Kids and Smartphones

We really don’t know what the long-term effects of “mobile technology” will be on our current school-age and under school-age generations in America (and the world?). Unfortunately, much of the preliminary data suggest that we have to do something to control its indiscriminate and obsessive use. “What this generation is going through right now with technology is a giant experiment (Jensen, University of Pennsylvania).”

As researchers debate appropriate public health messaging, kids are receiving their first smartphones at even younger ages – the average is 10, according to one recent estimate – and they’re spending more and more time on their devices. “I am probably on my phone 10 hours a day,” says Santiago Potocnik Senarahi, a 16-year-old 11th grader in Denver. Even when he’s not using his phone, it’s always with him, and he never considers taking a break. “This is part of my life and part of my work, and [that] means I need to be in constant contact.” “The more we learn about kids and Smartphones, the more we’re going to see that limiting their exposure is a good idea (Twenge, San Diego State University).”

I will be back on Monday with a list of some “Tips the Get Teens to Put Down Their Smartphones.” And maybe these tips will also help some of us in the “older generations?”

Ray Myers

Advertisements

Trump Bump or Trump Bust?

I’m just not sure who to believe any more?  One day the papers report (yes, I still read old time print news) that that the U.S. economy is not meeting grow the expectations, and the next day I discover that more jobs have been created than expected.  The “devil may be in the details” here, since the key question seems to be “what kind of jobs?”  Recent growth  statistics may be the most telling.   Over the second quarter in the U.S. a predicted growth rate of 2 percent is a far cry from the 4 percent that the so-called president pledged.  Using Twitter, Trump will probably be the first person to dispute these numbers and predict even bigger growth rates in the future.

Please don’t accept the Trump tweets as factual or even as “alternative facts.”  I often think of Trump’s obsession with tweeting as a modern day equivalent of Nero fiddling while Rome burns.  Many expert economists note that so far the economy’s trajectory remains the same as it did under President Obama.  Furthermore, without a meaningful change in government policies – greater infrastructure investment, an overhaul of the corporate tax code, a new commitment to improve the skills of American workers – there is no reason to expect the domestic outlook to change.  “The safe bet is to expect more of the same.  Unless we do things to boost productivity, this is the economy that we are going to see.”

So far, we have not seen these meaningful changes.  Time to put down “Nero’s fiddle,” take away Trump’s Twitter account and make him do something Presidential.  I don’t think he can really help himself.

Ray Myers


War on Drugs – Buy a Smartphone

It has now been reported that American teenagers are growing less likely to try or regularly use drugs, including alcohol.  So what is the cause of this dramatic change in teenagers’ behavioral (experimental) habits?  Are teenagers replacing drugs with smartphones?  Experts see an interesting correlation.  Researchers are starting to ponder an intriguing question: Are teenagers using drugs less in part because they are constantly stimulated and entertained by their computers and phones?

Researchers are saying that “With minor fits and starts, the trend has been building for a decade, with no clear understanding as to why.  Some experts theorize that cigarette-smoking rates are cutting into a key gateway to drugs, or that anti drug education campaigns, long a largely failed enterprise, have finally taken hold.”  Scientists also say that interactive media appears to play to similar impulses as drug experimentation, including sensation-seeking and the desire for independence.  Or it might be that gadgets simply absorb a lot of time that could be used for other pursuits, including partying?

So many gadgets, so little time to do everything else, whatever that might be?  Perhaps the most intriguing phenomenon is that we have so many addictions to choose from, if we really have nothing else we want or need to do?

Ray Myers

P. S.

I will not be posting a blog on Friday, Saint Patrick’s Day.  I know you will all be too busy commemorating this “holy day.”  Thanks for following TechtoExpress.  Back on Monday, March 20.

Overloaded and Distracted by Tech

Who me?  It could be.  Clinically speaking, there seem to be two major conditions that might describe this phenomenon more accurately.  We could be suffering from “compulsion loop” or perhaps “cognitive overload.”  It is not the technology itself that is the cause of these behaviors, but how we use or overuse all the technology that surrounds us.  Some researchers describe our dependency more if terms of being an addiction that can unknowingly impact our personal and family lives in the most negative ways.

The brain’s craving for novelty, constant stimulation and immediate gratification creates something called a “compulsion loop.”  Like lab rats and drug addicts, we need more and more to get the same effect.  Similarly, endless access to new information also easily overloads our working memory.  When we reach “cognitive overload,” our ability to transfer learning to long-term memory significantly deteriorates.  It’s as if our brain has become a full cup of water and anything more poured into it starts or spill out.

So I guess it’s all about moderation in all things which you may have heard before.  Some “addicts”  also suggest specific rehabilitative measures such as going offline for specific portions of the day.  Maybe the most dramatic, and sometimes described as the most restorative, is going offline for several weeks at a time.  Call it a digital-free vacation.

Ray Myers