“Durable means to be effective for as long as possible – in your mind, your body, and also in your relationships with other people. It’s being strong and secure and moving forward, taking in and reacting to the experiences you have along the way but continue to stand strong through it all.”
-Jenifer Joy Madden
In Episode 30, I’m talking with Jenifer Joy Madden about her book, How To Be a Durable Human: Revive and Thrive in the Digital Age Through the Power of Self-Design.
Madden is a health and environmental journalist who is also a digital broadcaster and adjunct professor for Syracuse University in their DC Program. Madden is a child advocate who has volunteered her time to establish new walking and biking trails throughout northern Virginia. Madden is also the parent to three durable adults.
Some of the topics we discuss include:
The “Triple Crown” of Durability
Importance of kids being able to look people in the eye.
Using a “gadget basket” during meals. Says Madden, “Not only are kids learning how to have face to face conversations and wait – take their turn and listen – it’s a really great opportunity for parents to keep an eye on them day to day. And I literally mean keep an eye on. Because if you’re looking at them, they’re making a comment, maybe their words are saying something but they’re eyes – something happened. You’re watching and this expression came over their face really quickly. If you’re not looking at them, you’re going to miss it.”
Attachment: It starts a little before birth that the child starts attaching to the primary caregiver – the mother. The Internet Addiction Treatment Center is worried that kids’ first images are going to be obscured by a device. Kids that don’t securely attach to a caregiver become agitated and insecure and have trouble coping. We need to feed their love mechanisms early on in life, otherwise they’ll be kind of shaky their whole lives.
“Virtual Autism:” In France and Romania, doctors have identified “Virtual Autism” in kids under age four who have free reign all day to be on a tablet. After days and days of being on the screen, they stop responding to their names and adults can’t catch their eye. When kids return to a regular kid lifestyle and they’re playing with physical objects and playing outside, that “virtual autism” goes away.
Recommended guidelines for a 12 year old:
•Definitely make sure that the bedroom is off limits to all electronics. Give them an alarm clock and train them from an early age. If they have a phone, start from the beginning charging it out of the bedroom. •Look away from the screen every 20 minutes to keep their eyesight durable.
Curiosity: “Every person is unique and interested in different things and that makes them a broader, fuller person and they can contribute more to society if they develop their own individual self. And so they need opportunities to follow their curiosity. If parents take their kid to a playground or a park, it’s almost like the parents aren’t patient enough to stay there. They have to honor the kid’s ability to get into imaginary play and to follow their curiosity.” When you’re outside, all the senses are active at once and that really helps a person to be very good at sensing things. Get kids exposed to dirt.
“Durable is different from resilience. Resilience means to be knocked over and have some problem happen and then you get yourself standing back up again. Durable means to be effective for as long as possible – in your mind, your body, and also in your relationships with other people. It’s being strong and secure and moving forward, taking in and reacting to the experiences you have along the way but continue to stand strong through it all. Learn and become wiser.”
American Academy of Pediatrics Family Media Plan/Media Time Calculator: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/media/Pages/default.aspx
Nature Play: http://durablehuman.com/
Article on virtual autism study in France/Romania: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-fallible-mind/201706/there-is-new-link-between-screen-time-and-autism
Forest kindergarten mini article/video as an example: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/23/learning/forest-kindgergarten.html