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: http://nypost.com/2016/08/27/its-digital-heroin-how-screens-turn-kids-into-psychotic-junkies/

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.