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Never mind students, how do we get distracted parents to unplug?

The Atlanta Journal Constitution – Maureen Downey

“If schools hope to enlist parents in prying students away from smartphones and computers, they’re going to have to unplug mom and dad first. It won’t be easy because adolescents and teens aren’t the only ones with a serious media habit. Parents spend more than nine hours a day watching television, movies, and videos, playing video games, listening to music, using social media, reading either print or electronic books, and using digital devices for other purposes, such as browsing websites and playing games.”(more)

8 Flu Shot Myths That Went Viral, But Could Actually Make You Sick

Medical Daily – Lizette Borreli

“Every October through May, up to 20 percent of Americans will get the flu, with activity peaking between December and March. Coughing, fevers, and aching are just some of the potentially deadly virus complications that can occur, yet millions of Americans can’t decide whether or not to get the flu vaccine. Skepticism about the flu shot stems from unfounded fears, such as the vaccine causes autism, or that it causes the actual flu. Flu prevention begins with separating fact from fiction.”(more)

For children with autism, the holidays take planning and communication

Medical X-Press – Dana Benson

“The holidays can be challenging for families of children with autism spectrum disorder. Keys to success during the season are advance communication and planning, including making use of modern media, according to an expert at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital. “The holidays often mean family gatherings, new situations, music, noise and lights, and this can be overwhelming for anyone, especially a child with autism spectrum disorder,” said Dr. Jack Dempsey, assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and psychologist at Texas Children’s Autism Center. “The goal for parents should be to help their child have fun but to keep them from reaching an emotional extreme, such as feeling overexcited or anxious.” Children with autism spectrum disorder often have difficulty expressing themselves verbally, and when their emotions run high, they find other ways to express themselves. This could include crying, yelling or lashing out. Parents can prepare by taking a two-step communication approach – first, communication with family and loved ones, and then communication with their child.”(more)

Traditional toys and caring adult interactions are best for young kids’ learning

The Foothill’s Focus – Staff Writer

“When it comes to promoting learning for children 5 and younger, basic toys and quality time with adults are the best gifts an infant, toddler or preschooler can receive. But what about all those flashy, electronic toys with lights and sounds that we see advertised so much this season? One Northern Arizona University researcher has studied whether they provide an advantage to a young child’s learning. Anna Sosa, director of the NAU Child Speech and Language Lab in Flagstaff, set out to see which everyday activities promote the best environment for babies and toddlers to learn language.”(more)

Now possible: a family night of coding in every elementary school

Ed Source – John Fensterwald

“When they check their email today, every elementary school in California will find a tool to bring families together for a fun introduction to computer coding. Through a corporate grant, more than 6,000 principals in the state will receive a free digital kit today from MV GATE, a small Mill Valley nonprofit, enabling them to easily organize and stage “Family Code Night.” The program uses coding puzzles developed by, a national evangelist for computer education in schools.”(more)

Want healthy kids? Microbiologists advise letting them play in the mud, getting a dog

Omaha Live – Nancy Szokan

“If you read about children’s health, you’ve heard a lot of this before: Microbes, vilified because they cause infectious diseases, can be beneficial to a child’s well-being. Our society’s penchant for hypercleanliness is actually making our children less healthy and more prone to allergies. But microbiologists B. Brett Findlay and Marie-Claire Arrieta make that case with an unusually convincing display of evidence — as well as historical anecdotes and a parent-friendly sense of humor — in their new book, “Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Your Child from an Oversanitized World.” They lay out the 19th-century discoveries that identified microbes — germs! — as dangerous carriers of diseases, and the discoveries of the past two decades that have shown us how vital microbes are to our very existence. Then they translate that evidence into accessible, understandable advice.”(more)