Parenting

On Brain Theft and Consent

Empty Your Inner TrashIn our hyper-media world, we (and our children) are bombarded constantly with in-your-face digital messages and images. Remember that catchphrase “garbage in, garbage out” from the earliest days of computer programming? Well, it seems that a large percentage of our media outlets are determined to put as much garbage in as possible. And we, the consumers, have almost lost control of what we get to consume. An article over at WIRED, (which is ironically surrounded by many of the flashy advertisements it denounces) makes a case for attention theft– when our brains are assaulted and literally used without our consent by content we don’t want and in time we don’t choose to give away.  Check out this bold claim:

As suggested, the key word here is “consent.”  There’s a big difference between leafing through a magazine, reading articles and advertising by choice, and being blasted at by a screen when you have no place to go. Indeed, consent is the usual way access to the body is conditioned. The brain is a pretty intimate part of your body, from which it follows that your permission ought be asked before having your synapses groped by a stranger.

I just want to go on record that I AGREE, and this trend is so annoying. If my son wants to look up a vocabulary definition on my phone at a doctor’s office, he shouldn’t be assaulted with an auto-played Carl’s Jr. ad that’s both raunchy and unwanted. Equally as annoying is the fact that we too often just let it happen without complaining or fighting back. Of course, in the name of free speech and free press and freedom of expression, others can say and create what they (legally) want to say and create, but we, in the name of free to do and be and see and hear whatever the heck we (legally) want, should not have to consume it all. Sure, we can put filters in place (already a grueling and exhausting process that all mothers of tech-savvy children loathe), but many cyber spaces don’t give the option of consumer-controlled filters or settings.

For example, my friend Amy recently posted on Amazon’s Facebook page about a problem she has with her Amazon TV viewing. Despite tight parental controls in the settings, there was still a lot of content showing up on the browsing pages, or suggested viewing, or sidebar ads. She asked them, “…When my parental controls clearly show I have no interest, why will you not allow me to completely block that content from view? I don’t need my 7 year old scrolling past ‘American Playboy’ each time he wants to watch a cartoon. Please seriously consider allowing those of us who don’t want Mature content in our homes the ability to completely block it out.” Can you see that this is an example of them forcing consumption of an image or idea without consent–in fact, violating the customer’s established consent? If you want to go like or comment on Amy’s post and offer support for consumer-controlled content filtering at Amazon, go here.

As for myself, I’m going to try to be more aware of this brain theft concept and speak up when companies and websites and media services keep feeding my family garbage without my consent. I say garbage out.

Stories of Jesus: Study the life of Christ in 55 days

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Just before Christmas, I had a strong desire to focus more on the life of Jesus Christ, so we started reading the New Testament during family scripture study time. I specifically wanted to read both the happenings and the teachings of His life, with the goal that my children will know Him better, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it in a comprehensive way. I searched long and hard for study guides that had a complete chronology, but I didn’t find anything satisfactory–everything was thematic or out of order or excluded key stories. So, I printed out several of them, laid them out side-by-side, looked at notes in my own Bible, relied heavily on this Harmony of the Gospels tool, and created my own. It took a looooong time, so I want to share it in hopes that it can be an easy, ready resource for families to study the gospels in the New Testament. Continue reading

Roles, Revelation, and Grace

Twenty years ago this month, President Gordon B. Hinckley presented “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” for the first time. To celebrate, a handful bloggers are hosting two weeks of posts about the doctrine of the family. [More info here.]

I was invited to contribute as a guest blogger, so I slipped out of my writing sabbatical and hit the keyboard with my testimony of personal revelation and grace in helping me find my own place in God’s plan. I addressed how sometimes our own reality is at odds with prophetic counsel regarding family, but peace and confidence can come as we understand the doctrine and seek Heavenly Father’s will for us personally. You can find the post here: http://www.cranialhiccups.com/2015/09/roles-revelation-and-grace.html

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The learning curve

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One thing about parenting is that you just never really get it. Each season of childhood presents new struggles and new puzzles to be solved. As soon as you feel like you have a handle on the challenges at hand, they change. New ages, new stages, new problems—new realizations about your own inadequacy as a parent. Perhaps that is the whole point of parenting… to be constantly humbled over and over again as we acknowledge before God that we have no idea what we are doing and desperately need His help.

Let me just cut to the chase. I have an anger problem. It’s something I’ve struggled with ever since my little boys were toddlers and unwittingly did things that exasperated me. Once, as a flustered young mother, I marched myself up to the Barnes & Noble Help Desk and asked the unsuspecting clerk Continue reading