Geek

Should Parents End 'Screen Time' For Children?

Slashdot - Sun, 10/28/2018 - 00:34
The New York Times reports that in Silicon Valley, "a wariness that has been slowly brewing is turning into a regionwide consensus: The benefits of screens as a learning tool are overblown, and the risks for addiction and stunting development seem high." One Facebook engineer doesn't allow his own kids to have any screen time, according to this article shared by schwit1, and even Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired, believes screen time is addictive for children. "On the scale between candy and crack cocaine, it's closer to crack cocaine," Mr. Anderson said of screens. Technologists building these products and writers observing the tech revolution were naive, he said. "We thought we could control it. And this is beyond our power to control. This is going straight to the pleasure centers of the developing brain... I didn't know what we were doing to their brains until I started to observe the symptoms and the consequences... We glimpsed into the chasm of addiction, and there were some lost years, which we feel bad about...." Tim Cook, the C.E.O. of Apple, said earlier this year that he would not let his nephew join social networks. Bill Gates banned cellphones until his children were teenagers, and Melinda Gates wrote that she wished they had waited even longer. Steve Jobs would not let his young children near iPads. But in the last year, a fleet of high-profile Silicon Valley defectors have been sounding alarms in increasingly dire terms about what these gadgets do to the human brain. Suddenly rank-and-file Silicon Valley workers are obsessed. No-tech homes are cropping up across the region. Nannies are being asked to sign no-phone contracts.... John Lilly, a Silicon Valley-based venture capitalist with Greylock Partners and the former C.E.O. of Mozilla, said he tries to help his 13-year-old son understand that he is being manipulated by those who built the technology. "I try to tell him somebody wrote code to make you feel this way-- I'm trying to help him understand how things are made, the values that are going into things and what people are doing to create that feeling," Mr. Lilly said. "And he's like, 'I just want to spend my 20 bucks to get my Fortnite skins.'" What do Slashdot's reader think? Should parents end 'screen time' for children?

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Richard Stallman Calls Open Source Movement 'Amoral', Criticizes Apple And Microsoft For 'Censoring' App Installation

Slashdot - Sat, 10/27/2018 - 21:34
Richard Stallman recently gave a 9,000-word interview in which he first reminisces about his early days at MIT's AI Lab where he "found something worth being loyal to" -- and then assesses how things have played out. Open source is an amoral, depoliticized substitute for the free-software movement... [I]t's not the name of a philosophy -- it refers to the software, but not to the users. You'll find lots of cautious, timid organizations that do things that are useful, but they don't dare say: users deserve freedom. Like Creative Commons, which does useful, practical work -- namely, preparing licences that respect the freedom to share. But Creative Commons doesn't say that users are entitled to the freedom to share; it doesn't say that it's wrong to deny people the freedom to share. It doesn't actively uphold that principle. Of course, it's much easier to be a supporter of open source, because it doesn't commit you to anything. You could spend ten minutes a week doing things that help advance open source, or just say you're a supporter -- and you're not a hypocrite, because you can't violate your principles if you haven't stated any. What's significant is that, in their attempt to separate our software from our ideas, they've reduced our ability to win people over by showing what those ideas have achieved... For a long time, Microsoft was the main enemy of users' freedom, and then, for the past ten years or so, it's been Apple. When the first iThings came out, around 2007, it was a tremendous advance in contempt for users' freedom because it imposed censorship of applications -- you could only install programs approved by Apple. Ironically, Apple has retreated from that a little bit. If a program is written in Swift, you can now install it yourself from source code. So, Apple computers are no longer 100 per cent jails. The tablets too. A jail is a computer in which installation of applications is censored. So Apple introduced the first jail computer with the iPhone. Then Microsoft started making computers that are jails, and now Apple has, you might say, opened a window into the jail -- but not the main door. Stallman cites free-software alternatives to Skype like Linphone, Ekiga, and xJitsi, and also says he's In favor of projects like GNU social, a free software microblogging server, and the distributed social networking service Diaspora. "I know they're useful for other people, but it wouldn't fit my lifestyle. I just use email." In fact, he calls mobile computing one of the three main setbacks of the free-software movement. "[P]hones and tablets, designed from the ground up to be non-free. The apps, which tend now to be non-free malware. And the Intel management engine, and more generally the low-level software, which we can't replace, because things just won't allow us to do so.... "[P]eople in the software field can't avoid the issue of free versus proprietary software, freedom-respecting versus freedom-trampling software. We have a responsibility, if we're doing things in the software field, to do it in a way that is ethical. I don't know whether we will ever succeed in liberating everyone, but it's clearly the right direction in which to push."

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