Socially Responsible Investing and Our iChildren, Androidkids or Cybernanny

A possible art piece in the future: sketch by Ramona

Welcome to 2018: a year where those who have the largest shares in big companies like Apple Inc. (AAPL) are in a position to exert their self-proclaimed moral responsibility to address the astonishing rate at which humans are interacting with the computer processors on their smartphones and similar devices.

The Premise

The article released this past Saturday, January 7th by the Wall Street Journal reports that there is currently a push by some large shareholders in Apple that are calling for the company to make changes to their systems to help parents exert more control and limit phone usage. If you haven’t read it already, I recommend it: https://www.wsj.com/articles/iphones-and-children-are-a-toxic-pair-say-two-big-apple-investors-1515358834

Personal Past

I personally have written for years on this subject about the possible negative effects on our children and their interaction with digital technology and social media. At the end of this piece I’ll provide links to my past blog articles for context and proof that although I’m not a medical doctor, my experience as a mother of three children has weathered me into the philosophy I have on this general subject today.

The Short and Painful Truths

We’ve all been guinea pigs since our computers made the leap from the Oregon Trail game in green on the screen to the Internet on PCs to the smartphone on some of your wrists.

Somewhere along the way parents everywhere forgot that babies and children watch their caregivers and strive to copy them relentlessly. So while parents obsess over how many “likes” they’ve racked to their recent Facebook post or are scrolling through Pinterest ideas for dinner that night, their young are taking that in as normal behavior even when they are vying for their parents’ attention in the process. Even more alarming is that many parents may spend more time trying to “capture the moment” in forms of photo bursts, videos and vines than actual quality time conversing or participating in activities with their children.

I refuse to personally judge anyone in this area as I’ve made my own mistakes regarding this new frontier of instant messaging and phone calls at a touchscreen’s length. Instead I’m comfortable sharing my own personal journey as a way of giving some ideas to parents and caregivers that perhaps they can weave into their way of life — in turn helping the next generation have an idea as to how to navigate their own progeny in tandem with our technological advances yet to come.

Parents: Put It Away

This is a blunt heading and intentionally so. This is not easy and perhaps quite impossible for many people depending on their line of work. Thankfully there is the “vibrate” setting for most devices and which I use constantly.

Before you dismiss this idea entirely, do yourself a favor and think about how much time you actually interface personally on a daily basis with your child or children. The answers will vary depending on vocation and age of the children of course but the effect should warrant an honest assessment.

Here’s what I’ve learned in just under 10 years of being a mother myself to three children under the age of 10: they grow up quickly and learn even faster!

If you make it a point to interact with your child without the smartphone attached to the palm of your hand it will help them bond not only with you but also know how to engage with other humans.

The questions will come and with them your respective answers as it goes with the majority of parental interactions with their young — in my case, my older children have inquired as to why they don’t have phones. My responses to these repetitive questions are simple and hopeful. For example, I let them know that their father and I don’t see a need for it nor is it allocated for in our family budget. In addition, we believe they will have them one day in an even better model and aren’t missing anything in the meantime.

While investors are suggesting to companies about how their technology can be manipulated to help give parents control the reality is that the control is with the parents themselves all along.

People, Artificial Intelligence and Beyond

Guess what? We’re still all test subjects together as we progress in this whole new world of cyber-digital interactions and integrations with homo sapiens.

We’re talking about parental controls available on the iPhone platform and before we know it we’ll be reading psychologists’ research papers on the emotional integration of robot-nannies on our grandchildren one day.

To be sure we’re excelling in incorporating these new devices into our lives so quickly without knowing its effects until we become aware of the effects. Although we focus mostly on negative consequences, we should be fair and acknowledge where the technology has been very helpful for parents and kids alike.  For example, I recall a scratchy long distance land-line phone call to Greece with my great-grandparents whom I could hardly hear — our kids get to Facetime with their grandparents in California.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and need to read something that will assuage the fear of the unknown I reccommend “Abundance” by Peter H. Diamandis. It’s a helpful book with opening our mind to the possibilities of the good things that can come out of our digital evolution together.

Global Village Is Not the Front Line

Ever since the release of the World Wide Web late last century, the world has shrunk down to what is commonly referred to as the “global village”.

This shouldn’t be confused with the world that our children know when they are born and growing up in our homes. We as parents and caregivers are still their front line in seeing and interpreting the world around them.

In the end the moral responsibility still falls on us individually to make parenting decisions that we feel are right for our own offspring.

Blessings to all you out there raising children in the 21st century and beyond!

R.V.S.B.

P.S. As promised, past blog links of mine concerning children and cyberworld:

2020 Forecast: Tin Depletion, Tiaras and Tarnished Touchscreens

FullSizeRender-30

Have you noticed that your days are flying by quickly? It will be 2020 one day and what will that year be like for those of us living?

Rin Tin Tin

My humble yeoman’s guess is tin will be depleted in the global supply and hopefully the companies producing touch screens will have found an alternative that is both lucrative and practical.  It has been embarrassing that our U.S. journalism media outlets have not made more of a stink of the “blood diamond” type of material tin really is.  Everyone is so addicted to “swiping” and pushing these devices to their energy-draining babies and children that we’ve remained blissfully ignorant of how there are other humans dying and suffering to mine this resource that will one day be exhausted.     It will be an involuntary humanitarian success if we can literally clean our hands of where and how that tin material came about.

For your own research I have provided the following links via a google search:

The Princess Bubble

The years before September 11, 2001 had their burst bubbles like the “dot.com bubble” and in following years like the “mortgage bubble” and so forth.  I believe 2020 will bring about a whole new bursting that will make the millennial’s coming-of-age seem like a spa day.

In an endearing effort to help cushion our children from the horrific realities of fanatics, terrorists and frankly mentally ill people who take others lives and properties without remorse–we enjoying playing and paying into the princess factor (and most recently Star Wars fever) and our only dialogue with our children can become a nonstop obsession into those fairy tales of doting on the princess, et cetera.

Let me be clear that I don’t think it’s wrong to let our children have these fun roles to play and toys as such.  I would be a hypocrite myself as my husband and I discern how far to take child entertainment with our own progenies.  It becomes a disservice, however, when our children become teenagers and we’re not talking to them about real life.  Just trying to secure them a good college education, distinguish a career path and “keep them out of trouble” is not going to cut it.

In 2020 many “princesses” will come of age and look around the world and realize that their daydreams went a little too far like “Alice in Wonderland” when growing up.  Disillusionment may set in and it could take them some troublesome years through their twenties trying to figure out how they should operate in the 2020 world of political disarray, wars of a cyber-kind and no way to “let it go”.

Tarnished Touchscreens

Every time I hear “a recent study shows that…” I realize that we all are living subjects of the next “study” to be done in future years.

  • Studies will show that children growing up with too much touchscreen time will have an even greater level of impatience than the guy trying to side-swap you today when merging onto the interstate.
  • Studies will show that overuse of touchscreens helped in human de-evolution when it comes to reading certain social cues in people’s facial expressions, voice tone and body language in general.
  • Studies will show that we had no idea how much radiation was too much or too little when interacting with these touchscreens.
  • Studies will show that many adults recall their early emotional memories (either positive or traumatic) involve some dark rectangular object with a piece of an apple being bitten out in a shiny circle.
  • Studies will show that many children assume that the clouds in the sky really do hold their family photos and verbal vomit of their strung-out parents.

5 More Years

Is there anything to be done about the next five years? Without hitting the mid-century mark in my age group, I’ve learned that it is much easier to tackle major projects with minor changes–albeit diligent ones. Here’s a few ideas that would help evoke healthy progress for our human population if applied en masse:

  1. Forget about resolving the “climate change” debate. It’s happening, it’s been happening since before we had the history or ability to track the weather data. I’m over the arguing about it just like when you hear two toddlers going at it over a simple toy.  What we need to do are the little things to help make the big changes come to fruition:
  2. Minimize. I’m not talking about your “Microsoft windows”. We must try to minimize our “stuff”. It can reduce stress, waste and budget expense. When we see trash outside, pick it up! When dealing with our own household garbage, let’s do it responsibly (reduce, re-use, recycle).  Try to change the producer-consumer balance.  How embarrassing will it be when the future historians write that during the times we fought about whether or not humans were affecting the earth’s environment adversely our consumer product companies continued to come up with new convenient and wasteful items like K-cups and baby food squeezes (full disclosure: I am guilty of being the consumer gobbling up these very products and I am not proud of it).
  3. Hope. May we still have hope that we will figure out how to love God/Creator/Creation and each other regardless of what year we’re living in.

R.V.S.B.

FullSizeRender-29

Wyoming Life

"God bless it and keep it wild"