In a few short decades, digital media has increasingly shaped virtually every aspect of our everyday existence, at home, with our families and friends – and how we play, learn and work. During this time, the new technological ecosystem has transformed our economy,  bred a global information and communication superhighway, disrupted our political processes, and challenged fundamental ideals such as privacy, security and equity.  Most of us know that on an individual level, our thoughts, behaviors and interactions are being deeply influenced by our online interactions, but what about the implications for society?

On Wednesday, January 26, 2022, at 12pm via Zoom, Children and Screens hosted “Beyond Clicks and Comments: A Broad View of Technology’s Impacts on Our Society,” an #AskTheExperts webinar, during which an interdisciplinary group of researchers, clinicians, educators, health experts, data strategists, journalists, and thought leaders analyzed the role of technology in society today and in the near future. This not-to-be-missed conversation offered a reflection on what we already know and what we need to learn about one of the most crucial, pervasive and ubiquitous aspects of our society today.

Speakers

  • Brian Primack, M.D., Ph.D.

    Dean ollege of Education and Health Professions University of Arkansas
    Moderator
  • Carrie James, Ph.D.

    Principal Investigator Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Justin Reich, Ph.D.

    Associate Professor Comparative Media Studies / Writing, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Sandra Simpkins, Ph.D.

    Professor School of Education, University of California - Irvine
  • Don Grant, DAC, SUDCC IV, Ph.D.

    President APA Division 46, The Society For Media Psychology & Technology
  • Serge Egelman, Ph.D.

    Director, Berkeley Laboratory for Usable and Experimental Security University of California, Berkeley
  • Afua Bruce

    Technology and Public Purpose Fellow, Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Nicholas Carr

    Visiting Professor, Williams College Pulitzer Prize Finalist

As the role of digital media and technology increasingly shapes virtually every aspect of our everyday lives, we are all left wondering about the large-scale implications for society. “Beyond Clicks and Comments: A Broad View of Technology’s Impacts on Our Society,” a Children and Screens “Ask the Experts” webinar, addresses parts of this enormous question, sharing insights on mental health, education, family dynamics, youth civic engagement, the democratic process, and children’s privacy and security – as well as ways to contextualize and scaffold our thinking around this topic. Watch now to hear from the experts!

02:52 Setting the stage, moderator Dr. Brian Primack, PhD, Dean of the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas, compares the intersection of technology and public health to a “double-edged sword.” Primack prepares the audience to explore both the positive and negative realities of digital technologies to understand the full picture of their impacts on our health and wellbeing.

09:43 Carrie James, PhD, Principal Investigator at Harvard’s Project Zero, details the nuances of teen online civic engagement, recalling results and stories from her qualitative study of civic youth. Dr. James describes the evolution of civic posting and its dynamic challenges – ie. peer pressure against staying silent and feeling that online civic posting is mandatory.

19:05 Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD-8th) addresses the threat to American democracy posed by misinformation on social media. The Congressman acknowledges that more research is needed on the effects of technology on our political systems. While affirming that technology can benefit political dialogue and understanding, he emphasizes that, for a healthy society, democracy must come first and be supported by the use of technology as a tool, rather than the other way around.

25:18 Media psychologist Don Grant, PhD and President of the APA’s Society for Media Psychology and Technology, shares striking statistics related to youth mental health and other unintended consequences that may occur with high device usage, many of which he has seen in both private practice and with clients at his teen addiction treatment center. He recommends parents implement a healthy device management plan, 5 “W’s” & an “H,” to understand their child’s level of engagement, and adjust as needed.

36:53 Justin Reich, PhD, Associate Professor of Comparative Media Studies at MIT, describes the dramatic increase of education technology due to the pandemic. Dr. Reich shares which systems schools adopted, noting that these did not transform education as some hoped, but reinforced the same practices already in place. He explains what is still missing and sorely needed to ensure that this new exposure to technology will lead to measurable gains for the future of education.

43:29 Public interest technologist Afua Bruce, who sits at the intersection of policy and technology, highlights how technology has positively affected systemic change. Bruce details recent successes in using technology to solve large-scale issues, such as the national vaccine rollout. She adopts an interdisciplinary approach that allows her to look at ways to apply tech to solve public problems – an approach she urges others to consider.

48:45 Serge Egelman, PhD, Director of the Berkeley Laboratory for Usable and Experimental Security discusses technology’s threats to children’s privacy and security. Dr. Egelman describes his own research which found that half of child-oriented apps on Google Play Store violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), posing exorbitant risks to children. Dr. Egelman explains why the current regulation is not enough and concludes with the need for more stringent laws to protect children and their data online.

59:03 Sandra Simpkins, PhD, education professor at the University of California – Irvine, discusses digital media as a scaffold for youth community building. Dr. Simpkins offers several suggestions for how parents can support their children online, but emphasizes the importance of families spending time offline together as well.

1:06:37 Rounding out the conversation, acclaimed journalist, author of the seminal work “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains,” Pulitzer-prize nominated Nicholas Carr shares a broad framework for considering how the introduction of the internet has changed society. He provides examples of how real outcomes of technology have been counter to our expectations in profoundly negative (and also positive) ways.

1:18:50 To conclude, Dr. Primack invites each panelist to share one key audience takeaway.

[Dr. Pam Hurst-Della Pietra]: Hi, and welcome  to the first “Ask the Experts” webinar of 2022. I am Dr. Pam Hurst-Della Pietra, President and  Founder of Children and Screens: Institute of  Digital Media and Child Development, and host  of our popular Ask the Experts Webinar Series.  We are so glad that you joined us today. We took  the occasion of our 40th webinar to host a much  anticipated multi-disciplinary examination of the  enormous ways that the internet, digital media,  video games and social media have influenced our  society. Indeed, technology is shaping everything  from the global economy to our attention spans.  But we don’t often recognize the insidious consequences or beneficial interconnections.  Today we have assembled a fascinating team consisting of a public health expert,  a Pulitzer prize nominated journalist,   an education researcher, a sociologist, a  psychologist, a policy maker, a privacy and security specialist and experts on families and  others to discuss this very question. Naturally, one webinar hardly scratches the surface, nor  can it drill down on any one aspect of technology or fully explicate the nuances of this complicated  new ecosystem in the way that our other webinars  focus on one topic. This webinar is just a taste  of all the great information we’re compiling for a new section of our website that will delve deeper  than we can in 90 minutes so stay tuned for more. Our panelists have reviewed the questions that you  have submitted and will answer as many as they can   during the time today. If you have additional  questions during the webinar, please type them into the Q/A box at the bottom of your screen.  We’ll do our best to answer every question. We’re recording today’s workshop and we’ll  upload a video to youtube in the coming days. All registrants will receive a link to our youtube  channel where you can watch our past 39 webinars while you wait for this video to be posted.  It is now my big pleasure to introduce Dr. Brian Primack. Our moderator for today’s  webinar, Dr Primack is the Dean of the College of Education and Health Professions at the University  of Arkansas, where he also serves as the Henry G  Oates endowed chair in educational innovations and  professor of public health and medicine. He was also the founding director at the University  of Pittsburgh’s multidisciplinary center   for research on media technology and health,  and is the recent recipient of multiple regional national and international awards for  research teaching and overall achievement. We’re so excited to have Dr. Primack with us to lead  this important conversation today. Welcome Brian!

 

[Dr. Brian Primack]: Great! Thank you very much  Pam and I very much appreciate being invited. This is a really exciting group of people and you can’t get bigger than a broad view of technology and how it affects society so let’s  go ahead and jump in. What I would like to do is start off by just talking a little bit  about technology and its impact on health.  Even that could fill several volumes. Now, we  don’t have that much time with so many experts,  but what I would say is that if you had  to sort of coalesce it into just a couple  of tidbits, the biggest one with regard to  technology and health is that we in public  health think that technology is pretty much the  sharpest double-edged sword of our era. There are positive things that come from this edge of the  sword and there are negative things that come from this edge of the sword. We kind of need to  study both so that ultimately we can learn to dull the edge that’s causing more problems and  sharpen the edge that is somehow helping us. So if you just take one example, probably  what you hear about most in the media is the research that’s been done about technology  use, say social media use and mental health. In particular there are a number of studies that  are now longitudinal and lab-based etc that have connected using a lot of social media and certain  other digital medias with depression with social isolation with anxiety. These are things that  were brought very much into the public eye just a month or two ago when an individual  made public certain documents that facebook and instagram were aware of these mental health  challenges that young people using their platforms were dealing with. However, back to the  double-edged sword there is another edge to that, which is that we also know that things like  social media can catalyze connection. They can,  we’ve experienced warmth and generosity that we  have experienced through social media and digital media. Many of us were able to do (these) things  during the time of covid19 to alleviate isolation  so both of these things are very much true. {And}  With regard to mental health it’s not a clear path forward. This is exactly why it’s going to be  so exciting to hear from so many people today.  I’ll just give a couple of other quick  examples before moving on to the main event.  What about physical health? Well, one of the  biggest things that we’ve seen a lot of research on is technology, say screen time and associations  with obesity diabetes sleep problems so you can imagine how this plays out if you’re using all  of a sudden hours and hours of screen time. All of a sudden you’re going to not be as active.   We’ve also found through research that there are  other reasons why it becomes a perfect storm. People during screen time are very stimulated  by certain advertisements and things like that, and tend to overeat and overeat the wrong  kinds of things during their screen time. They’re also affected by advertising that can lead  to poor choices even while they’re not actually in front of some type of media whether that be  a video game or whether that be social media. So, all of these things lead to the potential associations that we’ve seen between technology use and things like obesity, diabetes. sleep  problems. However, they are also now again looking at the other side of this dart, the  double-edged sword. There are apps that help us with diet and exercise choices. There are so many  different ways that right now, I can download an app and get ripped or start using, you know, yoga  as a daily practice or meditate. Things that are valuable for physical health in so many different  ways, that we can’t just sort of discount those  things. So again we’ve got this double-edged sword  where we need to understand both edges and then we need to figure out the best way to respond.  {And} the last thing that i’ll say about this is that there are a lot of questions  about health and information. Obviously there’s a lot of good information that people  can now just get to immediately on the web in various ways with digital media. Before you  might have had to go to a library and request a  volume and you wouldn’t and even necessarily be  able to get the information we’re looking for.  Now we can do that very very quickly, so there’s  a lot of good health information out there but there is a lot of misinformation as well which  represents that other side of the double-edged sword and we’re very aware of that. We’re going to  be hearing a lot about that today and so a lot of  times people consider the misinformation even more  dangerous than the good information. For example, there have been studies that demonstrate that  misinformation can actually travel more quickly. So these are the kinds of things that we need  to be thinking about. So just like when it   comes to other things that are a double-edged  sword like food you know we always learn that  obviously food can be nourishing and it can be  wonderful but then there was a long period of time  where we learned that too many carbs was bad and  too many fats was bad too many of this kind of  fat was really bad. Look, we realized the answer  is not to stop eating. It’s that we needed a food  pyramid. We needed guidelines and the same i think  is true for social media digital technology and the other things we’re going to be talking about  today so children and screens is here to get all this information out there and then we can start  to craft that pyramid we can start to figure out what is that set of guidelines that can  help us create a nourishing tech diet while also reducing the potential with that I  would like to introduce our first panelist and I’m very pleased to introduce Dr. Carrie James  is a principal investigator at project zero at the Harvard graduate school of education,  and I’m particularly excited to welcome her   because I am a graduate of the Harvard graduate  school of education way back in 1993. She is a sociologist by training and she leads research  and education that is focused on young people’s experiences in digital life obviously very very  applicable to what we’re talking about today and this you know. What specific things she  looks at it focuses on all kinds of things like ethical dilemmas, civic participation and  strategies to support all kinds of well-being so with that it is great to have you here Dr James. 

 

[Dr. Carrie James]: Thanks so much Brian! I really appreciate that introduction and thanks to you  Pam as well. I’m really excited to be a part of this conversation. I so appreciate the impulse  to kind of pull back and look at the big picture and so. Yeah so my work feels really connected to  that motive. I’ll say at the outset that the work I’m gonna pull from in my brief presentation  today is carried out in close partnership with Emily Weinstein who’s at the ed school at Harvard  with me. She’s an expert in Adolescent Development and really documenting the textured ins and outs of adolescents experiences in digital life  is core to our work. How digital media has  intersected with youth civic participation is  a topic that we’ve been tracking for a decade  now and so I’m going to share some insights  past and present from this work we’ve done.  Early on we heard a lot about slacktivism and this is not to be confused with the digital  collaboration tool but that is very popular today. I use it myself but this was the label given not  long ago to social media posts that were allegedly more about making the poster feel like they  were doing something than actually doing something and fortunately from my perspective  the conversation has mostly shifted away from sweeping generalizations like this toward a  much more nuanced discussion of where, when,  and how social media posts can have impact. And  I think that’s a good thing. But, at a high level just like Brian shared with health, I think we  can tell a pretty enduring double-edged sword story when we think about how the digital and  the civic interact. There are clear positives like the ability to circulate civic  content to a mass audience. Scalability. They’re also vexing challenges like unproductive  or even toxic discourse. So this sort of opportunity and risk narrative is probably not  breaking news to anyone listening today. But the particulars of adolescence experiences with the  digital civic landscape are super interesting. I’m excited to share some nuggets that we’ve learned.  So 10 years ago when we first started doing this work and interviewed civic youth, we heard a lot  of enthusiasm about how social media could amplify their civic agendas. But we also heard a lot of  wonders and worries as well. So they fretted about getting sucked into conflict. They worried about  having a lingering digital footprint that was politicized in ways that could be problematic for  them down the road in their futures. At the time, some of the youth that we interviewed actually  decided and we followed them a little bit over   time. They decided that the risks of civic posting  on social media were greater than the rewards and they opted to go quiet on social media about civic  issues even as they continued to be civically active in their schools and communities. So in  some back then there were upsides and challenges that young people experienced but opting out felt  possible and many did. So fast forward to today, and social media continues to be a very  powerful civic venue but also a challenging one. But two key differences we’ve heard from teens in  our latest round of research in the past couple of years. Number one is that staying silent  about civic matters on social media is far more difficult for them and number two this pain  point is not limited to civically active youth. Regardless of their civic inclinations or  activities, teens tell us that they feel subtle and not so subtle pressures to be civic online. And how all this plays out is certainly shaped by their identities, the context they live  in, the apps they use ,the specific civic topic yet the idea that social media creates civic  pressures and a sense that there are countless ways to get it wrong is a through-line theme in  our work. So let me share a couple of examples. I think perspectives on Black Lives Matter from  teens in our research are really telling. After the murder of George Floyd, Alana, a leader in her  high school’s black student union, spent countless hours organizing protests. She felt a distinct  pressure to post her thoughts on social media too which really frustrated her because many of the  BLM posts that seemed to be flooding her instagram feed felt not so helpful or even disingenuous. She  didn’t want to post but others seem to expect it. Another teen, Nana, observed much more  confrontational dynamics. She said people will quote break friendships over not using their  platform to post about BLM. In her peer group social media silence meant you were taking sides  and friendships were literally on the line. Again, these dynamics are experienced differently  by teens based on their identities. Teens of color who I just shared perspectives from shared  a specific kind of dynamic and white teens felt other pressures. But a common theme  is that peer pressures made some level of online civic posting feel mandatory, even  for teens not involved in civic issues. And this pressure stokes further dilemmas.  We heard teens continually puzzling over how to share their perspectives in authentic  versus performative ways on social media. It’s also amplified by a larger cancel culture  that makes online slip-ups actually scandalous. So one team told us about a full-blown scandal  that erupted in her high school when a teen posted a selfie on the beach the day after George Floyd  was killed. The teen’s close friends replied right away with typical over-the-top praise for her  bikini but the blowback from a wider peer group was harsh especially about the timing of what  appeared to be a self-centered and frivolous post. So these stories from today’s teens really  highlight dynamics that feel qualitatively different from what we heard in the past.  So to wrap up, I think I’d like to say that it’s fair to say that this scene has shifted  over the last decade or more. The simplistic narrative that posting on facebook or twitter  amounts to slacktivism appears to have given way to the reality that social media is a  necessary part of civic life. We can all readily recognize that the civic sphere now has  an unavoidable digital or social media dimension but the inverse is also true especially for  teens. Their digital circles have become more and more unavoidably civic and there are  clear opportunities here back to that double-edged sword you know, clear opportunities for civic  development that teens give voice to as well but the unique tensions and challenges warrant  adult attention too. So I’ll close there, excited for the conversation and thanks for  the opportunity to share these insights. 

 

[Dr. Brian Primack]: Well thank you so much Dr.  James. I mean this is exactly the thing about  qualitative research that it gives you those  deeper nuances and I think it’s important for us to realize just how complex it is. It’s not  just a question of i’m gonna use social media to become more civic all of a sudden, there are all  kinds of rules there are all kinds of challenges that people might be facing and we need to be  very aware of that so that we can help them perform that civic engagement in as empowered as  a way. So with that I’d like to move on to our next guest who is actually going to be joining us  digitally. Here’s one of the positive things about digital technology. It truly is a pleasure to  introduce digitally, Jamie Raskin. I actually feel a little bit starstruck because he is the  representative for Maryland’s eighth congressional district in the U.S House of Representatives  and that happens to be where I grew up so the  representative when I was growing up was Michael  Barnes but I know from my friends who still live there that congressman Raskin is an absolute  legend and just loved in the area. Before congress  

he was a three-term state senator in Maryland.  He’s also a professor of Constitutional Law  at American University’s Washington College  of Law and he did that for more than 25 years. With that let’s go ahead and take a  look at congressman Raskin’s speech.

 

[Congressman Raskin]: Hi everybody, it’s  Congressman Jamie Raskin from Maryland’s   beautiful 8th Congressional District. I  wanted to say hello to all my friends at Children and Screens and thank you for  conducting this very important session on the media’s influence in American democracy  today, elections disinformation, misinformation  

propaganda conspiracy theory and so on. The  subject is obviously of central and urgent importance to the future of American democratic  institutions. On the January 6 select committee and in the impeachment trial that we had  in the senate, we saw the way in which the internet was used the social media companies  were used to immediately spread propaganda and lies about the 2020 election, to spread  conspiracy theories about the election being stolen and about election fraud taking place in  fact more than 60 different federal and state courts rejected every claim of electoral fraud  in every claim of electoral corruption. But you know as Mark Twain said that the truth can  barely get its shoes on in the time that a lie can get halfway around the world. That was before the  internet and with the internet these terrible lies and this kind of propaganda has incredible staying  power. The internet was also used as an organizing tool, a mechanism for people coordinating their  movements and we know that there’s already been indictments for seditious conspiracy against one  group the oath keepers but there were multiple domestic violent extremist groups that were  using different kinds of social media and apps in order to communicate their movements,  their planning and their financing and so on.  So it’s not just those keepers, it’s the proud  boys, it’s the three percenters, it’s the QAnon networks, it’s the militia groups, it’s the  first amendment praetorian and on and on and on. So we have to look very seriously about the impact  that technology has had the corrosive impact that technology has had on democratic political  institutions and indeed on the survival of democracy. At the same time we know that the  internet and social media can be used in positive ways in order to promote real social and political  dialogue and non-violent political organizing and the promotion of truth. So we’ve got to figure out  how we got ourselves into this jam and how we’re going to get ourselves out of it and that’s with  respect to the whole society. We have a specific problem relating to social media and young people  and we want to look at what kind of influences the internet and the new technologies are having  on children, on the formation of their cognition, on the formation of their understanding of  politics, of relationships, of social life, what effect has it had on the literacy of  children. All of those things need to be looked at and not with any kind of predetermined  polemical conclusions but in a fair-minded way. I’ve got legislation called the camera act which  is bipartisan legislation that will fund important research out at NIH on just this question:  what have been the mental, social, physical, emotional, educational, health consequences of the  internet and social media on the new generation, positive, negative and in between so we can get a  complete understanding of it and then we can know how to take action on it. Every new technology has  introduced its own problems and its own potential, its own possibilities for positive change in  society and also its destructive potential implications as well. So we just have to be  attuned to them. We have to analyze them, because the democracy has got to come first. It’s  we the people, it’s the governance of the people and it’s the success and flourishing of everybody  in our society that counts. Technology has got to be a tool for us to live in the healthiest  possible society we can. Thank you for what you’re doing, I’m eager to check out the conclusions and  the findings and all the deliberations of this discussion and thanks for giving me a moment just  to say these words and I will yield back to you. 

 

[Dr. Brian Primack]: Great! Well, I think  that that was a super and exactly what I would expect from congressman Raskin. I  always appreciate Mark Twain’s insights and  

that idea that he mentioned about untruths  being able to propagate easier than truths has actually been demonstrated in research so Mark  Twain was as we always know ahead of his time. Now I would like to introduce Dr. Don Grant. Dr  Grant is in the right place to be talking about media and technology. He is the president of the  American Psychological Association, Division 46  which is the Society for Media Psychology and  Technology. He’s also the chair of both APA’s device management and intelligence area as well  as strategic planning and he also has clinical experience because he’s the executive director  of outpatient services for Newport Healthcare. So here to give us a few words is Dr Don Grant.

 

 [Dr. Don Grant]: Thank you so much Brian, and I want to thank Dr. Pam and everyone on this  panel! I am so honored to be here and thank all of you who are watching because your interest  allows me to continue my investigations and my work. All right so I’m going to share something  and hopefully you can see that, are we good Brian?  Okay so what I want to say is a couple of  things in the top: I am not anti-technology, I’m all about it. I use it even though I’m a  digital immigrant and what my colleagues have said previously is that of course it is good  and it’s also here. I am a media psychologist, my specialization is addiction so I kind of  parlay those two things together. And when I look at we’re talking about the double-edged  sword, whenever I look at anything that might be unhealthy, I look at it in the following way: I  look at it in any way it is negatively impacting in this order biological, psychological, sociological, career, or academic and then environmental. And if anywhere in any of those silos something any behavior is impacted in a negative way, then it might be something  you want to look at. So I teach and investigate healthy device management and the practice of good  digital citizenship. So what I’m about to show you is an article that feels like I wrote it so long  ago but it was in 2015 and published in 2016. And please excuse me again, I’m a Media Psychologist  who works with addictive behaviors so I started to look at the way we relate, our relationship  with devices and I just kind of commented so I’m just gonna show you something that I came  up with as I was thinking about it. All right, I live in Los Angeles so before that your  consideration is something that we’re seeing   a lot of now and it’s about the media. But I want to show you some things and just for your consideration. So addicts keep their drug close  usually on their person or a carry bag. Addicts prefer to be alone with their drug, perseverant on  it and can’t wait to be with it even when engaged with other activities. Although fully aware of  its placement they compulsively pack pockets,   check bags to ensure they want to know where  that is. If misplaced their anxiety escalates until their drug is successfully  recovered. If accidentally left behind,   the addict will return to retrieve the drug even  at the risk of being late. I mean this is you kind of see maybe where i’m going here. Ensuring their  drug remains perpetually accessible is priority   number one. Even when doing other things addicts  lie about their use, especially if challenged. Addicts overextend their finances in favor of  maintaining, improving their user experience. Relationships, responsibilities, academics,  careers, families become supplanted or secondary. Then a little dopamine square rush comes  from using or even the anticipation of using, attempts to control or cut back prove  unsuccessful. Usually lack of ability to just to use generates restlessness, irritability  and discontent. Attempts to sneak use even against better judgment or please from others oh please!  When there’s stash and for devices to kind of give you a clue you kind of see what i’m doing here.  If battery life connectability begins to run low, the addict becomes very anxious until they can  get their supply back. Overuse or misuse is often followed by guilt, shame, decreased  self-esteem especially after a session of doom scrolling or stalking and then a hashtag  for real promise “I’m not going to do it the next time”. So obviously I’m talking about  drugs. But if you look at your device use and any of these can be applied, this is what I work  with my clients, I say “yeah you know it kind of makes sense” and we can’t call it addiction  to devices, not yet. The rest of the world kind of has a different outlook but I have to  be clear and you know that we are not calling it addiction yet because I am very involved  with the American Psychological Association and we haven’t got the hopes and there’s things  and conditions for further study for the next DSM. But neither the APA or the American Psychiatric Association has gotten there yet, we’ll see. So when they do it, the attempt  invariably fails all right ,so moving on. Obviously Dr. Twenjie, she’s done comprehensive research. When we’re talking about the psychological well-being of  adolescents around the world began to decline in 2012 in conjunction with the rise of  smartphone access and increased internet use. Causation cannot be proven, that’s why we do  research. This is why it’s so great about Dr. Pam and the institute and all of my colleagues and  everyone who does research. We need the research, this is a very nascent behavior, even though it  feels like to the kids this is all they knew. But we just need to keep looking and that’s  important. All right, so what we do know and this is I’m going to go through these  pretty quickly because I have colleagues who also are going to speak about this I think a  little bit. So the youth mentality is worsening and as I’m sharing my screen you can see you  know what’s underneath it. But we know that the research is always coming out, they’ve  done studies in 2012, in October of 2017, the data came out again and then in 2019. We’re  seeing these young people and I work with them every day and I’ve worked with them for two  decades. They’re struggling, now is it because of devices? We don’t know. There could be a  lot of variables but I think that the impact of devices as a variable cannot be discounted. The  rates of suicide ideation are highest among youth especially amongst the LGBTQ+ youth. Even  before covid, the prevalence of mental health and mental illness, around adults,  among adults is increasing. 13.84% of youth reports suffering from at least  one major depressive episode in the past year and childhood depression is more likely to persist  into adulthood have gone untreated. Now again can this be correlated with devices we are  not sure. We can have ideas and hypotheses. This is why we do the work but these are the  real facts and what was interesting is that for children anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide and one of course is too many. It was stabilized for decades and then  we started seeing this increase that   we couldn’t really understand and started  looking at in 2010 and 2012. All right so I just have to say it, I work with kids, I listen to  them all the time. So one of the things that they talk about is going into social media and being on  their platforms and they are comparing themselves to others. That’s a lot of what my work is. A lot  of what I talk to the kids doing is reality versus perception, authentic online presence, we do a  lot of that work and the statistics are clear, depression. So the pediatric psychiatric ER  visits, increasing ER visits by children with mental health disorders and these are the kids  so they’re going to the ER, so we have to look at these. And of course as researchers we want to  know why suicidal ideation attempts among children increased. And then of course, because this  is my wheelhouse, adolescent substance abuse reportedly declined by an  average of 8.3 percentage points in the decade between 2011-2021. This  is actually good news. But also for my work, I want to know why? Pediatric ER  visits for Substance Use Disorder however rose.  The drug overdose does i think that there’s a  lot of things if you’ve seen or been following   the news we know this is going on. This is a whole  other presentation but it’s increased this is just not okay of course all right. Some of the  negatives: disruptive non-restorative sleep, poor sleep hygiene, these are some of the  things of device use that I have actually   seen in my practice and when I work with  kids in my outpatient. Attention span issues, isolation and loneliness, sudden unexpected poor  school performance, unexplained loss of interest or resistance in re-engaging in previously enjoyed  hobbies, sports talents, extracurriculars, goals, friends. Of course because of what the kids  experienced and a lot of us who worked from home   over the last couple of years, this is a variable  that we have to take into account but it still was happening before the pandemic. Unhistorical  anger and outbursts, problems focusing, anxiety and depression, stress, unhealthy weight change  and hygiene, vulnerability to dangerous situations and missing and rejecting organic gifts for  connections, this one’s important because my first   research study was an investigation of online  versus face-to-face support. And just for my work, connection in real life is the nemesis  of addiction. So the idea of re-emerging and re-engaging this we know now again. It is  fantastic that we have these online connections. We just got to see congressman Raskin. We can all  be here together right now and do this wonderful work together and you can watch it. So there are  good things. But I’m really about the valence,   the value and the vitality of in real life connection because I know and I have proven in my own research that this is again the antidote to  any kind of addiction or substance or dependency. So it’s very important and a lot of the work  I’m doing now is really encouraging the kids and adults to get back out there and get engaged.  When we’re talking about use these are just things I came up with because I always like to give  solutions. So these are just some suggestions of   when you or someone you care about or if you’re an  educator or a clinician, here’s the things you can ask about your device use: Why are you/are they  engaging? What are you/ they doing on the device?  Where are you/ they using the device? When are you /they engaging with the device? Who are you/they  engaging with through the device? How are you/ they engaging? So I give these questions and look at and if everything’s good, everything’s good.  But if there’s something in there that you say hmm then it might be something to look at further.  Here’s my bibliography and thank you very much.

 

[Dr. Brian Primack]: Thank you so  much Dr. Grant! Let’s go ahead and move  

into the education technology area.  I’m going to introduce Dr Justin Reich. Dr. Reich is an Associate Professor of Digital  Media in Comparative Media studies at MIT. You’ve probably heard of that and he’s also  the Director of the Teaching Systems Lab. So  

I’m very interested in what his thoughts are about educational technology in 2022 in the classroom.

 

[Dr Justin Reich]: Well thanks so much for  having me Brian! Did I unmute myself correctly on  everything you guys can hear me? Great! So first  of all I’m sure almost everyone who’s attending, who has any connection to k-12 school  systems at all has learned much more   about education technology and online learning  in the past two years than they ever expected. And I think there’s two really  important paradoxes to consider here. Schools are using education technology more  than ever before both to make the pivot to emergency remote learning work and as a  follow-up to that emergency remote pivot. What were the kinds of technologies they adopted?  Interestingly for the most part they did not adopt you know what sort of education technologists  would consider kind of the most cutting edge   kinds of things. There are not a lot of students  walking around with VR headsets on their heads or you know interacting with Artificial Intelligence  or other things like that. They actually adapted overwhelmingly two of our oldest and most  well-established education technologies so these, they’re sort of the two foundational pieces  of remote learning, of hybrid schooling. The first are Learning Management Systems. These are  things like google classroom, schoology, canvas. They were theorized in the 1960s and  1970s, they were commercialized in the 1990s, they were made open source in the 2000s and  they are really not that different from the folder that my elementary school daughter has in her  backpack where on one side it says to home and the other side to school. What Learning  Management Systems do is they help teachers and students pass documents back and forth to  one another. They do some more things than that   but that’s kind of their core functionality. The  second technology which has been essential to the pandemic is the one that we’re using right now.  When it was introduced in the 1930s it was called video telephony. We call it video conferencing  now. But it’s a technology that as a society we have almost 100 years of experimentation and  experience with and for anyone who’s ever taught over zoom, you know that teaching through zoom  is a little bit like teaching through a keyhole. on the other side and you know people on  the other side can kind of see and hear you. But it’s not really conducive to particularly  meaningful conversation. And really interestingly, what educators primarily did with these two  tools at great expense with lots of effort with many sleepless nights and long hours is they reproduced existing practices of school systems in an online setting. They sort of created  this kind of kabuki version of in-person school online with the same class periods and a  lot of the same routines and the same kind of teaching and learning practices. So on the  one hand it was this kind of enormous effort. On the other hand, it ended up with a result  that was in many ways profoundly conservative. So the sort of paradox of the pandemic is that we  certainly see much more technology adoption but it’s not technology adoption which is transforming  the experience of schooling for young people. It’s technology adoption which reinforces the kinds  of teaching and learning patterns that we already have in schools for hope for folks who are really  hoping to to transform schools through technology, this is certainly kind of a disappointment. But  as someone who’s just trying to figure out what’s going on in schools and what can we do to help  them next you know the first thing to recognize is that most technology adoptions in schools are  pretty conservative. They help schools do the same kinds of teaching and learning things that they  were doing before, maybe at a distance, maybe   with a little bit more efficiency, those kinds of  things. I mean a second really interesting paradox of the experience of the pandemic is that there’s all kinds of things about schools that we all believed were fixed, immovable, permanent and had to be the way they are. And what we found is that there’s actually lots of parts of schooling and educational systems   that are contingent and flexible and plastic and can be changed. If we don’t like the direction that schools are going in, if we don’t like the ways technology is being used or the amount it’s being used or how it’s being applied. We now in some ways you know teachers, educators deep in their bones, they know in a new kind of way that  things can change. The education force is also historically exhausted. If you have talked to  teachers or talked to school leaders in the last year many folks will tell you that this year is an  even harder year than last year. There’s so many challenges afoot and ahead. And so there’s  this other paradox which is on the one hand   we really know that if we need to we can make  schools change to work in different ways for young people. At the same time there’s not a  lot of energy for revolution and rebellion and so forth. So I think these sort of paradoxes  between new tools and conservative approaches, between possibilities of change and exhaustion across the system, those are some of the features that are going to shape the use of education  technology in our schools in the years to come. Ultimately the most important questions about  education technology are not What are the new tools that we’re going to build? What’s the  new tech that we’re going to have? What’s the   capacity? The most important questions we’re going  to ask are: To what extent can we build capacity for educators to be able to use the tools we have  for better teaching and learning? Our technology is only as powerful as the communities that guide  their use. That will be the sort of determining feature in the years ahead about whether or not  all the new exposure that teachers and students have to education technology actually ends  up leading to measurable gains in the future.

 

[Dr. Brian Primack]: 

Great! Thank you very much! Let’s  move now to Afua Bruce who will excuse me tell you a little bit about how to  leverage technology for both positive and negative social impact so to tackle this we have the  right person because Miss Bruce is a leading public interest technologist who has spent her  career working at the intersection of technology, policy and society her career she’s been in the  government she’s also been in the nonprofit world in private and academic sectors and she has  held senior science and technology positions at places like datakind, the White House,  the FBI and IBM so with that Afua Bruce.

 

[Miss Afua Bruce]: Thank you so much! I’m so glad  to be here today talking about one of my favorite topics. Last week the federal government rolled  out a website that allowed people to request rapid COVID tests. The website was delivered a day early  and with a smooth user experience. It was a simple yet effective example of how policy or how we make  systemic change in society is tied to technology. Without that technology, without a website  working which admittedly is not the experience several people have with government websites and government technology. But without that website working, we found that the technology that complemented and worked with the policy it would have been difficult for the federal government to uphold its commitment to provide rapid COVID tests to anyone, any household that wants in the US. Also last year Datakind, one of my former  organizations, updated a data science model it had developed for an organization in Haiti. The non-profit organization that Datakind partnered with their mission was to provide access to  dignified sanitation. And Datakind was called in to help deliver toilets quickly by partnering  with the organization on the ground and using some strong technical expertise. Datakind was able to develop a model that helped this organization make its deliveries much more efficiently and  effectively. In fact it decreased fuel costs by about 13%. So what do both of these examples have in common? Well they’re part of this broad this field broadly known as public interest technology  which is essentially looking at how we apply a   technology perspective to problems in the public  interest. How do we feed hungry people? How do we house the homeless? How do we use social media to  include and not exclude? These are all challenges   that when we take a look at them not just as  a social or just as a technical problem but we take the interdisciplinary approach that public interest technology encourages we can make change. So as one of the speakers, previous speakers today touched on, there are currently a lot of civically active and civically minded youth  today. Knowing how to engage in a technological world though can be challenging for these  children. Social media as the previous speaker stated can be difficult to navigate and  helping children understand that. There are other technological ways to address what they see in  the world that can excite and empower students to pursue stem careers and explore new ways of using  tech positively. The media too has a piece to play here. What types of stories do we tell about  the agency children have to make a difference today or even how they should consider engaging  with technology: Do we emphasize the destructive aspects of social media or do we provide  inspiration for problem solving? Children have an ability to combine tech and the public interest  today. Take for example Tava Sharma, a high school student in the Greater Chicago area. As his  local paper wrote “Tavis felt compelled to come  to continue helping hungry people after leading  a Libertyville community project that consisted of assembling, collecting and distributing  non-perishable food items and sandwiches   at several local food pantries in Lake County. Tavish then took the initiative to learn how to code and ended up developing Solve Hunger which is an app that connects food pantry volunteers to help families affected by local disasters.  This app has now grown and is now available in   a number of states and so working with a number of  food pantries and getting food directly to people who are facing food insecurity. Public interest  technologists have a space in every sector because the products we use every day, products  that dictate how we interact with the world   are in the public interest. The combination of  skills that public interest technologists bring including empathy and long-term perspective  taking, evaluation of trade-offs with an ethical and legal framework and consideration of societal  implications are available to children today. We must help children see and believe that  they are critical to having technologies  

that recognize everyone regardless of skin tone  and disseminate true and accurate information. I think this is possible and I’m really excited  to see ways that we continue to encourage children to really engage with technology  positively and not negatively. Thank you!

 

[Brian Pimack]: Great, thank you so much! So  now I’d like to introduce Dr. Serge Egelman, who is the research director of the Usable  Security and Privacy Group at the International Computer Science Institute. Now this is an  independent research institute affiliated with UC Berkeley, and he also has an appointment in  the Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences department. He is also the chief technical  officer and co-founder of app census incorporated, which is a startup that performs on-demand privacy  analysis of mobile apps for developers, regulators and watchdog groups. So from all of that, you can  hear that he is going to be a great expert with regard to privacy and security concerns that  I know many of us have. Dr. Egelman, you’re up.

 

[Dr. Serge Egelman]: Thanks for the introduction. Yeah, so my research lies at the intersection of human behavior and online privacy and security,  so I primarily look at how consumers interact with online systems and use them to make privacy  and security decisions, but also how online systems that people use go about using their  data and what they do with it. So, this led to a lot of work over the past 10 years now to look  at the mobile app ecosystem. So my research group has been building lots of tools that allow us to  run different mobile apps to see what data they access, and where they send it. To a degree that  that really isn’t available to many others, and so through that work we decided a couple years ago to  start looking at kids apps, and the reason why we decided to look at kids apps is this is actually  an area that’s somewhat regulated in the U.S., so there doesn’t exist a, you know, national  privacy law that gives consumers, you know, rights across industries with the exception  of the children online privacy protection act which protects data from children under 13.  So if you know you’re an online service and you’re collecting data from children, you need  to comply with COPPA. So we started looking at and stepping back one of the things that, you  know, COPPA requires is that you know behavioral advertising the type that powers the  internet where people are profiled, that parents are given the right to consent to the profiling that leads to that and certain data uses are just plain prohibited. And so we decided to  look at how well apps are complying with this. The Law has been around for almost 25 years now,  and so it should be pretty well established. And so we started looking at mobile apps, and  found that half the apps that we analyzed in the Google Play store appeared to be violating  the law one way or another. This led to lots of changes. You know the play  store has imposed some new policies and legislation. Legislators have written angry letters, but things are still up in the air. There have been a couple new bills introduced,  but it’s not clear anything’s going anywhere, so issues are rampant and the question is why, and what, does this actually mean for parents and children? So, most of the issues that we find have to do with either access to data that shouldn’t be collected from children, so for instance, fine grain location data that allows you to identify a child’s address. This  requires parental consent before it’s collected, but we found that, you know,  there were a lot of apps that  were collecting this from the get-go- as soon as  you start the app they collect the data and send it to advertisers, so most of this type of data is  collected, as i mentioned, you know, to power the free internet for free services. Data is collected, which is used to infer your interests so that advertisers can then send you targeted ads. This happens for children as well and, you know, a question that I get is, well what are the  consequences of this? Well, there are actually a lot of consequences. So, you know, in the  most benign case, it’s going to be used for, you know, just targeted ads. But there are  also a lot of extreme cases that we hear about, so some of the recipients, you know, are  certainly advertising networks, but others are just data brokers who are just building profiles  of consumer data, and they don’t really much care whether it comes from a child or an adult.  What they care about is building, you know, detailed profiles that they can then sell it  on, you know, en masse to the highest bidder, and so there are unknown, you know, future consequences of this. And that’s why you know, the original intent of the law was to give parents control over this data collection. What we found, you know, more recently as we’ve  been doing follow-up research in this area is that   much of the time it’s because app developers themselves just don’t really know what they’re doing. Software, you know, modern  software development is complicated, and requires the use of a lot of, you know, third-party components. So much the same way that your car isn’t, you know, every part of your car it isn’t made by that car manufacturer, they use pre-built components to save themselves time  and also, you know, to be able to scale quicker. And also, you know, more common components means  easier repairs down the road. Software engineering is much the same, where you know an app developer  who needs, say, advertising in their app. They’re not gonna go through the trouble of, you know,  finding advertisers and, you know, helping them create ad copy. Instead they’re just gonna hire a  third party- a third party ad network and bundle some components into the app so that they  don’t have to go to the trouble of doing   all of this themselves. The problem with  that is all of these third-party components the developer, you know the developer who’s integrating them is ultimately responsible for   them, But, you know, they have an obligation to  read the documentation to make sure that they’re configured correctly many of the cases.These  components have privacy settings where they need to be specially configured for use in children’s  apps, because by default they will engage in privacy violative behaviors that would trigger various laws, and so therefore configuration settings are necessary when they’re  in child directed apps or you know, even in other settings so increasingly these third-party  components have special instructions on how to comply with GDPR for EU users or CCPA for  California users. The problem is app developers- they just want to get their app available to  the market so that they can make money and, you know, they want as few impediments to doing  that as possible, so they often don’t read the documentation. So certainly in a small number of  cases, there are third-party components that are doing outright malicious things, such that the app developer probably doesn’t legitimately- doesn’t know what their app is doing, what data it’s collecting, and who it’s sending it to.   But in other cases, it’s just because they  didn’t bother to read the documentation, and so that’s one stakeholder who’s kind  of causing the problems. But there are a lot of other areas in the ecosystem  where different stakeholders could do something but don’t. So another stakeholder are the regulators so under CAPPA, the FTC is the primary agency charged with enforcing it.  There’s not a private right of action you can’t,  you know, as a consumer sue a company under CAPPA  because they’ve collected data from your child in violation of the law. Instead you have to get the  FTC or the state attorney general to file suit. The FTC in 25 years of CAPPA’s existence  brings about one to two cases a year.You know, they they’re very knowledgeable, they know what they’re doing, but they don’t have the resources to actually bring the enforcement  actions that are necessary, and so enforcement isn’t really happening, and so then  without enforcement, you’re left with,   well, there’s the central markets in this case the Google Play store, the Apple IOS store- they serve as gatekeepers  and so could potentially do some vetting, but they don’t have any reason to do so because they don’t really bear under liability under the current legal frameworks and it’s a cost for them to  do auditing, and it’s the moderation problem, Why disinformation spreads online it’s all the  same you know. Fixing this is a costly problem that requires human judgments and can’t really  easily be automated or when you do automate it, mistakes are often made and so, the markets aren’t really doing it enough even though their petition to do so and what’s left is just  consumers, and so consumers are expected to vet the apps and the content that their children  use, but aren’t actually given the tools to do so. So, you know, as I said, this has been a 10-year  research project building the tools to understand this ecosystem. It’s ridiculous to expect that the average parent is going to be able to do the same thing just to figure out whether a website or an app is safe to use, or even whether it’s just complying with the basic legal standards that it’s expected to comply with, and and as a result no one’s really looking at that and, parents are left holding the bag, and so to end this on a depressing note, you  know I often get asked- what can parents do? And really, the answer is not a whole lot. This is why there’s a need for stronger enforcement efforts from regulators, but  also more stringent laws in the U.S., so that parents aren’t left with dealing with  this and not given the tools to actually do so.

 

[Brian Pimack]: Well, that is a perfect  introduction, because now we’re gonna hear from  

Dr. Simkins. Dr. Simkins, who is an expert in parenting and  family dynamics and might be able to help us a little bit more with that question of what  can parents and families do? Dr. Simkins is a professor at the University of California Irvine  in the School of Education, where she researches positive youth development and the influence  of families and organized activities on that development, and so let’s hear what Dr. Simkins  has to say about what parents and families can do.

 

[Dr. Sandra Simpkins] Thank you Brian, and thank  you to Children’s and Screens for inviting me today. I’m very excited to be here. I’m, as Brian mentioned, over at UC Irvine in the School of Education, and two areas of my expertise are in  parenting ,and organized after school activities. I was asked by the organization to talk about  both of these, which I have no chance of doing in five minutes or doing them justice, so I’m  going to talk about some of the highlights   that I’ve noticed in the literature over the last  few years. I’m going to start with communities, and so one of the the positive sides of the  sword we’ve been talking about is technology has helped youth with community building and so  for some youth where they’re feeling isolated, say for example if an adolescent is interested  in photography they can use technology in so many ways to help deepen their interest find others  who are interested in the same thing and create a community and that is really critical for some  groups. Dawn talked about this, say, LGBTQ youth if they’re struggling to find people in their  live community around them then technology can help them get that sense of belonging, and find  a community that way. Also, technology has helped organizations, organized after school activities, and museums provide their resources to a wider audience, and so that has been outstanding for youth, because it’s allowed them to overcome some barriers, say, transportation cost to engage in these enriching resources and examine for example, potential jobs or careers  that they might want to pursue. Now that said, it’s also highlighted particularly during covet  but, it’s highlighted the existing inequities in our society on who has the technology, who has  the media literacy to use it effectively, and additional things such as internet bandwidth.  So even though these resources are out there,   it can be kind of challenging to wade through  everything, and be able to access them, so that’s something our society still has a bit of a ways  to go. Now, when people hear what I do, I often get the question what should I do as a parent?  And so in this case, with technology, our goal as parents- and I’m a parent of two is, to help  protect our children right? And also to help teach them to become critical consumers, and  make strong decisions. We have no idea which direction technology is going to go, and how  it’s going to evolve over time. When I was an adolescent, I never would have imagined all  the things that are going on right now, and so it’s important to teach them not just how to  use the current technology, but to make critical decisions so that when our children are on their  own with peers in context, without us or as adults, that they’re making critical decisions. Now as parents, we do this all the time we do this to help teach our children how to tie their  shoes, we talk to them about how to ask a friend  

how to play, we advise them on how to deal with a conflict with a friend, we also buy them safety gear, right? We take off the training wheels off  of the bike right when they are adequate enough  at riding on two wheels, and for complex skills  like driving we drive with them right? We quiz them when the weather is changing, we interpret  how they should adjust their driving based on the conditions, and a lot of these behaviors are also  helpful with considering children in technology. So what can you do as a parent? First and foremost  is building that strong relationship, the warm trusting relationship that also does have clear  expectations that having that strong foundation will help make all the other behaviors. I’m going  to talk about how to be more effective. So first, talk with children and adolescents right,  and ask those open-ended questions. Many of the other panelists had examples  of that- but have them show you the technology that they’re using, ask them why are  they using it, what are they getting out of it, do they have they shared private information,  what information have they shared, do they know how they can secure it, and those types of  questions can open the door to many enriching conversations. Co-engage with your child  on these different forms of technology. I, personally, have learned a lot from my  children about technology and things that have been very helpful. I also have learned a  lot about them right by engaging in these games, and other forms of technology with them. Teach and  advise, right? So when children want to write an email to a teacher, how should they do that, how  should they construct that email if they want to post a picture- what advice would you give them  about posting that picture? The parents are very important interpreters, so not only when  they receive say, a text from a friend and how should they interpret that text but parents  can also help youth consider if they post this, how could that be interpreted by their  peer group or by other people right and those are very important things to help walk  them through, and help teach them modeling good technology behavior- so as an example, for  parents to put down the phone or other technology when they’re having dinner with kids, interacting  with kids, monitoring so there are ways on your phone, for example, where parents can approve an  app before the child downloads it on their phone, setting rules on the time, the content,  and then of course adapting so with all parenting strategies as youth develop, and they become more autonomous they become more skilled parents adapt their their strategies to help  meet their current needs and then finally, and you’ve sort of heard this before in some  of the other presentations, don’t forget that   offline time. That there’s a wealth of research  on reading with kids, on play time with kids, family dinner time even if it’s five minutes, makes a big difference. So,  just making sure that in addition  to helping prepare them to engage with technology in safe and smart ways but that you’re also not sacrificing that in person time.

 

[Dr. Brian Primack]:Great, thank you so much.  For our final presenter, we are going to have Nicholas Carr. Nicholas Carr is an acclaimed  writer, and one of his books on this exact topic that you probably have seen is the Pulitzer Prize  finalist The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. He’s also a visiting professor  of Sociology at Williams and was the former executive editor of the Harvard Business  Review. So with that background, Nicholas Carr is in a good spot to give us a broad  overview, sort of closing us out for the day, and just giving us a broad idea of how technology has changed and is changing our society.

 

[Nicholas Carr]: Thanks very much Brian, excuse  me and thank you to Pam and to the Institute for inviting me to share some thoughts here with you during this   very important event. As we’ve seen today,  when we talk about the societal effects of digital technology, we’re talking about a very broad landscape, and we’ve hit many areas across that landscape today, and of course  there are many more that we haven’t had time to touch on. What I would like to do is suggest a broad framework that might help us kind of think about all of these issues, and why they’ve kind of  played out the way they have, which has often been quite surprising and not always in a good way-  in that framework is what economists refer to as general purpose technologies or GPTs. The  vast majority of technologies and tools are not general purpose. You use them for one thing  or for a couple of things. You don’t use a screwdriver to hammer in a nail, you don’t use a hammer to screw in a screw. And so, when we look at GPT’’s general purpose technologies, we see a very different form of  technology. It’s not used for one or a few purposes, but it can be used for basically an infinite number of purposes, that’s  bound only by human imagination. And there haven’t been very many GPTs throughout history and when they come along and they tend to upset society- change the rules, change the landscape  of society in many different ways. Three of the very big ones over the last couple of  hundred years are the steam engine, which inaugurated the industrial revolution, changed  the face of society. Electrification only about a hundred years ago again, completely changed  the face of society. And in our own time, the arrival of computers- digital computers.  When we look at it, the thing about general purpose technologies is because they’re so rare  and so powerful that society has a very hard time figuring out how they’re going to affect  people in institutions and social relationships and as a result, what we see over  and over again is that the unintended   consequences of a general-purpose technology tend  to be greater than the intended consequences, and some of those unintended consequences  are beneficial, some are harmful, some are problematic. And I think we’ve seen all of  those certainly when it comes to computers, and more recently the internet, and  smartphones, and social media and so forth. And what I would argue is that if you look at a  lot of our expectations about digital technology, and certainly the kind of expectations that were  set for us by silicon valley, by technologists, by big tech and so forth, and then you look at the  reality of the situation we face today, not only are there unintended consequences, but many of the  outcomes that we expected and hoped for actually are almost the opposite of what the real outcomes  that we’re now struggling with are. And so, let me let me very briefly- give a couple of examples of  that and I think each of these are quite important and kind of underpins many of the challenges  society faces today. First is cognition. We all assumed when the internet came along that  more information would make us more thoughtful, would make us more understanding, wiser,  smarter, because after all, information is the raw material of thought, so the more  the better the more raw material what we found- what we’ve discovered though, is that actually  the pure quantity of information when it comes to how we think, is less important than how that  information is presented to us; how we take it in. And what we see with digital technologies is that they tend to provide information in a kind of constant inundation, very fragmented, many overlapping types of information and now that we use our phones to gather this information, all  of that information is squeezed down literally to a very small place. So what’s happened, rather  than making us wiser and more thoughtful, is that technology has on balance made us more  distracted, less able to think conceptually, less able to sustain our attention, to think  contemplatively, and so forth. A second area is social relations. We thought that the  internet and digital technology in general by increasing our ability to communicate  would lead to better social understanding, more harmonious social relations, we’d all learn  about each other and become more empathetic, and get along, and here too we see the effects  are often exactly the opposite. We don’t live in a world of greater social harmony today  than we did before the internet came along. In fact you could make an argument that  what we’ve seen is fractious polarization, an inability to compromise, or even to get inside  the heads of people who think differently from us. And here too, I think, this comes from some things  we know about human psychology but conveniently ignored when we were very hopeful about the  technology. Actually when people have unlimited amounts of communication, they tend to confine  themselves into subgroups or tribes with people  

who think the same way and they become more and  more antagonistic with other people. There have   been a lot of psychological studies, for instance,  that show that putting people close together does not necessarily bring them into harmony- it often  leads to resentment, anger, conflict, and so forth. A third area is economics. When computers  and personal computers in particular, and the internet social media came along we thought,  okay this is going to be a decentralizing force, we’re all going to have the power of a networked  computer dedicated to ourselves. This is going  

to give us a greater voice, greater economic  flexibility, and it’s going to decentralize  

things, and lead toward more equality in income,  in opportunity, and so forth. And again here too, we’ve seen instead of being this massive force of decentralization, it’s actually led to even greater centralization of economic power of  wealth, of control over media and information, and so forth. And then the final area  is politics. Here too, we assumed that  

this ability to communicate and gather information  that the internet has provided us would lead us, as many said, to democratization. Greater democratization in addition to decentralization, so we’d have a democratization of  media, democratization of politics, more freedom, more ability to express ourselves and here too, we  see a much much much more complicated situation. AndIthink you could make an argument today, and  we don’t know yet how this is going to play out,   but that the technology actually seems  to encourage authoritarianism rather than democratization, this is going to be one of the  major struggles that we face in the years ahead now, and pointing all of these unexpected  and, sometimes, quite negative effects out- I don’t mean to imply that there aren’t also  the benefits, we expected those are there too, but in many cases the harms have outweighed  the goods, and I think that’s because we failed to prepare ourselves for  many of these things, because we allowed our natural enthusiasm for technology  to kind of blind us to some of the problems. And because that enthusiasm was very much amplified  by the kind of utopian rhetoric that has come out of silicon valley. So looking ahead, I  think we need to take very important lessons from all this, and realize that we need to be much  more skeptical about technological developments, particularly very large ones. We have to  think much more carefully about human nature and how technology amplifies the good and the bad,  and simply it doesn’t make us better people. We’re the same people. Our good qualities and our bad  qualities are amplified, and only by taking this much more skeptical, much more careful  approach to technology- one that realizes that it’s not the technology itself that should tell us  which way to go, but it’s our own societal good, the common good, that we should follow. It’s  only when we begin to be much more aggressive in imposing society’s wishes upon  technology, rather than vice versa, that we’ll be able to address some  of the current problems we have, and also prevent more problems of this  nature in the future. So thank you very much.

 

[Dr. Brian Primack]: Great, and thank you. And  just to add one other example. Your concept of how it’s not necessarily what we expected reminds  me of an essay that John Maynard Keynes wrote. He was an economist, and in the early 1900s,  he tried to imagine what would happen a hundred years from then which is now, and it was  an essay called Economic Possibilities for our grandchildren. And if you get a chance to  look at it, it’s almost humorous. For example, he thought that by this point technology would  have would be so advanced that we would only be working one to two days a week, so when was  the last time that was a week for you guys? So it makes a lot of sense. Nicholas, thanks so  much for your thoughts there. Speaking of what digital technologies can do to our brain, we have  taken in a huge amount of information over the past hour and 21 minutes, our brains are full.  We have heard about the tech impact on health, and including addiction and addictive tendencies.  The impact on social and civic engagement, democracy. Of course, information, how we get  information, and how we understand it. Privacy and security education, how youth develop and even  society in general. This is huge, and it is just, in my mind too much for a human being to process  so, what I think would be really good to close us out just in the last few minutes is, I’d like  to ask each person to just give us one tidbit for that food pyramid that we were thinking of  at the beginning we were thinking ourselves we   need a couple of guidelines. What’s that one  little tidbit that, from your perspective, would help folks. And so I’m really just  looking for a few words here, not a whole other presentation, but just sort of a summarization  so what I would say, for example, for myself, and then I’ll introduce folks in order so I’ll  have Dr. James give hers, and then of course we’ll skip Congressman Raskin but then we’ll  go right to Dr. Grant. What I would say for my little presentation on health is that the one key  thing we need to do is realize the balance. If we realize that there’s almost always another side,  we will be able to think very carefully about each double-edged sword and will be able to do  something about it. Dr. James, what do you think?

 

[Dr. Carrie James]: Thanks Brian. So I don’t want  to repeat some of the things that other panelists have already said about things parents can do.  I think a lot of the things that Sandy said already really overlapped with  advice I’d have for parents.   I just want to bring one other perspective  to bear, which is when we think about our children, and when we think about young  people, sometimes the most helpful help to them doesn’t come from adults, it comes from their  peers and other youth and so teens can have-  amazing- teens are my focus, but they can  have amazing advice for each other and as adults, I think we can intentionally create spaces for them to exchange, discuss dilemmas of the kind of the sort that I  talked about and really recognize where they’re already doing that often on apps that are  spaces that are hidden from our line of sight.

 

[Dr. Brian Primack]: Thank you. Dr. Grant,  what is your one nugget that you would add? 

 

[Dr. Don Grant]: What I tell  parents: model the behavior. And also, it’s what’s healthy. It’s a  good digital citizenship for all of us try to engage online and with the same behaviors  as you would in real life, and you should be okay.

 

[Dr. Brian Primack]: Sounds great. Dr. Reich? 

 

[Dr. Justin Reich]: I would say our technologies  are only as powerful as the communities that guide  their use, and so in a lot of cases the negative  aspects or the positive aspects that we see of technology are reflections of the societies,  the cultures, the context that they work in. And so if we’re trying to have better, healthier  relationships with technology, we should be thinking about all right, well that probably  is not just the work of technology development, it’s the work of organizing and  politics and building a better society.

 

 [Dr. Brian Primack]: Agreed,  thank you. Miss. Bruce?

 

[Miss Afua Bruce]: I would say that children are  able to participate actively today in engaging in reframing how technology is used to take it from some negative aspects to positive aspects. It’s a matter of giving them the right inspiration and  the right tools, and then letting them go forward from there. They’re more than capable today of taking that active role in reshaping technology.

 

[Dr. Brian Primack]: I think  that’s wonderful empowerment,   it makes me think of the etymology of the word education, because it really comes from a ducaray, the duke as in, to duct in your house right it  is so real, and the essence of. And so really, education is not about shoving stuff in there, it’s about bringing out that natural empowerment.  

So I apologize for a little bit of a detour  there, but I completely agree. Dr. Eggelman?

 

[Dr. Serge Eggrelman]: Yeah,  I guess my bit of advice is, don’t despair if you don’t understand all of the  technologies that your kids are using or how to stay abreast of them, very few people do. But  what you should despair about is the fact that there aren’t really any privacy laws that  prevent the data from going places you don’t want it to go, and being used for  things you don’t want it to be used for, and that’s something you can organize about and  complain to your representatives but also exercise the limited rights that you do have. If you live,  you know, in California, you can exercise rights under CCPA to request copies of your data or your  child’s data, as well as opt out of these sales. Elsewhere you should write your representatives about why you don’t have those rights.

 

[Dr. Brian Primack]: Super. Dr. Simpkins?

 

 [Dr. Sandra Simpkins]: I would say for  parents to show an interest and co-engage  

with their children through technology and  offline, as well as to keep adapting based on  

child interest, child needs, and child skills.

 

 [Dr. Brian Primack]: Great, and  bring us home, Nicholas Carr.

 

[Mr. Nicholas Carr]: I would suggest  we should ban smartphones from schools. [Dr. Brian Primack]: That’s great. We have  something very specific so everyone can be chewing  

on something. Thank you all so much, let me  re-introduce our fearless leader, the creator, the engine behind Children and Screens and all of the  good that it does: Dr. Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra.

 

[Dr. Pam Hurst-Della Pietra]: Well thank you so  much to Brian and our diverse panel of experts:  Carrie, Don, Justin, Afua, Serge, Sandy, and Nick, for being here today, and for sharing really meaningful insights on this important and immense  topic. Thanks also to congressman Jamie Raskin for sharing your thoughts even though you couldn’t be  here with us today. We appreciate all of you who tuned in from home or work, and we hope you found  it as interesting as I did. We hope to see you again at a future webinar, or another event.  When you leave the webinar, you’ll be asked to complete a short survey. Please take a moment to  share your thoughts on this webinar, and any ideas you may have for future topics. In the coming weeks, we’ll publish on our website a compilation of reflections and essays from even more experts  and thought leaders at www.childrenscreens.com, which will include and address many of the  specific questions you’ve submitted today. In the meantime, be sure to review the numerous  helpful resources available on our website. A recording of today’s webinar will be posted  to our youtube channel in the coming days. We encourage you to subscribe and watch our  previous webinars, and we hope that you’ll share our resources with your family and  friends, as well as your fellow parents, educators, clinicians, and researchers.  For more from children’s screens please follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and  Linkedin at the account shown on your screen. Join us on Wednesday, February 9th, as we host  the first of three age and stage focused webinars, and tackle the questions most frequently asked  about early digital media use, and its impacts on babies, infants and toddlers. Thanks again  for being here everyone. Be safe and well!