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Screen Time Reality Check — For Kids And Parents

NPR – Eric Westervelt

“In many households, screens are omnipresent. That reality has some big implications for children. Researchers, for example, have found language delays in those who watch more television. So what are parents and caregivers to do? That question can be tricky to answer, says Amanda Lenhart, who studies how families use technology at The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. “The thing about parenting today with digital technology is that you don’t have your own experience to go back to and look at,” Lenhart recently told NPR’s All Things Considered. “When you were 10, there probably weren’t cellphones. Parents think it’s kind of a brave new world, and it changes so fast.” For guidance on screen time, parents often turn to the American Academy of Pediatrics. In 2016, the group pulled back from its longstanding recommendation of no screen time for children under 2 years.”(more)

Sleep Well, Learn Well

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” – Benjamin Franklin

While there may be some debate about the “wealthy” claim, recent research suggests Franklin was correct about the “healthy and wise” assertions.

Lack of sleep can lead to problems like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. In addition, researchers now believe that the quantity and quality of sleep impacts memory and learning. It is well known that a sleep-deprived person cannot focus well and therefore cannot absorb and process information efficiently. The new finding is that information must be consolidated into a memory during sleep.

Scientists break learning and memory into three basic components: acquisition, consolidation, and recall. Acquisition is the introduction of new information into the brain. Consolidation is the process of making a memory stable and recall is the ability to access the information later. Acquisition and recall occur during waking hours and memory consolidation takes place during periods of sleep.

Although we do not know for sure how sleep makes consolidation possible, researchers believe that the brainwaves of different types that occur during sleep are what form lasting memories.

Since consolidation is imperative for memory, one of the most important things a parent can do for his/her child is make sure he/she gets adequate sleep.

Here are a few things that can be done to increase the odds your child is getting adequate sleep:

  •    Reduce screen time – Some research suggests that the light emitted from electronic devices increases     alertness  and keeps children from sleeping well. Establish a device free period before bed.
  •    Offer the right food – Whole foods that combine protein and complex carbohydrates are the best before bed snacks.
  •    Encourage exercise – At least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each week improves sleep.
  •    Control the environment – Consistent temperature and a clean environment support high quality sleep.
  •    Unplug electronic devices – Electrical fields given off by appliances (TVs, cellphones, etc.) can interfere with melatonin secretion. Even if devices are off they emit electrical fields, so it is best to unplug them.
  •    Eliminate light – Light can affect immune system function and sleep, so it is best to reduce light in the bedroom.
  •    Establish a routine – Establish a pre-bed routine so your child is in bed on time.

Perhaps a few extra hours of sleep each night is a better way to ensure amazing childhood memories than a camera.

 

‘Get children playing outdoors’ to improve academic success and reduce obesity

Science Daily – Staff Writer

“The Active Healthy Kids Scotland Report Card 2016 has found that children’s physical activity levels are continuing to fall well short of recommended levels…The researchers have proposed that strategies to promote physical activity and reduce screen time should place a higher emphasis on playing actively outdoors, something children could potentially do 365 days a year…Professor John Reilly, of Strathclyde’s School of Psychological Sciences and Health, led the study. He said: “The amount of time children spend in front of screens has had an impact on their wellbeing for many years. The popularity of computer games and the emergence of the internet, smartphones, and social media have contributed further to this problem…Play benefits children in helping them to develop socially and emotionally, so promoting active outdoor play would have many benefits in addition to improving physical activity, improving academic attainment, and reducing obesity.””(more)

Parent-Preschooler Interactions Affected by Media Use, Study Says

Education News – Grace Smith

“A new study from the University of Michigan has found that even preschool-aged children are caught up in the electronic device rage. Parents and kids three to five- years-old are not communicating with one another because the young ones are using video games, mobile devices, and television so often. The difference in this study is that instead of relying on self-reporting by parents who were tracking their children’s media time, the scientists tried something different. The researchers used audio equipment to follow preschoolers as they interacted with their parents in 2010 and 2011…The surprising results showed that kids with mothers who had graduate degrees had much less exposure to media than young ones with moms who had only high school diplomas or who had one year of university. Nicholas Waters, the lead author of the study, said that moms who were highly educated were more likely to discuss media use with their kids. The research also found that these mothers had their children watch more education programming on television.”(more)

How to keep kids active when cold keeps them inside

Courier-Journal – Lexy Gross

“By now, most parents are well aware of the dangers of too much screen time for children. But how can you keep kids active when brutal temperatures keep them inside? Louisville area experts and parents have found many ways to keep kids entertained with healthy – and relatively cheap – activities, many of which can also be educational…Jenita Lyons, health and wellness manager at the Office of Child Advocacy at Kosair Children’s Hospital, said it’s important to make sure kids are getting about an hour of exercise a day…She said exercise improves physical, mental and emotional well-being, can help kids do better in school and sleep better. It can also lower the risk of obesity or chronic diseases down the road. Here are a few of the ideas Lyons and local parents suggest:”(more)

‘iPad generation’ means nine in 10 toddlers live couch potato lives

The Telegraph – Laura Donnelly

“Just one in ten of the “iPad generation” of toddlers are active enough to be healthy, official Government data shows. Experts said Britain is “in the grip of an inactivity crisis” with two-year-olds spending increasing amounts of time hunched over gadgets, instead of moving about and playing traditional games…Health experts called for radical changes to the habits of today’s toddlers, warning that many were mimicking parents who spend much of their leisure time on tablets and smartphones…Government guidelines recommend that under-fives should undertake at least three hours of physical activity per day, in order to support brain, bone and muscular development, as well as encourage good habits for life. For those aged five to 15, the recommended minimum is one hour of moderately intensive activity a day.”(more)