419 points by artsandsci a year ago
There's a certain irony in this. By putting restrictions on kids (no screens, digital downtime, etc), we expect them to become self-driven. This is a great idea in theory, but it also seems pretty likely that a kid will go to their friends house to watch Youtube videos, when I would just as soon have them (and their friends, if necessary) at my house doing that where at least I have some sense of what they are watching.
I don't expect my kids to be "self-driven", in the sense of "productive" when I restrict screen time. They can literally do whatever they want... if that is mope around bored as hell, so be it. If that is digging a hole in the back yard, so be it. If that is getting into a little trouble somewhere down the street, so be it. If they want to read the latest "Diary of a wimpy kid", so be it.
The only thing I am after is some kind of interaction with the physical world where they are making the decisions. I have no idea if that is the right thing to do, but it feels like it is.
I deeply and thoroughly don't understand this mindset.
Whether you like it or not, technology is part of growing up in the 21st century. It's not just an "outlet" or a place to waste time on YouTube, it's interwoven into everything in their lives. Their ability to gather information depends on it. Their social lives depend on it. Just as yours does. If you restrict access, you're pretending like a very crucial part of living today doesn't exist -- or isn't as important as it actually is.
At the end of the day, I'd imagine your goal is for your child to have a happy and healthy life. As part of that, you probably want them to have a healthy relationship with technology. Restricting access instead of helping them build that healthy relationship just leads to them wanting to do things like go to the houses of friends to watch YouTube. I know this because I lived it and that's exactly what I did.
I don't think it makes sense to lump all of uses of technology into a single conceptual bucket any more than it's useful to say, "Kids will use things that are made of plastic when they grow up so we shouldn't restrict access to plastic things." Watching unboxing videos on YouTube, posting selfies on Instagram (and getting judged by them), programming a videogame, compulsively clicking notifications and skimming social media feeds, reading articles on Wikipedia, playing some pay-to-Win addiction-optimized phone game, and writing a blog are completely fundamentally different activities.
Restricting "screen time" is the simplest way to reduce access to the harmful things in that list, at the cost of also filtering the nice stuff. A more sophisticated approach is probably to control which apps kids have access to and for how long, but that's a lot harder to pull off effectively.
I absolutely agree with this. I think that this "all screen time is unproductive" mindset can actually deny some kids the opportunity to develop technical skills and interests that could significantly benefit them later on.
I'll use myself as an example:
I grew up with parents who restricted my time spent on video games and internet use (I just spent more time playing video games at friends' houses). They did however allow me to have computers in my room that weren't connected to the internet.
I spent a lot of my early teens tinkering with my computers and learning to code. When I was around 15, I finally saved up enough money from my summer jobs to buy an iMac (and a wifi router that I convinced my parents to let me replace theirs with). I then had unlimited internet access and continued to learn IT and programming.
A few months after graduating high school, I moved cities and applied for a dev internship at a local ad agency. I had started at a community college but dropped out to accept a full-time position. Now four years later, I've held 2 lead positions at two companies and am earning a senior-level salary.
Without a doubt, I wouldn't have had that level of opportunity if I wasn't allowed to have computers growing up. I think parents are doing their kids a potential disservice by placing all forms of 'screen time' in the same category. Restricting (leisure) internet use and video games is very understandable, but I think there is real value in allowing kids 'screen time' if they have any level of interest in technology.
They pulled it off effectively with the personal computer of the early 90s.
Maybe, but then when you turned off the computer, you might have gone to sit in front of the TV with your family, or played a board game, or talk on the phone with your friends. All of those things can happen online, and so I don't know that it's fair to compare computer usage of the 90s with computer usage today.
It's fair to say computer's of today can turn off as well as the computers of the 90s.
Better really, my computer turns itself off when I shut it down now. I used to have to do it manually once it was "now safe to turn off your computer."
In the early 90s, your friends hadn't necessarily all moved their social lives to the computer.
> Restricting access instead of helping them build that healthy relationship just leads to them wanting to do things like go to the houses of friends to watch YouTube. I know this because I lived it and that's exactly what I did.
I think restricting screen time is part of building the healthy relationship. We're not an all digital society, so kids still need to interact with the outside world - this includes people.
Think about how vile people can be on the Internet when the person they're shouting at is a faceless username. Breaking this immersion to have your kid run up the street to watch YouTube videos with a friend is a bit different than doing it alone. You can explain that your child's friend is also online behind and anonymous username, so if they intend to say something mean to someone, you can say that the child may be hurting their own friend's feelings without even knowing it.
Restricting access doesn't have to be a "back in my day!" spiel. Sometimes it's exploring other avenues of entertainment. Sometimes it's partial restriction like reading for 30 minutes. Sometimes it's just making sure that the child still has a foot grounded in reality. I'm a huge advocate for a connected world, but even as a developer, I still have to talk to my colleagues to my left and to my right.
Most kids don't know how to self-regulate screen time. Saying "no screen time" for an arbitrarily large amount of time seems anathema to growing up today, but saying "no more than N hours a day" (where N depends on age and kid and what the kid does for the time) seems quite reasonable.
This isn't just about screen time imho, it's about ensuring balance when kids don't yet know what's best for them. A "healthy relationship" doesn't mean "free to do as much of it as they want to the detriment of other aspects of being a healthy human being."
Anecdote: My best friend growing up was super into soccer. So much so that other parts of his life were suffering and he had little life outside of it. So his parents set a weekly limit on the number of hours he could practice and play. He hated it at the time. But during his down time he found programming and now he's a programmer and soccer isn't nearly that important to him anymore.
> Most kids don't know how to self-regulate screen time.
I think that's the center of the problem. In the current times online media and mobile apps are designed to maximize the participant's screen time by being as addictive as possible.
Even grown-ups face problems self-regulating with regards to an "adversary" that invests huge resources in getting our eye-balls (and data and ad views).
Restricting screen-time becomes more and more difficult the more kids grow up, I do not think that this is a very scalable solution.
I think it's more important that kids are made aware and learn how to deal with this "adversary". Make them aware how the TV (or smartphone) "catches" them when they actually had planned to do other things. Make it a game to find out, together with your kid, how a device can have this kind of control over a person. Kids are curious, they will want to know about mechanisms and incentitives of the system and I think this can be explained even with the vocabulary of a 6 year-old.
Humans are very adaptable, maybe kids growing up in our current environment will just acquire skills that the older generation does not have and has difficulties to imagine.
The most sophisticated adtech in the world doesn't hold a candle to the engagement/addictive power of user-curated sites like HN and Reddit.
The problem with this "no more than N hours a day" is that
- For parents it is hard to implement N hours/day on long term basis ( parents may be able to do for a week or month)
- The parental control tools are too narrow in scope, good ones cost $10/month
- on top of all this, you do not know what they are doing in those N hours/day , using 50% time for FB/Snap etc..
- It is ironic in this day and age of ML/Deeplearning software and open source github thousands of projects, we do not have a open source Parental control that really works.
- The solution is to build an Open source Parental control on Iphone/Android/Mac/PC in an integrated way to enforce N hours/week screen time and smart enough to account all non-school work related screen time across devices.
- To have a small regulation( to force device manufacturers ) stating above mentioned kind of "high quality" open source Integrated Parental control software pre-installed on all devices .
> Most kids don't know how to self-regulate screen time. Saying "no screen time" for an arbitrarily large amount of time seems anathema to growing up today, but saying "no more than N hours a day" (where N depends on age and kid and what the kid does for the time) seems quite reasonable.
I've got kids in upper primary school now, and trying to think through all this carefully.
Our current rule is that you can have an hour of screen time for every hour of reading, music practice, etc, and after certain chores are done. Plus the screen time has to be at an appropriate time - for instance first thing in the morning and last thing at night are no-gos. They're currently on a ban until the end of the week because they went significantly over, but that's only happened twice in the year we've been doing this.
I'm thinking through what our approach to phones will be... at this stage I'm going with them getting phones for the start of high school and pondering what guidelines we'll use.
Here's my anecdote. My parents tried to limit video games (but not tv, they weren't very rational) to some amount of hours a day. Only result was that I hated it, it made me resent them at the time, and I'd do what I could to get around it. I don't think I'm an iota better off for it. They'd try to pull the same nonsense with the computer too which ended up being what got me a successful career. It was detrimental if anything and made me not respect them because I could tell all along it was unsubstantiated BS that somehow video games and computers were "bad" for you. I highly recommend just letting them sort out what they want to do with their time. A restriction of a half hour before bed maybe, to not disrupt sleep, fine, but what does the morning have to do with anything?
We have a morning restriction on school days because it's nigh on impossible to get the kids to school if they start playing games! (We also have an evening restriction so doesn't interfere with bedtime or disrupt sleep but are otherwise easy-going. Still not sure if we are doing the right thing or not)
As a kid I hated chores and rewards that were focused on time because it didn't encourage me to use my time well - it was all about manipulating the clock ("if I actually master the piano piece in 30 minutes I won't get my hour of TV so better not master it").
I think your thinking is right, but I'd instead focus on goals and rewards that are tied to discrete actions in the activity rather than just time. E.g. master the piece => one WoW raid or something. That worked marvelously on me as a kid and is actually something I still do for myself (although not with WoW thankfully).
I'm not a parent, so I'm sure this is quite hard to do in practice. But I'm sure your kids themselves may have good ideas! (I loved making my own rewards as a kid lol.) Food for thought.
Good points. But personally, I wouldn't use software to enforce any rules. (I would have felt extremely patronized by such software at any age.)
But I may add some tech to see if the rules are being followed. I think that problem may be more tractable tech-wise. And (at least if I were the kid) it would be a lot less insufferable since it would give the kid the freedom to "break" the rule when he/she legitimately wanted/needed to and enables a conversation rather than serving as a dictator of policy.
I'm not a parent so I can't really comment on how easy it is, but I think if you're automating it you may be losing out on a key parenting moment and that's enforcement and inviting conversation about the rule and why it matters.
(Personally I remember many of the occasions where I broke a rule and then got "the talk" about why the rule was important - quite valuable in retrospect. If there had just been a software-enforcer I likely would have rebelled and/or tried to find a workaround.)
Max n hours a day is significantly easier then unlimited time. Mostly because they can't regulate themselves which basically means that they act out when playing you much. It is not just that parent would dislike abstract idea of kid playing etc too mu ch, it is largely behavior the kid displays when it is playing too much.
You don't need high quality expensive software either. There are sufficient free ones.
I don't like to generalize it into the term "screen-time".
There are so many things you could do there. It's like if you would limit "desk time", no matter if they are doing homework, crafting or fixing something, doing some puzzle,...
In my view there are four main categories, of screentime.
* Passive entertainment (watching videos, playing "pointless" games)
* Active entertainment (playing "real" games where you need to make decisions and other skills)
* Socializing (Messengers, Facebook, ...)
Point 2 is probably the most toxic for people. Since you waste lots of time, lose other hobbies and probably get deeply influenced by the things you watch.
Point 3 might be the next on the list, since you might get stressed from constantly socializing... All that matters is raising your "social" status, and you start neglecting other things in your life.
On the other hand, 24 hour screen time is not healthy either. Sitting there hitting that dopamine all day every day is not going to lead to success, especially if they are participating in more passive activities like youtube or mobile gaming. Even going to a friends house to watch youtube is probably better than sitting at home, as a social activity rather than an individual one. Additionally, being bored and or having downtime is beneficial for ones mental health.
I played video games 24/7 as a young child, and while I played sports in high school and college as well, my main love was always, always video gaming, coding, and using computers until 5 AM.
I am a parent now and I get restricting screen time for the sake of planning/scheduling, but not out of some utopian ideal. That never existed. Not when we were young and not when anyone else was, either. They just restricted reading the newspaper and books back then.
There is no real skill involved in watching YouTube or even in operating an iPad. Modern gizmos are filled with apps that battle each other for your kids attention and they play on their weaknesses. All the time a kid spends staring at a screen being passive (watching low IQ vloggers praise the latest soda, watch hours of other kids gaming, watch other kids unpack Kinder Eggs, etc) is time spend learning the brain that this is the way to relax. All that time is not spend in social situations, in nature, playing outside, using fine motor skills, learning what is feels like to actually make something of value to yourself or someone else.
A healthy relationship with technology is not that of a consumer in my view, but that exact relation is most profitable to technology producers in this age. Tablets, chromecasts, smartphones and gaming consoles are consumption devices designed to elicit ever more desire to consume. Being a good consumer is not an important part of life imo and that is a message I want to thoroughly imprint on my kids. While they are to young to self regulate I'm right on top of it.
That sounds awfully just like the TV time of the previous generation is being replaced with passive tablet time, and in both cases it's a manifestation of apathetic parenting that's always been around.
Personal anecdote: my kids are really getting in to mountain biking. Their screen time is more likely to be looking up tips for how to ride better, and then every once in a while we all sit together and watch MTB fail videos (100x the content of the old 'funniest home videos' shows, and more relevant, and I hope it's making caution sink in). Then they go outside and have been building jumps out of logs and dirt...
Assuming GP means "limit screen time" when they say "restrict screen time", then you can still have a healthy relationship with technology. A child with limited screen time will still know how to use a computer, phone, etc. Like most of us, the kids I know gravitate to tech. junk food. So unrestricted/unlimited access to screens would probably lead to an unhealthy relationship. And GP wouldn't be in bad company.
 https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/11/fashion/steve-jobs-apple-... - Steve Jobs, Chris Anderson, and Evan WIlliams limit/limited kids' screen time
 https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/23/apple-ceo-tim-cook-dont-let-... (Speaking at Harlow College in the U.K., Apple CEO Tim Cook warned against “overuse” of technology, and said he didn’t want young members of his own family to use social media.)
Depends on the age.
I avoid/restrict almost all screen time for my almost 6 year old. Why? There is unlimited content and you can essentially never get bored, which means you don't need to think about what you want to do.
In my experience kids are the happiest in self-directed play.
Once they've learned self-control/having balance (which not even most adults can handle), then I have no problems introducing technology.
Technology is fine if used as a tool, but for me, has no part in entertainment for my kids (up to a certain age)
I had a computer at a young age in the 80's and started programming in early elementary school.
I also have a young child who is absolutely absorbed in computers, youtube, etc. I understand how much their collective social lives revolves around it. But even all the time I spend on computers, I still find the experiences vaguely disturbing. The effects on mental health are immediately obvious -- a few hours of "screen time" has very obvious negative implications. There is also a quality of addiction to it all. The computer/smartphone is all.
This is interesting: the difference in 'screen time' a few decades ago versus today. Is the incredible productization of screen time a recent phenomenon? Could we improve screen time by restricting the access large social media companies have to our brains? Can we convert, or perhaps return, the computer from an interactive television to a digital canvas for hackers?
> a few hours of "screen time" has very obvious negative implications
Can you elaborate more specifically?
I think where we can agree to disagree is we both want them to have a healthy relationship with technology, but we're disagreeing on what that healthy relationship is.
At the end of the day, the job of the parent is to protect. As a part of that, if i read and believe that technology is rewiring their brains for reason X, Y, Z then that's what i fix. Not if it makes them happy or not; I'm not their friend first.
> At the end of the day, the job of the parent is to protect.
I disagree. At the end of the day the job of the parent is to prepare. That involves a mix of protection, education, and other things, including refraining from protection, at times.
> I know this because I lived it and that's exactly what I did.
Be careful of using yourself as the sample of why or why not people should do something.
I was also given hard time limits of video games, hard times on television and my brother and I balanced it with playing basketball outside, biking around the neighborhood, going to a friends house (social interaction), and finding other things to do.
Never felt restrictive, just the rules.
> Their social lives depend on it. Just as yours does.
It definitely isn't true that my social life depends on this sort of technology, and I suspect it isn't true for most adults. I suppose you may be using a broader definition of "technology" than me, but my social life would be unaffected if I had a text-enabled phone and a computer sitting at home all day while I'm at work or out doing stuff on the weekends. I don't do that, but not because of my social life.
Having said all that, insofar as it comes to kids, I think your point about the may be a good one! But the fact that this isn't the world many or must adults live in may give you insight on why they don't view this in the same way you do. I think it is hard to come to terms with the fact that your kids live in a different world with different requirements than yours.
Eventually, we may be able to develop single-ride autonomous flying vehicles that will at a moment's notice be able to take you from point A to point B and no one would ever have to walk from anywhere to anywhere again outside. That doesn't mean I would be happy in that world with my child never having learned what it means to hike up a mountain and see the vista by earning it.
Did you drive to the mountain to start the hike? People from 200 years ago might say, "I can't believe this person has never learned what it means to load up your horse, ride 50 miles to the mountain, climb it, and earn the view of the vista"
I am not saying there isn't value in outdoor activities and climbing, but I find it interesting that we set the level of technology that we had as a kid as the 'baseline' for a normal experience. All those things you said about self-driving flying vehicles could be said about cars in general, but you don't think of that because cars are just 'normal' to you.
Point taken. I'll bite the bullet and admit that there is indeed probably something lost when I have to use a modern machine to get from where I live to the experience of pristine nature I crave. Something almost tragic, as if my "normal life" is unnatural or lacking in something primally good for me, which I have to "visit". But to not have experienced it at all, like not being unplugged from technology for a long stretches, would I think be stunting in a far worse way.
Wanting to view pristine nature makes total sense, and is certainly a worthwhile pursuit. However, I think your idea of your 'normal life' being unnatural is a construct you make.
Being in a beautiful landscape isn't any more 'natural' than being somewhere boring and bland. Visiting different areas and seeing natural wonders is certainly enjoyable, and can improve your health and well being.
But that would be true even if you lived a primitive hunter gatherer lifestyle; most people aren't going to be living on a mountaintop, or living in a forest.
A big part of what makes visiting the pristine nature such a cathartic experience is that it is different from your day to day life. Novelty is a strong desire in humans. If you lived on an isolated mountaintop, you might feel that same good feeling visiting the city that you get visiting the mountaintop.
Kids may need help in controlling themselves. Spending time with phone or computer provides certain satisfaction, just as browsing social media does for adults. But those things don't necessarily make us or the kids happy. It can be like an addiction, they would like to quit, but they can't. Parent enforced screen time may be a way for them to escape this and do something that really gives them pleasure.
The GP said "I restrict screen time"
I take this as limit rather than ban. Which I think is a good thing. Screen time is addictive, especially for kids. We all know it. Try and pull your 4 year old away from the TV to get them ready and come back with your results.
It is like restricting (but not banning) sugar, and for older kids (depending on your country etc.), caffeine and alcohol.
Get them ready and THEN plonk them in front of the TV and you can get ready in peace. We learned this quickly... ;)
Then you have to prize them away when you want to leave the house.
Restricting access instead of helping them build that healthy relationship just leads to them wanting to do things like go to the houses of friends to watch YouTube.
When you limit screen time to x minutes per day, that should include screen time outside the house.
I'd much rather have my kid watching YouTube with a friend than sitting in his room watching YouTube by herself. Watching content with friends is a form of (minor) socialization.
Anyway, "restricting" is not a synonym of "banning."
A healthy relationship with technology is a balanced one, but I don’t know how I’ll enforce it with my kid when I’m on my phone every second of downtime and so is my wife.
Totally. (Parent here, checking in..)
My kids get very limited screen time, and are expected to fill their life with art and activity that does not involve, at least not directly, cheap electrons. Expected, because its what we, their parents do by way of example.
And I'm damn proud of my kids now. They're the ones pointing out how their high-school is taken over by mobile-phone-zombies, utterly un-interesting and useless peers.
So, yeah. Its an epidemic. Kids don't need technology. It has been so for thousands of years, and I truly believe in an event horizon where there are limits to how involved in 'the next great thing' kids should be allowed be, and to engage.
I'm all for using computers productively. I'm not cool with 20 kids standing at the train station not talking to each other, not standing on the right side of the yellow line, not paying attention to the train that is about to push them off the platform, just so they can push a few pixels around. This is junkie dystopia, people.
> And I'm damn proud of my kids now. They're the ones pointing out how their high-school is taken over by mobile-phone-zombies, utterly un-interesting and useless peers.
When I was in high school I thought my peers ware un-interesting and useless too. :D
I've been struggling, lately, to figure out a way to be able to tell "different" from "worse."
Shit we did, because we had nothing better to do:
* drive around racing off stop lights. If this is reduced these days, that's probably good, since cars are way more powerful.
* drive around aimlessly listening to music
* toilet paper houses and other random vandalism
* go to movies
* watch tv
* play video games
* try to get laid
* light random things on fire
* screw around with computers (not in a particularly productive "learn to program" way - just learning a ton about soon-to-be-obsolete windows 9x maintenance and customization)
* chained three-way phone calls to get a big group conversation going
* watching music videos was pretty big
How much of that is really any better than dicking around on Snapchat, iMesssage, GroupMe, or whatever?
Note that I was both unproductive myself and disdainful of other teens. :)
At least you weren't just passively consuming. As monkmartinez might say, you were making the decisions and interacting with the physical world. If you wanted fun you had to make it.
> They're the ones pointing out how their high-school is taken over by mobile-phone-zombies, utterly un-interesting and useless peers.
Remember kids, the values I'm teaching you are the only right ones, and people who think otherwise are wrong and need to be avoided. Anyone who doesn't like what you like is uninteresting.
> I'm not cool with 20 kids standing at the train station not talking to each other, not standing on the right side of the yellow line, not paying attention to the train that is about to push them off the platform, just so they can push a few pixels around.
Neither is anyone else.
But then again, the objectionable part of that has nothing to do with the use of technology, or even the not talking. If kids were standing at the train station, talking to each other, and even physically interacting, and also not staying on the right side of the yellow line and not paying attention to the train about to push them off the platform -- behavior with kids in similar circumstances without technological toys have shown themselves just as likely to engage in as the scenario you describe -- I think it is equally problematic.
That’s an awfully cynical observation for a kid to make.
Kids are hilariously cynical at times because they haven't figured out how to say stuff nicely very often. My 9 year old cousin will say stuff that I would never say because he is saying it as it is, not as an adult would say it.
I dunno, I don't think its that cynical - they grew up, after all, with friends and peers who actually talk to each other, engage each other with play projects, do stuff outside with each other. I think its more that the situation is so dire, with the current new-teen generation, who expect an App-store like experience in their daily lives.
To arrive in high school, and nobody wants to talk about anything other than their Candy Crush score, or whether or not "Peer Y" has an "iPhone X", and so on .. this was a bit of a disappointment to my kids, raised as they were to have human interaction be a priority over technology and material possession.
Or they are just telling the parents what they want to hear.
>>> So, yeah. Its an epidemic. Kids don't need technology
How will they get interested in technology then. I suspect a lot of HH readers got into tech by actually using it first, either websites or games or whatever.
As a teenager who's into tech, this is how I feel every time I read these comments. When I was first learning to program, I didn't get support. I had parents complaining about how I use the computer too much. Had they been any more assertive, I wouldn't have been able to continue down that path.
From the outside, people like to say "screen time" as if it's all one thing and all of it's bad. But we've seen studies showing that video games help people develop real-life skills. Talking to people online is just social interaction. Cyber bullying, on the other hand, isn't all that different from the real thing. What I'm getting at is that using a computer or cell phone isn't so different from doing stuff outside with your friends. There's a whole world of things online and not everyone uses it the same way. Lumping it all into some big box of evil and taking it away from your kid is really just the same as locking your kid inside and only giving them the internet.
I'm in my twenties now but I had a pretty similar experience as a teen. it wasn't until I was in college easily crushing my CS courses that my parents stopped criticizing the amount of time I spent on the computer.
if they keep giving you shit, you could always try showing them entry level software engineer salaries on glassdoor.
I already have one foot out the door as I'll be heading for college soon, but I think they have grown to better understand my relationship with technology. When I placed in a school science fair with a computer project that I had stayed up working on for hours for a few weeks I gained some more trust/freedom in my computer use. I think that was a pivotal moment in my learning in some ways, just like how your CS course was.
Its not about making big lumps of evil. Its about having a productive attitude about technology.
My kids do have access to technology - they have laptops, and a small collection of video games. But they're not allowed to just zone out for hours on end, consuming pixels.
I gave them laptops so they'd learn what real computers are. And, they have! The (10 and 7 year old) kids are coding!
But there is a huge difference between this level of engagement, and that of the decadent-consumer-of-mobile-content that we've produced in the last 5 years. There's a huge difference between the endless hours I spent, typing in programs from magazines on my 8-bit systems in the 80's, and just downloading the latest pixel-blah on the No-friend-o.
Kids should have technology - but they should be given the opportunity to become masters of it, not slaves. That's the decision that has to be made, in my opinion, by the modern parent. Tech has evolved to enslave us - it also can serve. Kids who know how to make technology serve them and not the other way around, are the only hope for the future ..
>There's a huge difference between the endless hours I spent, typing in programs from magazines on my 8-bit systems in the 80's, and just downloading the latest pixel-blah on the No-friend-o.
I don't think that there is. Only a few years ago, I learned by typing in programs from YouTube videos and online forums. This doesn't mean YouTube and forums have eroded our culture; I think they are the new media and serve the same purpose as magazines. My success was because of my access to video games and the internet, not in spite of it, and in a different era it would've been through computer magazines and access to "toys" like the C64.
> I'm not cool with 20 kids standing at the train station not talking to each other
You probably don't want to take a vacation in Sweden then.
[...] their high-school is taken over by mobile-phone-zombies, utterly un-interesting and useless peers.
So, yeah. Its an epidemic. Kids don't need technology
I definitely restrict "passive" screen time - especially TV, but also youtube that just autoplays stuff - but I have less of an issue with more interactive things.
An example: my six year old loves Algodoo (a physics simulator) and builds all kinds of crazy stuff in it. I have no problem with him building and creating things (not all day of course) - It's the passive viewing of content without thought ir interaction that bothers me.
What are your thoughts on documentaries?
What do you guys think of this short read? http://www.artbrock.com/blog/those-kids-and-their-darn-gadge...
Didn't love it :).
Seems like the initial list of complaints he's responding to are chosen to be the most superficial (and easily argued against) ones.
And things like this:
"these self-assured statements are being made by Americans who spend an AVERAGE of 5 hours per day watching television,"
In articles like this, I'd prefer to see the author present the strongest possible case for the other side of the debate, and then argue against _that_. It doesn't make me want to examine his counterpoints very deeply if he's manipulating the argument by positioning the other side as foolish or easily disproven.
> Seems like the initial list of complaints he's responding to are chosen to be the most superficial (and easily argued against) ones.
Yet these arguments are very common. Once you get people to see that the superficial objections are wrong, only then can you start to discuss nuance... how much is beneficial? what kind of screen time? what games are okay and which are only dopamine triggers?
I restrict screen time, but I also am careful about what goes on the screen. The kid is more than happy is the selection, and I am happy to avoid some bad suggestion by the content algos.
I find just picking different projects and giving broad exposure to a number of different fields a better framework. Even if you are assisting them in a project, the exposure they gain builds confidence that they can carry on in that field if they so choose.
What do you mean by "getting into a little trouble somewhere down the street"?
> If that is getting into a little trouble somewhere down the street, so be it.
That sounds like a wonderful way to get killed by either the law or your neighbors if you're the wrong social status.
Giving children control doesn't mean anything goes. There's a huge difference between telling your children what to do and telling them what not to do. The problem is the former i.e. when parents schedule every minute of the day, telling their kids what to do. Laying down the law i.e. forbidding them from doing certain things can set healthy boundaries without telling kids what to do within those boundaries.
So yeah, no social media, no wasting away in front of a screen. They might disobey, but at least it is clear in their minds what the house rules are. Rationalizing permissiveness at home because ostensibly it lets you monitor them is precisely the wrong idea. It legitimizes the activity in their minds through your parental authority and is just another example of parental hovering.
The more widely we recognize the proper duties of parents, the more successful it will be since communities can reinforce the effectiveness of parenting. If all of my kid's parents ban the use of social media, it will be difficult for my child to make use of it at a friend's house.
P.S. Nice nick.
In a vacuum I agree. But the world isn't a vacuum. If I can encourage my children to experiment in a safe space and give them the skills they need to sort out what they are seeing, they are better off doing it under my supervision than under someone else's or no one's. I posted above about how my daughter sees advertising not as I did, but via influencers who are subtly pushing a product or lifestyle. A tween does not have the skills to discern this and if I can say "look, I know that you like this Youtuber, but you should understand that they don't necessarily like what they say they like", I can at least give them a lesson. I can't do that if I don't know what they are watching or doing.
I have no screen times in my house. I'm not opposed to the idea, but to call "quiet time", or "dinner time", or "bedtime" "radical digital downtime" is bullshit. If it is radical it's out of touch with modern life and if it's what most of us do anyway, it's just a marketing term to sell a book.
And I can't control other kids parents, I can't make them ban screen time or social media, I can only try to stay on top of what my kid is doing and try to teach. I do that by giving her the space to explore those things like I would give her the space to explore anything she might be interested in.
100% - I don't think this article responsibly differentiated between the ideas of boundary-setting and control. The author (I think) actually means to say that we should try and make kids anti-fragile by letting them make choices and exploring the consequences, within healthy & safe boundaries. But anyway thanks academia for turning this ancient parenting wisdom into a whole book we can overanalyze
For some reason, whenever I hear parenting advice (especially related to technology usage) and see that it's from someone my parents' age, I automatically stop listening. I feel like they are so far removed from the challenges of parenting in this decade that they have nothing to offer us. Not that our challenges are harder than theirs, but just that they're such a different set of challenges that we can't relate to each other.
"automatically stop listening" is of course what young people always do to their elders but once the shoe is on the other foot you'll realize the wisdom of all that outdated advice.
The details change but the basic patterns are eternally the same.
It feels like the difference between the parent as a judge and a guide and the parent as a manager and secretary.
My parents seemed to worry more about preventing kids from getting into trouble or making the wrong friends. My wife and I worry more about how to get them out of the house and make friends, period... and I hear this sentiment echoed every so often on HN (this being one of them).
How do you get teenagers to go outside and interact with other teenagers? That would not even be a question 30 years ago. The question would be how to stop them from doing so.
The advice I hear from the older generation so often just comes down to, "let kids be kids," but what about when you have to actually teach (and in some cases, force) kids to be kids? For my kids to have a healthy childhood, I almost have to create that childhood for them.
Possibly because the neighborhood is no longer considered "safe" for children to roam and explore.
Which is ironic because statistically it's dramatically safer than 20, 30, or 40 years ago.
Probably because no one goes outside! :)
Are you saying it's kids that make a neighbourhood unsafe?
There's no place for them to go anymore. My solution (since I don't have kids yet) is to try to live in, or make "places". Ie agitate my city to build plazas, public gathering places and walkable neighborhoods in the hopes that my kids will get to enjoy them when they're old enough.
The speed at which this has changing is ridiculous -- I have two kids that are about 12 years apart in age. In a decade, things have already changed dramatically; it was a small issue then but now it's an epidemic.
Yeah, it can be tough. We sometimes kicked our kids out of the house and didn't go out with them. It helps to have a yard and other neighborhood kids in that case.
...what young people always do to their elders but once the shoe is on the other foot you'll realize the wisdom of all that outdated advice.
My experience as a parent is that I have gone down the path towards intentionally deciding what philosophy I wish my children raised by. Random advice based on what others did is usually inapplicable. It is like receiving advice on discipline from someone who spanked their children. There is no point in even trying to explain to them why you think that what they did is wrong.
If I happen to get advice that fits, then great. I'll take ideas from anywhere. But I strongly doubt that I'll regret my choice to teach children what it looks like for them to be treated with respect, or to decide that it would have been wise to do all of the standard things that the previous generation did that left children without that.
"You'll understand when you're older" is something I heard from my parents a lot as a kid. And now that I'm older, I understand just how full of crap they were about that. I thought they were selfish and trite then, and they're no less selfish and trite today.
The basic pattern is that anybody who lives their life carelessly peddling slogans is an idiot.
"These are the moments when I wished I'd listened more to my mother"
"Ok, what did she say?"
"I don't know, I never listened..."
I think you've stopped listening too soon. The exact circumstances have changed but the challenges are the same. For my parents the challenge was keeping me away from TV and video games; I would have played computer games for 24 hours straight if they had let me. Given the portability of devices today the physical challenges for you are different but the emotional ones are the same.
I'd suggest there is a difference between parenting advice, and information about how children develop physically and mentally.
Sure, any jerk on the street can offer advice on parenting.
But humans are physical, deterministic meat machines. They work in a certain way, and that way does not change over a decade or two. The technology surrounding us does, but not the human. And there are people who study how humans work. It's worth listening to them on that subject.
This is why "Every generation thinks they invented sex". The underlying challenges of parenting aren't specific to a decade or technology and I'm guessing how my parents handled the Atari is applicable to how I will handle the iPad.
The reason it's recommended that kids under age two have zero screen time has nothing to do with the content though, it has purely to do with whether the rapidly changing imagery is increasing the risk for ADHD and damaging their executive function or whatever.
If this is true, next generation will be really interesting.
Every parent I have to talked to, says that Youtube and smartphones are the best thing for kids. Whatever we do, their kids are on the phones; restaurants, homes, car rides. And these are really young kids, some as young as 1 year old.
If their phone dies or there is network issue, these kids start to cry if it takes too long to fix the issue. I assumed this is normal for kids to demand constant entertainment or distraction. Now makes me wonder if this is other way around, and we are spoiling the kids by letting them watch TV/Youtube when they are too young.
Or if these parents give their kids phones only when with other adults.
As a new dad, all these things worry me. On one hand, I don't know if I can manage raising a child without smartphone. Why restrict something if there is no strong evidence against it (is there?). On other hand, why set a child for ADHD and other social issues just so that I can be lazy.
There is so much conflicting advice everywhere. I am reading "The New Father: A Dad's Guide to the First Year". EDIT: It does have a section on screen time and why AAP doesn't recommend any screen time for babies under 2 years old. Basically, same reasons as parent mentioned: cognitive control, but also motor skills are not developing as babies don't play with physical objects as much.
So, my 2-year-old daughter is naturally high energy and short attention span, like most 2 year olds I assume.
Now, I have never ever placed a phone in front of her during dinner. Occasionally I have had to employ "here comes the airplane" which is what my parents did, following their parents' "here comes the choo choo train", which I assume followed something like "here comes the horse and buggy" or the like.
I also have a friend with a daughter one year older. He tells me that he puts the phone in front of his kid during every dinner time because "it's the only way she will eat", and furthermore he has to pause the show so that she will chew, and then unpause the show as a reward for chewing and who knows what else.
I can tell you, my kid can eat her own food with no assistance and no complaints about half the time, and I think that's pretty good for age two.
In short, I think our parents had a decent idea of how to raise kids and we throw that out in exchange for new technology at our peril.
Research is still really early but signs are showing an impact. Here's a leading early childhood development pediatrician https://youtu.be/BoT7qH_uVNo
It's not just their executive function. It's their sense of time.
In much video, a cut happens every three seconds (I don't know if this is true for specifically children's video). This tunes their sense of time - if you don't like what you're looking at, in three seconds it will be completely different. That's not what life was like when I grew up; it's not what life was like for any generation before mine. It seems to me that there has to be some effects from this...
 A "cut" in video is an instantaneous change of viewpoint (so called because, back in the film days, the only way you could get it was by physically cutting and splicing the film).
Watching older movies and television shows today I'm struck by how much longer shots are and how there are so many fewer cuts. I'm sure that, to some extent, pacing in movies was dictated by the practicality of technology. Modern-day non-linear editing and digital production allows for more frequent cuts at a much lower expense. I wonder, however, to what extent there is a feedback loop occurring between audiences and directors that drives shorter shots and more cuts.
Here's a leading early childhood development pediatrician commenting on this exact point https://youtu.be/BoT7qH_uVNo
In this context, I should note that my "3 seconds" number was from the 1970s. Does anybody have a more up-to-date number?
WIRED did an article in 2014 that pegs the number at 2.5 seconds. Amusingly, the professor cited in the article has the last name of "Cutting", which makes the article a little jarring to read to me (since I keep seeing the verb "cutting" and thinking about "cutting together" a movie).
>> That's not what life was like when I grew up; it's not what life was like for any generation before mine.
Sure it was. I am in my mid-30s and that describes every single anime or cartoon I watched.
In addition to what Alex3917 said: I grew up 20 years before you. That's not what life was like for me growing up. For the generation before mine, well, they were growing up in the 1940s and 50s. Not many kids in the 50s were watching tons of video before the age of 2.
> I am in my mid-30s and that describes every single anime or cartoon I watched.
Not relevant unless your parents were showing you that before age 2.
I had always heard that it had to do more with the development of their eyesight. Young children need visual stimulus across a range of distances to reduce the risk of vision problems when they are older. It may by BS. I don't really know.
That might be true, but (iirc) it’s not the AAP’s stated reason for their recommendation.
As shown by which experimental studies? Or perhaps good epidemiology at least?
Decent epidemiology for the harms combined with other studies showing no benefit from screen time.
Anecdotal, but this smells like BS theory.
I grew up with nothing but a fuzzy PBS affiliate in very rural America in the 80s. Spent my time reading, building circuits and outdoors exploring. Get diagnosed with ADHD because I didn't want to do homework.
Both my kids got quite of bit of baby einstein and super simple songs in before they were two, and both are now a few years older, doing basic arithmetic, drawing shapes, and would build with LEGO or train tracks all day if we didn't have them go outside.
ADHD is one of those "We have no quantitative/causative insight as to what the deal is, so let's call a bunch of stuff ADHD, and fling theories at the wall to keep funding coming in."
Perhaps there are a lot of kids where the on-rails cultural approach we have is beneath their skills. I found public school to be a huge joke and waste of time. Dropped out high school as soon as I could, and am 40, near having enough saved to retire on $150k/yr (the only upside to the startup world; easy money).
I think the reality is we have no idea, but need to be convinced we do, and so we just case. It explains all the other historical delusions we built societies around in the past, but have since realized to be nonsense.
Eventually, future humanity will look back on today and laugh at the notions kicked about on HN and elsewhere as naive. But we sure believe.
When I was a kid I was mostly "self-driven". As in, whatever I wanted to do, it was pretty much okay with my mom-- barring stupid shit, you know.
The problem with this is that I desperately needed direction. I didn't really know what was possible for me to do, and so I tended to stick with what I already knew, especially because I was without an internet-connected computer as a young kid. I was never pushed to go beyond my comfort zone. If I didn't want to enroll in sports-- no problem. If I didn't want to do homework-- no problem!
From my perspective now, I think I would have greatly benefited from some decent structure and discipline. I have that now (er, it comes and goes) but I would have liked to have been taught how to swim before I was pushed into the freezing depths of adulthood without a lifejacket.
Almost as if you need a balance....
I cut the cable thinking that would make a difference, but youtube and Netflix have infinte content. Back in the days of broadcast only TV, you watch your show and its over, go play.
The main advantage to Netflix (and YouTube, with a Red subscription) is the lack of advertising. My kids probably see 1/20th the number of ads that I saw growing up.
My daughter, who's primary video consumption is on Youtube, has started to get to the age that she's concerned about fashion, decoration, etc. I realized that she's getting a lot of this from Youtube, not via direct advertisements, but via "influencers" who have been "encouraged" to place a product, either via money or free products. In some ways this is far more insidious. At least with ads you can learn to tune them out, it's a whole new skill to identify where you are seeing paid product placement.
^ this is just as bad. At least a lot of the youtube videos I watch are often sponsored by e.g. squarespace which is neutral enough. But those are unblockable ads, basically.
...just like a lot of cartoons were back when we were growing up, Transformers and He-Man and even Star Wars were all advertisements for toys (although in Star Wars' case the toys came after the movie. Still made them several times what the movies made them though).
No such thing as free content.
I don't know how old your daughter is, but young children haven't fully developed their cognitive skill to fully "understand" advertisements
>Basic developmental research on egocentrism and perspective taking, along with a great deal of evidence specifically examining developmental differences in the comprehension of persuasive intent within advertisements, establishes clearly that most children younger than 7–8 years of age do not recognize the persuasive intent of commercial appeals. However, there is far less research examining whether and at what ages children begin to appreciate that advertising messages are inherently biased or on when children begin to develop strategies to counteract the bias within these messages. It is clear that both of these abilities are dependent upon the child’s development of the ability to understand the persuasive intent of advertising, meaning that mature comprehension of advertising occurs no earlier than age 7–8 years on average.
But there used to be such a thing as free content.
Like the Flash animations I used to watch on albinoblacksheep and newgrounds in middle school, and early YouTube.
It's still around, and not necessarily less of it. But it easily get drowned out by the sheer volume of other content.
My son has managed to become obsessed with fashion brands from audio podcasts. It’s amazing how this stuff gets into the house.
Alas, that isn't the case. Your kids see 1/20th of the explicitly obvious ads, and probably 20x the product placements, Instagram "brand ambassadors", and other subtle tricks that advertisers devised to get past our ability to mental filter out clearly-marked ads.
Absolutely. But with a lot of Youtube content aimed at kids, Youtubers are definitely promoting products indirectly.
I guarantee your kids see just as many if not more ads than you did growing up. They may not look the same to you but they're there. Seriously, if you think ads have decreased over time then you've completely lost the idea of what an ad is.
I do the old-school thing of buying shows by episode on iTunes for this particular reason (even if the shows are available for "free" in Netflix or Amazon). My kid gets one new episode per week, and she only watches from the iTunes library, which is a self-throttle because it gets boring after a while because it's the same set of episodes. She also learns more from every show and can remember the name of species and their habitats etc way better because she has watched most shows dozens of times after some time.
You might also be forced to consume more challenging content because literally nothing else is on. I remember watching the original Star Trek on Sunday mornings as a young child because nothing else was on. If cartoons were on 24/7 I might never have explored that.
Agree, one thing I observe in many kids that have screen-time restriction is that they tend to sneakily watch at any chance they can find: at their friend house, at BestBuy, Target,.. you name it.
Since my daughter turned 3, I allowed her to watch 1 hour/day (2 hours during weekend), and have been very consistent to this rule. After a few weeks, she voluntarily turns off her iPad after the quota ends and plays with her toys, lego,... And she shows no desire to sneakily watch like other kids that being restricted, and never throws tantrum over it. I don't know if this is considered "self driven" but I'm very happy with the way she behaves.
Technology is part of our life, don't understand why parents chose to exclude it from their kids.
This assumes that kids would prefer watching digital video above all else. Just get a trampoline or something. The friends will come over.
If watching is what your kids truly prefer in life, then my view is that you're not going to change that.
Also an irony in criticizing both devalued community and people living at home in their twenties/thirties. In many (most?) non-American cultures, emphasizing collectivist/communal values goes hand-in-hand with living at home in your twenties, which is deemed perfectly normal. In fact, I would say it's more abnormal on a global scale to kick your kids out at 18.
Watching too much ipad or phone does impact the kids' eye sight. Also kids are super restless and angry when they are glued to a mobile device. Otherwise their behavior is normal.
The reason for amerikkkan kids' lazyness is that they realize and feel that life is easy in parasite amerikkka, sucking the toil of third world workers. The same for the sense of entitlement. And of racist beliefs of being smarter, more productive etc. As all amerikkkans on HN. For reference read the books by Zak Cope, John Smith, Samir Amin etc. On First World parasitism.
You're seeing it in a rather reductionist way, IMO
The goal is to get them to foster an internal sense of agency and imagination, etc.
TV is just the mind absorbing others creative endeavors.
Think like Bezos wife was recently quoted regarding their kids using knives: rather have a kid missing a finger than one who is incurious
I was self-driven by the book's description, enabled by unobtrusive parenting and a stable home life. But I also turned out really well by several objective metrics, and many of my peers in similar circumstances didn't.
As I think about how to parent, where you're supplying steady inputs into the system with many other inputs, I'm beginning to think we undervalue positive parenting contributions but overvalue its detrimental effects when the end result is unsatisfactory. We have vague ideas about what helps and what hurts, but every person is quite different, an any number of inputs, from genetics and inbuilt predispositions, to one random event or encounter or interaction can perturb one's mind and personality in complex ways. And all of these feed into the outcome: some judgmental, haphazard aggregate of metrics by which we -- and society -- judges new young adult's success.
This book seems to strike a tone of unobtrusive enablement much like what I received and avoids descending into the nihilistic spiral that I ponder a lot, but understandable most commercial works avoid.
In the 60's and 70's when I grew up, free-range kids were the norm. I turned out good, but some of my peers did not. I've felt for some time that for those that do well with free-range parenting, they turn out real well, but for those that don't they turn out really bad. The swings from good to bad with that method are really big.
With the current style of helicopter/over-scheduling parents, I feel the range of good-bad is much smaller. That is, the bad parts are more hidden and maybe even pushed off until sometime in adulthood; the good parts aren't very good, but because the bad parts seem minimized, it seen as an overall win.
As for the bad parts I'm talking about from my childhood, they included death much more frequently from random things. I knew kids that died from accidents ranging from getting hit by cars, to drowning at the reservoir that no one was supposed to swim at, etc. My son is 17 now, and I have never heard of anyone from his school dying. As for other bad parts, I didn't even mention some darker stuff, having to do with sex and drugs. Most of what I experienced, I should really say survived, just doesn't happen anymore. And I'm not talking about kids getting drunk or high at parties. Yes, that still happens in high schools in the US.
Then what are you talking about? Reading your post makes the 60s and 70s sound like a pretty kickin' time.
This book seems to strike a tone of unobtrusive enablement much like what I received
I think this works because of the unobtrusive part. Obtrusive enablement, or the protection from natural consequences, can stunt growth just as much as over-parenting.
You definitely want to protect your kids from mistakes that can end with them in jail or dead, but letting them skin their knees or suffer the consequences of being rude to peers allows them to feel the weight of their autonomy.
In my experience, the topic of parenting always elicits the worst case of "everyone in the room is immediately an expert". People are incredibly opinionated and judgmental about the subject, and often take a dismissive attitude rather than a learning attitude about it.
Part of the reason is as a population, we talk about parenting advice in a universal, context-independent way but the sheer amount of distinct situations in parenting makes it easy to poke holes in universal advice.
Another reason is that we each have our own experience of being parented (often not positive), and may subconsciously judge advice based on its potential to lead to a child experiencing the same bad experiences we had, rather than the overall objective merits of said parenting direction.
A third reason is that we underestimate the amount of negotiating, manipulating, and psychological back and forth that managing kids adds to parenting decisions. Even if the parenting direction is good, executing it properly is an entirely different matter.
Having said that - I agree with most of this article. Control or the illusion of it is a very strong ingredient for mental stability and confidence, especially in undesirable environments. Lack of control in a undesirable situation leads to a feeling of helplessness, which can have cascading effects on mental health.
That said, like most parenting advice, I don't think this qualifies as universal advice. It fits a large body of contexts, but there are several parenting situations I can imagine this having largely little to no effect in.
I find it tough to get my kids to socialize more without scheduling them especially on weekends. Daycare is good because they exercise and run wild. But weekends are hard because the kids are just not out there anymore, so you have to coordinate with other parents.
That sounds like more of a factor of where you live and whatnot than anything; I was fortunate enough to grow up in a normal sized town (~6000 inhabitants) and had friends living within walking / cycling distance (not to mention streets you could actually walk on). Not nearly as sprawled out as some cities / suburbs are.
You're an adult... lots of us grew up in towns like that but those same towns/neighborhoods are not like that anymore in the US.
I don't think that things have significantly changed in most towns and neighbourhoods. Things are actually safer now, especially since it's now conveniently cheap for everyone to give their kids a phone, so not only can you child ring you, you can also keep an eye on their location.
For the past 20 years, the media has been pushing this narrative that your children are going to get kidnapped, raped, and/or murdered if you leave them out of your sight. Fear sells newspapers.
Those towns exist all over, but I agree suburbia for our generation is not as attractive for other reasons.
Personally, I want to raise our son in a suburb and my wife doesn't. I do because my childhood was great in suburbia but there are major family and career trade-offs to do so.
Where do you live? We're raising our two year old in the city, and I wonder if it's easier to schedule things when other kids live close enough that you can just agree to show up at the playground at the same time that's a 10-minute walk from home.
It's even easier when kids live close enough that it's a one minute walk down the street. There are pros and cons to living in the suburbs but it's great for kids to be able to play and socialize with other kids
I don't see this as a problem. For my kids, if they get quiet time at home, and just play by themselves, I think that's a good thing. They shouldn't necessarily be engaged all the time, they need to be bored and pretend play.
It's tough in the transition age where some kids are still leading very restriced lives and others have more freedom. Once they are in their later teens things get a little easier when most kids get themselves around unsupervised.
In that age the kids have dual problems of many hours of "the pen" also known as school, potentially followed by extracurriculars which may or may not be at the same place, then transit times.
This is essentially the same problem parents face with extended commute times and workloads. Money can lessen these to an extent, huge money a lot more...
It is funny that you maker your kid get "downtime" while you cannot take any for yourself.
Only a chosen few are free and in control, that is the sad fact of modern life.
Since it sounds like they're getting plenty of socializing in on weekdays, is not getting it on weekends that much of a problem?
Self-driven children are the next logical step after self-driving cars.
Haha, such is life XD.
There's another irony in this. The authors say that children are stressed out, but most of this stress comes from anxiety exuded by people around them. And then they give us more things to be anxious about: screen time, lack of control, lack of independence.
My computer logs out after 15 minutes, and I really like it. It makes me plan more. I've been thinking of getting a cel phone battery that only lasts for 15 minutes too. By "me" I really mean "kids".
As a 18 year old starting my first year of college, this article has essentially pointed out every single fear and worry I have had in the last 5 months and given the direct cause of these thoughts. I had a hunch that the mindset of raising kids in the last decades where the cause of this, but it is quite releaving to see some facts behind it. I hope the upcoming generation of parents adapt these recommended parenting strategies, but I fear that the state of parenting is heading to more of an extreme in the opposite direction.
I feel like I had a lot of control in my childhood, because I actively resisted structure. With that said, even that structure wouldn't have helped much - I'm still a failure compared to most of the HN crowd (no Harker/Exeter/Andover, no Stanford/Harvard/MIT/Cal, no Google/FB/Pinterest).
Very few people here have any of those qualifications. Most of them just pretend to know what they're talking about (not that you need those qualifications for that). If you have any expertise in some small topic that comes up frequently, you'll start to see the cracks. People bullshit A LOT.
I think you've got a pretty high opinion of the HN crowd. What you described probably applies to <10%.
I probably do, but there's at least 1 Googler per thread it seems or 1 top school (at worst public ivy grad) talking about their tough coursework.
"And since the 1960’s, we’ve seen a marked rise in stress-related mental health problems in children and adolescents, including anxiety, depression, and self-harm."
"this problem has been increasing since the 1960’s because our culture has increasingly valued extrinsic and self-centered goals such as money, status, and physical attractiveness, and devalued community, affiliation, and the pursuit of meaning in life"
A great deal about the 60s was culturally disastrous.
Since the 1960's our ability to communicate with each other has significantly expanded. It's natural for everyone to end up a neurotic perfectionist when you can see every day what other people across the world are doing. Not so much when you only saw your friends and family in town and at home; your standards would be much lower then.
Ironically, the book, including the cheesy title, fits in a range of parenting books telling parents how to arrange their children's lives, making children an object rather than the subject once again.
Psychologists (and related specialists) could use more humbleness given the sad state of the science of psychology. Parenting advice, especially one argued in such biased way, is inevitably crude. Parenting is more nuanced, kind of like a conversation, always taking different path, shaped by family circumstances and objectives of everyone involved and frequently taking unexpected turns.
It is literally the job of parents to arrange their childrens' lives. For example parents have to provide food, shelter, clothing, health care, education, entertainment, and emotional support to children. They also have to create a schedule to fit all that into each day, plus leave sufficient time for sleeping (kids need a lot of sleep).
The question is, how best to do all that?
You're right that parenting is difficult and nuanced. You're wrong to use that as an excuse to tune out experts who study child development for a living.
The difficulty and complexity of being a good parent is a reason to seek information and input, not reject it.
The question to ask is whether the book is just shaping your understanding of what the child tells you or whether you are now listening more to the book than to the child. The books I have seen all argue for their preferred theory of what's good for children. Preferences of children (whether expressed eloquently or through tantrums or just inferred by the parent) are never considered. This book seems to be no exception.
As the first line says, it's about giving children more sense of control over their lives. Not more control, but more sense of control - it's not about reality but about their perception of it.
That's one of the many nuances here. You have to think about other things. When is illusion of control going to be harmful? When is the illusion going to crack? When is the illusion going to stick and become reality? When is increased control equivalent to removal of boundaries? When does it turn into abdication of parental responsibility? When does it reach levels of neglect? When is withdrawal from child's life going to make the child feel deserted?
There is no way to resolve these ambiguities upfront. You have to listen and observe. That's why parenting resembles conversation that is unique for every parent-child relationship and that evolves over time.
Following advice in this book or any of the many similar books is going to result in crude, clumsy parenting. Particularly so when authors argue for a side in order to stand out or to keep the book focused. That's why these books feel so artificial and kind of extremist.
Sense of control and control are not mutually exclusive and can bias either way. In fact a major issue in U.S. society today is that adults who actually do have a lot of control over their own lives, don't have a sense of control, and it leads to depression and anxiety.
The article is about parents creating space for kids to actually have more control, which will over time improve their sense of control.
It's not about fooling or manipulating kids. That's a pretty crazy interpretation that makes me wonder if you read it the whole way through.
see _Parenting with Love and Logic_ by Jim Fay.
Relevant bit here: give kids choices, yes, but you (the parent) limit the selection set to things you can live with them choosing.
Also known as the Locus of Control.
Recent HN thread on a similar topic:
Autonomy is the best motivator, not just for children.
Look at reward signals. Elementary through high school is a little sliver of what a collapsed marxist society looks like - no positive rewards signals just negative arbitrary ones. I was programming at 8 but apparently to be "well rounded" I had to do all this other stuff that non-coders deemed important. Meanwhile there was no "safe base" for me or anyone else who grew up poor.
But at least now I can also now see scams a mile away.
For instance, every company doesn't know the exact amount of money they will make this year, but every employee has a good idea. It's the same system only a little better implementation.
Forcing all the kids into assembly lines and scalping their autonomy is breaking people. It's taking away their ability to think. Which is nice for politics and propaganda, but it's bad if we want a free market with innovation.
Just the word Marxist is flamebait enough to make the downstream discussion about that. Could you please be more careful about not dropping lit matches in HN comments? We're all responsible for not setting this place on fire.
> I was programming at 8 but apparently to be "well rounded"
Well so was I (Turbo Pascal on DOS ftw), and thanks god responsible adults didn't let me sit in front of the PC all day, and made me learn languages, history, literature, philosophy, mathematics, science, etc.
I'm also straining to see how the adjective "Marxist" found its way on your rant. I fail to see the applicability.
I think it's far more likely that your interest in language, history, philosophy, mathematics, science, etc., stem from the same intellect, motivation, and curiosity that also lead you to program at a young age. Famous Renaissance polymaths did not go through compulsory Prussian-style liberal arts education systems, yet they contributed massively to multiple fields that had relatively little overlap. Were they just exceptionally exceptional; moreso than any exceptionally intelligent and curious person born today?
I've met plenty of one-dimensional people who have gone through a liberal arts education. More importantly, I rarely meet a "well-rounded" person who honestly attributes their entire base of knowledge to their education. At most, they'll say that they were first exposed to the idea through a course, but any sort of depth in any topic comes from intrinsically-motivated learning. That type of learning is undoubtedly held back when you make kids do stupid mind-numbing busy work at the pace of the lowest common denominator for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, 9 months out of the year, 12 years straight.
Did you go to private or public schooling?
In regards to reward signals it seems similar when collapsed. No ownership. No way to succeed through creativity. No way to escape a degraded too-large-to-fail system. Maybe there's a better word for it?
>No ownership. No way to succeed through creativity. No way to escape a degraded too-large-to-fail system
Sounds like the kind of soul crushing job school is preparing most children for.
High school did a great job of preparing me to work in an office. I had four bosses who all insisted that their pointless busywork was the most important, and they all demanded that I complete said work with no outside resources on an unrealistic schedule.
The Western paradigm of education has nothing to do with Marxism and everything to do with Industrialization. Education is an industrial process that mass produces a literate workforce.
In the US, our Industrial Education takes raw materials (uneducated kids), refines them on an assembly line (K-12) by a workforce (teachers), bound to various Quality Assurance processes (SATs, ACTs, etc) that affect their pay, supervised by a central management bureaucracy (the school board) that results in a yearly harvest (Graduation) of brand new workers. This supply of undifferentiated but educated laborers met the demands of manufacturing.
inb4 Education is failing blah, blah, blah...
Previously the large amount of manufacturing demanded a large homogenized manual workforce. As manufacturing moved elsewhere, the market demand for this labor diminished. Like any other large corporation, Industrialized Education is going through a slow decline as demand continues to drop off for it's primary product.
As this general market declines, the market for specialized and refined labor increased. Higher Education is the industrialized refinement for specialization. The end result is a specialized worker commodity. The Industrialization metaphor is even stronger as many of these universities are actual corporations competing to deliver a product for their markets.
> I was programming at 8 but apparently to be "well rounded" I had to do all this other stuff that non-coders deemed important.
That's because you were a raw commodity being transformed into a finished product. You don't ask a car whether it wants to be red. Management didn't ask if you wanted to be well-rounded.
To put it more generally, this is the experience of a sapient being in the process of commodification.
> Forcing all the kids into assembly lines and scalping their autonomy is breaking people. It's taking away their ability to think.
That's the whole point. It's refining a raw product into a finished good.
That's one cynical tour de force of western education in nutshell. Well done sir. Perhaps - the whole truth is a bit more nuanced? Could it be, that the tenents of professional management have seeped through society because people believe they must know what they are doing since they are professionals. Leading to overgrowth of industrial processes. Thus it is not the intent of the system design but merely the end result of looking it through the industrialists cold calculating lense (i.e. professional management) and using their toolkit?
If all you have is a hammer -, etc.
> Perhaps - the whole truth is a bit more nuanced?
Truth be told, Education is at once a deeply Enlightenment established good, a nationalistic and civic program, a method of reducing child labor, enculturation, an international competition (both pride and output), a pragmatic way of getting ahead for most of the population, as well as a medium of training a future workforce.
As such any program would be at the mercy of the prevailing cultural and political zeitgeist.
My critique comes from the more recent move of aggressive privatization of education (for-profit colleges, charter schools), combined with increases in standardization (No Child Left Behind, ACTs, and tying teacher pay to those outcomes) which both are relatively new phenomenon. I have a ~glorified opinion~ (hypothesis) that business leaders and politicians made sensible policy decisions based on observed improved output in businesses and factories, such that they both resemble each other after many reforms.
Additionally, we often hear about schools failing to educate kids. But this recent study brings together and asks; How many are performing above their grade? They drew this conclusion:
> Currently, the evidence suggests that between 15% and 45% of students enter the late-elementary classroom each fall already performing at least one year ahead of expectations. Our initial question – How many students are learning above grade level? – needs to be extended. The more important questions may be:
> 1. How should we reorganize our schools, now that we know that large numbers of these students exist?
> 2. How can we best meet these students’ learning needs, if they already have mastered much of the year’s content before the year has even started? And lastly,
> 3. How can schools balance the potential for excellence against the need to achieve basic
proficiency, when the variation in student achievement within classrooms and schools is so vast?
Lastly, I must admit I wrote that as a counter-polemic of OP's original post.
> Elementary through high school is a little sliver of what a collapsed marxist society looks like
Wait, what? How the heck does Marx come into this?
Do you have any idea what the history of education is? Assembly-line education is a product of the Prussian military, Marx has nothing to do with that.
I don't want to speak for OP, but I think his point in referencing Marx is that our education system revolves around the collective and that the values and needs of the individual have been lost.
It's stupid to reference Marx in that context; institutions focussed on common centralized interest predate Marx by approximately the entire age of civilization on Earth.
But neo-Marxist class warfare (most commonly referred to as identity politics in the zeitgeist) is absolutely about diminishing the value of the individual in favor of elevating historically oppressed groups.
Better to recognize that subjection to evil and suffering are universal, and the best way to combat them is through individual growth and responsibility - something modern education is severely lacking.
> neo-Marxist class warfare (most commonly referred to as identity politics in the zeitgeist)
Identity politics is basically a
distraction (sometimes intentional, sometimes not) from development of proletarian class identity, a prerequisite for Marxist (neo- or otherwise) class warfare.
Now, it is clearly, when engaged in by the pro-capitalist neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party (and, also, in the White/Christian identity politics form frequently practiced by the Republican Party, though the people practicing that often rail against identity politics and would never acknowledge engaging in it), an element of class warfare, but by the bourgeoisie against the proletariat; that's more anti-Marxist than neo-Marxist, though, so it still doesn't jibe with your description.
lol, identity politics is almost the opposite of neo-Marxist class warfare. In fact very wealthy people love identity politics (over issues such as poverty, homelessness, taxes, government) because it doesn't threaten their way of life. Why do you think some of the most esteemed universities are so focused on it? Because it's just the right amount of palatable for wealthy people, without making them feel bad about themselves; they'll never voluntary relinquish their wealth, but sure they'll learn your pronouns
Well then the educational system certainly has failed OP when it comes to history lessons.
Respectively - merely coding is not very value adding. Knowing what to code, and why, and how, are. That well rounding is trying to set you up for success. "Just coding" does provide capital sustenance but does not enable one alone to develop into the best version of themselves.
Also - knowing stuff that you don't like is still knowing stuff.
Some people are natural autodidacts, but the school system does not start from the root constraint that everyone can learn by themselves.
I was programming at 8 but apparently to be "well rounded" I had to do all this other stuff
I think restricting education from the age of 8 onwards based on what a given 8-year-old likes at that point is just asking for trouble.
Not what OP said. You can totally give them freedom while providing some guidance. Instead of siting in class, let them read things they are interested in.
When I was 8 I'd have only read books on dinosaurs, baseball, and the Legend of Zelda. It took me until halfway or more through college to realize I really liked programming, way more than I did my other majors I'd invested considerable time and money in (medicine, politics). Kids, especially 8-year-olds, need a lot of guidance and need to learn the fundamentals.
I'm very glad my parents and teachers worked hard to make me learn things I had no intention of learning, like math.
Perfect! Now design the math curriculum so that it steers you towards game development (this would be individual) and you have a good educational system.
How would you determine which kid to steer towards what? Nobody will like all of the fundamentals but that is just how things are. For me the biggest determinant factor for whether I liked a subject or not was the quality of the teacher. However "make teachers better at teaching" is not really a scalable solution.
They pick themselves?
You don’t really need teachers.
I believe that much of the unemployment problem for people with higher education diplomas is because people have to choose their career around 14-18 years old and fail to do the right choice. I do not think that pushing this to an earlier age is a good idea.
I have also worked with people who came from the modern "sans-teachers" schools. They were terrible. My impression is that such education reinforces pre-concieved notions of the students, and if they are bad they will just turn worse.
> I believe that much of the unemployment problem for people with higher education diplomas is because people have to choose their career around 14-18 years old and fail to do the right choice.
...and also the fact that school is very inefficient. Like out of each 45 minute block, I would say that only like maybe 20 minutes is spent productively. Like I think that during one school day, you waste over 50% of the time.
> I have also worked with people who came from the modern "sans-teachers" schools. They were terrible.
The same can be said about people who came from with-teachers school.
> design the math curriculum so that it steers you towards game development
And suddenly 95% of 5th graders are doing math curriculums with a specific focus on game development. Games and gaming are tremendously appealing to young kids over nearly everything else.
No, design the curriculum so that it's pick your adventure.
Let them read things they are interested in? Yes
But kids don't know much about the world. Their interests will change. They need to be introduced to many (basic) subjects even if they fail to see the long-term benefits of the tools they learn.
The alternative is ineffectively shoving shit down their throat?
I'd say its more of a broad taste-test of various shit varieties. From my recollection, grade school didn't go too deep on any one subject.
> every company doesn't know the exact amount of money they will make this year, but every employee has a good idea
Do I understand you correctly that you consider this to be Marxism? It's not. It's the free market re-allocating risk and reward. Maybe you should consider the possibility that there are worthwhile things to be learned in disciplines other than programming. You should maybe ask yourself: if your scam detector is producing false positives, how would you know?
Upon first reading the title, I thought this was about putting unattended children in self-driving cars :)
> the rise of depression and anxiety since the 1960s (as mentioned in the article), the point in time at which civilization made personal freedoms a top priority, seems to hint at that.
This bodes ill for the future when a good chunk of the remaining jobs will be automated away for good to be replaced with unstructured free time.
It reminds me of a recent article I read about a girl that suffered from anxiety unless she is creating cosplay costumes. It struck me that the particular activity probably had less to do with the solution than the fact that she had something to do.
Kids have less unstructured time than in a few generations. And they often have little saw over how that time is structured. And that structured time is usually spent on pointless exercises determined by adults. They aren't helping grandpa on the farm and they aren't reading comic books with their friends in a tree fort. They're being ran around by their moms to whatever sport or activity she can find to make them more socialized.
Or to look good on application forms
> I think what you'd basically find in a survey
This is a flimsy setup for your conclusions, which you seem confident about. Do you have data from an actual survey?
Your survey doesn't make sense. The answer for "More" freedom apparently involves more constraints?
self reported opinions polls are the very definition of an unrepresentative poll http://methods.sagepub.com/reference/encyclopedia-of-survey-...
Just as an FYI, that seems to be behind a paywall.
Something to keep in mind when studying statistics on the prevalence og psychological issues, particularly in children, is chronic underreporting in the past. We're paying a lot more attention to our kids now than we used to, and from what I understand, in many cases the higher prevalence of some issues is likely to just be a case of us only recently paying attention.
> the 1960s (as mentioned in the article), the point in time at which civilization made personal freedoms a top priority
Lots of things happened in the 60s. One of them was the first generation being raised by parents who may have spent a significant portion of their childhood living under the Cold War threat of an imminent nuclear holocaust, who then went on to raise their own children.
The "rise" of depression and anxiety is similar to the "rise" in things that are now declared autism. Bullshit.
In 1960, half of the population had a limited number of roles easily available to them: housewife, secretary, nurse (both until marriage), servant. Most of the non-white population was diverted to specific cul-de-sacs in terms of place in society.
Do you think these folks were overflowing with joy and purpose? They did not. Google "female hysteria", a condition that was treated with prescriptions for vibrators, narcotics or institutionalization.
I wonder how you would study that question (about how much freedom results in optimal happiness across the population). I'd be surprised if it evenly resolved into even thirds.
So you're reasoning about the invented results of an imaginative survey and reaching conclusions from that, then promulgating them with total confidence?
How do I make a 12 weeks old the next chloe kim/barack obama?
Spend a lot of time identifying early talents, do high school competitions related to those talents, get them into a top school and then just see what happens after that.
The "top school" thing seems pretty key to me, tbh.
Are video games still considered an addiction by someone?
Yup, by me.
Source: I'm 32 and if I could I'd spend all my time playing video games. This hasn't changed much from back when I was a kid. Doesn't help that games are so much better nowadays either.
FACTORIO IS CRACK COCAINE. Just cheaper and with less withdrawal effects.
Same here. I always wonder in conversations about UBI... I'm a fairly productive person because I have to be, but given the option I would drop off the grid and crush candies ALL DAY.
If I'm not careful, I can easily spend as much time playing games as I do at work. Video games are absolutely an addiction for me. Can't get enough. I'm just like you--I'd play them all the time if I could get away with it.
I find them much less interesting these days that I used to when I was in my 20s. I'm not sure if it's because the games are better or worse -- I haven't found games as engaging as Thief or Deus Ex since those old days -- but I rather suspect it's because there's nothing at stake.
I don't walk away with anything other than the experience. The experience needs to be pretty excellent throughout, and in particular grinding and filler needs to be kept to a minimum.
Factorio is terrible, the developers must have all TN displays, that's how dark it is on my superior IPS display.
Gotta go, my dwarfen outpost needs me for some more FUN.
Video games certainly can be addictive, just like gambling. That doesn't mean everyone who gambles is an addict, just like everyone who drinks isn't an alcoholic or plays the slots isn't a gambling addict. They certainly can be and worryingly they are increasingly designed to be addictive.
It CAN be addictive. I have a friend who spends all his free time playing an iPhone game - even when we're hanging out at a bar he has it turned on and he glances at it to make sure his character is leveling up. He also spent $10k plus on game items. I'd say he's very much addicted.
WHO adds gaming disorder in ICD-11 (as 6C71).
Anything can be an addiction.
I knew this guy who was addicted to semicolons.