Friday, November 11th, 2011

In The Beginning…

In every phenomenon the beginning remains always the most notable moment.Thomas Carlyle•

One thing I’ve learned, through both painful and positive experience, is that the successful flourishing of any project, product, event… or person, is seeded right at the beginning. Imagine setting off in a boat with the intention of sailing to a distant island, but having miscalculated your route by even just a tiny degree: everything will seem fine and dandy for awhile, maybe even for days. But as those tiny degrees of misdirection exponentially add up over many miles, you will at some point realize you are ending up far from where you wanted to be.

A mantra from chaos theory goes, “Sensitive dependence on initial conditions.”

This applies whenever something new is brought into being: cookies, crops, houses, stories, songs, sweaters, people. Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

Digital Dependence: Our Ridiculous Addiction?

Wired Wednesdays | Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

This whole issue of how entranced and attached we are to our smartphones — and to the social media they link us to — is soooo challenging and touchy, isn’t it? I think because at some level we suspect that, even though the technology that has put them in our hands is extraordinarily brilliant, far from being a magnificent obsession, it’s a ridiculous addiction.

We don’t usually think in terms of ridiculous addictions. Addiction is serious. Addiction is complex. And boy is this addiction a tough one to detangle and get much of handle on.

We don’t usually think of addiction and humor going together. But in this case I think that sometimes humor can be a wonderful mirror in which we can begin to let our guard down and let some recognition in. As the saying goes, “More truth is said in jest.” Can humor help us recognize our ridiculous addiction?

Here are two recent amusing mirrors. The first are scenes from a recent episode of Grey’s AnatomyRead the rest of this entry »

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

Talking to Children About Tragedy

Talking to Children About Tragedy | Marcy Axness, PhD

It seems parents are confronted with increasing regularity with this question in the wake of unspeakable tragedy: How do I tell my child about this?

Do we follow our natural instinct to protect them, and say as little as possible, couching what we do say in bubble-wrapped terms? Is that the way to help a child feel secure?

On the day of 9/11, a friend who was wiser than me said something along these lines to her (then 12-year-old) daughter after she woke her up that morning: “There’s been a big incident in New York. Two airplanes crashed into the Twin Towers.” As Laura explains to me now, “I only transmitted the sadness, and not a big amount of alarm.” Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

Digital Mastery: Parents, You Have the Power!

Digital-Dependence-Parenting-for-Peace My main concern in this exploration is the effect of digital dependence upon our social intelligence. You see, fostering robust development of the brain circuitry responsible for social intelligence is a key focus of Parenting for Peace. Self-regulation and inner mastery are key themes in this endeavor of raising a generation of peacemakers.

From where we sit in today’s volatile world aswirl in disasters both natural and manmade, these words from the early pages of my book are chillingly relevant:

Many fields of research tend to affirm that we humans are indeed at a crucial moment in our evolution, and our survival is going to depend upon our realizing, deeply, that our true security is rooted in connectedness, in our relationships, in healthy interdependence with our fellow humans and with our natural environment.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

Digital Dependence: Is the Smartphone Generation Ruined?

Digital-Dependence-Parenting-for-Peace Today I’m spotlighting an essential article about the current smartphone generation in the September issue of The Atlantic: “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” The author* is Jean Twenge, a psychologist who studies generational characteristics and the influences that have created significant differences between generations.

[*I forgive her the doomsday title, since she most likely didn’t write it; usually it’s the editorial department who crafts a title that will grab readers.]

Dr. Twenge actually played a key part in Parenting for Peace: though not in the actual book, I referenced her important work in my book proposal. A book proposal is a booklet-length document carefully crafted to make a case that convinces a publisher that your book is even worth publishing. Here is a passage from my (never before published) book proposal, back when my working title (little-known P4P trivia) was Raising Generation PAX: Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

Digital Dependence: A (Funny) Picture’s Worth 1000 Bloggy Words

Today’s a quickie, as I’ve just returned from a week on the other coast, celebrating my son’s 30th birthday. I’m leaning upon BoredPanda today, and their “20 Satirical Illustrations Show Our Addiction to Technology.”

This one’s called “Modern Tan.”

 

Make no mistake — some of these are hard-hitting and downright chilling. They quite brilliantly push us to think in different ways about our digital dependence and what I may be doing to us.

I’d love to hear if you have a favorite — do please post in Comments. (As for me, I’m a sucker for a cartoon from the New Yorker… and there’s one of those on the first page. I’m also partial to #2, #5 and #7.) See what you think!

 

Whether you’re curious, captivated or concerned about our digital dependence and device devotion, join me on (most) Wednesdays so we can explore it together. (Sign up here if you want to be sure not to miss anything!) ….. …..

Stay in the Wired Wednesdays Loop:

I’ll Notify You About New Posts

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

Birthing & Vaccines: Are We *REALLY* Independent?

Birthing & Vaccines: Are We *REALLY* Independent? | Marcy Axness, PhD

Anyone with a pulse and a Facebook feed knows that America is a country painfully divided — about our leadership, our economy, our values and place in the world. We’re also deeply divided over our beliefs about how to birth, raise, and educate our children… and keep them healthy in the process. Believe me, aside from the current political situation, few topics generate more polarization at a friendly backyard barbecue than epidural risks or mandated vaccines.

I don’t mean to be a buzz-kill, truly I don’t. It’s just that I made this pact with myself, on behalf of the wellbeing of mothers and babies: I decided several years ago to run a not-so-celebratory, sobering article every year on America’s birthday, as long as our country continues to show up so poorly in world rankings on maternal health.

(Settle in, grab a cuppa, this is not a breezy, 3-minute listicle. It’s important, historic, and deserves all the words it takes.)

Vaccination Nation?

Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

Digital Dependence: Is This Legislation a Solution?

Wired-Wednesdays | Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

Concern over the effects of digital dependence is clearly something you share with me if you’re following these posts. One of the most pressing of these concerns is how it impacts the rapidly-developing brain circuitry of children and adolescents, and can impair and rewire their capacities for social intelligence. (See 1st and 4th posts in the list below.)

Recently it was announced that an action group in Colorado is introducing an initiative to ban cell phone sales to children under the age of 13. You can find many articles about it via Google, but for now, here is Salon’s take.

And…. go!

My idea here is to throw open a discussion, even if it’s just inside your own head. Better yet, bring it up at the dinner table or around the pool. How do you react as you read about this activist’s efforts? Are there points that resonate with you? Points on which you disagree or would push back? Do you have alternative ideas for tackling the real concerns raised?

I think it’s an important exercise to get ourselves thinking along these lines. Digital Dependence (and all the effects that go along with it) is mostly uncharted territory. This group’s efforts may or may not be as graceful, nuanced or feasible as can be, but they probably are the first of many attempts to rein in what feels like a runaway situation. (Take a look at one of the comments following the article–an amusing, if chilling, comparison of it to Pandora’s box.)

For your reading convenience, here are current Wired Wednesday posts:

Digital Dependence: Is the Smartphone Generation Ruined?

A (Funny) Picture is Worth 1000 Bloggy Words

Digital Dependence & Parental Anxiety: Keeping Trust Alive

Digital Dependence & Social Intelligence: Is Siri Dumbing Down our Humanity?

Taming Tech to Protect Sleep: A No-Brainer for Healthy Brains

Digital Mastery Tools for Parents: Slow Tech & iRules

Brain Hacking: Hijacking You from the Inside

Attention Deficits & Digital Devotion: 2 Pitfalls for Parents

“Don’t Use Your Device When…”: 2 Great Guidelines for Digital Mastery

Digital Imitation of Life: How Facebook is Like a Box of Donuts

Dataclysm in the Time of Alone Togetherness: Authors on Our Digital Dependence

Pained in Plain Sight: Digital Dependence Effects on the Body

Introduction

Whether you’re curious, captivated or concerned about our digital dependence and device devotion, join me on (most) Wednesdays so we can explore it together. (Sign up here if you want to be sure not to miss anything!) ….. …..

Stay in the Wired Wednesdays Loop:

I’ll Notify You About New Posts

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Digital Dependence & Parental Anxiety: Keeping Trust Alive

Digital Dependence, Parental Anxiety and Trust | Marcy Axness, PhD
Parenting is a daunting safari into the unknown. It is a safari that will routinely lead you beyond the reach of the techno-savvy that has us convinced we can figure out and control everything in our lives. So for many, it’s a safari into parental anxiety.

What can you do about parental anxiety? Develop your own personal anxiety antidote: TRUST. A powerful antidote for parental anxiety, trust connects you to an unparalleled source of strength, paradoxically called “surrender”–perhaps the most important resources in your parenting toolbox! Along with a good supply of onesies, I counsel expectant parents to invest in and actively build their “trust fund.”

I define trust as “calm reliance upon processes outside of your immediate perception and control”; it is one of the seven principles that weave through my book Parenting for Peace. For those of us weaned on the information revolution, trust is probably the most subversive P4P principle of them all. When it isn’t overwhelming us, our instant access to infinite amounts of data on any topic has us convinced that by virtue of our techno-savvy, we can indeed figure out and be in charge of every aspect of our lives.

But Life will always manage to outrun your techno-management, trust me.

Prevent Parental Anxiety: Build Your “Trust Fund”

Begin now, I tell new parents, to cultivate a fond taste for mystery and the unfathomable. Read the rest of this entry »

Sunday, May 28th, 2017

How to Love Your Child’s Summer Vacation, Pt. 2

In yesterday’s post I proposed the first three of five tips to help you with summer vacation activity ideas. These are meant to ease your mind and equip you with helpful ideas if you’re one of many parents wondering how you’re going to fill the vast expanses of hot days with “bored” kids… retain your sanity… make it fun and nourishing for all… and maybe even stumble upon some calm, confidence and joy in the process. (What a concept!)

I covered:

  • How to avoid one of the most common pitfalls when transitioning to summer vacation
  • Why “boredom” isn’t lethal to your children ~ just the opposite!
  • Ways to use summer as a “refueling zone” ~ nourishing presence & connection

Today, onward! Read the rest of this entry »

Friday, May 26th, 2017

How to Love Your Child’s Summer Vacation

How to Love Your Child's Summer Vacation | Marcy Axness, PhD

Along with your child’s school summer vacation, the summer season itself brings many natural cues to slow down: the warmth, the longer days (more time = less need to do things fast), and the luscious grass or warm sand that beckons, Lie down!

But the approach of summer can also strike terror in the hearts of parents. Are you quietly (or not-so-quietly) dreading your child’s school summer vacation — wondering how you’re going to fill the vast expanses of hot days with “bored” kids? How you’re going to stick to your values about screened media, while retaining your sanity? Oh, and by the way, hopefully enjoying some semblance of calm and enJOYment?!

Here are five guidelines to help you not just survive summer, but actually cultivate more ease & harmony as you “wire” yourself and your children for joy & wellbeing in the coming year! Read the rest of this entry »