature, this is a total failure.

I agree with Kristi Turnquist in :
"Scream Queens": New horror-comedy from Ryan Murphy ("American Horror Story") and his team, about a cursed sorority and a serial killer on a college campus. The two-hour pilot is supposed to be a bloody hoot, with Emma Roberts as the mean-girl head of the sorority, making insulting remarks about minorities, and anyone who doesn't conform to the sorority's standards of beauty. Instead, it's just distasteful. The eclectic cast – which includes Keke Palmer, Lea Michele, and Nick Jonas – are a lively group, but the opener drags.  Jamie Lee Curtis is the only bright spot, and even her role – as a college dean with her own secrets – seems like a rewrite of the Sue Sylvester character from "Glee."

I totally disagree with critics who find that show hilarious with its insane hyper-reality. there is no subtlety there, everything is heavy, gross, easy, cliche. 

I guess that TV writers those days should watch some of the you-tuber who seems much more inspired and certainly funnier than them.