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New Study Indicates Recreational Screen Time For Kids Makes Very Little Difference

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When I became a parent nearly seven years ago, I tasked myself with reading up on what to expect and how to be a good parent. Among many more important things, one prominent point of reading that led to many discussions in our household was screen time for children. And, as you might expect, that conversation has been ongoing to date. There are lots of theories out there about just how much screen time kids should get at certain ages, but the unifying force behind those theories typically is that it should be relatively limited. Some nations have even gotten into the game of forcing screen time limitations on children, or at least many have gone that route for targeted types of screen time, such as video games.But what if I told you that all that worrying done by parents, all the reading on the topic, and all of the effort put into it by governments is basically for nothing? Well, that seems to be the main conclusion reached by a new study that finds that the impact of recreational screen time on children is statistically negligible.

Even when kids spend five hours a day on screen – whether computers, television or text – it doesn’t appear to be harmful. That’s what my colleagues and I at the University of Colorado Boulder discovered after analyzing data taken from nearly 12,000 participants in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study – the largest long-term study of its kind ever in the U.S.The participants included children between the ages of 9 to 10, from diverse backgrounds, income levels and ethnicities. We investigated how screen time was linked to some of the most critical aspects of their lives: sleep, mental health, behavior and friendships.
Now, there are a ton of caveats to all of this. The most important of those include that this is a correlative study, not one looking for causality. It's also a narrow age group being studied, even as the study has an impressive sample size. And there were also both positive and negative correlations uncovered.For instance, increased screen time in the sample group correlated to stronger interpersonal relationships with peers. That would be the opposite of the old parental dogma that suggests that looking at a screen means you aren't going to have any friends. On the other hand, increasing screen time on the far end of the spectrum did correlate with declining sleep and academic performance. So what does this mean? Screen time is good? Screen time is bad?
Perhaps neither one: When looking at the strength of the correlations, we see only very modest associations. That is, any association between screen time and the various outcomes, whether good or bad, is so small it’s unlikely to be important at a clinical level.Some kids scored lower than others on these outcomes, some scored higher; screen time only explained 2% of the difference in the scores. This suggests the differences are explained by many variables, not just screen time. It’s a very small piece of a much larger picture.
Which should mostly tell us what we already know: outcomes in children are nuanced and complicated, involving many factors, and every child's needs are different. What isn't true, based on this study, is that parents should be given blanket recommendations on the amount of screen time their children should be allowed to have.And, because, again, these are correlative studies, even correlation found doesn't equate to screen time being a root cause.
For example, we found that adolescents who spend more time on screens may display more symptoms of aggression. But we can’t say screen time causes the symptoms; instead, maybe more aggressive children are given screen devices as an attempt to distract them and calm their behavior.
There are so many boogeymen set up for parents to jump at these days. At the very least, it's probably time to make it so that reasonable spectrums of screen time for children are not on the list.

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posted at: 12:00am on 28-Oct-2021
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

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Content Moderation Case Study: Linkedin Blocks Access To Journalist Profiles In China (2021)

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Summary: A major challenge for global internet companies is figuring how to deal with different rules and regulations within different countries. This has proven especially difficult for internet companies looking to operate in China — a country in which many of the most popular global websites are blocked.In 2015, there was an article highlighting how companies like Evernote and LinkedIn had avoided getting blocked in China, mainly by complying with the Chinese government’s demands that they moderate certain content. In that article, LinkedIn’s then-CEO Jeff Weiner noted:"We're expecting there will be requests to filter content," he said. "We are strongly in support of freedom of expression and we are opposed to censorship," he said, but "that's going to be necessary for us to achieve the kind of scale that we'd like to be able to deliver to our membership."Swedish journalist Jojje Olsson tweeted the article when it came out. Six years later LinkedIn informed Olsson that his own LinkedIn profile would no longer be available in China after referencing the Tiananmen square massacre in his profile.

In Olsson’s tweet, he explains that his LinkedIn profile mentions that for his degree, he wrote an essay about the Tiananmen Square massacre. It quickly became clear that LinkedIn was in the process of blocking access to multiple journalists’ and academics’ accounts in China, including CNN Beijing bureau chief Steve Jiang and the editor-in-chief of the Taiwan Sentinel, J. Michael Cole. The Wall Street Journal found at least 10 other LinkedIn accounts that were blocked in China around the same time, and highlighted that LinkedIn officials were reprimanded in March of 2021 for keeping certain accounts available in China.China’s internet regulator summoned LinkedIn officials in March to tell them to better regulate its content, according to people familiar with the matter. The social-networking site was given 30 days to clean up the content and promised to better regulate its site going forward, the people said.Shortly after, LinkedIn said in a statement on its website that it would be pausing new member sign-ups as the platform worked “to ensure we remain in compliance with local law.” -- Liza Lin, Wall Street JournalThe NY Times report on that meeting noted that the 30-day pause on sign-ups was part of what Chinese officials ordered.The users whose profiles were blocked received a notice from Linkedin about the block, saying “We will work with you to minimize the impact and can review your profile’s accessibility within China if you update the relevant sections of the profiles,” but also notes “the decision whether to update your profile is yours.” The notice also includes this paragraph:While we strongly support freedom of expression, we recognized when we launched that we would need to adhere to the requirements of the Chinese government in order to operate in China. As a reminder, your profile will remain viewable throughout the rest of the countries in which LinkedIn is available.It appears that LinkedIn was also directly removing some specific content as well. Former journalist Peter Humphrey told Bloomberg News that LinkedIn informed him that it had completely removed certain comments he made criticizing the Chinese government.Company Considerations:
  • How important is it to remain accessible in China?
  • What compromises are worth making to remain accessible in China or other countries?
  • If the company agrees to take down, or block access to, certain content to appease government demands, how should those decisions be communicated to impacted users?
  • Under what conditions, if any, will the company push back on overbroad demands to block content in China?
Issue Considerations:
  • Is a censored, but still mostly available, US-based service better to be available than to have the entire service blocked in China?
  • Local regulations differ across every country. What kind of framework should a company use to determine where they draw the line, and what compromises they will agree to?
Resolution: Since the initial flurry of notices that got attention from May through July of 2021, it appears that even more journalists have found their profiles blocked in China. In September, Sophia Yan, the China correspondent for the UK’s Telegraph, noted that her LinkedIn profile was now blocked in China. In replying to Yan’s tweet, Liza Lin, the Wall Street Journal’s China correspondent, and author of the article quoted earlier discussing LinkedIn officials being reprimanded by Chinese officials, noted that she too had her profile blocked in China.LinkedIn, for its part, has continued to make similar statements throughout, saying that it supports the principles of free speech but that in order to continue operating in China, it is required by the government to block access to these accounts.Update: Just weeks after this case study was originally published, and LinkedIn was called out for even more such activity, the company announced that it was mostly exiting the country, as the demands for censorship were becoming too much.Originally posted to the Trust & Safety Foundation website.

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posted at: 12:00am on 28-Oct-2021
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

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