In light of the new guidelines on kids’ screen time from the American Academy of Pediatrics, we’re curious: How much time do you allow your child to spend in front of TVs, computers, video games, and handheld devices? Weigh in and then look out for the results in an upcoming issue of Parents!
If you’ve got 10 minutes, you can help researchers find the answer to that critical question. Let’s face it: We’re all worried about how omnipresent tech devices are going to impact our kids’ classroom performance, along with other modern-day pressures like jam-packed schedules and increasingly competitive sports. To gain some insight, Parents has partnered with a consortium of researchers at Brown University School of Medicine, Children’s National Medical Center, and New England Center for Pediatric Psychology in an effort to find 50,000 parents of children in grades K-12 to take part in The Learning Habit Study. The survey has been designed to examine how media use, family routines, and parenting style all conspire to help or hinder a child’s ability to learn. “Our goal is to provide parents, teachers, and pediatricians information on which family routines and behaviors improve academic success, increase social skills, and contribute to emotional balance in children,” notes lead researcher Robert M. Pressman, Ph.D.
The project originally began in 2012, when Dr. Pressman’s team conducted two surveys on homework and family routines. The surveys were administered to 1,000 parents in the waiting rooms of 12 pediatric offices. Initial results found—yep, you guessed it—a link between nighttime media use (meaning any electronic device with a screen) and a decrease in grades, opening a Pandora’s Box of concerns.
We all want some answers and advice with science behind it on dealing with our own digital natives. Do your part by taking the survey—it’s available online until October 31, 2013. (Bonus: Once you answer the questions, you can enter a sweepstakes to win $500.) Then stay tuned for the results, which will be published next August in the book The Learning Habit.
The presenter is Melanie Fernandez, Ph.D., ABPP, a clinical psychologist with expertise in treating kids’ behavioral problems. Dr. Fernandez is especially well-versed in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder, and she’s the director of Child Mind Institute’s Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) Program. PCIT is a fascinating technique where parents are coached (behind a one-way mirror and while wearing an earpiece) by experts as they’re playing with their child and given specific suggestions on how to monitor and reinforce their child’s positive behaviors, ignore mild negative ones, and give commands with calm, consistent follow-through.
To watch the hour-long presentation, go to CMI’s Facebook page at 12 p.m. on Friday, where you can post questions for Dr. Fernandez and chat with fellow attendees.
In the meantime, check out all of the events happening around the country through Saturday, May 12, as part of Speak Up For Kids. Mental health professionals in 48 states (and 14 countries!) are leading free talks on childhood mental health disorders and topics of concern to all parents including ADHD, anxiety, depression, behavioral challenges, bullying, trauma, and online safety. Check here for events near you. And for those of you in the New York City area, consider tomorrow’s talk at the 92nd Street Y: “Parenting 2.0: Raising Healthy Children in a Digital Age.” Steven Dickstein, M.D., pediatric psychopharmacologist at CMI, will discuss how much and what kind of exposure is appropriate for kids, and give parents pointers on how to manage children’s screen (and phone!) time, monitor social media participation, and protect them from cyberbullies. It’s free; RSVP at email@example.com.