Monday, April 14th, 2014
Taking a toddler shopping may actually help their social, intellectual, and even motor development, according to a new British study. More from The Daily Mail:
The interaction between child and parent while shopping helps young people develop social skills and promotes happiness – even if a bawling toddler shows few signs of it at the time.
According to the joint study by Oxford University and the Open University, shopping trips are just as beneficial for the child’s development as painting or drawing activities.
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The two universities made these conclusions after studying the results of an economic survey in Germany.
This survey looked into the daily routines and habits of 800 parents with two and three-year-olds.
It recorded higher perceived levels of happiness among the children who had taken part in activities such as arts and crafts, and shopping.
Researchers Professor Paul Anand and Dr Laurence Roope added that the more retail therapy the toddlers were exposed to, the happier they seemed to be, and the more developed their everyday skills became.
Shopping may be beneficial because it involves changes of scenery from shop to shop, which improves the child’s motor and social skills more than a sedentary activity, the report continued.
Image: Toddler shopping with father, via Shutterstock
What’s your toddler nutrition IQ?
Tuesday, April 8th, 2014
A new study comparing college tuition with family income has found that tuition has more than doubled relative to income in the past four decades. More from Newsweek:
That cost includes tuition, fees, and room and board for full-time students at degree-granting institutions—for both public and private colleges and universities. Back then, the average cost came to $9,502 after adjusting for inflation, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. By 2012, the average was $19,339. With a typical family earning $51,017—the U.S. median income—college tuition for just one child will absorb almost 40 percent of their income. That surpasses housing as the single biggest household expense.
If college costs were rising along with family income, there wouldn’t be a problem. But college costs have risen way ahead of income. There are several reasons. For starters, administration costs have been growing rapidly on most campuses. In part this has to do with an explosion in applications and enrollments, which require more resources. But salaries of administrators, particularly those in charge, seem out of line with the rest of the institution. It’s not unheard of for compensation of the president of a large university to approach $1 million. Meanwhile, campuses have seen a boom in infrastructure spending to upgrade student facilities like gyms, student centers and dorms. Finally, many public universities have offset cuts in state aid by raising fees.
Of course, the price of college varies greatly depending on where you go, and whether the institution is public or private. Almost three-quarters of Americans attend public universities and colleges, where costs have been rising quickly but still remain far less than private institutions. In 1969, public colleges and universities charged an average of $7,206, compared with $14,292 in 2012, after adjusting for inflation. By contrast, private institutions averaged $15,329 back then, vs. $33,047 in 2012.
Today, the cost of a private college or university would be unattainable for most families if they didn’t get substantial financial aid. At elite colleges and universities, the cost is considerably more than what a typical family earns. Without financial aid, a single year at Princeton can set you back $58,965.
Image: Money, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, April 8th, 2014
Dads who don’t live with their children but are involved in their lives may be helping their kids achieve better food security, researchers at Rutgers University have found. The findings come in the wake of a reduction in food stamp funding that affected 47 million Americans in November. More from the university:
The new research, published this month by Lenna Nepomnyaschy, assistant professor in the School of Social Work, in Social Service Review has found that nonresident father involvement in a child’s life is positively associated with lower food insecurity in both early and middle childhood. Involvement could include time spent with the child, monetary contributions and “in kind” support, such as treats, gifts and payment of medical or childcare expenses. In particular, in kind support resulted in a 10 to 12 percent reduction in food insecurity for children.
“These results add to mounting evidence that nonresident father involvement, outside of the formal child support system, positively affects children and must be considered in policy discussions related to child support, child poverty and child well-being,” says Nepomnyaschy.
Research on food insecurity for children is especially timely, as 47 million food stamp recipients in the U.S. received a $5 billion reduction in November. And Congress is preparing to cut even more out of the nutrition program. Lawmakers are currently finalizing a federal farm bill which is likely to reduce food stamp benefits by $8.7 billion over the next decade.
“As families lose food stamps, any resources a father provides become even more important,” Nepomnyaschy said. ”Men overwhelmingly want to contribute to the well-being of their children, and child support alone may not increase food security. If a woman is on welfare, the state takes her child support to reimburse the cost for welfare, rather than it benefiting the child.”
Using two nationally representative longitudinal panel data sets from the Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics which followed children through early and middle childhood and assessed economic stability and food insecurity in the home, the researchers found this trend to be consistent across both sets of data.
“For vulnerable families, fathers’ contributions of time and material resources have a positive effect on food security,” Nepomnyaschy said. ”Having in kind support may help the mother to reallocate her resources to provide more food for the household. The father’s visits may reduce her stress and enhance her parenting, providing her the resources and time to grocery shop and cook meals.”
More than 1 in 10 children in the U.S. experience food insecurity, and children in single-mother families are at greatest risk, being three times as likely to not get enough food, than children in two-parent families.
Image: Father and children, via Shutterstock
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Monday, April 7th, 2014
More than three quarters of American parents discuss online safety with their children, according to a new national survey, which is a reassuring finding given that the same survey found that 95 percent of 12-15 year-olds own at least one smartphone, tablet, or other web-connected device. More details of the survey, which was compiled by the commerce website eBuyer.com, were published on Mashable:
- 83 percent of parents surveyed trust their children to use the Internet safely
- 12-15 year-olds have an average of 78 Facebook friends they’ve never met in real life
- Kids in the same age demographic send an average of 255 text messages each week
- 64 percent of kids report having had a negative experience online, but only 22 percent of parents report that their kids have had a negative experience
- 57 percent of kids have accidentally accessed inappropriate material online
Image: Kids playing with smartphones, via Shutterstock
These activities will keep your kiddos occupied without using any screen time.
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Friday, April 4th, 2014
Significant amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are toxic chemicals often found in household cleansers and paints, have been found in the polyurethane foam and polyester foam padding materials found in many crib mattresses. More on the new study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin:
The researchers studied samples of polyurethane foam and polyester foam padding from 20 new and old crib mattresses. Graduate student Brandon Boor, in the Cockrell School’s Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, conducted the study under the supervision of assistant professor Ying Xu and associate professor Atila Novoselac. Boor also worked with senior researcher Helena Järnström from the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. They reported their findings in the February issue of Environmental Science & Technology.
The researchers found:
- New crib mattresses release about four times as many VOCs as old crib mattresses.
- Body heat increases emissions.
- Chemical emissions are strongest in the sleeping infant’s immediate breathing zone.
The researchers concluded that, on average, mattresses emitted VOCs at a rate of 87.1 micrograms per square meter per hour, while older mattresses emitted VOCs at a rate of 22.1 micrograms per square meter per hour. Overall, Boor said crib mattresses release VOCs at rates comparable to other consumer products and indoor materials, including laminate flooring (20 to 35 micrograms per square meter per hour) and wall covering (51 micrograms per square meter per hour).
Boor became motivated to conduct the study after finding out that infants spend 50 to 60 percent of their day sleeping. Infants are considered highly susceptible to the adverse health effects of exposure to indoor air pollutants.
“I wanted to know more about the chemicals they may inhale as they sleep during their early stages of development,” he said. “This research also helps to raise awareness about the various chemicals that may be found in crib mattresses, which are not typically listed by manufacturers.”
The 20 mattress samples are from 10 manufacturers. The researchers chose not to disclose the names of the manufacturers studied so that their results could draw general attention to the product segment without focusing on specific brands.
At present, not much is known about the health effects that occur from the levels of VOCs found in homes, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Researchers advised parents to allow new mattresses to air out in a garage or protected porch for as long a period as possible before placing it in a child’s crib.
Track Baby’s milestones with our helpful tool.
Image: Baby in crib, via Shutterstock
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