In It For Health

Where health and psychology intersect

Posts Tagged ‘children’

Parents are ok with underage Facebooking…what’s next

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 9, 2011

A study just out that finds that 17 percent of parents are just fine with their under-13 year old having a Facebook, even though Facebook says you need to be 13 to log on. Of course Facebook doesn’t really have a way to check the age of a user, so aside from those kids who have an undercover Facebook account, preteens have been given consent by their parents.

Most of the parents that I know who allow an underage Facebook  say that they are monitoring, getting their child’s password and otherwise checking for inappropriate online behavior.

They’re missing the point a bit…by allowing your child to lie about his or her age, you’re colluding with deceptive behavior to get around a system that has been set up to protect kids and make sure they behave appropriately given their developmental stage in life.

Let’s think about this a little more. Will you be okay when your child gets a fake ID to drink alcohol at fifteen?…not likely. Will you be okay when your child buys alcohol for a minor once he isn’t one anymore? Or when she cheats on a test in school because she didn’t get caught? Lying or cheating the system in order to do or get something you want right now, even though you should wait for it–or not have it at all–is the message you communicate when you allow your child to do get a Facebook younger than 13.  

Facebook has a reason for making it 13 and up. As a parent you should be supporting, not undermining this rule because it’s not only about Facebook, it’s about your child’s future.

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Online gaming is good for families…really?

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 9, 2011

This new study suggests that when families ‘game’ together, their relationships improve. Ok, I suppose that could be true. If you play online games with your kids, it’s definitely better than NOT playing online with them, and rather just leaving them to online game with total strangers.

But do you really think that parents are playing online games with their kids?? The answer is NO! Either the parents are gaming alone (I see this all the time) and the kids are nagging them to get off the computer to come and throw a ball outside, or the kids/teens are online and would be mortified if their mom or (more likely) dad joined in. And of course, this doesn’t even include all the time kids are online while parents are working, running the home or dealing with the other kids. So the chance that kids and parents are bonding online is…well…let’s just politely say…unlikely!

So, while this study is interesting in theory, it truly holds no really life application. So, instead of making it your goal to game online with your child, the better goal is found in the old and boring traditions…eat a meal together, chat while you’re driving somewhere, clean the car together (pay them if you have to!), or drag out a board game. You’d be surprised how many BIG kids love Apples to Apples!

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Child-Obesity ads gone wild

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 6, 2011

There is a furor about Georgia’s child-obesity campaign which portrays overweight kids, with seriously depressed facial expressions, talking about how bleak their present life is and how bad their future will be, unless they lose weight.

Now, I’m all for shock-value if it gets the job done, but this ad is a problem. To begin, it give ammunition to other kids who bully, or are considering bullying an overweight child. From a kid’s perspective: “If you’re talking about all the negatives that you experience, then why can’t I?” It’s not a taboo subject anymore.

Next, the parents and educators who are not already working on helping overweight children won’t really be impacted by this–they know that this is what the kids look like already–it’s live in front of them! What they really need to see is overweight adults in the ads talking about what it was like to be an overweight kid and still be overweight–and then remind the viewer of the ads to take responsibility for helping the kids.

Using vulnerable kids–those in the ads and the those who will inadvertently become associated with the ads–creates an unfair playing field. The adults need to take responsibility for the problem and of course, the solution.

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The grim reality of spring break

Posted by Dr. Susan on April 3, 2010

It’s too bad that it takes a 17-year old with the prospect for a glowing future to remind us how dangerous spring break can be for high schoolers. When Ohio high school senior Matt James (headed for Notre Dame on a football scholarship), fell from a balcony to his death after drinking too much during spring break in Florida, we all stopped for 5 minutes to shake our heads and those of us with high school students were grateful that it wasn’t our kid.

But the thing is that unless you make the choice to supervise your teen on spring, winter and every other break it could just as easily be your kid! There is no specific type…most kids drink; many get drunk–they just don’t tell their parents. In fact, one national study (conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention) found that nearly 75% of high school students have had one or more alcoholic drinks in their life. That’s any kid–your kid or my kid!

Every teen’s life is worth saving, every teen has a glowing future and should have a chance to make better choices when their brain has developed and along with it, their judgment. Until then, it is the job of the adults–parents, teachers, chaperones, even hotel owners, to make sure that teens are well supervised and kept safe: even from themselves.

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TV contributes to toddler violence

Posted by Dr. Susan on November 2, 2009

A new study finds that toddlers who watch TV are more likely to be violent! This study controlled for MANY other factors, such as mom’s depression, spanking, and living in an unsafe neighborhood. As a parent it is critical that you be aware that the TV and other media (movies, internet, video games) are not benign influences on your child–especially at young ages.

Limit exposure, and most of all pay attention to ratings. However, even during otherwise appropriate shows, the commercials may not be wholesome enough for younger viewers. For example, on Nick, during the most wholeome ‘Full House’, tantalizing ads for the super-racy ‘Degrassi’ are being shown to young kids who shouldn’t yet know about sex, sexting, drugs and other teen topics, let alone be having them role-modeled on TV. They’re already being primed to watch these shows as young as they can nag you into letting them, so be ready!

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Less Stress for Back to School Success

Posted by Dr. Susan on August 24, 2009

the transition of going back to school can cause anxiety and be a bit scary for kids…and parents. Parents and kids can have less stress for back to school success by following the tips in this article: http://bit.ly/POPTg. Have a great start to the school year!

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They’re so worried about music…but our kids still lag behind in basics!

Posted by Dr. Susan on June 16, 2009

This study reports the unsurprising fact that U.S. students lag behind in their knowldege of the Arts. While this is upsetting, it doesn’t worry me nearly as much as the the fact that our schools continue to be sub-par in even the most basic areas of producing students who can read and do math. And, in fact that ‘No Child Left Behind’ has done nothing except force mediocrity upon those students who has even the slightest hope of exelling, because they are now forced to spend all their time studying for monotonous, mundane and  unsatisfying state tests.

Teachers have lost any ability to be creative, school districts have become corrupt in order to satisfy the need to meet state standards.

Real reform would not only bring back the arts, it would over haul the entire system including making school administrators and teachers perform to higher standards than the trappings of tenure require of them. Then maybe our students would be competing with the rest of the world.

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Movie ratings really do count

Posted by Dr. Susan on June 11, 2009

When you’re taking kids or teens to the movies this summer, pay attention to the ratings. Sexual and violent content, as well as messages about people smoking, drinking and using drugs can impact negatively on a child for years to come. Read more about the importance of picking movies carefully, in my nationally syndicated column this month, A Teachable Moment.

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Even teens who THINK they’re overweight are at risk for suicide!

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 19, 2009

A huge study,  published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, finds that both BOYS and GIRLS who either are, or think they are overweight, are more likely to attempt suicide. This tells us two things:

1. We need to develop better social, school and peer supports for overweight kids and teens as well as those who have poor body images and don’t need to lose weight.

2. We need to become more effective at helping those kids who need to lose weight do so.

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TV time in teens linked to depression…interesting

Posted by Dr. Susan on February 9, 2009

Does your child watch a lot of TV? If so, here’s yes ANOTHER compelling reason to make a change! This new study finds that the more TV teens watch (especially boys), the more likely they are to become depressed as young adults. The researchers theorize that watching TV isolates kids, which makes them less likely to interact with peers–having a strong social network innoculates one against depression; or play sports–physical activity has been shown to be as effective as antidepressants for mild to moderate depression.

However, you can’t suddenly tell your teen to stop watching TV, you need to set the rules when your child is young and stick with them all the way through, beginning with no TV in bedrooms!

What’s more–if YOU are depressed, the same rules apply to you: TV isn’t helping you feel better. So turn it  off and get out…talk to your friends and go for a walk. Even better…go for a walk with your friends!

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