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Too much screentime for kids.

Are kids able to read anything further than three sentences or more exactly do they EVER read more than three sentences strung together? Like … things called ideas, instruction, information?

We as adults are kidding ourselves and more particularly kids themselves are kidding us all that this is ‘work’ or education or learning … when it is mostly anything but. I don’t mean the bright kids or those from motivated households, but I mean the kids from households where theres never any utterance of anything remotely connected to learning.

I can think of instances in even my limited social interaction where the adults seem apparently unable to contribute anything to a childs intellectual development. And then of course once age sixteen has passed them by and the exams fizzled to nothing everyone exhibits collective blindness as to how a valuable life opportunity/ waymarker has been allowed to drift past beyond reach. A vacuum of any hope to human potential.

We also as adults in this present age collectively somehow retain this silly notion that a laptop is ‘now essential’ for learning …. WHAT UTTER RUBBISH. What most average kids learn, or more correctly attempt to learn in a day I’m sure could quite easily be typed on one side of a sheet of A4; maybe even A5.

Perhaps the Russians are right on this, no child under eighteen is allowed to use a mobile phone.

Paper and books retain the images, facts and explanations forever, no matter how many times it takes until eventually ‘it sinks in’ and I know this myself from at later middle age still retaining the pleasure of ‘finding things out’ to quote Richard Feynman, making it a hobby to memorise things, little bits of foreign language, technical theory of various sorts. How we learn has been a fascination of mine most of my life, half a century and more. It is the ability to open the page again, to revisit again and again that sets it into ones mind, the weak point of screen based learning is that mostly its a once only experience, theres no pages to flick! Another weak point of screen learning is that theres too much faffing about to find what it is you want, I reckon any serious for instance medical student or professional engineer intending to pass exams will jettison the screen for a hard copy set text in book form, but anyway they will be bright and know the material already when plunged into exam prep.

And what of writing itself, gone is the effort and eventual mastery of a ‘good hand’ likewise the ability to make quick and efficient sketches and so many times we realise already kids and young adults can barely spell. Theres too many lame excuses from all concerned why this that and the other cannot be made to happen. The antidote is called hard effort and application and this means the ordinary and the struggling are now worse off than they have ever been and to my mind certainly book based learning can be called the most efficient reward for time spent, little in life that is valuable is gained without a little pain or effort.

Minds eye visualisation is hardly mentioned but once developed sets you apart from the vast majority, its also my experience minds eye visualisation is much reduced by an overwhelming reliance on a screen. This I believe is under-reported and under-researched.

I came from a ‘humble’ background, I recall vividly over fifty years ago meeting a slick new potential uncle that was technically literate (college ‘n suchlike) and could actually recall and set down on paper circuit diagrams and explain it all and most certainly had this ten year old enthralled.

Another case in point, an ex g/f has two grandchildren, age ten and fifteen, which up until December a web fascination fed only from a phone screen is now a laptop and x-box for the just turned ten year old girl (!) and a self bought laptop a few months ago for the boy of fifteen that now spends all night camped out in the parked caravan; I wonder at what time he eventually gets to sleep? I’ve already highlighted to the grandmother the dangers of all this, the reality of web addiction, and so what happens is yet more addictive gizmos are bought for them! Am I speaking a language they understand, does it sink in …. obviously not!

I predict the lively bright ten year old girl within three months will be solemn, uncommunicative and increasingly obese. She will be obsessed with the utterly pointless so called ‘social media’ and hobby activity will be a thing of the past. Progress? I think not.

The bright and advantaged will fly ahead as more than ever, the ordinary the slow are increasingly an underclass, disadvantaged by the over zealous application of screens and keyboards. Art, creativity and handicraft, modelmaking and inventive play for the younger kids and striving to make things with their hands and make them better each time is increasingly looking to be practically a Victorian oddity in its total abandonment. So does this mean the effort to do better with increasing skill in hand eye co-ordination and visualition are becoming near extinct … looks to be so!

I had two years ago when lockdown started produced two very good worksheets for them, intending to get them hopefully with my input to lay their work out better on paper, twenty questions or topics or mini projects were covered … did either of them do anything from this attention of mine ….. nothing, zilch.

Jaron Lanier who knows all about things tech implores us all to dump the screen and keyboard to dump facebook and phony titled ‘social media’ … and how very right he is.

postscript, lets bullet point a few ideas of what troubles me of endless screentime for kids and the obscenity of mindless parents desperate to buy them more crap at every opportunity …

  • reduced attention span.
  • inability to follow a thread of educational information or explanation nor any desire to do so.
  • reduced vocabulary.
  • a world view and view of life formed by less than ideal pundits and other such nonsense makers, advertising and clever attention grabbing algorithms.
  • reduced interaction with parents and family relations, no sense of past, no anecdotal recollection.
  • becoming isolated from realtime face to face human interaction, losing the ability to evaluate who is kosha, who is spouting nonsense or fantasy.
  • impaired ability with pen and paper, cannot sketch, writing poor, atrocious layout on paper.
  • blind to any decent tutoring coming from another adult, if it don’t come off a screen they just don’t want to know.
  • seldom if ever visiting the same page twice ie for reinforcement of material learnt.
  • a world devoid of Art, of the achievements of human endeavour, many things of beauty and creativity since the Stone Age all eradicated in a generation.
  • hanging on to extremely trivial social media posts, curled up in a chair with zero exercise.
  • an acute sense of living in the here and now, trivia rules okay; history eliminated.
  • kids do nothing to please their elders, their focus or loci is the screen.
  • and parents that are no different from the kids.

Not a pretty picture is it?

Why cannot we …

Why can not we have what has nurtured and enthralled us for centuries?

Why does it have to be the next ‘big thing’ ie its only the next big thing that will fulfill us, the shit of Meta, social networking junkery or whatever is riding on the crest of technology?

I’d prefer to read a page of text, a few lines of poetry, perhaps the distilled essence of most likely an old man long dead; or a picture from the Renaissance or almost anymost century accompanied with a worthwhile and educated commentary.

Why has human experience been watered down to one technological and morose thrill after another?

Devised by incomplete humans to engender an army of other incomplete humans.

Think, read, learn …. theres more to life than the web!

My evening window …

… is open!

But no moths in two hours whatsoever have entered into my kitchen and this is from a large garden full of established shrubs and including beyond countless various nooks and crannies.

There is something wrong, that is for sure.

But a google search reveals next to nothing of up to the minute (or year) moth decline here in the UK.

Luckily my garden displays maturity, complex planting ie a great jumble of many different things and many many niche environments, all mostly never disturbed by any human ie me.

As per usual after the summer solstice the nights seem to be cutting in quickly. This is not something I revel in, luckily a couple of nights ago I treat myself to a car ride up to where for near twenty years we fed horses and me n whatever pet dog went round on our circular walk of an hour. The place is loaded with memories, I fully realise the value of this ‘extra-curricular activity’ and am moving toward when time permitting to ‘get out more’ to stay in touch with this focus of location from years gone past.

The June shutdown of birdsong seemed early this year, I generally name it as the ‘June 13th shutdown’, but this year things seem a bit off course, earlier. A pigeons nest I suspect rock pigeon, was found destroyed and eggs scattered in my garden this morning. I wonder at the new tenants in the let property next door, very cat orientated but also I suspect against garden birds and their song. Why do I think this …. leylandii next door felled to zilch, I suspect her complaints, a dark woman I suspect wanting her own way, I doubt she’ll have much to do with me. Also obviously ‘very set in their ways’, as if at thirty five going on seventy.

Good news is that both birdboxes on rear of house host bee colonies. My garden provides lots of flowering plants, but I look further afield at neighbouring gardens and its a pathetic spectacle, I look around and all is barren, ignorant nothingness and I reckon the birds, insects and small animals likewise think the same. I think its fair to say they vote with their feet so to speak and most winged things flock to my place.

Tech for good, bbc r4 ‘One to One’ programme today.

This had me fascinated, I hung to every word.

One to One – Tech for Good: Marcus Smith speaks to Tristan Harris – BBC Sounds

I was going to say this is good enough to get me to sign up to the bbc i-player but I’m already kicking against the time web and media intrudes and so if I don’t catch it live then it will just have to go. Biggest boon for me is a small handheld transistor radio bought secondhand a couple of weeks ago, now I don’t lose any interviews, music or programmes as i flit from room to room around this house and can so much more easily swap from r3 to r4 as I choose without all the additional walking to and from where the mains powered radio is sited in the kitchen. I deliberately do not possess a mobile or iphone.

It was highly informative to hear (I quote) ‘Tristan Harris, one of the contributors to the successful Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma.’ I thought actually he said Tristan Han, so lets explore ….

The Social Dilemma | Netflix Official Site

The director is Jeff Orlowski (I wonder any relation to Peter) and yes its Tristan Harris and its looking like I’m the last person in the western world to be aware of this … maybe thats good!

Netflix documentary ’The Social Dilemma’ unveils psychological manipulation used by social networks (today.com)

The Social Dilemma – Wikipedia

Tristan Harris – Wikipedia

Note one of my tags is ‘the web starves us of art’ …. not found anything better yet than the encyclopedias my dad bought me when i was ten, other books came along too with that quite considerable spend for an ordinary working man. Nothing electronic can provide the richness and diversity of leafing through those still very well illustrated and produced encyclopedias from fifty five years ago.