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Can urban greenspace have an effect on children’s behaviour?

The Guardian – Justine Larson

“A creative study in the July issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry examined levels of aggression in 1,287 twins and triplets in Southern California born between the years of 1990 and 1995. The authors used satellite imagery to find an aggregate measure of vegetation called the Normalised Differential Vegetation Index (NVDI) surrounding the home. The study found that both in the short term (6-months to 1-year) and the long term (1 to 3 years), having greenspace within 1000 meters was associated with reduced aggressive behaviours in this group of 9 to 18 year olds. Even when authors controlled for things like socioeconomic factors, age, gender, race, self-rated neighbourhood quality, maternal depression, traffic density, and even ambient temperatures, the difference in aggressive behaviours remained. In the sample studied, boys, people with lower perceived neighbourhood quality, children born to mothers who smoked, and those with lower socioeconomic status were more likely to be aggressive.”(more)

At School And At Home, How Much Does The Internet Know About Kids?

NPR – Staff Writer

“Children’s personal information isn’t supposed to be an online commodity. But whether kids are using Google apps at school or Internet-connected toys at home, they’re generating a stream of data about themselves. And some advocates say that information can be collected too easily and sometimes, protected too poorly. Last month, a hacker stole personal information and photos of more than six million children after breaking into the computer records of a educational toy company, VTech. VTech says that they’ve since hired a security company to deal with the breach. That might not be enough to convince Congress — Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) sent a letter to VTech, wanting to know if the company is complying with a law called the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.”(more)

A Great Outdoors Program

U.S. News & World Report – Andrew Rotherham

“It’s not every day you see a White House initiative play out in real time with everyone happy about it. Actually these days, do you ever? But there it was: High in Virginia’s mountains families hiked, picnicked and played under a cloudless blue sky on a crisp October Sunday. The mountain foliage was already spectacular and for some a fall visit to see it was an annual tradition. But for a surprising number of families the impetus for the trip was the White House’s Every Kid In A Park initiative…Announced in February and launched this fall, the initiative makes it free for fourth graders (and fourth-grade age homeschoolers and other alternatively schooled youngsters) and their families to visit America’s national parks….The impetus behind Every Kid In A Park is straightforward: Getting kids into parks exposes them to natural resources and history and gets them outside and moving. In addition, whether through history or the experience of the natural world, parks are a terrific extension of the classroom.”(more)

Study: Parents Distractions Lead to Risky Play Behavior

Education News – Grace Smith

“According to materials from the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents who take their children to playgrounds and then pull out their cell phones to make a call or check Facebook run the risk of being distracted from monitoring their children. Annually more than 200,000 children ages 14 and under are treated in emergency rooms as a result of playground-related injuries, says the Consumer Product Safety Commission…two researchers observed caregivers and children at seven New York playgrounds in order to pinpoint the types of distractions…Caregivers were distracted during 74% of the episodes, but most distractions were minimal and for the majority of the time the adult’s attention was focused on the child. Cell phones were not the only cause for distraction. Other distractions included talking with other adults (33% of all distractions); electronic devices (30%); eating, drinking, looking in purse, reading, other activities (37%). “Caregivers in general are doing a fine job supervising their children on the playground. However, increased awareness of limiting electronic distractions and other activities that may interfere with supervision should be considered,” said study author Ruth Milanaik, DO…”(more)

Let’s Get Every Kid in a Park

Ed.gov – Arne Duncan, Sally Jewell, Tom Vilsack, Jo-Ellen Darcy, Kathryn Sullivan

“From sea to shining sea, our country is home to gorgeous landscapes, vibrant waterways, and historic treasures that all Americans can enjoy. But right now, young people are spending more time in front of screens than outside, and that means they are missing out on valuable opportunities to explore, learn, and play in the spectacular outdoor places that belong to all of them. President Obama is committed to giving every kid the chance to explore America’s great outdoors and unique history. That’s why today he launched the Every Kid in a Park initiative, which calls on each of our agencies to help get all children to visit and enjoy the outdoors and inspire a new generation of Americans to experience their country’s unrivaled public lands and waters. Starting in September, every fourth-grader in the nation will receive an “Every Kid in a Park” pass that’s good for free admission to all of America’s federal lands and waters — for them and their families — for a full year.”(more)