Keeping the “good” and “little” in children: recipies for resisting the wired world’s corrosive influence

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In her books Six Ways to Keep the “Little” in Your Girl (2010) and Six Ways to Keep the “Good” in Your Boy (2012) author Cannah Gresh offers excellent observations on how the “wired world” and the electronic media is eroding family life, transferring attention and energy to other venues, lessening actual human contact and ability to see beyond “me”, and creating kids with shorter attention spans as electronic distractions loom larger. Of the 17 books she has written, she says the two above have been the most draining, Quote from Six Ways to keep the “Good” in Your Boy:

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“Out of the 17 books I’ve written, Six Ways to Keep the “Little” in Your Girl and this one have been the most emotionally draining for me. Why? Because our family is full of drama. We are often fighting to keep the “little” and the “good” in our family. We pick fights when our kids reach for the tree and I don’t like it…

I realize that television, cell phones, iPods and other technology also whisk our boys away from reality into a world that’s often unsafe. Overall, the average boy will absorb 38 hours a week of video games, computer time, music, television and radio. One of the obvious problems with being so plugged in is this: If your son is glued to a screen for 38 hours a week and, as most do, attends a public or private school, how much time does that leave for you to interact with him to form a value system that directs him towards “good”?.

Remember a prerequisite of being “good: is that your son is wired and programmed to consider the needs of others- tho think outside his own desired and be useful to his family and community.) It’s the fact that sitting in front of a screen is becoming an addiction in and of itself. We have seen it with gaming. A screen is the ultimate distraction.”
–Dannah Gresh Six Ways to Keep the “Good” in Your Boy

 

A good read for parents, particularly of boys, who are in trouble these days- from greater incidences of suicide and violence to declining educational performance. To reverse these trends will take hard work. Politicians and bureaucrats will not get the job done.

Autinomics (auti-nomics) – creating your own economy

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Autinomics (my phrase) a process, system and framework, dedicated to  exploring how digital technology, hands on projects and collaboration can create new options in education, work and culture for neurodiverse (autistic) individuals. It also applies to neuro-typical (non-autistic) persons as well. For a great statement on this, see Tyler Cowen’s book “Create Your Own Economy.”

The “new” economy:” In his book, “Create Your Own Economy”, Cowens argues that the digital age means customizing your own life, creating your own economy of the imagination, unshackled from tedious bureaucratic structures and machine-age formats. For persons with autism, the 21st century promises a truer liberation to achieve their own goals and realize their own capabilities. “Economy” in this sense refers to networks of exchange for the mutual benefit of transactors. The things “exchanged” need not have conventional monetary value.

Some of this draws in some ways on his earlier work: “Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist,” that draws on economic principles to explain quirky human behavior, choices, and ways to live a better life. An entertaining read, and not just in relation to autism.

 

Downsides and the need for balance: I am not sold on the digital world and economy as a panacea for all the things Cowen talks about. I maintain that the freedom of “the digital era” in turn can skew human contact, and impoverish spiritual and moral values. How often has one seen technology like cellphones crowd out face to face interaction.  True, communication is enhanced in some ways, particularly across great distances, and in the variety and volume of information transmitted, but the downside is a growing impatience, less privacy, information overload, and replacement of “carbon unit” interaction and contact with less rich digital substitutes. The “connected world” is always “on”- offering less privacy, less time for spiritual contemplation, less patience, less nuance, less control over time, and eroding the traditional virtues of home and hearth.

A balance is needed- the old saw Winston Churchhill quipped about: technology being on tap, but not on top. The same principle applies to neuro-diverse and neuro-typical. The new options of the digital era must work in tandem with the “carbon” world, to offer a fully-satisfying life.

Street cleanup – Espanola Florida- All Kids Are First- at AKA Day of Service

Street cleanup by youth of Espanola, Florida- the All Kids Are First Old Espanola Schoolhouse-  as part of the Day of Service- sponsored by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority – Chi Delta Omega  Chapter – Flagler County. The main streets, park areas, church grounds were cleaned.  Click to see video below.

Tempers got a bit frayed as the morning wore on, and piles of certain trash were an irritant. But in the end, the job got done. Some youth asked- why bother, if people are just going to trash the place again? It was a good question. My only answer was that regardless of what others do, it was their portion to do something good for the community, and hopefully serve as a better example to follow.

Gardening and beautification of the Old Espanola Schoolhouse.. organics, cow manure and all..

Alpha Kappa Alpha volunteers did marvelous work in planting flowers, shrubs and vegetables to beautify the Old Espanola Schoolhouse-  as part of the Day of Service- sponsored by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority – Chi Delta Omega  Chapter – Flagler County. The once dour exterior was transformed into an attractive entrance way, and an outside fountain was ringed with fresh, growing plants. Click to see video..

At the side of the building, the 3-section garden plot laid out originally by horticulturalist Raphael Al Kemi was prepped using his light chemical, organic approach. This involved using lots of cow manure, at which some citified youth balked. But AKA volunteers led the way, digging in broccoli and onions. The sterling AKA effort involves not only visual beauty but education as well on the importance of ecology and sustainable organic agriculture. All in all it was a great day for green power.

Apply yourself – PART 2 interview with Sue Fray, President of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Flagler County

PART 2- Brief interview with Sue Fray,  president of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority – Chi Delta Omega  Chapter – Flagler County, Florida on the AKA Martin Luther King Day of Service, at the All Kids are First Old Schoolhouse, Espanola Florida, Jan 21, 2013.

Her message for young people was simple – QUOTE: “Let them know they’re beautiful, they’re smart, they’re intelligent – all you need to do is apply yourself.”