They Wanted to See What Would Happen If They Took Tech from Kids for a Whole Day. It Was Fake…

panicIf you’ve been around the parenting boards for a bit you might have seen a new study by a child psychologist Yekaterina Murashova that tended to confirm that kids today are psychotic tech addicts who have suicidal thoughts if removed from electronics for eight hours.

It’s completely truthy, in that it’s news you want to agree with if you somehow suspect all our ills are from being too connected or this generation, but unfortunately there are problems with pretty much all articles I’ve so far found on that, and even the study I’m pretty sure they made up as nobody can provide a source link.

First off, nobody can seem to name what her book is, which is odd since Brightside.me claims it’s from her book, but ijreview.com just claims it’s an experiement from a working hypothesis but doesn’t give any source material. Amazon claims she had a book a few years back, so does Google. Weird. I’ve got PDF copies of their pages currently in case anything changes and they provide some backing. This is four days since the first posting I can find of this study.

One of them even links to a blank source page, because they evidently haven’t invented it yet.

So we’ll start with the book. In 2012 and 2014 there was an author by the name of Yekaterina Murashova that published a book in Russian. It’s out of print anywhere I can find it listed. Odd that these little sites that make money off of link tagging aren’t trying to source it.

Secondly the premise is that deprived of electronics for eight hours 68 students exhibited the following symptoms:

  • feelings of fear and anxiety
  • hot flashes
  • abdominal pain
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • sweating

Five reported panic attacks, and three supposedly experienced suicidal thoughts.

Still – you suspect technology is the problem so you really want to believe this.

There’re a few things that aren’t mentioned… the first is that this same study was done in the 60’s… damned if I can find a source link, I read about it in the 90’s when I was wanting to be a psychology major. Either trust me or comb through old psychology text books that I’ve since gotten rid of.

The study as outlined at brightside.me mentiones that the confines of the experiement are as follows:

  • No tech (yeah, tech’s the bad guy here)
  • No TV (evil electronics!)
  • Eight hours of this (oh the agony that these kids can’t be without tech eight little hours)
  • You can do whatever you want or go wherever you want (uh)
  • Don’t talk to anyone you know or socialize at all

Wait… they didn’t really talk about that last one much… it’s sort of hidden away… you have to read this line from Brightside that contains the information about that

After the termination of the experiment, 14 of the teenagers immediately logged in to social networks, 20 called their friends on their mobile phones, three participants called their parents, and five went to visit their friends in person.

Oh that’s not so bad… wait… they weren’t allowed to talk to anyone they knew.

The experiment was not “let’s remove tech” it was “you’re alone, you don’t exist for eight hours, you can’t talk to a friend, you can’t talk to your parents.” Oh sure, they were allowed to go out and exist in a world without anyone they knew and perhaps interact with a delicatessen clerk who would affirm that they in fact, did exist. Even if nobody they knew and cared about had talked to them in the past eight hours.

Yes, these supposed kids were experiencing an attack of the cares. What’s dad doing? I don’t know. What’s my best friend doing? I don’t know. What’s happening in the world? I don’t know. Are my parents still alive? I don’t know.

There are other hints as to that something was fishy with this.

One of them is “Looked out the window or strolled around the apartment” – wait, what apartment are we talking about? Another telling bit here is “Went outside to go to the store or cafe (it was forbidden to communicate with others according to the rules of the experiment, but they decided that sellers or cashier didn’t count)” “One boy spent nearly 5 hours riding buses around the city” wait what country is this from?

A kid left alone to their own devices in a city. I remember Home Alone 2.

Yup, no friends, no parents, no one you care about, not allowed to talk to anyone… that’s the experiment. That and teenagers allowed to disappear for eight hours. Does this start sounding vaguely fishy? A little unethical? I mean I hope this is fake because I can’t imagine the psychologist keeping her license.

You put a kid out in the world for eight hours on their own with nobody they know, no way to get in touch with anyone and not fail the experiment… yeah, these feelings of unease are all the phone’s fault. A supposed child psychologist set them alone in a city by themselves with noone to talk to, no one who cares. It’s your phone’s fault. Bad television.

But all the comments and where it’s being posted are “we didn’t have this or that growing up, kids these days, get off my lawn” because they want it to be the electronics.

Yeah, it’s the phone’s fault, not that the parents can’t impose any limits. Kids were better in your day when they talked to one another… oh wait, that’s what the kids were doing before you put them in an experiment where they can’t talk to one another in any fashion whatsoever.

So yeah, take your kid’s gadgets, then tell them they’re not allowed to communicate anything with anyone they know for eight hours. Totally harmless. Not like children need to know they’re loved or cared about.

I’m sure you’re going to see this garbage repeated over and over again by anyone wanting a reason why it’s all tech’s fault. Well, if it’s tech’s fault the parents need to heal themselves first and get off the internet, or you know, set limits which are extremely easy to enforce these days.

There’s no child psychologist that should be able to graduate in a first world nation that thought “you know, isolating teens from everything they care about all day might make a good harmless experiment.”

I could start naming countries the websites that initiated this article are based out of, but that’s still not particularly the point (hint, they’re clickbaitistanian). The point is even if you believe the study to be true, it was unethical. Kids were unsupervised and let loose, the results are entirely based on isolation from everyone they knew, and the technology aspect was a minor player in the game.

Want to mimic it? Give your kid $20, take their phone and say come back in eight hours. I’m betting DCS comes with them when they come back home.

  • AMS

    I’m all about critiquing claims and peer reviewing but if you’re going to hold such strong opinions, particularly with an undertone of mockery and condescension, then you might want to consider further researching this psychologist and her work, possibly contacting her. I’m neither condemning nor condoning her claims in this study, however, it took me a mere 5 minutes to find more information on her. Her name is spelled 3 different ways: Ekaterina, Yekaterina, and Katerina. She has, in fact, written many books and, yes, they are mostly in Russian as she is Russian…
    http://deti.libfl.ru/en/writer/murashova

    • OK, perhaps I should explain as I’m not sure I did it particularly well initially. The sites that are promoting this have crafted the conclusions as they’re clickbait generators. There’s no question they’re clickbait generators. That’s what this was about. Look at the about us pages, right click and google image search any of the photos, link to a wonderful world of fakeness and stock images.

      Well, that and that it was a really bad study but people were overlooking it because they drew out these conclusions, buried what the study was, paraded them around, and got people to buy it because they wanted to believe it.

      As a note, if this were peer review I’d have to be a psychologist, I’m not. I took psych in college, lived with a cog psy major, and have otherwise been around the field in one capacity or another based on employment but this isn’t a peer review. This is not theITpsychologist, this is a baby blog aimed at tech, tech issues, and in this particular case fake tech stories/conclusions that target the baby audiences.

      The sites I mention – they’re located quite a few places (not just Russia,) but in all all looking at them these are companies that make ready made articles as clickbait. Seriously, look at the main pages. Not news sites, crafted content generator sites. New “reports” source the old ones.A few news agencies have picked up and just mention that according to that this happened.

      When you as a news agency or even a blog report on something as a study, a fact, etc, you post the source, credit, name of the book, link to the article that your information came from. At the time of my writing this none of the places with that story had anything of the sort, the only thing that was there for source were broken links that obviously never worked (one had a name like “this%20is%20where%source%link” etc.. looks to be the same now.

      This person stated all these fact… really… how… where… when…why?

      They were also all passing this off as though this were a study in our own backyard. No upfront mention of where said study took place, the age of the children tested, that they were unsupervised, left isolated, etc.

      All searches for this study at the time of writing were clickbait sites and no legit news agency on the planet. They all appeared on the same day across the clickbaitosphere and some mentioned a study, some mentioned a new book, some mentioned it was a school experiment, but they were all subtly different.

      They hit every mommy blog and Facebook on the same day. They spread fast because the anti tech crowd wants to believe and that’s how these scam sites make money. I checked several sites for that author based on the previous books (as one site had mentioned her new book) and there was nothing new. The only “news” were these clickbait sites.

      I’m a blogger. I’m not a news agency. Honestly theITbaby makes diaper money a month and that’s about it, I don’t have an international research department. As I mentioned in the post there is someone by that name and they have published books in the past but there is nothing in the past couple of years listed (the spelling i used does have items published and out of publication,) and the name only comes up mentioned on clickbait sites in the past couple of months.

      You’d think this study would appear in some psychology journals, be mentioned as to how this information got into the hands of the people who are reporting with such vigor that tech is bad for you, etc.

      You’re welcome to disprove or disagree with anything I’ve said in the post, find me the actual study I’ll post it. Get an actual news agency on this I’ll quote/defer to them. Point me to a book she’s produced after 2014 and I’m wrong on at least one count. Find me whether this was really an interview, a book, a study she’s published, or an interview and I’ll at least have more information than any of the sites I linked to.

      This was a blog post against the stupidity of believing clickbait sites posting fake news and also missing the point of what the study actually was. Also if it’s a true study it’s still a truthy conclusion and highly unethical.

      That said, as stated this is a baby tech blog site, By the time that set of fake articles is disproved once and for all I’ll have made about a buck sixty in advertising impressions and they’ll be walking away with a few hundred thousand based on the absurd level of links I see to it and it’ll still be being spread around by grandmas long after being on Snopes a decade and a half.

    • Sandra Dodd

      She writes children’s novels, according to that—it does NOT say she’s a psychologist.

      “Graduated from the Leningrad University where has studied biology and psychology. ”
      I studied English and psychology, but a minor in psychology isn’t being a psychologist.

      -=- it took me a mere 5 minutes to find more information on her.-=-

      I found that page in 15 seconds, but it doesn’t back up the article.

  • Dawn Sullivan

    Thank you so much for your article. As soon as I read the story huge red flags were going off. I have 2 boys who are into technology, really really into it. Over the summer we did 6 weeks without it. We still had friends, made phone calls, etc. They are not big into texting, they are big into games iPhone, iPad, Xbox, Playstation, Wii. So 6 weeks with no games. It was fantastic. They played board games, Lego’s, they read, they drew, (it really set me off in the article when they wrote that the kids “tried” to read or draw) we rode bikes, played basketball, went fishing, went camping… and we still do all those things, plus they play their games almost daily. And I’m tired of feeling guilty about it. There was so much wrong with that article. So much. My son is taking an online class to learn code. He’s 11. Technology is not evil, people who make up fake parenting studies to scare parents or make them feel guilty or whatever reason that person did it for, there’s the evil.

    • Yeah, the article could be summed up as the type of junk science “we took 150 kids off of sugar for 15 minutes and four of them died and six got brain damage. Sugar is evil. Oh yeah, we also removed the air but that wasn’t what the experiment is about”.

      When I was a kid it was television’s fault. Sometime during that time it was MTV’s fault. It being video game’s fault came after my time slightly. It being music’s fault was slightly before I knew that anyone was at fault. For my mother it was radio’s fault, the phone’s fault, and also the movie’s fault although I can’t remember what that was about.

      It was a computer’s fault for a bit, school’s fault, additives in the water (which now is true with the lead,) toy’s fault, cartoons (tv and movie,) were to blame, youth culture’s fault, soviet influence, communist propaganda seeping into the American Way of Life.

      More recently it’s been Snapchat’s fault, texting’s fault, Facebook’s fault, our diet’s fault (slightly more true, generally used incorrectly,) and probably bears.

      The only commonality in all of these dynamics is there are parents, and there are kids. And kids will always do something the parents hate, and parents will attempt to blame something for why their kids aren’t the perfect little angels they think they were when they were kids (ask the grandparents, they weren’t perfect).