Monday, October 13, 2014

Is E-Reading to Your Toddler Story Time, or Simply Screen Time?

Clifford the Big Red Dog looks fabulous on an iPad. He sounds good, too — tap the screen and hear him pant as a blue truck roars into the frame. “Go, truck, go!” cheers the narrator.

But does this count as story time? Or is it just screen time for babies?

It is a question that parents, pediatricians and researchers are struggling to answer as children’s books, just like all the other ones, migrate to digital media.

For years, child development experts have advised parents to read to their children early and often, citing studies showing its linguistic, verbal and social benefits. In June, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised doctors to remind parents at every visit that they should read to their children from birth, prescribing books as enthusiastically as vaccines and vegetables.

On the other hand, the academy strongly recommends no screen time for children under 2, and less than two hours a day for older children.

At a time when reading increasingly means swiping pages on a device, and app stores are bursting with reading programs and learning games aimed at infants and preschoolers, which bit of guidance should parents heed?

The answer, researchers say, is not yet entirely clear. “We know how children learn to read,” said Kyle Snow, the applied research director at the National Association for the Education of Young Children. “But we don’t know how that process will be affected by digital technology.”

Part of the problem is the newness of the devices. Tablets and e-readers have not been in widespread use long enough for the sorts of extended studies that will reveal their effects on learning.

Dr. Pamela High, the pediatrician who wrote the June policy for the pediatrics group, said electronic books were intentionally not addressed. “We tried to do a strongly evidence-based policy statement on the issue of reading starting at a very young age,” she said. “And there isn’t any data, really, on e-books.”

But a handful of new studies suggest that reading to a child from an electronic device undercuts the dynamic that drives language development.

“There’s a lot of interaction when you’re reading a book with your child,” Dr. High said. “You’re turning pages, pointing at pictures, talking about the story. Those things are lost somewhat when you’re using an e-book.”

“What we’re really after in reading to our children is behavior that sparks a conversation,” said Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a professor of psychology at Temple and co-author of the 2013 study. “But if that book has things that disrupt the conversation, like a game plopped right in the middle of the story, then it’s not offering you the same advantages as an old-fashioned book.”

Of course, e-book publishers and app developers point to interactivity as an educational advantage, not a distraction. Many of those bells and whistles — Clifford’s bark, the sleepy narration of “Goodnight Moon,” the appearance of the word “ham” when a child taps the ham in the Green Eggs and Ham app — help the child pick up language, they say.

There is some evidence to bear out those claims, at least in relation to other technologies. A study by the University of Wisconsin in 2013 found that 2-year-olds learned words faster with an interactive app as opposed to one that required no action.

But when it comes to learning language, researchers say, no piece of technology can substitute for a live instructor — even if the child appears to be paying close attention.

Patricia K. Kuhl, a director of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington, led a study in 2003 that compared a group of 9-month-old babies who were addressed in Mandarin by a live instructor with a group addressed in Mandarin by an instructor on a DVD. Children in a third group were exposed only to English.

“The way the kids were staring at the screen, it seemed obvious they would learn better from the DVDs,” she said. But brain scans and language testing revealed that the DVD group “learned absolutely nothing,” Dr. Kuhl said.

“Their brain measures looked just like the control group that had just been exposed to English. The only group that learned was the live social interaction group.”

In other words, “it’s being talked with, not being talked at,” that teaches children language, Dr. Hirsh-Pasek said.

Today, what Dr. Kuhl found is commonly referred to as the “Baby Einstein” effect, named for thepopular video series that entranced children from the late 1990s to the mid-2000s, but was ultimately found to have a negative association with language development in infants. In 2009, the Walt Disney Company, facing the threat of a class-action lawsuit, offered refunds to people who had bought the videos.

Similarly, perhaps the biggest threat posed by e-books that read themselves to children, or engage them with games, is that they could lull parents into abdicating their educational responsibilities, said Mr. Snow of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

“There’s the possibility for e-books to become the TV babysitters of this generation,” he said. “We don’t want parents to say, ‘There’s no reason for me to sit here and turn pages and tell my child how to read the word, because my iPad can do it.’ ”

But parents may find it difficult to avoid resorting to tablets.

Claudia Raleigh, a mother of three children under 6 years old in Berkley, Mich., said she adhered strictly to the A.A.P. guidelines but found that she needed to distract her toddler, Teddy, during his sister’s swim class. “You know how hard it is to wait somewhere with a 2-year-old,” she said. “So that was his introduction to the iPad. It kept him from jumping in the pool.”

“I considered it a lifesaving device,” she said with a laugh.

The guilt, she added, did not linger for long. “I literally read to my kids every day since birth,” she said. “I’m over feeling guilty about a little screen time.”

Even literacy advocates say the guidelines can be hard to follow, and that allowing limited screen time is not high on the list of parental missteps. “You might have an infant and think you’re down with the A.A.P. guidelines, and you don’t want your baby in front of a screen, but then you have a grandparent on Skype,” Mr. Snow said. “Should you really be tearing yourself apart? Maybe it’s not the world’s worst thing.”

“The issue is when you’re in the other room and Skyping with the baby cause he likes it,” he said. Even if screen time is here to stay as a part of American childhood, good old-fashioned books seem unlikely to disappear anytime soon. Parents note that there is an emotional component to paper-and-ink storybooks that, so far, does not seem to extend to their electronic counterparts, however engaging.

“Lilly definitely has an iPad, and there are education apps she uses,” Amy Reid, a publicist at CNBC, said of her 4-year-old. “But for her, there is nothing like the excitement of choosing her own book and bringing it home from the library.”
Correction: October 12, 2014

An earlier version of this article misquoted Claudia Raleigh, whose toddler son, Teddy, was first allowed to use an iPad during his older sister’s swim class. Ms. Raleigh said, “You know how hard it is to wait somewhere with a 2-year-old,” not “You know how hard it is to sit somewhere with a 2-year-old.”

A version of this article appears in print on October 12, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Is E-Reading to Your Toddler Story Time, or Simply Screen Time?.

Friday, October 10, 2014

what role models for teenager?

We recently saw some scandal concerning Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber for example. Those public figure were role models early on.

Miley Cyrus was loved by many kids and teen as Hannah Montana, the Disney character who hide her fame to be sure that people love her for who she really is. But older Miley Cyrus went wild and cultivates a sexually explicit image.
Justin Bieber started as the boy-next-door many girl when in love with but turn out as a bad boy with anger management issue. Parents who use to appreciate those two do not want their teen watch those singers any longer or even worse, go to their concerts.

But what are the role models teenager are looking up to? Who are the personality they are looking up to, identifying to?
I am afraid that most of them are simply celebrity like Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift, Emma Watson, Rihanna...all performers, actors, all in the appearance, fashion, superficiality supported by the media pressure.

Happily today Malala won the Nobel peace Prize and may with her, teen will look up to some other really important personalities who may not be as famous as singers or actors. Malala advocates child education and was ready to die for it.

But you may see her a little more for a few days because of her prize and then she will vanish from the media while singers and actors will carry on. I see many girls trying to look like those singers and even regroup at school because they are wearing the same look, the same brand. They are kind of the fashion clique.

The dictatorship of appearance is very strong in Los Angeles and parents need to be stronger to make sure their teens do not drop into it. Teachers should be strong allies by debating meaningful subject in class, like Malala and her fight for education for girls.

And you? What kind of role models you would suggest to your teens? Any name? Please share them with us in your comments.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Facebook: Social connections or simply envious voyeurism

LONDON: Witnessing friends’ vacations, love lives and work successes on Facebook can cause envy and trigger feelings of misery and loneliness, according to German researchers.
A study conducted by two German universities found rampant envy on Facebook, the world’s largest social network that now has over 1 billion users and has produced an unprecedented platform for social comparison.
The researchers found that one in three people felt worse after visiting the site and more dissatisfied with their lives, while people who browsed without contributing were affected the most.
“We were surprised by how many people have a negative experience from Facebook with envy leaving them feeling lonely, frustrated or angry,” researcher Hanna Krasnova from the Institute of Information Systems at Berlin’s Humboldt University told Reuters.
“From our observations some of these people will then leave Facebook or at least reduce their use of the site,” Krasnova said, adding to speculation that Facebook could be reaching saturation point in some markets.
Researchers from Humboldt University and from Darmstadt’s Technical University found vacation photos were the biggest cause of resentment with more than half of envy incidents triggered by holiday snaps on Facebook.
Social interaction was the second most common cause of envy as users could compare how many birthday greetings they received to those of their Facebook friends and how many “likes” or comments were made on photos and postings.
“Passive following triggers invidious emotions, with users mainly envying happiness of others, the way others spend their vacations and socialize,” the researchers said in the report “Envy on Facebook: A Hidden Threat to Users’ Life Satisfaction?” released Tuesday.
“The spread and ubiquitous presence of envy on Social Networking Sites is shown to undermine users’ life satisfaction,” they said.
They found people aged in their mid-30s were most likely to envy family happiness while women were more likely to envy physical attractiveness.
These feelings of envy were found to prompt some users to boast more about their achievements on the site to portray themselves in a better light.
Men were shown to post more self-promotional content to let people know about their accomplishments while women stressed their good looks and social lives.
The researchers based their findings on two studies involving 600 people with the results to be presented at a conference in Germany in February.
The first study looked at the scale, scope and nature of envy incidents triggered by Facebook and the second at how envy was linked to passive use of Facebook and life satisfaction.
The researchers said the respondents in both studies were German but they expected the findings to hold internationally as envy is a universal feeling and possibly impact Facebook usage.

Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: 

Voyeurism and Facebook

By: Cassandra Willyard
Several years ago, my mom decided to move from Grand Forks, North Dakota — a city of 50,000 — to Lakota, North Dakota — a town of about 700 people. She had grown up in small towns and had no desire to return to one. But Lakota happened to be the midway point between her job in Grand Forks and my stepfather’s new job in Minnewaukan. So my mom began house hunting.
At one house, the owner was watching television. But the show didn’t look like a regular television program. It seemed almost like a home video. My mom asked the woman what she was watching. She replied, “Oh, that’s the camera down on Main Street.” Lakota, North Dakota, has a video camera planted at one end of Main Street. The footage from that camera ends up on TV, allowing residents to get a real-time, birds-eye view of the town’s tiny business district. No lie.
Why on earth would anyone want to watch what’s happening on Main Street? Because we are natural-born voyeurs. Given the opportunity to peer into others lives, most of us will grab the binoculars rather than closing the shades.
Facebook, like Lakota’s Main Street camera, encourages our voyeuristic tendencies. “People can peruse the profiles of various users, read about other users’ interests, read their friends’ comments on their walls or view their friends. People can even scroll through a user’s photo albums and see all of the pictures that that user has uploaded of themselves and all of the pictures that other users have uploaded with that user in it. Profiles can link to other, sometimes more personal, Web sites about the user. Some profiles link to other photo albums or to online journals,” wrote Brett Bumgarner in a 2007 study. Dozens of my Facebook “friends” are high school classmates I haven’t spoken to since graduation. I friended them to be polite. But that doesn’t explain why I read their status updates and flip through pictures of their kids’ little league games. Facebook has turned me into a busybody. I am the homeowner watching the Main Street camera channel.
Of course, the voyeurs wouldn’t congregate if there weren’t something to see. Bumgarner puts it this way: “Voyeurism wouldn’t be possible without the existence of exhibitionism, or self–disclosure.” Facebook makes sharing incredibly easy. Almost too easy. And too much sharing can backfire. We have all heard stories about people who have been fired for something they posted on Facebook.
The average Facebook user has 130 “friends,” and it seems a safe bet that not all of those “friendships” are close relationships. My Facebook friend group, for example, is an eclectic mix of actual friends, relatives, casual acquaintances, ex-boyfriends, other science writers, Peace Corps buddies, former classmates, and editors. Given the diversity of that group, I have three options when it comes to sharing: 1. Post only G-rated information/photos that I don’t mind sharing with anyone and everyone. 2. Adopt a devil-may-care attitude and share whatever I want without worrying who will see it. 3. Or divide my diverse list into different groups so that I can selectively share.
I mostly practice option one. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg would like to see everyone embrace the second option. “Our mission at Facebook is to help make the world more open and connected,” he wrote in an open letter last year.
Smitha Ballyamanda, a woman I profiled in the June issue of IEEE Spectrum, has chosen the third option. She has grouped her nearly 500 friends according to an elaborate hierarchy. Her frenemies are in a group called Zero Trust along with her traditional older relatives. They have the least access to her profile. Her best friends are in a group called the Inner Circle. They can see anything Ballyamanda posts. The bulk of Ballyamanda’s “friends” reside in a group called The Paparazzi. The group includes people like “my best friend from second grade or someone I met through a friend,” Ballyamanda told me. The Paparazzi can see more than Zero Trust, but far less than the Inner Circle. “They’re looking at [my page] just for entertainment purposes,” she said. Ballyamanda devised this system after a stalker hacked into her email and Facebook accounts and hijacked them. The incident left her exceedingly wary, but she didn’t want to forgo Facebook altogether. So she came up with a way to have her cake and eat it too — sort of.
But how many people would be willing to develop a hierarchy like Ballyamanda’s? Not everyone shares her privacy concerns. When I asked my 22-year-old cousin for her mailing address, she posted it on my Facebook wall, where all my “friends” could see it. I sent her a private message reminding her that she might want to be careful with her personal information. But she didn’t share my concern. “The only people who can see what I write on your wall is you, your friends, me and my friends, so it doesn’t really bother me,” she wrote back. Another college-age cousin has posted dozens of drinking pictures. In some she is visibly drunk. And I recently learned from my news feed that a classmate I haven’t spoken with in years is devastated to find that she can’t have children. Did she mean to tell me that, or did she simply post without thinking?
So it seems Zuckerberg’s wish for more openness may be coming true. But instead of feeling more connected, I feel alarmed. What happens when my beer-chugging cousin starts looking for jobs? Sure, she can take the pictures down—all 500 of them—but Facebook keeps them archived, no doubt. And with Facebook’s new facial recognition software, her name could be forever tied to those wild college nights. Then again, maybe I’m being overly cautious. I can never decide whether I’m being prudent or a prude.

Why Facebook Breeds Voyeurism

by Ari Herzog
Rachel Jonat recently shared why she quit Facebook, extracting in part:
I want more from my friends than status updates. I want to give my friends more than status updates. If this person isn’t significant enough in my life for a birthday phone call or visit or even a personal email, why do I want to stay on top of where they are vacationing and that they got a new puppy. I’d rather give up the 189 Facebook friends, the majority of whom I don’t have or want the phone number of, and focus on the people near and dear to me.
Emailing Rachel and seeking information she didn’t share in that guest article on Courtney Carver’s blog, I wanted to know more details why she quit Facebook, a phenomenon Jorgen Sundberg attributes to early adopters losing faithin the social networking site’s multiple changes over the years and finding increased value networking on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Rachel replied that she joined Facebook in 2006 as a convert from MySpace. She spent several hours a day on the site, reading updates from so-called friends and sharing her own updates. She was wasting time and she knew it. She had enough. Admitting Facebook is great for establishing connections between friends and family, Rachel also observed herself using the website “as a crutch to be a bad friend,” elaborating:
Because I saw status updates and pictures of friends I felt like I had connected with them. I hadn’t. Instead of calling people or seeing people I just watched them on Facebook. That’s not a friendship; that’s voyeurism.
Stephen Chukumba identifies with her belief, for he wrote last year that he considers Facebook a medium for three types of people:
1. people who write updates and share information
2. people who don’t write anything or share infrequently
3. people who watch everyone else Facebooking
Focusing on the third typology, the voyeur, he expands:
So that girl that couldn’t stand you in college because she thought that you thought that you were all that, now knows that you’re no longer as cute as you used to be (cause she’s trolled pictures of you in Facebook) and silently rejoices – and then tries to friend you (cause she’s hot now – and wants you to know it). Even if she never actually tries to friend you, she can sit, eating Bon Bons, taking pleasure in every ‘It’s complicated’ post you publish, relishing personal trials and travails.
What’s so disturbing about it, is that you’ll never know your whole life is under the scrutiny of crazies. Most people probably don’t put that much thought into what they post or publish, because they feel like it’s among friends.
But in this age of reality TV, TMZ and YouTube, every personal gaffe is potentially fodder for the masses.
Rachel didn’t want the masses to know her every move but moreover she didn’t care to know theirs. She wrote me that she deliberated for a week and posted a status update on her Facebook wall with her phone number and email address, and left that update there for three days. She told her friends she wanted to see them more in person than online.
Maybe you can identify with Rachel’s feelings. I can.
And now, in the weeks since she quit?
Life is still being lived even though I’m not on Facebook. I’m seeing people in person more, the people that I actually had phone numbers for – not the Facebook friends that I hadn’t seen in five years and wouldn’t think to invite over for dinner. I’m using Skype to see and talk to friends out of town and writing some long overdue emails. It feels good.
If inspired to learn more about Rachel, she writes a blog about minimalism and tweets as @RachelJonat.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Facebook Trap

One of my young friend disappeared from facebook...
Oh well, I wonder what was going on as I always liked to watch his photographs: he travels a lot and loves to take picture in all those countries he visits. So I called him and asked him what happen to his facebook account?

He terminated it! As he felt becoming totally addicted to it, he decided that he was better for him to stop it completely. He explained to me that he was feeling like an alcoholic feels with alcohol, he could not control his desire to watch and read more and more, his FB friends were posting more and more every days and he realized the amount of time he was spending hooked on his computer or even on his smartphone. He realized that life was not, at least for him, reading and watching what other people were doing as they were doing it and that he wanted to take more time to actually live his own life in the real world instead of following their life via the virtual one.

I found his experience interesting and listen to other people experience with Facebook. Why do they get hooked or why do they escape the addiction?

Let's face it, many facebooker are hooked on their smartphone enjoying sharing many moments of their day, including what they just ate or cooked or how beautiful the sunset is tonight. Many are posting pictures of their children so their friends and family can share the joy of seeing the little ones growing up, and this is true, we are sincerely enjoying those.

There are also those who are networking, speaking about themselves and their work, showing off how "good" they are doing or which "new friend" they made, what great party they just attended...

And in the teenage world, those posts can get nasty, teenager tend to use social network to gossip and in so, hurting the feeling of their target... oh well, we all read about cyber-bullying isn't it?

Adult are bullying and gossiping too but in a different way. First they accept anyone who want to be friend with them, even those they do not appreciate in real life and those they do not even know, for them what is important is to have a lot of "friends". Then, they start to post information that seems totally casual but are hurtful for certain. It could be the office's party where one coworker was not aware of (not invited), it could be the get away week-end of a few girlfriends while one of them was totally left out, it could be a mom posting the picture of a birthday's party or a sleep-over where one of her kid's friend was not invited, or the picture of a friend's husband in a pretty good company (not his wife for sure)... In all those post, only the target understand and get hurt, and those type of behavior are encouraged by some TV shows or movies, like "Revenge" on ABC feeds on gossip and bullying, manipulation and destruction.

Another temptation of Facebook: Voyeurism! This one can become addictive too. Exactly like the neighbor buying a telescope to spy on people around him, or like those old people in small villages in Europe who sit most of the day on the bench in the center square to see what is happening and what others are doing. The same way, some facebooker just want to know what their "friends" are doing, they want to be informed at all time even if none of those of their information are of their concern.

So I told my young friend that as much as I miss seeing his beautiful pictures, I totally understood his choice. Personally I did open a facebook page because one of my friend refused to post picture of her son anywhere else :-) She is a really close friend of mine and I really enjoy seeing her little one growing up. It actually happens that another on of my close friend do exactly like her and here again I do enjoy seeing pictures of her 4 girls so my facebook account is useful.  But I do not have much friend on it, only a few who, like those two, are mostly using it to give news from time to time.

I would not want to let Facebook or any other social network pollute my life or the one of my children. We already have so little free time to enjoy, I would not like to see them wasted it in the virtual world.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

social media affecting our children

It is interesting to thing for a moment about the consequence of the use of technology on our brain and even more on our children's brain. Technology fascinate our children even more as us, parents, are using it intensively. Internet is a magnificent tools, it is undeniable, it is a source of knowledge where our children, as us. can find mostly all the answer to their question. it is a great help for research but...Hank Pellissier wrote an interesting article about how social media can potentially influence our children, here are some part of it:

Social network sadness?

A 2012 University of Belgrade study of 160 high school students determined that “online social networking is related to depression,” — but that additional research would be needed to determine whether or not Facebook is triggering depression.
This finding was echoed by a 2013 University of Michigan study in which researchers report the more time participants spent on Facebook, “the more their life satisfaction levels declined over time." The study noted that this negative effect didn't happen from interacting with others in real life. On the surface, Facebook is an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection. Rather than enhancing well-being, however, these findings suggest that Facebook may undermine it.

International cyberbully

A 2012 poll conducted by The Global Research Company Ipsosshowed even higher numbers: 12 percent of parents around the world reported that their child has been cyberbullied and 26 percent reported knowing a child in their community who has experienced cyberbullying. Of those, a majority (60 percent) said the harassment occurred on social networking sites like Facebook.

Risky behavior

A study published May 2014 in the Journal of Adolescent Healthstudied 1,563 tenth graders from five Southern California high schools to determine how much social media use affects adolescent risk behaviors like smoking, drinking, and doing drugs. The researchers’ conclusions were disturbing. They warn: “Exposure to risky online content had a direct impact on adolescents' risk behaviors… friends' online behaviors should be considered a viable source of peer influence.”

Parenting in the age of technology

Are there any simple rules for monitoring a child’s technology — whether it means video gamestabletscell phonesTV or social media? Unfortunately, there's still so much we don't know about the long-term effects of technology on the brain. But since technology isn't going anywhere, parents need to think carefully about the role it plays in our children's lives. "Every child is different, so it is difficult to draw hard-and-fast rules, but I think wise parents go for less tech use rather than more," concludes psychologist Jane Healy, author of, Failure to Connect.
In the end, it’s vital to remember that your kids are watching you. The old adage “Do as I say, not as I do” just doesn’t work when it comes to technology. If your face is pasted to an electronic screen most of the time, your impressionable offspring will consider that normal — and do the same. Shut off all gizmos regularly and enjoy face-to-face conversation. Take your children outside, without digital toys, and enjoy the wind, sunshine, trees, and flowers. Growing brains need the kind of nourishment that technology — no matter how sophisticated and bewitching — can never supply.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

another video game under the radar: Clash of Clan

Let's look at the popular online game Clah od Clan and ask ourselves some question before letting our children get exposed to it...

Clash of Clans is a strategy game where players can construct and expand one's village, unlock successively more powerful warriors and defensesraid and pillage resources from other villages, create and join Clans and much, much more. A multiplayer game, Clash of Clans allows players to build their community, train troops, and attack other players to earn gold and elixir while building their own defenses to protect against attackers. Players can also use the chat feature to communicate with others and join clans to aid each other.

So already, this is a game of war, I get it. You build, you attack and you get attacked.

Paula Marner wants parents to be careful with "free" gaming apps for their kids.
The Canadian mother's warning comes after she discovered that her twin 7-year-old boys charged $3,000 worth of in-app purchases while playing Clash of Clans on her iPad, according to CBC News.
Marner thought it would be fine to let her boys use the app. What she didn't know was that even though Clash of Clans was free to download, players could make in-app purchases.
Clash of Clans Revenue at $654,000 Per Day, Third Best Performing Freemium Title Worldwide
You may also want to read what this teacher say about her experience with the game:
You may also wnat to read how this video game can be a great opportunity for pedophile:
and how about cyberbullying:
Over all, I would personally recommend to have a good conversation with any kid playing or wanting to play that game. First about the value that this game carry, are they positive value?
it is important that the child stay aware:
  • In app purchases are tempting and can lead to pestering (or a big bill if in-app purchases aren’t switched off in parental controls)
  • Addictive structure (bearing in mind, the debate about “computer/gaming addiction” rages on)
  • Global Chat allows contact with strangers; predators have been reported to use the site
  • harassment/bullying  that can emerge at school between students who share a clan, etc
  • Exposure to swearing and nastiness in global chat and clan chat (there is a filter, but itdoesn’t appear to be effective)
  • Emotional arousal

Monday, May 19, 2014

Is there a TV in your child's room?

Research shows having a boob tube in your kiddo's bedroom can be far more damaging than we ever knew.

By Jessica Kelmon
The average person will watch nine years of TV. Nine. Years.
And it starts early. The average American youth spends roughly 900 hours in school each year — and about 1,200 hours a year watching TV. (To do the math: 1,200 hours is 150 school days.)
Not cringing yet? In one study, kids ages 4 to 6 were asked whether they'd like to spend time with their dad or watch TV — 54 percent of them picked pixels over pops.
The stats, compiled by Statistic Brain and culled from a Neilsen survey are an unsettling reminder of the monumental space TV takes up in our children's lives.
Along with these sobering stats, there's an abundance of additional research that shows a link between having a TV in a child's room and their health and academic success. Spoiler alert: it's not good news.

Do most children have a TV in their room?

An estimated 71 percent of American kids ages 8 to 18 have a TV in their room. One study found 70 percent of third graders had bedside boob tubes. My childhood self is envious: as a kid, I campaigned relentlessly — and unsuccessfully — for a TV in my room. (I did, however, wrangle a red plastic lips phone.) And yet both of my brothers got in-room TVs. My partner also grew up with a TV in his room. All three boys were gamers — and I think these personal TVs were really strategies for getting Duck Hunt and Donkey Kong (and their infernal electronic beeping) out of the living rooms.
Turns out, this scenario may be pretty typical — the boys getting TVs, that is. A longitudinal survey out of Dartmouth — a telephone survey of 6,522 boys and girls ages 10 to 14 — asked specifically whether kids had TVs in their bedroom. In the first survey in 2003, 59 percent of kids had TVs in their room. The TV-havers were predominantly boys, minorities, and children in families of lower socioeconomic status.
Here's the really bad news: researchers followed the kids and their parents two and four years later and discovered a TV in your bedroom is linked with both being overweight and continuing to gain weight. Two years in, kids with TVs in their rooms reported higher BMIs. After two more years, their BMIs had grown again. What's particularly noteworthy is that obesity isn't linked isn't to the hours of TV being watched. It's to the presence of the TV in their room.
Why? The study authors speculate that these kids see more junk food TV ads or have their sleep patterns disrupted by the light TV emits. Certainly, having a TV in a child's bedroom sets kids up to be sedentary and isolated — choosing, day after day and hour after hour, to be alone and immobile — an unhealthy way of life for any child. A private television's connection to childhood obesity, the researchers observed, suggests that removing TVs from kids' rooms may be "an important step in our nation's fight against child obesity."

The hidden TV in your child's room

Older studies reveal more troubling TV trends. Kids with TVs in their rooms read less, score lower on tests in school, tend to have sleep issues, and may be more likely to smoke in adolescence.
Before parents who've never permitted a big glowing blue box, LCD, or flat screen into their child's sanctuary congratulate themselves for standing firm, consider this: tablet ownership in families with young kids has exploded. In 2011, 8 percent of all families had iPads; in 2013, that figure was 40 percent, according to Common Sense Media. What's more, as of 2013, 75 percent of children 8 years old and younger have access to a smartphone or a tablet. All of these findings add up to the fact that it's never been easier — TV or no TV — for children to be transfixed by endless hours of videos on YouTube, TV shows on Hulu, and movies on Netflix from the comfort of their rooms.
What will be the outcome for this screen-saturated generation? Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Minecraft is not real, tell your kids!

I got very upset as I was reading my child magazine named Science and life, when I read a 4 pages article about Minecraft. Even if it was under the label "video games" it still looked a lot like a commercial. Unhappily it was not presented like a commercial :-(

It was a few paragraphs under the subject Minecraft on a science mood. Each paragraph had a specific subject and include link to the game.

For example, the first paragraph which is the easiest to analyse for any one knowing music and playing a musical instrument, even if one is a beginner, so, the first paragraph is about composing music! It tells you how wonderful minecraft is as it allow the player to compose even if he is the dummies ever in music. Using some musical bloc you may compose, for example by clicking 3 times on it you produce a B and if you click 11 times it would be a F!
I guess it is the Morse code for music?

Then it tells you how wonderful it would be to reunite IN minecraft with you fellow "new type of musician" and make a band!
Honestly? anyone who learn a little about music would react to this.
So the naive kid will go for it and believe that he is living a wonderful experience, being at last able to play music?

And the article goes on: another subject is explore geophysics with minecraft, and then it is about quantum physic...

And this is supposed to be an article!!!
So I had to explain to my child that this was not an article! that if it was, the journalist would have done a research and expose more than one point of view. For example, the journalist would have interview a musician or a quantum physician to have is view on the subject: a good way to confront virtuality and reality.

I totally dislike minecraft, and the situation with it remind me about the baby Einstein video issue. At that time, Disney was trying to convince parents that those video were good for their babies, that they will make them more intelligent like Einstein. It was a success for a while, many parents felt for it and believed all of this. Well, I guess it was also convenient to believe as they were feeling comfortable that way putting their baby in front of the screen...

Anyway, after a long battle of parents, doctors and researchers proving that not only it was not making their baby smarter but it was actually bad for them, the whole baby Einstein period went away.

Now it is minecraft with all those preteen getting addicted to it and I guess many parents falling for it as well because... it is also convenient isn't it?

Kids stay for hours busy on their computer and parents can be free to do whatever they want instead of entertaining them, driving around, or sharing some precious time with them.
Well, not all the parents are feeling that way, you may want to read what some parents are saying about the game:

Monday, March 03, 2014

Your Baby Can’t Read (and that’s just fine)

in 2011, CCFC filed a complaint with the FTC against the makers of Your Baby Can Read for falsely advertising that their infant video series taught reading. That complaint led to a landmark decision by the FTC against Your Baby Can Read. Now, a new study validates our complaint. Researchers found no difference in the reading skills of babies who used Your Baby Can Read and babies who didn't. In fact, babies can't learn to read. We hope these results will be a relief to parents pressured by marketers to push infants toward reading (and screens). They should also be a relief to babies who are now free to play, explore, and have fun with the adults who love them—activities proven promote learning in those important early years! You can read more about the study here

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Still no time for TV...

Oh well, today, I would be happy to sit on the coach and watch a good movie with my children. I do have a collection of great movies worth to be seen. I love cinema and the audio-visual language is totally important to learn. However, it is not again today that we will find the time to do so.

It is already 4pm and my children are busy doing their own thing, one reading the other exploring a new computer program (not a game, we do not do game, no time for it). So he is actually exploring new tools on his computer keeping in mind a class project.

So, here is the situation, if I call them to watch a movie, sure they will drop what they are doing to come with me and enjoy. But a movie last for at least 1h30mn. So it would be over by 5:30 pm... hum, diner is at 6 pm so that would mean no more time to wander around, do whatever feeling in the mood to do... those precious moment they never encounter on working days...

I guess we will have to wait another occasion to watch a movie. In California the weather is mostly beautiful so we are mainly outside, which is great. On the other end, we do not have much time for all those activities that happen inside. And truly, TV is not at the top of our list. Those days, music may come first with reading and exploring technology I guess.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

I am getting hungry seeing all those people eating...

oh, what did you say? you are getting hungry seeing all those people eating in those commercials?

Exactly! that is exactly the point! We are watching the Olympic games, a great model we will think as we are watching sport.We are admiring the hard work of fit athletes. But unhappily, at each commercial break, and there are a lot of them, we are seeing people eating, commercial for food, for junk-food! People eating pizza, or chicken nuggets, or sweet...

So that is a challenge for a family where we avoid TV programs in order actually to avoid commercials. Happily we do not have much time for TV anyway. A rare grey week-end with a lot of homework is the occasion to follow the Olympic games while working on some artwork. But it does raise a question, how do you expect american to get healthier, eat better and less while they are watching people eating junk-food at almost every single commercial break?

Like my kid said, surprised to feel that way as it was the first time "whoah, to see all those people eating, it make me hungry"

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Why minecraft seems so popular and addictive among young teen?

Giving a closer attention and interest to Minecraft and the diverse reaction this game imply around me, I started to research and think a little further about the game.

First I was happy to notice that the parents of the closest friend of my son did remove the game from the computer of their son. Interesting to note that even if they did buy the full version in the first place, they noticed the negative impact the game had on their son and reacted promptly.

One of them, who is totally computer literate and like to optimize his 2 sons's time, simply explained to them how that game was a simple waste of time. As his son was tentatively arguing about how nice it was to build stuff with that game, he replied something like " if you want to build something, take some wood, hammer and nails and build it. A game does not build anything."

Basically I would say that Minecraft is using a few trick, first it is using the popularity of Legos, kind of copying the building side of it but in a virtual world.

Second, it is using a very well know aspiration of teenager, the one for freedom. it does give the player a sensation of infinity and in so, feeling free.

Third, as a lonely world, even a total freedom, would be rapidly boring, the game is a multiplayer one. This way, kids "meet friends" in this virtual world and satisfy their need of belonging to a group.

So what is happening? those kids love to get together with their friends and play, this is not new. The same way they used to play in the street with their friends, they are now "free" to play with them but in a virtual world. However, all the different games and discussion they used to have in the street vanished as their only subject of communication and exchange is now around the game itself.
Even worse, they make "new friends" that they will never meet in real life! Everything is virtual, everything is an illusion, except their feeling.
And they totally dislike those who do not belong to their minecraft world... tell me about tolerance, open mind, curiosity...

Being aware of being watched

Tablet and smartphone are now part of teen's favorite toys. Some are even on facebook, youtube before being 13 years old (they are not supposed too if you follow the rules). Teen love to be watched! They feel pretty proud to have thousand of views of their latest video posted on Youtube and to have hundreds of "friends" on facebook.
However do they know that they are being watched?
Do they know that every post, message, photos, videos are being recorded?

Well if you can access your information and post from anywhere and any computer, that's mean they are in the Cloud. And what is the cloud?
The cloud is actually several center, platform, infrastructure where computers record and keep all data getting in the cloud, so you may access those from anywhere. you may read about it in Wikipedia for example:

What appear to me essential to know as today is that you, me, them are being watched and recorded!
And as former employees of the NSA said : "if you want something to stay private: do not post it in the cloud"