A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley

The New York Times, October 26, 2018, By Nellie Bowles

"SAN FRANCISCO — The people who are closest to a thing are often the most wary of it. Technologists know how phones really work, and many have decided they don’t want their own children anywhere near them.

A wariness that has been slowly brewing is turning into a regionwide consensus: The benefits of screens as a learning tool are overblown, and the risks for addiction and stunting development seem high. The debate in Silicon Valley now is about how much exposure to phones is O.K. ..."

READ MORE: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/style/phones-children-silicon-valley.html

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Snapchat Depression

TuftsNow, April 17, 2018, By Nassir Ghaemi

"Five years ago, I wrote a column about how parents could tell the difference between normal teenage mood swings and possible mental illness. I said then that most depression in teenagers was a sign of psychiatric disease. Since then, I’ve come to think that most teen depression now is caused not by biology, but by our culture, specifically by what one organization calls a new “public health crisis of the digital age.”

Twice as many teenagers now have depression as a generation ago. This high rate of depression has no biological explanation. Instead, it appears to be caused by engagement with social media on smartphones.

It’s now clear that there’s a strong association between use of social media and depression in adolescents. The more depressed adolescents are, the more they use social media; the more they use social media, the more depressed they are. Which causes which is unclear, but whatever the cause, it’s a vicious cycle.

There is no other factor that has changed notably in the last decade other than the prevalence of smartphones, digital technology, and social media to explain the extraordinary increase in the frequency of depression among adolescents. Right now about 22 percent of teenagers exhibit multiple symptoms of depression. This increased depression is highest in those with three or more hours per day of digital technology usage—and that data is self-reported, probably not capturing the true rates, which is likely higher.

These numbers are concerning. The lifetime prevalence rate of a full clinical depressive episode in the overall U.S. population is 5 to 10 percent. In adolescents, that number has now doubled in a generation. There is no biological explanation;  instead, a major cultural change should be suspected.'..."



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Program will look at generation growing up with smartphones, social media

Reading Eagle, February 20, 2018, By Matthew Nojiri

"Joni Siani remembers the fervor that accompanied Facebook's arrival on college campuses in the mid-2000s.

A few years later, she watched as students in her classroom struggled to go even a few minutes without checking their smartphones. They'd get uncomfortable if they couldn't see who had liked their posts or who had messaged them over the course of a single class lecture.

As Siani watched it all, alarm bells went off in her head.

'We have an entire generation that's trying to figure out this new social structure by themselves,' said Siani, a media and communications professor at Mount Ida College in Newton, Mass. 'I was exploring what I have termed digital socialization, or how this next generation is developing through this digital realm rather than every generation before them where you had to have this very authentic human connection with people.' ...

...'Just because we can communicate with people 24/7 doesn't mean we should,' Siani said.

Kids have to navigate a whole set of challenges that their parents didn't have to encounter, Siani said. Anonymous online conversations, creating an online identity, dealing with the other stresses of social media are unique to this era, she said.

'This is the first thing that replaces human one-one-one connectivity in a very authentic way,' she said 'It has a very different shaping effect than other mass media.' ..."


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Phone Addiction Is Real -- And So Are Its Mental Health Risks

Forbes, December 11, 2017, By Alice G. Walton, Contributor

"A lot of us must be wondering if we're hooked on our tech: Searches for 'phone addiction' have risen steadily in the past five years, according to Google Trends, and 'social media addiction' trails it closely. Interestingly, phone addiction and social media addiction are closely intertwined, especially for younger people, who probably aren’t playing chess on their phones or even talking on them—they’re on social media. And according to a growing number of studies, it’s looking more and more like this pastime is addictive. Even more concerning is the fact that this addiction is linked to some serious mental health risks.

Last month, MIT’s Sloan Management Review published a clever experiment—professors at two business schools in Italy and France made giving up one's smartphone for a day a requirement of the students in their courses. Most of the students, who could plan what day they’d give up their phones, felt some degree of anxiety. They didn’t know what to do with the extra time, from eating breakfast to riding on public transportation. They also noted how often people who did have phones checked their phones—one student pointed out that his friend checked his phone four times in a 10 minute period—and that that was probably what they themselves looked like on a typical day.

An earlier study, in the U.S., which also had young people give up their phones, found that they performed worse on mental tasks when they were in 'withdrawal,' and felt physiological symptoms, like increased heart rate and blood pressure. They also felt a sense of loss, or lessening, of their extended self—their phones.

But the reality, especially for younger people, is that phone use, especially heavy use, isn’t so lighthearted. A study last month looked at the rise in depression and suicide in teenagers in recent years. The CDC had noted a rise in the rates of both over the years 2010-2015, and found that girls were particularly at risk: Their suicide rate rose by 65% in those five years. The number of girls with severe depression rose by 58%.'..."


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Smartphone Addiction Could Be Changing Your Brain

CNN, December 1, 2017, By Sandee LaMotte

"You may be one of the growing number of Americans (or global citizens) who has a bit of nomophobia.

'Nomophobia?' you mutter as you read this on your ever-present smartphone. 'Of course not.'

'NO MObile PHOne phoBIA' is a 21st-century term for the fear of not being able to use your cell phone or other smart device. Cell phone addiction is on the rise, surveys show, and a new study released Thursday adds to a growing body of evidence that smartphone and internet addiction is harming our minds – literally.

How do you know if you're addicted? There's an online (of course) quiz to find out, which has been translated into Spanish, Italian and Turkish. ...

...Did you score between 100 and 200? You're probably struggling with severe anxiety when you can't access your cell phone, he said.

'This might negatively affect your social life and relationships with friends and family,' Yildirim said. 'There are studies that show those who score high on the test tend to avoid face-to-face interactions, have high levels of social anxiety and maybe even depression.'

'It might affect your ability to work or study, because you want to be connected to your smartphone all the time,' he added. 'So if any of this applies to you, then it's time to start looking at your behavior and level of anxiety.'

SecurEnvoy, a two-factor authentication company, conducted research using a polling panel (which is not as scientific as a randomized poll) and found that 66% of people in the United Kingdom have some form of nomophobia. Notably, 41% of the participants said they had two or more phones to make sure they stayed connected.

Surveys by the Pew Research Center this year showed that 77% of Americans own smartphones, up from 35% in 2011. Ninety-five percent own a cell phone of some kind.' ..."



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Introducing Bullfrog Communities

Welcome to
Bullfrog Communities

We aim to energize change, and to help local activists broaden their reach.

  • We provide powerful films and all the support materials you need to create an effective community event.

  • We will send out strategic petitions, asking you to sign and send them on to your network, using the power of this medium on behalf of the people and the earth. These will be either national in scope — asking you to join an uproar of opinion, or very local — asking you to add your voice to attain a specific victory, which may provide a watershed — changing the mindset of the people empowered in a community, of multinational corporations' assumptions as to what they can get away with, and of politicians who notice the change in the wind.

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Please join. Let's see what we can accomplish together.

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