Tag Archives: Play

City University London study: Infants prefer toys typed to their gender

24 Jul

Some in society are pushing the concept of gender-neutral.  Alina Tugend wrote Engendering Sons: Is It Doable—or Even Desirable—to Raise Gender-Neutral Children?

Overcoming gender disparities may require us to take a more nuanced approach to problem solving. For example, if we want more girls and women, who are now woefully underrepresented, to take more science, technology, engineering, and math classes, and we agree that it’s not innate ability holding them back, the answer might be to show scientists, engineers, and mathematicians to be attractive and caring rather than nerdy. Or change the physical environment of classrooms and laboratories to make them more appealing to girls.

Then again, does this counter or reinforce gender stereotypes? Good people disagree.

One thing that’s easy to forget, as Janet Hyde points out, is that variations within genders are greater than variations between them. I see the truth of that in my own home. Both my boys are into sports, but one is far more talkative and intellectually curious, while the other ranks higher on intuition and emotional intelligence. If they were a boy and a girl, it would be easy to attribute these differences to gender. As it is, I guess I’ll have to blame—or credit—the vast and ever-shifting mishmash of biology, parenting, peer influence, and culture.                                                                                      http://alumni.berkeley.edu/california-magazine/winter-2014-gender-assumptions/engendering-sons-it-doable-or-even-desirable

One study points to the idea that gender concept starts early.

Science Daily reported in Infants prefer toys typed to their gender:

Children as young as 9 months-old prefer to play with toys specific to their own gender, according to a new study from academics at City University London and UCL.

The paper, which is published in the journal of Infant and Child Development, shows that in a familiar nursery environment significant sex differences were evident at an earlier age than gendered identity is usually demonstrated.

The research therefore suggests the possibility that boys and girls follow different developmental trajectories with respect to selection of gender-typed toys and that there is both a biological and a developmental-environmental components to the sex differences seen in object preferences.

To investigate the gender preferences seen with toys, the researchers observed the toy preferences of boys and girls engaged in independent play in UK nurseries, without the presence of a parent. The toys used in the study were a doll, a pink teddy bear and a cooking pot for girls, while for boys a car, a blue teddy, a digger and a ball were used.

The 101 boys and girls fell into three age groups: 9 to 17 months, when infants can first demonstrate toy preferences in independent play (N=40); 18 to 23 months, when critical advances in gender knowledge occur (N=29); and 24 to 32 months, when knowledge becomes further established (N=32).

Stereotypical toy preferences were found for boys and girls in each of the age groups, demonstrating that sex differences in toy preference appear early in development. Both boys and girls showed a trend for an increasing preference with age for toys stereotyped for boys….

“Our results show that there are significant sex differences across all three age groups, with the finding that children in the youngest group, who were aged between 9-17months when infants are able to crawl or walk and therefore make independent selections, being particularly interesting; the ball was a favourite choice for the youngest boys and the youngest girls favoured the cooking pot.”                                                                                                                     https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160715114739.htm

Citation:

Infants prefer toys typed to their gender, says study

Date:        July 15, 2016

Source:    City University

Summary:

Children as young as 9 months-old prefer to play with toys specific to their own gender, according to a new study. The research suggests the possibility that boys and girls follow different developmental trajectories with respect to selection of gender-typed toys and that there is both a biological and a developmental-environmental components to the sex differences seen in object preferences.

Journal Reference:

  1. Brenda K. Todd, John A. Barry, Sara A. O. Thommessen. Preferences for ‘Gender-typed’ Toys in Boys and Girls Aged 9 to 32 Months. Infant and Child Development, 2016; DOI: 10.1002/icd.1986

View Full Article (HTML) Enhanced Article (HTML) Get PDF (128K)

Keywords:

  • sex differences;
  • toy preference;
  • play;
  • infancy;
  • gender differences

Many studies have found that a majority of boys and girls prefer to play with toys that are typed to their own gender but there is still uncertainty about the age at which such sex differences first appear, and under what conditions. Applying a standardized research protocol and using a selection of gender-typed toys, we observed the toy preferences of boys and girls engaged in independent play in UK nurseries, without the presence of a parent. The 101 boys and girls fell into three age groups: 9 to 17 months, when infants can first demonstrate toy preferences in independent play (N = 40); 18 to 23 months, when critical advances in gender knowledge occur (N = 29); and 24 to 32 months, when knowledge becomes further established (N  = 32). Stereotypical toy preferences were found for boys and girls in each of the age groups, demonstrating that sex differences in toy preference appear early in development. Both boys and girls showed a trend for an increasing preference with age for toys stereotyped for boys. Theoretical implications of the findings are discussed with regard to biological predispositions, cognitive development and environmental influences on toy preference. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Here is the press release from City University:

Infants prefer toys typed to their gender, says study

Research suggests the possibility that boys and girls follow different developmental trajectories with respect to selection of gender-typed toys

First published Wednesday, 20th July, 2016 • by George Wigmore (Senior Communications Officer)

Children as young as 9 months-old prefer to play with toys specific to their own gender, according to a new study from academics at City University London and UCL.

The paper, which is published in the journal of Infant and Child Development, shows that in a familiar nursery environment significant sex differences were evident at an earlier age than gendered identity is usually demonstrated.

The research therefore suggests the possibility that boys and girls follow different developmental trajectories with respect to selection of gender-typed toys and that there is both a biological and a developmental-environmental components to the sex differences seen in object preferences.

To investigate the gender preferences seen with toys, the researchers observed the toy preferences of boys and girls engaged in independent play in UK nurseries, without the presence of a parent. The toys used in the study were a doll, a pink teddy bear and a cooking pot for girls, while for boys a car, a blue teddy, a digger and a ball were used.

The 101 boys and girls fell into three age groups: 9 to 17 months, when infants can first demonstrate toy preferences in independent play (N=40); 18 to 23 months, when critical advances in gender knowledge occur (N=29); and 24 to 32 months, when knowledge becomes further established (N=32).

Stereotypical toy preferences were found for boys and girls in each of the age groups, demonstrating that sex differences in toy preference appear early in development. Both boys and girls showed a trend for an increasing preference with age for toys stereotyped for boys.

Speaking about the study, Dr Brenda Todd, a senior lecturer in psychology at City University said:

“Sex differences in play and toy choice are of interest in relation to child care, educational practice and developmental theory. Historically there has been uncertainty about the origins of boys’ and girls’ preferences for play with toys typed to their own sex and the developmental processes that underlie this behaviour. As a result we set out to find out whether a preference occurs and at what age it develops.

“Biological differences give boys an aptitude for mental rotation and more interest and ability in spatial processing, while girls are more interested in looking at faces and better at fine motor skills and manipulating objects. When we studied toy preference in a familiar nursery setting with parents absent, the differences we saw were consistent with these aptitudes. Although there was variability between individual children, we found that, in general, boys played with male-typed toys more than female-typed toys and girls played with female-typed toys more than male-typed toys.

“Our results show that there are significant sex differences across all three age groups, with the finding that children in the youngest group, who were aged between 9–17 months when infants are able to crawl or walk and therefore make independent selections, being particularly interesting; the ball was a favourite choice for the youngest boys and the youngest girls favoured the cooking pot.”

‘Preferences for ‘Gender-typed’ Toys in Boys and Girls Aged 9 to 32 Months’ by Brenda K. Todd et al is published in the journal of Infant and Child Development. View the full article   http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/icd.1986/full

Melanie Phillips of the Spectator wrote in It’s dangerous and wrong to tell all children they’re ‘gender fluid’:

In short, the political class is obsessed by gender issues. I trust you are, too. Surely you can reel off the differences between trans, intersex, polygender, asexual, gender–neutral and genderqueer? Do keep up. We’re all gender fluid now, no?

No. Gender is not fluid. What is fluid, however, is the language.

The notion that gender can be deconstructed in accordance with ideology started in the 1970s when (ironically, in view of the Greer row) it was promoted by feminists for whom gender was not a biological fact but a social construct. But it’s not. Gender derives from a complex relationship between biological sex and behaviour. And nature and nurture are not easily separable. Some unfortunates feel they are trapped in the wrong gender. Surgery may or may not resolve this confusion. Many who change sex still don’t feel comfortable; tragically, some even commit suicide.

Crucially, however, such people are desperate to make that change. That’s because for trans people gender is certainly not irrelevant but is of all–consuming importance. Yet Miller and her committee would deprive them of the ability to announce their new sexual identity on passports or other official documents.

Is this not, by Miller’s own logic, cruelty to trans people? But of course logic doesn’t come into this. Gender politics is all about subjective feelings. It has nothing to do with fairness or equality. It embodies instead an extreme egalitarianism which holds that any evidence of difference is a form of prejudice….                                                                                                                            http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/01/its-dangerous-and-wrong-to-tell-all-children-theyre-gender-fluid/

The only that is certain is the PC class will hate the City University study.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART ©                                                http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                                                                         http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

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University of Colorado Boulder study: Children need flexible play time

29 Jun

Creativity is important in finding solutions to problems. In What is a creativity index and why are states incorporating the index into education? moi wrote: The Martin Prosperity Institute of the University of Toronto began studying the “creativity index” several years ago. Here is a portion of the summary for their report, Creativity and Prosperity: The Global Creativity Index:

The economic crisis has challenged popular conceptions of economic growth, both in terms of what it is and how to measure it. While engendering growth and bolstering competitiveness remain high on the agenda, immediate attention has shifted to creating jobs, lifting wages, addressing inequality, and fostering long-term, sustainable prosperity. This new edition of the Global Creativity Index (GCI), which we first introduced in 2004, provides a powerful lens through which to assess these issues….

http://martinprosperity.org/research-and-publications/publication/global-creativity-index
Download Creativity and Prosperity: The Global Creativity Index. (2.68 MB) http://martinprosperity.org/media/GCI-Report-reduced-Oct%202011.pdf
Read “Towards a Broader Conception of Economic Competitiveness“, our MPInsight discussing the Global Creativity Index. http://martinprosperity.org/2011/10/04/towards-a-broader-conception-of-economic-competitiveness/
The question is whether creativity can or should be taught? One way of fostering creativity is allowing children to have flexible time.

Moi wrote In the rush to produce geniuses, are we forgetting the value of play: Children are not “mini mes” or short adults. They are children and they should have time to play, to dream, and to use their imagination. Dan Childs of ABC News reports in the story, Recess ‘Crucial’ for Kids, Pediatricians’ Group Says:

The statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics is the latest salvo in the long-running debate over how much of a young child’s time at school should be devoted to academics — and how much should go to free, unstructured playtime.
The authors of the policy statement write that the AAP “believes that recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development and, as such, it should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons.”
“The AAP has, in recent years, tried to focus the attention of parents, school officials and policymakers on the fact that kids are losing their free play,” said the AAP’s Dr. Robert Murray, one of the lead authors of the statement. “We are overstructuring their day. … They lose that creative free play, which we think is so important.”
The statement, which cites two decades worth of scientific evidence, points to the various benefits of recess. While physical activity is among these, so too are some less obvious boons such as cognitive benefits, better attention during class, and enhanced social and emotional development. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/recess-crucial-kids-aap-policy-statement/story?id=18083935#.UOZ606zIlIq

The goal of this society should be to raise healthy and happy children who will grow into concerned and involved adults who care about their fellow citizens and environment. https://drwilda.com/2014/03/10/in-the-rush-to-produce-geniuses-are-we-forgetting-the-value-of-play/

Hannah Goldberg wrote in the Time article, Study: Less-Structured Time Correlates to Kids’ Success:

Research found that young children who spend more time engaging in more open-ended, free-flowing activities display higher levels of executive functioning, and vice versa
Parents, drop your planners—a new psychological study released Tuesday found that children with less-structured time are likely to show more “self-directed executive functioning,” otherwise known as the “cognitive processes that regulate thought and action in support of goal-oriented behavior.”
Doctoral and undergraduate researchers at University of Colorado, Boulder, followed 70 children ranging from six to seven years old, measuring their activities. A pre-determined classification system categorized activities as physical or non-physical, structured and unstructured….
http://time.com/2901044/study-kids-structured-time-success/

Citation:

Original Research ARTICLE
Front. Psychol., 17 June 2014 | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00593
Less-structured time in children’s daily lives predicts self-directed executive functioning
Jane E. Barker1*, Andrei D. Semenov1, Laura Michaelson1, Lindsay S. Provan1, Hannah R. Snyder2 and Yuko Munakata1
• 1Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA
• 2Department of Psychology, University of Denver, Denver, CO, USA
Executive functions (EFs) in childhood predict important life outcomes. Thus, there is great interest in attempts to improve EFs early in life. Many interventions are led by trained adults, including structured training activities in the lab, and less-structured activities implemented in schools. Such programs have yielded gains in children’s externally-driven executive functioning, where they are instructed on what goal-directed actions to carry out and when. However, it is less clear how children’s experiences relate to their development of self-directed executive functioning, where they must determine on their own what goal-directed actions to carry out and when. We hypothesized that time spent in less-structured activities would give children opportunities to practice self-directed executive functioning, and lead to benefits. To investigate this possibility, we collected information from parents about their 6–7 year-old children’s daily, annual, and typical schedules. We categorized children’s activities as “structured” or “less-structured” based on categorization schemes from prior studies on child leisure time use. We assessed children’s self-directed executive functioning using a well-established verbal fluency task, in which children generate members of a category and can decide on their own when to switch from one subcategory to another. The more time that children spent in less-structured activities, the better their self-directed executive functioning. The opposite was true of structured activities, which predicted poorer self-directed executive functioning. These relationships were robust (holding across increasingly strict classifications of structured and less-structured time) and specific (time use did not predict externally-driven executive functioning). We discuss implications, caveats, and ways in which potential interpretations can be distinguished in future work, to advance an understanding of this fundamental aspect of growing up.
Read Full Text
Keywords: cognitive development, self-directed executive function, leisure time, unstructured activities, verbal fluency
Citation: Barker JE, Semenov AD, Michaelson L, Provan LS, Snyder HR and Munakata Y (2014) Less-structured time in children’s daily lives predicts self-directed executive functioning. Front. Psychol. 5:593. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00593
Received: 04 February 2014; Accepted: 27 May 2014;
Published online: 17 June 2014.
Less-structured time in children’s daily lives predicts self-directed executive functioning

Here is the press release from University of Colorado Boulder:

Kids whose time is less structured are better able to meet their own goals
June 19, 2014 •
Social Sciences
Children who spend more time in less structured activities—from playing outside to reading books to visiting the zoo—are better able to set their own goals and take actions to meet those goals without prodding from adults, according to a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder.
The study, published online in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, also found that children who participate in more structured activities—including soccer practice, piano lessons and homework—had poorer “self-directed executive function,” a measure of the ability to set and reach goals independently.
“Executive function is extremely important for children,” said CU-Boulder psychology and neuroscience Professor Yuko Munakata, senior author of the new study. “It helps them in all kinds of ways throughout their daily lives, from flexibly switching between different activities rather than getting stuck on one thing, to stopping themselves from yelling when angry, to delaying gratification. Executive function during childhood also predicts important outcomes, like academic performance, health, wealth and criminality, years and even decades later.”
The study is one of the first to try to scientifically grapple with the question of how an increase in scheduled, formal activities may affect the way children’s brains develop.
Munakata said a debate about parenting philosophy—with extremely rigid “tiger moms” on one side and more elastic “free-range” parents on the other—has played out in the media and on parenting blogs in recent years. But there is little scientific evidence to support claims on either side of the discussion.
Jane Barker, a CU-Boulder doctoral student working with Munakata and lead author of the study, said, “These are societally important questions that come up quite often in social commentary and casual conversations among parents. So it’s important to conduct research in this area, even if the questions are messy and not easy to investigate.”
For the study, parents of 70 6-year-olds recorded their children’s daily activities for a week. The scientists then categorized those activities as either more structured or less structured, relying on existing time-use classifications already used in scientific literature by economists.
“These were the best and the most rigorous classifications we could find,” Barker said. “They still fail to capture the degree of structure within specific activities, but we thought that was the best starting point because we wanted to connect this with prior work.”
In that classification system, structured activities include chores, physical lessons, non-physical lessons and religious activities. Less-structured activities include free play alone and with others, social outings, sightseeing, reading and media time. Activities that did not count in either category include sleeping, eating meals, going to school and commuting.
The children also were evaluated for self-directed executive function with a commonly used verbal fluency test.
The results showed that the more time children spent in less structured activities, the better their self-directed executive function. Conversely, the more time children spent in more structured activities the poorer their self-directed executive function.
Because some of the existing time-use categories might not reflect the real amount of structure involved in an activity, the researchers also did several rounds of recalculation after removing categories that were questionable. In each case the findings still held. For example, the time-use categories classify media screen time as unstructured, but the degree of structure depends on whether a child is watching a movie or playing a video game. However, when media time was removed from the data, the results were the same.
“This isn’t perfect, but it’s a first step,” said Munakata. “Our results are really suggestive and intriguing. Now we’ll see if it holds up as we push forward and try to get more information.”
The researchers emphasize that their results show a correlation between time use and self-directed executive function, but they don’t prove that the change in self-directed executive function was caused by the amount of structured or unstructured time. The team is already considering a longitudinal study, which would follow participants over time, to begin to answer the question of cause.
Other study co-authors are undergraduate alumnus Andrei Semenov, doctoral student Laura Michaelson and professional research assistant Lindsay Provan, all from CU-Boulder, and Hannah Snyder, a former CU-Boulder doctoral student and current postdoctoral researcher at the University of Denver. The study was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Read the study at http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00593/abstract.
– See more at: Kids whose time is less structured are better able to meet their own goals | University of Colorado Boulder

We must not so over-schedule children that they have no time to play and to dream. Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

Related:

The ‘whole child’ approach to education https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/the-whole-child-approach-to-education/

Childhood obesity: Recess is being cut in low-income schools https://drwilda.com/2011/12/15/childhood-obesity-recess-is-being-cut-in-low-income-schools/

Louisiana study: Fit children score higher on standardized tests https://drwilda.com/2012/05/08/louisiana-study-fit-children-score-higher-on-standardized-tests/

Seattle Research Institute study about outside play https://drwilda.wordpress.com/tag/childrens-physical-activity/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:
COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART© http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews © http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda © https://drwilda.com/

Artic University of Norway study: Too much screen time can cause osteoporosis in boys

9 Apr

Play is important for children and outside play is particularly important. Kids Discover Nature has some excellent resources about outside play. In the post, 10 Reasons Why Kids Should Play Outside reasons for outside play are given.

1. K-12 students participating in environmental education programs at school do better on standardized tests in math, reading, writing and social studies.
Sources:
Abrams, K.S. (1999). Summary of project outcomes from Environmental Education and Sunshine State Standards schools’ final report data. Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. New York: Algonquin Books. (p. 206) Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. New York: Algonquin Books. (p. 206)
2. Children and adults find it easier to concentrate and pay attention after spending time in nature.
Sources:
Wells, N.M. (2000). At home with nature: Effects of “greenness” on children’s cognitive functioning. Environment and Behavior 32: 775-795.
Hartig, T., Mang, M., & Evans, G.W. (1991). Restorative effects of natural environment experiences. Environment and Behavior 23: 3-26.
3. Nature provides a rich source of hands-on, multi-sensory stimulation, which is critical for brain development in early childhood.
Source:
Rivkin, M.S. Natural Learning.
4. Children’s play is more creative and egalitarian in natural areas than in more structured or paved areas.
Source:
Faber Taylor, A., Wiley, A., Kuo, F.E. & Sullivan, W.C. (1998). Growing up in the inner city: Green spaces as places to grow. Environment and Behavior 30(1): 3-27.
5. Living in “high nature conditions” buffers children against the effects of stressful life events.
Source:
Wells, N. & Evans, G. (2003). Nearby nature: A buffer of life stress among rural children. Environment and Behavior 35: 311-330.
Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. New York: Algonquin Books.
6. Views of nature reduce stress levels and speed recovery from illness, injury or stressful experiences.
Sources:
Frumkin, H. (2001). Beyond toxicity: Human health and the natural environment. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 20(3): 234-240.
Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. New York: Algonquin Books.
7. The ultimate raw material for much of human intellect, emotion, personality, industry, and spirit is rooted in a healthy, accessible, and abundant natural environment.
Source:
Kellert, Stephen R. (2005). Building for Life: Designing and Developing the Human-Nature Connection.Washington: Island Press.
8. Access to nature nurtures self discipline.
Source: Faber Taylor, A., Kuo, F.E., & Sullivan, W.C. (2002). Views of Nature and Self-Discipline: Evidence from Inner City Children. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 22, 49-63.
9. Nearby Nature Boosts Children’s Cognitive functioning.
Source: Wells, N.M. At Home with Nature: Effects of “Greenness” on Children’s Cognitive Functioning. Environment and Behavior. Vol. 32, No. 6, 775-795.
10. Children diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention-deficit disorder (ADD) showed reduce symptoms after playing in natural areas.
Source:
Kuo, F.E. & Faber Taylor, A. (2004). A potential natural treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: evidence from a national study. American Journal of Public Health 94(9):1580-1586. http://www.kidsdiscovernature.com/2009/08/10-reasons-why-kids-should-play-outside.html

An Arctic University of Norway study reported about the risk of osteoporosis for boys who spend too much time in front of computer screens.

The International Osteoporosis Foundation reported about the Arctic University of Norway’s study regarding boys and screen time.

DOES TOO MUCH TIME AT THE COMPUTER LEAD TO LOWER BONE MINERAL DENSITY IN ADOLESCENTS?
April 4, 2014
Study of Norwegian students finds great variation in impact on bone mineral density in boys and girls, concluding that teenage boys that spend more time in front of screen have weaker bones.
Results of a study presented today at the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases, showed that in boys, higher screen time was adversely associated to bone mineral density (BMD) at all sites even when adjusted for specific lifestyle factors.
The skeleton grows continually from birth to the end of the teenage years, reaching peak bone mass – maximum strength and size – in early adulthood. Along with nutritional factors, physical activity can also greatly impact on this process. There is consequently growing concern regarding the possible adverse effects of sedentary lifestyles in youth on bone health and on obesity.
The skeleton grows continually from birth to the end of the teenage years, reaching peak bone mass – maximum strength and size– in early adulthood. Along with nutritional factors, physical activity can also greatly impact on this process. There is consequently growing concern regarding the possible adverse effects of sedentary lifestyles in youth on bone health and on obesity.
The Norwegian study explored the hypothesis that greater computer use at weekends is associated with lower BMD. The data was obtained from 463 girls and 484 boys aged 15–18 years in the Tromsø region of Norway. The students participated in the Fit Futures study from 2010–2011 which assessed more than 90% of all first year high school students in the region.
BMD at total hip, femoral neck and total body was measured by DXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry). Lifestyle variables were collected by self-administered questionnaires and interviews, including questions on time per day during weekends spent in front of the television or computer, and time spent on leisure time physical activities. The associations between BMD and screen time were analyzed in a multiple regression model that included adjustment for age, sexual maturation, BMI, leisure time physical activity, smoking, alcohol, cod liver oil and carbonated drink consumption.
Not surprisingly, the researchers found that boys spent more time in front of the computer than girls. As well as high screen time being adversely associated to BMD, in boys screen time was also positively related to higher body mass index (BMI) levels. In contrast to the boys, girls who spent 4–6 hours in front of the computer, had higher BMD than counterparts who spend less than 1.5 hours screen time each day – and this could not be explained by adjustments for the different parameters measured.
Lead author of the study Dr Anne Winther, Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, stated, “Bone mineral density is a strong predictor of future fracture risk.O ur findings for girls are intriguing and definitely merit further exploration in other studies and population groups. The findings for boys on the other hand clearly show that sedentary lifestyle during adolescence can impact on BMD and thus compromise the acquisition of peak bone mass. This can have a negative impact in terms of osteoporosis and fracture risk later in life.”
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), approximately one in five men over the age of fifty worldwide will suffer a fracture as a result of osteoporosis. Very low levels of awareness about osteoporosis risk and bone health in males has prompted IOF to focus on osteoporosis in men as a key World Osteoporosis Day theme in 2014.
Abstract reference
OC 49 Leisure time computer use and adolescent bone health: findings from the Tromsø study–Fit Futures.
A. Winther, E. Dennison, O. A. Nilsen, R. Jorde, G. Grimnes, A. S. Furberg, L. A. Ahmed, N. Emaus. Osteoporos Int. Vol 25, Suppl. 2, 2014
Download abstracts from the IOF-ESCEO World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases

See, Does too much time at the computer lead to lower bone mineral density in adolescents? http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140404140205.htm

Web MD gives a good explanation of what osteoporosis is in the article, Osteoporosis Health Center:

Overview & Facts
Learn about osteoporosis and take action against this silent disease.You may not know you have it until your thinned, weakened bones fracture in a bump or fall.
What Is Osteoporosis?
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis weakens bones and increases the risk of unexpected fractures. Serious consequences can occur with some fractures. Read this overview article about osteoporosis and how to keep your bones strong.
Picture of Osteoporosis
Want to see what a bone with osteoporosis looks like, compared to a healthy bone? This link will show you photos of normal and osteoporotic bone.
Causes
What Causes Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease. It can be prevented with a healthy diet and staying physically active. Learn about factors that can make bones stronger or weaker.
What Causes Compression Fractures?
Most spinal compression fractures are never diagnosed because many patients and families think the back pain is merely a sign of aging and arthritis. These weakened bones cause the spine to collapse. Read more.
Are You at Risk?
Osteoporosis: Are You at Risk?
See what factors increase risk of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis Risk Factors: Fact vs. Fiction
Think you know all about osteoporosis? Chances are, some of the things you think you know about osteoporosis risk factors may be wrong.
Osteoporosis in Men
Find out what risk factors increase the chances of osteoporosis in men.
Prevention
Osteoporosis Prevention
Osteoporosis can be prevented. People of all ages can get involved in protecting their bones. Exercise and a healthy diet can cut osteoporosis risk. Here are some tips for keeping your bones strong.
Vitamin D Deficiency?
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. And we need more vitamin D as we get older. Are you getting enough? If your diet doesn’t contain sufficient amounts of this bone saver, supplements may help. Read about vitamin D deficiency…. http://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/guide/osteoporosis-overview-facts

There is something to be said for Cafe Society where people actually meet face-to-face for conversation or the custom of families eating at least one meal together. Time has a good article on The Magic of the Family Meal http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1200760,00.html See, also Family Dinner: The Value of Sharing Meals http://www.ivillage.com/family-dinner-value-sharing-meals/6-a-128491
Perhaps, acting like the power is out from time to time and using Helen Robin’s suggestions is not such a bad idea.

Related:

Two studies: Social media and social dysfunction https://drwilda.com/2013/04/13/two-studies-social-media-and-social-dysfunction/

Common Sense Media report: Kids migrating away from Facebook
https://drwilda.com/tag/the-impact-of-social-media-use-on-children/

Is ‘texting’ destroying literacy skills https://drwilda.com/2012/07/30/is-texting-destroying-literacy-skills/

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Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

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Dr. Wilda Reviews © http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda © https://drwilda.com/

In the rush to produce geniuses, are we forgetting the value of play

10 Mar

Children are not “mini mes” or short adults. They are children and they should have time to play, to dream, and to use their imagination. Dan Childs of ABC News reports in the story, Recess ‘Crucial’ for Kids, Pediatricians’ Group Says:

The statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics is the latest salvo in the long-running debate over how much of a young child’s time at school should be devoted to academics — and how much should go to free, unstructured playtime.
The authors of the policy statement write that the AAP “believes that recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development and, as such, it should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons.”
“The AAP has, in recent years, tried to focus the attention of parents, school officials and policymakers on the fact that kids are losing their free play,” said the AAP’s Dr. Robert Murray, one of the lead authors of the statement. “We are overstructuring their day. … They lose that creative free play, which we think is so important.”
The statement, which cites two decades worth of scientific evidence, points to the various benefits of recess. While physical activity is among these, so too are some less obvious boons such as cognitive benefits, better attention during class, and enhanced social and emotional development. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/recess-crucial-kids-aap-policy-statement/story?id=18083935#.UOZ606zIlIq

The goal of this society should be to raise healthy and happy children who will grow into concerned and involved adults who care about their fellow citizens and environment. In order to accomplish this goal, all children must receive a good basic education and in order to achieve that goal, children must arrive at school, ready to learn.

Debbie Rhea wrote the thoughtful Education Week commentary, Give Students Time to Play:

It seems counterintuitive to think that less classroom time and more outdoor play would lead to a better education for kids. After all, what many in our country, including most recently New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, have prescribed are longer days in the classroom. But longer days on task don’t equate to better results. Instead, they translate into more burnout, lower test scores, and more of the same. All work and no play really does make dull boys and girls.
For years, educators have tried different strategies of more testing and of more time on task to reverse these trends, but they have proved to be unsuccessful. The answer is not additional in-class sitting time. What kids need is time to move and have unstructured play.
On a recent sabbatical, I spent six weeks in Finland studying how that country practices education. Reading, science, and math are important in the Finnish education system, but so are social studies, physical education, arts, music, foreign languages, and a number of practical skills. The school day in Finland looks much different from the school day in the United States.
“We should not sacrifice recess time for classroom time, and neither should be used to discipline students.”
In the United States, for example, a 1st grader attends school 35 hours a week, seven hours a day. In Finland, a 1st grader spends 22.5 hours a week in school, or 4.5 hours a day. Three hours each day are spent on content in the classroom, and another 1.5 hours are spent on recess or “unstructured outdoor play.” Some elementary schools in the United States do not have recess time built into their schedules, let alone outdoor recess.
Kids are built to move. Having more time for unstructured outdoor play is like handing them a reset button. It not only helps to break up their day, but it also allows them to blow off steam, while giving them an opportunity to move and redirect their energy to something more meaningful once they return to the classroom.
When a human sits for longer than about 20 minutes, the physiology of the brain and body changes. Gravity begins to pool blood into the hamstrings, robbing the brain of needed oxygen and glucose, or brain fuel. The brain essentially just falls asleep when we sit for too long. Moving and being active stimulates the neurons that fire in the brain. When you are sitting, those neurons don’t fire.
Getting students out of their chairs and moving outdoors is essential. A 2008 study published in JAMA Opthamology found that 42 percent of people in the United States between the ages of 12 and 54 are nearsighted. But 40 years ago, that number was only 25 percent, a change that can’t be explained by heredity. Time indoors can weaken our vision, especially if we are staring at computer screens and not looking away for long periods of time. Additional studies have also shown that when people have inadequate daylight exposure at work, particularly in areas that have poor indoor lighting, it can disrupt their circadian rhythms—the cycle that allows for healthy sleep. When these rhythms are thrown off, it can have a negative impact on academic performance.
I’m such a believer in more unstructured outdoor play and recess throughout the day that I’ve launched a pilot program called Project ISIS—Innovating Strategies, Inspiring Students—that is being implemented in two Texas private schools, with an additional three public elementary schools in that state coming on board by the fall. While the program doesn’t reduce the number of hours spent at school, it does build in more outside recess time. Students get two 15-minute unstructured outdoor-play breaks in the morning (one is right before lunch, the other is a full lunch with a short recess afterward), and then two more 15-minute recess breaks in the afternoon. These schools will continue to have physical education as a content area.
We should not sacrifice recess time for classroom time, and neither should be used to discipline students. The more movement children have throughout the day, the better they will be with attentional focus, behavioral issues, and academic performance…. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/02/26/22rhea.h33.html?tkn=VRYFMBKESIDvZIGHetFWpKk1lBN%2FPqxFrjSh&intc=es

We must not so over-schedule children that they have no time to play and to dream. Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

Related:

The ‘whole child’ approach to education
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/the-whole-child-approach-to-education/

Childhood obesity: Recess is being cut in low-income schools
https://drwilda.com/2011/12/15/childhood-obesity-recess-is-being-cut-in-low-income-schools/

Louisiana study: Fit children score higher on standardized tests
https://drwilda.com/2012/05/08/louisiana-study-fit-children-score-higher-on-standardized-tests/

Seattle Research Institute study about outside play
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/tag/childrens-physical-activity/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©
https://drwilda.com/

If kids must watch television, parents must be selective about programs children watch

20 Feb

Moi said this in Play is as important for children as technology:

Let’s make this short and sweet. Park your kid in front of the television and you will probably be raising an overweight idiot. Tara Parker-Pope has a great post at the New York Times blog. In the post, TV For Toddlers Linked With Later Problems Parker-Pope reports:

Toddlers who watch a lot of television were more likely to experience a range of problems by the fourth grade, including lower grades, poorer health and more problems with school bullies, a new study reports.

The study of more than 1,300 Canadian schoolchildren tracked the amount of television children were watching at the ages of about 2 and 5. The researchers then followed up on the children in fourth grade to assess academic performance, social issues and general health.

On average, the schoolchildren were watching about nine hours of television each week as toddlers. The total jumped to about 15 hours as they approached 5 years of age. The average level of television viewing shown in the study falls within recommended guidelines. However, 11 percent of the toddlers were exceeding two hours a day of television viewing.

For those children, each hour of extra TV exposure in early childhood was associated with a range of issues by the fourth grade, according to the report published in the May issue of The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Compared with children who watched less television, those with more TV exposure participated less in class and had lower math grades. They suffered about 10 percent more bullying by classmates and were less likely to be physically active on weekends. They consumed about 10 percent more soft drinks and snacks and had body mass index scores that were about 5 percent higher than their peers.

Well duh, people. You probably already knew this. Guess why you have feet attached to your legs? So, you and the kids can walk around the neighborhood and the park. Better yet, why don’t you encourage your children to play.https://drwilda.com/2012/09/16/play-is-as-important-for-children-as-technology/

Seattle Children’s Hospital reports on a television study in the article, For children’s behavior, TV content as important as quantity:

Children imitate what they see on the screen, both good and bad behavior. This effect of television and video programming can be applied to positively impact children’s behavior according to a study published online in Pediatrics on Feb. 18. The study, “Modifying media content for preschool children: A randomized controlled trial,” was led by Dimitri Christakis, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

Media diet study

Researchers in Seattle studied 565 families with children aged three to five years who spent at least some time watching TV or video content each week. Half of the families were randomly assigned to a “media diet” intervention while the other half, “the control group,” received a nutritional diet intervention designed to promote healthier eating habits. “For the media diet, we coached families on how to substitute prosocial and educational programs for violent ones,” said Christakis.

What is prosocial content?

Prosocial programming encourages children to be kind and to share, and portrays adults as dependable.

The intervention addressed all screen time (TV, DVDs and videos, computer, video games, handheld devices, etc.), but the primary focus was on TV and videos because this accounts for the vast majority of screen time in preschool-aged children.

How families followed a media diet

Families in both groups kept media diaries and provided details on the amount of time spent watching TV, videos and other types of screen time. The research team distributed monthly program guides and a sample DVD of prosocial content that would appeal to boys, girls and diverse populations. Families were also steered to Common Sense Media, which provides ratings for family movies, TV shows, websites and video games.

The intervention did not attempt to reduce the number of hours of screen time for the children, but it did encourage a positive media diet and co-viewing with parents. A case manager followed up with families regularly for 12 months. At six months and 12 months, the children in the media diet intervention group were spending significantly less time on violent programming than they did at the start of the study, compared to the control group.

Both the intervention and control groups increased viewing time slightly during the study, but the control group increased its minutes of violent content, while the intervention group increased its minutes of prosocial and educational content.

At six months, the children in the intervention group demonstrated significantly less aggression and more prosocial behavior compared to the control group, and the effect lasted throughout the 12 months. Christakis and team concluded that such an intervention can positively impact child behavior.

Content as important as quantity

We often focus on how much kids watch and don’t focus enough on what they watch,” Christakis said. “While too many children watch too much TV, this study shows that content is as important as quantity.  It isn’t just about turning off the TV, it’s about changing the channel.”

Christakis said the public health description for a media diet is that it’s a harm reduction approach, similar to a needle exchange, condom distribution or a methadone clinic for heroin addicts. “The media diet reduces the risks associated with TV,” he said.

What about parents who didn’t take part in the study? “Parents could absolutely implement the media diet on their own,” said Christakis.

Implement a media diet in your home: Dr. Christakis’ tips for parents

• Keep a media diary to make sure you’re aware of the TV and movies your child is watching
• Choose less violent and more prosocial content for your kids to watch, via sites like Common Sense Media
• Watch TV and movies with your children, so that you’re more aware of the content

Resources:

Promoting health early child development: An update and research agenda from the Christakis Lab, January 2013
New study links violent videos to sleep problems in preschool children, August 2012,
Pediatrics
Infant brains more engaged when playing with interactive toys: Study, July 2012,
Journal of Pediatrics
Powerpuff Girls vs. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Media impact on early childhood development, January 2012, TEDxRainier http://pulse.seattlechildrens.org/for-childrens-behavior-tv-content-as-important-as-quantity/

See, Study: Changing the Channel Could Lessen Bad Influence of TV http://www.educationnews.org/parenting/study-changing-the-channel-could-lessen-bad-influence-of-tv/

Citation:

Modifying Media Content for Preschool Children: A Randomized Controlled Trial

  1. Dimitri A. Christakis, MD, MPHa,b,
  2. Michelle M. Garrison, PhDa,c,
  3. Todd Herrenkohl, PhDd,
  4. Kevin Haggerty, MSWd,
  5. Frederick P. Rivara, MD, MPHa,b,
  6. Chuan Zhou, PhDa,b, and
  7. Kimberly Liekweg, BAa

+ Author Affiliations

  1. aCenter for Child Health, Behavior, and Development, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Seattle, Washington; and
  2. Departments of bPediatrics and
  3. cHealth Services, and
  4. dSchool of Social Work, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Although previous studies have revealed that preschool-aged children imitate both aggression and prosocial behaviors on screen, there have been few population-based studies designed to reduce aggression in preschool-aged children by modifying what they watch.

METHODS: We devised a media diet intervention wherein parents were assisted in substituting high quality prosocial and educational programming for aggression-laden programming without trying to reduce total screen time. We conducted a randomized controlled trial of 565 parents of preschool-aged children ages 3 to 5 years recruited from community pediatric practices. Outcomes were derived from the Social Competence and Behavior Evaluation at 6 and 12 months.

RESULTS: At 6 months, the overall mean Social Competence and Behavior Evaluation score was 2.11 points better (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.78–3.44) in the intervention group as compared with the controls, and similar effects were observed for the externalizing subscale (0.68 [95% CI: 0.06–1.30]) and the social competence subscale (1.04 [95% CI: 0.34–1.74]). The effect for the internalizing subscale was in a positive direction but was not statistically significant (0.42 [95% CI: −0.14 to 0.99]). Although the effect sizes did not noticeably decay at 12 months, the effect on the externalizing subscale was no longer statistically significant (P = .05). In a stratified analysis of the effect on the overall scores, low-income boys appeared to derive the greatest benefit (6.48 [95% CI: 1.60–11.37]).

CONCLUSIONS: An intervention to reduce exposure to screen violence and increase exposure to prosocial programming can positively impact child behavior.

Published online February 18, 2013

(doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-1493)

  1. » Abstract

  2. Full Text (PDF)

In Television cannot substitute for quality childcare, moi wrote:

Sarah D. Sparks reports in the Education Week article, Is Television the New Secondhand Smoke?

Prior research suggests background television can have a “chronic disruptive impact on very young children’s behavior.” Studies have linked background television to less focused play among toddlers, poorer parent-child interaction, and interference with older students’ ability to do homework.

For every minute of television to which children are directly exposed, there are an
additional 3 minutes of indirect exposure, making background exposure a much greater
proportion of time in a young child’s day,” the study noted.

Considering the accumulating evidence regarding the impact that background television exposure has on young children, we were rather floored about the sheer scale of children’s exposure with just under 4 hours of exposure each day,” Lapierre said in a statement on the study. Lapierre and his fellow researchers recommended that parents, teachers and early childcare providers turn off televisions when no one is watching a particular program and that parents prevent children from keeping a television in their rooms.

It’s easy to think about this as just one more alarm about how our modern media environment is ruining our kids. Yet the more interesting take-away from this field of research is how critical it is for children to learn actively and socially. Children learn from adults speaking to, with and around them, and from actively engaging with their world.

Anything that limits or distracts from that active interaction can be a problem, but not an insurmountable one. For example, researchers at the University of Washington’s Learning in Formal and Informal Environments, or LIFE, Center, is doing some fascinating work on the potential benefits of interactive media. There’s also been some interesting work on using video conferencing to read with children. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/04/is_television_the_new_secondha.html?intc=es

If watching television is not an appropriate activity for toddlers, then what are appropriate activities? The University of Illinois Extension has a good list of Age-Based Activities For Toddlers

See, How to Have a Happier, Healthier, Smarter Baby

Parents must interact with their children and read to them. Television is not a parental substitute. https://drwilda.com/2012/04/23/television-cannot-substitute-for-quality-childcare/

Related:

Study: Children subject to four hours background television daily                                                                              https://drwilda.com/2012/10/02/study-children-subject-to-fours-background-television-daily/

Common Sense Media report: Media choices at home affect school performance                                                               https://drwilda.com/2012/11/01/common-sense-media-report-media-choices-at-home-affect-school-performance/

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Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                                                 http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

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American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement: Recess is important for children

3 Jan

Children are not “mini mes” or short adults. They are children and they should have time to play, to dream, and to use their imagination. Dan Childs of ABC News reports in the story, Recess ‘Crucial’ for Kids, Pediatricians’ Group Says:

The statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics is the latest salvo in the long-running debate over how much of a young child’s time at school should be devoted to academics — and how much should go to free, unstructured playtime.

The authors of the policy statement write that the AAP “believes that recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development and, as such, it should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons.”

“The AAP has, in recent years, tried to focus the attention of parents, school officials and policymakers on the fact that kids are losing their free play,” said the AAP’s Dr. Robert Murray, one of the lead authors of the statement. “We are overstructuring their day. … They lose that creative free play, which we think is so important.”

The statement, which cites two decades worth of scientific evidence, points to the various benefits of recess. While physical activity is among these, so too are some less obvious boons such as cognitive benefits, better attention during class, and enhanced social and emotional development. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/recess-crucial-kids-aap-policy-statement/story?id=18083935#.UOZ606zIlIq

Citation:

Policy Statement

The Crucial Role of Recess in School

  1. COUNCIL ON SCHOOL HEALTH

Abstract

Recess is at the heart of a vigorous debate over the role of schools in promoting the optimal development of the whole child. A growing trend toward reallocating time in school to accentuate the more academic subjects has put this important facet of a child’s school day at risk. Recess serves as a necessary break from the rigors of concentrated, academic challenges in the classroom. But equally important is the fact that safe and well-supervised recess offers cognitive, social, emotional, and physical benefits that may not be fully appreciated when a decision is made to diminish it. Recess is unique from, and a complement to, physical education—not a substitute for it. The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development and, as such, it should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons.

Published online December 31, 2012 Pediatrics Vol. 131 No. 1 January 1, 2013
pp. 183 -188
(doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-2993)

  1. » Abstract

  2. Full Text

  3. Full Text (PDF)

The goal of this society should be to raise healthy and happy children who will grow into concerned and involved adults who care about their fellow citizens and environment.

Related:

Childhood obesity: Recess is being cut in low-income schools https://drwilda.com/2011/12/15/childhood-obesity-recess-is-being-cut-in-low-income-schools/

Louisiana study: Fit children score higher on standardized tests https://drwilda.com/2012/05/08/louisiana-study-fit-children-score-higher-on-standardized-tests/

Seattle Research Institute study about outside play https://drwilda.wordpress.com/tag/childrens-physical-activity/

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Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

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Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                                                http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

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Fewer children playing: Will technology make us all robots?

23 Dec

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Natural disasters and hurricanes like “Katrina” and “Sandy” demonstrate how dependent modern society is on a power source and how dependent modern society is on it’s technology. Back in the day, when there were no IPods, or IPads people were forced to do old school things like talk to each other and play cards or board games. Helen Robin and her kids have written the great article, 100 Things To Do With Kids During a Power Outage. Among her suggestions are:

1. Read

2. Make up stories

3. Mad Libs

4. Write a book

5. Play dolls

6. Play school

7. Paint our toenails

8. Paint our brother’s toenails ;)

9. Make puppets

10. Have a “Bear Hunt”

11. Play cards

12. Read books outloud

13. Play hide and seek

14. Play Hucklebucklebeanstalk

15. Have a scavenger hunt

16. Hide something sweet and create a “treasure” map for the kids to solve

17. Learn Morse Code

18. Invent your own code

19. Paint family portraits

20. Build a house of cards

21. Learn the state capitals                                         http://rochester.kidsoutandabout.com/content/100-things-do-kids-during-power-outage

These suggestions are certainly useful in times where the only light comes from candles or flashlights. A study from the United Kingdom suggests that too much technology might not be beneficial for children.

Graeme Patton of the U.K.’s Telegraph writes in the article, Overexposure to technology ‘makes children miserable’:

Young people exposed to modern technology for more than four hours a day are less likely to display high levels of “wellbeing” than those limiting access to less than 60 minutes, it emerged…

Young people’s brains were failing to develop properly after being overexposed to the cyber world at an early age, she claimed.

According to figures quoted by the ONS, almost 85 per cent of children born in 2000/01 have access to a computer and the internet at home. Some 12 per cent have their own computer and the same proportion had a personal mobile phone.

Separate data showed that six per cent of children aged 10-to-15 used online chatrooms or played games consoles for more than four hours on an average school day. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9636862/Overexposure-to-technology-makes-children-miserable.html

Nancy Carlsson-Paige, a professor emerita of education at Lesley University and author of “ Taking Back Childhoodand writes about the value of play in the Washington Post.

In Is technology sapping children’s creativity?

Kids need first-hand engagement — they need to manipulate objects physically, engage all their senses, and move and interact with the 3-dimensional world. This is what maximizes their learning and brain development. A lot of the time children spend with screens takes time away from the activities we know they need for optimal growth. We know that children today are playing less than kids played in the past…

The Importance of Play

Play is a remarkably creative process that fosters emotional health, imagination, original thinking, problem solving, critical thinking, and self-regulation. As children actively invent their own scenarios in play, they work their way through the challenges life presents and gain confidence and a sense of mastery. When they play with materials, children are building a foundation for understanding concepts and skills that form the basis for later academic learning.

And it’s not only concepts that children are learning as they play, they are learning how to learn: to take initiative, to ask questions, to create and solve their own problems. Open-ended materials such as blocks, play dough, art and building materials, sand and water encourage children to play creatively and in depth. Neuroscience tells us that as children play this way, connections and pathways in the brain become activated and then solidify.

Technology, Play, and Learning

What children see or interact with on the screen is only a representation of things in the real world. The screen symbols aren’t able to provide as full an experience for kids as the interactions they can have with real world people and things. And while playing games with apps and computers could be considered more active than TV viewing, it is still limited to what happens between the child and a device — it doesn’t involve the whole child’s body, brain, and senses. In addition, the activity itself and how to do it is already prescribed by a programmer. What the child does is play according to someone else’s rules and design. This is profoundly different from a child having an original idea to make or do something….

How Might Time on Screens Affect Relationships?

Quite a few years ago, I began noticing how easy it was for parents to turn to screens in challenging moments with their children. This first hit me when I saw a little girl who was in tears over saying goodbye to her good friend and her mom offered her a TV program to watch. Now today, there are almost endless opportunities to quiet our kids with entertaining games, apps, and screen time. But when we do that, are they missing out on the chance to feel, to argue, to sit in silence, to listen, to be?

Screens can occupy, distract, and entertain children for sure; the appealing game or show really “works” in the short term. But harmful habits set in early on both sides: for the child, learning to look outside of oneself for happiness or distraction in tough times; for parents, learning to rely on screens instead of our own ingenuity to soothe and occupy kids….

What Guidance Can We Find?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity recommend keeping children under the age of two as screen-free as possible and limiting screen time for older children. I think this is a standard we should aim for. And as we try to limit screen time, we can do a lot to foster our children’s play as well. Children need uninterrupted playtime every day. The chance to play with materials that are open-ended will encourage the deepest, most creative and expanded play possible….

….The fact that parents today have the option of so much technology can seem like both a gift and a curse. At certain times and in certain situations, when no other choice seems right, we can breathe a sigh of relief that we have a screen activity available to us. But at other times, we can agonize because our kids are begging for screen time and we want to see them engage in more beneficial activities. Trying to follow the AAP Guidelines is often challenging and takes a lot more effort than the “quick tech fix.” But remembering what we know about how kids learn and grow helps to guide us. And our own ingenuity and inventiveness as parents is the best and sometimes most untapped resource of all. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/is-technology-sapping-childrens-creativity/2012/09/12/10c63c7e-fced-11e1-a31e-804fccb658f9_blog.html

For many technology is seen as a possible way to increase their child’s IQ.

Alex Halperin writes in the Salon article, Personal tech upends the toy market:

Children have played with dolls for millenia. It was a good run.

Mattel is the maker of Barbie and Hot Wheels, but this year its top selling toy is a plastic cell phone case, according to the Financial Times (subscription required):

Whether a new Kindle Fire, or a hand-me-down iPad, analysts predict 2012 will be the year children as young as three-years-old will unwrap tablets at trendsetting rates. And that has the traditional toy companies scrambling to stay relevant.

“The top two guys, Mattel and Hasbro, they are terrified,” said Sean McGowan, managing director of equity research at Needham & Company, an investment banking firm. “They should be terrified, but the official party line is they’re not terrified.”Toymakers have long been aware of creeping digitization of playtime and the annoying acronym KGOY (“Kids getting older younger”) But they may have been slow to realize that personal technology might pose an existential threat to more analog toys. They’re trying to adapt:

This Christmas, [Hasbro] has high hopes for the reinvention of its popular 1990s plush toy, Furby. The new interactive version comes with a free mobile app that kids can use to feed Furby, and translate the things it says in “Furbish” to English. The toy is also built with artificial intelligence, so its behaviour changes depending on how it is treated, whether its tail is pulled or it is tickled.But even if this updated “hamster/owl creature” performs well this year it seems unlikely that toymakers will be able to get away with this kind of retread five years from now. “Everyone I know who has a kid under 10 has a tablet in the house,” a toy investor told the FT. “And that tablet is the babysitter.”

In our technology saturated age, children are developing an entirely different relationship to the physical world. This has implications that extend far beyond Christmas toy  sales figures to obesity and maybe even evolution. We don’t understand what will happen, but at least we have this cute viral video of a child frustrated with her maddeningly low-tech iPad (it’s what you’d call a magazine)…. http://www.salon.com/2012/12/23/personal_tech_upends_the_toy_market/

In the rush to produce baby Einsteins and child prodigies, perhaps we are missing the creativity that play activities by preschoolers produces.

Resources:

The Importance of Play in Early Childhood Development                http://msuextension.org/publications/HomeHealthandFamily/MT201003HR.pdf

Why Play Is Important For Child Development?  http://www.mychildhealth.net/why-play-is-important-for-child-development.html

Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills                                     http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=19212514

The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds

  1. Kenneth R. Ginsburg, MD, MSEd,

  2. and the Committee on Communications,

  3. and the Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health

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Abstract

Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. Play also offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children. Despite the benefits derived from play for both children and parents, time for free play has been markedly reduced for some children. This report addresses a variety of factors that have reduced play, including a hurried lifestyle, changes in family structure, and increased attention to academics and enrichment activities at the expense of recess or free child-centered play. This report offers guidelines on how pediatricians can advocate for children by helping families, school systems, and communities consider how best to ensure that play is protected as they seek the balance in children’s lives to create the optimal developmental milieu. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/119/1/182.full

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