Archive for the ‘ News ’ Category

The Most Dangerous Toy

Monday, December 1st, 2014

Scooters are cool, but they’re sending kids to the emergency room. Toy-related accidents increased almost 40 percent between 1990 and 2011, according to a new study in Clinical Pediatrics by researchers from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and foot-powered scooters were the #1 cause of injuries such as lacerations and fractures.

My older daughter had a Razor scooter when they first became popular—even before organizations like Safe Kids Worldwide and the American Academy of Pediatrics had issued safety guidelines. I remember watching her and a friend come speeding down a hill in the park and thinking, “This is an accident waiting to happen.” Fortunately, she never got hurt.

In addition to wearing helmets, kids should be wearing knee pads and elbow pads, urges study senior author Gary Smith, M.D., Dr.P.H., a Parents advisor. However, our editors have noticed that fewer kids are wearing them these days—and the rise in stunt scooters may encourage more dangerous scootering. Any child younger than age 8 needs to be closely supervised when scootering. And parents, if you’re riding with your kids, set a good example and wear a helmet too.

Buy the safety gear you need here. 

It Worked For Me: Safety Solutions
It Worked For Me: Safety Solutions
It Worked For Me: Safety Solutions

Photo via Shutterstock

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Tags: | Categories: Big Kids, Fun, Health, News, Safety, Toddlers

Watch This Before You Start Saving for College

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

I knew that college had changed a lot in the years since I graduated—that it is a lot more competitive to get into top schools (the New York Times reported that it is common for kids to apply to up to 20 schools, and, in one case, a record-setting 86!) and, of course, a lot more expensive (it costs nearly $60,000 per year at elite colleges like Harvard, and that’s not including books, travel, and other expenses).

What I didn’t fully realize is why it is so pricey and pressure-packed these days—until I saw Ivory Tower, from the Emmy-nominated team of Andrew Rossi and Kate Novack. The film, which makes its global television premiere tonight at 9PM ET on CNN, questions the cost, values, and methods of America’s higher-education institutions. It’s a disturbing look at a system in which, at many places, learning almost seems to be an afterthought. Universities are depicted as engaging in an arms race to provide ever-fancier attractions to lure students, from fancy dorms to climbing walls to swimming pools to high-profile athletic programs. Academics, meanwhile, take a back seat: An ever-smaller percentage of most college budgets goes toward tenured professors. Nearly half of all students fail to display significant academic gains after two years of college, and 36 percent reported that they spend less than 5 hours per week studying.

Perhaps the most alarming focus of this documentary is the out-of-control cost of sending a kid to college. Tuition has risen more than 1,100 percent since 1980. As state and federal funding have dried up, student debt has exploded to more than $1 trillion—a figure that exceeds our nation’s total credit-card debt. The average student graduates $35,000 under water, and almost half wind up unemployed or underemployed (at least in the short term), creating the environment for a broad-scale debt spiral many can’t see themselves escaping.

Before you decide not to open a 529 (or to stop contributing to one), keep in mind that in the long run, college is still very much worth it. Ivory Tower displayed a chart showing that kids who earn a bachelor’s degree have an expected lifetime earning capacity that is nearly $1 million more than that of high-school graduates.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) also loom as a potential low-cost solution. The technology is already in place to bring our nation’s top professors right into your living room at a fraction of the price tag of regular tuition. For sure, some kinks need to be worked out: Early experimentation run by for-profit startups has shown poor retention and pass rates among virtual students, largely because they lack the access to one-on-one assistance and group discussions that on-campus students take for granted. Perhaps these shortcomings can be addressed, though.

As for the seemingly unmanageable bill, keep in mind that few families save the entire cost for higher education. Financial aid and scholarships can diminish your expense, and student loans (but hopefully not insurmountable ones) can bridge the remaining gap. My advice: Start saving early, contribute regularly, and keep your fingers crossed that the pundits who believe the rate at which college costs are climbing isn’t sustainable are correct.

Save for College
Save for College
Save for College

Baby wearing a graduation cap and gown via Shutterstock

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New Child-Care Law Breaks Gridlock

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

Although it’s hard to get anything done in Washington these days, young children in child care will now be safer thanks to the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014, which President Obama signed into law today. It has been 18 years since Congress reauthorized and revised the legislation that provides child-care subsidies to states, and the new law includes quality standards that Parents advocated for in our 2012 article, “The Child-Care Crisis.” As part of a partnership with Child Care Aware of America, we hand-delivered a copy of the article to every member of Congress, and many of our readers sent emails to their Senators and Representatives in support of the bipartisan legislation.

The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is the primary federal grant program that provides child-care assistance to low-income families. The new law affects child-care centers and individuals who care for children with the support of federal funding, but all children in child care are likely to benefit from the new higher standards. “For far too long, this program lacked key protections for children and families receiving federal assistance for child care. The quality needle has finally moved to ensure that children are in a safe setting that promotes their learning and healthy development,” says Lynette Fraga, Ph.D., executive director of Child Care Aware of America.

Some of the key changes:

  • States must develop health and safety standards related to first aid and CPR, and to reduce the risk of SIDS and child abuse.
  • States must perform at least one annual inspection.
  • Individuals who care for children must undergo a comprehensive background check.
  • States must set aside three percent of funding to expand access and improve the quality of care for infants and toddlers.

Child Care: How to Find Quality Child Care
Child Care: How to Find Quality Child Care
Child Care: How to Find Quality Child Care

Photo via Shutterstock

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Tags: | Categories: Child Development, Education, Health, News, Safety

Kelly Ripa’s Tough-Love Parenting Moment

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

I never fully appreciated my parents’ tough love parenting style throughout my childhood until I had to start navigating this crazy world on my own. Kelly Ripa seems to know what I’m talking about.

In a recent interview on The Wendy Williams Show, Ripa shared a recent argument she had with her 13-year-old daughter, Lola, over being on her phone during designated study hours.

The co-host of Live With Kelly and Michael showed no remorse over taking away her daughter’s phone and computer privileges as a result of her misbehaving, and admitted that she monitors her children’s activity online.

“We will give you certain freedoms,” Ripa said of her and husband Mark Consuelos’ parenting, “but when you want privacy in a not private world… you can’t have privacy and be on Instagram.”

This is a battle most parents have had with their tech-addicted kids of all ages. With children getting phones and computers earlier, it is becoming more important than ever to start monitoring Internet and cellphone usage at a younger age.

Want to know what your parenting style is? Take our quiz!

But maintaining strict tech rules isn’t always easy. My mother had a “no phones at the table” policy during family meals, but she didn’t learn until after I went to college that when I got my first cellphone at age 13, I taught myself how to text under the table without looking at the keys so that I could keep talking to my friends.

However, if my mother hadn’t had any regulations, I would have never left my computer and interacted with anyone at all. Her rules helped me to learn to the benefits of putting down the phone or logging off of the computer and interacting with real people in real time.

What can Kelly Ripa’s showdown with her teen daughter teach us? Parents should feel comfortable with routinely checking what their children post and how much of their day is spent online, as well as administering proper discipline, like loss of tech privileges, when disobeyed.

When asked if using strict rules caused her daughter to dislike her, Ripa made a statement that perfectly explains why watchful parents don’t need to defend their decisions.

“I’m not your friend, I’m your mom.”

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

Photo via Shutterstock

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What You Should Be Worrying About (More Than Ebola)

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

If you click on news sites, watch the news, or read the paper (yes, some people still do), you’ve likely found it impossible to avoid being bombarded with scary details about the lethal and virulent virus’s spread—and efforts to contain it in this country following a shaky start. In some ways it’s understandable: If you’ve seen Contagion or the most recent Planet of the Apes reboot—in which fictional deadly viruses wiped out large swaths of the population—it’s not hard to envision ebola as a plague with no cure and the potential to kill thousands.

Now for a reality check: As of this writing, do you know how many people have been diagnosed on U.S. soil? The answer is five. How many have died? One—the man who inadvertently brought the disease with him from Liberia. Despite this, there has been widespread panic leading to school closures (in Ohio and Texas) and hesitance by many to fly or take a cruise, even though no one other than healthcare workers who were treating Thomas Duncan.

What should you really be concerned about? Influenza. This virus has been around a lot longer. It’s far more familiar and a lot less intimidating to us. But at this point (and for the foreseeable future), it’s also a lot more dangerous. The flu kills more than 30,000 Americans every year. About 20,000 children under age 5 are hospitalized each year because of influenza complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And last season, more than 100 flu-related pediatric deaths were reported.

These numbers are truly scary—largely because the vast majority of these tragic deaths are easily preventable. All it takes is an annual flu vaccine. You can take your child to the pediatrician’s office (often, a nurse can administer it without a separate doctor’s appointment) or your local CVS. Get one too while you’re at it.

Don’t put it off, as too many parents do. Only 57 percent of kids are vaccinated each season, and only about 40 percent of adults. Those are crazy statistics when you consider that one out of six people will get the flu. True, the vaccine isn’t foolproof, since strains of the virus vary from year to year. But if your child gets it despite being vaccinated, her symptoms—high fever, body aches, chills, headache, sore throat, coughing, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea—are likely to be far less severe. And it’s safe for anyone older than 6 months, even for those with severe egg allergies.

If you fear that getting a shot will lead your panicked kid into a full-blown tantrum, take heart: A nasal spray is now the preferred vaccine delivery method for healthy children 2 through 8. (If you’re squeamish—and not pregnant—you can go with an inhalation instead of an injection as well.) Kids and adults with an underlying medical condition, such as asthma, need to stick with the shot. It’s not that bad, though, especially compared to suffering through a miserable week or two this winter (or worse).

You can’t do anything about ebola, and for now there’s little reason to worry. But you can fight the flu—and you owe it to your family to do so.

How Safe is the Flu Vaccine?
How Safe is the Flu Vaccine?
How Safe is the Flu Vaccine?

Photo of family lying in bed due to the flu via Shutterstock

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