Videogames Can Be Good: Fight Childhood Diabetes and Obesity

12.17.10

According to a study recently reported from Baylor University, children who played 6 hours of videogames that aimed at health-promoting dietary choices ended up 2 months later eating more fruit and vegetables. While many research findings often give bad news about the unrestricted use of technology by children, this report shows how this powerful medium can definitely help kids .

“Parents need to become empowered and educated and have tools to become effective managers of kids’ home media consumption, much as they manage food consumption. Parents must actively manage content. Restriction alone is just not enough,” according to Dr. S. “Parents need confidence. At MyDigitalFamily, we try to give parents a new child- and family-centered medical, psychological, esthetic, and moral framework and tools to use when they make media-related decisions for their kids,” states Dr. Schwarz. Please, See www.mydigitalfamily.org for more.

Educational videogames are being developed by a number of firms, with the help of federal grants. The video games in this study were developed by Houston’s Armitage, Inc. to lower risks of type 2 diabetes and obesity by changing overweight 10-12 youth’s diet and physical activity behaviors (American Journal of Preventive Medicine, http://www.ajpm-online.net/article/S0749-3797(10)00554-4/abstract .)

“Parents will have more and more choices of media content to select for their kids. There are many opportunities for healthy growth through online resources, if only parents would find and harvest them and place them in front of kids. I hope that more and more beneficial uses for child health-promoting digital media will become available,” states Eitan Schwarz, MD, Illinois child and family psychiatrist and author of “Kids. Parents & Technology: A Guide for Young Families.”

Make Tech Holiday Gifts Good for Families

11.21.10

With holiday shopping starting to accelerate, parents are tempted by the wonderful technology devices flooding the marketplace, but many fear their negative impact on kids. After over a decade of media’s explosive and chaotic inroads into home life, parents are intimidated and feel helpless. And with all the negative press about technology and kids, parents are naturally worried, according to Dr. Schwarz, also known as Dr. S. Those 20% who restrict and filter content get only partial results.

So why does Dr. Eitan Schwarz, the Illinois psychiatrist expert in technology’s impact on family life, speak positively about how technology can benefit families and children?

While tech devices come with manuals, these do not include the crucial instructions about how to fit the device into the life of the child and family. Parents need family-centered tools to help them harvest and systematically manage media into healthy assets, just as they strive to with food consumption and education.

Dr. S now supports parents with a fresh way of thinking that empowers them with systematic knowledge and the right tools to manage their children’s media life in his new book Kids, Parents & Technology and web site www.mydigitalfamily.org.

According to Dr. S, parents can now turn this holiday season into the start of a promising new chapter in how technology works in their homes. For starters, Dr. S recommends that before bringing new devices into children’s lives, parents

• Think of all tech devices as home appliances that must bring value to family life and child development.

• Create a Media Plan for each child that includes both limits and the benefits of Growth Opportunities: better Family Relationships, Socialization, Values education, and Education Enrichment.

• Make Entertainment in itself only a minor part of the Media Plan.

• Decide on healthy ways for their use according to how they fit into the Media Plan.

• Avoid any device that does not serve clear family- and child-centered aims or provides only entertainment, especially if it will isolate the child with the device.

• Schedule your direct presence and put limits of time and place for its use (or negotiate with older children) from the very beginning.

• Begin applying your new approach gradually to all other tech devices kids use (from TV through iPods and iPads.)

Technology is here to stay, and will be a central part of life for kids growing up, so start them off early and in the right way, and they will learn how to fit it into their lives later according to Dr. S.

Dr. S Comment: TECHNOLOGY AND CHILDREN’S BRAIN

A UCLA study (J Epidemiol Community Health doi:10.1136/jech.2010.115402 http://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2010/11/11/jech.2010.115402.abstract?sid=b593eac2-369e-4769-b857-048bba43e302) shows increased behavioural problems in seven-year-olds who had both prenatal and postnatal exposure to cell phones used by at home. While it is difficult to say that cell phone use actually causes damage, the association is strong. These findings definitely need our attention and further study and should definitely get the attention of every parent.

Parents must make sure that their use of electronics at home is not only safe, but actually brings benefits to their family. They need to be empowered, educated, and given the tools to manage technology.

Dr S. Comment: Infant Media Exposure and Toddler Development

Dr. S comment:

New study shows how media are dumbing down infants.

After over ten years of relatively chaos in  children’s media exposure, reliable studies are now beginning to show how media can be damaging to human development starting very early in life. It is in the first years that the brain is actually wired, and many times irreversibly. What can parents do?

Because media is here to stay, its thoughtful deployment is the practical and best answer, not just blocking or limiting it. In fact, it can be good for kids, just as parents can make food consumption healthy by giving nutrients instead of junk. Parents can now be empowered, educated, and given the tools to maximize the positive and eliminate the adverse effects of media. See www.mydigigtalfamily.org and “Kids. Parents & Technology: A Guide for Young Families.”


Vol. 164 No. 12, December 2010

Infant Media Exposure and Toddler Development

Suzy Tomopoulos, MD; Benard P. Dreyer, MD; Samantha Berkule, PhD; Arthur H. Fierman, MD; Carolyn Brockmeyer, PhD; Alan L. Mendelsohn, MD

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2010;164(12):1105-1111. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2010.235

Objective To determine whether duration and content of media exposure in 6-month-old infants are associated with development at age 14 months.

Design Longitudinal analysis of 259 mother-infant dyads participating in a long-term study related to early child development, from November 23, 2005, through January 14, 2008.

Setting An urban public hospital.

Participants Mothers with low socioeconomic status and their infants.

Main Exposure Duration and content of media exposure at age 6 months.

Main Outcome Measures Cognitive and language development at age 14 months.

Results Of 259 infants, 249 (96.1%) were exposed to media at age 6 months, with mean (SD) total exposure of 152.7 (124.5) min/d. In unadjusted and adjusted analyses, duration of media exposure at age 6 months was associated with lower cognitive development at age 14 months (unadjusted: r = –0.17, P < .01; adjusted: β = –0.15, P = .02) and lower language development (r = –0.16, P < .01; β = –0.16, P < .01). Of 3 types of content assessed, only 1 (older child/adult–oriented) was associated with lower cognitive and language development at age 14 months. No significant associations were seen with exposure to young child–oriented educational or noneducational content.

Conclusions This study is the first, to our knowledge, to have longitudinally assessed associations between media exposure in infancy and subsequent developmental outcomes in children from families with low socioeconomic status in the United States. Findings provide strong evidence in support of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations of no media exposure prior to age 2 years, although further research is needed.

Author Affiliations: Department of Pediatrics, New York University School of Medicine–Bellevue Hospital Center (Drs Tomopoulos, Dreyer, Berkule, Fierman, Brockmeyer, and Mendelsohn), and Department of Psychology, Manhattanville College, Purchase (Dr Berkule), New York

Dr S. Comment: Cell Phone Use Damaging Babies of Pregnant Moms?

A respectable study from UCLA links maternal cell phone use while pregnant with later behavioral problems in childhood. These findings do not necessarily show causality, but need replication and explanation because they are so disturbing.

The ecology of the developing brain is delicate and must be kept ‘green’, as I discuss in my book “Kids, Parents & Technology”. Parents need to be empowered, educated, and given the tools they need to manage electronics in their homes for the benefit of all family members.

Best,

Dr. S

Expert: Please Keep Kids’ Brains Green

As researchers learn more about the effects of technology on our children’s brains, parents must become more careful in the use of new devices. After over ten years of relatively chaos in children’s media exposure, reliable studies are now beginning to show how media can be damaging to human development starting very early in life. It is in the first years that the brain is actually wired, and many times irreversibly. What can parents do?

Because media is here to stay, its thoughtful deployment is the practical and best answer, not just blocking or limiting it. In fact, it can be good for kids, just as parents can make food consumption healthy by giving nutrients instead of junk. Parents can now be empowered, educated, and given the tools to maximize the positive and eliminate the adverse effects of media.

A recent UCLA study (J Epidemiol Community Health doi:10.1136/jech.2010.115402http://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2010/11/11/jech.2010.115402.abstract?sid=b593eac2-369e-4769-b857-048bba43e302) shows increased behavioral problems in seven-year-olds who had both prenatal and postnatal exposure to cell phones used by at home. While it is difficult to say that cell phone use actually causes damage, the association is strong. An NYU studyhttp://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/164/12/1105?ct ) shows that duration of media exposure at age 6 months was associated with lower cognitive development at age 14 months.These findings definitely need our attention and further study and should definitely get the attention of every parent.

According to Dr. Eitan Schwarz, an Illinois psychiatrist and author of “Kids, Parents & Technology: A Guide for Young Families, “We must start appreciating children’s developing brains as environments and ecologies that need to stay green. Parents must make sure that their use of electronics at home is not only safe, but actually brings benefits to their family. They need to be empowered, educated, and given the tools to manage technology. ” Also please see www.mydigtalfamily.org