Computers, Privacy & the Constitution

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AWorldWithoutToys 7 - 21 Apr 2018 - Main.RebeccaBonnevie
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I had a thought after last class and decided to try and condense it here before I forget. Could adapt this into one of the class essays later, but I think I'd rather do something else for that.
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 Difficult problems. Again, thank you for your heartfelt response.

-- JoeBruner - 21 Mar 2018


Hi Joe and Madiha,

I've really enjoyed this discussion as well. I have so many thoughts in this area but they basically distill down to the challenge of parenting in a "toy-less" world. At the moment my kids are little so I’m focused on building the foundation - I get to be the dominant influence in their lives in these initial lives. I am trying to cultivate imagination, curiosity and a desire for play. I’m concerned about exactly the effect you talk about – gaming happens within its own rules, gives that dopamine hit for achieving goals rather than “just playing”. I can see why your parents forced you to swim Joe – it really does feel like sport is a good balance to gaming – besides obvious health benefits it provides a social structure, goals, skills like perseverance and drive, and rewards in the “winning”.

There were two things I wanted to add to the conversation. First, another thing that console and mobile based gaming steals from us these days is boredom. I think boredom is essential to our society and we are eliminating it from our lives. Boredom is a driver of innovation, of imagination, of creation and of social connection. Did you ever just go over to a friend’s place and do nothing together? Or create elaborate dance routines that you then forced your family to sit through (just me?). Or tinker with lego or meccano with no real purpose because you had time? We live in a society that attempts to maximize use of everything. Our spare spaces are AirBnB? ’d out, our spare time is pulled into the Gig economy, we can stream anything at anytime on any device to fill that five minute space that we were forced to wait for something. Gaming – be it sophisticated or dopamine ridden candy-crush style – is another filler. We are become terrified about being bored and in doing so we are losing all the potential that the boredom could have created. I think we are going to have a poorer society for the loss of boredom.

The fear of boredom ties into my next point regarding the screen being a good nanny. In the first two years of my son's life he barely saw a screen. I was at home for one of them (where I come from your job is held for 12 months by law), and for the second he went to a local early childhood center where screens weren’t a feature. During this time I regularly took him on short airplane trips in domestic airlines. I would be armed to the teeth with books, snacks, drawing activities, and various other things like buttons on strings. We would chat and look out the window, read and eat the airplane cookies. There were only a few occasions all my preparations were insufficient. On one particular occasion despite my best efforts my son was screaming blue-murder at the indignity of having to sit still for a long period of time. As time went on I was feeling increasingly aware of the accosted ears of the passengers around me. A man across the aisle leaned over, smiled and passed me an ipad playing some animated movie about helicopters. My son's screams slowed and everyone visibly relaxed. He watched the movie for the rest of the flight. The reason I tell this story is that my observation is we live in a world where increasingly a parent seems to be given two options to address bored or upset kids - to "plug them in" so to speak, or to avoid being in that public situation. I'm not suggesting the other passengers should be subject to the screaming, or enjoy it or anything, but in the "everyone is a reporter with a camera" age we have seen parent-shaming where a child is being... well an upset child. Having a society react so publicly about a child creating a flight from hell or whether loud kids deserve to be banned from restaurants just pushes parents towards the digital nanny in these situations. If we want to encourage kids to engage with the world around them then we have to give them space and acknowledge sometimes that is going to mean letting them be loud and annoying without expecting an instant fix in a screen.

Anyway, finally I thought I'd leave you with this sweet roundup - there are no devices in here: children around the world show their favorite toys.

-- RebeccaBonnevie - 21 Apr 2018


Revision 7r7 - 21 Apr 2018 - 02:54:03 - RebeccaBonnevie
Revision 6r6 - 21 Mar 2018 - 18:13:50 - JoeBruner
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