I have 2 small children, but already the number of screens in my household outnumber the people! Though there are benefits to digital hand held devices (we use them for reading, counting, learning Spanish, looking up recipes, etc), my view is that nothing can replace the impact of face-to-face time interacting with other human beings. Maybe I’m old fashioned? I’m from the unique generation that grew up with computers, but also remembers a time before the internet.
There is growing body of research describing potential impacts on child development when exposed to media. This includes problematic internet usage, virtual violence, depression and mental health, and attention.
In the documentary Screenagers, Dr. Delaney Ruston explores screens and today’s teens. This documentary was engaging, at times scary, and very real.
Here are the tips I took from the film:
Social media impacts the brain – dopamine release and pleasure is a normal function of the brain when seeking information and finding it. This is constantly occurring when we check our phone to look for texts, instant messages, and alerts on social media. It’s no wonder we can’t put our phones away.
No one can actually multitask – you can shift attention rapidly, but the cost is poor performance in what you are trying to accomplish. Read full post »
Last week the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) annual conference occurred. This meeting is a convergence of Pediatricians around our nation to cover topics that span the range of childhood development. In the past, the AAP had fairly rigid guidelines on the use of media for kids. It was recommended that children under the age of 2 avoid all screen time and those over age 2 limit to no more than 2 hours a day. This month, the AAP has revised the recommendations to reflect newer research and national trends. Read full post »
With the majority of the adult US population having smartphones, it’s nearly inevitable that tweens and young teens (kids ages 10-13) will ask parents for a cell phone too. My oldest is 4 and she routinely asks to watch the tablet or look at videos on my phone. Whether or not your family provides a cell phone to your tween is a completely personal decision and you may be considering one for many reasons (safety, the ability to know where your teen is, etc). Here are some of the things to consider (that you’re likely already thinking!): Read full post »
Guest Post by Dr. Megan Moreno
When a Stomachache is More Than a Stomachache
A few months into my adolescent medicine fellowship, I saw a patient with a fairly routine complaint: abdominal pain. But Tammy, the young woman in question, stuck with me, because of what she identified as the cause of her pain: an act of bullying, a few weeks before, on MySpace. Not so routine after all.
In 2006, when I first wondered aloud if other teens and young adults had experiences similar to Tammy’s, many people were unsure what social media really was, let alone if it was permanent or pervasive. Almost no one believed it could affect a person’s emotional or physical well-being.
Tammy’s visit illuminated the connection between social media and health. Her visit was one of the main reasons why I started the Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team, or SMAHRT, in 2008 at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.
SMAHRT is dedicated to providing robust research on teens. We are taking a close look at social media patterns in teens like Tammy, who are sometimes a target of what we now readily identify as “cyberbullying,” as well as teens who have never struggled with social media, and all of those in between. Read full post »
I think it’s time to address social media again. The summer is in full swing, teens are out of school either working, volunteering, traveling, or just hanging out. Being away from school usually means there is less opportunity to see friends in person. This is the time when my teen patients teach me a variety of new applications for smartphones and social media outlets that they use to keep in touch with each other.
The tide of what is popular amongst teens is always changing. A few years ago Facebook was the popular way to connect; when I was in college, MySpace was the site everyone used. I can guarantee that next year, teens will be using a completely different list of sites to communicate with each other. Their quest: to speak to each other without adults snooping in. Read full post »
Recently, Monica Lewinsky gave a TED talk titled “The Price of Shame” that has become a viral sensation with millions of views. In the talk, Lewinsky boldly shares her experiences around the exposure of her affair with President Bill Clinton in the 1990s and the fallout of that scandal, which was fueled by the rapid spread of information (and misinformation) on the Internet. She also points out that when the affair began, she was just 22 years old–an age that experts say is still part of adolescence. Yet the public shaming for her mistake (which she says she “regrets deeply”) has been carried throughout all parts of her adult life. Teens and young adults will make mistakes–how can we help them learn from them, rather than be defined by them?
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The question of whether video games lead to risky behaviors is one that has been asked by parents, educators, psychologists, and most of the other adults who are routinely around teens. Some video games portray acts of violence (such as stealing cars, driving recklessly, or killing ) while others put the teen in the role of a superhero (such a those based on comic book characters). Is there a difference in how a teen may act in their regular life, while not playing a game, if video games are a hobby? Read full post »
Recently, as you may have seen in the news, nude photos and videos of multiple female celebrities were leaked online. The leak started with a hack of Apple’s iCloud—an online server where photos from the women’s phones were backed up and stored. To me, this is a teachable moment for parents about privacy and online content, and comes on the heels of a post we did recently about sexting in middle school students. Read full post »
Over the past 2 weeks, multiple events have been receiving media coverage. These range from the death of a beloved celebrity to the shooting of an unarmed African American young man in Missouri; reaching as close as the death of a shooting instructor by a very young student to as far as the conflict between Israel and Palestine. These events often stir up strong emotions as well as strong opinions amongst colleagues and friends. Teens are using social media on a regular basis and are likely well aware of the trending news stories. As parents, how do we address these events with our children? Some of the topics may hit close to home and others may seem like they are happening a world away, but all of them can lead to conversations and provide opportunities for reflection and learning. Read full post »
Vacations are chances to separate from everyday cares, explore new places, and reconnect with loved ones. Whether you’re traveling globally or having a “staycation” and enjoying your home town, I believe vacations are vital for coping with stress and gaining perspective on life. For families, vacations can be a way to enjoy each other’s company without the distractions or hassles of day-to-day life.
Family vacations change as people change, and taking a teenager on vacation is often quite different from taking a child. Here are some ideas on making family vacations with teens enjoyable and low-stress for everyone.
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