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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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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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Monday, January 20th, 2014
Kids who purchased apps for their iPhones, iPods, or iPads without their parents’ permission have provoked the ire of not only their parents, but also the Federal Trade Commission, which has ordered Apple to refund at least $32.5 million to families. More from The Washington Post:
The Federal Trade Commission’s settlement with Apple is the first punishment handed to a major tech company over the handling of children’s apps. It comes amid growing concern that as children clamor to use mobile devices, companies are doing little to protect their privacy or provide parents with the tools to supervise online behavior.
Apple drew the attention of FTC investigators nearly three years ago after a storm of consumer complaints from parents who were surprised by charges on their credit cards when their children used games such as Tap Pet Hotel and Smurf’s Village. These parents complained to regulators and joined a separate class-action lawsuit against Apple that claimed the company had approved games in its iTunes store that enticed children to buy virtual coins or “smurfberries” for real money — as much as $500 per item — without making sure the games had safeguards.
The FTC said Apple unfairly deceived consumers by allowing unlimited in-app purchases for a 15-minute period without telling users of the policy. Normally, any charges on Apple’s iOS operating system require users to enter a password to prevent accidental or unauthorized purchases.
Some parents reported that their young children had racked up thousands of dollars in charges.
“This settlement is a victory for consumers harmed by Apple’s unfair billing and a signal to the business community,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “You cannot charge consumers for charges they did not authorize.”
Image: Kid on tablet device, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, December 20th, 2012
Tablets and other mobile devices can engage young children, and even help them learn, something manufacturers have seized on by marketing kid-friendly tablet covers and stands. But according to James Steyer, the chief executive and founder of the media education group Common Sense Media, buying a tablet for a toddler is a “ridiculous” idea. More from The Washington Post:
The iPad has only been around only since 2010, so there hasn’t been enough time to observe its long-term effects on kids, according to Michael Rich, director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital in Boston.
Rich, who runs the online advice column Ask the Mediatrician, says that apps on iPads and smartphones are limited as teaching tools since they typically focus on one type of learning — “skills and drills,” which teach children to correctly identify the ABCs or to moo when they see a cow on the screen.
“What’s more important at this age is learning how to learn rather than mimicking something,” Rich says.
Moreover, studies show that kids don’t learn anything substantial, such as language, from screens — television, iPads, computers — until 30 months of age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents hold off on any form of screen time until their children are 2.
A 2004 study in the journal Pediatrics showed that children exposed to television at ages 1 and 3 had decreased attention spans at age 7. It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg question, though.
“You can see how a kid who already has difficulty paying attention is put in front of the television to chill him out,” Rich says. “It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Image: Toddler using tablet, via Shutterstock
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