Tech & New Fine Manners for Christmas - a code of ethics to use technology
I started sharing my own experiences because I found out that I was not alone. In other words, I have noticed that people around me were suffering from the same side effects of the usage of technology and struggling to maintain a healthy routine and habits with their children and among themselves.
Google is with me, with us! Please check the articles below about using knitting as a meaningful practice at Google’s offices, and their guide for Christmas/Holidays. (Digital wellbeing tips, NYTimes, Nov 24, 2019/"Get lost in the season, not your phone")
After Melinda Gates, I am sure I am not alone:
“Still, as a mother who wants to make sure her children are safe and happy, I worry. And I think back to how I might have done things differently. Parents should decide for themselves what works for their family, but I probably would have waited longer before putting a computer in my daughters' pockets. Phones and apps aren't good or bad by themselves, but for adolescents who don't yet have the emotional tools to navigate life's complications and confusions, they can exacerbate the difficulties of growing up: learning how to be kind, coping with feelings of exclusion, taking advantage of freedom while exercising self-control. It's more important than ever to teach empathy from the very beginning, because our kids are going to need it.”
As you may know me and Peki’s Philosophy, how long have we been repeating: “Let’s balance our routines, going back to basics a little bit more and living in the PRESENT moment?
Basic Recipe: make good usage of TIME & OUR SENSE OF HUMOR!!!!
Last week, a friend suggested me to write about it and although I have already posted it so many times in the past, as I blinked to reflect about the situation today, some facts immediately came across to my mind, again:
“Smart Phone”, Smart…Really?”
No need to start early! Everyone, around the globe, from different backgrounds and ages, learns how to use it at any time (on the other hand, giving up the basics skills it is crucial, for example: playing as much and as long as possible as a child, without electronics; practicing handwriting; exercising our memories, and not simply relying on Google and cells to remember info and numbers)
It has been causing accidents! Yes, really How many people you have caught crossing the street emerged on their screens? Driving?
“Individualism 1” - It is building a very egocentric world - while connecting with more numbers of people, it is a more superficial relationship
“Individualism 2” - The communication is almost unilateral most of the time, while each of us “shoots” messages at any time and expect responses immediately
Memory Practice: We can even find out where or South/North are, can’t memorize phone numbers and so on anymore.
Blockage of the Creativity Chanel - no time for wondering and making spontaneous associations and creations
Anxiety: It creates quickly a high level of dependency, for security reason, or simply foolishness, as we keep expecting social media approvals
Children: Show easily aggressiveness if while in the online world someone bothers them or interrupts ( I have many examples from different ages, but the symptoms were the same/“Oli & Lorenzo”, story from my Blog)
Let’s be honest, it is not the technology per s`e, that is a problem, but the lack of manners using it.
It is the way that we are using our gadgets, “where” and “when”, Time & Place
Lack of filter - “Momentum” - Quick responses without double thinking
Substituting Human Contact - Deterioration of emotional development and motor as well.
Alteration of habits and activities is key to developing a momentous capacity for creating new plans and patterns of learning and development. Again, I want to highlight the importance of our parents and mentors to be our children’s Role Models.
After all, while we keep condemning our children for using their phones and video games, we are the ones who prematurely encouraged them to use them to be up to date technologically! We, caregivers, are often inadvertent bad examples and we do not even notice how we are not cultivating the proper conditions and activities for our children to achieve success in whatever field.
The wish here is for a better world and this is possible exclusively if we move a chain of positive ideas, actions, and enjoyment!
Let's keep excelling, working hard, but PAUSING in between. We should NOT be the model of constantly escaping the present and turn into a perfect picture of anxiety. We need to attend to the emotional as well as educational needs of our children and adopting new activities that go beyond the regiments of academic curriculum or daily domestic activities is essential.
My Credentials on the Field to Talk about it?
It’s pure organic, not academic!
I have lived real experiences in the past 16 years with children and families and kept myself updated researching and reading about it.
After becoming a mother I become profoundly involved with the effort of raising my son on our fascinating journey together; my time on him was a high priority. Therefore, I looked beyond the corporate world to further achieve my professional mission, connecting people, generating changes and creating a proactively work, focusing on the foundation of our societies: families and communities.
Ironically, I advocate intensively for a life with fewer electronics, right? But also, ten years ago, lead a fundraiser campaign in the USA, as the President of CDI (Center for Digital Inclusion), a Brazilian organization that brings technology and training for communities in need for social inclusion.
Because this is my main point: To dance together!
The real balance that we could achieve in our lives is taking advantage of modern technology, using information itself!
We must learn and respect not only how to use it mechanically, but meaningfully.
As every innovation, requires a process of adjustments, this is what I believe is urgently necessary to be done: tune in our etiquette rules one- usage! I am talking about manners and knowledge for absorbing the information correctly.
My wish for this holiday season is that we get closer and closer and work together on this challenge of our times.
Ciao, Ciao, I am going to a Very Smart Christmas Party: Digital Detox Zone!!!!!
Hoo, Hoo, Hoo!!!!
Please find notes and links from my previous writings and articles that I collected in the past five years. (including the famous one from Melinda Gates.)
1. Please Give a Break
My Post and the article from the WSJ about teens waking up in the midlle of the night to check their phones, so do we:
We can and we do set up the tendencies to create and learn, not the other way around. I discussed with specialists at my son Lorenzo’s school about the importance of "alternatives" to improve his level of focus and attention. Lorenzo, like many other young students, was struggling to manage his academic agenda and needed unplugging practices in order to diversify his approach to learning and his understanding of various critical and creative possibilities of learning
Since the learning specialists at Lorenzo’s school did not provide the conditions for such practices, I am in charge of implementing useful practices for my son like Google did with their very busy employees, including knitting, painting, cooking, and playing chess. (Although, at this age, it will be hard to convince him to knitte anything without a whole group doing the same thing, I am afraid). Such activities help people, including and specially teenagers like Lorenzo, to be fresh for possibility, to value spontaneity, and reject the rigidity of habits that are not successful in achieving goals.
Ideally, I should have taken up these initiatives earlier. However, it is very hard to maintain certain behaviors when the school is developing others, specially maintaining the communication with the students via e-mails at anytime, including at night, making the " unplugging" mode, more difficult. Regardless of the context or the time frame, whether the educational curriculum is successful, we still need to help our children to unplug and refresh their brains. For example, when Lorenzo started high School I tried to join the Wellness and Sustainability Community and wrote a Green Guide with different suggestions for fostering development and education. I started with ways of reshaping our way of communication and especially following a code of ethics to use technology.
Here is my list of essential principles, practices, and goals:
Maintain (on regular basis) and Practice family traditions - (Bring sense of belonging, connection with love ones and cultural knowledge) Family Meals/Play Music
Cultivate simple, possible healthy and engaging habits/projects at home: reading together, playing games (chess, Domino, Puzzle); engaging in meditation or prayer; planting seasonal vegetable and undertaking gardening
No phones or electronic devices at the table ever (unless you are a fire man or heart transplant surgeon on duty, and in those cases you should not be at the table anyway)
Communication in person or, briefly, by phone; avoid text messages with the kids except for basic information
Always engage in family outdoor activities, at least once a week
Write handwritten notes and be sure to communicate personally and openly
As Albert Einstein wrote: “Remember your Humanity.” Engaging alternative and meaningful activities with our families and communities will help us do so!
2. Pause Button
Example that I used as one of those very basic/oldfashioned activity to balance our lives, that GOOGLE implemented with their teams:
Two years ago, I began using knitting metaphorically, as a way of pausing and breathing, as well as a practical suggestion as a family hobby to get together to develop the ability of focusing, planning, and developing fine motor skills. Such exercises were organized to help us connect with each other in the real moment and become satisfied emotionally with the whole process of self-actualization. Also, ideally, it may afford the surprise of the creation of some self-made product . Last month, I found myself profoundly surprised with an article on the front page of The Wall Street Journal entitled "In Mindful Knitting, It's about The Journey, Not the Scarf” by Ellen Byron. In it, Byron detailed how a Google team was forced to get together at their New York office, turn off their phones and learn how to knit. In the beginning, they naturally hate the idea, got frustrated, and tempted to grab their phones. But gradually, the group grew more absorbed in making their project for a blanket that they were going to give to a colleague's baby. According to mindful-knitting specialists, their clients who got hooked on this new work-alternative habit are becoming better listeners at work and experiencing more calm at home. At New York University, medical students are benefiting from this practice because it is good for hand dexterity, according to Matt Kingery, a medical student who aspires to be an orthopedic surgeon. Years ago, I used kinitting metaphorically as a way of pausing and breathing, as well as a practical suggetions as a hobby focusing, planning, developing motor skiils, connecting with other people in a real moment and being satisfied emotionally with the whole process, as maybe surprise with a product self- made.
Communication Issues & Actions
3. Green Advice I: Let's Cultivate Change
I high lighted some paragraphs from my Blog
Honestly, I am quite sad and worried with the number of parents complaining and concerns about the same issues with theirs children (teens), and absolutely clueless about what to do. It seems that we ("we" - generalizing) lost the control, especially because of the insecurity that we are transferring to them.
Let's " roll up our sleeves, and come up with alternatives to bring them back. It might be, and I hope so, a fun ride!
So, I thought you could be interested on the notes that I prepared last year for Lorenzo’s School, Riverdale Country School’s Sustainability and Wellness Committee, regarding to common challenges that we are facing to raise this new generation. I added, as a reference, my highlights from the book, also relevant here: “The Last Child in the Woods” - Saving Children From Nature Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. (I love this book! it contains the principles that I used to create PeKi)
On my Notes, my target was communication, the approach that we have with our children.
The main issues are: E-communication; Nature Exposure; Wellness and Sustainability
Just to let you know how my conversation with The Head of Middle School, Milton Sipp, started, he asked me:
"What do you think we could do to change it?" - meaning the negative impacts of e-communication.
My very spontaneous answer was:
"We talk too much"
We talk too much, but don’t necessarily communicate well with our children. The e-communication problem starts from “helicopter parenting” where we over analyze and over explain many subjects and because we set up the example over using e-communication.
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” – Albert Einstein.”
Einstein’s observation is truly relevant to engage this new generation with the sustainability chain and wellness education, which is all connected. We have to change our thinking!!!
I believe that we need to improve our communication and create a new and simpler way of presenting and teaching values to our children.
In addition to that, most importantly is to return more often to nature, one of our greatest allies. Simply including it more in our lives immediately reduces the stress created by too much e-communication.
My Practical Suggestions:
“Organic Manual” for E-etiquette, Sustainability & Wellness
Change the adult’s habits first, as a reference
Lecture less about it and act more (it works for all subjects)
Change E-routine at home
Create an appealing environment/ambience and plan activities to attract the whole family to get together, at home and outdoors
New rules and E-campaign at school (see an idea below)
…..up to 12
We should set up new habits with our Families.
Starting from us not being on line all the time at home, and creating another atmosphere, is already a good beginning. Listen to music, come up with a game to play together, a big puzzle, family reading, playing Trivial Pursuit, leaving smartphones at the door like shoes, etc. It may sound silly or old fashioned, but it could help, gradually, help to interact the family, and release the unilateral focus on electronics.
Let’s create a School recommended policy for home and have the entire school participate in its creation with non-electronic rules and things to do as a New York family.
Use electronics in public in a way that is socially more polite and respectful
No smartphones at or on any meal table
No conversations on the phone while paying or ordering something
No electronics on while visiting someone or attending a social event
No smartphone at concerts and movies
No talking loud on the phone
My suggestion is to collect information about, what we parents, are in fact doing to change the electronic habits, how the kids are responding to that, and how the school is dealing with that as well, so we could connect the dots.
Challenge the Parents: E- Etiquette at School
At meetings or events at school, have a desk with a person (volunteer or school member) to hold the phones, like a coat check and give a "sticker of honor" for the person participation during the event. It is becoming cool again, like not smoking.
The campaign may go on with a collection of stickers, creating a contagious excitement among the students, about taking breaks from e-communication.
The school could provide a line phone available at school, in case someone really needs to contact parents. highlights from the book, also relevant here: “The Last Child in the Woods” - Saving Children From Nature Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. (I love this book! it contains the principles that I used to create PeKi)
Overall Program Goals
Improvement on Communication Skills (less e-communication)
• Family Connection
• Factual protection for the environment
• Physiological balance
• Healthy Habits
• Creativity Development
• Community Engagement
• Emotional Satisfaction
4. Melinda Gates is a businesswoman and philanthropist. She is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“The Internet is a wonderful thing. It gives kids the freedom to move around in a big world, to experiment, to connect with others. As a parent, though, I know that I am responsible for making sure that my kids are ready for all that freedom - and that they know how to keep themselves safe. Here's to staying on top of all the changes social media is bringing to our kids' lives, so that we can continue to guide and support them in this fast-changing world.”
This study is amazing! I kept repeating that the way that we were using tech was killing our instincts and compromising our daily natural actions that were important for our development as human beings and not a waste of time, as people around me kept justifying it. The beauty of saving time not having the guts to talk to someone in person/voice is an ugly truth of feeding selfishness and lack of self confidence. Remember that comunication is practice!
Giancarlo Dimaggio, a psychiatrist with the Center for Metacognitive Iterpersonal Therapy in Rome, said:
“Feeling what you feel is an ability that atrophies if you don’t use it; The more in touch with my own feelings and experiences, the richer and more accurate are my guesses of what passes through another person’s mind”
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/27/sunday-review/no-time-to-think.html?_r=0 Example of behavior change due to e-usage
6. Sustainable Changes: New Habits/ Oli and Lorenzo (Blog)
Oliver is a eight years old child whom I have known since the first day of his life. His mother is a dear friend of mine and they are like family for me in New York. Some people say that he is my favorite, if such a feeling exist. But when I say that to him, he would respond: “ No, you have Lorenzo” - And I always say: “ There is a special place for everyone I love in my heart”
Everyone needs love and they all need opportunities to flourish. They also need time play!
Oli and Lorenzo are Brazilians and New Yorkers, always exposed to multicultural life, different cultural and urban activities, and many international travels. Such kids are pleasant to be around, and they are active in sports, curious about art, budding musicians, and have great gourmet taste for such small mouths. Every aspect of their lives seemed balanced to me, until a couple years ago they started to display similarly disturbing behaviors. And as an attentive mother and “Tia,” I paid special attention to this unexpected development.
My son stopped reading before going to bed, was going to bed later, stopped waking up in time for a complete breakfast, and most dramatically, he became extremely aggressive with me.
I was with Oli and his mother spending the weekend in the Hamptons, and he was constantly talking back to his mother, slamming doors, and complaining about being bored if his mother did not allow him to use the Ipad. There was another child at the house, Alex, same age, behaving exactly the same way. What happened? We parents all noticed the change and have been jointly working to remedy them.
Lorenzo lost his iPhone last year, and his poor social behavior became an excuse not to buy him a new one and limit his time on all electronic devices. I can really notice a difference in him between those days with full time Smart phone activity and now its absence. He is much more communicative and he seems much more calm and peaceful.
And Oli? Last month, I took a big breath of relief: He, too, is back!
Lorenzo and I spent President’s Day weekend together with him and his parents in the East Hamptons. One day, Oli and I took a long walk together on the bay beach. He did not get bored at all and could not have returned to the house with a happier face. What did we experience? Just nature and ourselves. It was a stunning sunny winter day and we just walked along the rocks and jumped over swamp areas. Oli later sang and told me very interesting stories about his young life.
I could not resist the opportunity to stamp my environmentalist mission and we started to collect some plastic garbage that we found on our way and brought to the house, for future projects. So far, we have managed to create a hat or casket, as you can notice on the picture.
We parent realized that we had to work together and commit ourselves with alternatives to change bad youthful habits, like being online addictively. We have limited the amount of hours our children have access to the iPad. They come up with activities that they can do together, indoors and outdoors.
Teenagers are a special kind of challenge and to accommodate the ones in my life, I have been promoting the idea of having more games family nights. It is a very old fashioned way of hanging out, where all generations play together and we can build unforgettable, deeply meaningful memories. This is a recipe that I suggest for all of us now: Homemade food, games, music, whatever. Of course, different formulas work differently for each family, for each person.
I suggest creating situations that are more appealing to group dynamics. That way, we avoid stressing out about parenting and lecturing; instead we show actions, give examples, and more importantly, we all live a full, positive life! Together!
7. SMART? Phones
Jean Twenge - Professor of psychology at San Diego State University and the author of Generation Me and iGen.
“She told me she’d spent most of the summer hanging out alone in her room with her phone. That’s just the way her generation is, she said. “We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.”
“Around 2012, I noticed abrupt shifts in teen behaviors and emotional states. The gentle slopes of the line graphs became steep mountains and sheer cliffs, and many of the distinctive characteristics of the Millennial generation began to disappear. In all my analyses of generational data—some reaching back to the 1930s—I had never seen anything like it.”
The biggest difference between the Millennials and their predecessors was in how they viewed the world; teens today differ from the Millennials not just in their views but in how they spend their time. The experiences they have every day are radically different from those of the generation that came of age just a few years before them.
What happened in 2012 to cause such dramatic shifts in behavior? It was after the Great Recession, which officially lasted from 2007 to 2009 and had a starker effect on Millennials trying to find a place in a sputtering economy. But it was exactly the moment when the proportion of Americans who owned a smartphone surpassed 50 percent.
The advent of the smartphone and its cousin the tablet was followed quickly by hand-wringing about the deleterious effects of “screen time.” But the impact of these devices has not been fully appreciated, and goes far beyond the usual concerns about curtailed attention spans. The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health. These changes have affected young people in every corner of the nation and in every type of household. The trends appear among teens poor and rich; of every ethnic background; in cities, suburbs, and small towns. Where there are cell towers, there are teens living their lives on their smartphone.
More comfortable in their bedrooms than in a car or at a party, today’s teens are physically safer than teens have ever been. They’re markedly less likely to get into a car accident and, having less of a taste for alcohol than their predecessors, are less susceptible to drinking’s attendant ills.
Psychologically, however, they are more vulnerable than Millennials were: Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.
Even when a seismic event—a war, a technological leap, a free concert in the mud—plays an outsize role in shaping a group of young people, no single factor ever defines a generation. Parenting styles continue to change, as do school curricula and culture, and these things matter. But the twin rise of the smartphone and social media has caused an earthquake of a magnitude we’ve not seen in a very long time, if ever. There is compelling evidence that the devices we’ve placed in young people’s hands are having profound effects on their lives—and making them seriously unhappy.
Teens who spend three hours a day or more on electronic devices are 35 percent more likely to have a risk factor for suicide, such as making a suicide plan. (That’s much more than the risk related to, say, watching TV.) One piece of data that indirectly but stunningly captures kids’ growing isolation, for good and for bad: Since 2007, the homicide rate among teens has declined, but the suicide rate has increased. As teens have started spending less time together, they have become less likely to kill one another, and more likely to kill themselves. In 2011, for the first time in 24 years, the teen suicide rate was higher than the teen homicide rate.