Tuesday, January 6th, 2015
Once upon a time, you probably worried that putting a TV in your child’s room might distract him from going to sleep. These days, smartphones — with its portable, easy access — are the new sleep distractions, reports HealthDay.
A new study, which will be published in the February issue of Pediatrics, focused on data about the sleep patterns and smartphone use of more than 2,000 kids in elementary and middle school, specifically the fourth and seventh grades. The results revealed that kids who had smartphones and tablets in the bedroom slept less at night and fell asleep more often during the day.
“We found that both sleeping near a small screen and sleeping in a room with a TV set were related to shorter weekday sleep duration. Children who slept near a small screen, compared to those who did not, were also more likely to feel like they did not get enough sleep,” says Jennifer Falbe, the study’s lead author.
Researchers discovered that kids with electronic devices (but not necessarily TVs) in the bedroom have worse sleep patterns than kids with only TVs in their rooms. Kids with smartphones and tablets went to sleep 37 minutes later than their usual bedtime and slept 21 minutes less per day, versus kids with only TVs in their bedroom went to bed 31 minutes later and slept 18 minutes less per day.
On average, kids should get around 10 hours of sleep at night and a routine, uninterrupted bedtime schedule can ensure good eating habits, healthy brain developments, and positive academic achievements. In an increasingly technical world full of electronic devices, it would be difficult to ban gadgets from the home.
Instead, try following the American Academy of Pediatrics’s media guidelines by having “screen-free” zones at home where no electronic devices (smartphones, tablets, computers, or TVs) are allowed in the bedrooms. And parents should keep establishing rules to curtail the use of electronics to a few hours a day and prevent their presence at the dinner table.
Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com who covers baby-related content. She loves collecting children’s picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea
Image: Sleeping boy holding a tablet 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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Tuesday, March 11th, 2014
Parents who use smartphones and other devices while also trying to interact with their children report more cranky and frustrated moods than parents who avoid texting and other technology-driven activities in front of their kids, according to a new study by researchers at Boston Medical Center. More from Time.com:
Dr. Jenny Radesky, a fellow in developmental-and-behavioral pediatrics at Boston Medical Center, specializes in counseling parents about developmental and behavioral issues with their children. So she was naturally curious about how the ubiquity of smartphones, and their distracting allure, might affect the quality of time that parents and their children spent together. Previous studies showed that TVs, even if they are only on in the background, can inhibit children’s creativity and siphon their concentrating and focusing powers.
To study the effect of smartphones, Radesky and her colleagues sent in undercover investigators to surreptitiously observe any adult-child grouping with more than one youngster as they ate at a fast-food restaurant. The observers recorded the behavior of both the adults and the children in 55 such groupings, as well as how frequently the adults used their smartphones.
The data provided an unvarnished look at how absorbed many parents were by their devices. One child reached over in an attempt to lift his mother’s face while she looked down at a tablet, but to no avail. Another mother kicked her child under the table in response to the child’s various attempts to get her attention while she looked at her phone. A father responded in curt and irritated tones to his children’s escalating efforts to tear him away from his device.
“What stood out was that in a subset of caregivers using the device almost through the entire meal, how negative their interactions could become with the kids,” she says. While the study did not code or quantify the reactions, Radesky says that there were “a lot of instances where there was very little interaction, harsh interaction or negative interaction” between the adults and the children. “That’s simply unfair to the children,” says Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson of Seattle Children’s Hospital and author of the Seattle Mama Doc blog.
In light of the data, Radesky is working with the American Academy of Pediatrics to develop some guidelines for the smart smartphone use in front of the kids — just as the academy has advice for parents on TV viewing (none for toddlers younger than 2).
Image: Mom on smartphone, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, July 11th, 2013
Diapers embedded with a medical analysis device that syncs with a smartphone app promise to give parents more information than ever about their babies’ health–based on the contents of their diapers. More on the in-development, and sure to be controversial, “Smart Diapers” from ABC News:
About a year and a half ago Jennie Rubinshteyn and Yaroslav Faybishenko’s 1-year-old daughter was crying in the back seat of their car.
“I was being paranoid. I couldn’t stop asking myself and my husband, ‘What is in her diaper? What’s in her diaper?” Rubinshteyn, 35, told ABC News. Faybishenko responded, “Data is her diaper. Urine is full of so much health information.”
And that, the couple says, was the start of a new family business in making what they call “Smart Diapers.” No, the diapers don’t send tweets or alerts about when there’s pee or poop inside — that’s still a job for Huggies’ TweetPee app. Instead, the husband-wife team have invented a regular disposable diaper with a medical trick — it collects information about a child’s urine.
A dry-reagent panel, just like those colorful sticks you pee on at the doctor, sits on the front of the diaper. It works a lot like a QR code. Using the Smart Diapers iOS and Android app, a parent can scan the panel and see information about the urine.
Rubinshteyn and Faybishenko explain that parents would do this once a day, and the information about their child’s urine would be stored in the app. The goal is to accumulate data about urination patterns and then use that data to spot urinary tract infections, dehydration or developing kidney problems. The app will fire off an alert if something peculiar is found.
“This is about health monitoring, not understanding whether the diaper is wet,” Rubinshteyn, who has an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania and experience working in finance, said. Her husband brings the computer science and health technology experience to the table. In addition, they have two biomedical engineers on staff at their company, called Pixie Scientific.
The Smart Diapers are still in testing, though. The couple is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on approval and testing them at pediatric hospitals. The goal is to bring them to hospitals and then to the broader market. The pricing isn’t set yet, but according to Faybishenko, the diapers will be 30 to 40 percent more expensive than regular diapers. They plan to sell the Smart Diapers in a package with regular diapers, since they only need to be worn once a day.
Image: Mom changing diaper, via Shutterstock
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Monday, April 15th, 2013
A new smartphone app that could help doctors diagnose autism spectrum disorders (ASD) by uploading videos of children’s behaviors to a website is in development. The app is intended to help streamline the diagnostic process, in line with research that shows that earlier diagnosis–and intervention–leads to more successful outcomes in autistic kids. A shortage of specialists can delay proper diagnosis by as long as six months, the app’s developers say. More from USA Today:
To help with the problem, the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center, a Phoenix-based autism research nonprofit, is developing a smartphone application that specialists would use to diagnose autism based on videos of children’s behavior uploaded onto a website.
The app, the Naturalistic Observation Diagnostic Assessment, could shorten the diagnostic process so children can get treatment earlier, especially in rural communities where skilled specialists are difficult to find….
Parents still would have to arrange follow-up treatment and care with specialists, and there would be an unknown cost for the app-based diagnosis.
The autism center, which is funding the app development with a $2.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, is collaborating with Behavior Imaging Solutions, a Boise, Idaho, medical-technology company, and the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
Christopher Smith, the autism center’s vice president and director of research, said that testing will begin this summer with a few families and that the app will potentially be available as early as 2014.
“This is an exciting opportunity for the community to find new ways to at least help lower and help reduce the disparity of health care in this country,” said Andy Shih, senior vice president of scientific affairs at Autism Speaks, one of the world’s largest autism-advocacy organizations.
Image: Doctor using smartphone, via Shutterstock
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