BALL, A. (2012, November 11). A Life Unplugged. New York Times. p. 1.
Aimee L. Ball describes how several families tolerated the power outage after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in October 2012. Families were forced to endure days, weeks, even months without their electronic devices. For many teens and preteens, it was the very first time in their lives that they were entirely off the grid. They could not text, watch TV, play video games or log onto social media sites. Face-to-face conversations and actual personal visits resulted. Children discovered board games such as Monopoly and Clue. One mother even brought out a deck of cards, but her son wasn’t sure what to do with it. And one teen resorted to studying for a test on state capitals by using a childhood jigsaw puzzle. This eye-opening and at times amusing article forces us to step back and examine our dependency on digital technology. It makes us stop and think of the pronounced differences in the way families interact before the digital age as opposed to current times, and it forces us to question what we are missing when we are all “plugged in.”
Barreto, S., & Adams, S. K. (2011). Digital technology and youth: A developmental approach. Brown University Child & Adolescent Behavior Letter, 27(6), 1-6.
This article by Steven Barreto and Sue K. Adams addresses the widespread use of the Internet, cell phones, social media and video games by children ages preschool to teen. It discusses how digital technology can be very useful in education, personal growth and recreational experiences for children, but it stresses the importance of parental supervision in order to avoid negative impacts. This article is very helpful in identifying the possible risks of digital technology for the youth, such as digital dependence, reckless sharing of information in public forums, plagiarism and cyber-bullying behavior, and it also presented tips on how parents can manage their children’s use of digital technology based on age group (preschoolers, school-age children, teens and young adults).
Bittman, M., Rutherford, L., Brown, J., & Unsworth, L. (2011). Digital natives? New and old media and children’s outcomes. Australian Journal Of Education (ACER Press), 55(2), 161-175.
This article reveals the results from studies of different types of media exposure on Australian children ages 0 to 8 years. The researchers differentiated between “older media” (TV) and “newer media” (computer and internet), and its effects on the children’s cognitive development, vocabulary, reading and writing skills. Certain variables such as socio-economic status and the mother’s education were taken into account. The researchers’ findings suggested “that at certain stages of a child’s development there is an association between language and computer access.” This information is helpful in understanding the way children develop cognitively.
Bond, M. (2014). Friends in high-tech places. New Scientist, 222(2970), 40-43.
Now that social media sites have been around for years, with Facebook being the original one started in 2004, researchers have done various studies on the effects of these sites on friendship. Michael Bond’s article focuses on the impact of technology on friendship trends. Some studies have revealed that the use of the Internet, cell phones and social media is increasing social isolation, and the average number of close friends in the United States and Great Britain is declining. Most of us can now stay in contact with a large number of “extra” people via social media, to whom Bond refers to as “weak ties,” those being high school or college friends, past and present work colleagues, casual acquaintances, people met travelling, friends of friends, and occasional strangers. Social media has allowed us to maintain a “relationship” with these weak ties, when before today’s technology we would have allowed them to fade away. However, Bond reveals that new research has shown that Facebook can actually improve the quality of distant relationships, and that the biggest reason for using social media sites is the need for friendship. This article is helpful to my research in that it presented both the positive and negative effects of social media on friendship, but it also is a reminder that we as human beings rely on just a small number of close friends for the necessary social needs of warmth and belonging.
Fischetti, M. (2014). The Networked Primate. Scientific American, 311(3), 82-85.
Scientific American’s interview with Sherry Turkle, a sociologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, reveals Turkle’s work from interviews of hundreds of people and their interactions with digital devices. Turkle states that our “always on, always on you” environment is negatively affecting relationships and some basic human strengths that we need to thrive. Today many of us are uncomfortable with the notion of being alone, and our capacity to be alone is disappearing. In observing hundreds of people going about their everyday lives, Turkle noticed that people tend to look at or fiddle with their phones when waiting for the bus, standing in a grocery store line, or whenever there is an opportunity for down time. We are so immersed in our digital devices that we now hand them to our very young children, but it is children who especially need solitude. Turkle stresses that children who do not learn to be comfortable with solitude or inner reflection tend to have a difficult time forming true relationships later in life. Technology today has forced us to “crowd source” our lives and expect more and more out of it. Sherry Turkle’s findings are relevant to my research in that her work involved everyday people, and she explains how technology has influenced the ways we interact in our relationships. Yet Turkle is hopeful that today’s children will grow up to set limits resulting from their own negative experiences in today’s digital world.
Hertlein, K. M. (2012). Digital dwelling: Technology in couple and family relationships. Family Relations, 61(3), 374-387. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2012.00702.x
This is an in-depth article where Hertlein describes in detail the many aspects of how digital technology affects relationships and family life. She discusses many topics, including:
- Changes to the structure of a relationship.
- Changes to the process of a relationship.
- Defines the ambiguity of using digital technology (“the definition of problematic behavior varies between people.”).
- The social context of computer-mediated communication, which allows a person to act differently from their “real” self as opposed to their “ought” self (such as sexual chatting on the internet).
- The redefinition of boundaries between online and offline social relationships, and how these blurred boundaries can interfere with couples and family functioning.
- The redefinition of intimacy.
- Relationship maintenance.
Hertlein’s insightful and eye-opening article is packed with useful information that helps to understand how digital technology has influenced the dynamics of couples and families today.
Padilla-Walker, L. M., Coyne, S. M., & Fraser, A. M. (2012). Getting a high-speed family connection: Associations between family media use and family connection. Family Relations, 61(3), 426-440. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3729.2012.00710.x
In this article, Padilla-Walker, Coyne and Fraser report on the results of several studies regarding the use of electronic devices between family members. The studies were based on the use of media such as TV and video games, cell phones, email and social networking sites. Several factors influenced the outcome of the studies such as the age of the children, level of income and education, and socio-economic status. However, contrary to my initial belief, most of the studies revealed that use of electronic devices today is associated with high levels of family connectedness.
Schofield-Clark, L. (2013, June). Rethinking the role of digital media in family life. Parenting in a Digital Age. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/em/126399
Schofield-Clark discusses how parents today of young children are more comfortable using digital technology than the previous generation of parents. She reveals the results of a survey done of 2,300+ parents of children ages 0-8, and how the survey has divided parents into three categories of media use: the Media-Centric, Media-Moderate, and Media-Light. She acknowledges that there is a correlation between media-use and level of income, and that the responsibilities of parents have shifted more into terms of time management. This article confirmed my belief that parents today use digital technology much more than parents of previous generations, but I was surprised to learn that today’s parents did not feel that current technology did not make parenting any easier.
Steiner-Adair, C., Barker, T. (2013). The big disconnect. Protecting childhood and family relationships in the digital age. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
In this book, Steiner-Adair and Barker convey their findings from studies done from their clinical work with parents and children. With today’s reliance on technology, the authors examine how digital devices are replacing human contact and interaction, and how it is negatively affecting family relationships. This book offers advice on how to halt the technological revolution from invading the necessary significant contact between children and their parents.
Thompson, P. (2013). The digital natives as learners: Technology use patterns and approaches to learning. Computers & Education, 6512-33. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2012.12.022
This article reported on the results of a study done on 388 freshmen at a large Midwestern land grant university to determine whether the current generation of students, completely surrounded and immersed in digital technology (“Digital Natives”) think and learn differently than previous generations. It explains why Digital Natives are labeled with a distinct set of learning habits and behaviors, defines “neural plasticity,” and presents in detail their learner characteristics (such as a “desire or perceived need to multi-task,” “craving for speed and inability to tolerate slow-paced environment,” and “expectation for immediate feedback and ‘payoff’”). Among some of the research findings, one particularly interesting one revealed that not all Digital Natives are proficient on all digital technology tools, but the range of technologies that the students use may be fairly limited. This in-depth study focuses on the learning style and abilities of students labeled digitally proficient, with the outcome of some results being not quite what I expected.