[MEDIA] Talking Screen-time and #DigitalDetox with @PremierRadio

[MEDIA] Talking Screen-time and #DigitalDetox with @PremierRadio

There’s been a couple of news stories recently that Premier wanted to talk to me about, including:

I spoke to them on Bank Holiday Monday on Inspirational Breakfast

You can hear the whole episode on Premier.

Some of my notes:

  • It’s their social portal, where their friends are (inc because we won’t let them out and about as much), they are often SOCIALISING – Marcus Leaning – the notion that computers are somehow ‘virtual’
  • There’s a consistent media narrative – negative, addictive, refuses to look at the possibilities – most pieces have one line that ‘of course there’s good stuff, but look at all this bad stuff’… so far as some people – and not just going to say young people are concerned – our phones are somewhat of a Swiss knife!
  • Extract from current journal article writing: Within the disciplinary society, power is dispersed and hidden in processes of conformity present in different places of society, functioning through different institutions. Whilst Foucault was talking about normalisation at a national level, as a response to rationalities of governance, when considering online spaces, we might consider normalcy and expected behaviours to differ with the differing identity of online spaces. Normation processes constitute what one has to conform and strive for, measured against a fictional norm: to be ‘normal’ is to be ‘invisible’ in terms of blending in, rather than ‘abnormal’ in a deficient way (Masa, Timan & Koops, 2017, 17). The pressure to conform comes from various institutions, and one of the most powerful institutions of a digital age is Google, which seeks to ‘organise all the world’s information’, shaping what is contemporary knowledge via algorithms. Google has become so naturalised ‘it no longer seems to have an origin. It’s as if it always was – and therefore always will be – a part of us’ (Hillis, Petit & Jarrett, 2012, 3). With over six billion search entries a day, Google is used as the default search engine by over 77% of internet users (Allen, 2017). Google’s knowledge is shaped via human-written algorithms: it shapes the world’s knowledge as its results define what is normal for users. As Graham and Sengupta highlight (2017), however, the content, and search algorithms, reflect a geographical and gendered bias more widely recognisable offline: reflecting rich, western and male privilege. Early optimism about the revolutionary potential of the internet may have been misplaced, as we brought many ‘habits, inclinations and prejudices… endemic to society as a whole’, and it is now ‘its very pervasive ordinariness that gives the internet its significance’ (Miller, 2011), as digital etiquette has emerged. Campbell (2012) establishes how academic interest in digital religion has also shifted from studying the internet as an isolated phenomenon, to understanding it as a ubiquitous part of everyday life, including the religious aspects of life.”
  • Try replacing phone with ‘book’, TV, or whatever else and see where you have the same angst about how much time – consider what is on a phone – social connections, books, catch-up TV & box sets, games *listen to Andy Robertson last week on what young people can learn from this, maps, diaries, banking, to-do lists…
  • Games developers should be looking at where they are building in addictive behaviours … but also we can learn from this – gamification in education, ‘learning streaks’ for e.g.. language learning, Pokemon has got me out and about in the midst of cancer treatment, reminded me to take my drugs – givens me hours of connection (and something to do in the waiting rooms – and don’t let’s pretend that we Brits want to talk to other strangers – well, I do, but not everyone does!)]
  • Seems to find it problematic less people are listening to the radio … but then says many more are listening to podcasts (certainly something I’ve got into more!)… there’s a certain amount about perception!
  • Struggle with the idea that so many people ‘perceive’ that they are addicted, etc. and that is given that these people are then addicted – many may have poor behavioural habits OR but that does mean they are!
  • Also from current journal article:“Much media discourse around digital and social media is negative, claiming that it is all a ‘waste of time’, and simply provides a space for poorly-managed conflict. Within society, especially religious cultures, the ‘protestant work ethic’ has infected the discourse (van Hoorn, A. & Maseland, R., 2013, 10). The notion that users may be wasting time, assumes that all users use it the same way, and use it negatively (Goldsmith, 2016). It signifies the moral panics that accompany every new technological development: ‘If modern people worry over whether digital electronics threaten to corrupt religious experience, their grandparents worried about the intrusion of electrical light into sacred spaces, and their great-grandparents debated the permissibility of musical instruments for worship’ (Adam, 2012, 5). Adam identifies that socially permissible uses of technology are for clothing, shelter, and food preparation, and that any use for entertainment, comfort and self-indulgence is deemed impermissible (2012, 7). There is no doubt that online content is full of triviality, but no more than in everyday conversation amidst stages of relationship formation, where surface conversation topics help establish trust, defined by McCormack (2018) as ‘weak ties’, leading to ‘strong ties’ amongst mountain biking communities.”
  • IS it time for a “digital detox”, (digital is now embedded in our lives – we are assuming all things digital are the same, and largely bad – we def need to think, but need more nuance about what we are doing and when)…
  • how and when should we be online, (when is it helpful, what do you need to learn/know, why might you be expected to interact with others just because you happen to be physically together, but if you are physically together then should be – that doesn’t mean don’t end up using phones – we often have a online/offline convo searching something together, etc. like that art picture … mobile devices fine, at least interactive – though of course brings other concerns – for children = conversation!
  • how can we protect ourselves from getting lonely using social media etc. (it’s all about how we use it – see the benefits e.g. for those who are disabled – lots of technology is enabling, for those on the autistic spectrum – use online/offline) … those who are using social media as some kind of barrier/mask, etc. are likely those already struggling – amplifies what is already happening. I find SocMed makes me less lonely – especially if my drugs are keeping me awake in the middle of the night and find someone else in my cnacer group who’s also up… also actively use it to arrange to meet up with people, include people in my life – including hospital, kitchen refit, etc
  • See as DIFFERENT aspects of one life – have been challenging people to move from virtual/real to online/offline, but even that is not necessarily a helpful distinction – in the past, kids talking about a parent who wrote a book said it was like talking about how to write with a pencil.
  • See evidence just accepted for Parliamentary Select Committee http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/science-and-technology-committee/social-media-and-mental-health/written/81107.html
  • About behaviours, choices WE make (noting that ‘we’ is not just an individual choice, but a cultural choice, affected by those around us, those who create the platforms and algorithms that we engage we). We need to be critical users, but also campaigning to make the spaces more fit for positive purposes and not just letting e.g. Facebook say ‘well, you CAN do that, but it’s your choice’, if they’ve made that the easy default choice.
  • Always too easy to ‘blame the tech’, when we may need to look more deeply at the reasonings – if we assume it’s the tech, then we’re not looking at any other issues…
  • See Raising Children in a Digital Age – pp180-181: As technology has affected our leisure time, so it also makes it more difficult for teenagers and adults to break off from other aspects of life, including work. Professor Sherry Turkle, author of Alone Together, believes that digital media affect our ability to give full, undistracted attention to each other or to our thoughts. She claims that lack of disconnected downtime disrupts ties to other people and adds emotional stress. In conversation with eighteen-year-olds, she asked when they last were able to be free of interruptions, but they didn’t see digital media as interruptions but as the beginning of connections. Research indicates that a large number of teenagers would love to be able to unplug, especially as they feel that their online communications are being so heavily monitored. A significant number, however, said that this would make them feel more stressed, because they have invested so much time in their “digital space”, and even more because their parents fear letting them out of the door. Some have tested extreme detoxes. Susan Maushart, writing for the Daily Mail, undertook a six-month “technology blackout” for her entire family, which she viewed as a consciousnessraising exercise rather than a long-term strategy.7 Paul Millar, a technology journalist, disconnected from the internet for a year but found that, after the initial feeling of “freedom”, he picked up other bad habits. He ignored his post and his friends, allowed the dust to gather on his exercise equipment, failed to turn boredom into creativity, and sat and did nothing. On analysing this for an article for The Verge magazine, he was able to make more informed technology choices once he reconnected.
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Digiexplorer (not guru), Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing @ Manchester Metropolitan University. Interested in digital literacy and digital culture  in the third sector (especially faith). Author of ‘Raising Children in a Digital Age’, regularly checks hashtag #DigitalParenting.

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