In his book, “Experience on Demand,” Jeremy Bailenson, the founding director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, writes, “No medium, of course can fully capture the subjective experience of another person, but by richly evoking a real-seeming, first-person experience, virtual reality does seem to promise to offer new, empathy-enhancing qualities.” Bailenson contrasts experiencing virtual reality with reading news accounts and watching documentaries. Those latter activities, he writes, require “a lot of imaginative work,” whereas virtual reality can “convey the feeling” of, say, a refugee camp’s environment, and the “smallness of the living quarters, the size of the camp.”
Caldwell—who used Google Expeditions to deliver a virtual reality experience set in the Holocaust—says that when his students first put on the goggles, they viewed them as a novelty. But within a minute or two, the students became quiet, absorbed in what they were seeing; they realized the “reality of the horror of what was in front of them.” Questions ensued.
Ron Berger, the Chief Academic Officer of EL Education, points to another factor schools should consider. He thinks virtual reality can be a powerful way to introduce kids to situations that require empathy or adopting different perspectives. However, he thinks no one tool or experience will bring results unless it is “nested in a broader framework of a vision and goals and relationships.”
Berger says virtual reality experiences have to be accompanied by work beforehand and follow-up afterwards. Kids, he says, need to be reflective and think critically.
immersion experiences like virtual reality should be “embedded in positive” adult and peer relationships. He adds that ideally, there’s also a resulting action where kids do something productive with the information they’ve learned, to help their own growth and to help others. He mentions an example where students interviewed local immigrants and refugees, then wrote the stories they heard. They published the stories in a book, and the profits went to legal fees for local refugees.
saving virtual reality for “very special experiences,” keeping it “relatively short” and not getting students dizzy or disoriented. A report Bailenson co-authored for Common Sense Media highlights the research that has—and has not—explored the effects of virtual reality on children. It states that the “potentially negative outcomes of VR include impacts on children’s sensory systems and vision, aggression, and unhealthy amounts of escapism and distraction from the physical world.”
The Brain Science Is In: Students’ Emotional Needs Matter
What the neuro-, cognitive, and behavioral research says about social-emotional learning
• Malleability: Genes are not destiny. Our developing brains are largely shaped by our environments and relationships—a process that continues into adulthood.
• Context: Family, relationships, and lived experiences shape the physiological structure of our brains over time. Healthy amounts of challenge and adversity promote growth, but toxic stress takes a toll on the connections between the hemispheres of our brain.
• Continuum: While we’ve become familiar with the exponential development of the brain for young children, it continues throughout life. The explosion of brain growth into adolescence and early adulthood, in particular, requires putting serious work into much more intentional approaches to supporting that development than is common today.
How Empathy Is Important For Parents And Teens When Things Get Stressful
Juli Fraga Published on
The brain develops rapidly during the adolescent years, which partially explains why teens experience anger, sadness and frustration so intensely.
A 2014 survey published by the American Psychological Association found that teens report feeling even more stressed than adults, and that this affects them in unhealthy ways. Approximately 30 percent of the 1,018 teens surveyed reported feeling sad, overwhelmed or depressed, and 25 percent said that they had skipped meals because of their anxiety.
Sheryl Gonzalez Ziegler, a psychologist in Denver, Colo., explains, “When teens are overwhelmed, parents may try to connect with their kids’ feelings by drawing on their own childhood experiences. They may say things like, “When I was fourteen, I had a job, and I still did my homework and made time for my friends. I know that you can do this, too.'”
They mean well when they try to connect with their teens in this comparative way, but often it prompts a communication breakdown.
When I was your age, I had difficulty with my friends. I felt confused, and my heart was broken, too.”
She says that these disclosures remind kids that even if technology is different, human emotions are the same. Parents can bond with their kids by focusing on these similarities.
It’s particularly important to teach adolescents how to develop a specific type of empathy called cognitive empathy
If empathy helps us sympathize with how another person is feeling, cognitive empathy also allows us to try to understand someone else’s perspective and how they perceive the world, even when our feelings differ.
Because teenagers are so emotionally driven, they may be prone to react in exaggerated ways. Hence, a conflict with a teacher, a clash with a friend or an unanswered text can feel like the end of the world. By strengthening their cognitive empathy, teens can develop an emotional pause button, which reminds them that even when feelings take over, stressful circumstances are temporary.
EdSurge’s CEO, Betsy Corcoran, argued that 2017 was a year when educators and schools were trying to take control of their technology choices “We have said from the time we started writing the newsletters that not every piece of technology will work for every student, or for every school or every classroom,” she said. “It’s all about asking the right questions to figure out if there is a piece of technology that will support learning goals. What we’re starting to really see across schools, districts and teachers, people really owning those questions. They’re saying, ‘What do I want to do with my classroom? With my kids? And what are the technologies that will support me?’”
Another discussion participant asked whether colleges and universities are starting to accept cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, or experimenting with the blockchain technology that drives those systems. Johnson said most of the hype around unversities’ blockchain experiments has centered on storing and managing credentials.
Jessica Lahey explains the rhetoric gap in an Atlantic article
80 percent of the youths surveyed reported that their parents ‘are more concerned about achievement or happiness than caring for others.’ Approximately the same percentage reported that their teachers prioritize student achievement over caring.
Empathy Is Tough to Teach, But Is One Of the Most Important Life Lessons
Dr. Brené Brown has become famous for her speaking and writing about vulnerability, worthiness, shame and the other important emotions running underneath daily life all the time. One theme she returns to over and over is the importance of cultivating empathy, a very different reaction than sympathy.
Children have opportunities to learn empathy from their parents, but also from their teachers and peers.
Project Syria, a virtual reality experience built by a team of students at USC.
“I sometimes call virtual reality an empathy generator,” she says. “It’s astonishing to me. People all of a sudden connect to the characters in a way that they don’t when they’ve read about it in the newspaper or watched it on TV.”
What Peña’s doing — using virtual reality in combination with reporting — is part of a wider landscape of video games being created to explore the news. And they’re called, appropriately enough, “newsgames.”
“There’s an argument to be made that games are perfect at getting at the systemic problems and challenges in the world,” says Ian Bogost, a professor at Georgia Tech.
Take a game that he helped make called Oil God. In the game, the player controls an oil-rich region, waging wars and inciting coupes. The player learns that oil prices are contingent on all sorts of factors rarely mentioned in a story about the price of a gallon of gas.
creating games to bring awareness to social issues for over a decade. The game to create the biggest waves was arguably MTV’s “Darfur is Dying” released online in 2006, in which players took up the role of a family displaced by conflict in Darfur.
In April, a PLAYlive Nation lounge in Tracy, Calif., hosted its first Fortnite tournament and sold out. Hundreds of players bought tickets to play against one another and win prizes.
Joost van Dreunen, the CEO of Superdata Research, a video game analytics firm, says most shooter games are serious and simulate violence. Fortnite, he says, is more like a friendly game of tag.
His company estimates the game has made about $223 million across all platforms in March alone. In lifetime sales, it had made about $614 million. The game is free to play, but Epic Games, the company that owns Fortnite, makes money through microtransactions. Players can spend real money to make cosmetic changes to their characters in the game. They can buy things like skins, which are like costumes, for their characters or emotes, which are celebratory dance moves their characters can do after winning or killing another player in the game.
Ninja, the gamer name taken by 26-year-old Tyler Blevins, is now a legend in the Fortnite world. He is a master at the game and rocketed into popularity after playing in an online battle with rap artists Drake and Travis Scott on March 14. That battle has been watched more than 9 million times.
Educators Battle ‘Fortnite’ for Students’ Attention
Many educators want to ban the game from their classrooms, but some are taking the opposite approach, attempting to weave students’ interest in Fortnite into class discussions and assignments.
Nick Fisher, a science teacher at Fort Zumwalt North High School in O’Fallon, Mo., said his students like to take screenshots of gameplay and send them to friends over Snapchat. Teenagers want to broadcast their victories, and because the game is on their phones, it’s easy to post updates to social media, making Fortnite “the perfect concoction of addiction,” said Fisher.
North High blocks all social media and gaming sites on its WiFi, said Fisher, but students tell him how they circumvent the restriction: They use virtual private networks, or VPNs, to establish independent internet connections. (Dozens of YouTube videos provide step-by-step tutorials for students looking to get around school WiFi controls.)
“Kids can’t multitask,” she said. “Even having a digital device within sight can cognitively distract the student enough that they can’t focus on the academics.”
Schools and teachers should be guiding parents when it comes to appropriate limits around screen time, said Kolb. Most parents will appreciate research-based recommendations, such as turning off all screens a set amount of time before bed, she said.
Games like Fortnite can even have social benefits, said John Velez, an assistant professor of journalism and electronic media at Texas Tech University. Velez, who studies the positive effects of video games, has found that playing violent games cooperatively with helpful teammates promotes pro-social behavior.
Chris Aviles, the coordinator of innovation, technology, and 21st century skills for the Fair Haven Public Schools in New Jersey, wrote “A Teacher’s Guide to Surviving Fortnite,” an exploration of ways the game can be used for instructional purposes. The guide, posted to his blog Teched Up Teacher, suggests how to integrate the game into writing prompts, math lessons on probability, and physics.
Aviles doesn’t advocate playing the game at school. There isn’t any educational value in letting students engage in virtual combat during a lesson, he said. Instead, teachers can build a lesson around one aspect of the game, such as having students calculate the best angle of approach as they jump from the “Battle Bus,” the floating bus that drops players onto the map at the beginning of each match.
Instagram, Snapchat, Fortnite: The distractions are endless. Here’s how to help kids cope.
In January, two of Apple’s shareholder groups asked the company to look at the addictive effects of iPhones on children. Google’s recent developer conference highlighted tools to help users better control smartphone usage.
A 2015 survey of more than 1,800 teachers and 400 principals in Alberta, B.C., found that nearly three-fourths of teachers frequently or very frequently observed students multitasking with technology, and 67 percent of teachers believed that the number of students negatively distracted by digital technologies in the classroom was growing.
The best approach is to use empathy, compassion and collaboration to help the young people in your life find ways to manage their digital workflow.
Encourage visualization for inspiration and motivation. The first step is getting students to buy in and to want to make behavioral changes.
Focus on compartmentalization. A 2009 study from Stanford researchers found that people who juggled several streams of electronic information were not able to pay attention, remember key information or switch tasks as effectively as those who completed one task at a time.
Using the Pomodoro technique of spending 25 minutes focused on one task followed by a five-minute break can be an easy way to have students begin to shift from a multitasking to a monotasking mind-set.
Make focus fun. There are now numerous ways to use technology to help us be more productive with technology, and it doesn’t have to be arduous. Students in my office use apps such as Forest or Flipd to motivate them to stay off their phones during class or when doing homework. Forest has a simple interface that will build a digital tree for users who stay off their phones. Flipd allows users to hide certain apps, allot time off their phone based on their schedule and, for a premium, track their progress over time.
Provide structured support as needed. A middle school student with whom I worked recently was relieved when his mother used the Mac OS app SelfControl to block YouTube and ESPN while he was doing his homework (Cold Turkey is a similar PC-based app).
Allow opportunities for regrouping. Even the best plans can go awry (for adults and kids alike). It’s important to focus on progress rather than perfection. Create time daily or weekly for students to think about what went well in terms of managing distractions and improving productivity, and what they would like to do better. Ask open-ended questions without judgment or expectation