Respectfully Opposing

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I have a lot of “favourite links” saved and I have been weeding out some from my files. I came across a saved article from 2017 that I thought was relevant to the issues addressed in my/David’s recent post, What David Said.

I Respectfully Disagree: How to Have a Proper Argument

This article suggests possible paths to mutual respect during disagreement or discussing opposing viewpoints. I thought “The 10 Golden Rules of Argument” were good for in-person and to some degree, online dialogue:

  1. Be prepared – Make sure you know the essential points you want to make. Research the facts you need to convince your opponent.
  2. When to argue, when to walk away – Think carefully before you start to argue: is this the time; is this the place?
  3. What you say and how you say it – Spend time thinking about how to present your argument. Body language, choice of words and manner of speaking all affect how your argument will come across.
  4. Listen and listen again – Listen carefully to what the other person is saying. Watch their body language, listen for the meaning behind their words.
  5. Excel at responding to arguments – Think carefully about what arguments the other person will listen to. What are their preconceptions? Which kinds of arguments do they find convincing.
  6. Watch out for crafty tricks – Arguments are not always as good as they first appear. Be wary of your opponent’s use of statistics. Keep alert for distraction techniques such as personal attacks and red herrings. Look out for concealed questions and false choices.
  7. Develop the skills of arguing in public – Keep it simple and clear. Be brief and don’t rush.
  8. Be able to argue in writing – Always choose clarity over pomposity. Be short, sharp, and to the point, using language that is easily understood.
  9. Be great at resolving deadlock – Be creative in finding ways out of an argument that’s going nowhere. Is it time to look at the issue from another angle? Are there ways of putting pressure on so that the other person has to agree with you? Is a compromise possible?
  10. Maintain relationships – This is absolutely key. What do you want from this argument? Humiliating, embarrassing or aggravating your opponent might make you feel good at the time, but you might have many lonely days to rue your mistake. Find a result that works for both of you. You need to move forward. Then you will be able to argue another day.

I know it isn’t as easy as some articles and advice can make it seem. Respectful dialogue requires effort and practice. I think it is something we can develop over a lifetime and experiences often teach us — negative and positive ones. Clarity in communication has become even more important with so much dialogue in online spaces now.

When I starting using Twitter about 10 years ago, conversation and debates about issues were frequent in my network. I don’t participate as actively anymore as compared to the past. I seldom post opinions now and I suspect that I am not alone in that. It can be overwhelming and easy to back away from discussions on social media. I often wonder if valuable insights and viewpoints get shut down or not heard at all in the often quick to dismiss or shame on social media? But if we tend to be mostly in ideological filter bubbles on social media platforms, how much does that matter?

I continue to use Twitter as a means of staying informed (Am I just a “lurker” now?). I try to be aware of various perspectives on an issue or event. I find that accessing information on current events through an associated hashtag feed can help reveal opposing viewpoints and the nuances to issues. Just like trying to understand disputes in person, there is often a larger context to many situations that “trend” on Twitter that may need time to consider before a response.

Reading replies to tweets or articles shared is another way to be exposed to different viewpoints or takes on a situation. Sure, that can be painful in ways, but too often I see an opinion responded to with name-calling or calling out, rather than, “Tell me more”, or “Where are you coming from with that?”. Or just leaving it…

Who else is looking forward to a few coffee shop conversations when the pandemic is behind us? 🙂

What David said…

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There are many times I want to sit down and write a blog post to help me process and express about the various “sad state of things” in the world today, including what is often happening on social media now.  But then I often don’t get it all down, or I struggle to articulate it, or I just feel powerless to voice anything in the end.  What difference can a blogger or a blog post make? 

Yesterday, as most days, I read David Truss’s daily post to his blog.  David posts on a wide variety of topics and I admire his honest opinions and reflections that he includes in his blog posts.  I sense that it always comes from a place of caring with David too.  I have followed David (@datruss) on Twitter for about a decade now.

David’s post yesterday caught my train of thought.  He also linked a post that he wrote just over a year ago.  I may have missed that post at the time, but such relevance still to the present (although sadly so)!  He articulated what I haven’t been able to lately. 

From today’s post about Rose coloured glasses, David asks:

Rose coloured glasses suggests a positive outlook, what happens when our ‘glasses’, our viewpoint, is biased in a negative way? What if our view prevents us from seeing things that can benefit us?”

From his previous post, Ideas on a Spectrum:

In a civil society, dialogue is the one problem-solving strategy that should be sacred. To do this, free speech is essential. But right now there is a culture of ‘attack the opposition’ that is very scary. This seems to play out at its worst on Twitter:

~ A prominent person tweets something insensitive or careless and they are attacked as if every fibre of their being is evil.

~ A little-followed user tweets something ‘inappropriate’ and suddenly they are famous in the most infamous of ways.

~ A person with an unpopular opinion tweets that opinion and they become ‘memed’ as the poster child for ridicule on the topic.

I appreciate that David offers some thoughtful solutions, as that is the difficult part:

“I don’t pretend to have answers, but I’m pretty sure that two things can move us in the right direction”:

  1. We need to recognize the difference between opposing views shared in discussions and hurtful acts, and treat them differently. When someone does or says something harmful to a person or group of people, legal responses and a judicial process should prevail. When someone says something hurtful (as opposed to hateful/harmful/prejudiced), the response should be dialogue. That dialogue might not bring about any kind of consensus or agreement, but it is what we need to do in a civil society that allows freedom of opinion and speech.
  2. We need to move away from public attacks and shaming as recourse for every wrong-doing. Treating every mis-step and error a person makes as unforgivable is harmful to our society in two ways: First, it does not provide the space for apology, forgiveness, and learning; Secondly, it actually waters down the response when someone does something truly unacceptable and deplorable… if they are treated no worse than someone who mis-spoke and is apologetic. 

And as I write this post, I see that David has posted more on the topic today, and more specifically about social media (Read here). Please read his full posts to appreciate his appeal for a better discourse on social media and for a civil society. As always, I welcome comments or suggestions from readers of this blog, or you can leave David a comment on his posts.

Tweets of Engagement?

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I know, there are bigger things to worry about, but information matters now…

I think Twitter has become a bit ridiculous.  And no, this isn’t about what people are tweeting.  I am also not pining for the good ol’ days of Twitter either (although networks were smaller and more personal).  I am referring to the actual platform of Twitter and its new “engagement” strategies.

After a recent update of the Twitter app on my phone (android), I noticed big changes in what I saw in my main timeline.  Later on, I also noticed similar changes in my timeline when I signed into Twitter on my computer/web app.

Here is what I often see now:

  • Tweets from people I don’t follow (but Twitter provides a list of some people I follow who do follow the person who tweeted it).
  • Replies of people I don’t follow to the tweets of people I do follow.  eg. Someone I follow “received a reply”.
  • Tweets of people I don’t follow because people I do follow liked the tweet (as Twitter informs me).
  • Tweets of people I don’t follow because someone I do follow replied to their tweet.

I know that this can mostly be managed or avoided by viewing tweets through the lists that I have created on my Twitter account, but it still gives me an uncomfortable sense that people who don’t follow me (and/or I don’t follow them) could also be seeing my tweets in the ways I listed above (and for what good reason?).  I have adjusted to the many changes on Twitter over the years, but I haven’t settled in well with this one yet.

Twitter posts have always been public (except for those who lock their tweets), but there used to be a more “semi-private” feel to it.  Conversations and replies were only seen if you also followed those replying.  (Of course, all replies of a user are publicly accessible, but it once took an extra search step and click on their profile page to view those.)  It seems that anything and anyone could be “fed” into the stream of content now.  What a cluster at times.  It makes me think twice about active engagement and interactions.  I suppose Twitter has done this in the name of engagement and with the help of algorithms.  Sometimes it does bring something interesting into my timeline, but it often leads to a lot of information that I don’t really need.  Usually I am fine with the retweets of others tweets by people I follow.  If I am not, that kind of sharing can be turned off on individual accounts.  I am not a big fan of the “retweet with a comment” option that began fairly recently.  Okay, so a bit of pining for the way it used to be… 🙂

What about others?  Does this awareness bother you?  Is this just Twitter trying to encourage similar “open” posting of comments like Facebook?  Is there something you see differently using a different app that I am unaware of?  Does this change in the timeline help keep me out of a “silo” or filter bubble?  Does this change keep people more “in check” (if they are aware)?

I have been using Twitter for almost 10 years and I said I would never “lock” my tweets.  For the first time, I am considering it.

There, that’s off my chest 🙂

Web Intentions

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I have been thinking about my experiences online and on social media in the past few years and what has impacted my experiences and participation.  There is a lot of pondering: “Is it just me, or is it the web?”; “Is it the world, or the web?”; “Have ‘things’ changed, or have I?”  Reading articles that touch on similar questions are helpful to sort out my thoughts and help me understand the shifts that may be occurring.  Others research it and articulate it better than I have been able to do.

Doug Peterson recently included a post by Bonnie Stewart in his weekly curation of Ontario Education blog posts and he wrote an additional post of his own in response to it, “Good and Bad“.

Bonnie’s post begins with:  “So. We need to talk about the web.”  It was encouraging to read about her thoughts on networks and the “participatory web”, and her plans to keep pushing change,

To try to counter misinformation, yes. But also to try to push for change, and for a more pro-social and humane digital space through three key ideas: complexity, cooperation, and contribution.”

In Doug’s post, he contrasted two examples of participation online and shared his thoughts on some changes he has experienced and made,

“The Bad” ended up sneaking its way into my circles and I don’t like it. Not liking it typically means getting out of that circle so that I don’t see more of it. It’s easily done. But, it bothers me that I have to do this in the first place.

Have we, as a society, become so hungry for attention that we search for the shock factor to get it?”

Doug’s question reminded me of some articles I had been reading to help answer similar questions.

What is getting rewarded now? What are we letting ourselves be drawn to, thus rewarding what gets posted online?  What influences what?

It is unsettling to me to read about “strategies” used by new performers, musicians, etc., to get the attention of an online audience.  For example, When Bad Behaviour Goes Viral.  A few points made in the article:

Bregoli is an example of what I’ve termed the “memeocracy,” a social media-based system that rewards people for attention-grabbing behavior rather than talent. Bregoli and those who have engineered her rise have hijacked a psychology that favors outrage over hard work.”

and,

These people aren’t good or bad themselves — they are simply a reflection of their time.”

But how sustaining is this approach to a career and/or fame?

It seems there may be an impact on music as well, based on a few studies:

Anger and Sadness Are On the Rise in Popular Music Lyrics

Unsettling if true:

Unfortunately, anger started to skyrocket in song lyrics as the 1980s were winding down and there was more and more anger every year from the 1990s till the end of compiled analytic data in 2016.”

Are we all less happy? Do ‘mean’ and angry sell better?  Is there something “emotional” going on?

This article brought my attention to a book that examined historical trends in views on boredom, self-expression and community, Bored Lonely Angry Stupid.  The article shares a transcript from an interview with the book’s author who is a cultural historian at a university in the U.S.  She refers to a very big, mainstream emotional style emerging.  The whole interview is good, but here are a few points that I found interesting:

  • We also saw people who talked about how they thought there was a connection between narcissism and anger; that people felt eager to get attention on the internet, and that having really strong and sometimes aggressive opinions on social media was one way to bring more business, more traffic to your tweet or to your update.
  • Of course, that’s not the only reason people get angry on the internet. I don’t want to minimize some of the socially momentous and just causes people are pursuing online, where anger is a very legitimate tool for social change.
  • We certainly don’t want to say it’s all due to technology. But there are some devices — whether it’s the 19th-century camera, the telephone, the radio, or the smartphone — that have reshaped Americans’ inner lives. These devices don’t do it alone, though.  Changing religious theologies are reinforcing these patterns. Changes in our capitalist economy are undergirding them, and these devices are both products of that culture and shapers of that culture. So it’s very much a reciprocal process; technology is a driver, but it’s not the only driver.
  • I really do believe emotions change over time, not just because of technology but as a result of a whole set of cultural and economic changes. Yes, we have more tools with which to express ourselves, but we have new feelings to express that are distinctive to our time and place. Emotions don’t just hold steady and get expressed through new devices. Devices transform them — teach us new habits, nurture new expectations, and model new behaviors, too.

So, I don’t know… I used to write a lot on this blog hopeful of more positive outcomes of networks, social media and new communication technologies.  Will it just be a continual adjusting for the “bad and the ugly” in order to focus on the good?  Not that everyone agrees on what is bad and what is good…. it is certainly complicated.

And I am all for some melancholy in the music, but I have my limits there too.

 

 

Following the music

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It may come as a surprise to some who know me, but for a number of years I didn’t follow Melanie Safka’s music and career very closely.  I loved her songs when I was a pre-teen in the 70s (hearing them first from my older sister’s record player in her room).  I collected some more of her LPs in my teen years.  I was most familiar with and loved her music of the 60s and 70s.  I headed off to university in the early 80s and my following of her music career drifted.  Eventually I started to play my old favourites again from time to time and I collected a few more “Best of..” collections on… yes, cassettes and CDs!

Social media ushered me into a whole new way of enjoying and experiencing her music again.  It started with YouTube searches and then I discovered that Melanie, now in her 60s, embraced social media too!  The 15 year old me would never have predicted I would follow Melanie on Twitter and read her blog.

Just when I think I have scouted out most of her early performances and my favourites on YouTube, I find new gems.  She still has quite a fan base uploading her tunes and covers.  She also has an official YouTube channel as well as SoundCloud, a blog, a Facebook page, etc.

In a previous music related/musing post of mine, I had wondered who Tim Hardin was and that led me to learning that he sang If I was a carpenter at Woodstock.  In the post, I mentioned other musicians who did covers of that song since he died.  Melanie also sang at Woodstock, but I didn’t realize that she also did a cover of Hardin’s song in the past.  I came across it on YouTube recently.  Interestingly, it is an audio from an original acetate recording in 1968.  The YouTube post’s description claims that it has never been previously recorded or released on an album and the person who created the music video commented further,

This was taken from one of the acetates I borrowed for one day from Melanie’s Mom. I transferred all the tracks from three acetates to Reel to Reel Tape. You can hear slight clicks from the acetate easily.”

And then I realized I didn’t know much about acetate recordings.  Wikipedia helped clarify.  How cool, this “transfer” of music — from a rare “demo” recording on acetate to reel to reel tape to video upload on the internet.  I’ll take it!  I only had two possible opportunities in my past to see her live in concert, but circumstances and timing of other events prevented such.  She is still doing some performances in other countries, so maybe one day…

 

Twitter Lists

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Did you have a new year’s resolution regarding social media?  I noticed a few posts and articles related to making changes in the use of social media when the new year started.

I still see value in social media, but I continue to feel dismay at how it is often used to put things out of context and/or to push a particular agenda.  Critical thinking and careful consumption of social media has become so important.

I still find value in using Twitter because of the way I set it up to be more manageable about 8 years ago.  Although I use Twitter a lot less and differently now, I still find useful content and people who continue to share respectfully and thoughtfully.

A recent post by Doug Peterson reminded me how important “lists” can be for Twitter use.  I think the lists I started to create soon after I started a Twitter account are often what still ensures my continued interest in visiting my Twitter timeline.  Doug’s discussion about his lists provides some good ideas for managing Twitter use.  He states and asks,

Twitter lists are indeed one of the best ways to keep tabs on diverse things.

Are you using them to their fullest potential?”

Doug’s post also nicely clarified the “subscribed to” and “member of” lists.

My “Subscribed to” Lists:

A few lists that I created (“subscribed to”) also have followers (subscribers) — I thought that was cool when that happened.  They might not even check those lists, but maybe it is a good alternative to creating one if someone else has already created a public one that might be useful to follow.  Like Doug, I also have one list set to “private” (12 are public).  It was on a suggestion from a friend to create a list of people whose tweets you never want to miss.  No one can see or subscribe to that list but me.  I have also subscribed to 3 lists (Education Leadership, VoicEd authorsInvolvement) that others created publicly, for a total of 15 “subscribed to” lists.

When I started Twitter my focus of interest was Ontario education.  I was also interested in comparing and knowing about education initiatives in other provinces, so I created more lists.  I visit those lists less now, but I will still check them out here and there.  If anyone else would like to look for new connections in a certain province via my lists (but sorry, I only got as far as Ontario and western provinces): ON-ed,  BC-ed,  AB-ed,  Sask/MB-ed.

I have a few more specific education lists:  ed-news (mostly Ont. focused), ESL/resources, Parent/Ed advocates, and online tech.  I will often add someone to an appropriate list before deciding to follow them back.

I have a “local” list, but I will also just check out the popular hashtags for my city and region when I want Twitter to be my “local” feed of news and happenings.

I do spend some time in my main timeline and no “system” is perfect, but I think I have a good balance of serious and fun lists to follow as well.  I enjoy checking out my music list.  I have an “inspiration” one, but I don’t seem to check that one out much — maybe it is time for a adjustment.  I used to have one named, “Actors who say interesting things”, but I recently deleted it.  Not mentioning any names…

My “Member of” Lists:

On a quick count I discovered that I have been added to (“member of”) over 150 lists created by others.  This is not meant to brag, as I know that many of those lists are automated to add people as soon as they tweet using certain hashtags or words.  I doubt all the creators are checking my tweets or those lists.  There must be a point where creating and updating lists can get unmanageable as well.  Most of the lists make some sense as to why I was added — many of them include words in their titles such as education, advocates, and parents.  A few other lists sort of fit, for example, “wild life lover” and “people who love MN” (I occasionally cross the border to visit that state).

My use of Twitter (and lists) will likely keep changing, but I think I have made a good attempt to access diverse topics, people, and viewpoints by using created lists and checking out hashtags linked to topics.  I hope that it helps what I read and also what I share.  Politics will reach my timeline whether I seek out issues or not.  I remain encouraged by the way educators, advocates, artists, photographers and many other individuals use and share on Twitter.

Are lists a part of optimal Twitter use for you?  What works best for you?  Do you have suggestions for additions to any of my lists?

Twitter’s instructions for creating lists here

“Digital Parenting”: Struggles and Solutions

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I recently read this interesting post, On Retreating from Social Media, by Sonja Burrows.  The author, also a parent, discusses what she believes are the three most significant reasons to retreat (step back) from social media:  (1) Emotional Well-Being; (2) Vulnerable Data; (3) Kids.  She makes a good case in each area and I thought her “Kids” section offered some good considerations for parents.

A few points that stood out for me:

The parent generation is collectively navigating completely new terrain, attempting to guide our children through experiences we ourselves never had as teenagers and young adults. We cannot therefore fall back on our own adolescent trials to instruct us in our child-raising practices around digital tools and social media.”

Also,

Many parents find ourselves conflicted. On the one hand, we may wish to prevent our children from participating in social media for as long as possible. On the other hand, we may also acknowledge that stunting our kids’ ability to engage socially in these spaces could have harmful effects, insofar as we would be removing them from interacting in ways that most likely every one of their peers already does.”

She offers this solution,

Social media has become a fact of life for the younger generation; therefore, I believe both parents and schools need to coach kids around safe usage of these spaces, rather than prohibit them altogether from participating. Part of educating youth in safe conduct on social media is first to raise their awareness about how platforms work as well as the consequences of different kinds of usage. We especially need to educate kids about the possible negative effects on emotional health and wellbeing, on the proliferation of cyberbullying, on the vulnerability of their data, as well as on social codes of conduct within these spaces. As always in guiding youth, parents and schools need to encourage kindness and empathy, and we need to establish trust so that kids involve us directly should they need hands-on support.”

I fall in the same category or “gap” that Sonja describes — parents who didn’t have mobile phones until after 30 🙂  While it is true that people becoming parents ahead will have had more direct experience with communication technologies, social media, etc., I wonder if there will always be new challenges.  I feel certain still that my “non-tech” teen experiences and stories that I shared with my children had value and nudged some reflection on their part in regards to their use of mobile phones.

I also enjoyed reading a couple of posts on this topic by Doug Belshaw, The Trials and Tribulations of Being a Digital Parent.  He makes a note in his post for readers that he was a teenager in the 1990’s. I appreciated his reflection in regards to that.  Some points/concerns that stood out for me:

The difficulty is that this generation of young parents are on the front line here. We’re the first ones to have to deal with screens everywhere. At the same time as we’re warned about the dangers, we’re also exhorted to prepare our offspring for jobs of the future.”

Another good point about conversations:

It’s difficult. I know that what we should be doing is sitting alongside our children, exploring the digital world together. But that’s just doesn’t seem possible sometimes. And, just as children tend to the question “what did you do at school today?” really tedious, so they don’t particularly want a conversation about what they’ve been up to on their tablets.”

I agree, this may not be discussed enough:

One thing that’s missed when dealing with digital parenting at a macro level is the issue of personality. I think there may also be gender differences too, but I’ve got too small a sample to be able to tell. Some people have more addictive personalities than others.”

I am glad to see more honest writing and discussions lately about the challenges of “digital parenting”.  I think these honest discussions are important.  Parents can have so many things to feel insecure and self-critical about.  Regardless of the age and experience of parents, supports will be needed to navigate technology and many other  things.  I hope shared stories from different perspectives continue to be a part of that support.  I would think even the most “tech-savvy” parent might still be caught off guard and frustrated by impacts on their own children.  The content coming through on phones and apps seems to be constantly changing, as are the features and privacy settings.  I appreciate Sonja’s message for schools and parents in her suggestion for this navigation.  How do schools create the spaces for support and collaboration, as well as encourage non-judgemental and honest discussion?  Do parents want this support?  What should it look like?  What would be most important and helpful?

**Thank you to Donna Miller Fry (@fryed) for her resources, questions and persistence with this topic.  Her questions and posts to Twitter prompted this post.

Some thoughts about “iGen”

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I recently saw a job ad with the following “skill” requirement listed:

“must have the ability to be off phone for more than 10 consecutive seconds”

I suppose that made a strong point to potential applicants, or maybe it was related to issues with past employees… It was a position that would require driving and moving stuff.

The ad made me think of a recent article, Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?.  In spite of the alarmist title, I still read it.  The article was an adaptation from a new book by Dr. Jean Twenge.  Soon after that article was posted on The Atlantic, I saw a few responses and articles dismissing the claims made by the author/researcher.  As I thought more about this topic, I decided to listen to the 50 min. segment from the BBC:  “Are Smartphones Harming Teenagers?”.  I thought the panel discussion was quite good and it included Dr. Jean Twenge.  This is the list of the participants:

Dr. Jean Twenge – Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University

Amy Orben – College Lecturer in Experimental Psychology at The Queen’s College, Oxford University

Tanya Goodin – Founder of the digital detox consultancy Time to Log Off, and author of ‘Off’

There were also two teenagers participating in the discussion as well.

It took me a few “sittings” to get through it, but I made a few notes of points from the discussion that made me ponder and reflect.  Here are a few that I thought were key:

  • it is important to consider what is on the phone, not necessarily the phone itself
  • if teenagers are spending approx. 6 – 8 hours of leisure time on their phones/screens, what does that “crowd out” of their lives?
  • social media/online time is very diverse/complicated — important for research to consider the “3 C’s”:  content, context, and connection
  • software is designed to be “sticky”, so how do we moderate effectively?
  • suggestion that more evidence is needed, but research always lags behind real world experience
  • should we do nothing then? What is the downside of doing nothing at all? “Guinea pig” generation?
  • differentiate study of the different social media platforms?

It was good to hear the input and insights from the two teenagers.  I also noted that they both attended schools that did not allow cell phones in class.  They also both reported that their own phone/screen use was reasonable and manageable.  They also didn’t think it was necessary for younger children to have smartphones in response to the finding that the average age of having a phone in the UK was 9.

It is a complex area to study but I find it hard to dismiss the new data and possible trends.  It is difficult not to have concern about the possible impacts on independence and mental health. The decrease in sleep at night is enough to concern me.  There seems to be multiple sources of stress now in the lives of teens and young adults.  I think we need to care about how smartphone access and use adds to stress and anxiety.  Both youth and adults have a role in getting smarter about moderation.  I still see my 20+ year olds struggling at times with the use of their devices and screens in practical ways instead of excessive ways.  It takes work and self-discipline for sure.

Dr. Twenge’s research pointed to some positive trends for teens as well.  I am now following her on Twitter and keeping an open mind about this.  My kids are grown up, but it is an area that I still care about.  I also recently read the article, In Praise of Mediocre Kids.  I thought the article spoke to valid pressures in the lives of children as well.  It doesn’t mention smartphones or social media, but I think technology has increased how much parents compare the “successes” of their kids and families to others.  I am not sure “mediocre” was the best word for the title — what about just well-grounded kids, or kids just doing their thing…?  Where do things start to get off track?

My thoughts as an “old” parent…

Peers in Pockets

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I enjoyed spending some time reading this post by Daniel Willingham, “Give a kid a computer…what does it do to her social life?”.  He discussed a number of studies in this regard, some findings and the limitations of the data.  Please read his post for the further links and insights he provided.

In addition to his good points, I related to his concern he wrote about in the last paragraph:

My real concern about digital technology use in teens is hard to quantify. When I was a teen I, like most, probably assigned too much value to the opinions of my peers.  They necessarily stopped influencing me when I got off the school bus, and I was influenced mostly by my parents and two sisters. I don’t relish the thought of children taking their peer groups home with them in their pockets, influencing them 24/7, and diminishing the impact of their families.”

A book by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté, Hold on to Your Kids, came to my mind, but before I could add the comment, someone already had thought of their work and done so,

The comments you make in your final paragraph remind me very much of what Gordon Neufeld says of the rise in peer group influence and the correlative decline of parent/family influence in the lives of children and teens.”

I am not always sure what to make of some of the studies about the impacts of digital media on children, teens and family life, but I do think the impacts of social media and instant messaging/texting need to be examined separately.  They are often intertwined, but attention to each may vary (my most recent post about texting and relationships here).

I still feel relieved that my children didn’t have their “peers in their pockets” until their late teens.  Maybe the conversations in families are starting sooner now and the impacts may change.  New parents may be having very different conversations and decisions to make right from the start now: The ‘joy’s of digital media in new parenting.

If you wish, I thought this was a good review here of the Neufeld and Maté book and this link is about the book on Gabor Maté’s website.

**update (Sept. 28/17):  Adding this video of a talk by Gordon Neufeld.  At the start he mentions that the book had a revision to include a chapter about technology, since it was originally published before Facebook, etc.  The talk/Q&A is over an hour, but covers many good points.

informed, but full

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It’s been one week since the inauguration of the new U.S. president and I don’t think I have ever paid so much attention to U.S. politics before.  I am trying not to get caught up in a… “What did Trump do today?” sort of thing.  I am feeling quite confused about what and how much I should be paying attention to…  if at all.  Other questions:  Where should I look and read to stay informed?  Am I aware of how algorithms are determining what I read?  Yesterday I read Dean Shareski’s post about similar thoughts and questions (he links other good reading as well).  A few of his points/positions resonated with me, including:

In the end, many of us are getting obese on information. I know some would argue that’s the price we have to pay. We are forced to stay informed. But staying informed today with being somewhat misinformed is extremely challenging.”

I recently changed my “Twitter bio” to mention that I was using Twitter to stay informed.  Lately though, I have been a bit disturbed by what I have been informed about.  Maybe things will settle down soon…  It still makes me feel a bit lost and I wonder if there is any point to individuals blogging, tweeting or responding with all the information (and manipulation?) and news (and “fake news”) blasting out lately.  (Well, some of the humorous responses have eased the tension some!)

Donna Miller Fry has been tackling the topic about the challenges of our current internet and online/social media worlds through a series of “10 posts in 10 days” on her blog.  She has really dug into some important questions and current realities.  She is listing all 10 posts with further good reading and listening here.

Lots to digest and balance…

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