Early Childhood Music and Movement Association

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Movement Matters

After many years of making music with children, Eve Kodiak, M.M., became interested in the brain/body processes that underlie the learning process. As an Educational Kinesiologist, she now works with people of all ages, using music and developmental movement to create positive change. Eve can be found in her office at The Lydian Center for Innovative Medicine in Cambridge, MA, or at home in New Hampshire, writing and recording. Her CD/book sets include Rappin' on the Reflexes and Feelin' Free, which combine developmental movements with songs, raps, and narrations with music. Eve also performs and records as an improvising classical pianist. More information and articles on music and developmental movement may be found at www.evekodiak.com.

 
 
 
 

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily promote official policy of ECMMA.

Devices and Desires II: Relationship

1 Comment

Come see me in March! I’ll be in Arlington, MA, Sat. March 22, presenting a 75 minute workshop for The Children’s Music Network New England Regional Conference, and in Ljubljana, Slovenia, March 28-30 with a 3 day hands-on workshop. The title is Recognize, Redirect, Release! and the topic is infant reflexes, and integration techniques through music and movement.

I discovered that Nicholas Carr's The Shallows: What The Internet is Doing To Our Brains is not the best bedtime book. I was up for hours, worrying over this paragraph:

“One thing is very clear: if, knowing what we know today about the brain’s plasticity, you were to set out to invent a medium that would rewire our mental circuits as quickly and thoroughly as possible, you would probably end up designing something that looks and works a lot like the Internet. . . the Net delivers precisely the kind of sensory and cognitive stimuli – repetitive, intensive, interactive, addictive – that have been shown to result in strong and rapid alternations in brain circuits and functions.”1

I’m thinking about my son. In his junior year of high school, he used his accumulated birthday money to buy himself a laptop. Prior to that year, he was constantly strumming a guitar, and spent the lion’s share of his time figuring out how to play songs, recording and multi-tracking his music. That year, it pretty much stopped. We’d always had computers. But there was something about that personal one, that could get in bed with him and go anywhere, that became a kind of cyber best friend. The house became silent.

This year, he has more consciousness about how he spends his time. He even chose to write his A.C.T. essay on how the social media is detrimental to relationships. But we still struggle quite a bit. I said to him a month ago, “It’s your brain, and you are wiring it. So wouldn’t you like to at least know what you are wiring it for?”

He took the challenge; he used a phone ap to chart how he spent every hour of the week. The first week, he found that he was using his devices over forty hours a week – only a couple of hours less than the time he was asleep.

He’s been trying to change his numbers, with varying amounts of success. I am trying to be patient. But I am wondering if this is something he can do without a lot more intentionality and some more radical intervention behind it. Here's Nicholas Carr again:

“The Net also provides a high-speed system for delivering responses and rewards – ‘positive reinforcements,’ in psychological terms – which encourage the repetition of both physical and mental actions. When we click a link, we get something new to look at . . . when we send a text or instant message to a friend, we often get a reply in a matter of seconds . . . the Net’s interactivity gives us powerful new tools for finding information, expressing ourselves, and conversing with others. It also turns us into lab rats constantly pressing levers to get tiny pellets of social or intellectual nourishment.”2

The next book on my list of must-reads is M.I.T. professor Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other.3 Interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air,4 Turkle explores the social aspect of our new media habits. She asks, why do teens and adults prefer text messaging over face-to-face conversation?

“When you're face to face, ‘you can't control what you are going to say, and you don't know how long it's going to take or where it could go."

I asked my son for some of his thoughts on this, and he sent me the following:

“Ever since the primitive grunts of cave men, communication has been evolving. Before even those grunts, cave men communicated through physical contact, communication so basic that two people had to be completely in sync for an understanding to be met. Now in the age of social media it is the complete opposite. We rarely seem to care what people are saying or why they are saying it - or even who is saying it - just the fact that someone is saying something somewhere is enough. This devolution of human connection in communication is tragic. Count how many people will maintain eye contact while you have a conversation. Very few still do, and physical contact of any kind has become a sexualized taboo which leaves people empty of this human connection. The only way to fill that emptiness is with torrents of random info that someone said somewhere.”

But my son had a mostly analogue childhood, and me as a mom. When he was little, we didn’t have cell phones and I didn’t even have an email account. On  the playground, mothers were still talking to one another as we pushed our kids on the swings. We had no TV in our house. My son was outside every second he could manage to be. He remembered recently, “I kind of miss how I used to be able to focus.”

He is growing into his own adulthood; he has to decide how he wants to use his brain. But at least he remembers a way his brain used to work, and when he cares enough to do it, he can (with help, when he asks for it) find his way back home.

But what about our upcoming generation of plugged-in babies?

A couple of weeks ago, while I was waiting for my son to come out of the school, I got out of the car to stretch my legs. As I walked by the car parked behind me, I smiled at the eight month-old in the back seat. She caught my eyes and smiled back. The mom in the driver’s seat was looking down at her cell phone.

When I walked by again, the mom was on a different device and the baby was using her mom’s cell phone – quite expertly, simultaneously holding it and running her little fingers over the touch screen. This time, she didn’t look up.

I think about all the time I’ve spent in cars with young children. It was not always great, but we sang songs and told stories, moved around and ate stuff and talked about things. I had to pay attention and deal with the meltdowns without the benefit of a hypnotic device. We were having – not the same experience – but a shared experience. As Sherry Turkle says, we were engaged in "skills of negotiation, of reading each other's emotion, of having to face the complexity of confrontation."3 We were learning about relationship.

Today, we seem to be sleepwalking through a major revolution that is changing our children’s – and our – brains. Nicholas Carr, Sherry Turkle, and others make the case that we are simply allowing the prevalent technology to rewire the ways we think, act, and even care about one another. It’s time we woke up and made some choices. We are still – for now - in charge.

1 FromThe Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains by Nicholas Carr, pp. 116

2  Ibid., pp. 117

3 Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology And Less From Each Other by Sherry Turkle

NPR 10/18/2012, Fresh Air

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Movement Matters Mar 13, 2014

I love your comments! But the spam is overwhelming. So if you leave your thoughts in the box, please go to my website, evekodiak.com, and hit “contact” and send me an email. I’ll let you in.

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