By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I’ve written before about the negative effects of cell phones on our youth but this article in the Wall Street Journal only confirms what I already know.  Our kids are addicted to phones, so much so that it is detrimental not only to their classroom performance, their attention levels, and even their socialization.

What prompted my interest in this topic was my own experience as a high school classroom teacher and my reading of Matt Richtel’s A Deadly Wandering which tells the story of Reggie Shaw who crossed the center line one morning while texting and driving which resulted in the death of two scientists.  Interspersed with the chapters about Reggie and the aftermath of the accident, we meet the neuroscientists who work in “attention science” and the result is an engaging page turner.

Now a Wall Street Journal article examines the social habits of teenagers who are now apparently making their friends online rather than in social settings. They are using apps like Kik and Houseparty, among many others, at alarming rates:

These apps make sense now in part because more teens than ever have access to smartphones. In 2015, the Pew Research Center reported 73% of U.S. teens have access to a smartphone, and that figure is growing. Those teens are checking their phones on average more than 80 times a day, according to Deloitte .

Think about that for a moment: they’re checking their phones “on average more than 80 times a day…”.

That’s a lot.  And if you believe the science, each time they check their phone they’re chasing a dopamine hit.

With the Houseparty app, for example, you’re basically Facetiming with more than one person at a time. So rather than go to a movie, to a playground, or out in the neighborhood, kids are sitting on the couch glued to their phone screens.  Some would advocate that this is much safer than the risk of having kids abducted or hanging out in malls (do they still do that?). At least if they’re home, you know what they’re doing. On the other hand, this kind of behavior leads to sedentary, inactive kids who will likely have problems with real, in-person situations.

Not to mention the increasingly addictive factor of the device itself.   I see the detriment of this in the classroom every single day. The attention span of students has decreased significantly in my twenty years as a teacher. Teachers must find a way to be more entertaining than the phone. I find the statistics, frankly, alarming.

For American teens, making friends isn’t just confined to the school yard, playing field or neighborhood – many are making new friends online. Fully 57% of teens ages 13 to 17 have made a new friend online, with 29% of teens indicating that they have made more than five new friends in online venues. Most of these friendships stay in the digital space; only 20% of all teens have met an online friend in person.

Give the kid a library card instead of a smart phone.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

 

SHREVEPORT – As a high-school English teacher I have long struggled with the distraction of cell phones in the classroom.  I know many teachers who have struggled with this issue and have found various ways to deal with it – most often simply incorporating that technology as an instructional tool.  I’ve seen “Cell Phone Jail” jars and boxes on Pinterest and I’ve seen hanging shoe storage pockets used as charging stations, where the student can drop his phone in the pocket and leave it to charge all class period.

None of these have worked for me.  The allure of that incoming text message or SnapChat photo is too powerful to ignore and invariably the student will check the phone, thus turning his attention away from instruction.

I was commiserating with another teacher about this one day in an attempt to find out what my colleagues do about this issue when someone suggested I read A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel. The book came out in 2014 but is based on the author’s 2010 Pulitzer Prize winning series for the New York Times. The book tells the story of a teenager who caused an accident while texting and driving which resulted in the death of two rocket scientists.  It’s a compelling read and filled with the science to support the author’s thesis which is basically that cell phone technology has insinuated itself into our most basic instinct to pay attention in order to survive, except now we are paying attention to the incoming text message or email rather than the more important tasks at hand, like perhaps driving.

This is especially true for the younger generation – those who have grown up with this technology in their hands their entire lives.

Richtel cites science that explains how the phone works sort of like an immediate gratification system and that positive reward releases dopamine in the brain each time you use the device:

“…You hear the ping of an incoming text or call, you respond; the ping happens, you respond.  And each time you respond, you get a hit of dopamine. It’s a pleasurable feeling, a release from the reward center. Then it’s gone. There is no incoming text, no stimulation. You start to feel bored. You crave another hit.”

The result is now we have a generation of kids who find it “hard to sustain periods of attention” and who “are less tolerant of waiting for delays.”  Most telling to me, and what I see in my classroom is Richtel’s point that “Their brains are rewarded not for staying on task, but for jumping to the next thing.”

So while this book is a fascinating read and does help me understand a great deal about how the brain works and how addicted we are to our devices, it still doesn’t tell me how to manage this issue in my classroom.

I had a conversation with a student one day recently along these same lines. We had been reading Macbeth and she was amazed that an actor could memorize so many lines of Shakespearean dialogue in order to perform on stage. I pointed out that it seems that our brains have evolved over time to adapt to our changing society; once traveling scops could recite 3,000 lines of Beowulf but you might be hard pressed to do that these days. And when I explained to her how we had to do research papers without internet and without computers (remember the old Reader’s Guide?) she was astounded and shook her head in disbelief. And then her phone vibrated and her eyes dropped to the screen to see who was messaging her. End of conversation.

Since I’ve been reading Richtel’s book, I’m much more conscious of my own cell phone tendencies. I even laughed at the irony of my stopping reading long enough to message the friend who had recommended the book to me.

As I said, I still have not found a classroom management strategy that will work in my room as far as the phone issue goes, but I think I’m getting closer to it by having read this book. At least now I understand that it’s a much bigger problem than I realized.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

Some of the most lucrative career paths that you can pursue are those found within the broader field of technology. Check out the short list of technology jobs below if you’re hoping to land a job that will allow you to enjoy the perks of a high salary.

Software Engineer

Software engineers play an integral role in the field of software design and software development, both of which are also lucrative career paths that you can take once you have your master of science in computer information systems or you’ve received your online computer information systems online degree from a school that has a solid reputation in the field of technology. You’ll work on developing the ways in which various pieces of software will function, and you’ll work closely with software designers, coders, and programmers in order to make the programs work as best as possible. Software engineers, software development managers, and software architects can make over $100,000 a year.

IT Director or Manager

The world of information technology (IT) is vast, so there are a host of opportunities that you can pursue, and they pay very well. Also, if you look through job openings in your local newspaper or on job board websites, you’ll quickly realize that there a lot of job openings that you can pursue because companies are constantly searching for the very best IT professionals to move their brands forward. IT directors will manage and direct all IT operations within a company, and they’ll also provide technical advice that will be used to lead various departments. They work on developing strategies that will deploy software and technology, and they test applications and hardware devices as well. This is yet another position within the realm of technology in which you can make over $100,000 a year.

Solutions Architect

As a solutions architect, you’ll have highly specialized skills, making you a very desirable candidate for the job openings that are available. Oftentimes, a solutions architect will work on helping with the design of various IT systems in order to meet an employer’s needs or a customer’s requirements if they run their own business. Like the positions that are listed above, you can expect to make over $100,000 a year, on average, in this position.

Data Scientist

Data scientists are also in very high demand today, so if you are struggling to figure out what you should study in college, consider this position, which also pays more than $100,000 per year, on average. Businesses of all sizes are seeking data scientists who will know how to collect and analyze data that can be used to improve profit margins and efficiency. As a data scientist, you will be in charge of running systems that are utilized for storing data and finding insights within that data. There are many other jobs that you can become qualified for when you attain the appropriate degree that will prepare you for a career in technology. These exciting career paths are not only lucrative, but also exciting and dynamic, as they are always evolving and improving.

I speak to Mosongo Oong of Biblezon at the Catholic Marketing Trade Show

their web page is here, their twitter account is here. Their facebook page is here. Their Youtube page is here.

Was it only 30 days ago that I was complementing Kate Upton on her discretion and common sense for explaining why she doesn’t do nude shots?:

with social media and the internet and not-so-great blogs and the attention like that, I don’t think that my pictures would be received in the way that I’d want them to be received,” she continued. “That’s why I’ve stayed away from them. I really appreciate those photos and I think those women are beautiful, but I think social media and the Internet has prevented me from putting myself out there like that.

Ms. Upton’s advice on avoiding nudes shoots was spot on, alas her caution didn’t include selfies:

Kate Upton found fame from posing in sexy photos — but after being involved in a celebrity phone hack, there are new nude images the model does not want shared out there. Like Jennifer Lawrence, Upton’s phone was hacked and nude images have leaked, her attorney confirms to Us Weekly.

In fairness Ms. Upton’s error was not so much an error of discretion as it was of ignorance. She obviously doesn’t understand what “the cloud” actually is.

People talk about “the cloud” as if it was some mystical virtual space that doesn’t have a physical existence.  For those of you suffering under this delusion, let me educate you.

All “the cloud” is, is a bunch of computers/servers.  It’s called “The Cloud” because if you tried to sell someone on the idea of backing up phone and PC images to remote computers to save space on your device, questions naturally arise:
Who might have access to that data and how secure it is?

These questions might cause you to think twice about buying.

But if you tell somebody that your data is backed up to “The Cloud” you get the image of those beautiful puffy things in the sky, something that’s ephemeral. How do you hack a cloud?

It’s all marketing and Ms Upton and millions of others fall for it every day.

So for the sake of her and any others who didn’t understand it before let an old tech guy explain the facts of modern life.

#1.  Any device from a phone to a car that

a.  Acts like a computer

b.  Is linked to a network

is for all intensive purposes a computer on a network.

#2.  Any computer on a network connected to the internet is capable of being hacked

#3   The degree of security for data on any such network is governed by:

a.  How secure your password is

b.  The least careful person who you give access to your device

c.  Equipment and/or software  failure

d.  A  ratio of the most careless employee of the company(s) that maintains the network vs the willingness and ability of the smartest hacker trying to steal it

so act accordingly.

This is our modern integrated world of the internet and the cloud. You can rail against them but you ignore these truths at your own risk.

Finally let me give one final bit of non-technical advice:

The single most effective way to keep nude photos of yourself off the net is to not take nude photos of yourself.

No Charge, but hits to DaTipJar are gratefully accepted.

Update: the Lonely Conservative links and notes that this advice is too edgy for Ricky Gervais.

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If you think the coverage and commentary we provide here is worth your support please consider hitting DaTipJar below to meet our annual expenses.

Consider the lineup you get In addition to my own work seven days a week you get John Ruberry (Marathon Pundit)  on Sunday Pat Austin (And so it goes in Shreveport)  on Monday  Tim Imholt on Tuesday,  AP Dillon (Lady Liberty1885) Thursdays, Pastor George Kelly Fridays,   Steve Eggleston on Saturdays with  Baldilocks (Tue & Sat)  and   Fausta  (Wed & Fri) of (Fausta Blog) twice a week.

If that’s not worth $20 a month I’d like to know what is?

Alas Ms. Upton didn’t include Selfies

My opinion on taxes in Massachusetts and the general court that votes for them is well-known but I do have one thing to say about the Massachusetts DOR.

You’ve GOT to love their online filing system.

If you qualify (and odds are you will) you can e-file through the site for free and the e-file system is elegant and easy.

You can save easily, jump back easily, double-check easily and before you submit see a PDF version as if you had filed by paper.

I have a lot of words to say when the state does something wrong, so I’m obliged to say something when they do something right.

When it comes to online filing, Mass DOR does it right, take a bow.

is that when you meet people face to face there is a different dynamic, you build up contacts who can inform you that can really add to your knowledge of events.

Dan is a good guy who is making some good points but without being there the feel of the district is not conveyed:

Scott: “Mister Spock, the ship feels wrong.”
Spock: “‘Feels’, Mister Scott?”
Scott: “I know it doesn’t make sense. Instrumentation reads correct, but the feel is wrong. It’s something I can’t quite put into words.”

And it’s that feel that leads to a lot of good things.

Friar Roderic tell us all about airmaria.com

I’ve never seen a Friar who’s look more shouts “Friar” than him. Other than the gray robe of the order of Maximilian Kobe (Feast day Saturday) doesn’t he just look like he could walk right on the set of the 1950’s series The Adventures of Robin Hood and fit right in. Yet here he is at the Catholic New Media Convention. The medium may change but the message of Christ remains the same.