Posted in digital parenting, media and sleep patterns, media diet, parents and technology

Can Healthy Media Intervention Improve a Child’s Sleep?

association sleep patternsThe results of a study published in the September 2012 issue of Pediatrics indicate that parents may be able to positively affect a preschooler’s sleep patterns by making healthier and more educational choices in a child’s media diet.

The journal article, The Impact of a Healthy Media Use Intervention on Sleep in Preschool Childrenexamines whether healthy media interventions in the lives of preschool children can improve sleep patterns. Researchers at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute explain how they conducted a randomized controlled study to discover if the sleep of preschoolers might be improved when families were helped to replace inappropriate and sometimes violent media content with a healthier and more educational media diet. This article is freely available or read the abstract.

The study, which included 617 children and their families from the Seattle area, used two-phase sampling (defined below). In the first phase researchers selected the clinics in the Seattle metropolitan area, making selections that reflected Seattle’s demographic make-up and including providers that served Medicaid patients. In the next phase, researchers invited preschool patients (and their parents) from those clinics to take part in the study. Patients and who met the guidelines for inclusion and agreed to participate were then randomized into a control group (this group received usual pediatric care) and an interventional group (researchers suggested media changes to these participants).

At the beginning, a survey asked everyone about sleep habits, and the researchers classified into categories. Additional information about each child’s media exposure was collected at 6, 12, and 18 months. Of the 617 families who completed the initial sleep survey questionnaire, 565 completed at least one follow-up survey.

Continue reading “Can Healthy Media Intervention Improve a Child’s Sleep?”

Posted in digital change, digital parenting, educating digital natives, kids changing lives, parents and technology, teachers, teaching digital kids

Do Today’s Digital Kids Learn Differently?

Image from Children, Teans, and Entertainment Media: The View from the Classroom
Image from Children, Teens, and Entertainment Media: The View from the Classroom

In case you missed it, check out the November 1, 2012 New York Times article, Technology Changing How Students Learn, Teachers Say.

Technology reporter Matt Richtel shares information about two recent studies that examine, on the basis of educator surveys, how today’s digital children may be learning differently than in the past. Although individual responses are subjective, the results of the surveys “are considered significant because of the vantage points of teachers who spend hours a day observing students.”

One survey, conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, examined responses from 2,462 teachers. The other, conducted by Common Sense Media, surveyed 685 educators.

It all comes down to attention span. In both surveys, teachers expressed concern that students, used to fast-paced, always changing activities, are less able to focus on an academic task for a prolonged period.

Continue reading “Do Today’s Digital Kids Learn Differently?”

Posted in digital parenting, media literacy, parents and technology, social media

The Children are Watching and Seeing, Listening and and Hearing

They watch us all the time. The students, that is. They listen to us sometimes. They learn from all that watching and listening.

                            –Theodore and Nancy Faust Sizer, The Students are Watching, 1999, Beacon Press

The Sizers wrote about classrooms and schools, explaining that students learn from what their teachers do and say and also from the things their teachers do not do or say. The authors illustrated their points in many ways, demonstrating how much our students learn from the things we do not do.

I read the Sizer’s book in the later 1990s with my growing child at home, so it was easy to see how the lessons applied not just to teachers but also to everyday family life. The message — that children learn from what we don’t do and don’t say as much as from the things we intentionally teach — applies well at home and at school.

This week, with so many media-rich events, I thought about the Sizers’ book. Adults spent a huge amount of time-consuming news about superstorm Sandy, the election, and for a few minutes, many of us gazed at a viral short video of a little girl crying out “No more Bronco Bama and Mitt Romney.” We encountered non-stop negative television commercials, disaster pictures and videos, television news programs, robo telephone calls, radios tuned into programs all day long (yes, I am guilty of keeping NPR on most of the day when I am home), and plain old-fashioned magazines and newspapers. Lot’s of us may have felt like crying. But my question is, “Why did Abby hear or see so much that she started to cry?”

Muppet Lydia Whatnot summed things up in her YouTube response

Continue reading “The Children are Watching and Seeing, Listening and and Hearing”

Posted in digital parenting, family conversations, media literacy, parent child conversations, parents and technology, web research

Before and After the Super Storm: Resources for Parents

Click to access the tips (in PDF form).

If ever there is a time to keep our media literacy skills front and center, it’s after a national disaster. Adults need to regulate and monitor what children see and, more importantly, adults need to remember that children see and hear a lot more than we sometimes think.

Check out the blog posting Protecting Children From the Media’s Storm Coverage. Written by K.J. Dell’Antonia, the New York Times Motherlode blogger, the November 2, 2012 article focuses on the need to limit children’s exposure to storm-related media coverage.
The Motherlode article directs readers to a two-page document that offers even more information about protecting children from prolonged traumatic event coverage — a free PDF available from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene website. The two-page article, Protecting Children from Disturbing Media Reports During Traumatic Events, offers tips for parents and caregivers, going into detail about what children understand at each age level.        Continue reading “Before and After the Super Storm: Resources for Parents”

Posted in 21st Century Learning, choosing reliable resources, digital photography, evaluating web site resources, healthy media images, parents and technology, social media

7 Questions to Ask Before Sharing Hurricane Sandy Media With Kids

The Pier Before the Storm
Photo by Marti Weston, 2008

Parents and teachers of digital kids should make it a habit to evaluate media for authenticity and reliability rather than automatically sharing dramatic images with children. Evaluating media is a critical 21st Century skill — for adults and children

The other day a friend sent me a link to a storm picture. The image featured a familiar ocean pier with huge waves about to crash onto its farthest end. (The photo at left is the pier long before the storm). While the drama of the image intrigued me, on reflection I was bothered because I could not learn anything about the website that hosted the image. Other than labeling the town and the storm, the photograph offered no other identifying narrative.

With its ethereal quality, the image looked as if the pier was superimposed over a dramatic ocean scene — the waves and spray crashing at one end while the rest of the structure was clear without any water or spray obstructions. Moreover, since I was familiar with the location, I could not figure out where the photographer stood to take the picture. Perhaps I was wrong, but since I could not discover anything more about the picture, I decided not to send it to anyone else, and I am not even posting it here.

When a huge emergency like Hurricane Sandy occurs, digital pictures and videos circulate all over the web and via social media. A fair amount of these digital materials misrepresent the situation. To avoid focusing too much on the misrepresentations we need to apply some 21st Century common sense. Continue reading “7 Questions to Ask Before Sharing Hurricane Sandy Media With Kids”

Posted in digital parenting, family conversations, media literacy, parents and technology

Another Tragedy for Digital Kids to Absorb — Aurora, Colorado

Watch the video at Common Sense Media.

Yet again we are living through a horrible tragedy, this time in Aurora, Colorado, and this incident is extra frightening because the shooting and killing occurred as people went about normal activities in a movie theater. What’s more a part of kids’ daily lives than movie theaters?

Any connected child or adolescent can learn about this event and others via a digital device or television. In the digital world, the news cycle never stops, and most children do not possess the media literacy skills to evaluate the sources of information. The traditional walls that used to insulate kids from information about violent events just aren’t that thick anymore.

What are digital parents and teachers to do?

If you need support or at least some extra perspective before you initiate a parent-child conversation in your family, check out a video, Explaining the News to Our Kids, over at the Common Sense Media. This short presentation provides thoughtful suggestions that can help adults get started with difficult conversations about the news when scary and discomforting events occur.

Posted in American Academy of Pediatrics, answers to media questions, digital devices and gadgets, media literacy, parents and technology

Discouraging News on the Media Lit Frontier

Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America, p 11

The New York Times has reported on a Common Sense Media (CSM) sponsored study, Zero to Eight, Children’s Media Use in America (PDF). The Times article, Screen Time Higher Than Ever for Children, describes the study and points out that kids are in front of a screen more than ever despite the recommendations of their doctors.

After reading this I am feeling a bit more pessimistic than usual. Adults are used to tossing health caution to the wind for themselves, but we were vigilant about protecting the health of our children. Now we seem to disregard the recommendations of pediatricians — the very people who can help us do the most possible to ensure that our kids grow into strong and productive adults. Are we as a society less and less concerned about the development of strong minds? Times reporter Tamar Lewin writes:

Despite the American Academy of Pediatrics’ longstanding recommendations to the contrary, children under 8 are spending more time than ever in front of screens…

Continue reading “Discouraging News on the Media Lit Frontier”