“Look at me when I talk to you.”

From The Washington Post By Steve Chawkins, Published: November 9

Clifford Nass, a Stanford professor who was among the first academics to sound alarms about the dangers of chronic multitasking and the decline in the kind of face-to-face interactions that he so unabashedly enjoyed with students and colleagues, died Nov. 2 at a camp near South Lake Tahoe, Calif. He was 55.

One of his memes to students was to tell them to “Make face time sacred”. Isn’t that something? Here was an academic who studied the effects of multitasking. Since his death, I’ve been reading and hearing numerous reports about how constant interaction with one’s phone can accentuate your level of ADD. And there are a few articles now reporting the possibility of cellphone usage as causing ADHD in children.  Anyone remember being told, “Look at me when I talk to you,” by your parents?  What’s the message a parent now gives a child when a cellphone is handed to her when she cries or he acts bored and agitated?  What may cure the fidgets or cries in the moment can certainly cause a deeper problem later on like when they are a teen and they can’t be without their phone for a minute, nor put it down when in the presence of others.

An article was published today titled, “Too Much TV Can Stall Aspects of Cognitive Development“. I’m 51 years young and I grew up on TV, but never watched more than a couple of hours a night.  Why?  We weren’t allowed to. When we got home from school, it was play outside time since Mom had just come home from work and wanted some space. Turns out THAT was good for us. So, after dinner, we had a little TV time before going off to our bedrooms to read, do homework, etc.  Quiet time for Mom again, and good for our minds.  I consider myself a fairly intelligent human being and I thank my Mom in my heart every day for keeping me cognitively healthy.  But kids today are often sitting in front of a video game on their TV or computers for hours and hours. I know some teens who spend more than 1/2 a day blowing stuff up, chasing or being chased on the screen.  So much action goes on in a single moment that when these teens grow up and become my college students, I find that they have a very difficult time sitting still and simply absorbing a lecture. One student several years ago told me that he had to be doing 3 things at once in order to focus on the class otherwise he would fall asleep.  And that’s not because my lectures are boring…they are anything but that. I know and have been told that I’m a very active lecturer who is clearly passionate about the subject and brings that focus and energy to every classroom encounter. But it truly is getting harder and harder to get through to the younger ones.  I have a lot of 28 – 45 year-olds in my classes and they have a much easier time with it since focusing on someone speaking is not difficult for them at all.

What happens inside a mind mind that can’t connect to another human sitting across from it? Isolation? Loneliness? Imagine feeling lonely in the company of others, but feeling much better around one’s mini spaceship in hand traveling the globe in myriad ways.

“The [aforementioned] study shows that TV exposure may impair children’s theory of mind development, and this impairment may be partly responsible for disruptive social behaviors, according to the researchers.”  And later: “Children with more developed theories of mind are better able to participate in social relationships. These children can engage in more sensitive, cooperative interactions with other children and are less likely to resort to aggression as a means of achieving goals.”

So, put down that phone and focus, OK?  It’s better for you, your family, and your friends.  Image

About danaj33

writer * department chair of Broadcast Electronic Media Arts and audio faculty at City College of San Francisco * music composer and producer * always in discovery mode, learning, living, loving, and laughing.
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