Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Technology is continually refining how we parent – and giving us (and our kids) many new options that may, or may not, be a good thing. Today Golnar Khosrowshahi of GoGoNews shares her take on a controversial way the comings and goings of kids in Brazil are being monitored.
The city of Vitoria da Conquista in Brazil has overhauled its school uniforms to make a new kind of fashion statement. All 43,000 school-aged children in this district aged 4-14 are now stepping out with GPS chips embedded in their school uniforms. When the children cross the threshold onto school grounds, parents receive a text message. Similarly, when the children don’t show up or leave school grounds, parents are again, notified.
Putting aside the many work arounds that kids will inevitably come up with to counteract this new measure, this action begs the question as to why we are relying on something or someone else to parent for us. According to the school district, deploying this initiative was in response to high truancy rates. However, in some other contexts, it could also make sense as related to issues of safety and kidnapping. Take an average school district in North America where parents are not exposed to daily threats on their children’s safety, relying on GPS stirs a debate raising a number of issues:
1) Are we relying on technology to parent for us? I am relying on the fact that if as parents we do a good enough job instilling the right kinds of values in our children, then we wouldn’t need to stuff their clothes with GPS chips to enforce a desired behavior.
2) Are our children entitled to their privacy and does questioning our kids foster a relationship of mistrust between caregiver and child? Personally, I believe that respecting our children creates the right environment for them to, in turn, be respectful of others. That being said, then perhaps questioning their trust is also tantamount to lack of respect. I would think that is precisely the message this innovation is sending to a child – since you are not to be trusted – regardless of your behavior in the past – you will be monitored going forward.
3) Is this one of those times when, as parents, we look the other way? Isn’t skipping a little school a part of growing up and finding our way, anyway? While we can never advocate truancy on a regular basis to our children, we can all relate to that special day Ferris Bueller played hooky! Maybe this innovation is giving us a little too much information. Truancy is definitely not a desired behavior to perpetuate but having too much information about what our kids are doing may also inhibit them making some of the necessary mistakes on their own paths to growing up.
Golnar Khosrowshahi is the founder of GoGoNews, a website that publishes up to the minute, age appropriate current events for children. She has also written for The Huffington Post and been featured in many technology and parenting related columns. You can read featured guest blog posts by her here at Red-Hot Parenting the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of every month.
Image of kids in school uniforms via Shutterstock.com
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Monday, January 16th, 2012
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a report that provides the most up-to-date data on causes of death in the United States. This builds on prior research and continues to deliver a critical public health message for parents: the most frequent cause of death for children is accidents.
The CDC report is lengthy and they will eventually publish more user-friendly reports. But since the most recent data confirm prior reports, it’s worth your time to revisit prior findings published on the CDC website and look at a visual representation of the leading causes of death for kids. And note the following from that report (drawn from data collected a few years ago):
“For those age 5-34 in the United States, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death…”
A breakdown of the newer statistics is available on the blog “The Incidental Economist.” Blogger Dr. Aaron Carroll – who is a pediatrician – provides a sobering review of the latest numbers which I encourage you to read. While there are many important issues covered by Dr. Carroll (including the frequency of homicide and suicide as causes of death at different ages), I’d like to focus on one of the findings from the latest data that he highlights: Car accidents is one of the most frequent causes of death across age groups (the CDC breaks down ages as: 1-4 years old; 5-14 years old; and 15-24 years old).
The reason I highlight this is that parents should be doing everything they can to make their kids as safe as possible when they are in the car. PLEASE NOTE THAT I HAVE REVISED THIS POST AS OF 10:04 PM EST ON JANUARY 16. MANY READERS FOUND THE PRIOR INFORMATION CONFUSING. TO MAKE SURE PARENTS HAVE THE MOST RECENT INFORMATION, PLEASE CLICK ON THIS LINK FOR GUIDELINES PROVIDED BY THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO HAVE SUGGESTED THAT THIS WOULD BE THE MOST HELPFUL LINK FOR READERS.
If you follow these guidelines, can you guarantee your child won’t be injured or killed in a car accident? Of course not. But you can be sure that you will be significantly reducing their risk of both. The CDC estimates that child safety seats reduce the risk of death in car crashes by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers.
Look, I found car seats to be a major hassle when my daughter was young. I found it hard to figure out which ones were best. They were a pain to install. My daughter wasn’t thrilled about sitting in one. But I tried hard to get information from my pediatrician and my local police station. We were vigilant about using them. And a few years ago, we were happy we did. My wife and daughter were at a complete stop in traffic (the 4th of 5 cars waiting for a car to make a left turn) about a quarter mile from our home. A driver wasn’t paying attention and plowed into that line of cars with enough force to push five cars together. Fortunately my wife and daughter had appropriate safety restraints on and were not seriously hurt (the same could be said for all the other passengers in other vehicles). I can guarantee you it would have been much worse if they didn’t.
Luck and chance play a role in life – both bad and good. But as parents we might as well do everything we can to try to protect our kids. As Dr. Carroll said in his blog post:
We know what kills kids. We see the results every year… Let’s act on that.
PLEASE NOTE A NEW IMAGE OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS HAS BEEN INSERTED. THE PRIOR IMAGE OF A BABY IN A CAR SEAT WAS REMOVED BY ME AS MANY READERS FOUND THAT IT COULD BE PROMOTING IMPROPER USAGE.
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Sunday, July 31st, 2011
Question: What age group is at the highest risk for bicycle-related injuries?
Answer: Children between the ages of 5 and 14 years.
Question: How many kids go the emergency room each year because of injuries suffered in a bicycle accident?
Answer: About 300, 000
Question: How many head injuries could be prevented by helmet use?
Question: What percentage of children wear helmets on a regular basis?
Question: Just cruising around my neighbor for a few weeks, what percentage of kids did I observe wearing a helmet?
Answer: About 23%
Question: How many children should be wearing a helmet on a regular basis?
Wearing a helmet is essential but not enough. Visit KidsHealth for a number of sensible guidelines that will help keep your child safe and healthy.
Image via photostock courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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