Posts Tagged ‘ video games ’

Three-Quarters of U.S. Kids Sleep with Electronic Devices in Their Rooms

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Nearly three out of four American kids sleep with an electronic device like a smartphone, laptop computer, or video game in their room, a habit that is likely to impact the amount and quality of sleep they get, according to a new poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation.  More from The Huffington Post:

The survey found that children in every age group were skimping on sleep. More than 1,100 parents of children between the ages of 6 and 17 were asked to estimate the time their kids spent sleeping on the average school night. Across the board, kids slept fewer hours than are recommended by the NSF.

Almost three quarters — 72 percent — of these children also sleep with at least one electronic device in their bedrooms. “To ensure a better night’s sleep for their children, parents may want to limit their children using technology in their bedroom near or during bedtime,” poll task force member Orfeu Buxton, Ph.D. said in a statement. Teens who slept with devices on averaged about half an hour less sleep on school nights compared to teens who slept without devices. Experts typically recommend powering down all electronic devices at least an hour before bed, since they both stimulate the brain and suppress the release of the sleep-promotion hormone melatonin.

The good news is that parents do value their children’s sleep, according to the survey. More than 90 percent said sleep is very or extremely important for their kids to perform their best at school, to be their healthiest and happiest. But they could do more to help their children catch those zzzs.

“A good first step in setting and enforcing sleep-related rules is to establish bedtimes,” poll task force member Jim Spilsbury, Ph.D., MPH, said in a statement. Beside limiting devices in the bedroom, parents can also enforce cut-off times for sleep-disrupting caffeinated drinks or TV shows, for example.

Use our helpful internet contract to set rules for kids using digital devices.

Digital Devices and Children
Digital Devices and Children
Digital Devices and Children

Image: Child in bed, via Shutterstock

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Violent TV, Video Game Viewing Linked to Gene

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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‘Brain Rest’ Advised After Concussions, Study Confirms

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

A new study has confirmed what doctors have long advised–that children who suffer concussions should engage in “brain rest” and abstain from cognitively challenging activities including reading, playing video games, and sending text messages for several days after the injury.  More from The Boston Globe on the study:

A new study conducted by researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital tracked 335 student athletes who were treated for concussions incurred on the playing field. They found that those who took the most time off from tasks that required a lot of thinking had the quickest recovery from headaches, dizziness, nausea, and other concussion symptoms.

A majority of those who got the most cognitive rest were symptom-free 40 days after their head injury, but it took 100 days for symptoms to resolve in the majority of those who got the least amount of rest, according to the study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

While the study couldn’t determine exactly how much rest was optimal, study co-author Dr. William Meehan said the results confirmed the sensibility of recommendations to avoid mental challenges right after a concussion.

“For the first three to five days, we tell our patients with concussions that they should really aim to be at a zero level or complete cognitive rest,” said Meehan, director of the sports concussion clinic at Boston Children’s. That means no reading, homework, text messaging, or video game playing; basically, it’s fine to lie in bed quietly, watching TV or listening to music with the volume on low.

“Those experiencing severe symptoms may prefer to be resting anyway,” Meehan said, “but those with mild symptoms may think they can go back to school or resume exercise right away, which may delay their recovery.”

After a few days, kids can slowly add mental activities such as doing a crossword puzzle or sending a few text messages to see how they feel. “If symptoms exacerbate, they should go back to resting,” Meehan said. If they’re feeling okay, they can continue to gradually add mental challenges, resuming some school work on a lighter schedule. Throughout, they should continue to assess their symptoms and cut back if the headaches or dizziness return.

The brain likely needs to rest from mental processing to reserve its precious energy to balance its systems after the injury. Neurologists believe that the blunt trauma to the brain triggers nerve cells to release a flood of chemicals causing an imbalance that leads to concussion symptoms. At the same time, there’s often reduced blood flow to the brain following an injury which lowers the brain’s supply of glucose for energy. Any glucose expended for mental challenges means less energy is available to restore a biochemical balance.

“Concussions are really a problem with brain function and the movement of ions, or charged particles, around the cell membrane,” Meehan said. This type of malfunction, though, doesn’t appear on brain imaging tests, though technological advances may enable such imaging in the future.

For the time being, parents helping their kids recover from concussions may need to explain why rest is necessary when the brain scan looks fine.

Image: Kids playing soccer, via Shutterstock

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Video Games May Help Children with Dyslexia

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

A study conducted by Italian researchers has found that playing action-packed video games and manipulating the devices used to play may help children with the learning disability dyslexia improve their performance in reading by training children to focus their attention and examine the game for both speed and accuracy.  More from The New York Times:

The small study, published online last week in Current Biology, involved two groups of 10 dyslexic children. One group played action video games for nine sessions of 80 minutes each, while the other followed the same routine with nonaction games. The researchers bought the games in retail stores and have no financial interest in any video game company.

Age, I.Q., reading speed, error rates and phonological skills were similar in the two groups at the beginning of the study. The researchers measured the attention and reading skills of the children before and after the game sessions and then compared them.

Those trained on the action games scored significantly higher than those who played the nonaction games by various measures: combined speed and accuracy, recognizing pseudo-words made of random letters, and reaction time. The action game players also scored higher on tests that measured attention by inserting distractions as the children tried to accomplish various visual and auditory tasks.

Image: Teen playing video game, via Shutterstock

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Cool Product Alert: Double Fine Happy Action Theater

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Earlier this week, I promised some posts on new and exciting products I discovered at the Sandbox Summit at MIT.  It turns out, the one that grabbed my attention  most is actually more “exciting” than “new.”  It’s the Double Fine Happy Action Theater game for the Xbox 360 game console, and it was released in February of this year.

Click here to see a video trailer for the game, which allows multiple players to transform their living rooms into balloon clouds, fiery lava fields, or bubbly seascapes.  It’s not educational in any traditional sense of the word.  It’s just plain fun for the whole family.

At the Sandbox Summit, Microsoft’s educational design director, Alex Games (pronounced GAH-mes), presented the trailer as an example of what can happen when learning is approached through the lens of play. The game is an example of how parents can “co-view” a piece of technology with their children, interacting on every level, and developing skills from physical fitness to quick decision-making.

According to Games, the co-viewing aspect, combined with the fact that the game takes place in a family’s living room, as opposed to in an invented, remote video game world, make it just the type of thing families should look for when choosing how to spend their leisure time…if they want to spend more than just a few minutes together as a family.

“We’ve moved toward really fast-paced, bite sized experiences, very similar to what is happening in social media,” Games said. But when it comes to learning, “there are certain things that it takes time and patience to develop.”

Image via http://marketplace.xbox.com/

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