What are the key factors impacting on childhood today?
The pace of change in the 21st century has been rapid.
Despite children being raised in a time that is firmly focused on the needs and cares of children – with greater awareness and knowledge than ever before on the factors that impact childhood – evidence suggests that Australian children and young people growing up in the 21st century are not faring as well as they could be. Continue reading “Childhood in the 21st Century”
We are continuing our focus on 21st century childhood.
We are now turning our reflections to Education & Technology.
In particular, we are looking closely at access to technology and how information about family is shared.
When we looked back at our own childhoods, people talked about the T.V. being the only form of technology that most people had in their house. Cartoons were watched after school and on Saturday mornings, and movies were watched with the whole family.
Generally, information about family was shared in an annual family newsletter, sent in letters or discussed over the telephone.
What role is technology playing in 21st century childhood?
How is information about children and families now being shared with extended family and friends? Do you think this is a good thing or a bad thing? Let us know what you think of these changes.
Post written by: Julie Noonan, School Engagement Co-ordinator, Berry Street Childhood Institute
Recently, street artist Kaff-eine, and Berry Street Childhood Institute Senior Advisor Teaching & Learning, Tom Brunzell, spoke to the team of the Right Now – Human Rights in Australia podcast about the HEARTCORE book.
Kaff-eine and Tom spoke with Evelyn Tadros about the role of art in marginalised communities and discussed the way that expression through creativity is valued at the Berry Street Schools as a way to engage and empower young minds.
Short stories, raps and poems written by these students have been interpreted by Kaff-eine and painted as a series of street art works on walls across Melbourne’s CBD & the inner-north. The striking images were shot by Rowena Naylor Photography and a beautiful coffee-table book will be launched on Thursday, September 25, featuring the photos alongside the stories that inspired them.
The HEARTCORE book is available at the special discounted price of $40 until September 24. Visit the HEARTCORE website to get your copy now!
Join us in celebrating the release of HEARTCORE, Berry Street’s new book featuring inspiring personal narratives from the Berry Street School students and photographs of paintings by international street artist, Kaff-eine.
Inspired by the students’ stories, Kaff-eine painted 20 public walls in Melbourne’s CBD, Collingwood, Fitzroy, Noble Park, and Morwell. Each wall was beautifully photographed for the book by Rowena Naylor.
Help support Berry Street and our efforts to improve outcomes for vulnerable young Victorians by purchasing a copy of HEARTCORE and spreading the word.
The keynote speeches early on Friday morning alluded to some of the evils of social media, so it was refreshing to hear SYN’s Education and Training Manager, Jonathan Brown, highlighting the benefits and showing that if you don’t quite get the hang of social media at first, then perhaps you should have another crack at it.
The session began with a breakdown of the major social media platforms and some of the ways in which they are used, as well as what benefits you can get from using them.
Facebook: The largest of the social networks with a jack-of-all-trades focus. You can share videos, photos and links to other creative efforts. Listing the people you connect with as friends, however, is slightly misleading, because the connection isn’t quite at that same level.
Twitter: The focus on shorter messages and links is what sets this platform apart. There isn’t the same pressure to add your “friends”, simply follow people who post thought-provoking comments and share your interests.
Instagram: The home of the “selfie”. Usually connected with Twitter or Facebook, Instagram is all about sharing a moment in time with followers across all networks.
Tumblr and other blogging platforms: These work similar to your own website. You can add as much of your own creative content and layout and share creative content that you’ve created.
After listing the various options to make your presence on the internet known, Jonathan provided his five fail-safe tips to ensure that you are on the right platform and doing the right things to get noticed:
Be authentic: act on social media as you would in real life.
Post consistently and diversely: stick to a schedule and mix up your posts. If you tend to post a lot of image content, try a video or text post.
Make it conversational: Unlike mediums such as television, you have the ability to talk to and engage with your audience to make it a more rewarding experience for them as well as for yourself.
Play to your strengths: Ensure you’re focusing on what you are good at. If your strength is writing, try blogging platforms. If you’re more artistic, try a tumblr.
Consume, research and share: If you find something that catches your eye, feel free to share it with others. Be transparent with your sources and start a dialogue.
The session concluded with a feel-good image of cats, encouraging you to feel positive about posting what you enjoy and to have fun with social media.
“Do we really want to live in a world where people have no self esteem, are narcissistic and have no empathy when you talk to them?”
This was one of the key questions Baroness Susan Greenfield asked in her keynote presentation on the second day of the Good Childhood Conference.
Thanks to technology, we have more leisure time than ever before. This means we have the greatest ever opportunity for developing the human mind. Susan expressed fear that we are not taking the opportunity to do so.
She argues that, as social media use has increased, face-to-face interaction has decreased. When you meet someone face-to-face, your words make up only 10% of meaning communicated. Social media narrows communication, as it doesn’t include things like body language, tone of voice and physical contact.
Susan argued that if we use social media too much, we lose these face-to-face communication skills. As a result, we feel uncomfortable in social situations, and so continue to avoid them in favour of social media.
Social media encourages us to disclose personal information with people we don’t know well, and Susan said their responses to this information cause low self esteem. But it’s not only self-confidence that she was concerned about.
Susan indicated use of technology was prompting a range of health problems:
“There is a link between autism-like behaviour and screen time”
Susan said there was a link between the typical brain wave response present in problematic face recognition, a characteristic of autism, and heavy internet users.
Gaming & gambling
Susan said children who are addicted to video games have similar brains to problem gamblers. She cited this article in UK newspaper ‘The Telegraph’.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Susan said she would “like to flag that there are certain elements of gaming that can be good for you.” These elements included using video games to help people with disabilities to rehearse situations which may be difficult in real life. She also acknowledged that technology is good for input-output mental processing, and may be responsible for increasing IQ’s, but stressed that humans are designed for a deeper level of thinking than simple input-output processes.
“Could the people who Tweet a lot be in some kind of existential crisis?”
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
There has been a great rise in diagnosis of ADHD in the developed world. Susan suggested the intense stimulation provided by video games and the instantaneous flow of information on the internet leads children’s minds to adapt to this pace of thinking. When these children are placed in slower paced situations, their minds race and they are unable to slow them.
What do you think? Are social media users undergoing existential crisis? Are people becoming more narcissistic and less empathetic as a result of technology?
You can find out more about Susan Greenfield and her research here.
Day 1 of the Good Childhood Conference 2013 wrapped with a youth panel consisting of four young people, all of whom work actively in areas relating to youth affairs and leadership.Facilitated by UN Youth Representative 2012, Dan Ryan, the panelists discussed issues related to modern childhoods from their own experiences and work, and answered various questions posed by Dan and the audience. The panel was made up of:
Marlee-Alice Gorman of the Victorian Student Representative Council (VicSRC) who’s been described as “the most compassionate speaker Parliament House has ever seen”.
Sarah Faithful of the Young & Well Cooperative Research Centre, Youth Brains Trust, who is interested in utilising technology to improve mental health and well-being in young people.
Crystal Goetz, A Mirabel Foundation Youth Ambassador, who is passionate about a world that is fair for all.
And, Linh Do, a Melbourne-based social change advocate.
The panelists spoke eloquently and honestly about their interests, passions and opinions regarding topics facing youth today:
On the (often negative) perceptions of youth in society the panelists all agreed “I’m gonna defy this stereotype of me”,
In regards to the boundaries that young people face Crystal argued that “You need to be allowed to make bad decisions”,
And, when asked what they would tell their 10 year old self if they had the chance, Marlee summed it up perfectly saying “What the other kids think about me doesn’t matter”.
There was united consensus among the panel on the notion of treating young people as equals and a strong belief in the idea that anyone is able to change the world.
Connect with the organisations or young people on Twitter:
Victorian SRC @VicSRC // Young & Well CRC @yawcrc // Mirabel Foundation @MirabelFndation // Linh Do @lmdo