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Thursday, March 20th, 2014
Kids who get a large amount of screen time–that is, time in front of television, video game, tablet, or other portable electronic devices–may be more likely to report poorer levels of overall well-being, and higher levels of family dysfunction than kids who get less screen time, according to a new study conducted by Australian researchers. Reuters reports:
Based on data for more than 3600 children in eight European countries, researchers found that family functioning and emotional wellbeing were especially linked to changes in the amount of time kids spent in front of screens.
The study’s lead author said they can’t say what factors may be behind the associations. “We really need to do a little bit more digging in this area before we can answer some of the basic questions,” Trina Hinkley told Reuters Health.
Hinkley is a research fellow at the Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research at Deakin University in Melbourne….
….For the new study, researchers from the Identification and Prevention of Dietary- and Lifestyle-Induced Health Effects in Children and Infants Consortium analyzed data on kids who were between two and six years of age when they entered the study between September 2007 and June 2008.
At that time, the parents completed questionnaires about their children’s media use and wellbeing – including the child’s emotional and peer problems, self-esteem and family and social functioning. Parents answered another questionnaire two years later.
Overall, the researchers found that for social and peer-related measures, screen time had no effect. But for each additional hour or so of screen time parents reported, a child’s risk of emotional and family problems rose up to two-fold.
“We found that family functioning and emotional problems did seem to have some association with electronic media, but the others didn’t show any association at all,” Hinkley said.
Linda Pagani, who was not involved in the new study but has researched screen time among children, cautioned that there may be other explanations behind some of the results. “It could be that families who used screen time more were families who weren’t functioning that well to begin with,” she said.
Recent research has also linked screen time with childhood weight gain, and suggested that screen usage during meals may have negative effects on family relationships.
Image: Girl in front of a laptop, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013
A Philadelphia first-grader, Zora Ball, has become the youngest-ever person to develop a mobile game app. Ball attends the Harambee Institute of Science and Technology Charter School, which is becoming renowned for training young, successful computer programmers and designers, including Ball’s old brother. More from The Philadelphia Tribune:
Ball has become the youngest individual to create a full version of a mobile application video game, which she unveiled last month in the University of Pennsylvania’s Bodek Lounge during the university’s “Bootstrap Expo.”
Seven-year-old Ball has also become a master of the Bootstrap programming language, and when asked, Ball was able to reconfigure her application on the fly using Bootstrap.
“We expect great things from Zora, as her older brother, Trace Ball, is a past STEM Scholar of the Year,” said Harambee Science Teacher Tariq Al-Nasir, who is also the founder of Harambee’s successful STEMnasium Learning Academy. “I am proud of all my students. Their dedication to this program is phenomenal, and they come to class every Saturday, including holiday breaks.”
Image: Smartphone, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, April 17th, 2012
A “kid-driven future of play and learning” is the call Rex Ishibashi, CEO of Callaway Digital Arts made this morning at The Sandbox Summit at MIT. Callaway makes mobile storybook apps featuring Sesame Street, Thomas the Tank Engine, and other beloved children’s characters.
Ishibashi’s observation from within the kid’s media industry is that regulations and privacy concerns, while important, are crowding out innovations that could help children learn more using technology.
“If we can’t help kids, perhaps we can provide them with safe tools where they can help themselves,” Ishibashi told the audience of educators, software developers, and entrepreneurs.
His proposal is that companies should prioritize ways to provide “safe social” for kids, allowing children under age 13 to participate in the flow of innovation and creativity available on the Internet and through social media, without violating their basic privacy. Parents, he argued, have become so concerned with protecting kids’ privacy that they have built a “mile-high cyclone fence” around their children, cutting them off from their full potential to engage with technology, feel involved in its future, and generate content for it.
If done right, Ishibashi argued, technology can serve both the 21st century kids who crave companionship, entertainment, and engagement, and the “digital parents” who want to give their children trustworthy, developmentally appropriate tools for learning.
Image: Computer privacy, via Shutterstock.
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Tuesday, October 25th, 2011
A new study by a San Francisco non-profit organization has found that kids are spending more time than ever in front of television, tablet, computer, and smartphone screens. This is despite longstanding advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that screen time be severely limited, if not avoided, before age 2.
Common Sense Media, the organization that conducted the survey of more than 1,300 parents, found that half of all children under age 8 had access to a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile media device. About half of kids under age 2 watch some television or DVDs every day, and those who do spend an average of 2 hours in front of the screen. And almost one-third of kids under 2 have televisions in their bedrooms, which is something the AAP specifically recommends against.
“It’s the beginning of an important shift, as parents increasingly are handing their iPhones to their 1 ½-year-old kid as a shut-up toy. And parents who check their e-mail three times on the way to the bus stop are constantly modeling that behavior, so it’s only natural the kids want to use mobile devices too,” James Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, told The New York Times.
The study found significant differences across socioeconomic lines, with more children (64 percent) under 8 having televisions in their rooms if their family income is under $30,000. Twenty percent of kids that age have televisions in their rooms in families with incomes above $75,000.
The study also noted that only 14 percent of respondents said their pediatricians had discussed media use with them.
(image via: http://blog.smarthide.com)
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