Unbabbled Episode 15: Jordan Shapiro Revisits Children and The Digital Sandbox (Live)
Jordan Shapiro Live Show: The Digital Sandbox
In this episode, Jordan delivers his presentation: “The Digital Sandbox: What Grown-Ups Need to Know About the New Childhood." He discusses the fear associated with screen time; children’s use of videogames, smart phones and social media; the concept of educational technology (aka ed tech) versus traditional learning; and then opens it up to questions from the audience.
This was an evening full of learning, community and thoughtful conversation. We hope you enjoy our very first recording with a live audience, and we look forward to interacting with our listeners at future events!
Jordan Shapiro, PhD, is a senior fellow for the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and Nonresident Fellow in the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution. Jordan also teaches at Temple University in the Intellectual Heritage Program. Jordan draws on cutting-edge research in science, philosophy, economics and psychology to show we've let fear and nostalgia stand in the way of our children's best interests. He offers optimistic, inspiring and practical advice to help adults navigate the new, digital frontier of childhood. He reframes gaming, social media and smartphones in historical context, providing a fresh, evidence-based perspective that will change the way you think about today’s connected kids.
- Jordan Shapiro’s website: https://www.jordanshapiro.org/
- Unbabbled Episode #12: Navigating the Digital Age of Childhood with Jordan Shapiro
- The Parish School’s Adult Education Series: The Parish School Calendar
Stephanie: 00:00:05 Hello and welcome to Unbabbled, a podcast that navigates the world of special education, communication delays and learning differences. We are your hosts, Stephanie Landis and Meredith Krimmel and we're a certified speech language pathologist who spend our days at the parish school in Houston helping children find their voices and connect with the world around them. This episode was recorded live at the parish school during an adult education event featuring return Unbabbled podcast guest author, professor and speaker Jordan Shapiro. Jordan gives his presentation the digital sandbox, what grownups need to know about the new childhood. Then we opened it up to questions from the audience. The live show was a wonderful evening full of learning community and thoughtful conversation. We hope you enjoy our very first live event and look forward to interacting with our listeners at future live shows. Good evening and welcome. This setup of tonight is a little bit different. We're going to have him speak and then we'll do a question and answer section and then towards the end there will be a book signing. Before we get started. We have a few minor announcements cause there's always gotta be announcements.
Amy Lerman: 00:01:13 Thanks everybody for being here. You know, it's really exciting that we have Jordan here with us tonight. Back last April I went to New York city for the learning in the brain conference and the theme was schooling the digital mind and that's where I first met Jordan. Right after he spoke. I thought to myself, this is such a unique perspective and I think it's a message that could really begin a conversation that is so critical for any parent that's raising a child right now in 2019 and what I love so much is that he chose and when, when Amy and I first sat down with him digitally by the way over the phone to talk about what today would look like, his idea was that it would look like sitting down and having a face to face conversation. And what I think is so unique about that is that he's using that very dialogue to drive how we parent through the digital world, which is sitting down and having conversations about this and co viewing the whole experience. So I thought that that was such a unique way to kick it off. All that to say this is going to be the first of many adult education opportunities that we have here on campus. And what I invite you to do though we are here tonight to hear from Jordan is to save the date because on May 14th we're going to be hosting a local industry expert. Her name is Crystal Collier and she's going to be coming onto campus. She's a psychologist as well and her work and her research is about risky behaviors and neurological development and as it relates to addiction, whether that be screens or otherwise. So what we're going to be doing is starting to really include a lot of different perspectives and, and um, research in this conversation and we're so honored to do so and we're so honored that you're here Jordan tonight to talk about yours. Thank you again for being here. Let's hand it over to Jordan.
Stephanie: 00:03:19 I was going to plug one more thing so I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Stephanie Landis. I'm a speech language pathologist here on the campus. I work in an elementary classroom. I also am the lucky host of our Unbabbled podcast. We encourage you to take a look and check it out. We recently had Jordan join us on an episode so if you want to hear more from him that we might not cover tonight, feel free to go and download that and subscribe to the podcast so that you are receiving all of our conversations. They are on a variety of educational topics that are beneficial to both parents and educators. Our most recent one came out yesterday and had a parent perspective on how his life perspective changed having a child have a language, diagnosis and disorder and how that's affected him and his family and his whole life and I thought it was really interesting and beneficial for me as a parent and as a therapist as well. That's also to say that tonight we will be recording and this is our first event that we are recording live. So with that said, yes, thank you very much for coming and speaking with us tonight and giving us your time. Here is Jordan.
Jordan: 00:04:29 Don't don't clap yet. You don't know if I'm any good. Um, alright. Unless you've heard the podcast. Hi everybody. Um, so, uh, my, my plan, I have a few slides. I'm going to kind of go through the sort of background of my thinking. A lot of the stuff here, uh, sort of parts of this as it is in the book. Parts of it. I've set it other places and some of it I have never said anywhere. Um, so we'll see. Um, but it all comes from my research. I got really interested in the question of kids and technology. So sort of by accident, uh, my background is psychology and philosophy and not necessarily having to do with kids, at least not at the beginning. I mean a decade of research. I'm very, very well versed in all that, the kid in education stuff now. But when I started, I had not much interest in that, but I had two kids of my own.
Jordan: 00:05:17 Um, and I, and I was also a college professor or a teacher. And, um, um, you know, when you're, when you're a parent, when you're a teacher, you sort of, you know, so much of, so much of what we do when we're parenting or when we're teaching is sort of caught up in our own neuroses, like our own memories about our own suffering teenager inner child. Like I was not, you know, I'm still angry about some things that happened when I was four and I won't parent that way cause I don't want to be like that, you know, so much of that we do that way. And so I was really interested in how do I tease that apart? How do I tease that apart as a parent and go, what's really about my kids and what's about me? And that's what really got me interested in the, in the topic. Um, and so, uh, I'm going to talk about that and I'm mostly going to talk about what I discovered looking at my, at my own kids, um, and doing a lot of research. The, these are my, my kids. Oh, it's not working.
Jordan: 00:06:15 There we go. There's my kids. We're going to have to do them on the screen. Yeah, I'll tell you when those are. Those are my kids. Uh, and it's gonna switch to a drawing a friend of mine did of me and my kids. Um, um, um, you know, this whole topic, he came, that became interesting to me after I got divorced. I got, I got divorced. This was the, probably the hardest time in my, in my life. Um, and I, so I can only imagine how difficult it was on my kids and I really wanted to help them through it. So I, I w I was like, I want to talk to you. I had, I actually, at that time I had more than half the time. Now it's half and half. Uh, and I, and I would, and I would, I wanted to just work with them and talk to them and go, how do I help you through what's obviously a really hard emotional time in your life?
Jordan: 00:06:59 Like the whole world had been appended on them. Like for kids that's gotta be, uh, impossible to deal with. Uh, but, um, they just wanted to play video games. They did not want to talk. And so, uh, and I, and it was, you know, I was intuitive enough to understand that if I said, Hey, you have to stop playing video games and coming to hike cause I want to talk to you, that was going to be a punishment to them. There was no way that was going to feel good to them. And so I started to play video games with them. I was only cause I was trying to trick them into talking to me. I was like, I guess if I have to sit where you are in order to get you to like engage, I'll, I'll do that. And in doing that, uh, I started to have a lot of questions about what they were doing and what was going on.
Jordan: 00:07:38 I came very clear to me that they were sort of developing ways of thinking about the world through all this time they were playing. And I wanted to understand it. Uh, they tease me to this day. They tease me and they are, they always go, Oh, you had to turn it into work, didn't you? You couldn't just play. And have fun. You have to make it, and they right. I did that. They, you know, um, um, you know, and, and, and all, all that. Anyway, all that led me to really look into the research about what did we actually know about kids and video games. What did we know about kids and screens and how can we start to think about it? W the, the bottom line is we really don't know much at all. There's a lot of research. It's almost all contested. Um, um, um, on, on both sides of it.
Jordan: 00:08:20 Uh, I can go through all of it in a lot of detail and then we get to the Q and A. If anyone wants to go, Hey, I heard about this study. I'll tell you all the, the, the argument for it and against it. I'm pretty, I'm pretty even handed in all of, in all, in all of this studies. I think maybe you won't think. Um, and then the other thing I discovered that was the, almost the way that the real problem was with how people were thinking about what it meant for kids to be growing up with screens and digital stuff. Almost everything that people talked about was about questions of duration, questions of exposure, how much screen time should they have, what happens if they're exposed to these things? And this was completely the wrong question. And then actually there was a whole other side of it, research and education that became about this question of ed tech versus traditional learning, which was [inaudible], which is also sort of an absurd question because there's no such thing as traditional learning, right?
Jordan: 00:09:09 Like, like we think there's traditional learning but, but, but, but there's not the example I always do first is it Socrates, we talk about the Socratic method all the time in education. The way we teach has nothing to do with the way Socrates taught, the way they taught in ancient Greece would've had a lot more wine and food and sex. And we don't do any of that with kids. Right? So, so they did. So, so there, there's nothing really traditional. There's things that we adapt as we need to adapt them in order to suit our needs. And we take things from the past that we need to and we get rid of the things we don't like. And that's, that's, that's all fine. But that means there's a real tough question when you're going, Hey, we're considering, we're considering what's classic versus what's new and we're not really doing things things right.
Jordan: 00:09:50 All the point here, and this is the key point of almost everything I'm going to talk about, is that all learning, all learning models, all and all, and all teaching models and all parenting models are always situated in some kind of context. And my argument is that, I mean, I don't even think it's an army. I think I can say it almost factually. That context is always technological, economic, political, cultural is always, there's always a whole lot of other things going on. And that's how we make those decisions about what we're about, what we're gonna, what we're gonna teach. Um, and generally throughout history, people have not been excited about anything that's new when it comes to technological. They have what I call tech tech technophobia. And I essentially put it on this slide because my favorite example of technophobia is Socrates, who was afraid of writing, was sure that writing was the worst technology humans had ever invented.
Jordan: 00:10:41 It was going to ruin everyone's memory and they were not going to be able to, they were not going to be able to remember anything. And he did not write anything down. He knew everything was written down by Plato. He refused. He said, don't write it down. At that time, education was all about memories. So he was sure it was gonna ruin everyone writing. He, in one of my favorite quotes, he said, well, there's two ways he put it that I love. He says, uh, he says, you know, writing is like painting. You know, you think you're looking at a picture of a horse, but you can't walk around it. You can't ever see the back of it. It's like a trick, right? This is, and that writing's like that to her. He also said, and this is almost a quote he said, he said, written words are terrible because you keep asking them what they mean and they keep saying the same thing over and over and over again.
Jordan: 00:11:25 Right? Which he's right. I mean he's right to some extent the right. I'm in philosophy basically my entire industry, all we do is argue over what Socrates meant, right? That's like 3000 years of arguing about what if this guy mean and he's told us that that was what was going to happen if we, if we started writing and my guess is if he were to like sit here if he were here and we were like, Hey kids today they use so much text messages. He just shrugged his shoulders and be like, yeah, I told you it was all going to get to that. I could, I was warning you against, you didn't want to listen to me then. But he was also wrong. Like we all know that, that there's a ton of benefits that came from writing. We all know that writing bra an enormous amount of of things like, like equality.
Jordan: 00:12:04 But that was not always how people thought of it. There was also a ton of technophobia around around the printing press. Um, people, people were really, really, really worried about the printing press. First of all, they were sure that books were going to con were going to ruin all communal life. Right? Like why would anyone ever show up at church or around a campfire if they could just read things right? They were going to just stay at home in their own cocoons and lots of argument. And there, there was actually a lot of argument, this is a quote from a great book by Tom standards. I don't know if you can read it, but it's a, it lots of arguments that from the, from the Catholic church for example, that you're, that worried that it was going to decentralize power as it did, right. And make nobody believe in morality anymore.
Jordan: 00:12:44 There was lots of worries about echo chambers at that time. The first things they printed were pamphlets and everyone was like, there's going to be pamphlets in these neighborhoods and people are only going to hear what they already believe. And there was lots of worry about fake news of when, I mean they didn't say fake news, but there was a lot. You can find the things where like the Pope is, is saying they're getting wrong information. People can just print anything and say anything and no one knows how to evaluate it or what to believe. And they were terrified of this and not any, not that those things are not that they're wrong to be terrified. I'm just pointing out that the things we're worried about are not new things to be worried about. We should still be worried about a lot of them. But, uh, but recognize that it's not unique to this technological, to this technological moment.
Jordan: 00:13:25 Um, humans tend to have this thing, I think that sort of, uh, a fear of our own ingenuity, right? We have this sort of fear of our own reason, our fear of our own consciousness. And of course I use this examples of Frankenstein and the Terminator. And this is a German movie de Golem, which is about the old, uh, uh, middle East Eastern European Jewish myth about, about the, the clay man that comes to life. It's another Frankenstein story. Um, and you know, this is in Daedalus and Icarus. This is part of what's in, in the garden of Eden story, right? This, this fear that, that, that they just getting consciousness is our own downfall, right? The fact that we can build things becomes the downfall of humans itself. I think this is something humans have recognized as a real thing to worry about. I call it the, the, the creation destruction, uh, paradox, which is huge in our business theories, right?
Jordan: 00:14:18 In business, we think everything needs, needs, needs disruption in order to have innovation, right? Like creation always comes from breaking something for first and it's also huge in so many of our child development theories, right? This idea that weaning is really important, this idea that you have to fail that's really popular right now, right? The wonder that full stiffness of failure. I mean, I certainly agree with things like persistence, but I don't like the language failure at all. I mean, I, I don't know why we have to call it like can we just say keep trying. Right? Sounds more happy to me. But it means the same. It means the same thing. Um, you know, this is in so many, so many of our theories and I, and I think it's just sort of a foundational phobia of what it means to be human. And I bring this up because I think that's one of the, the thing that we really need to reckon with when we deal with the question of technology.
Jordan: 00:15:06 Uh, and I like to start when I talk about this with some Greek words, which are technique and epistemically and you'll understand why I'm doing this. I know it's a little weird to like suddenly bring up Greek words when you're talking about modern technology. But this'll make sense. I think by the time we're done. Technique is where we get the word technology. That's the first one is tech is tech nay for those of you who don't read Greek. I don't really read Greek so either. But uh, that's where we get technology and technology does not mean it. Technique in Greek is not what we think of technology. It's almost all craft is considered technique, furniture making, painting actually anything you do with your hands is considered technique and epistemically which is the other one is his. And his thing is thoughts has to do, it has to do with knowledge.
Jordan: 00:15:48 So they were very clear that humans we are, we're kind of, we are makers and we can either make things with our hands or we can make things with our minds and that these are two different ways that we do it. That's how they thought about these two things. And they put them both under this category called pollicis. And that's where we get our word poetry. And, and this, this is sort of important because what they mean by poetry is not what we mean in poetry class. What they mean by poetry is not, you know, Wordsworth that what they mean by poetry. Cause all they have is poetry. They don't, they don't, you know, there's no novels yet. There's just theater and, and myth and and not, they don't have everything. So what they mean by pollicis is probably best translated as something like bringing forth or manifesting.
Jordan: 00:16:32 And so what they're saying is that humans manifest things both with their minds and with their hands, right? They're able to bring things into being, they're able to bring ideas forth. And that's important to me as when I talk about education, when I talk about child rearing, cause I think what everybody wants is a combination of Teknion epistemically for their parents, for their, for their children, right? We want them to be able to feel fulfilled and able to think really strong things. We also want them to have the skills to be able to be successful in life. When we talk about vocational skills or job skills, we're often talking about that technique aspect. And when we're talking about fulfillment, we're often talking about, well I shouldn't even say fulfillment. We're just talking about thinking. We're talking about epistemically. Once we start to talk about things like fulfillment and autonomy and agency, I think we're in this pollicis what they mean by pollicis, which is in order to bring yourself forth in order to, in order to make yourself exist in the universe, in order to show up, in order to have a voice, you have to do that in certain ways and you do that through a combination of techniques and epistemically and that that's really, um, I'm going to say more about that.
Jordan: 00:17:34 How techni and Epic STEMI are connected to agency and autonomy, but not directly because I think I've done enough of the like Greek philosophy and then I want to get into some other stuff, but I think just keep it in mind because I think it's going to, it connects it well. I know it connects to everything else that's here. So let, let me, let me go into something that's a little closer, which is I want to talk a bit about learning through play. If there's one thing that everybody who knows anything about researching child development or education knows there is no like, no, this is not at all. Continue. If there's, you know, you hear people say settled science all the time when it's not settled science, right? This is actually settled science. I've never heard anyone argue against learning, learning through play. Okay. You know everything else I hear on the news when they're like, it's settled science.
Jordan: 00:18:15 I'm like, no it's not. Otherwise people wouldn't be arguing about it, but I haven't heard anyone argue about this. Learning through play is good. Kids learn through play and like the way I talk about this, just to make this crystal clear to everyone why this is true, how they learn all these social skills through play is kids love to play. It's all they want to do. Everyone here I'm guessing has kids. That's all they want to do is have fun. That's like their one goal in life is more fun. And when they play games, they want to maintain the fun at maximum fun, maximum amount of time. Well, when they're with other, when they're with other kids or with their weight or with their, with objects, whatever they're doing, anytime it doesn't work, fun ends and that stinks. Right? So they next time try to figure out how can I do this differently to make sure it doesn't end.
Jordan: 00:19:02 And so everything is sort of motivated by that. And then I have this list that I took from the um, um, uh, Harvard center for the developing child. It's their words, which are all the things you all, you learn just through everyone's learning through play. No matter what the subject is, they're learning to focus and sustained attention. I don't, I don't even think I need to explain these. I think you'll read them go. Yeah, of course. Yeah. Kids want to learn how to focus and sustain their attention on the game that they're playing. Uh, they know how to set goals. I mean clear right to play almost anything you're playing, whether it's an imaginative game, whether it's a video game, whether it's a, whether it's your wedding or whether, whether you're just playing with trains. Do you have to set goals? I want to build a track.
Jordan: 00:19:38 That's a goal. You have to put them together. Uh, they ha they make plans. Um, w they've learned to monitor actions, right? The lady to think about the, about the cause and effect around their actions. They learned to adapt to changes as they happen. Um, they learn to solve problems. They learned to follow rules. Um, they learn to control impulses and they learn to delay gratification. That's their list. And those are also, uh, that, that's their list that they put under their big heading. There would be executive function and self regulation and then these are all the things involved with it. When they're breaking it down. I, and I just keep emphasizing it's there. It's cause some people do it differently. Uh, and I'm using their words, you know, however you want to do it is fine. We're almost all talking about the same thing.
Jordan: 00:20:20 As I said, if there's anything that's settled science, it's this, um, in, in, in, in the world. Um, and I like to talk about it in, among little kids, but this is true no matter what. No matter what the age is, you're, you're, you're, uh, that you're, that you learned, that you learned through play. Um, but it's easy to talk about the simple kids, but not the thing to important here is to recognize that play's not neutral. This is what I was getting at at the beginning. Play is always situated in context, right? And it's always teaching you how to, how to behave in certain economic, cultural and technological context, right? It's all here. I don't know. I don't, this is not a conspiracy theory. Like I don't think people were out there going, how do we teach people how to be good Housewives by giving them the toys.
Jordan: 00:21:03 I do think they were like, Oh you want to act like a grownup. This is what grown ups do. This is how our culture is organized. So therefore we build games that match that. You know, there's, we should be upset that some of these things existed, but that doesn't mean that anyone was out there with like a clear, clear, important, uh, you know, you know, let me intentionally oppress people with this goal, but I bring this only up cause we couldn't make most of these toys to today. Right. There'll be, there would be an out, there will be an outrage. So the idea that we think that there's just a right kind of play, a neutral kind of play is, is, is almost, is almost, um, it's almost absurd. Um, we will, we always have ideas about what constitutes good play, uh, and, and what constitutes bad play.
Jordan: 00:21:46 It's never just that play is good. It's always that certain kinds of player good and other kinds of play are, are, are bad and all that play always represents a certain, a certain value value system play as we currently imagine. It used to be considered really problematic. Um, you know, if you think of, you know, I don't, this used to be a sin. If you think about the Puritan work ethic or you know, when I was, when I was doing research for this book, I found newspaper articles complaining about the rotten kids who play, who are flying kites in this street and who are making the entire neighborhood so sinful, right? I mean this is, this is, people thought this at one time and I mean we laugh about it now. Probably if we lived there, a lot of us would agree with with them cause you know, we sort of tend to agree with the cultural stuff with the cultural stuff around us.
Jordan: 00:22:34 For most of human history, uh, kids worked, most of human history kids did not play. Um, um, and the reason I'm saying this is I want you to understand that the way we think of play as a chance for kids to have character development is a chance for them to find themselves. There's a chance for them to even be imaginative. This is unique to the 20th century. This is unique or at least unique to the industrial era. It starts a little bit before the 20th century. I'm terrible with dates, so I may, you know, don't, don't quote any of my dates please. And they may be off a little bit. It anyway, this whole idea of childhood is a time for self actualization, unique to the industrial era. And it all starts, I think it's around 1890s probably with Frederick Royals kindergarten movement. Okay. These are called foibles blocks.
Jordan: 00:23:23 They are the beginning of, of actually, you know, you probably all remember from when you were in kindergarten playing with things like Cuisenaire rods, the little counting rods, all these things. Actually many of them were invented by Freud balls and are still in use. Many of the things that are still happening in kindergarten and first grade classrooms are still in use. They were invented by this Freud balls who was one of the first people to argue that playful exploration was good for kids at all. And actually when we talk about 21st century skills, you hear this all the time, that the failure thing, the grit, the persistence, almost all of these are things that fro that Freud balls, although he used different language, was already pushing for. He was already saying things like, you know, through through these things we start to build questions about, about persistence.
Jordan: 00:24:10 Um, and the things he was saying were not popular at the time. I mean, people were really, really, really, uh, against it. Um, and actually I just read this note here and I want to actually say this, I, it's a sort of a pet peeve of mine, right? Cause you hear like the Ted talk by sir Ken Robinson and all these things talking about the factory model of education being the sort of industrial era, you know, the industrial area education is over. I don't even think if I had to characterize what education of the industrial era has been, it has been a fight between rigidity and playfulness. It has been a fight between testing and not testing. So all the things we're still talking about have been the entire century. That argument has been going on. And I think that argument, that struggle is actually what characterizes the industrial era.
Jordan: 00:24:57 Child rearing and education more, more than, more than anything else. And I find that useful to remember because in my research I've discovered a little book from 1897 that was called the story of a sand pile. And it was written by a guy named G Stanley hall. G Stanley hall was probably the preeminent, I mean, I, if I were a historian, I'd try to write a book about him right now just about how influential he was. We don't really talk about him much anymore. He invented adolescents. Um, you know that when I say that everyone's like, wait, how could a person event, no one used the word adolescents to describe the period kids go through until he wrote a two volume book called adolescence. Right? And he described it and he, and we still think of it as exactly the same. I mean, we've learned a lot about it.
Jordan: 00:25:43 I'm not suggesting like he said, put the final word on it, but, but he invented this concept that adolescence was this time that you're struggling between childhood and adulthood. That's not something that most people thought about before him. Anyway, he had a little book called the story of a sand pile. He wrote an 1897 sandboxes had just been invented. Kids did not play in the sand for all of history. They were invented in, in, in, in, in Poland and Germany. I mean, they might've played in the sand, but there was no, no shovels and there were no pals. And this idea of like putting them in play while they were in playgrounds. Yet the sandbox has come a little bit before playgrounds and actually lead to playgrounds a this, this woman who in, in, in Germany who, uh, who decided to put Freud bowls wanting to put sand piles everywhere around, around Europe.
Jordan: 00:26:28 And then this woman from Boston actually saw them and brought them to Boston. They put a whole bunch of boxed him really quickly in about, in about 20 years, they covered Boston and um, and Fred and G Stanley hall decides to write this book called the story of the sand pile that he wrote, observing a town outside Boston, how the kids were playing. It's like a tiny little book that I discovered by accident in the library at my university. No one ever talks about the fact that he wrote this book, but I read, it took me, you know, it's 40 pages, 50 pages. I read it in one sitting and I was amazed by it because what he was doing was all the parents were worried about all the sand play. Their kids were getting that it was bad for the kids and he was trying to urge them to, don't worry, they're there learning something by being out there.
Jordan: 00:27:09 They're learning about civics, they're learning social emotional skills. They're learning how to, how to think and you read it and he goes, parents are all worried because they try to call their kids to come to dinner and they won't leave the sand pile. So right. And I'm like, Oh my God, he's writing the same book I'm writing only he's right. I'm writing it a hundred years later. Right. He was writing a book going, why are you worried so much about about sandboxes? Like we have to think about what's good. And I was just, you know, I have it at home. I've, I've found to track down and use the copy. I'd love it. It's like my favorite favorite book now. And it's useful. It's useful to remember it because our kids were, there was once the fight for the sandbox and now now the kids are in digital sandboxes.
Jordan: 00:27:45 So that's something that that I, that I want to, I want to deal with and because I think that researchers today, most of them are really too busy asking this question about exposure, about duration and about toxicity of screen time to ask the proper questions. And this is not me saying, you know, the screen time is all great. This is me going, we've got to look at how kids are playing in these digital sandboxes and we need to do research about the way they're playing and we need to think about what's good play and what's bad play and what do they, what's good learning and what's bad learning. We're too busy going, you know, it's the sandbox, good or bad to, to, to work, to really get into the real questions that I think would make a real difference in kids' lives, right? This is, this is we need to study digital play the same way we study all other kinds of play and we need to recognize that it's now just a part of the landscape of childhood, right?
Jordan: 00:28:36 Like it's not going anywhere. It's now part of the land scape of childhood and this is, and this is, and this is pollicis, right? This is part of what's manifesting for humans and so we want to make sure that it happens in the best possible way, not worry about is it good or bad. Now there's one group that I think has already started to do this and this is the game based learning folks since the very beginning of video games, this is the beginning of video games, but since the very, very, very beginning of video games, there have been people thinking about how do we use games to teach kids, right? It was really obvious from the very beginning like games. Games kept captured, a lot of kids' attention and people would go, how could, how could you get that attention on stuff? On academic subjects?
Jordan: 00:29:22 I mean it's actually deeper than that because the truth is games are really, really complex. Like there's a lot, this is a very simple one, but even this, there's a lot of rules. There's a lot. You've got to understand the geometry, you start to understand the physics of it. There's a whole language of of of things happening on this, on this screen and as you know, every kid can it up and pretty much understand that whole language really, really, really quickly. And the reason that they can do it is because games are really great teachers. This is, this is, this is something I want to talk talk about before I jumped too soon to this slide, but I'll just say in all of my research, the more I, the more I looked at like video games and the more I looked at teaching, the more I discovered that everything we know makes for good teachers, video games do really, really well and that's why kids love them.
Jordan: 00:30:09 I got to say, I want to just hammer this point home because parents and teachers and grownups are so worried about video games. But the bottom line is there is nothing kids love more than learning. And the reason they love digital play is because they learn so much. Now we might not like what they're learning. That's a whole other question. But the reason they're attracted to it is because it's teaching them so much so fast. And so I've broken it down just to make it simple into the four things that are true for both all great teachers and all great video games and I'm going to explain them to you. They happen to all start with ours. So I have to explain them because it took me a long time to make them all start with our, and now they mean nothing. So let me explain it.
Jordan: 00:30:49 But they're, they're good. They're good staff. I call it the four RS. The first one is they is, the games are rigorous. And so what do I mean by rigorous? I mean they use what in education? Psychology comes from a Russian researcher called the named Lev. Lev. Lev Vygotsky. He talks about something called the zone of proximal development. The easiest way to understand it is he is that things have to be right at the perfect level in the sense that they are not too hard and they're not too easy. So the same thing in video games, in video games, you know, if you, how many people have played Mario brothers? Anyone saying that up right? At some point you played Mario brothers. Imagine if the whole game was you just run and there's no pits and there's no bad guys who just run and then jump and get the flag.
Jordan: 00:31:30 That'd be the most boring game ever. You wouldn't play right. You'd be like this is not fun. Right? So it's got to have challenge. And then if it was, if it was so hard that you died the second you started, there's a game called Cuphead. I don't know if there's any gamers here. It's way too hard. I can't, I get bored and like two minutes cause I just keep losing. Right? So you have to keep it just easy enough to succeed and just hard enough to make it challenging. And that's true when you're doing game design, and it's certainly true with with the zone of proximal development. There's another piece that's on a proximal development. I just like to say when I'm saying this, which is this idea that it's not just about difficulty level, it's also that you, what can you do yourself and what do you need to look to the world outside for, right?
Jordan: 00:32:10 Whether that's another person or other objects and that you should always be in that place where, where you've reached just the level where you can't, where you don't already know it all, where you can't do it all, where you're not enough alone. I need you to think about this games. They always give you the key to the next room, right when you need it, right? When you can't do anything else, then suddenly you get the power up, right? And that's really, that's important. And teachers know this. Teachers know what we want to do is to make you feel like you can solve all the math problem. Almost, but then you'd need to maybe ask your friend for help or you may be need to ask the teacher for help, right? That's always the place where a good teacher keeps, keeps, keeps the student otherwise wouldn't need the teacher's, right?
Jordan: 00:32:47 Then we'd just be like, here's a worksheet, do it right, and that doesn't work. Good games and good teachers are responsive in the sense that they give clear, concise feedback. I think I'll do this first in terms of video games, right? Imagine if you didn't know why PAC man died, right? It would be a terrible game, right? It's only you have to know what you did wrong in order for the game to be interested, it has to be crystal clear so that next time you can go, how can I play this level differently two seconds later? And so games are always crystal clear about what, why you haven't succeeded and what you might want to try differently. And we know that that's what teachers do too, right? In education, they talk about the difference between formative and summative assessments. Summative assessment is the tests at the end of the end of the year.
Jordan: 00:33:30 We all know they have no educational value at all. Right? They're totally useless. You know, they might be great in terms of accounting. I'm not saying get rid of them because it's not like we have another way to figure out how people are doing. So not, you know, I'm certainly, I, that's great. We need that from an auditing standpoint on some level until we have a better solution. But if they don't do anything educationally, they're of no benefit to the students. They're only of a benefit to the, to the administration. But formative assessment, which is ongoing assessment is really important. You need to know whether or not you got it right. So you know whether or not you need to study more. Formative assessment means just ongoing feedback. You turn in a paper if you don't get it back. I mean, I teach, I tried to turn back the papers within like 24 hours because otherwise how do they even know if they learned and what they should do different for the next set of homework.
Jordan: 00:34:13 So you know there's nothing worse than the teachers who like take until the end of the year to give you back everything you did at the beginning. Cause that's again just turns it into summative assessment. And again, video games do this constantly. Just constant feedback about your performance as a flyer. Next one is reflective in education. They call this metacognition. This idea that you can think about your own thinking, you can think about your own performing performance. You recognize the difference between yourself as a student and yourself as a person. So you've probably read in the news about growth mindset. It's all comes from this question of medic, medic metacognition you want, we don't want people to think they're stupid just cause they got a problem wrong, right? We want them down your that they that there's the person trying to study and then there's also the the individual and that those are two different things that's sort of built into gaming.
Jordan: 00:34:59 I always say because there's always two eyes when you're playing a game. There's the eye that's holding the controller and there's the eye that's running the avatar running around the game, which is why when any of us play a game or our children play a game, they can go, Oh no, I died. They don't think they're dead. Right. They know that the person playing is still alive. Right? But the character's dead and they're capable of recognizing that those are two different things it's built in, which means they can learn even better. They don't feel, they don't feel personally. While they may care how they perform, they don't feel like it's there. It's a reflection on their character. And the last thing is real. Obviously video games are not real. Okay, but it has to start with our, no, no. It's real in the sense that it's hands on.
Jordan: 00:35:39 It's games are hands on. We, you know, again, the learning through play, project based learning, all the things we all know are great for learning. We hear about all the time experiential learning is the best kind of learning and video games are 100% experiential. The equivalent of what? Like, I don't want to say traditional education cause I just said it didn't work. But the truth, I think, you know what I mean, the education that I'm picking on at least, um, um, the probably the education many of us guy, right? The, the equivalent of that in video games would be if it, if we went like this, okay, here's a manual about how space invaders works and then I want to give you a test about whether or not you know how to play it, but I'm never going to let you play the game. Right?
Jordan: 00:36:16 That's, that would be the equivalent of how we do a lot of learning and testing now where it should be hands on and video games are all hands on. Everything is experiential. So, so, so they're, so they're great teachers. And whenever I talk about how video games might be the, like best teachers in the world, especially when I talk to educators, you see the, you see the like panic and people's eyes. Like how can that be true? You're saying, or you know, we valued education so highly, but you're saying that the thing we were afraid of is better at it than we are in it. To some extent it's true, but what I call all this is, is it's screen-time panic. And I actually think this is a lot of what all of our fear is based on this panic. That the screens are too good at teaching, teaching our kids, right?
Jordan: 00:36:56 They're doing, they're doing a better job now. I'm sure at this point some of you are like, okay, fine, but is it teaching the social skills? Is it teaching communication skills? Find it can teach you how to play a game, but if you're, you know, what about, what about all those other things? Um, well, I'm going to get to, I'm going to get to them. So a lot of, let me hold off on them for a second. Um, I'm gonna get to them at the end of the show. First I want to address some of the so-called medical con concerns, right? I just want to, I just want to say a few things really, really clearly. They have been trying to prove that screens are toxic since the beginning of television. Okay. That's almost a hundred years. Nobody's been able to do it. Okay. So I, to me at that point, when you've been trying to figure out to prove something for a hundred years and you haven't been able to do it, I sort of go, yeah, it's probably not there.
Jordan: 00:37:45 I mean, right. There's zero, zero evidence. And now there's a little bit about, there's a little bit about the, about the blue light and the, and sleep patterns. But even that's not conclusive. I mean, that's, uh, that's way stronger than almost any of the other stuff in terms of having good evidence behind it. But even that, there's people who say, yeah, I'm not sure this data shows that. Okay. Which I'm not taking the side of the data doesn't show that I don't let my kids use screens before bed cause I, uh, for, for exactly that reason, I'm worried about how it will affect their, their sleep cycles. So I'm not saying ignore it, but I am saying that might be the only place where there's even any real research showing that exposure is, uh, is, is problematic exposure. I'm not saying that there's not other things we should worry about, but, but just, just straight exposure.
Jordan: 00:38:30 And by the way, I physicians too, as long as they're doing the history, I found an about this to physicians once warned, don't let your kids is right at the beginning of the century, maybe a little earlier. Don't let your kids sit near the window on a, on a train because the images go by too fast. And that has certainly caused neurological damage because the human brain is not capable of dealing with images going by at that speed. It's not, we were not evolutionarily created to be able to deal with things happening that fast or to move that fast. And there are all these warnings about that at the beginning, at the beginning of trains, which is, you know, and my kids have sat by the windows many times. I'm pretty sure it didn't hurt them. I'm guessing we have all sat by the windows many times. We know these things are wrong.
Jordan: 00:39:12 I'm just saying that, you know, the neuro, even the neuro argument is one that you find at the very beginning. It goes on and on and on. Uh, let's see, what else? Other things I have to comment on, but I think I'll wait until the questions come up cause you'll all ask these. Um, so I think I'll leave a bunch of them and I'll go to, I'll just say one thing, um, to the, to the one where people talk about, which you'll ask about again, but I'll say really quickly just to tie Socrates back in. You know, the, the program, there is this stability, uh, argument, right? You know, this is exactly what they executed Socrates for. They were like, you're like, they thought this rational thinking was too irresistible to the young people. Don't let him walk around and start talking rationally to the young people cause they can't resist it.
Jordan: 00:39:54 So we have to get rid of him. It's, it's bad for him and they killed him for, for it. So I think they sort of fear that you corrupt the youth with your irrational, with, with your, with your, your ability to be seductive has sort of always, always existed. Um, so, but we can talk more about that when we get to the questions. I'm sure some of you are going to be like what, what about the, the fact that they're trying to get our kid's attention any way they can. Um, and I'll answer that then. Um, of course the connected world comes with unique challenges. Yeah. I think I'll switch a little bit more to this duration question with what I call the, the, the on off switch mentality because that tends to be how most parents end up approaching it with the like way.
Jordan: 00:40:34 How w when did we turn it off? When is it allowed to be on? When should it be off? When should be on how much screen time, what's the right duration of screen time? Um, you know, there, there is no right duration of screen time. All matters much more what you're doing on the screen. Then how much time you're spending on the screen. One example I give all the time is that, um, imagine if your kid spent eight hours a day doing like electronic music on their computer, you'd probably be bragging about it. You'd be like, my kid's a composer. Right? Right. But if it's video games, you're like, Oh, this is too much exposure. Again, I think there's reason to do that. I'm not suggesting that's the same thing. I'm just suggesting it depends what they're doing. It's not as simple as screen time equals bad.
Jordan: 00:41:17 Right. It really depends how they're, how they're using it. If all the, if all they're doing is like brainless stuff but don't, doesn't match with your values, then absolutely. I think it makes sense to be worried about that. Um, but, but that's not about the amount of time. Uh, the sort of basic argument that I would about everything is that we need more mentorship and less censorship. Right. Well, we need to do as, as, as adults, is to make sure that kids can integrate technology into their lives in a way that we want to see it integrated. Right. And the way that matches our values about what it would look like to have technology in our lives. I don't think, I certainly don't want to get rid of get rid of my smart phone. I love my smart. I mean I love technology in general.
Jordan: 00:41:58 It has amazing benefits for my life. I mean I love air conditioning for example. That's a fantastic techno technology. I don't want to live where there's no where. There's no air conditioning, right? But these things all come with negatives and we have to think about how we want them to be involved. Nobody's trying to get rid of the screens completely. Now, a lot of times when I say think about how you want that in your lives, what I, you know, are you here? But a lot of people say in the news now, which is like parents need to think about their own screen habits. Again, I think that's still in this on off switch mentality. I don't think parents need to think about their own screen habits. I think parents need to think about what the, what would it look like to integrate a screen into it?
Jordan: 00:42:35 To integrate smartphones into our lives in a way that aligns with our values. How, whatever that means, right? That's not about how much time you spend looking at it. That's about how does it impact your relationships. That's about how does it, how does it, you know, does it allow you to be a kind, compassionate person that's about, does it allow you to live a fulfilled life? You know, if you, if you can do all the things that go with that, why does it even matter how many hours, how many hours your, your, your, your spending on it. Um, um, and this is where I think both parents and teachers, we all have a really big responsibility. Now, I put Mark Twain on this, on this slide. The reason I put Mark Twain on this slide is because I always like to imagine what it would look like if Mark Twain had social media.
Jordan: 00:43:16 Right? And I think that, I think he'd be amazing at it. First of all. Like is there anyone who has, he might've been the first social media guy actually. I mean he'd wandered the country being the first personality brand, giving, giving speeches, offering aphorisms that we all still have on our like refrigerator magnets, right? He may, he may have been one, one of the, one of the beginning of, of what we do. But if we had that now, if we had a social media profile, what would we be doing? Well, teachers in the classroom would be analyzing it and showing people how to think about it and showing people how this, how this man made sense of the world using this medium. Right. And we're not doing any of that. So that's a big problem because that means there's nobody set the bar for kids.
Jordan: 00:43:56 We're doing a terrible job right now of setting the bar. Like I'm a, I'm a writer. That's what I do for a living. Almost the first my entire education. So like the first 20 years of my life was spent with people showing me how great writing could be. Right? How smart it could be, how thoughtful it could be. Like I'm constantly just trying to meet the bar of the things all of my teachers told me where like smart, right? All my teachers told me made you good. We're not doing any of that when it comes to social media. And that's why I bring this up to make that point. Like how many times did you read a great author and be told, and you have to like, then Joe, try to write a paper that you knew you could never write this story as well as Mark Twain, but that was the idea of what it was to be perfect as opposed to our current influencers, right?
Jordan: 00:44:37 Which are not social media influencers. The famous people, right? They're doing a horrible job of setting the bar. In fact, they set the bar lower, lower than my kids. Right? My kids have more, are more thoughtful about like, well how do you treat people when you're talking to your friends online and some of the people, I mean many of the people who are the, who have the most followers in the world on all these things. And so what I call that, this is sort of the digital epistemically, right? The digital knowledge, that way of thinking, we need to get the kids to understand this way of thinking. We need to understand that schools should be, should be a sandbox. Now the schools are usually leading on this actually way ahead of families way ahead of parents and teachers are way ahead of people even though lots of the people in the news like say things like, you know, schools are still stuck in the past and that is not true.
Jordan: 00:45:22 If there's anyone who's, who's in the front here, it's, it's, it's teachers doing as much as they can to show kids how to start to involve my kids. And I'm guessing most of yours, cause it's happening all over almost all day. They do all their assignments. They have to turn it in for Google classroom. They have to talk to, they have to send emails to their teachers. They have their calendars, all their study. Oh the old study skills classes have all moved into digital tools. So that's all doing a great job of teaching them. Not enough yet in schools of teaching the sort of social aspects, right? There's a lot of stuff that happens on playgrounds. Um, that w that's all about teaching teachers intervening in kid conflicts in order to teach them how to have good conflict resolution, good manners, good social skills, not enough happening that in an online space.
Jordan: 00:46:07 Yeah, I would like to see much more like school-based social media so that teachers can intervene and say, Hey, this is not an okay way to talk to people or how can we help you set that bar higher for how you have a smart conversation. Um, and then the other thing I want to just talk about is families cause families in my opinion, are the furthest behind when it comes to when it comes to moving into a digital future. That doesn't mean I'm picking on families and that's not me saying bad parents. I'm certainly not saying that. I'm saying like, like, like culturally the thing that like we seem to be all for like let's update the workplace as much as we possibly can. Let's move into the future with the workplace. Let's move into the future with the schools. Let's move into the future with our cars.
Jordan: 00:46:51 Let's move in the future with our roads. Not enough family has to look exactly how it looked a hundred years ago. Right. Family can change. We still want all of the same kinds of family rituals and we really believe they're ancient. They're not. And if you, if you get my book, I can tell you where almost all the things that you think of as like the essential parts of family are unique to the industrial age. Right. In fact, you know so much about the home bedrooms don't even exist until, until the end of the 19th century. Like the, everybody just slept in the living room. Right. And my students, I had a student once who like did a service trip, I forget where some, some, some other country and came back and said it was crazy. They all got, the whole family slept in the same room and the mother and father must've been having sex right in front of the kids.
Jordan: 00:47:32 And I'm like, I'm like, yeah, that's what most of human history looked like. Or like, like there's only as tiny little moment in human history when suddenly we were like, Hey, how about privacy and bedrooms? Right? That's really unique. But that our entire family life is structured around that with no thought about, about how that, how that should change. So I want families to bring this more digital into their family life. Right. Both playing video games with your kids so that they get a chance to see what it's like to play in a digital world. While you are modeling digital sportsmanship just to like make the point across, but a million other things, how do you think about what it means to play? How do you think about, and that doesn't mean you have to play. I mean, I always say this, some parents are like, I don't like video games.
Jordan: 00:48:12 I'm never going to play video games with my kids. No, but actually just sitting down next to your kid and going, tell me about the video game you're playing. Let me show you how I would make sense of that. Right? We sit and watch TV with our kids and when we don't see something we don't like, we go. That joke is really not tasteful. I that's inappropriate. Right. And that's how they learn to do that. Moral and ethical reasoning about the things they see. We're not doing that at all with the digital world for them. And they need to see that. We learned that from our families. We learned, you know the reason, family dinner, every, all these researchers talk about family dinner being important. It's not because of the eating, it's because of the talking. Right? It's not the dinner. The dinner is irrelevant.
Jordan: 00:48:47 Okay? It's because it's the best way. That's one of the only times when whole families sit together, face to face conversation, talking about things, modeling different values, modeling, etiquette, modeling behavior. I would like to see us bring some of that into the digital world. I think parents should be texting with their kids a lot more than they are. Much younger ages. I texted my kids nonstop and when they misspell something, I always correct it. You know, even the things I don't care about, even when they use abbreviations, I don't care. I use abbreviations when I'm talking to my girlfriend, but when I'm talking to my kids, I don't let them. Right. But that's not, not because I care. Right? Because how'd I learn grammar because my mother corrected me whenever I said I instead of instead of me, right? Or me instead of I, my mother corrected me when I said things wrong.
Jordan: 00:49:30 I don't think she cared how, whether I said things right either. She just knew that you have to get that constant intervention in order to get it bigger, make it a habit. So I would like to see parents constantly intervening in relationship with their kids. But also, you know, you learn so much about how to interact with other people by interacting with your parents and seeing how they respond. See that's how you learn that sort of the, the unconscious etiquette, the subtle etiquette. And so we need to build that in if we want to build social social lives that are good social citizens in a digital world. I said this earlier today, and I'll say it again at this point, pretty sure 75% of my professional life, my romantic life, my personal life, my political life, and my spiritual life takes place online. Okay? That doesn't mean I don't have lots of face to face interactions, but before I go on a date, well, there's way more conversation that my girlfriend had and I have organizing it than we actually have time spent actually on it.
Jordan: 00:50:26 Right, and how do you start to prepare people for that world? We're already living in that world and we need to, we need to get that across to them. One last thing I want to talk about is what I call the Plato problem, which gets to, which comes right out of what I'm talking about, these digital social skills. I call it the Plato problem. How I'm sure everybody's kids had Plato once. I hate Plato. It makes such a mess, but pick it up from the rug. I hated it when I got rid of it as soon as possible, but it's great. I still think it's a good metaphor for what I want to express here, which is invariably what happens with Plato, unless you're really sick on top of your kids and make sure they like and help them with it, is they mix all the colors together and then it all becomes a really dull gray.
Jordan: 00:51:07 And then they don't want to play with it anymore. And they, and they don't like it. And I, and I call this the Plato problem because I think one of the places we are in the world, and this is everywhere in the world, we're all very aware of it because of what's going on in, in, in us politics right now. But it's going on everywhere in the world on some level, which is, I think that, I think that we all got really, really exposed to a, to a whole lot of things really fast. And before anyone taught us how to deal with it, right? And so every, so people have started to feel like gray Plato, right? And they don't know how to say, Hey, this is who I am without saying I hate you. Right. And we have that going on in so many places.
Jordan: 00:51:44 And so that's is why I think this is so important. We need adults to teach all kids how to go, Hey, you can be confident and you can be a person and you can have autonomy and that doesn't mean you have to put anyone down. It doesn't mean you have to hate someone. Just because those people do things that don't, that aren't, that you don't agree with, doesn't mean they threaten you. Right? That's not a threat to who you are. You're not turning into a load, a load of grape Plato. You know, one way I always talk about this as I think this is sort of what happened. Everybody here has kids. We sort of like the fantasy and the internet has been sold on the fantasy that you could put a whole bunch of kids or they like that video of the two kids hugging, right?
Jordan: 00:52:18 We have this sort of fantasy that you could put a bunch of kids in a room and lock the door and they just ended up hugging. That's not true. We all have kids. We know that's not what's true. You've put a bunch of kids in a room, lock the door, they end up fighting unless you first told them, taught them how to make sense of being together. Right. How to, how to have the skills to be able to deal with each other. And we have not done that yet in the, uh, in the digital world. And that's parents fault and that's teacher's fault. And that's grandparents fault. And that's grown up small. All of our fault that we haven't, that we haven't done that. Nobody did it for us either. So, you know, I'm not like really pointing fingers go, but I am saying, but I am saying like we all need to step it up and go, you know, this is a whole other thing we're dealing with and we need to prepare kids to be kind and to be ethical and to be tolerant and you know, whatever, whatever.
Jordan: 00:53:01 I'm sure so all of us in this room have different belief systems, but I'm pretty sure we all want kind compassionate people who know how to like live civilly together. And it's really, it's, it's getting hard cause we didn't really prepare, prepare people to do it. And so Twitter is disgusting. And, and I, I love Twitter. I'm on Twitter all the time, but, but at the same time I read things on Twitter and I go, I go, I can't believe that this is how grownups are talking to each other at this point because I was told not to do, not to do a lot of that stuff when I was three. Um, but we haven't taught anyone not to do it. You know, when I took my kids to the playground when they were three and I did it constantly, as you all know, you just say over and over again, don't bite, don't hit share, be kind, don't bite, don't hit share. Be kind. Well, we, it's time for us to [inaudible] we need to do the same thing in the digital, in the, in the digital world. So I'll, I'll leave it at that and we can do some questions. Um, I don't, we have like probably 15 minutes for questions. Is that right? Am I right?
Audience Member: 00:53:59 Yeah.
Jordan: 00:54:00 1520 minutes for questions. Any questions and feel free like challenges, insults, like I have a 14 year old. So I kind of think, you know, feel free to like be really tough.
Audience Member: 00:54:13 is our first question asks where you're like talking to on the spot there.
Jordan: 00:54:18 Oh, you had a question, did you have...
Audience Member: 00:54:20 Well thank you Jordan. I really was kind of mesmerized as you were talking cause I think you did say things that, that really, um, were different and from a different perspective. But I think what kept coming through in my mind is after you mentioned, um, what's foundational to human nature, and you talked about Teknion episiotomy and that coming together pollicis and I thought of another Greek word Amartya which means missing the Mark and how human nature was foundational to us is also that we tend to err, we have vices, we're always missing the Mark. And that evolves as society evolves. And so would you address that question or this, the issue of what are some of those societal vices that we need to be particularly aware of, um, that are trending now for children and for adults? Like for grownups? Every time you go to a restaurant, I see us using technology just to keep our kids quiet so that we don't have to engage in conversations with them. And so I'm thinking so much of the way Amartya plays into the adults, the parents, um, just the, some of the things that come out that are on your mind regarding that.
Jordan: 00:55:32 Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think it's a great question. I'm really glad that you asked it because, um, you know, a lot, a lot. I discovered when I, when I wrote the book and started to talk to people about it, that a lot of people just assumed that I was like super, super ProTech right. That I was just like, this is stuff's great. Stop complaining about it. Right. Let it, let the kids run free. And, and this is so far from my, like I might be more worried about technology than any of you. Um, um, you know, I'm terrified, but I'm more terrified of is how it gets used, right? I don't, I'm sitting there going there, you know, tool tools don't use us. We use them. So you brought up a great, great example. Now some people that I don't want to judge anyone who thinks that it's OK for, uh, for their kids to watch to be looking at screens in a restaurant.
Jordan: 00:56:19 Like that's not absolutely wrong. There's nothing bad about it, not hurting anyone. That depends on your value system. Do you think that it's important to sit there and do it or you want your kids to be quiet? I think either one is fine, but I think we have to recognize that that's teaching the kids a lesson, right? That's teaching the kids something and we need to think about what are our values. I think we're often not doing that. We're often, we're often forgetting that, that we all have values. I don't even want to say essential. They're all different. I mean, there are some that I think are probably essential across all humans, but that's a whole other level of philosophical speculation. Um, uh, but, but I think, I think no matter what your, what your values are, we sometimes forget that our job as parents is really to go, how do I make sure those values are maintained in a changing context, in a changing, in a changing world.
Jordan: 00:57:06 And we feel very sort of helpless when it comes to the devices and we shouldn't because they are really nothing. They're really like, they're really, they're really just, they're really just tools and we get to decide how they're used and we need to teach kids how to use them, you know, and, and so, so much about what I said I think was actually in line with your question, which is we're not teaching kids how to use them. Right? We're not, I mean, most parents are going, I mean, even in the screen-time question is this sort of assumption that like, okay, we'll let them be alone in their bedroom for 40 minutes a day with no money, with no mentorship. Right. That's great. Would you, would you the first, would you let your kid be alone with a hammer like three years old and like, right, what other tool would you be like, I'm going to not teach you how to use it before I leave you alone with it.
Jordan: 00:57:50 We should, you know. And that means you have to be there with them for a long time and make sure you trust them. I'm all for leaving them a loan with lots of things. But first you need to make sure you've taught them how to respect those things as tools which have both dangers and benefits. Every tool has a danger and a benefit. And I think you're talking about, yeah, we're not even acknowledging a lot of dangerous, but in some cases we're not acknowledging the benefits and just screaming about the dangers. And I think we need to, we need to deal, we need to deal with both. And we're all capable of that. Parents know how to do this in almost every other realm of their kids' lives, almost intuitively. And this one scares the crap out of them. And they just, I, I, I mean I don't want to say I don't get it.
Jordan: 00:58:30 I do get it. I'm also scared a lot of the time of of it. But um, but we know what we're doing. I mean all parents are better at this than they think and you don't have to know how to work the tool in order to know how to, in order to know how to, how to recognize whether or not the way it's being used is in line with your values. I mean to me it's that simple. Is it, is it being used in a way like I, if I see my kids watching those silly unwrapping toys, I was talking about them earlier today, unwrapping toys, videos, I walk up to them and I go, that is the worst example of like consumer mindless consumerism I have ever seen and I just give them the longest lecture about how stupid I think it is until they're like, fine dad, I'll just turn it off.
Jordan: 00:59:11 But then I did that for a long time. Then I saw the eye one day. They had one of them at a friend over and turned it on. I heard them give the same lecture to their friend and I was like score, but my point being just like what? It didn't match my values, what they were, what they were doing. And I told them, you know, that's sort of a bad example cause this isn't like a total violation of my values. I wasn't like, Hey, you can't watch this video. But I was very clear as I would be if they, when they tell me certain jokes they hear from their friends, you know, I tell them when I think they're inappropriate, it doesn't mean I say don't tell jokes with your friends. Right. I teach them how I think about it and what, and what I think is fair. There are some things where I say abs, you know, there's zero tolerance policies for them, but, um, but I think it's much more about us watching what they're doing and making sure we agree with it. That's it, right? This is not, um, I don't, yeah. Anyway, there's one question here and then we'll go here.
Audience Member: 01:00:01 Oh, okay. At what age do you start started and then, um, if you're a Neo folk, you're, well for me, uh, okay, let's, let's start again at H do you start it? Yeah. And then if you have a child who has speech delay, do you feel like, um, it's really a benefit?
Jordan: 01:00:20 I tend, I tend to veer on the UN UN UN, this is probably one of the most controversial things that I say and I say often, which is I think start way earlier than most people are starting. Right? The average age at which people are giving technology to kids right now. Is it like giving them a smartphone? I mean a lot of them will stay at home and use an iPad before this, but they get their own smartphone around 1213. First of all, that's the craziest thing I've ever heard because 12 and 13 is like the time when they have hormones going crazy when they are most likely to do bad things. That when like why would you give someone social media right when they first are at their most like sexually crazy, right. Like that makes no sense to me. Or the way I always say is when my kid was five, when I said, don't do that.
Jordan: 01:01:02 He was like, yes, daddy, I want to be just like you now he's 14 when I say don't do that, he goes, why not? Right? Like why would that not? I like five. I was able to put a lot of values into his head when he was, when he was five without, without, without an argument. Now that that just to the smartphone social media thing, I also think that in general, even in terms of time questions, I think it's much easier to start to make it clear. That's just the way life is with how, with how you balance your life with it when they're younger. Right. I know they argue about it. Kids argue about everything, right? Like there's not no part of me saying it's easy. The life of raising kids is they do it. You say no. Then they do it again tomorrow and then you say no and you do that for, well, if you ask my mom, you do that for 42 years.
Jordan: 01:01:43 Right? And yeah, and she's still not sure when it ends, but I know that my 14 year old, I'm still correcting him for things. I feel like I've been saying since he was born. My hope is that by the time he's an adult, he'll learn how to do the things. And I think a lot of parents, especially when it comes to technology, they go, I know. But I asked him to stop and he never wants to stop. Well, that's not surprising. If I asked my kid to stop most things he likes, he doesn't want to, he doesn't want to stop. And I have to say it over and over and over again. So, so while I recognize how hard it is, I also think those sooner you start pounding that message into their head of how much time feels good to you. And when I say how much time I don't, how much time is healthy, I mean, how do they balance it between all the things they want to do in their lives?
Amy Lerman: 01:02:27 It's just as important for us to know this information as it is important for us to support. All of the learners that were, that, that we have in our families, um, and including children that are struggling with their language development. And, um, as many of you know who have children here at the parish school, we integrate a program called social learning and we're using social thinking methodologies, um, that were developed by Michelle Garcia winner. And she was actually another one of the keynotes that was at the learning in the brain conference. And one of the things that Michelle talks about is that in order for you to excel really at anything, it involves practice. And, um, as humans, we're really dynamic, aren't we? We have a lot of things that we learned to do and the reason why we learn to do them and we become increasingly, um, more successful at, at executing those things is because of our access to practice, right?
Amy Lerman: 01:03:34 So the same things can be applied to language, right? And so here you are, you've enrolled your child in a therapeutic school where they're having increased access to repeated trials for improving their language. One of the things that Michelle talks about is the struggle with a screen, right? Is that every time we put a box, as some might call it or a square in front of our face, we do run the um, the risk of blocking practice. Okay. And so with regards to children that struggle with language development and social engagement and connectivity, we have to be really cognizant of are we blocking their step up to the bat. Why does Bregman play so well for the Astros'? Cause he gets a ton of hits when he steps up to bat. We have to apply that same thing for our language learners and to what Jordan's saying, this isn't going away.
Amy Lerman: 01:04:54 So what do we do? We have to strike a balance. We have to make sure that we've got that team in place for our kiddos that are struggling to develop language. We've got to make sure that the therapy is generalizing across environments. We've got to make sure also too that they're thriving in this digital world, which means that we've got to give them access to this. And I think the word that we have to keep coming back to is the balance and the practice at both. Um, I like what you say though about how does it align with your value system. And so right now, if you have a, if you have a learner that's struggling to develop language, that might take more of a precedent than sitting and gaming with your child. Does that make sense? Um, and I'm going to let Stephanie take it a little bit too,
Stephanie: 01:05:56 but with that, there are a lot of therapists out there that are using technology as a tool because what, as he's mentioned, it's, it's the tool. So if you're worried about screen time and your speech development and your language development for a young child and you're giving it to them as, as a parent of children under five, I did today as a babysitter, and then they're not going to, they're not going to have that. But if you're sitting down like I do on other days and watch Daniel tiger with them, you can use that as brilliant social emotional development. You can talk through like, Hey, he's having a fallout because of this. We do that and you can do that with the older shows. I mean all of the teenage shows, they have the same drama in the teenage shows that are happening in their life.
Stephanie: 01:06:41 So if you're using it as a tool in a way to practice speech and language development to have a conversation. We've used in my individual therapy sessions, I've used iPads and that's a way to connect, but we still had the joint attention and the back and forth play and it was just the tool that we used instead of a puppet or a musical instrument to engage in that back and forth play. So if technology is important to you and in aligns with your values, you can still teach your children that we can engage and work on speech and development. We can work on language, we can work on social emotional skills using the tool in that way it's more difficult when you are giving them their tool to go off in the bedroom with a hammer by themselves and not teaching them that. So when your co viewing it with your nine year olds and they are having these social interactions with kids across the world and they're struggling with it or having emotional reactions to not being able to win the game every way, every day or having it do what they can't, what they want it to do, then you can walk them through that.
Cheval Bryant: 01:07:46 To your, to your point, I think, um, and I think what Jordan is trying to communicate is that because technology is not going away and we know that, um, so instead of removing the technology to engage with your child in the technology to create those opportunities to practice language. So instead of quote unquote putting the box in front of the child, your child's face, you get in front of the box with your child and create those to engage with your child and give them those opportunities to interact and use their language. So you said something this morning that I think is really important to repeat. Those are the opportunities where you get the teach your five-year-old don't text, but instead of teaching your 14 year old, don't text the picture of your butt because by the time they get there, they've already learned how to use it the wrong way. Right. So I thought that was really profound.
Audience Member: 01:08:43 I liked what you said about we as adults aren't socially capable of dealing with everything we see on the internet. Yeah. So maybe you know, I was telling my daughter today, Oh, ignore what you know, people are saying to you, we as adults need to learn how to do that. Just because somebody puts something stupid out there on Twitter doesn't mean we have to respond. So how would you say like how we teach our kids, would you say expose them to social media, but sit there and go, okay, we don't agree with this with our social values. Don't respond. Don't you know basically what we, what we, what we do face to face, we need to make sure we do socially.
Jordan: 01:09:23 Yeah, I think that's exactly right. And again, you know, what I would love to see in the world, it doesn't exist yet, is I would like to see much more closed social media for younger kids. Um, you know, I've always thought it'd be great if there was a social media for all of the aunts and uncles in my kids' family or maybe for their whole soccer team or their whole church group or whatever, because then you get a chance to watch the way adults talk to each other in a kind of closed place. Like I learned how to, I think about this all the time. You know, I came from a very sort of rambunctious family and at a Thanksgiving table there were arguments and there were some teasing, but it was always done with the right level of love, right? It was this perfect sort of place between, between pro it was, it's called pro social teasing.
Jordan: 01:10:03 And I learned as a kid how to find those, those lines by watching the way that the uncles did it to each other and we're not, that's what I would love to see. So they, so that they could see that instead of, they start on Instagram where there is a ton of mean things on it. Um, and they don't get the first watch adults that, that we respect do, do, do those things the way we bought them to see it. I've tried to do that with, with my own family. You know, we do it. We'd like closed, uh, chat groups, um, thing. I mean I have, I have both. I have both chat groups with one of my kids, one with all three of us, the one with all three of us. A lot of us are often, we're just sharing memes between the three of us and commenting on it, trying to make each other laugh.
Jordan: 01:10:43 And that's always, I mean, I travel a lot too. It's always going on between the, between the three of us, my two sons and myself. Um, but that's, that's what I would like to see. A, there's a couple of people starting to build to build those, but there's lots of lots of tools that, eh, that exist. Um, you know, you may have to, uh, you know, I don't know what the right word is. Um, I don't know. He may have to, you may, you may have to play with it a little bit to make it work, but, but, but that's what I would really would really courage. I don't know, just loved the idea of like at the end of a Thanksgiving dinner there'd be like all the photos of like of like everybody together and the funny things that happened at the meal and that's what kids would be watching when they're, when, when they're little and they'd go home and they look at it and they'd be like, Oh yeah, that's all the people I love doing all the things I like instead of they start with the teenage stuff, which is like, again, why would that be the first time you introduced them to things?
Audience Member: 01:11:35 Well, you know, like you said, introducing them as young as younger kids. Is that a, I guess a lot of people haven't given their kids a great foundation socially to jump into social media. Right? So if they can't behave well socially, face to face and interacting well, I guess I feel like it would be very hard to all of a sudden bring in social media at a very young age.
Jordan: 01:12:03 Yeah, I mean, yeah, I had not that I'm disagreeing with you. I think I totally agree with you. I mean there's always a problem with,
Audience Member: 01:12:10 I think parent good parenting is very time consuming. And what I see when people do allow their kids to have social media, they're not on top of it. It is exhausting to give a child social media at 10 or 11 and, and you know, I always said to my daughter, I have two daughters, one is 11 now, just turned 11 and one is 19 so when the 19 year old she did get social media at age 12 which I thought was a very young, but I was on top of her. But it's an ugly world out there. That's the whole thing, you know, that's, you know, so you can control that. But it is so time consuming. That's, you know, like you said, like we don't talk that way. Text messaging. I said, if I see you say your U R instead of Y O U R I'll take texting away. Right. I was like, you're right.
Audience Member: 01:12:55 That's a little extreme. I correct me all the time. I corrected all the time,
Audience Member: 01:13:03 said like, I was like, we're not gonna throw that away at such a young age and not write correctly. So I guess, yeah, that's my concern. If we don't have a good foundation, you know, socially and, and other areas, it's hard to all of a sudden jump to social media and have a good foundation. You know? I think you're right. We should be addressing it earlier, but I think I sound so pessimistic. I think as a society we're just failing kids in so many ways at a young age, right? They've got to learn how to be good kids in person and S and socially, and then we have to get into social media aspect of it. So, or like, okay.
Audience Member: 01:13:43 So my question is about empathy. Yeah. You, yeah. I was wondering what have you found in your research about the relationship between empathy and like digital learning, digital playing digital games, everything.
Jordan: 01:13:56 Yeah. There there's a, there's a whole, there's a whole, there's a whole chapter on empathy in the, in the, in the book. Um, so let me think about what to include cause we are, we're really close on time. So that's the, that's the probably the last question. Um, I guess I would just say what the, what the, what the research shows is that it's is, is really, really, really, um, mixed. And when I say mixed, a lot of people hear me going, there's research that shows it's bad. There is a, some research that's really bad that shows it's bad, like not good research. Um, is what I mean there's no research that shows that it has any impact in developing on whether or not kids develop empathy. Okay. But what I will say is I think we see, actually it's a great tool. We all know it.
Jordan: 01:14:39 We you, you tend to being able to find people who are like you. Um, you tend to be able to find niche groups and you tend to be able to find people that you feel like are relating to you. Now that's really positive. If what you are looking for is something positive. That's also how we ended up with a lot of hate groups is that they're able to find people who have the same feelings as them, who and who they can feel and who feel like they understand their, the things that they're angry about. So, so, you know, it's sort of, to me, I guess what I'm trying to say to say to this is like, the question to me is I don't think there's any difference between, I mean there's certainly a difference between what it means to empathize in a digital world, in the real world.
Jordan: 01:15:12 But I don't think there's like, one's more than the other. They're just different ways of doing it. And there are certainly, and there are also bad kinds of empty, you know, uh, one of the things I talked about in the book is there's an argument that we have something called the [inaudible] people write about called the empathy altruism hypothesis, which is the idea that, which is the same as what I was saying, the idea you put a bunch of kids in the room and they'll love each other, right? They'd like when we, because we can feel someone else's pain, we will automatically want to alleviate it all evidence points to that's not true at all, which is why you get excited imagining that the people are sad when their team lost to your team. Right? Like, we actually enjoy it. Right? We love thinking about the fact that the other team's fans are sad, right?
Jordan: 01:15:53 Like, we can imagine their sadness. That's what we do, right? Like it's a, so there's no evidence that being able to imagine someone else's suffering makes you want to watch to help them, which is what a lot of the empathy research is based on. So a lot of it, empathy research in general is problematic. Um, but I would add that that a lot of people are fine of are finding the first time that they've ever felt heard or seen is because they have groups that they, they can find Facebook groups and they can find Twitter groups. And you know, there's so much, you know, you've probably heard a lot on the, and a lot of the news talks about like the rise in like, like anxiety and things and trying to tie it to social media. No evidence tied social media. In fact, what we find is that kids who are starting to have suicidal thoughts are finding the first, are finding the support they need more often than not from online groups that it's preventing a lot of that.
Jordan: 01:16:40 Um, and that's great. But again, as I'm saying also that's why we're getting so many hate groups because they're finding the people who agree with them. So I can't sit there and go, the internet is great cause it finds your support group. It also finds your hate grip. So it's a we, that's why we need parents to be with kids and teachers to be with kids going is this match my values, the group that you're meeting with. And, and, and again, one of the reasons I suggest younger, uh, is because they don't try to hide. A 14 year olds are really good at hiding what they're doing online from you and five-year-old stink at trying to hide things. So how do you, how do you see that's the time to start to teach them to match your values? I think we're, we're, we're completely out of time and I want to make sure he's a few minutes so I can sign books if anyone wants them. You know? Thank you all. It's been great to talk to. I wish we could do a million more questions. Thank you.
Meredith: 01:17:32 Thank you for listening to the Unbabbled podcast. For more information on today's episode, including links to resources mentioned, please see our episode description. For more information on the parish school, visit parish school.org if you're not already, don't forget to subscribe to the Unbabbled podcast on your app of choice. And if you like what you're hearing, be sure to leave a rating and review a special thank you to Stig Daniels, Amy Tanner and Amanda Arnold for all their hard work behind the scenes. Thanks again for listening.