A recent study by Leeds University has found evidence of a link between excessive internet use and depression. The information was collated from a questionnaire-based study of 1,319 young people and adults, used data compiled from respondents to links placed on UK-based social networking sites.
The respondents answered questions about how much time they spent on the internet and what they used it for; they also completed the Beck Depression Inventory – a series of questions designed to measure the severity of depression. The report, by the university’s Institute of Psychological Sciences, said 18 of the people who completed the questionnaire – 1.4% of the total – were internet addicts.
“Our research indicates that excessive internet use is associated with depression, but what we don’t know is which comes first – are depressed people drawn to the internet or does the internet cause depression?” the article’s lead author, Dr Catriona Morrison, said, “What is clear is that, for a small subset of people, excessive use of the internet could be a warning signal for depressive tendencies.”
This is the first in depth study of its kind in the west and now leaves us to consider what the wider societal implications are. Today in the Guardian there are reports of a couple in Korea who allowed their three-month-old daughter to starve to death while they devoted hours to playing a computer game that involved raising a virtual character of a young girl.
In the UK there is a new grant scheme available for low-income families with children aged 3-9, to get access to a computer and the internet to get online at home.
If you are a low income family in receipt of certain benefits you could qualify for a grant to buy a computer and/or a minimum of one years’ internet access. The programme is aimed at those that need it most and targets families that do not have access to a computer or the internet at home.
Depending on what you need, the grant allows eligible applicants to buy one of the following packages:
1. Full package (a computer, one year’s internet access, service and support)
2. A computer with service and support only
3. One year’s internet access only
I am pleased to see that parents will be allowed to purchase their own choice of pc and software, and that there is telephone support for those who are not familiar with using the internet. I think that this type of investment in children is so important, and will help to reduce inequalities in the education system and motivate children to learn.
I know a secondary school student is more than capable of learning to build and run a web server but the way its taught in schools using IIS is really pathetic. The student doesn’t learn much and does it really empower them? No not all, it cripples them. I remember chatting to a young friend of mine about his early days in high school, he likes computers and studied ICT thinking it would be different in high school but it was the microsoft word training again, he told me he’d previously gone through the word training twice already in primary school. They are taught that pressing the “export as web-page” button is Web development so people should think about how much they can learn about word processing and word processor software on Ubuntu using open source software and compare it to what they learn and do now because obviously they aren’t learning anything useful about web development.
I don’t understand why there isn’t a government policy to have a preference for free and open source software yet or at least equity for students wanting to learn and use GNU/Linux. Imagine you work in a school as a computer/library assistant and there’s 40 or so pentium 3 computers in the store room and you want to use one to add a diskless web kiosk to the library, the computers are in the store room because they were replaced by newer computers with even bigger hard disks (the most expensive component?) and you wonder why they didn’t buy smaller cheaper hard disks if only 5gb of the 80Gb will ever be used, it would probably be worse these days.
Meanwhile the teachers are fighting for disk space on the server. Imagine asking a simple question; “May I use one of the computers in storage to add another computer to the library?”, obviously the first thing is the fact that those computers don’t work with the current version of windows, to cut a long story short if they’ve never heard of GNU/Linux then its likely they will reject the idea and sometimes give ridiculous reasons.
Its also a power issue, proprietary software users know all to well that you can gain power over people using software, its common in things like LMS’s and if you’re the guy who setup the school website then you can give people access to publish. There’s a lot of social politics involved in these things, whoever gets the better computer is not always the person who needs it.
Will the student wanting to use FOSS and GNU/Linux to learn about technology and software be allowed to do that in Australian schools? Choosing an operating system and software is part of the “Information Technology Systems Syllabus”, read the “Sample assessment task 1”. I wonder if the students have any rights or choice, perhaps it falls back to teacher preference.
If the general public knew about Ubuntu and the fact that unlimited copies are available for free, would they want a fair share of the systems running ubuntu in state funded education. Learning about technology shouldn’t be reduced to training kids to use proprietary products.
Most teachers Ive met say they’ve used “Linux” with their students but usually its just for a single day in the year.
Mobilize This09 being held on Friday the 30th of October, brings together those pursuing the active use of mobile technologies and associated digital literacy in their daily lives, teaching and work related duties. The event will be held at Charles Darwin University, Australia – Google map, in the ‘Mal Nairn’ Auditorium. In attendance will be invited guests, Charles Darwin University staff and students and many registered community representatives.
The focus of this years events are on the showcasing of examples of where mobile related learning concepts interface with popular learning design. There will be ample opportunity for online participants to connect with physical activities happening.
As this has both interactive and broadcast free / live to air components to the program there is expected to be a large online audience also.
Please feel free to join in uStream and tell others about the Friday 30th event.
I am pleased to see that the community of Jokaydia have embraced and developed a new outpost on Reaction Grid, which is run on the OpenSimulator platform. Jo Kay reports on her blog that the community of educators will be meeting up on Sunday evenings;
To visit jokaydia @ Reaction Grid, simply sign up here and follow the instructions here. When you arrive, you’ll find us either by searching the map for jokaydia, or look for a blue landmark button that the Reaction Team have kindly added at Core 1 (the Reaction Grid landing point) t0 direct visitors to our new space.
Whilst Jokaydia will continue to have its main headquarters in second life, the plans to diversify will continue, spurred on by recent events which have caused a stir within the virtual world community.
The virtual worlds consultancy kzero.co.uk reports that membership of virtual worlds grew by 39% in the second quarter of 2009 to an estimated 579 million. Some of these memberships are likely to be unused or inactive but this is still a massive rise. Much of the growth comes from children, particularly in the 10-15 age group. Habbo has in the region of 135 million members, and allows users to create and connect, it is incredibly popular with teens. Second Life allows users to create their own content, unlike most of the newer virtual worlds. Whilst OpenSimulator lets you create a virtual world on the hard drive of your own computer, linking to other compatible ones, such as Second Life.
I hope Konrad Glogowski doesn’t mind quoting some of his email but heres part of what he told me about Teachers Without Borders and Secondlife.
The mission of Teachers Without Borders is to support teachers from around the world with professional development opportunities and tools that connect them with information and each other so that they may play more vital roles in their communities. We currently work with several governments and Ministries of Education around the world, including Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa, Peru, and China just to name a few.
The goal of the SL presence is to provide a platform for teachers in industrialized nations to discuss teacher professional development as an important factor in international development, to help raise awareness of issues affecting teachers in developing nations, and to work towards increased empowerment and change.
The space will be used to host a discussion series open to all on some of the above topics. As a long-time jokaydian, I also hope to use this space to continue to contribute to the island’s growth and profile.
Konrad contacted me about making some furniture for that space and I’m really keen to contribute. I think perhaps he saw my sculpture and and work flow from my screenshots on flickr. Over the last few days I’ve been experimenting with chairs. To be continued…
GCompris is amazing, its fun and kids love it. Over the years I’ve distributed a lot of educational freedom respecting software and GCompris is popular. Lets look at some info from the GCompris Wikipedia article:
It is available for Linux, Mac OS X and other systems. Binaries compiled for Microsoft Windows version are distributed as crippleware with a restricted number of activities; it is possible to access all the activities in Windows for a fee.
GCompris has more than 100 activities related to:
* Computer discovery: keyboard, mouse, different mouse gestures
* Algebra: table memory, enumeration, double entry table, mirror images
* Science: the canal lock, the water cycle, the submarine, electric simulations
* Geography: place the country on the map
* Games: chess, memory, connect 4, oware, sudoku
* Reading: reading practice
* Other: learn to tell time, puzzle of famous paintings, vector drawing, cartoon making
The name GCompris is a French pun impossible to translate. It comes from the French “J’ai compris” [?e kompri], which is French for “I have understood”, and is pronounced the same way as the name of the program would be by a French speaker.
Another interesting thing is that it is translated in more than 40 languages, perhaps that should be added to the Wikipedia article.