Wisconsin News Roundup, Campus Free Speech Proposal, Youth And Digital Media

Air Date:
Heard On Central Time

Republican lawmakers want UW campuses to address protests of invited speakers who hold positions unpopular to some students. We find out what supporters and opponents have to say about the proposal. From tablets in schools to smartphones in their hands, children today encounter an unprecedented amount of digital media. We talk with the author of a book on the effect it has on young people. She discusses the pros and cons of digital gaming, messaging, and learning. A state news reporter is also with us to recap the biggest Wisconsin stories of the week.

Featured in this Show

  • State News Roundup For April 28, 2017

    A recent change in Canadian dairy policy led the country to use its domestic milk supply…and has left Wisconsin dairy farmers scrambling. A news editor joins us to talk about this and other top stories from the past week, including the death of a Milwaukee County jail inmate after he was denied water for seven days and the new concussion insurance that will be offered next year by the Wisconsin youth athletics association.

  • New Republican Proposal Takes Aim At Campus Protesters

    The Campus Free Speech Act is designed to ensure that campus speakers of all perspectives are able to speak to students without being interrupted by protesters. But critics say that it is too vague to be constitutional, and that it in turn infringes on the rights of protesters.

  • The Impact Of Media On Children

    Children are exposed to technology now more than ever. The new book, “Plugged In: How Media Attract And Affect Youth” takes a look at how media enters the lives of children and the long-term impact it could have. We speak with the book’s co-author, Jessica Taylor Piotrowski, about the issue.

  • Does Being Plugged In Really Impact Youth Negatively?

    The way the news paints it, increased exposure to technology and social media is making today’s children more isolated, more prone to experience bullying and unhappy.

    But a lot of those headlines are effectively fear mongering, said Jessica Taylor Piotrowski, co-author of the new book “Plugged In: How Media Attract And Affect Youth” and associate professor of youth and media entertainment at the University of Amsterdam.

    Often the news media skip over nuance, Piotrowski said.

    In particular, the news misses the fact that “individual differences play a key role in identifying which children are affected by media and how,” she said.

    Studies of how exposure to phones, tablets, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat — the list goes on and on — are often only applicable to very specific subsets of children, she said. So there’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to understanding what practices are OK and what aren’t when it comes to children’s interaction with technology and social media.

    Furthermore, news reports can also miss the fact that for some kids, technology can have very little or neutral effects, Piotrowski said. “And for many kids, it can actually have a very positive role in their lives, as well,” she said.

    Along with the studies showing the dark side of technology and social media, “there’s just as many studies to show, for example, that social media can be benefiting children’s identity development and friendship formation,” she said.

    Other studies have shown, for example, that educational digital media in the classroom or at home can be beneficial, that gaming can help with flexible thinking and improving spatial awareness, and more, Piotrowski said.

    Parents are often concerned with how much screen time is OK for children. But Piotrowski said she tells parents that’s the wrong question to ask. Rather than focusing on the quantity of media their kids are consuming, parents should focus on quality.

    “I really focus on the quality of media, and having parents think about, does it seem to align with their values? Does it feel OK to them?” she said.

    However, Piotrowski did caution against background media — media that’s turned on while other primary activities are happening — particularly for younger children. Studies show that background media, particularly if it’s not intended for the child, but for a caregiver, for example, affects the quality of children’s play. Media is intended to grab our attention, “and if you’re a little one and you’re in the room playing, and something’s calling your attention, there’s a lot of distraction and task-shifting that happens,” she said.

    Regarding older children and teenagers, Piotrowski said that some of the typical concerns that parents have, such as cyberbullying, are worth worrying about. But she also noted measures can be taken to protect teens.

    When it comes to older children, restriction doesn’t work, she said. Neither does using tech as a reward — for example, taking away a kid’s phone as punishment, and allowing them to use it again as a reward. What does work is “autonomy-supportive parenting,” meaning that parents work with their teen or tween to come up with a set of media rules that everyone in the family can work with, said Piotrowski.

    Furthermore, there are some correlative circumstances and behaviors to watch out for. Tweens and teens experiencing cyberbullying are more likely to be bullied in real life, more likely to friend or follow people they don’t know online, and more likely to post photos or other content that evokes negative reactions, Piotrowski said.

    “Which says to me …We can actually talk to teens in our lives and help them think about safe social media use. There are actually ways to sort of mitigate these negative consequences,” Piotrowski said.

    So when reading news reports of studies showing negative consequences of technology and social media on children, remember, the correlation is not that simple, she said.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Amanda Magnus Producer
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • J. Carlisle Larsen Producer
  • Rob Mentzer Guest
  • Nico Savidge Guest
  • Jessica Taylor Piotrowski Guest