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别让手机和网络毁掉孩子的童年!

彭博社 2018年05月12日

最近有研究人员称,社交媒体可能导致更多的青少年陷入抑郁。而对于智能手机对孩子注意力的侵蚀,很多父母也深感恐慌。

自从苏格拉底预言书写文字会削弱人的记忆,人们就开始对科技的潜在危害瑟瑟发抖。不过至少苏格拉底不必担心社交媒体上瘾的问题。最近有研究人员称,社交媒体可能导致更多的青少年陷入抑郁。而对于智能手机对孩子注意力的侵蚀,很多父母也深感恐慌。

1、科技毁童年?

当然。现在的儿童和青少年时刻手机不离手,每天都泡在社交媒体上,分享自己的状态。与此同时,他们还要面临学校的压力、同龄人的压力和荷尔蒙的刺激。他们每天都把自己今天在做什么、自己今天的样子通过Snapchat和Instagram等社交媒体展示给成百上千的“朋友”。Snapchat还发明了一个叫做Snapstreak的功能,刺激用户持续与其他好友发消息。这个功能因容易致瘾而受到了英国儿童保护机构的批评。英国安全网络中心对1500名8到17岁的儿童和青少年进行的一项调查显示,有八分之一的孩子在过去一小时内上传过自拍。就连一些硅谷高管都希望他们的孩子不要沉迷于科技产品。

2、研究说明了什么?

从各种研究数据来看,当代儿童首次拥有智能手机的平均年龄是10岁左右,约半数美国和英国儿童在12岁时已经有了自己的社交媒体账户,大约有四分之一的青少年表示他们“几乎一直在线”。在2015年的一项研究中,有大约十分之一的女孩表示,她们平时上学的时候,每天使用社交媒体的时间超过三个小时。而这些重度依赖社交媒体的女孩,一般其困难分数(一种用来衡量精神健康的指标)往往较高。在安全网络中心对8至17岁儿童和青少年进行的一项研究中,有22%的受访儿童和青少年表示,有人曾在社交网络上用照片和视频霸凌过他们。圣地亚哥州立大学心理学家珍·特温格领导的一项研究表明,花更多时间在互联网上的美国青少年,其快乐程度一般低于喜爱其他活动的同龄人。特温格还指出,社交媒体或许是导致青少年抑郁症人数升高的原因之一。

3、是否有反方观点?

人们之所以将青少年过得不快乐的锅扣在社交媒体头上,或许是因为他们想当然地觉得,青春期就应该是“岁月静好”的。不过牛津大学互联网研究院和卡迪夫大学的研究人员在分析了12万名15岁青少年的数据后指出,随着青少年的社交程度上升,在某种程度上,他们的幸福感实际上是提高了的。当然,长时间玩手机肯定是有负面效应的,不过吃早饭、保证充足睡眠等才是更重要的因素。不过研究人员们的结论也许并不全面,毕竟智能手机和社交媒体都是新生事物,而且它们的发展极其飞速,确实影响了孩子们深度、及时学习的能力。要知道,Snapchat还是一家2011年才创立的公司。

4、智能手机和社交媒体是否将是童年的常态?

早在社交媒体被发明出来之前,童年就早已不是很多人回忆中的童年了。美国2013年的一项研究发现,家长越认为他们居住的社区不安全,他们的孩子就越容易对电视上瘾,并且越容易变得肥胖。现在很多孩子抱着手机或平板足不出户,或许也正是由于同样的原因。当然,社交媒体的确在快速改变青少年的沟通方式。Snapchat的创始人伊万·斯皮格2016年接受《华尔街日报》采访时曾表示:“人们不知道他们的女儿为什么每天拍一万张照片,但他们没有意识到,她不是在保留照片,而是在聊天。”

5、社交网站难道没有年龄限制吗?

当然有,只不过执行是个大问题。比如脸书、Instagram、Snapchat和推特都要求用户必须年满13岁以上才能注册账户。(有些国家的规定更加严格,比如韩国规定,用户必须年满14岁才能注册谷歌账户,在荷兰,这个年龄下限是16岁。)不过大多数网站都要求注册者诚实填写自己的出生日期,因此报个假出生日期注册账户还是很容易的。

6、谁在反对儿童使用社交媒体?

很多父母只想把孩子的手机扔进垃圾桶,然后把他们赶到树林里玩。不过也有越来越多的人致力于推动更具体的目标。比如部分儿科医生和精神健康专家正在游说脸书关停Messenger Kids应用,这个应用是脸书专门向6到12岁的孩子推出的。医生们认为,这个年龄段的儿童“还没有到能够把握网络社交的复杂性”的年龄。还有一些曾就职于谷歌、脸书等科技公司的员工成立了一个叫做“人道科技中心”的组织,专门提醒人们哪些科技产品会令人上瘾。还有一位参与设计了iPod的前苹果高管呼吁苹果公司研发一种“网络行为监控器”功能,好帮助用户监控他们的孩子玩手机的时间。

7、社交媒体巨头们听进去了吗?

至少他们已经摆出了倾听的姿态。今年一月,苹果的两个大股东敦促苹果公司向儿童家长提供某种定制策略,使他们可以限制孩子玩手机的时间和他们对社交媒体的使用。他们要求苹果进行更多研究,以解决“社会日益增长的不安”。几天后苹果回应道,公司已在研发更多针对孩子家长的功能。另外,谷歌的YouTube Kids应用被曝含有不雅视频后,谷歌也对该应用添加了优化的家长控制功能。

8、政府会介入吗?

可能会。在脸书CEO马克·扎克伯格今年四月参加国会听证会时,马萨诸塞州参议员埃德·马基就尖锐地问到了儿童的问题。他敦促扎克伯格支持他2015年提出的一项旨在保护16岁以下儿童网络隐私权的法案,马基还将这些科技巨头比作烟草行业。英国卫生大臣杰里米·亨特也威胁要对谷歌、推特、Snapchat等科技公司进行监管,理由是这些科技公司没有有效防止未成年人的使用,从而使家长不得不面临两难选择——要么就只能向孩子投降,任由他们使用这些平台,否则横加干涉的话,就会使孩子与同龄人孤立起来。

9、下一步怎么办?

随着欧洲的《通用数据保护法案》即将生效,任何公司将不得在未经其家长同意下,处理来自16岁以下儿童和青少年的数据。今年四月,脸书旗下的即时通讯工具WhatsApp已将欧洲用户的最低注册年龄从13岁上调到了16岁。SnapChat也将不再处理任何需要家长同意的青少年数据,包括保留地理位置数据等。不过这种一刀切的方式也让家长面临了新问题。皮尤研究中心的一项调查发现,家长和孩子之间最常见的沟通方式居然是发手机信息。所以这样一来,家长等于是在说:“按我说的做,但是别学我”。(龙8国际|官网)

译者:朴成奎 

Ever since Socrates complained about the written word ruining memories, people have been wringing their hands over the potential harms of technology. At least Socrates never had to worry about his Snapstreaks. Now researchers say social media could be making more teens depressed, and there’s plenty of parental panic about the attention-sapping effects of the smartphone age.

1. Is technology disrupting childhood?

Absolutely. Consider that today’s smartphone-wielding teens and pre-teens are glued to their phones, posting on social media and revealing data about themselves even as they deal with the traditional adolescent stew of school, peer pressure and hormones. They’re figuring it out in front of an audience of hundreds if not thousands of “friends” commenting in real time on what they do, and — via Snapchat and Instagram — how they look. Snapstreak, a Snapchat feature that congratulates users for consistently messaging their friends, has been criticized by England’s children’s commissioner for being addictive. A survey by the U.K.’s Safer Internet Centre of 1,500 8-to-17 year olds revealed that one in eight had shared a selfie in the last hour. Even some Silicon Valley executives want their offspring low-tech.

2. What does the research show?

Among the data points from various surveys: The average age for getting a first smartphone is about 10, and half of all kids in the U.S. and the U.K. have social media accounts by the age of 12. About a quarter of teens say they are online “almost constantly.” In a 2015 study, about 1 in 10 girls in the U.K. reported using social networking sites for more than three hours on a normal school day — and those that did were more likely to have a higher difficulties score, a measure of mental health. In a Safer Internet Centre survey of kids age 8 to 17, 22 percent said someone had posted an image or video to bully them. A study led by Jean Twenge, a psychologist at San Diego State University, found that U.S. teens who spend more time online are less happy than those who pursue other activities. In other research, Twenge posited that social media is contributing to a rise in teen depression.

3. Is there a contrary view?

One obvious problem in blaming social media for miserable young people is the supposition that there has ever been a halcyon time for teenagers. Researchers from the Oxford Internet Institute and Cardiff University analyzed data from 120,000 15-year-olds, and concluded that, up to a certain point, teenagers’ well-being actually rose as their connectivity increased. While too much screentime can have a negative effect, the research showed other factors, such as eating breakfast and getting enough sleep, were more important. But perhaps the main problem with the research is how fast smartphones took off and social media developed, making in-depth and timely studies difficult. Snapchat was only founded in 2011.

4. Isn’t it just part of being a kid these days?

Childhood changed long before social media arrived on the scene. A 2013 U.S. study found that the more parents feel their neighborhood is unsafe, the more kids are likely to watch TV and be overweight. The same forces have left more kids stuck at home in front of a smartphone or tablet. That said, there’s no question that social media is rapidly changing how teenagers communicate. “People wonder why their daughter is taking 10,000 photos a day,” Evan Spiegel, the founder of Snapchat, told the Wall Street Journal in 2016. “What they don’t realize is that she isn’t preserving images. She’s talking.”

5. Don’t social media sites have age limits?

They do, though enforcement is a huge challenge. On Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter you generally have to be at least 13 years old to create an account. (Some countries have stricter rules: The minimum age for a Google account is 14 in South Korea and 16 in the Netherlands, for instance.) Most sites ask new registrants to honestly self-report their date of birth, which makes their age limits rather easy to circumvent.

6. Who’s up in arms?

Certainly many parents just want to throw the phone in the rubbish and make kids go play in the woods. But there’s also an expanding group arguing for a more targeted response. A collection of pediatric and mental health experts are lobbying Facebook to discontinue Messenger Kids, a version of its Messenger app for children ages six to 12, saying young kids are “not old enough to navigate the complexities of online relationships.” Another group of former employees from Google, Facebook and elsewhere created the Center for Humane Technology to raise alarms about the vulnerabilities caused by addictive products. An executive who helped create the iPod called on Apple Inc. to create a digital-activity monitor to help users of its devices keep track of their — and their kids’ — time online.

7. Are the social media giants listening?

They’re at least trying to appear to be. In January, two big shareholders of Apple urged the company to give parents a way to customize their child’s iPhone to limit screen time, hours of use and access to social media. They asked the company to conduct more research and address a “growing societal unease.” Within days, Apple replied that more features for parents were already in development. Google is adding better parental controls on its YouTube Kids app after reports that it hosted inappropriate videos.

8. Will governments step in?

They might. During Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg’s April appearance in the U.S. Congress, there were pointed questions about kids from Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts. The lawmaker pressed Zuckerberg to support a bill he introduced in 2015 to expand online privacy protections for children up to the age of 16. Markey has also compared the tech giants with the tobacco industry. In the U.K., Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has threatened to regulate Google, Twitter, Snapchat and other companies, saying their failure to prevent underage use left parents with an “invidious choice” — giving in to children too young to use their platforms, or isolating them from their peers.

9. So what’s next?

What’s forcing the hand of tech companies is the incoming General Data Protection Regulation in Europe, which will ban any company from processing data from users below 16 without parental consent. In April, WhatsApp, the internet messaging service owned by Facebook, raised its minimum age for users in Europe to 16 from 13. SnapChat will no longer process any data that might require parental consent, including retaining geo-location history. Changes like that put parents in a new bind, since a Pew Research Center survey found that text messaging is the most common way to keep in touch with kids. So it might be a case of do what I say, not what I do.

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