Therapy in an Age of Digital Attachment

Dr. Dodgen-Magee: I want to invite you guys to do things a little differently today than perhaps normally you do in one of these lectures.
I want to encourage you to actually wherever you are to take your phone out and to have it on and to have it readily accessible if you have a smartphone especially, because I would like to encourage you today to use your technological superpowers, which that’s basically what those are, for good. I have intentionally I have a presentation
that is very academically rich. However, it is not academically traditional, so I’m
not going to have a lot of slides full of outlines. Instead my slides and my PowerPoints are all intended for you to be able to take screenshots or take photos and text them to who you think needs to see them. The way in which I try to create a global community within my own talks is by encouraging people to tweet at the Twitter handle that you’ll see here
and get the conversation started in that way as well. I also want to encourage you more than taking notes today, anything that you hear I can send to you or can find online easily. I can
reference it and you can find online. More than the notes that you will take or the pieces
of data you will record, I would love for us to have a shared experience today. Because
the more of our lives that are lived in digital spaces the less we have experiences with each
other in embodied spaces. Even if we are sharing this space over the World Wide Web and we
are all over the world, we can have an experience together just by sharing the information that
we are learning today. The next thing I want to say is that my slides
also are going to be a little bit different in that sometimes when I’m talking about
very scholarly research which I am having a hard time making … Maybe I’m pointing
it wrong. Vance, am I pointing it wrong? There we go. Thank you. I spend 10 hours a week.
I’m a psychologist, I’m in private practice. A little bit about why I got interested in
this topic is that I have a 22 year old and a nearly 20 year old and their favorite toys
when they were growing up and my favorite toys with them is that we would all lie on
the floor and play together. Suddenly when about 10 years after my kids
were born I had a niece and nephew and I wanted to gift them with some of the same kinds of
toys that I had had and that my kids had had. What I found when I started shopping for toys
is that most of the preschool toys at that point, which was about 10 years ago, were
beginning to have computer chips in them, so they lit up, they made sounds. There was
no sense of play in the same way that there used to be. I began to become interested about
that time and how this trending down in technological advances to younger and younger children were
going to impact the life span of these kids and especially their relational attachments
and the way in which they develop a sense of self.
Down there I began to read research and talk about this and then immerse myself in the
world of pop culture. Up to about, I don’t know, three months ago at least I’d dedicate
at least 15 hours a week reading research and doing really horrifically mundane things
like reading People Magazine and trying to keep up with what’s happening in our culture
and where we are spending our time. The research that I’m going to talk about today if we
look at the … looks a lot like this. This is a piece of research that has to do with
video game play and impulse control and agitation. However this isn’t very exciting to look
at. Sometimes I’m going to show you the USA Today version or the New York Times version.
However you can be sure that whatever research I bring up is quality research, it is well
constructed, it is peer reviewed, and there are very good reasons to consider that it
would have something important for us to know about. I’m going to also just tell you about
what brings me to this point today. Maybe you can help. Am I pointing this incorrectly,
Vince? Vince who’s the kind of all things is going to help me.
I’ve been doing this research for 10 years. In the last three months I have had a lot
of changes. There we go. Thank you so much. In how I think about technology even though
this is my topic, this is what I immerse myself in. But in the last several months I’ve
had some unique experiences. I’ve had a couple of experiences of doing ground rounds
with physicians, internal medicine doctors, pediatric doctors, and family practice docs.
I have also had the opportunity to do several different state psychiatric and psychological
association plenary and keynote addresses. I have not been in rooms of people ever in
the last maybe two years of people who are less aware of what is happening in digital
spaces than these rooms full of therapists and physicians. Largely because they are busy
doing therapy and practicing medicine. However, we are now living in a time where
the bulk of our world culture is spending amounts of time that are unbelievable to many
of us in digital spaces, and the people who are helping to care for those folks aren’t
aware. I think that’s really important that we need to, we have a responsibility to be
aware of what’s going on. The other thing that happened in the last
three months was I had an eye exam and as soon as my eye doctor found out what I did
for a living and what I was speaking on around the country, she was flooding me with information
about some of the physiological effects. This also happened when I was with the residents.
There are now profound physiological effects that we are beginning to see come forth as
a result of our high attachment to screens and our high involvement in digital spaces.
I also spent time at a high school called Sandy High School within the last two months
where I spoke with 1800 high school students. It was quite a two days. 35 minute assemblies
over and over with about 200 students each. But it gave me this opportunity to be with
young adults and adolescents in a way that was deeply profound. In that same amount of
time I’ve been on six different college campuses across the US. That has given me
an opportunity to understand what’s happening now for the young adult mind, body and self.
I bring that information to you today because most of you are busy doing other things than
talking with high school and college age students at this kind of rate about this topic.
Similarly and the last thing that happened for me in the last three months was that I
saw the movie the DUFF. Any of you seen, at least here seen the movie The DUFF? It’s
currently in theaters. DUFF stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend and it’s a fantastically
pitifully sad but realistic picture of how culture today is really being dominated, especially
for children, for adolescents, and for young adults by what happens in digital spaces.
All of that I bring to you today and I want to help you become immersed in a world where
students feel like home it’s a little bit like this. Home is a little bit like sepia
Kansas. You love … home where it’s warm and safe and parents and teachers want to
bring kids up and bring them to Kansas. The kids are constantly trying to figure out how
can they get to Oz. Because Oz looks like this and Kansas looks like this. There’s
a reason that we want to escape to these digital spaces that are so colorful and bright and
beautiful. As a result of this you’ll find in a lot of the academic research, a lot of
the pop culture research, cultural anthropological research and futurists are talking about IRL
which they are using this acronym to stand for In Real Life.
My problem is that I don’t believe that there is any more a real life and a digital
life. I believe that we are spending so much time in digital spaces that our real lives
include our digital lives and that they really are merged in unique ways or in some unique
ways. Especially for young adults and adolescents, their digital lives are very much their real
lives. We need to be aware of that. Oftentimes especially as psychological professionals
we come at them as though we need to tame them. I especially find folks who don’t
use technology a lot or who are not as aware of what technology delivers these days. We
talk about wanting to come in and tame these digital natives as though we need to revert
back to phones with cords that are hooked to walls. We can’t romanticize. We can’t
do that. The technology is here to stay. It’s fantastic. It allows for a place like CalSouthern
to exist. It has amazing things that it can deliver to us. However it’s also maybe not
what we were born for. Culture is more than happy to now tell us that it is what we were
born for. In fact, we see things like this all over the place.
Speaker 2: Push. Push. Dr. Dodgen-Magee: Right. This definition really
of kids and young adults is told, “You were born for the internet, you were born for digital
devices.” What I find is that there’s this huge divide between folks who have really
adapted to and who are using technology a lot and folks who aren’t. There’s this
sense that we, the older generations have given the younger generations these amazing
tools, this technology that is just mind-bogglingly overwhelmingly fantastic. Then we have resented
them for using it. We give it to them. We give them the capacity
to turn their whole world into digital wonderland. Then when they do so, we’re mad at them.
We haven’t taught them anything. We haven’t taught them how to be moderate. We haven’t
taught them how to be safe. But we instead resent them. If you look at some of the literature
and especially some of the media, pop media you will hear the generation under 30 being
referred to as the crappiest generation of all time, the most entitled lowlife nobody
is ever … I’m sure you guys have heard this. This is how we refer to them. Yet, we
are the ones, largely my generation and up are the ones who have given this.
What I feel like I would like to help us all do is learn how to become qualified navigators
and guides. We need to know what’s happening in these spaces, and then we need to be able
to inform the people who are spending time there about what some of the outcomes are
and what some of the research is showing us so that we can make wise choices.
The first thing we need to know is you guys need to know the lay of the land in Oz. Why
do people want to leave Kansas for Oz? I will tell you what the lay of the land in Oz is
right now. One of the places that we can find the best information about what’s happening
in technological circles is at the Consumer Electronic Showcase fair in Las Vegas every
January. Some of you probably follow it. These are the traits that really came out from this
year’s conference and also just in looking at what is happening with app development,
with web development, with even hardware development. More and more spaces that are digitally inhabited
are wanting to be ephemeral, meaning that developers are wanting the communication that
happens in digital spaces to disappear overtime, to look more like the kinds of communication
that happens between embodied people. There’s no record of a conversation that you and I
have when we have embodied person to embodied person. Tech developers are wanting to make
our digital experiences more like that. They’re also wanting these experiences to
be hyper dynamic, meaning they are constantly changing, they’re hyper connected, we can
get access to more and more people in really dynamic ways. Humanity is now considered your
credential. What I mean by that is that in the past if you had a medical condition or
if you had something going on you would go to a person who had credentials to help you
with that, you would prob- Or even if that was a parent, like this person’s given a
lot of band aids and treated a lot of boo-boos. But you would go to a physician.
Now typically the first action that people take is to google something. Whoever comes
up in the first five search hits is going to be the expert. We see this in also, well
I’ll show you in how we see it, but humanity is a huge issue because we also at the same
time are not teaching digital literacy or media literacy so people don’t know how
to evaluate what they’re finding online. You put those two together and there’s some
real issues going on. We want our experiences in digital spaces
to be more shareable. We want them to have this far reaching large impact. We want them
to be non-age segregated and more accessible to more people. We want them un-moderated,
meaning there’s nobody controlling the connection. The experience there feels hyper real almost
and hyper present. Then the final thing that is really coming
through in the tech world is the gamification of most things. In mental health in the US
now many insurance companies are increasingly moving to a gamified model where if I as a
private practitioner submit a clinical diagnosis of anxiety or depression for someone, very
likely their insurance company is going to send them weekly games that can help them
with their symptoms that they will do online. This is happening in schools across the United
States for sure where many, many districts and schools are moving to one-to-one policy
where first graders, sixth graders, and ninth graders will be given iPads that will serve
as their homeroom instructors. We are seeing the gamification of learning more and more,
not always with the end in mind of actually creating dynamic learners, but more with the
end in mind of making learning fun. I’m going to talk about that as we go.
These are just examples of some of the ways in which those trends are playing out. These
are three of the more accessed social networks. Tumblr is also very interesting as a connector
of people. This is one of the spaces that is still possible to post and interact completely
confidentially online, so a lot of young adults find themselves really deep into stuff that
is hurtful to them in spaces like Tumblr. Tumblr is a photo and video blogging site.
Some of the top searches in the last year especially for an adolescent and young adult
population in the west are things like self-harm … and then a lot of porn. A lot of porn
gets accessed through Tumblr. Sites like this oftentimes kids are spending a lot of time
here and having really difficult and painful experiences, and their parents or the important
people in their lives don’t have a clue how to help them with that. If there is this
split where the people who aren’t engaged in these text bases as much are looking down
upon the people who are, there’s also fear of revealing the kinds of things difficult
situations one has online because there’s fear of shaming and punishment rather than
connection and help. Snapchat is one of the most interesting of
these kinds of platforms that really shows all of those traits that we are looking for
in tech spaces right now. The reason that I think Snapchat is interesting is because
it also points out that app developers don’t just develop apps for our own good. They actually
develop them to make money and to create a kind of experience.
Snapchat is a platform where probably most of you know you take a picture or a video,
you send it to someone who you’re connected to, it stays up on their screen for 7 to 10
seconds and then supposedly it disappears. The reason that Snapchat is really interesting
for me to tell you guys about right now is that just a year ago it was considering going
public or making a public offering. It was valued around $10 billion. Shortly after that
valuing somehow a second party app that had hacked its way into Snapchat stole a bunch
of images of celebrities without any clothing on, and they leaked these to the press pretty
widely and everyone in the media and tech world said, “Snapchat will certainly die
because these images don’t really disappear and fade into ephemeral space. They actually
live somewhere and can come up later to haunt you.”
In reality however Snapchat kept pursuing new avenues and has come up with a couple
of new amazing things that they offer now. They offer payment now for a new service called
story and they just have been in the last two weeks valued at somewhere between $15
and 19 billion. So even when an app has been exposed as having really potentially harmful
effect it can go on to create huge and profound both social change and impact for the creators
of these apps. We need to know that because they aren’t just created for our own good.
They are created for other reasons. If you’re interested in Snapchat specifically
or anything related to pop culture and tech I’d encourage you to follow CaseyNeistat
on Vimeo or YouTube. He is fantastic and just put out a film about Snapchat that is great.
I encourage you to check it out. YouTube, YouTube is a place where we spend
a huge amount of our time. YouTube used to be one of the most visited sites and it still
is in the top five. However right now globally, I just looked at the end of last week, globally
the top three accessed apps are Uber. This is internationally. Uber. The second one is
ShowMe, which is a social app mostly used in the East. Then the third one is Snapchat.
Snapchat is by far the most used, especially within the young adult and adolescent population.
YouTube, the interesting thing about YouTube if we talk about how technological spaces
are hyper dynamic and hyper connected, meaning we want them to constantly be changing so
that people want more and more and more and keep coming back, every second, so this long,
1000 300 hours of video are uploaded onto YouTube. That is profound. Most of you have
probably seen nothing but high quality videos on YouTube, right? That builds your brain
and makes you smarter. Not so much. It really, really is profoundly important that we become
aware that there are these things vying for our attention at all times that do not make
us necessarily more complex, more smart, more deep and more interesting. We need to be aware
of that. However, spaces at the same time like YouTube
are for the first time ever creating their own experiences of embodied time. The Super
Bowl is a huge experience in the United States for bringing the culture together. Watches
the Super Bowl and people are just as excited about the ads and the half time show. This
year for the first time YouTube actually did its own halftime show and took a huge amount
of the network population’s viewing audience toward it, which means that again we are gravitating
towards these experiences about this social norm and more about our own unique experiences.
When President Obama gave his last State of the Union address he was not interviewed afterward
by network news anchors. This year he was interviewed by the three top YouTube celebrities.
One of them was a 19 year old actually from Orange County. She has made her name in YouTube.
She has over 8 million followers. She has made her name in YouTube by making hall videos
which are basically videos where she is given access to stores and she goes and creates
all kinds of outfits and then she goes to her home in Orange County and puts on all
these outfits and shows them and demonstrates them. Young, especially young adult women
and high school and college age women watch them toward the 8 million level. Then she
is the one interviewing President Obama. The reason that that’s important is again
we go back to is credibility. Again, who are we looking to get our information from? She
did some great interviewing. The thing that’s interesting about that though is that again
the whole sense of … people go to get help and connection is changing and we need to
be aware of it. This is another way that that’s changing.
We are more and more living in a culture that tells us that our technology can tell us more
about people than our own gut can. This at the CES, one of the most popular things this
year were monitoring devices for babies. These are monitors that babies wear that create
highly angst parents by the way. If you look at the information on parenting right now,
parents and especially at home parents are at high risk for high levels of anxiety right
now because they have access to so much more information, but they don’t have access
… using it. Keeping track of so much more, but it … necessarily have any more advanced
tools. The other thing that came out was monitoring
your pets. There were pet monitors, and baby monitors at the CES that allow you to talk
to your child or your pet through these devices that they wear on their tummies to record
everything that they do. In terms of gamification the thing we need
to know is that we are moving toward a world where there will just be more … via gaming.
A lot of young adults who do internet connected gaming, their primary source of connection
and community is in those spaces. We’re also seeing now gaming as an entertainment
form. In the US we also had the two first this year of college students being given
or scholarships for participation in e-sports, so literally they are given academic scholarships
for … The Oculus will basically be this gaming device
that you wear and when you hear something back here you turn and you see it. The thing
that has halted its release has been … Do you need to check something?
Speaker 3: Go on. Dr. Dodgen-Magee: All right. The thing that’s
halted its release is that it has made people incredibly nauseous. It is so realistic and
so hyper experiential that people have gotten sick while they’ve been using it. They just
solved that two weeks ago actually so it’ll be released this year. But the reason that
this is interesting to me as a psychologist is that this is going to make the gaming experience,
which is a huge and profound amount of time that gamers spend playing games, it will make
it even more immersive and isolative. We are becoming increasingly isolated even
when we are with others. When you watch photos or videos of individuals playing these games
together with their oculuses on it’s hilarious because they’re all sitting in a group but
they’re all looking in a different direction and they’re all having their own unique
experience rather than having one together. This is trending down also into younger and
younger ages. Yeah? Yes you bet. In terms of thinking about gamificaiton just
we’re moving toward more a setting in academics and in healthcare in most places where we
are trying to make the process of pursuing health and symptom reduction more like games.
We are also using a method that I’ll talk about later. But the problem with this is
that most gaming platforms use a very fixed mindset model which is a model that is being
shown by the research, especially research out of Stanford to not be a particularly flexible
model or accurate model in terms of what really defines intellect and intellectual capability.
We’re also seeing gaming be in huge arenas and platforms and be more a form of entertainment
and passive entertainment. This is how this is trending down to younger
kids. This is an infant who is lying on a mat watching an iPhone in their toy. There
are now teething toys that you put iPhones in. There’s an ipotty where you put an iPad
on this little device where you teach your child to use the potty. We are more and more
trending down which means we’re inoculating kids to higher and higher levels of stimulation,
meaning just sitting and playing with a single embodied face and person is no longer as stimulating.
That’s because partially what we’re going to find out is that these forms of screen
based stimulation stimulate both neurological function and the endocrine system in such
a way that it creates literally a physiological desire for wanting more.
Now on average in the US and part of the reason I’m using US statistics is because we’ve
done a little bit different forms of longitudinal research than what is available out there
for a global market, but in the US it is now considered pretty accurate that we are spending
on average 12.5 hours a day with screens. How we get to this number is that if you control
for multiuse which now it is considered that anyone under the age of about 40 multi uses
technology on mass. We are using our cellphones while we’re looking at a computer screen.
We’re watching a movie and we’re texting. If you control for that multiuse and spread
it out it’s 12.5 hours. If you take the average 19 year old right
now and multiply that out, if that average 19 year old continues to use technology at
that rate by the time they are 60 they will have dedicated 20 years of their lives to
technology. This is my 20 year old son hugging my 60 year old uncle. 20 years of their lives
will be dedicated to this endeavor. Oftentimes what I find is if they know they
will then become intentional about the choices that they make with their use. We know that
that 12.5 hours has to come from somewhere. It’s not as we’ve been given an additional
12.5 hours a day. This is where the research tells us that that time comes from. It comes
from family talk time. It comes from social practice.
Those two are especially important to me as a psychologist, because family talk time is
where we develop the basic core sense of self that sustains us through life. It’s sitting
around with whoever happens to be in your home with you and having those weird awkward
conversations, having to bump up against the things you disagree with your parents or with
your siblings, it’s learning how to have conflict and how to have intimacy that happens
in that family talk time that’s crucial to the way in which the foundation of the
self is laid. It’s also crucial for developing the scaffolding upon which relationships will
later be developed. That’s then also what concerns me about
coming from social practice. Social practice is just the opportunity to go into social
settings and make an absolute idiot of yourself to trip while you’re walking into a room
and then to recover from it and find out that all of life does not end, to find out that
you can live through awkward silences and conversations, and again life does not end.
Social practice is crucial and we are taking that away at younger and younger ages.
If you’ve got children again turned toward these small devices where they’ve got constantly
simulating images coming from, it means they are turning away from embodied connection,
that neurologically we know and psychologically we know is the foundation of what develops
a core sense of self and healthy relational wellbeing. Sleep, sleep is a huge issue globally.
We are experiencing less and less of it and we are coming to know that that is having
a profound effect in some ways. I’m going to talk about that.
It’s also coming from physical activity, which means we are having lower and lower
physical acuity. In the United States specifically we are now seeing preschool students who on
average if you hand a seven month old child a small rectangular object of any kind the
first thing they will do is swipe their hand across it. Yet, we’re seeing record and
record numbers of preschoolers at later and later ages being able to do things like button
the buttons, tie shoes. Again, we are more experienced in our bodies with doing things
with screens than we are with doing things without them.
The reason that I think this is so important is that if we look at people like trees we
all come from some place, we come from a deep place of rootedness and groundedness, and
parents, physicians, therapists, educators, we want to make sure that that soil that the
tree of a child is growing out of is really healthy. We are adending it and making sure
it’s rich and nutrient dense. We are making sure that it gets the right amount of water
and that it’s going to grow these deep roots that will support its growing up.
The tricky thing is that trees are also impacted by the contextual elements that they grow
up into. This is a tree near where I live on the coast. The coastal wind doesn’t just
automatically come to a healthy tree and then all of a sudden blow it over. But slowly overtime
the wind and the elements shape the development of that tree. I believe that the technological
winds that we are living in, the media winds that we are living in are having a profound
effect on the shaping of several things, and research is baring that out.
These are the areas that we are being deeply shaped and profoundly shaped as people by
our over involvement with the technological advances. Our bodies are seeing a profound
effect. Just the way in which our bodies are developing is changing. The way in which we
experience our own sense of self and the way in which we function out of that sense of
self is deeply and profoundly changing. I call that the intra personal impact. Our relationships
and the scaffolding upon which we build them is profoundly different than it was even 10
years ago. Then the most new advance that we’re seeing
come out in the research, I’ve talked about this across the other domains before but now
I’m talking about it as its own domain is our sense of embodiment, just the sense in
which we invade or do not invade our own skin, how much of our bodies we are engaged with
at all times. I think we’re seeing less and less of that.
We’re going to start there. Really we have access as physiological beings to all kind
of senses and our bodies have natural message indicators. However what I have found is that
the more engaged people are with their devices the less engaged they are with their own message
indicators within their body. Any way in which we can get people to engage anyone of their
senses other than the visual, the sense of visual or auditory that we’re receiving
from screens, is a way of helping our embodied selves come more present. That’s really,
really important, not only to just be a healthy self, but that’s important to be able to
engage physical spaces with other people. I as a psychologist really believe and some
of the literature suggests that some of the increase in self-harm that we see now in mental
healthcare circles has to do with the way in which young adults and adolescents have
so much of their experience happening outside of their bodies in digital spaces. They don’t
actually know how to handle or manage emotions within their bodies, and so oftentimes this
is coming out in self-harm. I think porn has a huge effect on this as well which we’re
going to talk about next. Be thinking as we talk about these other domains
and the other ways in which these contextual elements are shaping the person, think about
the way in which we are or are not in our own bodies as an overarching theme. If we
look at physiology there are several things we’re going to look at. The first thing
we’re going to consider is the eye. The eye is the first thing that we’re seeing
some profound effects from our over engagement with screens.
Basically screens emit a light called blue light. It’s part of the UV spectrum. Historically
the only way that our eye has experienced blue light is from the sun. That’s very
far away from us, and many of us when we are out in the sun wear protection for our eyes.
When the sun was the only form of UV light that was aging the eye, it took a long time
for us to see a physiological impact of that. Now eye physicians, ophthalmologists, optometrist
are seeing a profound trending down in things like cataracts and things like macular degeneration
because that UV light is entering at a much closer distance. We hold our screens closer
and closer to us. The smaller our screens become or the smaller our devices become the
closer we hold them to us. This is a particular issue for children whose arms are proportionally
shorter than adults, so they are holding the screen even closer to their eyes, meaning
their eyes, the retina is having access to great damage at earlier ages. That retina
has a profound effect from this aging that is happening prematurely.
There are several things you can do. I’m going to try to give you some intervention
ideas throughout the talk today. This is a huge one. If you look at app development right
now many apps are becoming developed to create filters for your devices so that your screen
will dim and change colors at different times of day and things, which is fantastic. However,
it’s a little bit like adding a filter to a cigarette. Like we’re going to put a filter
on there so smoke more of them. If you put a filter on your devices you can feel lulled
into safety. We want to be aware that our eye actually needs us to become moderate with
our use, which is my message overall. Technology is here and it’s here to stay. But if we
become intentional and moderate we can profoundly affect the way in which it’s shaping us.
Turn away from screens an hour before bed. The other reason that this is important is
that basically when you are interacting with a blue light screen you are also encouraging
your body to release endorphins. It’s almost like holding a mood box light right up to
your face right before you go to bed. You’re telling yourself, “I need to sleep, I’m
in bed,” but you’re telling your brain like, “Wake up, be alert, don’t be sad,
don’t be low.” We need to be aware of that. Turning away from screens an hour before
bed is important for sleep and physiology. Using ambient instead of overhead light just
helps effect for the way in which your eye takes in a screen based impact. Place screens
next to instead of in front of windows. Apply filters, but don’t use that a false sense
of security. Then mostly just limit your time with screens.
Another physiological effect is that we are seeing profound levels of thumb arthritis
now trending down. Actually some literature is suggesting that football players especially
high school football players and rugby players are being asked to not text because it is
affecting the way in which our grip is able to be managed and controlled. It is profound.
Again, becoming aware that this affects us, carpal tunnel or thumb arthritis is huge.
Then if we look physiologically at some of the most profound effects and where the research
is showing us the most profound effects is with the brain, the neurological system and
the endocrine system. Let me tell you about that. Basically probably most of you especially
if you are working in mental health have done some basic research on neuroplasticity and
neurological development, but where the brain fires together it wires together. Meaning
whatever experiences you expose your brain to create deep groves. Information comes in
through one form of your senses, it gets transmitted through the brain through a series of electrical
impulses, and gets sent to a location probably usually in the back of the brain where it’s
decoded and coded. Screen forms of stimulation, even if you are
viewing a variety of things, tend to come in and come through the brain as one form
of stimulation, creating this deep grove in the brain. Meaning we are giving our brain
one experience over and over and over rather than a variety of experiences, and this deeply
and profoundly affects the complexity of our brains.
We also know that with things like video gaming that there are endocrine system responses,
so when an individual is interfacing with a videogame frequently their endocrine system
is releasing adrenaline and cortisol at these surging levels that is creating this heightened
sense of alertness and awareness that also can very quickly turn to actually a sense
of agitation, a sense of inability to be still and quiet. We have the neurological system
and the endocrine system being activated and elevated in these ways that both stimulate
and force a lack of complexity in some really interesting ways.
I’m going to show you how that happens. Basically what the brain learns over time
through your experience is how long it’s going to need to wait for the next piece of
information. We actually know that the brain being able to wait, the brain and the body
being able to tolerate boredom is highly correlated with levels of creativity, it’s correlated
with levels of academic success, it’s correlated with levels of life satisfaction. If the brain
knows that it needs to wait and it’s able to do that, it’s able to help the body regulate
when it’s sending out all these endocrine signals, if it’s able to do that we will
have a much more satisfied life, we’ll be more creative, we’ll be happier.
The tricky thing is is that life that does not provide us with opportunities like it
used to be bored, to tolerate waiting. I’m going to show you how that has advanced through
these next slides. This is Sesame Street. This is the opening credits from 1963 I believe.
I want you to just pay attention to each sustained visual shot. Count the number of seconds in
each sustained shot from 1963 thinking that this is the brain waiting for the next image.
You should be getting somewhere between 5 to 10 seconds. If we watch the whole thing
you’d get 5 to 10 seconds. The brain is basically learning, “Okay I got to keep
waiting and it’s going to come. Oh there it is. Okay, now I got to keep waiting. It’s
going to come. There it is.” But we learn in watching this that you really do have to
sustain. Now let’s look at Sesame Street from 1983 and see what’s happening. Same
thing. Take a look at the intro from 83. See what’s happening. We’re trending down
now. The brain is going like, “I got to wait three or four seconds. I got to wait
three or four seconds. Okay now it’s again.” Now let’s take a look at a couple of years
ago. If you see what’s happening now, there is no sustained shot. Do you see this? This
is educational programing which I love Sesame Street. But this where we have come where
we now have a constantly changing visual image available to us at all times. If any image
is too static we have access to such powerful computing devices in our pockets that can
make it so that we don’t have to sustain focus.
You can image what it’s like for kindergarten teachers when kids have been actually flooded
with this kind of stimulation that tells them they never have to wait for the next thing.
Now suddenly they’re sitting in a classroom with one teacher. That is profoundly difficult.
Does this make sense? We’re seeing across the country, it’s interesting to me when
I talk with educators. I am hearing from them at mass numbers of higher incidence of masturbatory
behavior under the desk in classrooms in as young as second grade students.
I think that’s largely because we don’t, the brain literally doesn’t know how to
wait for the next thing, how to wait to be stimulated. The way that we see this in adult
programing because this is not just children’s programing anymore is in things like this.
Even we now have a hard time waiting. We don’t wait because we don’t have to. Here’s
how this has evolved. Jack: 7 am Eastern Standard Time. We’re
in NBC’s World Communication Center in the heart of Radio City New York. We are in touch
with the world. We’ll tell you what’s happening.
Dr. Dodgen-Magee: Now if you notice this one- Jack: My name is Jack Lescoulie.
Dr. Dodgen-Magee: … same thought. Jack: And here’s Dave Garroway.
Dave: Oh here we are. Good morning crew. The very first good morning of what I hope and
suspect will be a great many good mornings between you and I. There it is Jack said January
14th 19- Dr. Dodgen-Magee: It’s just worth the whole
clip right there. Then we move onto and so you see the whole, this entire … We can
watch this whole episode is just this, and then the camera pans. But again, we were used
to waiting. Now let’s see how that plays out in again several years down the road.
Again watch this number of seconds. Speaker 6: Cause for concern is a tanker carrying
38 million gallons of oil continues to burn. We’ll get the latest from Galveston. The
president of Mexico is in Washington for talks to the White House with a special interview
with him. Dr. Dodgen-Magee: We’re down to about five
seconds on each clip. I love. I’m a big Today Show fan. But now let’s take a look
at now. Take a look at how even when there is a sustained visual image in the photography,
watch what is happening with logo. It is as though they know we can’t hold our attention.
You’ll see the logo it’s hard to see in here, but the logo is even, it kind of pulses
and changes. This is why we have to own that even we are buying into this. We are in a
place where we really we cannot, our brains literally are wired now to expect the next
new thing at all times. I’m going to catch up here a minute.
As a result of that, there we go, as a result of that our brains literally have underdeveloped
in the regions that have to do with self-control, emotional regulation, attuned communication.
This all happens in an area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex
requires, it requires opportunities to have to focus, to have to be still, to have to
be able to be very directly attentive in order to have wiring occur in this prefrontal cortex.
Neurologists tell us in parts of the brain where we do not stimulate, so if we are not
stimulating a portion of the brain it gets pruned off, the wiring doesn’t happen there
with the same kind of fierceness and intensity. That is what’s happening with these important
regions of our brain. This I just find interesting for students
of all kinds. Many of you maybe saw this research. It was everywhere all around the world. The
researchers were trying to see did we retain information better if we took notes by hand
or if we typed notes? Basically they found that in every way that they tweaked the research
every single time we retain information better when we write notes by hand. There’s all
kind of literature out there that shows that when we take the time to engage one more form
of our senses our retention and the way in which it activates the brain is almost 100%
of the time more robust. That’s important to be aware of.
So how do we limit or control for some of these neurological impacts and endocrine system
impacts that all of this tech immersion is having? These are some things. Sometimes force
yourself to delay gratification. Rather than watching the entire season of Downtown Abby
in one sitting, watch one episode a week. It’s like a radical act of civil disobedience
any more to force yourself to wait. But literally sometimes force yourself to wait. Teach self-soothing
skills. If we don’t know how to be soothed anymore, if we don’t know how be still and
quiet, which our brains do not get the necessary kind of opportunities to develop that skill
anymore, we will constantly be turning to things because we don’t know how to be un-stimulated.
In the past when we didn’t have access to 24/7 forms of entertainment and stimulation
we just were forced to wait. For instance there were long periods of time where there
was no television on from midnight to seven in the morning and you just had to wait. Stores
weren’t open 24 hour a day. You had to wait. Sometimes making sure that we are able to
tell ourselves, “Hey, it’s going to be okay, I can wait for it,” is really important
for the complex wiring of your brain, it is crucial. Life will not hand you those opportunities.
You have to make them. Limit your screen time early on and choosing
slower moving media. Meaning we have all habituated to a high level of engagement with technology.
So if we can break those habits and set a new norm of moderateness and asking some more
of our systems and ourselves there is a profound impact that can be had.
Then finally celebrating boredom, literally sometimes doing absolutely nothing, nothing.
Like really nothing. Not just like, “You know, oh, I’m going to passively watch something.”
That’s what people tend to do. The end of the day what do people want to do? They want
to go watch something on Netflix, they want to play a videogame, they want to check their
social media. All of those things activate the brain, in those deep groves that you’ve
already been activating the brain in all day. We want to activate different parts of our
brain. It’s really important when we talk about
the physiology that I hit on a couple of things that are actually unique and special and I
hold them to the side because they are showing in the literature to have a more profound
effect than other forms of screen based stimulation. Actually new research came out and since I
had to turn these slides in early I wasn’t able to add it, but it actually research came
out two days ago that showed some interesting dynamic that I would add to this. We’re
going to talk about violent images and sexual images, but I actually want to add a piece
of literature before that. Research of the University of Waterloo in
Canada just was published two days ago and it basically showed that of heavy cell phone
users, especially smart phone users, and this research was very well constructed, but individuals
who tend to be highly reliant upon their cell phones and who tend to be intuitive thinkers,
so thinkers who make decisions from their gut or from their feelings more than from
analysis and clear logical sequential consideration, tend to use their search function on their
smartphones more often than individuals who are more analytic in their decision making,
and that that is actually creating less of a sense of complexity neurologically for these
folks. We need to be aware. Basically what’s that saying is that we
used to … I was thinking of that even on the way here. When an individual had to use
a Thomas Guide or a map to navigate freeways and roads there was a lot of critical thinking
that had to happen. Then there were storage because you couldn’t be flipping the pages
on the Thomas Guide while you were driving. So you were having to memorize things, you
were having to make a plan. Now when you just punch something into your GPS ad trust it
to tell you that’s that reliance it creates less complexity and you are thinking less
deeply. You’ll hear this. I would imagine many of
the faculty here at CalSouthern have experienced this, where individuals now have profoundly
huge bibliographies but maybe have not thought very deeply critically because we don’t
wrestle with information in the same way and with the same depth that that we used to.
We need to be aware of that. Then if we turn to violence and sexuality,
these things tend to have a higher impact both on the neurological system and the endocrine
system. When individuals are spending a lot of time looking at images like this, violent
gaming, there is no research that correlates or that says that high exposure to violent
images either in passive or active ways, so meaning the passive would mean you’re watching
a show or a movie that has a lot of violent images, active would be when you’re actually
manipulating what is happening with the violence. Individuals who see a lot of this, their behavior
is not correlated with criminal forms of violence. In the research that does not pan out.
What does pan out is that individuals who are seeing and experiencing these high forms
of violent stimulation which is releasing all kinds of adrenaline all kinds of cortisol
which is bathing the system in the stress hormone, also the brain is releasing high
levels of dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that is also activated for drug addicted individuals.
With dopamine there is this kind of surge of dopamine that happens when you take in
a violent image. Over time the level of violence doesn’t bring the same level of dopamine
release. So we want more violence to release more dopamine and it creates a sense of needing
and wanting more. Basically these kinds of neurological and
endocrine responses are being highly correlated in the literature with soft forms of relational
violence, so bullying, sarcasm, psychological lie which is just kind of like a misconstruing
in our communication with other people in embodied spaces.
High correlation between viewing violence and these soft forms of relational violence
that do not, if you are the recipient of cyber bullying or any form of bullying, do not feel
soft in any way. They are more a sense of … A lot of the adolescent literature is
showing this kind of new kind of … It’s actually almost looks like a physiological
and emotional response that comes out of the gaming experience when it’s very violent
that leads with this sense of sarcasm, this sense of toughness and hardness and bullish
type behavior. Similarly with highly sexualized images, especially
within the way in which now highly sexualized images are taken in which is typically in
about at least in the United States if you look at Pornhub stats people are taking in
porn for about between 9 to 11 minutes in a session, and in that 9 to 11 minutes they
are typically doing a rapid cycling of different images, so they are accessing either 9 to
12 different sites within that 9 to 11 minutes. That means that the body is constantly reacting
and looking for again dopamine is being released and it wants greater surges every time. This
is creating a profound psychological effect which we’re going to talk about later. But
it’s also creating levels of sexual dysfunction that we need to talk about.
At earlier and earlier ages now we’re seeing things like, just things that we would not
have seen historically with younger population, so erectile dysfunction, absolutely issues
with arousal and even sexual desire that we have so flooded the system and made the system
so hyper sexually aware that folks are having a very difficult time then navigating the
sexual experience in embodied spaces. There is a huge issue with erectile dysfunction
with college age young men now, partially because just the embodied experience is so
not in any way similar to or comparable to their experience with screens. This is not
just an issue for men. This is absolutely an issue for women as well. This just shows
some of the Pornhub stats and the access to number of pages per day. But again the thing
to know is that there’s this cycling. The other physiological effect of this is
that we are seeing body dysmorphia in levels that we’ve never seen before. Pediatricians
now in the US are being asked to screen for eating disorders in young girls as young as
five and young boys as young as seven now because of the flooding of images of idealized
bodies that are absolutely shaped by digital tools. We are seeing a desire for people to
try to shape their physiological bodies in these ways and it’s having a profound effect.
This goes across time but we need to talk with kids about how their bodies are not like
the bodies that they see. This was an example. This was an ad that got leaked. I mean the
actual ad went out before the editor had come in and filled in where they had taken out
her inner thighs if you see here. I love when things like this happen because then we can
use them as tools to show young children actually everyone has inner thighs. The people that
you see have had these images changed. The other way that I see a physiological impact
of all of this is that we see at least in the west and there’s some indication I’ve
been reading about, there’s some indication of this in Africa as well in the literature,
but that the abuse of prescription and non-prescriptions drugs is on the increase profoundly. I think
that’s partially because our brains and our endocrine system don’t know how to be
soothed in the same way that they have been in the past. We don’t have the natural opportunities
to develop those skills therefore we are reliant upon things from the outside of us creating
a sense of calm or creating a sense of alertness. On college campuses in the west you see the
use of ADHD medications profoundly increased during finals week. They are easy to access
and people feel actually at a disadvantage oftentimes that they don’t use them as a
help to their focusing. We also see the use of things like marijuana and other prescription
medications to bring the self down because again we don’t know how to soothe.
Those are the profound physiological effects. We want to watch the way in which we model
both with body awareness and drug and alcohol use. I notice a lot of times parents will
be very concerned about their children’s use of drugs to soothe or comfort or stimulate
them, but if you look at their own social profiles, all of their images are rife with
themselves holding a wine glass. Even those subtle messages are really important when
we begin thinking about how to shape our children’s experience.
Now we’re going to talk, we’re going to move into now how all of this technology is
shaping our sense of self. This one is what I am most interested in and where there is
the least amount of research to this point because it’s a really hard thing to measure.
But I would love if everyone who participates in this, listening to this or experiencing
this talk today could begin to think about just how technology is shaping literally the
way in which we interact with our self. We really are living in an increasing time
where the self is seen as a commodity, so wherever we are we’re thinking about how
do we brand our self, how do we promote ourselves, what do we have to give out into the world
in these ways. We see this even in the artistic communities. As I travel I see more and more
museums putting up things like no selfie sticks, because selfies are just the name of the game
now, we’re always about promoting where we’ve been. I think actually we are living
in a time where self-promotion pretty much 100% of the time trumps self-love or self-awareness.
This is deeply, deeply important. If you look at the research across the globe
actually this is international research there is just growing evidence that the more an
individual clicks in Facebook the more likely they are to experience low self-esteem, high
levels of anxiety, high levels of depression. This is being feed all the time by the development
of more and more tools with which we can perfect ourselves. If you look at the apps being downloaded
by adolescents right now and young adults, they are largely these self-improvement apps
that you can, you actually you download them and then they apply themselves as filters
to any image of yourself that you put in a social network.
One of them is called I think Skinny pics. I could download that and then anytime I put
a picture online it would make me skinnier. Literally there’s a preponderance of these
kinds of opportunities out there for people to kind of present this falsified self. Psychologically
if you think about that, if I present a falsified self and then I get you to notice me based
on this falsified self, then I become a little bit concerned about when you actually meet
me in an embodied space and find out that I am not this person that you have been lead
to believe that I am. It creates this psychological discomfort and feeling of where am I safe
to then actually exist as the authentic person that I am.
The way that I think about this is kind of as a locus of control, I add a little tea
to make it more memorable, but there is a locus, a low side, that’s the center, there’s
a center of the control that we have over how we’re going to feel about ourselves.
We can either have that center of control be outside of us and say like, “I’m gauging
how to feel about myself based on how all of you look, and you all look bored so I’m
terrible,” or we can say like, “No, the center of how I’m going to feel about myself
is going to be inside of me,” which is psychologically what we would … That’s kind of a hearty,
wholehearted person has this deep internal sense that can say everyone in this room is
following asleep but I still know that I have something important to share, so I’m going
to keep going and people are going to wake up and it’s going to be okay or whatever
it is. But literally it is very hard now for individuals
growing up to actually have that locus of control inside of them. So much of their world
exits outside of them. In fact, when I do things like ask, I have a group of folks who
are in that young adult population that I ask, “What are the things that are most
tricky for you right now? What’s hardest for you?” The thing that I consistently
hear is the hardest thing for them is keeping up on all the different social platforms that
they know either could be reporting on them or that they are reporting to. They know that
every employer is going to google them before they are interviewed. They know that they
need to be on top of their digital presence. It’s very, very difficult to maintain a
deep internal locus of control saying I can feel about myself certain ways while you’re
constantly being faced with how the world feels about you. I hope that makes sense.
There are also apps coming out and development in digital spaces constantly that challenge
this internal sense of self. This is the newest one, Yik Yak which is wreaking havoc wherever
it goes. Before it was JuicyCampus. JuicyCampus was a site where colleges would create a presence
on JuicyCampus. Or not, the colleges didn’t create their presence. But a student would
create a presence and then people would post to JuicyCampus completely anonymously things
like fattest girls at UCLA, best blow jobs at Stanford literally, and then anybody could
just post to this anonymously. JuicyCampus was shut down. Actually it was one of the
first websites that actually was shut down. It was profoundly beautiful that somebody
actually was willing to go to bat for that legally, but Yik Yak still exits.
Yik Yak, the tricky thing with Yik Yak is that it reflects as a domain and as a space
online, it reflects a lot of those things that I talked about being important in digital
spaces right now in that it is hyper local and it is hyper dynamic, meaning that it posts,
it only posts things to … Like if we all run Yik Yak right now the things that it would
give to us or feed to us are things that are happening within a one mile radius of us,
meaning students in high schools and colleges can use this to deeply, deeply, deeply bully
very well and with 100% anonymity. For instance the University that I was recently
speaking at in Texas was having a cultural awareness week and there were some students
on campus posting on Yik Yak through the entire conference incredibly racially hurtful and
horrific things on Yik Yak and then gaining an audience. They were creating this very
hostile environment for an event that was intended to be this beautiful thing. This
is what’s happening all the time. We need to be able to be aware of this so
that we can teach young adults and we ourselves can continue to create opportunities to develop
resilience, to develop emotional regulation, to develop empathy. The tricky thing is if
you look at the psychological construct of empathy, empathy really only can grow in an
individual that has a deeply profoundly internal locus of control, who is resilient, and has
some sense of emotional regulation. If these traits aren’t in place empathy cannot exist
because there’s then this constant need I’m not being empathic with your experience,
I’m needing you to take care of how I should feel about myself so I’m willing to pander
or do whatever is needed to make that occur. Another tricky thing about developing this
sense of self is that we now live in a time where we basically believe that soothing ourselves
is by stimulating ourselves. We soothe ourselves with things like Trivia Crack. Before that
it was Candy Crush. Before that it was Angry Birds. These are all games that are literally
you ask at the American Psychiatric Association conference several years back that actually
as a spoof held a 12 step group for Angry Bird addicts. It was a joke but so many people
showed up they actually made it a thing. Then you’ll hear or you’ll see in the literature
when they report on it how many even physicians and psychologists or psychiatrists would say
like, “I deleted it, but then I had to reload it.” I mean literally these things capture
our attention and they take our time and then we stop even being desirous of soothing ourselves.
Candy Crush is a perfect example of this. Candy Crush is a free download. It’s a game
you can play. It’s created to be very addictive and it is very addictive. People think, “Oh
it’s free, it’s no problem, no big deal.” Well in Candy Crush you basically have a certain
number of tries to pass a level. If you don’t pass that level in the certain number of tries
that you are given you have wait 30 minutes to try again. Well so many people who play
Candy Crush cannot wait the 30 minutes and instead choose to push the one button for
99 cents you can buy another attempt to add it immediately, and as of last week it was
bringing $918,000 a day, $918,000 a day based on our inability to wait 30 minutes.
We have to create some opportunities to soothe ourselves. Soothing ourselves, being able
to being bored is highly like I said before correlated with creativity. Research shows
it again and again. The other thing that benefits our creativity, benefits our intelligence
are these three constructs. When I look at the literature and think about the way in
which technology is impacting the sense of self these are the three constructs that strike
me as being in a decline so profoundly that we don’t even have a structure upon which
to develop a sense of self anymore. This is just, it’s easy for at least Americans
remember F.D.R maybe, and this is the ability to focus, can you focus. Now in the literature
here’s how pitiful, I think it’s pitiful, now we are trying to see if people can focus
on one thing for 10 minutes. 10 minutes. That’s not very long. The literature in the past
was looking can people focus on one form of stimulation for 30 minutes. Now we’re down
to if you can focus for 10 minutes that’s good. If you think about it screen based stimulation
and screen based experience basically rewards a scanning of the environment so you’re
looking all around the environment. That’s what advertising is trying to do all the time
on a screen, is trying to capture your attention and pull you off track.
Again, we’re needing to create opportunities for focus on one thing, an ability to delay,
we’ve already talked about it, and then an ability to regulate, which basically means
I can have an impulse or an emotion or a thought and not need to act on it impulsively immediately
which anymore now these little things allow us the opportunity to act on about 10 things
at once immediately. Sometimes we need to not do that. Sometimes we need to do one thing
at a time and actually complete it. I checked again last night and I can’t find
any piece of research that shows that multitasking actually increases productivity or efficiency.
It is a fancy word we have made up for distractibility and it actually lowers efficiency and effectiveness
in the research, all the research I can find. This is fantastic research. I would encourage
everyone to check it out. It’s from university of Virginia. They basically put research participants,
it’s a very well-constructed study, in a small room with no stimulation for 10 minutes.
They could either choose to sit and be in that room for 10 minutes with no stimulation,
or administer low level shocks to themselves during that 10 minutes so that they didn’t
have to be bored, and the majority of people administered the shocks to themselves. It
is just profound that we’re aware of that. Another thing we have to be aware of in terms
of when we think about self it isn’t just that it’s hard now to develop a self. We
have a growing world of technological advancements and media that is vying for our data and vying
for our information so as to be able to deliver us a more comfortable and personalized experience.
You guys are probably fed all kinds of when you open up your browser it feds you articles
you might be interested in. Or I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, you click on some
product and then suddenly for the next month that product appears in every page you look
at. You think like, “Man, I’ve got the best taste in the world.” Then you realize,
“No, they are just doing that to make me think I’ve got the best taste in the world.”
There is this constant sense of data collection that I find what I find it’s creating both
in individuals that I am speaking with and actually people that I see in my office sometimes
is this sense that my experience of the world is everybody’s experience of the world.
I don’t have to bump up against anybody’s opinion that’s different from mine anymore.
I can find somebody that agrees with me on everything. The more I click on that the more
I get of that and it creates this sense that, “Well, isn’t everybody else reading the
same exact thing I’m reading and isn’t everybody else experiencing the same thing
I’m experiencing?” The other tricky thing about this is that
it begins to create an algorithm. The younger that we have children interacting with these
technologies they are creating a digital algorithm for themselves that will be continually and
perpetually fed. An individual who’s struggling with an eating disorder who’s looking for
tips online is creating an algorithm that it’s going to feed that individual’s things
about eating disorders for a long time down the future. Does this make sense? It creates
this pathway that doesn’t allow for the kind of experience of a dynamic diversity
that grows a healthy sense of self. I’m going to show you the newest product
to do this. I think this is where products are going. Go ahead. This is really hard to
hear so you’re going to have to focus because this is just video that was taken during a
tradeshow and then uploaded. But think about the profound effect of your choices beginning
to shape the kinds of questions that are asked of you and then also listen to the way in
which Barbie interacts. I had a therapist at a talk I gave last week basically say like
I’m trying to teach my couples how to talk to each other like this all the time. If you’re
getting your emphatic responses from a screen rather than an embodied person at a young,
young age, what kind of an impact that would have? So take a look.
Speaker 7: For the very first time Barbie can carry on a two way dialogue. We’re using
WiFi and speech recognition technology, so she’s really the very first fashion doll
that can actually continue learning so she can carry on a unique relationship with each
girl. She’s going to play interactive games, she could tell jokes, she inspires storytelling,
she’s going to be able to listen and learn to each girl’s preference and then adapt
to those accordingly. Best of all, this is cool, she’s got WiFi capability so all her
content is stored up in a cloud, so we can actually push new data to her so she’s constantly
staying relevant and up to date. This is just a prototype. It’s a fraction
of what she’ll be able to do. This is Hello Barbie. Welcome to New York Barbie.
Barbie: I love New York. Don’t you? Tell me what’s your favorite part about the city?
The food, the fashion, or the sighs? Speaker 7: Food, fashion or sights.
Speaker 9: Food. Speaker 7: Food. We like the food and the
restaurants. Barbie: I love the food. Where else can you
find so many types of your favorite food. Speaker 7: Favorite food in New York?
Speaker 9: Italian. Speaker 7: Italian. We like Italian food.
Barbie: I’ve never eaten that before. You have to take me to try it.
Speaker 7: Oh we will definitely, it is a date, okay? Well we are on stage to show all
these lovely people how amazing you are Barbie. Barbie: Being on stage is exciting. Isn’t
it? Speaker 7: Yes, I love it.
Barbie: That’s cool. I didn’t know that about you. I like to be on stage too.
Speaker 7: So she can recognize and respond, so she understands and she can also remember.
She’s going to get to know all my likes, all my dislikes, and then she will procreate
that into our conversation. Barbie what shall I be when I grow up?
Barbie: Well you told me you liked being on stage so maybe a dancer, or a politician,
or how about a dancing politician. I always say anything is possible.
Speaker 7: You do, you always say that. She remembered just like a real friend and she
can also play games. Barbie let’s play a game. What game should we play?
Barbie: Let’s play what if. I’ll start. What if you had a superpower? What would your
superpower be? Speaker 7: To be able to stay warm in the
freezing cold. Barbie: Oh, good one. Did you know I already
have a superpower? I can make myself invisible, but only when no one is looking.
Speaker 7: She’s so funny. It really brings out Barbie’s personality. She’ll really
keep that relationship that girls have with her, and then overtime through these interactive
games questions and answers they’re really be her best friends. Hi, Barbie, it was so
nice talking to you. Barbie: You too. Hope you get to enjoy some
delicious food. Speaker 7: Thank you.
Barbie: Good bye. Speaker 7: Again, so we’re talking about
New York because we’re here in New York and she will have topics-
Dr. Dodgen-Magee: So you see where we’re moving. The newest Hot Wheel toy this Christmas
was one that you don’t take the Hot Wheel car and run it on the ground. You actually
put it on your iPad and the track under the car moves so you just keep the car here and
the track is moving under you and it feeds you information and asks … More and more
we’re just attaching to these devices and this doll who will never make you share. You
don’t have ever have to share, even this doll. I mean because it’s a doll. So you
don’t have to, you just don’t have to bump against the discomfort that we normally
would have with playmates and learn how to share space, have conflict and things. Also,
it’s creating this unrealistically empathic constantly only focused on you reality in
a very different way. There are a couple of kinds of interventions
I want to talk about in terms of how we can control for or manage some of these intrapersonal
impacts. The first the digital ones are to keep technology out in the open, especially
to encourage families to have their screens and the ways in which kids are especially
are attached to their technological devices out in the open.
When I was growing up I had a TV in my family room and if I was going to watch the forbidden
show, and this was the only TV in the house, which in my house the forbidden show was The
Love Boat and my dad called it “smut barge” that’s how much he hated that show. If I
was going to watch it very likely he was going to walk in or someone was going to walk in
and then I was going to be found out and then I was going to have to have this conversation
about how this content wasn’t helpful to my maturity and my bla-bla-bla which was highly,
highly motivational to not do that. Now our technologies are such that we have
in isolated experience them and we have them completely outside of the purview of any of
the wise counsel around us. So there’s no help in discerning what the content that we’re
taking is. Whereas if we have the screens out and about, then there is some help from
those around us. Installing filters is really important.
One of the things I find that’s happening on a lot of college campuses is a lot of individuals,
especially individuals who are highly distracted or individuals who have had real issues with
porn, are switching from smartphones to flip phones because it just helps them not feel
like there’s such a constant temptation to be distracted. Again, if you’re not going
to switch all the way over at least installing filters, there are all kinds of apps and filters
that you can install that will turn your router off at a certain time or disable social networks
for a period of time during your day so that you can engage. Maybe turning your notifications
off so that you aren’t constantly attending to that.
Then if we’re talking about actually content filters that you’re going to put on home
systems so that kids don’t get access to things that hurt them early on you have to
talk with your kids also about what you’re going to do or what they’re going to do
when the filter fails or when they get around it. It isn’t any more when or if kids are
going to experience porn. It’s when and it’s happening at younger and younger ages
and they’re having access or a lot of times their first experience with porn is a much
higher level of intensity than any other time in history. We need to tell kids, “You’re
going to stumble across things that are going to both titillate and excite and freak you
out and it’s okay to tell me.” We need to help parents know that they can
be told. Then the parents can go and freak out on their own later, but they need to be
able to welcome their children and help their children process what they’re going to be
experiencing because the filters will fail. They will. We need to … Or they’re going
to be at someone’s house without filters. We have to talk about and teach I believe.
If we all start this even in our own ways, teaching digital literacy and safety, so knowing
how to discern if content that you find in digital spaces is reliable and accurate and
of high quality is important. We also want to encourage people to structure
life so that technology does not become their child’s best friend. A lot of kids who are
very into gaming even adults who are very into gaming, they spend such immersive and
such large quantities of time with their gaming communities that those really are their closest
friends, not people in embodied spaces. We always want to make sure that there is some
form of balance. I also encourage families to make ear buds
a privilege. A lot of times parents will want their kids to have ear buds and other times
they don’t want to be bothered by what’s going on, the sound. However it’s really
important that all of us be willing to be inconvenienced and uncomfortable to allow
the growth of other people. If a lack of ear buds lets us know what’s happening for those
around us and what they’re taking in in such a way that we can help them it’s important.
Then the non-digital interventions, I want to encourage all of us to go away from this
experience with each other today modeling a beautiful sense of an internal locus of
control, having a deep sense of I am okay in this world and I’m willing to take risks
to encounter who you authentically are in this world, and have that be awkward, and
live through it, and be okay. I love to encourage us all to be willing to make some silly failures.
We’re great anymore at trying to make our lives look perfect in spaces, but we need
to also be in touch with reality that we’re all authentic people.
We need to be able to be bored. Boredom is important. Go have a boredom party, like literally
and invite others to do it with you. Teach emotional regulation and soothing. Access
those abilities to focus, to delay, and to regulate, and then create opportunities to
keep practicing those. Then I would encourage everybody to try at least some periods of
the week where they turn off push notifications, they disable cookies, like actually experience
the world as it is, a bunch of diverse wacky differentness kind of bumping up against each
other to create some really new kind of realities. If you are working with, if you are a mental
health professional or anyone or parent and you’re working with individuals who have any
one of these kinds of temperaments, a temperament that tends toward addictive behaviors, a tendency
to lean towards antisocial kinds of behaviors. I mean this in both forms of the words antisocial,
kind of more that lacking empathy and lacking a moral compass, or just not preferring social
embodied spaces you want to be aware. If you have an individual who is anxiety prone, digital
spaces create a heightened sense of anxiety for almost everyone, just because they are
so constant and there’s such a feeling that you have to be constantly aware.
If you have an attention seeking kiddo in your life or person in your life, very likely
they are maybe not even aware that they’re struggling with creating an authentic sense
of self because they’re so focused on what they’re creating outside of themselves that
you want to be aware of that. Then if you have a real risk-taker or a loner, those folks
tend to find themselves more prone to over engagement with screens and you want to help
them. Out of that sense of self is where we then
develop a sense of relationship with others. If we don’t have an authentic honest relationship
with ourselves about our own strengths and weaknesses, about our abilities, about your
inabilities it’s going to be very hard for us to have healthy relationships with other
people. That’s why I talk about the sense of self first. That’s the place where we
start. A couple of … I think is now months ago.
Well no, a month ago, a researcher, a style reporter for the New York Times republished
these 36 questions out of a past piece of literature that were created by a social scientist
to … Basically this social science experiment was that you find a person in particular if
you have a partner, your partner, and you sit across from each other and you ask each
other these 36 questions and you listen to the answer. Then you follow that little interview
session with four minutes of just looking into each other’s eyes. Lo and behold guess
what happened? People reported higher feeling of love.
This style reporter who published it thought maybe she’d get like I don’t know a couple
of hundred clicks. She ended up with 8 million clicks immediately and everyone in all the
press was all abuzz because talking to people and looking in their eyes actually increased
feelings of love, and thinking like this is just a conversation. Like this is what we
already know. Like we know this and yet it is becoming a foreign, something we don’t
do anymore. That’s partially because we have these decreased
attention spans. We are highly distractible. We’ve already talked about this, so our
brain, our endocrine system, our sense of self is distractible. We’ve got lower ability
to attend to things. We also just have a lack of experience with discourse in a way that
no other generation before us has. We just don’t have embodied person to embodied person
discourse in the same way. Even the way in which we communicate is different.
I don’t know if you guys have noticed this but on platforms like Instagram no longer
do we give the real thing we’re trying to say as the thing we first type. The thing
we first type now is this creepy comment, like orange sky, and then hashtag beautiful
sunset on my drive home. We put what we’re actually really trying to say in this hashtag
after this cool thing we say at the start. We are actually changing the way in which
discourse happens. That’s important for us to know.
We also if you look at the relational reality now there is a huge fear of missing out that
has never existed in the past because we had no clue what we were missing out on at the
same level or rate that we do now. There is this constant scanning that is occurring and
we’re aware of so many options that we can tend to feel overloaded. The quality of our
relationships I think really, really is looking different. We now look like we have wider
nets of relationships, so we have a wider range, but for many, many people and the research
is starting to kind of look at this now there is a lack or a feeling that there is a lack
of depth. That there isn’t the same kind of knowing that you’ve got people with you
for the long haul in the tough times. You’ve got a very full plate of people who you’re
connected to but not so much the depth. This is also fed by an ever growing and constantly
changing bunch of spaces that we can live in. Facebook is tending to be gravitated away
from in young adults and adolescents now. Most of them are not using Facebook anymore.
Many of them are gravitating to sites like WhatsApp and Kick which allow for unlimited
texting. They also allow for social networking. They’ve got their own search engines embedded.
But there are these constantly new places for them to inhabit and there is a feeling
that they’ve got to keep up everywhere. That also then takes away from the time that
they would have to develop relationships that are more complex. They also are dealing with
or we are dealing with now a time where there’s no sense of moderated intimacy. In the past
I would if we were going to create a relationship I would disclose a little bit to you, I would
find out based on how you handled that disclosure if you were trustworthy or not, and then I
would make commensurate decisions about what else to share with you and we would go in
this back and forth way. Now many of you probably before you decided
to give time to this googled me and wanted to find out what you could find out there.
You can find out a lot about people before you ever meet them, so there’s this sense
that you have all this information but no commensurate experience to go with that or
way to know how to go deeper. This also is hit on by the sense of decreased
empathy because again we are not developing the self in the same way. We also aren’t
developing empathic connections in the same way. I believe that’s largely because in
so many of our digital spaces we live in a way in which we objectify others more than
we live in a way in which we encounter others. So many of our digital spaces are about judging
people, so there’s hot or not, there’s rate my professor where you can go in and
choose your professor based on easiness and hotness. That we are constantly rating and
evaluating. Same thing with our experiences. We don’t
go to a restaurant unless we Yelp it first. We have these moderated experiences. Relationally
this plays itself out in that we can shop for whatever we want relationally. Rather
than having to go through the tricky part of developing that which creates this sturdy
foundation we just shop for the little pieces we want. This is seen by things like Cuddler
is a new app where it works on GPS where you can sign up with an account and you can find
people within your local geographic area to cuddle with. You can find apps of all kind.
People to eat dinner with, people to have a conversation with.
The king or queen of this is Tinder where you register for a profile and use it. Tinder
accesses your contacts in your computer or your phone and finds people that you have
in common with other people and then feeds you a never ending stream of images that if
you like the look of you swipe right, and if you don’t like the look of you swipe
left. But it creates this deep sense of what am I shopping for, what is the most important
thing, how can I get it most efficiently. Again, looking for how can this be the most
convenient experience I can have rather … That always any time we are shopping for relational
experience it tends to lead us to objectify. Then psychologically we now are in a world
where the media is constantly feeding us these objectified images of both men and women that
are just profound in the way in which they speak to us. The image I just showed you is
from the Super Bowl this year. If you think about just what children experience in the
advertising and media right now, about how we look at people, it is typically how we
look at them for what they can give us or what they can create in us. This goes right
back to porn. This is a pretty popular saying. If there is a reality, so if something exists
there’s porn of it. There’s porn of baking cookies, there’s porn of vacuuming, there’s
porn of whatever. But again this just speaks to the fact that we can objectify, we can
sexualize, we can do whatever, we can violence, we can create these experiences that are having
a profound effect. I would encourage everyone to read this interview
by John Meyer. You can access it online. It published in the New York Magazine and it
just, it really talks about the relational impact that is being had especially by porn
and the objectification that it creates across gender and across age groups. You can also
look at there’s a new website called that has some very profound tools and help
in terms of the relational impact that is being seen now in the literature.
Another thing that we need to know about is that all of the relational aggression that
is so easily acted out in digital spaces is also creating a tricky situation where young
adults and kids have a harder time being authentic selves in public because they know it can
be publicized all the time. Everyone’s got a camera now and everyone can publish anything
wherever they want. Nowhere is this seen more than in revenge porn sites. There are sites
… If anyone works with young adults or especially high school students, I would encourage you
to read the Atlantic … No, the … It will come to me. It’s a cover story. Yeah, the
Atlantic Monthly on sexting. Sexting is a norm now. It’s kind of like if you breathe
you sext if you’re in high school, meaning you take naked pictures of yourself and send
them to someone. These are then very frequently stored and can be used later to bully someone.
Because kids know that this is such a preponderance and just common sense activity anymore it’s
harder for them to be authentic and to be willing to reveal themselves in ways that
are risk taking that will develop meaningful relationships because they know it could come
back to bite them anytime. In a lot of parts of the world revenge porn
is becoming illegal and that’s important for you to know. Revenge porn is basically
someone can take an image that they got of someone else if they want to bully them and
pay $5 to $10, send that image to one of these sites and that site will send it out to … Will
make it viral basically. It’s a new trend legally.
Another thing relationally that we just need to know about is that this kind of sense of
violence in so much of our media is really tweaking the way in which individuals and
especially individuals who consume a lot of violent media interact with folks on average.
Again, if we think about the way in which this endocrine system, the neurological system,
and then just the psychological reality that if we are exposing ourselves to high levels
of violence when we’re out and about in the world it’s easier to mistreat people,
it’s easier to be sarcastic with them and to be off-putting, and that is showing itself
in the literature relationally as well. Interventions, it’s really important to
keep your inner personal skills in tune and to encourage them in other people. When you
go and about in the world to sometimes not have your phone out and to intentionally be
looking people in the eye, to be having meaningful conversations with them, to sometimes have
conversations with people about something and sometimes conversations about nothing.
If you talk to individuals who interview young adults now they will tell you young adults
don’t maintain the same ability to schmooze anymore, they can’t talk about the piece
of art and the professor’s office, or it’s just not, they don’t have the opportunity.
So giving people those opportunities. Watch the way you talk about and treat others.
Now especially so much of our communication happens in these spaces that can be watched.
We are being watched. Make sure that your example is one of beauty and grace. Examining
how you feel when you use social networks, a preponderance of individuals when they use
things like Facebook, things like WhatsApp, ShowMe, they oftentimes feel insecure or unhappy
with their own lives after they spend time there. If that is the case for you don’t
use them. Find other ways of being connected and be counter cultural in a way that can
actually speak out to others. I also would encourage you to really be mindful
of the platforms that you use and the way in which they might objectify people or the
way in which they could create attachment to forms of stimulation for other people even
that could be very difficult and hard to overcome. Then talk about all forms of relational aggression.
I think there is so much hope, and especially if you look at some of the research around
mindfulness practices, the research around all different forms of mental health and healing,
there are ways that we can help individuals create new richness and depth in their own
personal experiences and relational experiences. One of the things that I have found in this
last several months on college campuses is that I’ve had on each college campus I’ve
been on, and I’ve probably been at six or seven since September, I’ve had at least
one individual and sometimes more come to me who played Grand Theft Auto Five. The end
of last summer a new hack came out for Grand Theft Auto Five that you can apply to the
game that allows you to rape within the game. It is largely downloaded. Individuals who
have downloaded that hack and are using it at every one of these campuses at least one
person has come and said, “I’m now having breakthrough like rape dreams.” They don’t
want to be having these. They do not want these images in their mind. I feel like a
lot of us don’t want the experiences of rejection that we have online or the things
we catch ourselves being gravitated toward. Gambling is another huge issue with online
issues, people who get sucked in there. There are all kinds of ways in which we can help
people overcome these unconscious breakthrough difficulties and painful experiences. We need
to motivate and be beacons I believe. I want to inspire you all to be beacons of hopefulness
about being able to have embodied experiences that will overcome the difficult ones that
our digital spaces have created. Now we’re going to just transition now that
maybe everybody is feeling totally hopeless. There is no hope. I feel a ton of hope. I
am actually really, really excited. I love where some forms of technology are taking
us and I love some of the beautiful things about it that it can attach us to people that
we would never be attached to, that it can bring us information we would never otherwise
have access to. But I also want to more than anything encourage
us to think about the ways in which we have been habituated, and for many of us that’s
been that we want to take the best parts of technology and act like the other parts don’t
exist or act like that’s no problem. We want to kind of just … My use is fine so
everybody is use must be fine. That’s just not true. I want us to be able to take this
information that you’ve now been given and not be fearful.
A lot of parents after they come to one of my talks will feel like they want to take
all the devices and throw them out the window or unplug everything, and that’s just not
realistic. But I do think we can just take some of this information in and begin to embody
compassion and grace and empathy and think about how even we ourselves are prone to dismissing
the negative impacts of our own use and hyper thinking we’re all good. In a couple of
weeks when the new Apple watch comes out I’m guessing that a lot of people who have been
critical of their own kids technology dependence are going to suddenly not be thinking about
that while they’re standing in line at the Apple store waiting to get their Apple watch.
We need to own that. The first way in which we can own that and
break some of our habits is by what I think of as employing the technology pyramid. When
I first started doing these talks about 10 years ago I was really bummed out by all the
terrible news 10 years ago, which was nothing like the terrible news now, and I took this
time to I want to refresh and just clean my palate, so I got out Life Magazines and started
looking at all these old Life Magazines. Within about 10 minutes I was like on a rant, which
I’m sure you can all tell I easily do. But basically in these Life Magazines from
the 50s what I was finding is that every other advertisement was either for convenience foods
or cigarettes. I was thinking about how okay so in the 50s in America, we’re post war
America we’re not having to ration in the way we used to and we’ve got these new convenience
foods that are pumped full of salt and amazing fake flavors that were intended I think to
probably be side dishes, accompaniments. But if you look at the literature, especially
the health literature about 20 years later we suddenly see hyper tension, high cholesterol,
obesity, all these issues that are related in part to the way in which we eat in the
west. What did we do as a response, we created the
food pyramid which says eat more of these good foods for you and fewer of these foods
that will hurt you. That has solved all the problems in the west, right? We have no hyper
tension, no obes- It has not solved any problems. It has maybe solved a couple of problems,
I don’t know. But basically we created this movement toward we want the more tasty, the
more easy, we want to be convenient, and we want to be comfortable, and we want to just
have everything be great. So we begin to take this thing these foods that were supposed
to be accompaniments and made them main dishes, and they ended up hurting us.
I feel the same way with technology, that it can be a beautiful accompaniment to an
embodied life, it can provide us with fantastic things if we use it well. But it can also,
and I think will be and I think we’re starting to see this in the literature now, this research
out of the University of Waterloo I feel like is proving this, that if we keep consuming
at this level it will have profound effects that will be hard for us to dial back on.
This is the technology pyramid that I use with clients and families. We want to consider
using technologies more that connect people, so things like Facetime, like Skype. In the
classroom if we’re using those technologies that engage embodied people to embodied people,
those are going to be the helpful technologies to connect us.
Technologies that educate people with a growth mindset. I want to tell you the difference
between growth and fixed mindset. Carol Dweck is the researcher who is leading this movement.
She is out of Stanford and she is a psychologist and she feels like Stanford hurt the world
when they released the Stanford-Binet intelligence test long ago which basically was one of those
early tests that said if you attain this score you are smart. That is a fixed mindset. Most
of the educational system in the US is built on a fixed mindset, saying if you attain this
level, you are smart. If you think about it many of our digital
spaces live in this reality as well, gaming systems, if you do these things you get to
the next level, in Facebook if you get to 1000 friends we give oodles and more interesting
information, I don’t know. But basically this fixed mindset says I have to attain this
level that is arbitrarily set for me. The problem with gamification of so many things
is that gamification oftentimes works on a fixed mindset model. That is very discouraging
and it does not create complexity in the brain. A growth mindset is the kind of mindset that
says taking risks is what makes me smart, having an ability to fail and handle that
resiliently, having an ability to try new things that might that give me access to new
and deeper information. The growth mindset model individuals show a lot more complexity
in their life engagement and depth of their experience. We want to use technologies that
validate and reinforce a growth mindset model. Minecraft is a fantastic example of a game
that works on a growth mindset model. It uses real physics properties, like if you build
something in mindset that would not live up to snuff in the physical world it doesn’t
live up to snuff in the digital world. But it creates encouragement for trying like way
to go, and try it in this new way. You’re going to want to engage those more.
Above that are the technologies that entertain. I am constantly encouraging people do not
let your sole forms of entertainment be digital. Make sure you engage your body in some forms
of entertainment. Then when you do use technology to entertain you, try to watch out for or
make sure that you aren’t only engaging with technologies that either romanticize
violence or sexualization or that are solely built on monetization, because those are technologies
that are going to grab your attention and not really build you. It would be kind of
like if you ate cotton candy for the rest of your life. You want some substance. So
making sure you’re evaluating that. Then the technologies that actually can hurt
people, that violent and highly sexualized and especially violent sexualized, if you
put those two together content needs to be used sparingly. Kind of like on the food pyramid
there is no place for cyanide, because any amount of it will kill you. I believe that
there are some things for some people especially that will kill their psychological selves
if they’re engaged with too much. We just need to be aware of that.
My favorite site, and I receive nothing from them, from promoting them, they don’t know
I promote them, is This is a fantastic group of people who dedicates
their life and professional practice to reviewing all forms and platforms of media. The other
great thing I love about Common Sense Media is that you can go on at any time and get
a review of any game, any movie. If you are a mental health worker and your
client comes in and says I can’t get off Grand Theft Auto Five and you say, “Okay,
what do you love about Grand Theft Auto Five,” and they say, “I love the strategy and I
love the visuals,” then you can go into and find a similar strategic
game with highly dense visuals and make some good suggestions in that way. This is a fantastic
site. This site also has a great free digital literacy program that families and educators
can use to teach really sound and good digital literacy.
This is also a site that I love to suggest to people to check out. This is
and it’s out of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. Basically
you can type in any news story or you probably all have somebody in your life who forwards
you sensationalists emails about these things that are for sure really truly happening.
This is kind of in the more academically sound snope, so you can type it in here and they
will either tell you if a story is verified or unverified, but it’s a really great place
to just check your information before you repeat it.
This is the way in which I have come to think about assessing digital use and our reliance
upon technology. I actually encourage people to do this for themselves and to do this with
others. I would take a piece of paper in landscape mode and write across the top each of these
five areas and then just assess under them maybe with a five point scale how you’re doing
in each of these areas. It goes with an ABCT at the end because you just have to add a
weird letter. But if you just go A, A-B, C, D, T and you memorize this A, A-B, C, D, T.
I felt like I had really arrived at a college campus recently. People started tweeting with
the hashtag A, A-B, C, D, T and I felt like this was fantastic.
But basically I’ll teach you what this is. This A just stands for an ability to FDR,
and that’s focus, delay, and regulate. Those again are the three constructs that are really,
really on the decline and that are having a profound effect across all those domains.
What is my ability to focus on one thing for 10 minutes and maintain that focus? What is
my ability to delay? Can I wait on an impulse, thought, or feeling? Then can I regulate those
impulses, thoughts, and feelings, moderate them?
A-B has to do with attachment balance. This has to do with what is the balance of my attachments
in digital spaces versus in embodied spaces. We want to make sure that there is a balance
there. If it is only in digital spaces probably are going to need to do some habit breaking
there and some discomfort of detaching a little bit from some of those over attachments, soothing
the self, and then learning to attach and some embodied spaces. It’s really important.
C this finger in many cultures if you hold it up by itself can get you in a lot of trouble.
This is the content and context assessment area. This one is huge. The thing that everybody
or not everybody but one of the more common questions I get asked is, how much time should
kids spend online, or how much time should I be spending online? Time does not really
matter in and of itself. But in relation to these other elements especially this one it’s
important. If all of the content that you are consuming
is fluff or is at the top of the technology pyramid or is fixed mindset model or is highly
sexualized or highly violent, probably want to be aware that that’s not going to be
having the most amazing impact in your interpersonal experience, on your own thought process, and
on your physiology. Similarly with context. If you are using your devices, if you’re pretty attached to your device and you only use it in isolation that means that you are not having
as much social practice family talk time. You want to be aware of context and content.
These are really important and again have a lot to do with how much time.
D, this in a lot of cultures has to do with … This is a ring finger in many cultures
where you show your devotion to something. This is just to remind you to think about
what is your devotion to your device. Right now just stop and consider do you know more
than two phone numbers by memory? This used to be our assessment for early onset
dementia and anymore hardly anyone knows any phone numbers because they’re all stored
for you. How many of you can get some place without your GPS? And how many places can
you get or would you know how to make your way to a place without your GPS? Are you willing
to try something out without reading all the reviews? What is your level of devotion? If
you find that you are highly devoted to your device and unlikely to do without it for a
period of time it’s probably important that you force yourself to try and see what that
experience is like. Then finally time. Time again is only relevant
in relation to all of those other domains. If you are spending 10 minutes with raping
people in Grand Theft Auto Five that’s probably too long. If you are spending 10 hours online
trying to cure Ebola, that’s probably not enough. Again, that only really matters, and
here I will tell you a couple of things. Probably many of you saw the research, or not the research,
but the article that came out by Steve Jobs’ kids that talked about the fact that in their
house they were limited to 30 minutes of screen time a day. Same for Bill and Melinda Gate’s
kids. Another interesting dynamic that I find is
that in the Silicon Valley where a lot of app development happens Waldorf School waiting
lists are profoundly long and in the Waldorf School movement they use no technology in
the classroom. So the individuals who are developing all this technology for us are
wanting their children educated in a system that doesn’t rely upon technology. I think
that’s telling and we should be aware of that.
The next thing that I think is so crucially important and the thing that I may be the
most excited to share with you today is that if we can just teach self-soothing, if we
ourselves can embody an ability to be still and bored and sturdy in that stillness we
will have a profound impact on our experience, on our own actually neurological function,
and hopefully inspire that in others. Research out of Stanford and Mass General
in Boston has been well reviewed, well-constructed and basically showed that 10 minutes a day
of mindfulness meditation which looks a lot like also if you look at the literature on
mindfulness meditation it looks a lot like contemplative prayer. It also has a lot of
similarities to rhythmic exercise, the forms of exercise that get you in zone where you’re
not fully thinking about something but you’re very fully present. 10 minutes of that a day
for six months doubled the gray matter in the part of the brain relating to emotional
regulation and self-control. That is profound. If you think about it, the research on focus
is saying that we can no longer focus for 10 minutes. In fact, in the US I don’t have
the exact statistic but it’s somewhere between 80 and 90% of internet users will go away
from a website or a screen image if it doesn’t load in two seconds. Two seconds, we cannot even wait for something for two seconds. If we can’t do that and if 10 minutes has become
our measure of a really adaptability to focus, think about if you harness that in this profound
way and if you practice that for six months you are undoing some of the negative impact
on your brain. That is just deeply profound. One of the things that I found is the more
I have talked about this people say that to me, “I’m doing my 10 minutes but I’m
setting my timer on my phone to do my 10 minutes.” Relying on that. I’m telling people, “Find
a way,” I actually have these made and I choose the kindest creator of timers, 10 minute
timers because I couldn’t find 10 minute timers anywhere. I didn’t want somebody
who was just treating their employees terribly, so I chose the kindest person, not the most
precise so they’re actually like eight to 13 minute timers. But they were made beautifully
and kindly. But to put things around your home or your office that remind you to actually
turn away and that will force you. There isn’t yet research that shows at least
substantially that that 10 minutes has to be all at once. It looks like you could actually
accrue that 10 minutes in as small as three minute segments, but to do that every day,
10 minutes is all, is profound. Or to find a way to challenge yourself toward that. I’m
actually in April going to start a 30 day challenge where I’m challenging people to
just put their phone down for 10 minutes and giving them instructions of how to do that,
because it’s easy but we just don’t think about it anymore.
Another profound thing that we see a change in if you look physiologically across the
human experience is we breathe in a different way. We breathe most effectively when we feel
the bottom half of our lungs, when we do this deep diaphragmatic breathing. Most of us however
over the age of two have converted to this shallow breathing that is all up in the chest.
Even if we just do several minutes of this deep breathing and I use Hoberman Spheres,
a friend of mine uses them as breathing balls and I have copied her use of them. But you
just you expand it and that means you expand the bottom half of the lungs while you breathe
in and then you let it drop down so you close it up. This is a profound again reminder to
put one of these on your desk or put it out where you will see it to keep breathing.
Out of the 12 step movement we have this acronym. This just basically stands for and you can
do this throughout your day, ask yourself am I hungry, angry, lonely or tired? Those
are four instances that will drive you to purposeless automatic behavior. For many of
us when we are these things this is when we turn to screens. Oftentimes if we would do
a scan and quickly ask ourselves what am I really hungry for, what am I angry about,
or agitated about, what am I lonely for, why am I tired, and what will best revive me,
rather than thinking I’m tired I want to space out to a movie, these can really help
us redirect our behavior and help become great message indicators for times that we need
to build into ourselves. That same friend of mine and these are all
in the way of giving you ideas of how to live these embodied lives that will be inspiring
of other people to help them turn away from their screens. The same friend that uses the
Hoberman Spheres has this international business called Yoga Calm that is fantastic. I think
she has come up with such a fantastic idea. She teaches boys who are struggling with ADHD
how to breathe by doing Jedi camps. If you think about it they take their light sabers
and they go … It’s like beautiful. Then on the last day of camp they do it like real
Jedis, all in their mind, because they can’t take their light saber to class because that
would not work. Again, if we can find these creative tools
that can help people manage. There’s a huge debate going on globally between are we seeing
an increase in ADHD because there’s actually an increase in ADHD, or are games and screens
creating ADHD symptoms, or are we all just now evolving into having brains that function
the way an ADHD brain functions? Literally these are huge debates right now happening
globally. I kind of them saying I don’t know where the research is going to fall but
what I do know is that we are all more distracted and functioning more like ADHD feels in people’s
brains, like that constant changing and constant stimulation, so we all need to be really focused
on developing these commensurate skills. Another great skill is just to learn to melt.
Literally picturing your body as an ice cube and literally imagining it melting. You imagine
yourself getting heavier and warmer, you imagine drips striping off your nose and your fingertips
and just becoming again loose. Because our posture and our tendency with our screens
is that we are constantly on this, we’re alert, we’re hyper alert at all times.
Other thing I want to encourage is just setting norms. This is a picture that happened in
my real living space. This is five people out five computers out. Think about breaking
some of the habits that exist in your own spaces and instead creating some new norms
like the timers goes off at a certain time and everybody puts their screens away and
we all encounter each other or a basket at the door.
A great idea for families is to start out as a family having some family accounts in
these spaces where you’ve got people of different generations using the same account
and engaging with other families so that you’re also teaching literacy, you’re also creating
an intergenerational age mix, because that’s another thing that’s happening, is we are
making our social connections less diverse. We’re more able to interact just with the
people who are like us. Again, finding any way to create diversity.
I encourage people to put their phones down on Friday for 10 minutes again. You just do
this hands-free Friday. 10 minutes you decide something you’re going to do every Friday
that you could never do with your phone in your hands. Try it out and use that as just
a reminder. Then the other thing I want to just go into,
I’m going to give you these just basic, my favorite, my top ways of living wild rich
embodied lives and encouraging other people to do the same that to realize the that only
space for living these fiery interesting lives is not in digital spaces, that that can happen
on there but that there can also be these rich, rich realities that we learn and attain
only from encountering our physical spaces and other people’s physical spaces.
Then after I give you or explain this list I’m just going to give you some examples
that I have juried, like an art show of inspirational ideas that you can either try or share with
others. The first thing I hope we all emerge from this time together and we go out from
here and we engage people. We engage them not just via text or via Facebook but we actually
engage the person who we meet at the gas station later or the person who serves us later, but
that we actually listen to them and we talk to them and we look in their eyes and we put
our phone away, maybe we even put our phone in the trunk when we drive so we’re not
even tempted to look at it. I want to encourage you all to fail. There
are therapists now who and I think they’re brilliant and I think they’re needed, but
there are therapists and one in particular in Portland that I know who he will take young
adults and adolescents who have lacked that family talk time and social practice who really
gravitate toward digital relationships because they don’t know how to have these embodied
relationships anymore and they fear what will happen if I make a mistake and it’s caught
online or whatever. He takes them with a coin purse full of coins and they go into a coffee
shop and he has them on purpose spill all the coins onto the floor and then they have
to gather them up and then they have to use them to go and look at the baristas eyes and
order their coffee and use their coins to pay for it, but just to help them develop
the social practice. I think it’s great that they exist but what
if we all just invited people to be those authentic coin spilling bumbling not knowing
how to order people, what if we just lived in this way that invited fiery authenticity?
I want to encourage us also maybe one of my most important points other than the 10 minutes
is that it is important that we force ourselves to be inconvenienced and uncomfortable. Everything
about the digital spaces says let’s make things more convenient, let’s make you more
comfortable. That does not make for interpersonal relatedness that is rich and deep and gutsy.
Sometimes we just have to be inconvenienced and uncomfortable. Life is not just going
to hand you those opportunities anymore. You might have to create them. You might actually
have to force yourself. I think it’s so worth it.
Force yourselves sometimes also to focus. There’s really interesting research in the
six hour version of this talk that I get into about reading on a screen versus reading on
paper. There is a huge difference neurologically and experientially that is starting to show
itself in the literature. I can’t go into that right now, but I will tell you every
once in while force yourself to focus on paper. It is very, very important. Or force yourself
to focus on the clouds changing in the sky. I mean whatever, but just sometimes force
yourself to learn to scan out the rest of the environment and be directly focused.
Learn to live within the boundaries and limits. If you ask an individual who smokes if it
would be easier to try to stop smoking or never start they will tell you never start.
We have all started using technology probably. Thinking through what are the norms you wish
you would’ve put in place for yourself. If you have a hard time getting at that, think
about the person that annoys you with their cell phone the most and think about what norms
and parameters you wish they would have, and that would help you ascertain what you will
like to have for yourself as well. Sometimes it’s what we’re very bad and the research
bears this out, we’re very bad at estimating our own engagement with technology. Most people
at least in the US say, “Yeah, technology is a real issue for other people.” We’re
very reticent to own our own tricky spots with it.
I think if we can invite interaction with all kinds of people and places and experiences,
the more myopically focused we get the less inviting of the kind of peaceful and interesting
and diverse world that would be beautiful to live in, so making sure that you are really
having this rich experience with all kinds of people and then living rich embodied lives.
These are just some experiences that I have come to use and want to share with you. You
can inspire other people with them or try them at home. Put a puzzle out. Put a puzzle
out in your waiting room. Put a puzzle out in the cafeteria. Put a puzzle out in your
home and just leave it there. We all abide having technology out now, but we don’t
have handhelds things anymore. Oftentimes on college campuses I will host
what I call procrastination stations or powered off zones where people leave their phone at
the entrance of the area and I just bring board games and magazines and yarn and glue.
One of the most popular things over the last three years that I have seen happen is that
the white Elmer’s glue goes like crazy before anything else and students love to paint it
on their hands and then blow on it and peal it off slowly, which is a very visceral and
kinesthetic experience. It takes about 10 minutes for it to dry so I’ve learned that’s
an awesome 10 minute mindfulness experience. But literally these simple things that again
get you experientially back in your body. Put the screen away for a little while and
get out toys. These are just Legos. These are things I have
out and about in my house. Legos or shape blocks that are used for math teaching. You
can get these at educational stores. These are fantastic also for focus, for individuals
who are really left brain and linear and logical. If you put these in a bowl they will love
to make mandala shapes with them and it will help them really focus and it will help them
attain 10 minutes of silence better than anything else.
This is kinetic sand, one of my favorite things. Have a bowl of kinetic sand. It’s fantastic.
It doesn’t make a mess. Everyone should have a bowl of this. I am not kidding you.
It’s called kinetic sand. In some places it’s called moon sand. But it’s sand with
a little polymer and it is profoundly comforting and sensual in a way. And it makes your hands
busy so you have to put your phone away. Another product like that is Crazy Aaron’s
Thinking Putty, almost it’s very similar to silly putty. This and the kinetic sand
are the two things that are played with the most at my house and in my office. This is
just this amazing putty that it will get you through, those of you who are learning online
and having to sit in front of a computer screen, especially having something that you can just
play with and manipulate is really important. Luna sticks are great. If you talk to neurologists
they say that they would like everybody in the world, everyone’s brains would be enhanced,
but if they juggled or played the drums or played ping pong, table tennis. This is a
way of doing juggling. Anything that crosses the midline and gets your body active and
focusing and also in moving back and forth up and down is going to be profoundly impactful
for your level of contentment, your ability to soothe, and also your neurological functioning.
I encourage you to put a pull up bar in your house and challenge people to do crazy things
with it. This is just a talent show that a family had together that you can again instead
of watching YouTube or say for every YouTube you watch you have to come up with one skit
that you have to perform for us. Baking and cooking parties where you just
provide all the materials and people just come and cook. Letting kids have the experience
of actually doing something that feels grown up. My brother let his kids, they can light
their own candles and matches and carry them upstairs if they’re going to make their
mom and dad breakfast in bed. So that’s what this is, you can have this wild experience
of actually carrying candles and suddenly getting the iPad out in the morning isn’t
so exciting when you can have this fun experience of creating all by yourself without mom and
dad. Creating spaces where people can do embodied
things. This is my bathroom. You can write on the walls and the ceiling. Just again creating
unique spaces where people can create getting old supplies and letting people paint.
Makers Faires are all the rage in the US. I have not been able to find if they have
a global presence but this Makers Faires are basically spaces where people who know how
to make something come and they now on the East and West Coast or actually one of the
biggest ones was in Los Angeles last year and then the other one was in New York. But
individuals who can make something come and then individuals who want to learn how to
make something come and then they all switch up. Maybe you’ll go to one workshop where
you learn how to make a 3d printer and then the next workshop you go to you learn how
to make a story and then the next one you teach how to bake a pie. But literally to
create within your own community something like a Makers Faire can also be very, very
interesting and unique. If you have a family that’s musical making
a little band and playing out on the street, or encouraging the playing of interesting
and unique instruments is really, really important. Music gets to the brain in a really fascinating
way. If your community is stuck on watching Dancing
with the Stars take some dance lessons, get off the screen and do it. Host a theme party,
this was a reading rainbow party or host a party where you have temporary tattoos. Everyone
in the world will love it. Get your body going rock climbing is a really
unique experience. It can crate for individuals that sense of that 10 minutes of calm. Anything
that is strategic and allows for you to be solving problems but not be so caught up in
rational thought will also help. Using things like henna to create intergenerational
connections with people where touch and talk is involved. Going to international markets
that force people to be in unique experiences. Then one of my favorite hints from someone
recently was if you want your family members to be off of their devices when you’re together
eat food that requires you to use your hands, make your hands really sloppy messy, no one
will be on their phone. Play games out in public, go to live theater,
go to things like ComedySportz has a global presence and it’s fantastic and it’s improvisational
and on the spot and intergenerational. Do geo caching, or maybe one of my favorite,
two favorite hints are things like ice blocking. Get a big block of ice, go to a place with
hill with intergenerational bunch of folks and slide down the hills. Just again, screens
aren’t so exciting if we are willing to be inconvenienced and uncomfortable and embodied.
My favorite thing for parents with kids with sleepovers now all they want to do is watch
screens and they’re all in their devices. I say, “You can be on your devices for 30
minutes and then the rest of the night I will take you to any teacher or administrator’s
house and you can side walk talk their driveway and street until the cows come home.”
But again, having these rich and wild embodied lives rather than thinking that the only places
we can have richness and depth are online is really important to developing that strong
sense of self, to being able to tolerate the differences of others and have rich relational
depth. Then also to have this complex crazy ability to handle and wrestle with difficult
information and internalize a brain and a body that’s working beautifully and that
is fully invaded. This is the gift I have for you today. These
are the ways that you can reach me. On my Facebook page I put all of the research. Any
piece of research that I review I put on Facebook right away so that you can have access to
the actual studies. My website has access to a lot of the videos that I did not get
to show because this platform is not particularly conducive to showing videos. Most of them
are linked on my website. Then also if you’re interested in that 30
day embodied challenge I’m just going to send out 10 minute challenges. I think you
can probably get to that hopefully through my … I don’t know. You’ll get to it
somehow. On Facebook maybe. I know it’s Facebook for sure but I’ll be tweeting about
it too. Now I think we move into questions and answers. I’m not sure how that works.
Yay, thank you. Tom: I’ll start with some questions from
the virtual audienc e and give the in person crowd here a chance to gather their thoughts.
Lots of questions coming in. I guess I’ll start with this. As a parent or as a therapist you mentioned today so many different digital spaces that I’m sure during the course of
this presentation several more have emerged. You mentioned Commons Sense Media. Are there
any other places? Where can therapists and parents go to know what they’re up against
what or their children or their clients are dealing with? How can you keep up with it
all? You mentioned Common Sense Media. Are there other places where you can keep abreast?
Dr. Dodgen-Magee: Yes. Commons Sense Media is the most up-to-date and the most … They
constantly are updating so I really like them. I also maintain on my website on the resources
link I maintain a list of other digital literacies, anti-cyber bulling campaigns. I try to maintain
a list there. But really of all of the resources out there it is constantly changing and evolving.
I actually would say one other thing. If you’re a therapist I actually include this in my
intake now. I am screening in my intake for what kinds of platforms people are using and
then I’m keeping track of that, not only for that particular client, but I’m also
listening with an ear toward where people are invading spaces. I also think that you
have to talk to and listen to your kids and create an empathic response. So many kids
and young adults, and this happens with clients as well, are afraid to tell you where they’re
spending their time in digital spaces because they’re afraid of judgment or punishment
or discipline. I think if we create an openness then we will learn because it’s very regional.
That’s the other tricky thing. What is going to be good information for a parent in Kansas
is going to be very different than good information for a parent in California. A lot of it has
to be reliant upon you creating connections with folks who know that you are a safe person
and they can tell you where they’re spending time and then you can go do the research about
that. It’s what I think I would say now. Tom: You’d mentioned neurological pruning
and other ways that this can have negative impacts on the brain. Lots of questions coming
in on how resilient the brains are and how this compares to other things that impact
it. We know that different substances affect the brains. They all affect the brains neurologically
but some have a more devastating impact than others. Where does this rank and then the
other question … I just lost. Let me just leave it at that …
Dr. Dodgen-Magee: I would direct everyone to the research out of the University of Waterloo
again because yes, many, many substances, many experiences, every experience has an
impact on the brain, and this is just one more of them. The issue for me, and again
I’m spending a huge bulk of my time researching on this, and this really comes out in that
University of Waterloo research is that humans tend to be terrible about requiring discomfort
of themselves. Humans tend to gravitate toward wanting experiences
that provide them with ease and that provide them with comfort. Our technological advances
are providing that too in such a way that we don’t have self-control with it, and
so it is constantly taking up more and more of our time. Where we are spending our time
is how our brain is developing, so it has a little bit of a more profound effect because
of a snowball effect of the amount of time we are immersed in it.
I do things a little different and I would, I think the best answer of that is going to
be found in that University of Waterloo research which is all over the press right now, yesterday
and today, so you can find it. It just really is talking about how we do gravitate and how
humans overtime will always, will frequently choose the easier option and how technology
is geared toward giving us the easier option and that the biggest place of impact is our
brain. Tom: The other aspect of the question that
eluded me there for a second was how is the brain able to reboot at all? Because we can’t
escape technology completely and there’s technology that does wonderful things as you
pointed out. Does the exposure to the good technology get in the way of your brain restructuring
if that’s the correct term? Dr. Dodgen-Magee: I would direct folks to
the research by Daniel Siegel and the folks at UCLA on that topic, both the book “The
Whole-Brain Child” and the book “Mindsight” really are my two favorite resources regarding
neuroplasticity. The brain is incredibly, incredibly plastic. It’s constantly trying
to heal itself. Norman Doidge “The Brain That Heals Itself” is also a fantastic resource.
I think there is great hope. The thing that I would say, I think there’s
great hope as long as we maintain or begin to set a norm for moderation, because again
while there is great research that shows that collaboration and creativity in digital spaces
increases our ability to be collaborative and creative in digital spaces, so it’s
like saying I’m a really good smoker because I smoke a lot, so I’m really good at being
creative and being collaborative in digital spaces because I do it a lot. There’s not
qualitative comment there. Because of that I think there’s a tendency
to say since this is where we get all of our goodness from, let’s build our brains there
too. That’s where all this brain training programs are coming in online and stuff. That’s
okay, but making sure that we maintain this well-balanced approach, because there is a
difference. Interpersonal neurobiology will tell you there is a difference in how the
brain reacts to embodied person to embodied person connection than how it reacts to digital
connections. Tom: Lots of questions in this, centering
round this point as well. A characteristic about the digital age is that geographical
boundaries are disappearing. You can do business. Ecommerce exists across borders. You can associate
with friends from around the world, and you can even work remotely. Psychology licensure,
that’s all about boundaries. Where do you see, whether it’s tele-therapy or e-therapy,
how do you see that evolving given this the current state of licensure, and just what’s
your vision? Dr. Dodgen-Magee: It’s a great question.
I would refer these folks if you’re interested in that to the They are really working
on setting the norms and parameters around that, at least for psychologists, and I know
the different licensing bodies are working on that. I think one of the beauties about
some of our forms of Facetime and Skype are that people who would not normally have access
to high quality mental health care or even health care sometimes have access to it.
I do think that we have to be aware. At the same time that I say that I’m also aware
of a growing movement. At least in the US there is a small but growing movement of therapists
who are providing therapy via text. I think I want to be really aware of how that deeply,
the disembodied words are very different than embodied even voice communication. You lose
so many aspects. I think it has beautiful hopeful realities and it has very difficult
ones and is uber super complex. I’m going to have to refer and defer to folks like the
APA who are trying to figure out. Tom: I’ll ask another and then turn to the
in person audience. If governmental organizations like the FDA and the FTC exist to protect
us against bad things we might eat and bad things we might be susceptible to buy or advertise
in practices. When are we going to have some sort of federal technology association or
something to … Or do you see that happening? Where do you …
Dr. Dodgen-Magee: Sadly- Tom: It seems like it’s an untouchable area.
Dr. Dodgen-Magee: Sadly I do not see that happening. In fact, I see the opposite happening.
For instance in the US probably many of you have noticed in theatres there used to be
before a movie you would see a preview for another movie. Now we see previews for videogames.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but this is something that’s happening. Actually
the FTC historically has had to give ratings to those video or to the movie trailers before
a movie, so you can only show a trailer for a g-rated movie at a g-rated movie for instance.
The videogame lobby has somehow made it such that they don’t have to comply with those
some green band trailers, so you can show a very violent or very adult game trailer
before a children’s movie. I actually see the opposite happening in terms
of right now. I think the technology is advancing so quickly. Most corporations now have neuromarketing
departments that are actually using real time brain scans while individuals are watching
ads to try to lengthen the parts of the ad that excite the desire parts of the brain
and shorten the parts of the ad that excite the rational decision making parts of the
brain. I think at this point I see it going the opposite direction and I hope, I hope
that we will have some care, but until then I just am deeply inspired to start my own
little mini movement, hope that we could all do the work that isn’t happening for us.
Kathleen: I was just wondering you’ve given us a bounty of important information.
But what would you say is maybe one or two of the most important implications for clinicians?
How can we incorporate this into our practices to support our efforts to help our clients?
Dr. Dodgen-Magee: I love that question. The first thing I would say is that we have to
start asking about it. When I encounter therapists I have yet to encounter very many therapists
that are asking in intake or in ongoing ways about the space that their clients are spending
12.5 hours a day in. That’s just profound to me. We are living a lot of our lives there,
we are having a lot of our experiences there, so the first thing I just feel like we have
to start asking the questions and then being willing to consistently be if this is a growing
part of our clients real lives consistently asking them, how is this a part of their real
lives? We ask them about their drug use, we ask them
about their sexual realities, their religious practices, sometimes we ask them about all
kinds of things and the way in which they shape and form them and either help or hurt
them. This is a primary place of help hurt that is untapped. The first thing would be
to ask about it. I ask about it on intake and I ask consistently.
I think a second thing that we can do is set really intentional norms. A lot of therapists
right now that I’m encountering across at least the US are having a hard time because
they have without really intentionally thinking about it let things like texting and email
enter into their practice and now they’re suddenly seeing really potent clinical issues
coming through in email or texting and they have not set any norms or boundaries around
that, so they are finding themselves in real trouble. So being very thoughtful about the
way in which they’re going to engage the technologies themselves and the way in which
that communicates. Then the third thing I would say is to I think
that we as therapists have this beautiful gift of being the holders of the beauty of
embodied connection, and how embodied connection can change people’s experience and undo
hurts and undo traumas and actually even rewire the brain. We know that, interpersonal neurobiology
tells us that in person experience. If we could hold that role and model it beautifully
and offer it authentically and deeply I think we could change the world. Those are the three
things I would say. Vance: In working with a kid with autism
you hear a lot of stories about disturbing comments, exchanges, things like that. From
a parental standpoint, a mentor, and then a therapist, is there a temptation to go into
that medium and look at the comments? Is there an ethical boundary? Do you encourage it,
from a parent standpoint or as a therapist to go into that medium to …
Dr. Dodgen-Magee: So like if your own child has been bullied there, you mean would it
be worth seeing the content? Vance: Right, and do you do that, and
then could it be beneficial? Dr. Dodgen-Magee: That’s a great question.
That’s a great question and also that brings up another thing that as a result of converting
this to a shorter talk that I did not mention that I want to mention first of all, there
are a few special populations who are going to be benefited for more time online. That
also means that those individuals are likely going to experience more painful, potentially
painful experiences online. Autistic individuals are individuals who exist
on that spectrum. There are assistive technologies that help them immensely that only exist in
digital spaces. Also individuals who identify as gay, lesbian, bi, trans, I mean those folks
are all going to have an opportunity to experiment and probably they’re going to have some
healthy experiences there. We need to be aware of that first.
The second thing is that is really … I think that would be a case by case basis. I think
I would be inclined if I were the parent of an individual who had had really a painful
experience online that was also chronicled and libraried, it was kept there. I think
I would be inclined to engage a third party, a therapist, a teacher, someone in their community,
their religious community whatever, to do some of the looking at that first and then
help the parent know if it’s going to be beneficial for them to look directly at that
content or not. Oftentimes what can happen is parents can
get so wrapped up and if then the parent overreacts and loses their ability to be a good empathic
container for the child, so I would be looking to maintain the parent’s ability to be objective
and present. Does that make … Does that answer your question?
Vance: Yeah. You hear recently about I don’t know if you heard Curt Schilling,
the baseball player? Dr. Dodgen-Magee: No I didn’t.
Vance: Or the story’s about actually going after there some of those … So you
sort of find that balance of how do you approach some of those online presence.
Dr. Dodgen-Magee: Yeah. The things that can happen in those spaces are really so painful.
They are so painful. Yeah, I think it’s just, again, the more we can all be aware
and loan ourselves out in those situations to help maintain loving presences for kids
and adults better. Tom: I’d like to follow up on that
question because that seems like this is really emerged in the last just two or three weeks
since that Curt Schilling example where his daughter posted a photo or something on Twitter
and just suffered horrible abuse. He looked up the people who had used her and he got,
somebody was fired. He outed the bulliers. Apparently it’s become a trend. It’s happened
in the last 10 days more and more people are aggressively outing bulliers online. What
are your thoughts? On some level it’s satisfying but I mean what do you …
Dr. Dodgen-Magee: I’m so glad, so now I know what happened, that helps me know. This
is actually a huge issue. Oftentimes that’s the parental impulse, it’s the administrative
impulse, it’s certainly my impulse as a person who loves people. The tricky thing
is oftentimes then the child that has been bullied experiences a second round of really
harsh reaction by their community and that’s what it’s really illuminated in the movie
DUFF which I will come back to another thing as well. I would want to be working very closely
with the child and saying, “Here are our options. We can reveal the bullier. We can
go and talk to the school. I want you to be a part of the decision making process about
this to a point,” because the child is probably likely always going to say, “Don’t do
anything about it, I’ll just keep suffering.” But I don’t know that I would say …
This would also depend on the age of the child. But I would want to be doing that along with
the child, because the second round of isolation and revenge bullying that occurs as a result
of being the nark is unbelievable and will be driven even more underground because folks
know that they are being watched. That also though does remind me of one other
thing that I did not say. If you want a really depressing but realistic view of where culture
is moving with technology there are three or four films I would recommend in addition
to the DUFF. One is Catfish. Don’t learn anything about it beforehand. Just watch it.
It’s now been out for several years it’s been shown to be accurate and true. One is
Her. Her is about an individual who falls in love with his operating system. I think
we are actually quite, that’s a very accurate and telling film. Don Jon is a film about
the impact of porn and I think it tells the story of this generation better than any other
film. Then Robot and Frank. Robot and Frank is the story of an individual who is aging
and dealing with some early onset dementia and his children bring in a robot instead
of a caregiver and then he is faced with the difficultly that his most intimate attachment
is with this cyber being. It’s a very profoundly interesting and thought provoking ethical
film about where we are. Yes. Speaker: Two part question. I think we
all agree that technology has had a huge impact on our society. What findings has there been
in what we see in other countries as opposed to the United States? Second part of that
question is the content of what we release in the United States in our television programing,
music and the like, could it be that we are over emphasizing technology that perhaps aren’t
in other countries? Dr. Dodgen-Magee: I think that is absolutely
true. I think there’s a huge divide. A lot of the research that is coming out of the
US is replicated in countries like or you can find replicating research in countries
like the UK, the Scandinavian countries are doing a lot of research there and their usage
looks similar, but there is the great divide and I think it’s becoming greater and greater.
We don’t have a realistic picture, because huge parts of the globe are still not connected
digitally and are not seeing an impact. I think we’re very biased and I’m sure I
am very biased, so I appreciate that question. Thank you. Which is always why I want …
Another reason I feel passionate about us in the US not going to a fully immersive educational
experience for children, because I want them to be able to encounter people who haven’t
had that experience and be able to connect with them and be embodied with them.


  1. Really Enjoyed this presentation.  As the wife and mother of veterans Dr. Taylor did a wonderful job giving an understanding of the veteran.

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  3. Fantastic lecture, I'd love to be able to access a list of references, especially the Waterloo research that was mentioned.

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