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Tuesday, August 26th, 2014
The amount of screen time you allow your kids can be a point of tension in many households. A new study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior shows that increased digital use may actually affect pre-teens’ ability to read and interpret people’s nonverbal emotional and social cues.
According to The Los Angeles Times, two groups of children were given two tests, a pre- and a post-experiment test that asked them to decipher the emotions of people shown in photographs and videos. Afterwards, one group continued with their normal plugged-in lifestyle, while the other group spent five days outdoors with peers at a wilderness camp where all electronics (cellphones, televisions, and computers) were banned.
Researchers found that the kids who spent time away from technology scored better on their post-experience test, while those who didn’t scored about the same. This finding underscores the worry that many parents have about the negative impact of prolonged exposure to digital media. “Many people are looking at the benefits of digital media in education, and not many are looking at the costs,” said Patricia Greenfield, a senior author of the study from UCLA. “Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues — losing the ability to understand the emotions of other people — is one of the costs. The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen interaction seems to be reducing social skills.”
But the good news is that it only took the kids who attended camp a short amount of time improve their emotional recognition ability. And this new piece of research gives the evidence you need to get kids to turn off technology — at least for a few more hours — and interact with friends and family. “The main thing I hope people take away from this is that it is really important for children to have time for face-to-face socializing,” said Yalda Uhls, another author of the study and a Southern California regional director for Common Sense Media,
Would you ever consider asking your family to give up technology? Our Homeschool Den blogger is doing just that this week!
Plus: If you’re hesitant about how to introduce technology to your little one, we’ll show you how with these media-minding tips.
Photo of children courtesy of Shutterstock.
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New Research, Parenting News, Parents News Now
Monday, February 24th, 2014
Children who engage in a lot of violent video game play and television viewing may be driven by genetics, according to new research conducted with Dutch children and published in the Journal of Communication.
The parents noted how much violent TV programming their children, aged 5-9, viewed, as well as how often they played violent video games. DNA samples collected at the children’s birth were then analyzed to determine whether they have a certain gene variant. The researchers found that children who had the specific variation of the serotonin-transporter gene on average consumed more violent media and displayed more ADHD-related behavior than those who did not have the genetic marker.
The researchers noted that the link is subtle, and other factors, chiefly the parenting environment children are growing up in, may be at play. However, other research has found links between genetic factors and the overall amount of media children are likely to consume. And this new study is the first to isolate the type of media–violent content–being consumed in light of genetic factors. So the scientists called for further research.
“Our results indicate that children’s violent media use is partly influenced by genetic factors. This could mean that children with this gene variant are more likely to seek out stimulating activities, such as violent television viewing and video game playing,” said [researcher Sanne] Nikkelen in a statement. “It is important to study the relationship between media use and ADHD-related behaviors because children who show increased ADHD-related behaviors often face peer and academic difficulties and are at increased risk for substance abuse. Examining factors that may contribute to the development of these behaviors is essential.”
Image: Child playing video game, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, June 15th, 2011
A new study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association associates prolonged television viewing with increased risks of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, joining smoking and lack of exercise as major risk factors for those diseases. Parents can take note of the findings in light of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that kids under 2 watch no television, and older kids watch no more than 1-2 hours each day.
Dr. Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and the study’s co-author, told The Boston Globe that the average American spends 5 hours a day watching television, possibly putting their health at risk in the process:
“There’s something unique about TV watching,” says Hu, that sets it apart from other sedentary activities, like reading a book or tapping out e-mails to friends. “People tend to eat while watching TV,” he says. “They see commercials for junk food and sugary beverages, and it’s part of our culture to eat chips and beer when watching a sporting event….It’s almost completely passive and is probably the best marker of a sedentary lifestyle — the couch potato syndrome.”
For more, read one pediatrician’s insight on whether our kids are watching too much television.
How do you handle television viewing with your kids?
(image via: http://www.fashioncentral.pk/)
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