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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
Wednesday, November 7th, 2012
A mother in Piedmont, Oklahoma was fined $2,500 when her 3-year-old son attempted to urinate in their own front yard on Sunday. While the ticket has since been thrown out, the case has garnered national attention.
According to the boy’s mother, Ashley Warden, her son was playing outside on the family’s two-and-a-half acre lawn when he unzipped to take a bathroom break. A police officer spotted the toddler and stopped him before he could pee. Despite the events happening on their own property, the officer wrote Warden a steep ticket because her son was in public view.
Warden told News 9, “I am disappointed that the officer thinks [...] what he needs to do with my tax dollars is sitting and harassing our family.” The Wardens filed a complaint with the local police department and had planned on fighting the citation since their son didn’t complete the act, but the ticket has already been thrown out.
Piedmont’s police chief, Alex Oblein, went to the family’s home to apologize and later commented that the officer should have used better judgment before issuing the ticket. Even Piedmont’s mayor, Valerie Thomerson, weighed in on the officer’s actions: “I have been vilified for saying this, but stupid is as stupid does, and this was just stupid.”
Image: Police Car Lights via Shutterstock
Tuesday, May 15th, 2012
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found that about 2,270 children are injured each year in accidents that involve pacifiers, sippy cups, or bottles. CNN.com reports on the study, which cites facial lacerations, dental injuries, and cuts to the lips and tongue as the most common injuries associated with the items:
“Teeth were either knocked out, chipped, pushed back up into the gums or knocked sideways,” says Sarah Keim, lead study author and a researcher at the Center for Biobehavioral Health at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
The study also found that one-year-old children were injured the most often.
Dr. Garry Gardner is a pediatrician in Chicago and chairs the Injury, Violence and Poison Control committee for the American Academy of Pediatrics. He’s not surprised by the results of this study, especially that the majority of children injured were about 1-year-old.
“They toddle along and they’re not very coordinated and it’s amazing to see these kids trip over nothing – and they do it all the time.”
If there’s anything in a child’s mouth, he says, it’s going to cause an injury to the mouth or hurt a tooth.
Image: Child walking with pacifier, via Shutterstock.
Monday, April 9th, 2012
Nearly half of three- to five-year-old children do not have daily outdoor playtime with parents or caregivers, according to a new study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. The study collected data on 9,000 families, and found that though mothers took children outside more often than fathers, half of the children did not get regular outdoor playtime at all.
CNN.com has more:
“There’s a big room for improvement in how parents prioritize their time and what they’re doing in the time they’re spending with their pre-school children,” said lead study author Dr. Pooja Tandon of Seattle Children’s Research Institute.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children play outside as much as possible, for at least 60 minutes a day. Physical activity is not only good for weight control and preventing childhood obesity; previous research also suggests playing outside improves motor development, vision and vitamin D levels.
“There is evidence that play – just sort of the act of playing – is important for children’s development of their social skills and their peer interactions,” Tandon said. “Being outdoors affords children an opportunity to play in ways that they may not get to when they’re indoors.”
Researchers suggested that families address outdoor time with child care centers or preschools their children attend, or work with community groups and friends to devise creative ways to incorporate more outdoor play into kids’ routines.
Image: Empty playground, via Shutterstock.
Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
A new study published in the journal Science is reporting that when mice are exposed to germs early in their lives, they are ultimately healthier and better able to fight infections than mice that were not exposed to germs. The findings are being touted as encouragement to parents who worry about their children getting sick during toddlerhood and their early school years, concluding that those sniffles and bugs are actually teaching young immune systems to react–but not overreact–to potentially dangerous infections. Medical ethics professor Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania writes on MSNBC.com:
Parents are constantly being told to make their kitchens spotless, to kill 99.9 per cent of the germs lurking in their bathrooms and to wash themselves and their babies all the time.
This world of purity sounds good but it does not fit how we are designed. We are meant to encounter some microbes and dirt when we are young. It is how we built our immune systems. We need a certain amount of grunginess as kids to be healthy adults.
As the Harvard study shows, filth can be good — at least in tiny amounts when you are very young.
Image: Taking a child’s temperature, via Shutterstock