Science, Math, Technology

Parents and Digital Media

Parents and educators who are eager to be responsible role-models in the digital age will be excited by the work  of Central Michigan University’s Director of the Family Health Lab, Dr. Sarah Domoff .

Work from one of Dr. Domoff’s presentations,  Parenting in the Digital Age:Implications for Child Health and Development, expanded on her work in the Family Health Lab research which is working to “create evidence-based practices that promote effective media parenting.” This work was featured on WDIV-Channel 4 Detroit, a local NBC affiliate. Congratulations, Dr. Domoff and Family Health Lab!

Educators and parents are confronted with the daily challenges of ensuring that young people are connected to the many benefits of digital media without being overwhelmed by the developmentally inappropriate values, messages, and possible adverse implications for linguistic and cognitive development.

For ongoing updates and further information please check out Dr. Domoff’s website for the Family Health Research Lab at Family Health Research Lab-Central Michigan University .

Very important work, indeed.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What are effective boundaries to establish regarding digital media?
  2. How should parents and educators consider a child’s developmental stage when considering digital media consumption?
  3. What does the research suggest are impacts of digital media consumption on development?
  4. How does a parent’s level of education impact their interactions with their children regarding “screen-time?”
  5. How did Dr. Domoff and the lab actually study this?

Becoming a Researcher

Readers of this blog know that one of my missions is to help secondary educators connect their students to the world of research and to help them think like a researcher. For many high school students, the world of academic research is completely outside of their frame of reference and they likely have never met a single person who is conducting research. So, I’m trying to help teachers connect their students to real people behind the research so that some student might think, “I’d like to do that someday!”

A special thanks to Dr. Domoff for being this blog’s first interview subject! This was conducted via email in December, 2016.

1. How did you become interested in research in general? “It is hard to say what exactly made me interested in research in general. I knew I wanted to help children and families when I began studying psychology in undergrad. Through my psychology coursework, I learned that I could help improve the lives of children on a wider scale by answering questions salient to the health and well-being of children through research.”

2. How did you choose your research topics specifically? “As a clinical psychologist, inspiration for my research often comes from interactions I have had with children and their parents, as well as through conversations with other adults in children’s lives (e.g., teachers, other health professionals). For example, parents are concerned about whether screen media use can negatively affect their children, but also recognize the importance of technology to their children. Hearing about the dilemmas that parents face and the challenges that mobile technology/media present to parents brings to me many questions I’d like to answer as a researcher.”

3. Did you have any experiences in high school that helped spark your curiosity in research? “I had the opportunity to take Advanced Placement (AP) Psychology with a wonderful teacher, Mr. James Lauer. I recall doing brief, but interesting, experiments in class to illustrate different concepts in psychology. I found those experiential activities so exciting. After that course, I knew I wanted to major in psychology when I went to college.”

4. What could high school teachers do to help promote research literacy in students? “What I find useful to students who are learning about research methods is to bring in news stories that cover research that was recently published. I recommend having students critique/evaluate how the popular press presents the results and compare it to the original research paper. I also would bring in advertisements or other media that use “research” to sell products or “news” to have students apply their knowledge of research to evaluating the messages they receive.”

5. Any key ideas from your presentation “Parenting in the Digital Age” that you want to share? “Some of the key points are covered in the above news segment if you’d like to share with your blog readers.”

Thank you so much Dr. Domoff. As an educator and parent of teens, I am personally grateful for your time and the important work of your lab. We look forward to hearing more exciting news from your lab!

Who was Norman Borlaug?

According to the University of Minnesota, their graduate, Norman Borlaug, was “the man who saved a  billion lives.” Not bad for a boy growing up in 12 miles from the nearest town in rural Iowa in the early 1900’s, and whose education began in a one room school house.

Borlaug, went on to study Forestry at the University of Minnesota (after initially flunking the entrance exams!) Then he earned a Masters, followed by a  PhD studying plant disease. He received a big break in 1944 when he was invited to work on a project in Mexico to help the farmers grow their own wheat.

His research and work in educating farmers left a long legacy of helping develop self-sufficiency and feeding the world. His work is acknowledged as being at the leading edge of the “Green Revolution” and his work and teachings live on.

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The University of Minnesota have an excellent Norman Borlaug website devoted to his work. Anyone who is interested in ecology, biology, agriculture, history, or anyone seeking inspiration about how a dedicated, passionate researcher can truly make a positive impact on humanity should learn more about him and check out the website. Be sure also to check out his 2001 Nobel Centennial Symposia speech at nobelprize.org  as well as the video Rusts Never Sleep available under the resources link at the website.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What were some of the formative experiences of Norman’s early years?
  2. What were his early educational experiences?
  3. What were significant world events that shaped his research?
  4. How did Norman persevere through significant adversity? Give examples.
  5. What were the topics of his master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation?
  6. While in Mexico, what was his group’s unspoken motto?
  7. Describe how the “shuttle breeding”program worked?
  8. What threat did the stem rust fungus cause and how did his work prevent worse destruction of crops?
  9. What were three significant contributions Borlaug made to the benefit of humanity?
  10. What else does this inspire you to “dream, learn,do?”