There is no published research cited in this article

Nor are any criticisms of that research presented.  The title and subheader of the piece (NYT) are:

A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley

“I am convinced the devil lives in our phones.”

Doesn’t a consensus have to be…scientific?  The article does cite many tech people who are limiting the screen time of their children.  That may well be a good thing.  But tech people also may not have the best balanced understanding of the scientific issues involved, or of how tech is used outside of tech communities (and their children) themselves.

Literally speaking, the headline refers only to a consensus in Silicon Valley.  But I do not myself see such a consensus out there during my visits, and it is not obvious within the article what the views of the dissenters might be, or how prominent or numerous those dissenters are.  Or even whether they are dissenters or the mainstream.  Furthermore, most readers will take this piece to be referring to a broader scientific consensus, which does not in fact exist.  And yes I have read some of the published research indicating that tech damages people’s mental capacities and, while such claims may end up being true, I do not find the current research very convincing.  In any case, such research ought to have been considered, pro and con.

We have now reached the point where tech is one of the worst covered subject areas by the U.S. and also British media.


The headline says, "Begins to emerge," so another observer might not see it. And the popular press does not normally cite articles: journalism as it is practiced today in the U.S. relies on interviews with sources (or often on press releases), not on scholarly periodicals.

Good catch on "begins to emerge." "Increasingly" is a similar fudge word for launching this kind of media thumb-sucking.-- increasing from what to what?

I would like to see a long list of this kind of media bullshit terms.

For lifestyle stories, "experts say" is always handy. But for hard news, Number One with a bullet these past two years has been "sources said." (Or "... said people familiar with the situation.")

Controversy or swirling controversy = 8 blowhards on Twitter

Likewise "firestorm"

Calls for or calls on = one guy said some shit the author liked

"Begins to emerge"

... pick one

>Doesn’t a consensus have to be…scientific?

Pretty rich from a guy who embraces every Global Warming canard he finds on the NYT editorial page.

>We have now reached the point where tech is one of the worst covered subject areas by the U.S. and also British media.

Yeah right. If it ever gets 10% as bad as the political coverage, do let us know.

And what about Twitter killing the "like" button?

Evidence-based, or witchcraft?

(My hope is that is actually evidence-based, but I am prepared to be disappointed.)

What about the trend towards not displaying 'dislikes' (thumb down)? I think it's part of the "always be happy" trend of the last decade or so. They display likes but not dislikes.

Bonus trivia: this page needs a "like" counter, so people can see how many likes my posts get, I bet I'm the leader, not unlike (sic) my likes at SeekingAlpha

If there is a problem "likes," it would be that it leads to "schooling" (in the fish sense). Different groups give up-votes as political high fives, reinforcing their in-group, and driving away an outgroup. Down-votes do that very much more quickly, which is why they are largely abandoned.

I noticed on Twitter that many left-pundits want to keep their likes, but wouldn't Trump himself in the one who would feel the absence the most?

The various schools at Twitter are becoming more isolated, and Jack must hope (with evidence or not) that removing likes will break down that isolation.

The parallel on blogs is that different blogs develop different schools of fish/thought with their own limited exchange.

This is something the NYT and its readers want to believe. Why?

I'll speculate. Because they are primarily a dead tree news source and their profitability is impossible to support with their current staff when the paper portion finally goes under.

Screen burn-in, image burn-in or ghost image

I take thee at thy word.

Oston, Jane Austin wins again~

1 we blame malcom gladwell
2 we got mister rogers after the first episode
and would actually rather be outside eating bugs and
calling it experiential learning
also we need a microscope a good one like this
it is a stereo microscope
that's why we need it now

Look at Michelle Goldberg, the face of leftist chauvinism. She writes about white nationalism and Brian Kemp without stating that he was relected as Secretary of State in 2014. At his church (this is all public information), the Associate Rector is a Columbian man. 5 of the 7 staffers of the church are women.

"During the primary, he ran an ad boasting that he drives a big truck “just in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take ’em home myself.” (That would be kidnapping.) "

Well, here's an example of an illegal immigrant kidnapping a minor for sex. “Child exploitation in any form is dreadful, but the kidnapping a child for sexual purposes is an atrocity of the worst kind,” said ICE HSI Atlanta Acting Special Agent in Charge Gregory Wiest.

Lest we forget, Charles Blow described Dylann Roof as " the unassuming, boyish-looking man with the bowl-cut hair" IN-SCENE, before he went on a rampage!!!

This guy!

He went on to criticize Fox because, "On Fox News’s “Fox and Friends,” one host called the killings “a horrifying attack on faith.”

He goes on "Oh Fox, there is so much that needs explaining to you. First, Roof was a member of a Lutheran church in Columbia, S.C. As Rev. Tony Metze of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church confirmed to the Huffington Post, “He was on the roll of our congregation.” Lutheranism is one of the branches of Protestant Christianity."

Traditional sources such as the Times might secretly fear they have far less influence than in the pre-screen world

it is middlebrow intellectualism, updated for a new generation

20 years ago these sorts of people desperately wanted to believe that watching TV makes you dumb in some deep sense, rather than just being a waste of time.

now people have stopped watching cable and amuse themselves by wasting time on their phones.

incoherent objections to these recreational activities are considered sophisticated

Well, being a "waste of time" seems a rather good argumente against anyt technology (even if it doesn't cause any arm)

If a kid spends his time on his mobile (or watching TV) instead of reading a book, playing a sport, or learning music, then that is clearly not good, right?

Because NYT types are antipathetic towards both for-profit corporations and mass market consumer culture. NYT readers *want* to believe tech companies' profits arise from nefariousness. This story allows readers to say, "Aha, these tech companies are selling an addictive drug!" NYT readers also want to believe that they are wiser and more sophisticated than average Americans. This story also allows readers to say, "Unlike most ignorant American simpletons, I am worldly enough to protect my children from the negative consequences of smartphones."

Serious question to test my hypothesis: what would be an example of a commercially successful mass-market consumer product that NYT types don't find objectionable?

A Prius?

I would say that conventional gasoline powered vehicles, including pickups and SUVs, are still much more popular than electrics and hybrids. The 5 most popular cars are: (1) Ford F-Series truck, (2) Chevy Silverado truck, (3) Ram truck, (4) Toyota RAV4 SUV, and (5) Nissan Rogue SUV [].

NYT types love to hate the profit-seeking car companies that produce gas guzzling trucks and SUVs and the masses for buying them.

So-called tech. I agree with Cowen on the irony that it is the people who work in tech who form the "consensus" that tech is the devil. No, so-called tech isn't the devil, because tech is mostly an illusion, while the devil is very real - he was in Pittsburgh on Saturday. Tech is the Saudi Arabia of the business world, spreading its tentacles across the land with its largess. People will believe anything if there's money to be made.

Comics, TV, VCRs and video game consoles have all been accused of corrupting the youth. I share Tyler's skepticism.

And movies, and radio, and the novel...

And rock music, especially metal

And pool, and before that, novels.

>implying that any of those accusations were anything other than correct

Finally somebody said it.

“We awcknowledge that we have grievously harmed society and the wellbeing of our children, and we take full responsibility.” I can totally imagine boomers saying that.

I come from a long, long line of corrupted ancestors.

The biggest negative influence on children is the public school system.

I live in Silicon Valley and have children and this article did not ring true to me. To me it seems quite the opposite. When I talk with other parents we often discuss what educational apps our kids are using. The local "teach your kindergarten-age children how to program" after-school class filled up almost immediately. And almost everyone uses video calls to keep children in touch with distant relatives.

If anything, I think that Silicon Valley is much more opposed to children watching TV, and much more encouraging of children using iPads for interactive things, than other places around the country. The term "screen time" unhelpfully lumps these two things together.

Personally I don't mind my kids on screens (within reasonable limits) but social media for them terrifies me. I will attempt to prevent them being on Facebook and Instagram and whatever as long as possible, I see very few reasons for them to use those until they are in college and even then I'm not a fan. I don't use either.

They can keep in touch with friends by texting and calling and Skypeing you don't need FB and IG.

"Silicon Valley is much more opposed to children watching TV, and much more encouraging of children using iPads for interactive things"

Yeah, the rule in our house is half-an-hour of cartoons but no particular strict limit on playing cool games on the tablet, so long as you put it away without moaning before dinner or when grandma calls to chat.

'Doesn’t a consensus have to be…scientific? '

Of course not, as the following definition of consensus illustrates - 'a generally accepted opinion or decision among a group of people:

The general consensus in the office is that he can't do his job.

Could we reach a consensus on this matter? Let's take a vote.'

'the best balanced understanding of the scientific issues involved'

Raising children has never been a science.

'But I do not myself see such a consensus out there during my visits'

Anecdotes are not data, nor are they scientific.

'most readers will take this piece to be referring to a broader scientific consensus'

Why? This is the NYT, which means that the opinions of its readers are easily ignored regardless of how they are formed from whatever information the NYT provides them.

'where tech is one of the worst covered subject areas by the U.S.'

That seems to be true. Such as having an AI panel discussion without a single person on it who actually works with AI. Horrible how low things have gotten, truly.

Which is why the Vulture continues to be the best place to enjoy biting the hand that feeds IT -

I don't often agree with you, prior, but you hit the nail on the head on this one.

Seriously. Tyler’s right to be critical of the article, but if he thinks scientific rigor is necessary to make its point that SV types are getting skittish about their creations, or that readers are expecting it, he’s mistaken.

People who work in tech generally assume that if they are good at tech, they are also good at having correct opinions about literally anything, even if their opinion is unusual or deviates from what people who specialize in that thing say. Hence, Steve Jobs believes he is better than an oncologist when it comes to fighting cancer. The media often plays along with this self-delusion.

That's what I see with this article: "oh shit, tech bros think x, therefore x must be true"

To be fair, in this case the opinions of the tech people are about the consumption of tech by their kids. It is kind of in their wheelhouse.

Except that in the case cited, the Facebook engineer likes Video games and his wife the "social computing researcher" objects. Furthermore, there's no evidence these beliefs are widespread across Silicon Valley. It seems more likely that the NYT's just cherry picked an anecdotal story that has a somewhat controversial point of view. It's the kind of story that sales newspapers.

And don't forget, people often say one thing with others people, and do another at home..

They point out in one of the other articles in the trio that there's a difference in screentime between white and non-white kids, but that's about it.

I'd be especially careful about taking any health advice for children from wealthy Silicon Valley parents. They tend to be "crunchy" in a bad way.

Nellie Bowles is a hack

The big question with a story like this is, did the editor and reporter start out with a specific result in mind ("techie parents are wary of tech for their kids") or an open mind (find out how techie parents feel about tech for their kids).

Of course, the first way guarantees a better story.

My research shows that children that were exposed to more than 20 minutes of screen time a day were able to harvest 13% fewer turnips from a standard turnip field, compared to a control group of children that only had access to medieval technology from birth to the time of the experiment.

Is all screen time equal in the eyes of the Valley elite? My kid divides his screen time among 1) composing electronic music, 2) writing code for computer games that he sells online, and 3) playing games.

Thanks, now I'm going to feel pretty dumb tonight making snarky comments on Breitbart between 40-year-old Hawaii 5-0 episodes

A field goal and a safety against who?

we concur

"We have now reached the point where tech is one of the worst covered subject areas by the U.S. and also British media." But it's not "tech," it's science in general.

Journalists just don't seem to get the basics of scientific methods (let alone basic statistics). And what's worse, they don't seem to understand that they don't understand.

For if they did, surely they'd pay a few hard-science grad students to be available for consultation before they publish yet another howler.

If they covered politics as well as they cover science they'd regularly confuse Moscow, KS, USA with Moscow, Russia.

As a general rule, journallists are not very well educated, remarkable ignorant about most things, and not very good at actually reporting, as becomes readily apparent when they report on anything where one has personal experience or expertise. I suspect that’s part of the reason so much “reporting” is rehashed opinion pieces - it’s easier.

I have a notion that at the root of mediocre tech journalism is lack of good editors. The bulk of the reporters are good. They're lacking expert editing guidance on assignments, story development, and story editing. The editor should be a technical expert. The reporter need not be. I think we had more of this editing oversight in tech journalism before the web.

Cowen would prefer that everyone spend more moments of their lives on screens with Internet connections, because it will increase his expected readership

"Doesn’t a consensus have to be…scientific?"

No, of course not. A town can reach a consensus that someone is a drunk without undergoing any rigorous analysis. A family can come to a consensus about where to eat a very ascientific way (meaning that science simply isn't relevant to the choice). Bylaws of a professional organization are a consensus on behavior, one that very often is made without any reference to science.

A consensus merely means that a group has agreed on something. What group, and why, doesn't matter.

I would also argue that consensus can be anti-scientific. A scientist is morally obliged to evaluate the data in his or her field of study and arrive at their own conclusions, REGARDLESS OF any consensus. Otherwise, there's no possible advancement. A scientific consensus is a valuable shortcut to understanding the conclusions of complex scientific concepts from the perspective of someone outside the field, but that's about all. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that scientific consensus should be ignored--I'm just saying that adjusting one's conclusions to fit a preferred outcome is always a violation of scientific integrity.

Using anti-biotics to treat ulcers is an good example of going against the (now proven incorrect) scientific consensus.

Oh; Canada!
we still need your answer

gladwell for Oscar Peterson?

Socrates was very clear about the threat writing was on memory quality. Of course the only way we know this is that Plato wrote it down...

why is everbody talking Socrates
when they should be talking D.D.Eisenhower?

There's a new book: "Jean M. Twenge’s new book iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood."

It's an expansion of an Atlantic article by Twenge about her research that I found very interesting, but I remain somewhat suspicious: Either she has discovered one of the biggest, most sudden effects in the history of psychology, or she is over-egging her pudding:

I encourage more research into Twenge's research.

google> consensus

"Noun: general agreement"

Literally the least possible effort on research invalidates your entire post.

I think you just had a brain fart possibly inspired by the hundreds of articles that use a phrase similar to "...scientific consensus that global warming exists..."

Much reporting right now consists of:

"Interest group X says development Y is leading to impact Z."

This gets turned upside down at the copy desk:

"Impact Z is happening because of Development Y .... (says X)."

And when it comes to tech, because new developments are myriad and impacts poorly understood, it's very easy for an interested party to walk into a space and have an opinion presented as news.

Yep, sounds like a fake trend piece. Can’t see through the paywall but I’m guessing they talked to some SV celeb types, declared a trend, and assume everyone not famous are a bunch of stupid that always follow their betters. I’m sure they’re trying to raise their kids to be ultra high status and thus tend to perfectionism.

I haven’t noticed heightened concern among parents I know; parents have been telling their kids to get away from the screen and play outside for decades.

tThe rectitude could only be reconciled in civilian life, the riptide in Salinas Valley, Georgia waterfalls and peafowls, steel corners and mallside restaurants on the rolling hills of West Virginia, the snot-nosed rust on yellow cabs, lone beams that block off residences in Ft. Lauderdale, golden retrievers watching the seagulls on the San Francisco pier, pine cones and construction cones, wasted factories and salt domes, every David, Edward and Robert, those front doors on the houses that wait all for week for the marching bands on Friday nights, every large triangle that dots the small towns in the Midwest.

Did you steal this, was it generated, or did you come up with it yourself? It’s kind of beautiful.

The plate beckons for lonesome.

Meh. You had me then you lost me.
But the first one is the lost love child of Beckett and Chandler.

its time for your brain scan Rutba is not in the east..

Before the scientific method there was no such thing as public consensus, says maximum obtusity Tyler. (I enjoy this Tyler too though.)

If you want to know what people working in Tech think, read the Hacker News comments:

Great link. Thanks.

If you have teenage boys, you can believe the devil resides in a tablet

A consensus does not need to be scientific. The one claimed here as "begin-ing to emerge" is among people that work in silicon valley. It isn't based on suvey, it's just got quotes from a few people.... but it's just an article in a news paper... that's what news papers do all the time. And that's what normally happens before people start to investigate these things with more rigour.

If people are starting to feel a stigma around letting their kids have lots of screen time there might well be something to it.

My non US, non tech, experience is that parents are worrying about their kids and many people are worrying about themselves.

Tyler should consider his potential biases. Not least, his work and interests are helped a lot by screen time, his screen time is no doubt mostly good and productive for him.

”We have now reached the point where tech is one of the worst covered subject areas by the U.S. and also British media.”

Another claim based on one (!) non-scientific piece and no research. Can continue this pseudo-meta-analysis indefinately?

Didn't this blog have a link showing some null or negative result for mental health and social media? I saw something like that then lost it. Does someone remember?

I think the right question about this technology is the following: civilizations around the world have been successfully educating kids for millenia withour any screens. Given that, what are the main benefits screens will add to this time tested procedure (besides cost efficiency)?

PS. I was hoping to see more people asking this question here because this is a right-leaning blog harbouring a conservative audience (unless conservative doesn't mean what it used to...)

"...civilizations around the world have been successfully educating kids for millenia withour any screens."

Really? What's the evidence for this? Remember, the vast majority of humanity, for the vast majority of civilization, has been rural farmers. It wasn't uncommon in the 1800s for a sailor coming onboard a ship to not know how to read or write.

This didn't end until very recently. My grandfather never graduated from high school, for example--he learned to read and write, do math, and some basics in other fields, then went to work in a factory. It wasn't uncommon in the area at that time; most poor boys did the same (the girls married the factory workers).

The idea that everyone, including the poor, needs to be educated is itself a fairly new concept, only a few hundred years old. The idea that they need a college education is still newer, maybe 100 years old or less.

This sounds to me like class distinction.

When tech was expensive and exclusive, wealthy techies wanted their kids to have it to give them a leg up on the unwashed masses.

Now that tech for kids is ubiquitous, they have to signal status and wealth via excluding tech. (Who the hell can exclude tech from their kids' lives but people who can afford full time nannies to be enforcers of no tech and organizers of all activities involving no tech?)

"Doesn’t a consensus have to be…scientific?"

What? A scientific consensus has to be scientific. A consensus is just...a consensus. Has Tyler seriously never heard the word 'consensus' used in a non-scientific context?

That said, I do think it is far from clear that there is a consensus - even a non-scientific one in Silicon Valley - about this particular subject. I'm sympathetic to arguments about the detrimental effects of screen time, tech, and social media but, indeed, there is not much consensus about it.

Now, with *that* said, this is the NYT Style section, and they've published far more ridiculous things.

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