What is VSCO?
Parents in Cork expressed outrage today, following the discovery of a number of young Cork girls sharing images on a image sharing platform called VSCO. The self-generated, or user-generated content was described as inappropriate by those who viewed the imagery. VSCO is an image sharing site. It is frequently used by professional photographers, as it offers superior methods of photo and video editing for their content. The platform is in existence for some time. It boasts well in excess of 40 million users. The concept of the platform is to encourage photography. VSCO has a predominantly artistic look and feel, to the majority of the images you find posted on the platform.
Consider the ability of a person to concentrate on a task. Not necessarily a mammoth task, such as creating a famous work of art such as Michelangelo’s The Last Supper. Instead, perhaps a Word Search puzzle. In order to complete this task, you need the capability to focus and concentrate. Sounds simple enough. Now before we begin, it is important to note, the average attention span of a human is about 12 seconds. Well it used to be. It has actually seen a reduction from 12 seconds in 2012, down to EIGHT seconds as discovered in 2017. You may be pleasantly surprised now to discover, that is one second less than the NINE second attention span of a Goldfish.
Ok, so we are going to have a little less of an attention span, but we can still do this. Once we begin our task, inevitably there will be a beep from our mobile device. We put the puzzle down, to check the notification on the device. A feeling of anticipation rises, what could this notification be? It’s nothing, just a Snapchat notification, to informing us one of our contacts are also on Snapchat. Filled with disappointment we resume our task, only to be distracted once more by a WhatsApp Group Message, a meaningless but funny Gif we then forward on to several friends and family members. That feeling of boredom might make a little appearance now as we return to the puzzle, but thankfully the sound of the phone ringing has interrupted it.
After taking the twenty-minute call, we return to the Word Search. This time we see a word we don’t understand, however this simple word search on Google lasting forty minutes inevitably takes us on a journey through the internet. We are two hours in to this Word Search now and nowhere near to completing it, as there are lots of other more important jobs to do, we put it down and possibly never return to it. So what just happened?
When we attempted to complete our task, we were distracted. On being distracted once, it may have been easy to return to the task. But it required our attention. The more our attention was broken by the interruption of the device, it becomes harder to regain our concentration and stay focused. Worse once boredom sets in, at time we really need motivation to continue what we are doing, the device offered us more distractions, and delivered nothing of benefit to us, it simply impeded the completion of our simple task.
The ability to concentrate, requires focus. It requires our attention. If we permit ourselves to be conditioned by the distraction of our digital devices, we end up refocusing our attention on the device, rather than the task at hand. Given enough of time repeating this type of behaviour, our capability to remain focused reduces. This is possibly one reason, we have seen such a significant reduction in the average attention span. A four second drop is a considerable reduction. An Airbag company, who’s product took four seconds longer than the next competitor to activate, would be out of business pretty quickly.
From early infancy, right up to the day we die, we need to have the ability to concentrate. It is this ability which enables us to learn the skills required to advance in life. If we begin to lose this skill, and instead develop poor concentration, it becomes more and more difficult to focus. The purpose of today’s blog, was to show how easy it is for an adult to become distracted from a very simple task, given the multiple interruptions from our digital devices. Imagine if Michelangelo was around today and attempted to paint The Last Supper while Snapchatting, Messaging and updating his profile.
Now consider it from a child’s perspective. Imagine sitting down to do your homework when you were younger. Just as you start to focus on what you’re doing, someone taps you on the shoulder and interrupts you. This continues as you battle to get to get through it. By the end you’re possibly at the stage of saying to yourself, “I’ll just wait till later on, or the morning to complete it”.
This should give you some idea of the cost of having a device which is constantly craving your devotion and the consequences of giving in to its demands. It is also important to remember, Social Media sites and other Apps we use have been designed specifically to distract you then prompt you to return to the platform. We hope that you didn’t think you were doing it of your own free will. You have been conditioned to respond to the notifications without even realising.
This is one of the primary reasons parents need to set a screen time limit for children. Parents should also look at their own screen time and to see how much their device is interfering with the everyday tasks. Switching the device to Airplane mode for a set duration of the day, is one way of ensuring that you remain uninterrupted. All those needless notifications will still be waiting, but at least you get to manage them on your terms rather than the App developers.
Hope you all had a great weekend
It was with some disbelief, we discovered a new Adult orientated Channel had launched on Snapchat. “Cosmo After Dark”, describes itself as, “an X-rated weekly edition that goes live every Friday at 6 p.m. and is exclusively dedicated to all things hot and horny.” The new channel is available on Snapchat’s “Discover” section. The content on this Channel, is not in any way suitable for children. It is also important for parents to remember, there are No Filters or Parental Control Options available on Snapchat, to prevent children from accessing this Channel. Any child, irrelevant of their age, who uses Snapchat, has full access to “Cosmo After Dark”.
‘Sexting’, described as the sending of sexually explicit messages, through digital devices, primarily the mobile phone. A relatively new phenomenon, with the saturation of digital devices over the last few years there has been a marked increase in those who will openly admit sending in explicit or inappropriate image to another’s digital device of themselves. The concept can sometimes be difficult for adults to grasp that children might engage in this type of behaviour. However, a study released in 2016 showed that Irish teens were the fourth most prolific senders and receivers of ‘Sexts’ in Europe. Many young people see it as a normal behaviour as everyone is doing it.
By their very nature children will experiment, show me yours and I’ll show you mine, combine this with a latest trend of selfies, on top of the current negative celebrity role models who frequently post near and sometimes completely naked images of themselves, then you’re bound to have children who will not see the harm in Sexting. Children have been found to have sent ‘Sexts’ to people they only met online, they are Sexting boyfriends or girlfriends or potential companions. Some of the teenagers are sexting out of peer pressure. Many just do it for fun.
A number of Apps have also really contributed to the escalation in this type of behaviour among children and teens. Snapchat, which was openly referred to as a Sexting App has become incredibly popular with young users, despite the 13-year-old restriction. This App encourages the taking of Selfies and sharing of the images. What the App also leads the users to believe is that the image is deleted after a set time period. With this knowledge in mind children who are natural risk takers will undoubtedly engage in a behaviour if there is little or no chance that they will get caught.
What may seem as a bit of fun, taking a picture of their bum can quickly escalate and get out of hand. As there are Free Apps that can save an image to a device without the sender’s knowledge the receive may retain or worst case scenario forward the image to others. This can have a disastrous impact on the sender. Users fail to realise the gamble they take once they send an explicit, or inappropriate image.
There have also been instances where young children getting changed after a match taken and the image forwarded, can you imagine the impact that would have. Any image forwarded by can have a terribly negative effect on a person’s self-esteem, their reputation and may have deep psychological consequences for the victim.
Sexting has also given rise to Revenge Porn, this occurs when a consenting couple who have exchanged images while involved in a relationship break up and one of them decided to release the images to get back at the other. Again this can have an incredible negative impact on the victim.
Teens and young children who take, share or even have these types of images get a serious shock when they discover that the images are in fact illegal. The production, possession or distribution of images of a sexual nature of a child are considered Child Pornography in Ireland.
Some Advice for Parents
- The number one priority here is communication with your child. They have to feel confident enough to be able to have an open conversation with you without a fear of reprisal
- As a parent when you decide to provide a device to a child you need to set down ground rules and understand what type of behaviours are acceptable and what is not acceptable when using the device
- Discover does your child understand what Sexting is, have they heard of it happening in their school. Even at Primary level we are seeing children telling us they are aware of this happening
- Remind them that once an image is send it is there FOREVER
- Help them understand that they should never send an image that they might not want their Grand Parents to see
- If they ever receive an unsolicited image make sure they understand that it is ok to tell a trusted adult
- Have they ever received a Sext, for younger children an inappropriate image
- Have they ever sent a Sext, for younger children an inappropriate image
- Do they understand the permanence of an image and that there is NO CONTROL over where the image may end up
- Using real life examples of the consequences of Sexting may help, we have a number of videos on this topic available on our You Tube Page https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8eU6qs3Yu9ODW9nXYWRCyIexhcniw6gx
- Help them understand that they may end up bullied and cyberbullied
- Help them understand that may leave themselves open to be blackmailed or Sextorted as a result of sharing one image
- They may be prosecuted for the production possession or distribution of the image, and always remember that a deleted image on a device can always be forensically recovered in the case of an investigation