Gambling – a game for children?

Tags

, , ,

game machine

We’ll be regularly updating news about gambling and children. Without wishing to exaggerate and add unnecessary fears for parents, there is no doubt that online gambling does offer risks to young people.

The machine showed above would only be found in a bookmakers for 18 year old above. Yet it’s interesting that the’games’ are very similar to games for children. With the spread off advertising, more and more opportunities for online gambling it is something to watch out for. We’ll look at the risks in more detail but it’s worth bearing in mind for now that studies have shown many thousands of children under the age of 15 who already are nearing the line of problem gambling and many who have crossed it.

Why we’re hooked

Tags

, ,

irresistible

There is a plethora of books, internet posts, academic papers, videos, newspaper and magazine articles about our use of digital devices being addictive. Among the several really good books to appear recently is Irresistible: Why We can’t stop Checking, Scrolling, Clicking and Watching by Adam Alter, reviewed here.

Among concerns raised by many are:

  • Do these ‘addictions’ have an effect on mental health? Some answers debate whether over-use is a sign or a cause of depression, for instance.
  • Is our mind itself being altered – in how we think, our cognition? Is the brain being rewired as digital machines become extensions of our nervous systems?
  • Does digital addiction anaethetise us, make us docile and passive?
  • What bad effects may there be on child development?
  • Are our real relationships suffering?
  • Do parents bear a great responsibility for how they use digital devices in front of children – for instance at the dinner table?

The list is probably endless. Here are some recent examples of such worries.

Parents’ phone addiction may lead to child behavioural problems
at NHS Choices

Children as young as 13 attending ‘smartphone rehab’ as concerns grow over screen time The Independent

In Wired comes the following:

In late 2010, Steve Jobs told New York Times journalist Nick Bilton that his children had never used the iPad. “We limit how much technology our kids use in the home.”

Bilton discovered that other tech giants imposed similar restrictions. Chris Anderson, the former editor of WIRED, enforced strict time limits on every device in his home, “because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand.” His five children were never allowed to use screens in their bedrooms. Evan Williams, a founder of Blogger, Twitter, and Medium, bought hundreds of books for his two young sons, but refused to give them an iPad. And Lesley Gold, the founder of an analytics company, imposed a strict no-screen-time-during-the-week rule on her kids. She softened her stance only when they needed computers for schoolwork.

This is unsettling. Why are the world’s greatest public technocrats also its greatest private technophobes? It seemed as if they were following the cardinal rule of drug dealing: never get high on your own supply.

Of course, many of these stark warnings have been tempered by other views. It’s important to examine ‘the good, the bad and the grey’ mentioned in a previous post. But it’s an issue that deserves our full attention.

Children and Social Media (2)

Tags

, , ,

child-and-phone-1330009422EAw

 

WE LIVE in a Britain – or a ‘developed country’ – where many fears and anxieties are circulated by the day, one after the other and reinforced by the social media and the mass media (the former still heavily influenced by the latter). Many of these fears such as whether or not burned toast gives you cancer (that ‘meme’ came and went a few months ago) may seem more than offensive to those in the ‘rich countries’ whose fears are more about paying the rent or feeding the family, and those living under terror systems of war and tyranny or starvation.

Do we worry too much about our children? Do we worry, in particular, too much about their use of social media and the internet? Probably the answer is ”Yes’ which is not at all the same as saying we should not have genuine concerns at all. By and large, the news media have always favoured hyperbole, exaggeration and sensationalism. Why? Because we like it. So, are the claims about negative impacts on young people by the digital media to be swallowed whole?

For instance, an article called Electronic Screen Syndrome: An Unrecognized Disorder? written by a doctor makes some startling claims about the deleterious effects of ‘screen time’. She actually proposes a new diagnosis called Electronic Screen Syndrome. This is fairly typical of many articles flooding the electronic and print media about how parents and others should be very very worried about what the social media and internet are ‘doing’ to kids. Unsurprisingly then, in the USA (and China and Japan) there has been a growing provision of private ‘digital detox’ clinics, retreats and counselling. The Independent reports:

Children refusing to put down their phones is a common flashpoint in many homes, with a third of British children aged 12 to 15 admitting they do not have a good balance between screen time and other activities.

But in the US, the problem has become so severe for some families that children as young as 13 are being treated for digital technology addiction.

One ‘smartphone rehab’ centre near Seattle has started offering residential “intensive recovery programs” for teenagers who have trouble controlling their use of electronic devices.

The Young Health Movementa development from  The Royal Society for Public Health

have produced a report called #StatusofMind  Their summary page about social media and mental health contains the following infographic:

socmedrsph2

and this interesting video .

Here’s another – one of thousands that could be chosen about the dangers of handheld devices in general:

Kids Who Use Smartphones Start Talking Later

Growing evidence suggests that screen time may have some negative consequences for young children’s development.

In a new study of nearly 900 children between six months and two years old, researchers found that those who spent more time using handheld devices were more likely to have delays in expressive speech, compared to children who didn’t use the devices as much. For every 30 minutes of screen time, there was a 49% increased risk of expressive speech delay. The research, which was led by pediatricians at the Hospital for Sick Children in Canada, was presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies.

This post could go on and on but you get the picture. Behind the scenes in Academia more and more research is going on. As is usually the case media reporting of studies may be very hyperbolic. In reality there’s a consensus that one study on its own does not mean much, and that there are no agreed, watertight findings about children and the internet. Nevertheless we do well to be vigilant. Just on an everyday basis, for instance, if parents are texting or whatever in the family home rather than engaged in conversation, what do kids learn?

There are many specific dangers well addressed by specialist sites relating to such things as pornography, bullying, grooming and generally inappropriate and/or exploitative content. It’s very much relevant to add to the list online gambling. Research from Queen Mary Univeristy of London states that researchers point to recent statistics from an international research review which suggest that 77 to 83 per cent of adolescents are involved in some kind of gambling, and 10 to 15 per cent of adolescents are at risk of developing serious gambling problems.

A therapist writes in an important article in The Guardian that Suddenly, and scarily, the threats are revealed. The rise in digital addiction is stark: 23% of teenage boys gamble online; indeed, teenagers are more likely to gamble than they are to smoke or do drugs

Interestingly, she points out what many addiction experts and addicts themselves know as certain, that gambling addiction whether through digital devices or not serves in part to soothe distress and tensions, anxieties, to self-medicate for stress, to escape from the real world of problesm and unhappiness to an empowered virtual world. And adults do just the same. Kids learn, are socialised by the people around them so:

What is possible is teaching children emotional intelligence: how to normalise uncomfortable feelings and manage them. We need to practise what we preach and provide good examples for them. Rushing in, stressed from work, we can choose not to pick up our tablet to self-sooth. Rather, why not take a walk in the park with our children and talk about how our stress reduces as a result?

It’s not easy being a parent and it’s just got harder.

So in conclusion, we have to recognise that some of the concerns about social media and children are exaggerated, and we should also recognise the great potential benefits of digital communication, the digital world isn’t going to go away. We need to be aware, to learn and to admit this new strand into our capacities for nurturing the development and growth of young people.

Children and Social Media (1)

Tags

, , ,

2642-12745437615W13

Not surprisingly, there are many websites from organisations advising parents and those who work with children of the dangers (and advantages) of digital interaction, especially social media. There are dire warnings such as this one reported in The Times in April 2017 claiming that research shows that the more children use social media the less happy they are. However, even within the report, we find that the picture is not so clear cut. And this was a reference to just one study.

Another article by a sociologist discusses the role of parents and social media. Are they ‘using; the kids to increase their own ‘likes’ and popularity?

Self-doubts are part of walking along any challenging, unknown territory, but in the continuous over-sharing and relentless comparison culture of social media—where parents post report cards when their child scores high, the hand-painted greeting card received on Father’s Day, or the picture their 7-year-old took of them on their wedding anniversary—people are just exposing their soft spots and self-doubting capacities, worrying about whether their parenting is “perfect” or “better.”

Now, talking of ‘likes’, who doesn’t like to be liked? One of the most basic needs of the social animals we are is to be accepted by the group or tribe. For those with little confidence in themselves as a source of happiness (what Maslow called self-actualisation) being popular in a group is a great substitute. Group membership, being ‘liked’ while reinforcing the boundaries of the group belonging by ‘othering’ outsiders, baddies, weirdos etc. is a great way to feel wanted. Social media like Facebook provide excellent shortcuts for those who need such affirmation of their worth. Most adults probably are confident enough in the real world. It’s what we call, or used to call, maturity. But children are much more vulnerable to not being liked. Every parent has witnessed a growing kid in tears because their best friend doesn’t like them any more or ‘nobody likes me’. More seriously, kids can be cruel and even in mundane ways ostracise other children who can then feel lonely, worthless – because their sense of ‘worth’ depends on the liking from their peers as well as their family.

While we are all aware of the dangers of onlike bullying, ridicule, name-calling, etc from peers, and the far more sinister dangers from adults, it’s worth remembering too that a growing person in a world where much social interaction takes place online is very dependent upon feedback. When a child now declares sadly that ‘nobody likes me’, they are using ‘like’ in a relatively new way.

Remember too, that millions of children either through poverty or parental prohibition do not use social media. It’s interesting that the article about social media and unhappiness above slips in the observation that kids who use an hour or so of social media each day are happier when it comes to friendship. Is this because what constitutes friendship has been refined by social media?

There are lots of questions around these issues, lots of possible answers, lots of research, lots of interpretations and opinions. One thing’s for sure, though, it’s an area we need to take seriously.

Making Facebook more productive

Tags

,

facebook-715811_1920

Facebook gets some flack. Some people swear they wouldn’t dream of using it which sometimes implies that those who do are somewhat ‘wrong’. Concerns about content, digital privacy and psychological issues are legitimate and worthy of consideration.

However, as well as being a great way to keep in touch, have some fun, challenge the dominant and arrogant discourses of power (politics, journalism etc.), Facebook offers people a great way of filing, joining in discussion on special interest via closed or open groups, and setting up pages for organisations, business, and special interests. Business usage especially is increasingly related to integrated digital marketing.

As a personal user, I mainly use Facebook as a bookmarking tool. I filter posts relevant to my own peculiar interests so that they are only visible to me. Unfortunately, I often forget to change the setting so that they leak out as public shares which does little harm apart from filling other people’s timelines with junk – although I have been recently surprised when one such ‘leak’ whipped up a somewhat emotional controversy among people I don’t know.

What people may not know is that it’s possible to save posts for looking at later or keeping for reference. It’s very simple to do so and the process is explained here.

Free Online Course: digital futures

Tags

,

reimag Much of the discussion about digital futures are related to business issues. This free two week online course is no exception and it’s interesting to note that ethics is a prevailing theme. The course outline is

We live in world where digital is woven into the fabric of our lives; where the pace of change is accelerating, its trajectory exponential, and the convergence of paradigm shifts is the new norm. The complex interplay between these forces creates disruptive stress and fuels unprecedented opportunity.

The impact will be profound, as structures, industries, value, ethics, and traditional transformation strategies are challenged and reimagined, and societal progression moves us from profit to purpose. It’s a looking-glass world, making us rethink our long-held notions of success and failure.

You’ll learn about these paradigm shifts, their related societal factors, and why we can no longer accurately predict the future, but instead must rehearse it. You’ll also hear perspectives from several other futurists and business leaders. Together, we’ll examine future scenarios, the ecosystems that form around them, and discuss their ethical implications.

We’ll then cover transformation through a reimaginative lens, and a framework that helps us think about and prepare for the future, the importance of digital DNA, and the key enablers needed to ensure future success as we enter human history’s most transformative era.

For more details and to enrol go here.