Archive for the ‘ The Lighter Side ’ Category

Parents Spend $1,360 Per Year For…

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Surveys show that raising a child to age 18 will likely cost parents around $250,000. But in addition to child care, food, health care and other essentials, it looks like $1,360 a year is paid in cash to children under 10, either in the form of weekly allowance, cash gifts, or out-and-out bribes for good behavior, according to a new survey. Coupon site vouchercloud.net surveyed 2,173 parents, and found that they paid out about $113 each month to each child under 10. (No word on what parents are shelling out for tweens and teens!) But it seems much of that is under duress—two thirds of those surveyed wished that they didn’t hand over so much cash to their kids.

An allowance presents a good opportunity to help teach children about fiscal responsibility, and allowing them to learn to save their money toward financial goals, before they get access to credit or that very first real paycheck. And apparently, more parents are trying to start that financial education early.

How financially savvy are you with your paycheck? Take our quiz to find out!

Manners & Responsibility:  Should You Tie Allowance to Chores?
Manners & Responsibility:  Should You Tie Allowance to Chores?
Manners & Responsibility: Should You Tie Allowance to Chores?

Image: Girl with bank by Gelpi JM/Shutterstock.com

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Preschoolers Top College Students in Figuring Out Some Gadgets

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Young children–just 4 or 5 years old–may be better at college students at catching on when it comes to operating mobile apps, remote controls, and other tech gadgets that often leave adults scratching their heads and fumbling through manuals.  According to new research from the University of California at Berkeley, it’s the tots’ openness to thinking about new challenges in multiple ways that enables them to problem-solve their way to success with gadgets and games.

In the study, more than 100 preschoolers and more than 170 college students were given a music box game and shown how the placement of differently-shaped clay pieces on top of the box might make it turn on.  The subjects were then asked to turn the box on.  NPR reports on the findings:

“What we discovered, to our surprise, was not only were 4-year-olds amazingly good at doing this, but they were actually better at it than grown-ups were,” [psychologist Alison] Gopnik says.

So why are little kids who can’t even tie their shoes better at figuring out the gadget than adults? After all, conventional wisdom contends that young children really don’t understand abstract things like cause and effect until pretty late in their development.

Gopnik thinks it’s because children approach solving the problem differently than adults.

Children try a variety of novel ideas and unusual strategies to get the gadget to go. For example, Gopnik says, “If the child sees that a square block and a round block independently turn the music on, then they’ll take a square and take a circle and put them both on the machine together to make it go, even though they never actually saw the experimenters do that.”

This is flexible, fluid thinking — children exploring an unlikely hypothesis. Exploratory learning comes naturally to young children, says Gopnik. Adults, on the other hand, jump on the first, most obvious solution and doggedly stick to it, even if it’s not working. That’s inflexible, narrow thinking. “We think the moral of the study is that maybe children are better at solving problems when the solution is an unexpected one,” says Gopnik.

Gopnik went on to say that this openness may disappear early in childhood–even by kindergarten, it may be diminishing.

What to Consider Before Handing Your Child a Smartphone
What to Consider Before Handing Your Child a Smartphone
What to Consider Before Handing Your Child a Smartphone

Image: Confused college student, via Shutterstock

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Pregnancy May Be ‘Contagious’ Among Friends

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

American women who are planning to have children have been found by a new study to become pregnant at roughly the same time as their high school friends.  Researchers only found the effect among women who were planning pregnancies, though–friends’ pregnancies did not impact the likelihood of unwanted pregnancies.  More from Reuters:

“In our study we focus on high school friends because the later a friendship is formed, the more likely it is that the individual chooses the friends on common future family plans or common family orientations,” Nicoletta Balbo told Reuters Health in an email.

Balbo, a researcher at the Carlo F. Dondena Center for Research on Social Dynamics at Bocconi University in Italy, coauthored the study with Nicola Barban, a sociologist at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

“We looked at dyads (pairs) of friends to see whether the childbearing of one of the friends in the dyad increases the probability for the other friend to have a child,” Balbo said.

The researchers analyzed data from a large U.S. study that has followed thousands of participants, starting when they were adolescents in the 1990s, and doing repeated interviews over the years.

Balbo and Barban focused on 1,170 women, of whom 820 became parents during the study period. About half of the pregnancies were planned and half unintended, according to the women’s own reports. Their average age at the time they had their first child was 27.

The researchers found that after one of the women in each friendship pair had a baby, the likelihood that her friend would also have her first baby went up for about two years, and then declined.

Image: Pregnant friends, via Shutterstock

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Babysitting in New York City Most Expensive in U.S.

Monday, May 19th, 2014

New York City has been named in a national survey as the most expensive city in the nation in terms of the cost of hiring a babysitter.  More from Time.com:

The average hourly babysitting rate for one child in New York is $15.34, based on a survey by UrbanSitter, which compiled data from nearly 7,500 families. That’s about $4.50 per hour more expensive than the cheapest big American city, Denver, whose babysitters charge parents an average of $10.84 per hour.

San Francisco parents pay $14.99 for one kid, Los Angeles parents pay $13.53, Washington, DC parents pay $13.83, and on the lower end, Chicago parents bay $11.91 and San Diego parents pay $11.11.

UrbanSitter also found that parents go through babysitters pretty quickly, with only 6 percent saying they’ve had the same one for over 5 years. Parents also like to go out a lot: more than a fourth of parents say they hire a babysitter once a week or more. And 30 percent of parents say they would not hire a “manny”—a male babysitter.

Image: Babysitter, via Shutterstock

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Playing Outside May Make Kids More ‘Spiritual’

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Kids who spend a significant amount of time playing outdoors may have a deeper sense of purpose, fulfillment, and spirituality, according to new research at Michigan State University.  More from the study’s press release:

In the study, published recently in the Journal of the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, children who played outside five to 10 hours per week said they felt a spiritual connection with the earth, and felt their role is to protect it.

“These values are incredibly important to human development and well-being,” said Gretel Van Wieren, assistant professor of religious studies. “We were surprised by the results. Before we did the study, we asked, ‘Is it just a myth that children have this deep connection with nature?’ But we found it to be true in pretty profound ways.”

For example, the children in her study expressed feelings of peacefulness and some believed that a higher power had created the natural world around them. They also reported feeling awestruck and humbled by nature’s power, such as storms, while also feeling happy and a sense of belonging in the world.

The study also measured children’s aesthetic values, finding that those who engage in free play outside on a regular basis have a deep appreciation for beauty (i.e., balance, symmetry and color), order and wonder (i.e., curiosity, imagination and creativity). For example: lush green bushes, pattern-like blue spots in water and fascination with bees’ nests.

Van Wieren and co-researcher Stephen Kellert, from Yale University, used a mix of research methods, including in-depth interviews, drawings, diaries and observation, as well as conversations with parents. Seven of the 10 children in the study – who were 7 to 8 years old – were from families with a Christian background.

The researchers also found parents of the children who expressed the highest affinity toward nature and the strongest spirituality spent significant time outdoors during their childhoods. And many of the parents believed such experiences shaped their adult lives and spirituality.

Image: Girl playing in the woods, via Shutterstock

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