Tag Archives: research

Teens and Media

Recently I was looking a materials for a fall program centred on Creation.  One of the offerings included programs for children, teens and adults.  The group begins together and then breaks into smaller groups.  In one version of these activities, they encourage the leader to ask teenagers: “What are the television commercials that you particularly like? Why do you particularly like them?”

Teenagers and media

For many years, these questions would have been meaningful and relevant to teenagers.  I watched television as a teenager as did most, likely up until about 10 years ago.  While we did have the capacity to tape shows and thus fast forward through commercials, this process involved actual VHS tapes which was clunky.

In 1999, companies began to introduce digital recording options which allowed content to be stored on the device rather than a separate tape.  These remained dependent upon the networks to provide the content so that individuals could record it for later viewing.  While advantageous, there was still a fair bit of television that was watched live along with the commercials it included.

Moving to Online Content

Enter Netflix.  In 2007, Netflix expanded its business to include streaming media.  With the introduction of streaming media, people no longer had to intentionally reference television guides and record live shows.  Rather, they could simply access the content they wanted and press play.  This can be done from a television, computer, tablet and cell phone.  Compounding the options are opportunities to view content via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and News feeds.  While commercials do pop up, it is far easier to ignore these than ever before.

Paying Attention

Recognising the variety of options available, it is important that adults pay attention to the ways young people consume media.  Consider the ice bucket challenge, the cinnamon challenge and the tide pod challenge.  There have been multiple times in which a trending challenge has encouraged young people to participate in activities that are not only dangerous but could actually be deadly!

As well, with so many options available, the opportunities for a family to sit together in front of the television and thus engage in conversation about the content being watched are reduced.  Thus, it can be harder to create family time, explore themes within the content which young people consume and, at times, ensure that what our children see is appropriate.

What do you do?

Recognising the challenges of media consumption today, what efforts are made in your house to ensure that young people access appropriate content, create space for conversation about themes and spend time doing or watching things together?

We want to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

 

Access to Information

This morning as I skimmed through my Facebook feed, I was drawn to the words of a friend: “There are some days when I wish I could close my eyes and go back to a reality when I didn’t understand and was ignorant to the impact”.  The comment pointed to this news article about the relationship between addiction and adverse childhood experiences.

In the first paragraph an addiction doctor says addiction shouldn’t be called addiction.  It should be called ‘ritualized compulsive comfort-seeking’ because of the way such behaviour is linked to adverse childhood experiences.  The article continues by highlighting the pedigree of the doctor as a way to clarify and establish respect for his position and then delves into his extensive research.

Information in the ‘stone age’

There was a time when in depth articles about health and well-being were limited to medical journals.  To the extent that the research was helpful for the majority, summaries could find their way into mass media, typically skewed by the perspectives of the authors.  For the most part, however, people relied on the wisdom and ability of their health care providers to stay on top of the latest medical research and developments.

Googling google

As I prepared this post on health education in Ontario, I looked back on what has changed in the past 20 years.  Doing so, meant googling a variety of issues to refresh my memory as to how things have evolved.  This included googling google to determine when this Internet search engine was introduced to the masses and when it formally entered into our vocabulary.

Since 1998, our ability to access information has shifted from card catalogues in libraries and encyclopaedias.  In fact, at this point, we could ask Siri, Alexa or Google virtually any question and have access to information almost instantaneously.  The challenge isn’t access, it is our ability to decipher the quality of the sometimes hundreds of references we are given.

Knowledge overload

We don’t even have to google to get information.  Internet news pages, social media feeds, and news programs of many different forms continue to inform and engage the masses.  Knowledge swirls around us like a storm of words out of which we somehow need to make meaning for ourselves and others.  This meaning-making is then expected to influence our actions, helping us to decide whether or not to eat eggs, which plants are toxic, how to save the bees, which renovations will give us the most bang for our buck, which places are the most volatile, how addictions should be addressed, and which politicians support which policies.

What about the next generation?

If, at times, all of this information feels overwhelming for adults, imagine what it is like to be a teenager with access to this level of information?  What impact does it have on the psyche of young people when they are scrolling through news feeds and social media and encountering information about climate change, violence, racial tensions, sexuality and more?  How do parents and teachers help young people make-meaning out of all that information?  What can adults do to help young people stay optimistic and engaged in a world that is all too often painted as problematic?  What examples do you have from your circumstances?  Feel free to comment.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

Cellphones in the Classroom

With the election of Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservative party in Ontario last week, questions now arise as to how this group will live into the promises that were made.  Educators  are among those who are particularly anxious about the implications given that promises included the repealing of the updated sexual-health curriculum, scrapping of “discovery” math and “fixing” standardised testing.  He also promised to ban cellphones in all primary and secondary classrooms to “maximize learning time”.

Telephones vs. Cellphones

Do you remember those days when the privacy of a telephone conversation was limited to the length of the chord?  Some of us have even heard of that time when a phone call required an operator and/or involved a party line.  Today, cellphones are used for far more than telephone calls.  Cellphones take pictures, play video and music, provide connectivity to the Internet, access to social media, apps for a large variety of functions and more.  They can act as a credit card, a ticket to a movie, and a lifeline to family and friends.  For today’s young people, cellphones are a vital tool for life.

Cellphones in the classroom

Mention the promise to ban cellphones in the classroom in my house and the response is incredulity.  My partner is an elementary school teacher who emphatically states that cellphones are the great equalizer for those schools, students and classrooms who do not have ready access to other forms of technology.  My teenager admonishes the suggestion by emphasising how often cellphones are used in classrooms for vital research and/or for participation in questionnaires (through an app called ‘Kahoot’ which enables anonymous participation and thus facilitates conversation).

In fact, cellphones have become so integral to the learning process that school boards have chosen to simply limit access to programs and activities that might distract students including Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, and Snapchat.  Videos that are deemed inappropriate are also blocked.  Ultimately this creates space for students to maximize their resources for learning with a single hand-held device.  If these were to be banned in classrooms, what would be offered to replace these?

Yes they can be a distraction

It would be naïve to suggest that cellphones are never a distraction.  Of course, realistically, students found ways to be distracted in class long before cellphones.  We used pencils and paper to write notes to each other.  These were important tools for learning and still are today.  No one would suggest taking these away.

What do you think?

Do your children have cellphones?  How are these used?  To what extent are you aware of the possibilities cellphones create in regards to learning?  Would you support a ban on cellphones in all elementary and secondary classrooms?  Why or why not?

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

Civic Responsibility

Voting as a tool for engagement with youth.

A Provincial election has been called in Ontario.  This is an opportunity for those 18 and over living in the province to have a direct impact on who will establish the policies and fund programs for us for the next few years.

Why does it matter?

The Ontario government is responsible for a variety of areas that affect the day to day life of families.  Principle among these are education, health care, social services and transportation.  The individuals elected through this process will have the power to determine how tax money is collected and distributed based on their priorities.

The challenge for voters      

In an effort to win over voters, candidates often make promises about what they will do to make our lives better.  There have already been conversations about reducing Hydro bills, gas prices and taxes.  There are also promises to increase programming with dental benefits, prescription drugs, and more.

Such promises can be very appealing for various groups.  The challenge, however, is to continually dig deeper and ask the hard questions.

  • What do these promises cost? – for example, the provincial government’s control over gas prices is limited to taxation, cutting the cost thus means less money in the government coffers for programming.
  • Who do they benefit? – for example, universal dental care means that those with low incomes, seniors and those without benefits can more easily access a dentist, but such programs must be funded somehow.
  • What will need to be done to fulfill these promises? – for example, reducing hydro costs may mean reducing efforts to transform our energy supplies into greener processes thus failing to decrease our environmental footprint and contributing further to climate change which will have long term implications for our children and grandchildren.

An opportunity for families…

There are always deeper questions to raise in an attempt to unpack what candidates are promising.  This becomes an interesting opportunity to engage young people who have become particularly adept at researching.  Consider the possibilities for conversations about the political system, ‘fake news’ and our responsibility.  By engaging young people today, we increase the likelihood that they will participate in the electoral system once they turn 18.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/