Archive for the ‘ Trends ’ Category

Study: Working Moms May Be Helping Their Kids

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Children whose mothers work outside the home may be better prepared for and do better in kindergarten, according to a new study published by Boston University researchers.  Though the study may ease the guilt some working moms feel, it is not a cut-and-dried finding that applies to every family.  More from NBC News:

The effects are strongest for low-income kids. And in wealthy families, the older wisdom may hold true — the kids of working moms did not fare as well as children of at-home moms.

It’s only one study, and it contradicts a large body of older work. But the researchers, at Boston University, say it’s one of the first to look at 21st-century moms and kids.

Image: Working mom, via Shutterstock

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Dads, Kids Spend 7 Times More Quality Time than in the 1970s

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Fathers are far more engaged with their children than they were four decades ago, according to a new British study that found that dads spend seven times as much time with their kids as they did during the 1970s.  More from the Guardian:

While the time focused on their offspring still comes in at a fairly low average of 35 minutes a day for working fathers, it is far higher than the five minutes registered in 1974. Mothers’ quality time with their kids has also risen over the same period, from 15 minutes a day to an hour.

But while it would seem to be good news for children, the researchers found a worrying social disparity over how that extra time is spent. More educated parents were far more likely to report spending time helping their children with homework, while parents without further or higher education were less likely to get involved in any kind of learning activity.

The research, by Dr Almudena Sevilla of the school of business and management at the University of London and Cristina Borra of the University of Seville, used parent and child time diaries between 1974 and 2005 and looked at how parents divided heir time between work, leisure and childcare over a 24-hour period.

Sevilla said the research, to be presented at the ESRC Research Methods Festival this month, showed that, while the extra time given by mothers was coming out of their leisure time or time doing housework, fathers were finding more time out from their working lives, indicating more appreciation of the importance of fatherhood versus a career.

However, Sevilla said the main implication of the findings was about inequality. “If more educated parents are spending more time with their kids in valuable activities for their development, then children will be doing well. But what do you do about the children whose parents are not spending their time in these kind of educational activities? That’s the question for policy makers I think.

“With this data we couldn’t tell the impact on child development, but other research has been done that suggests the more time we spend with our children, the better for cognitive development.”

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Image: Father helping son with his homework, via Shutterstock

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CDC: Teen Smoking, Sex Down, Texting Biggest New Danger

Friday, June 13th, 2014

Fewer American teenagers are having sex or smoking cigarettes, according to new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but public messaging efforts on the dangers of texting while driving and healthy eating remain largely ineffective in curbing dangerous behaviors.  More from NBC News:

The latest federal look at teenage behavior is reassuring and suggests that some safety messages are getting through to American youth.

On the downside, kids are fatter than ever before and just a third are eating anywhere near as many fruits and vegetables as they need to stay healthy. And less than a third are getting enough sleep.

And a very troubling new statistic shows that more than 40 percent of teenagers who drive cars admit to having texted or emailed while driving recently.

But on the whole, it’s a snapshot of progress. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which organizes the every-other-year survey, was especially pleased about the drop in smoking.

“I think it’s really encouraging that we’re seeing the lowest cigarette smoking rate ever,” CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden told NBC News.

“We’ve actually reached the goal that the nation set for ourselves for 2020 early. So that’s one of the most positive trends that we see here — down to 15.7 percent — less than one out of six kids in our high schools is smoking. That’s great news.”

Image: Texting while driving, via Shutterstock

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Smartphones May Hurt Sperm Quality

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Men who routinely carry smartphones in their pants pockets may end up with a lowered sperm count and lessened sperm quality, according to a new British study that examines the effects of the phones’ low levels of electromagnetic radiation.  More from Time.com:

Even while the debate over whether cell phones cause cancer rages on, researchers are starting to explore other potentially harmful effects that the ubiquitous devices may have on our health. Because they emit low-level electromagnetic radiation (EMR), it’s possible that they can disturb normal cell functions and even sleep.

And with male infertility on the rise, Fiona Mathews at the University of Exeter, in England, and her colleagues decided to investigate what role cell phones might play in that trend. In their new research, they analyzed 10 previous studies, seven of which involved the study of sperm motility, concentration and viability in the lab, and three that included male patients at fertility clinics. Overall, among the 1,492 samples, exposure-to-cell-phone EMR lowered sperm motility by 8%, and viability by 9%.

Image: Man with phone in pocket, via Shutterstock

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Trying to Conceive: 5 Common Fertility Mistakes
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‘Slenderman’ Stabbing a Worrying Tale for Parents

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Parents who are following the story of two 12-year-old girls who allegedly stabbed a friend multiple times in an attempt to please a fictitious  character named Slenderman are wrestling with questions about when kids learn to separate fantasy from reality, and how parents can keep track of their children’s online activities.  More from CNN.com:

Police said the girls told them they attacked their friend on Saturday to win favor with Slenderman, a make-believe online character the girls said they learned about on a site called Creepypasta Wiki, which is filled with horror stories.

Children of all ages are consumed with fantasy in books and movies such as “Harry Potter, “Twilight” and “The Vampire Diaries,” and don’t seem to have a problem making the distinction between what’s real and what’s not. But a story like this makes any parent wonder: Whoa, maybe my kid doesn’t get it?

Mary Ellen Cavanagh of Ahwatukee, Arizona, mom to an almost 14-year-old daughter and a 19-year-old son, said she sees the line between fantasy and reality “thinning drastically among our youth.”

“I worry about it with my own daughter and her friends,” Cavanagh said on Facebook, adding that her daughter and her friends enjoy relatively innocent fantasy shows on television and online. Still, she worries that their “obsession” could shift to a “more violent genre at any moment.”

“I think today’s generation has been desensitized by the various forms of media, and we as parents (myself included) have done a piss-poor job giving them proper guidance,” Cavanagh said.

Professor Jacqueline Woolley of the University of Texas at Austin’s department of psychology studies children’s thinking and their ability to make distinctions between fantasy and reality.

She has found that by the age of 2½, children understand the categories of what’s real and what’s not, and over time, they use cues to fit things like unicorns, ghosts and Santa Claus into the real and not real boxes.

By age 12, the age of the girls in question in this case, Woolley said, she believes children should have as good an ability to differentiate fantasy from reality as adults.

“I don’t think that a 12-year-old is deficient or is qualitatively different from an adult in their ability to differentiate fantasy from reality, so I don’t think they’re lacking any basic ability to make that distinction at age 12,” she said.

Woolley did suggest, adding that she was purely speculating, that the fact that the frontal lobe of the brain is not fully developed until age 25 could be relevant in this case. The frontal lobe controls what’s called executive functions, which include impulse control and planning in the sense of anticipating all the different aspects of an outcome.

“It may be kind of an inability to hold the potential consequences and reality in mind at the same time as you’re holding potential consequences within your fantasy world in mind, whereas possibly an adult could sort of manage thinking about the consequences of both of those worlds at the same time,” she said.

Image: Girl looking at tablet screen, via Shutterstock

Setting Limits on Technology
Setting Limits on Technology
Setting Limits on Technology

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