Coming Soon! It’s an Education!

THIS SITE is a bit of a mish mash just now! OK, we know. We’re busy with a redesign but this will be mainly to accomodate a big section on education. Formal and informal resources, for teachers and students, for the rest of us who are interested in the growing digital environment we live in whether we like it or not.

A lot of the more formal stuff will be of special interest to English and Media teachers and students, but there is a definite need for skills and critical digital literacy to feature across the curriculum. We’ll draw upon features of media studies, and include the use of literature, film and drama. Teachers of PSHE (personal, social and health education) will also find the site useful.

So far the site has taken a very general look at some of the ‘big issues’ around the digital world, one being of course the repeating worries about ‘digital addiction’ and related concerns about our future lives. There’s a ‘handle’ here relating to addiction, and a bit of psychology. This relates tour case study site http://www.beatthefix.com which explores a specific focus of digital machines. Gambling machines (which include of course those available in smartphones, tablets and computers) give rise to very precise social concerns. The case study affords an opportunity to consider addiction and gambling addiction in particular; it is designed to introduce the ways that law, politics, campaign groups, public health, business practices, psychology, the media, social media, advertising all intersect.

Gambling – a game for children?

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

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.