Gadgets | The Flip Side

As promised, here are some people and organizations that suggest our preoccupation with gadgets is dangerous … more dangerous than we think.

As noted on the previous page, working on the children’s zoo project for the Dallas Zoo back in the mid-1990s made me acutely aware that children are losing touch with nature. But it is also true that children and families need “safe” places to visit to enjoy wildlife, and to build an appreciation and greater understanding of it. If children do not develop an appreciation for nature, there are consequences.

  • K. J. Dell’Antonia posted in The New York Times, “Turn Off That TV and Go Outside and Play” (January 10, 2013). “Going outside, though, and spending significant amounts of time there, is worth it. When Prof. David Strayer, who studies cognition and neural science at the University of Utah, noticed that he felt less creative and thoughtful after days in his lab than he did in the woods, he did what comes naturally to professors of neural science: he put together a small but striking study.” You might consider following K. J.’s blog, Motherlode: Adventures in Parenting for more insights along these lines.
  • George Monbiot in The Guardian has written, “If Children Lose Contact With Nature They Won’t Fight For It” (November 19, 2012): “So where are the marches, the occupations, the urgent demands for change? While the surveys show that the great majority would like to see the living planet protected, few are prepared to take action.”
  • Regarding those in the workforce, Oliver Burkeman of The Guardian has written for Business Insider, “Even Short Engagements with Nature Boost Productivity” (March 17, 2013). Oliver notes, “… a clutch of recent findings have begun to demonstrate how even the tiniest kinds of engagement with nature deliver a psychological boost. When you can’t climb mountains, it turns out, merely blurring the boundary between indoors and out may suffice. Office workers who glimpse a tree or two are both happier and more productive; in one analysis, of a university building in Oregon, workers on the greenery-facing side took 19% fewer sick days.”
  • Todd G. Buchholz and Victoria Buckhholz wrote a thought-provoking article in The New York Times (March 10, 2012), “The Go-Nowhere Generation.” They note:

“Perhaps young people are too happy at home checking Facebook. In a study of 15 countries, Michael Sivak, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute … found that when young people spent more time on the Internet, they delayed getting their driver’s licenses. ‘More time on Facebook probably means less time on the road,’ he said. That may mean safer roads, but it also means a bumpier, less vibrant economy.”

  • Here is a new book you might want to read, “Raising Digital Families for Dummies” by Amy Lupold Bair. A helpful review comes from the blog, Colorado Moms (April 30, 2013). “My kids are very plugged in. From iPod to iPhones, laptops to online playing with the playstation, it seems they are online, or have the ability to be, at every moment of the day. Teaching them, and myself, how to properly use the internet, keeping them safe and keeping up with the technology is no easy feat.”
  • On a personal note, I once worked with the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas, which oversees numerous counties and which is based in San Antonio, Texas. Here is an article from Reflections magazine, “Breaking Out of Babylon” by Rev. Lera Tyler (Fall/Winter 2011). “In spite of our many gadgets and machines to do much of our daily labor, in spite of all the computers to assist us in thinking, we are a weary and anxious people.” Rev. Tyler makes a persuasive case for observing the Sabbath, and taking a break from our “gadgets.”

I find my regular visits to the gym to be essential to good health and a positive attitude.

Donna begins, “I’m standing up while writing this. Why? Because I’ve just been reading research from the last few years about the serious health risks of spending too much time in the day/week sitting down.” The article provides advice for those of us who sit and work on computers all day long.

“Sitting requires little to no energy expenditure, ‘calorie burning drops to one per minute,’ greatly reduces activation of low back muscles, ‘electrical activity in the legs shut off, enzymes that help break down fat drop by 90 percent.’ After two hours, good cholesterol levels drop by 20 percent and after 24, insulin effectiveness drops by 24 percent; your risk of developing diabetes rises. ‘People with sitting jobs have twice the rate of cardiovascular disease as people with standing jobs.'”

  • From another reputable source, Pew Internet Research Project, come results of a telling study, “The Internet as a Diversion and Destination.” The study concludes, “Internet users of all ages are much more likely now than in the past to say they go online for no particular reason other than to pass the time or have fun. Some 58% of all adults (or 74% of all online adults) say they use the internet this way.”

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“But ‘we already know that the Internet and certain forms of computer use are addictive,’ says David Greenfield, PhD, a West Hartford, Conn., psychologist and author of Virtual Addiction: Help for Netheads, Cyber Freaks, and Those Who Love Them …. Computer technologies can be addictive, he says, because they’re ‘psychoactive.’ That is, they alter mood and often trigger enjoyable feelings.”

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