Science Says 15 Minutes Can Fix This Common Disorder

Did you know that the average American child spends over seven hours in front of a screen every single day?

It’s a mind-blowing number that becomes even more shocking when compared to the research showing that same child spends less than ten minutes in freeform outdoor play per day. It hardly seems possible when I think about my own dirt-road upbringing, but given the onslaught of increasingly pervasive technology, Nature Deficit Disorder has become a legitimate threat in today’s world.

The term itself may seem a little hokey, and is not actually medically diagnosed, but the data is there to back it up. Access to open, green environments has proven to have a positive impact in children studied throughout the years in critical areas such as confidence, academic achievement, stress-relief, and social and emotional well-being.

As adults, we have all experienced that literal and metaphorical breath of fresh air when we make the time to get outside—away from phones, televisions, laptops, tablets…need I continue? It’s no different for our kids. The stresses of growing and learning can weigh heavy, and children are desperate (despite their moaning at our demands for screen-free time) for that relief. Just fifteen minutes a day can make all the difference.

So, schedule some time to get outside with your kids this week. And better yet, encourage them to play freely while you take in some fresh air of your own. We’ll all feel healthier for it.

 

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The Sneaky Science Behind Our Kids’ Tech Addictions

Apple Shareholders Call For Company To Tackle “Growing” Evidence Of Device Addiction In Kids

“It would defy common sense to argue that this level of usage, by children whose brains are still developing, is not having at least some impact,” the letter reads, “or that the maker of such a powerful product has no role to play in helping parents to ensure it is being used optimally.”

This is an excerpt from a letter sent by two major Apple shareholders, JANA Partners and CalSTRS who represent over $2 billion worth of shares in the company. 

These two shareholders are calling on Apple to do more to protect children. 

 

“There is no good reason why you should not address this issue proactively,”

 

The group recommended some initial steps in it’s letter:

  • Expert Committee: Convening a committee of experts including child development specialists (we would recommend Dr. Rich and Professor Twenge be included) to help study this issue and monitor ongoing developments in technology, including how such developments are integrated into the lives of children and teenagers.
  • Research: Partnering with these and other experts and offering your vast information resources to assist additional research efforts.
  • New Tools and Options: Based on the best available research, enhancing mobile device software so that parents (if they wish) can implement changes so that their child or teenager is not being handed the same phone as a 40-year old, just as most products are made safer for younger users. For example, the initial setup menu could be expanded so that, just as users choose a language and time zone, parents can enter the age of the user and be given age-appropriate setup options based on the best available research including limiting screen time, restricting use to certain hours, reducing the available number of social media sites, setting up parental monitoring, and many other options.
  • Education: Explaining to parents why Apple is offering additional choices and the research that went into them, to help parents make more informed decisions.
  • Reporting: Hiring or assigning a high-level executive to monitor this issue and issuing annual progress reports, just as Apple does for environmental and supply chain issues.

 

It’s a good start. But as parents and consumers, we should demand more from Apple AND OURSELVES.  It seems as if we’ve all been asleep at the wheel as we’ve let these devices, technologies and social platforms creep into every aspect of our lives. 

License to Drive? 

A friend of mine compared cell phones to the first automobiles. When cars just hit the scene there were no driver’s licenses or rules of the road.  There were just inexperienced people armed with a potentially dangerous machine. It took years for best practices, laws and regulations, and common sense to enter the scene. Even now we’re still trying to figure out how to get people to behave behind the wheel (road rage, drunk driving, distracted driving etc.).

The stakes are high. When my now 15-year-old son was in 5th grade, he told me out of the blue that he felt like they were an experiment. His generation. No one knows how all of this technology would impact them in the long term. And the thing is, they all know it. We know it. It’s like we’ve handed them all cocaine but asked them to be smart about it.

We know better. Apple knows better. 

One of the quotes that often comes to my mind comes from an interview on Co.Design with Tony Fadell, one of the creators of the iPod:

 

“I wake up in cold sweats every so often thinking, what did we bring to the world?”

 

Tony Fadell’s wife likes to remind him when their three children’s eyes are glued to their screens that it’s at least partly his fault.

It’s time for us all to peel our eyes away and begin to shift our attention back to real life. 

What’s our role as parents? What’s Apple’s role as the technology provider? 

What do YOU think? 

What else do you think should be done? What features and safeguards do you want from your devices? What rules and regulations do you think should be in place? 

Tell us in the comments. 

 

STAY TUNED!

I’m working on a post with my laundry list of feature requests for families.  Apple I hope you are listening! 

Want to stay up to date with all of our latest posts? (like the one I’m working on above?)  Sign up for our newsletter and we’ll deliver updates right to your inbox each Tuesday morning! 

 

More on TodaysMama.com

 

 

Why Free Play is Disappearing in our Culture

Despite these benefits, natural, free play—the kind most of us had as kids—is rapidly disappearing

Mammals are innately playful. Our large brains and complex social structures require that we learn vast amounts of information in childhood to help us thrive in adulthood. How do mammal children learn all of this?

They play.

But it’s not just any play. According to researchers, the most valuable play for normal human development is free, unstructured play. In a Scientific American article, scientists report that free play “is critical for becoming socially adept, coping with stress and building cognitive skills such as problem solving.”

Despite these benefits, natural, free play—the kind most of us had as kids—is rapidly disappearing. According to a 2005 study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, childhood free play declined by 25% between 1981 and 1997. The catalyst for this drop in free play, according to the study, was an increase in time children spent in structured activities.

Childhood play deprivation is not without consequences. Psychologist Peter Gray, who studies play and childhood development, writes that “over the past half century we have increasingly deprived children of opportunities for free play, and over that same period we have seen dramatic and continuous increases in all sorts of emotional disorders in children.”

Despite this alarming trend away from free play, most parents are not clamoring for its return. According to a newly released Gallup study, parents acknowledge that free play “fosters creativity and problem-solving,” but they do not prioritize these qualities.

In fact, the study found that “child-led, independent indoor play ranks near the bottom of the priority list for both children and parents.” Self-confidence, social skills, and academic skills were the top three priorities for parents with children ages 10 and younger.

Playtime for Kids

Parents in the Gallup study placed a high value on structured, purposeful play activities—such as organized sports and educational programming. In contrast, these parents reported that their children place a higher value on screen time—perhaps one of the few remaining outlets children have for unsupervised playtime.

The good news is that both parents and children in the study value outside play; but parents reported that weather (too cold, too hot, too rainy), and fear of sending children outside without adult supervision, were the top two barriers to more unstructured playtime outdoors.

The Gallup report concludes: “Many parents may not recognize the positive role that unstructured, child-led play can have on their children’s development, despite the scientific research linking this type of play to the development of problem-solving skills, social cooperation, resiliency and creativity.”

In the accelerating quest toward early academics, organized activities, and purposeful play, we may be losing sight of the innate and time-honored benefits of free, unstructured childhood play.

The mounting focus on childhood success and academic achievement at ever-earlier ages may result in children who are less creative, less collaborative, and less emotionally resilient than they were a generation ago. As parents, we should fiercely protect and preserve our children’s free playtime, prioritize unstructured, unsupervised play, and encourage them to go outside—even in the rain.

Image Credit: Pixabay

This post Why Free Play is Disappearing in our Culture was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Kerry McDonald.

5 Ways I’m Decluttering My Social Media

It’s decluttering time at the Davis Household.  While I am cleaning out my closets and donating things like crazy, I’ve also tried to spend some time decluttering social media.  Reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up gave me permission to get rid of so much of the clutter in my home and in my life, so I’m here to give you permission to get rid of the clutter we all suffer through on social media.

In her book, Mari Kondo encourages people to pick up each object in their home and answer the simple question: “Does this bring me joy?”  If it does not, it’s time to re-home it.  I have adopted this same mentality towards my social media.  According to the 2016 U.S. Cross-Platform Future in Focus, the average person spends almost 2 hours a day on social media.  Take average life expectancy into account, and that’s just over 5 years of your life.  Let’s make those a happy five years, using social media for things that bring us joy.

 

Here are 5 Ways I’m Decluttering My Social Media:

 

1. I unsubscribed to all of the emails I didn’t want.

I used to think that I could just mark anyone I didn’t want as spam and they would magically go away, no harm done.  It turns out, marking all of my unwanted emails as spam is doing harm-not to me, but to the company.  As anyone that uses email for business knows, the last thing you need is all of your customers marking your emails as spam.  Now when I’m uninterested in receiving a company’s emails, I scroll down to the bottom of an email and simply click “unsubscribe.”  I try to spend a week doing this every three months or so and it makes a huge difference in my day to day when I’m not rifling through unwanted emails and dumping them all in the trash.  For other companies that I want to continue to get their emails, but don’t necessarily need to see them everyday I create a folder with the companies name and have their emails start going to the folder.  That way when I’m going to be shopping there and I want to look for a coupon code, or I have some time to do some reading I can click over and catch up on my own terms.

 

SEE MORE:  Why Social Media is Not Smart for Middle School Kids

 

2. I unfriended my high school friends I don’t care about.

That sounds so harsh typing it…but I really don’t necessarily care about every.single.person I went to high school with and I don’t think they care about me or really need to know everything I post on fb.  This also goes for random acquaintances and other people that I have no real interest in.  Facebook especially is SO FULL of clutter at this point that it’s hard to keep track of much.  If you add a bunch of people in that you don’t need to know about suddenly you’re caught up looking at pictures of someone you knew 15 years ago and will never see or talk to again.  If I wouldn’t go out of my way to walk up to them in a store and say hi when I’m home visiting, then I don’t need to keep up with them on Facebook.

cleaning up and unfollowing social media marie kondo style

3. I unfollowed all of the brands I don’t love.

I am guilty of following many different brands in the hopes that I will win a giveaway.  I then find myself continuing to follow them after the giveaway and next thing I know I’m not seeing most of what my actual friends are posting because my feed is so full of brands.  It’s amazing how quickly my feed fills up and how suddenly I want to buy all of their things.  Both my brain and my wallet have thanked me for filtering this better.  Once a month I run through my feed and unfollow brands that just aren’t what I care about or need.  

4. I stopped being friends with or following those people to which I felt obligated I had to.

I once messaged my Dad and told him that if he continued to post 10-20 negative political posts at a time, multiple times a day that I wouldn’t be following him anymore and if he needed to share something with me he would need to do it another way.  I just can’t have that much negative spam in my life, even if it is coming from a family member.  Facebook has the option of unfollowing instead of unfriending and that may just be what you need to do if Grandma is a racist or you can’t stand one more picture of your cousin’s kids.  

 

SEE MORE:  Computer Safety Settings for Your Family

 

5. I don’t follow people to hate them.

I stop following people when I start getting jealous or guilty or start needing to gossip.  Much of the time this is my own problem, not theirs.  If someone is doing things I want to be doing, mothering how I wish I was mothering or anything of the like and it starts making me feel bad about myself, it’s time to unfollow.  I also don’t follow people solely so I can talk crap about them later.  I just don’t.  I need joy in my life, not negativity and sometimes that means turning off the things that play into my vices.  This ebbs and flows for me because many of the accounts I follow offer amazing inspiration and I love that, but occasionally that crosses a line and I find myself feeling bad.  A perfect example was when a friend of mine was struggling with infertility she took a break from following some of her pregnant friends and baby-loving brands.  Decluttering social media can come in waves based on your current life situation.  There is nothing wrong with that!

cleaning up and unfollowing social media marie kondo style

Limiting who I spend my time following has brought me so much joy and simplified my life.  I’m better able to connect with those that I do care about and I’ve kept myself from needing to run away from social media (although I’m completely supportive of taking breaks from time to time).  Filtering what I see prevents me from being overwhelmed because there is A LOT.  I’m hoping that by working on my relationship with my social media I can pass these same habits down to my children.

How do you manage your social media?

See more at TodaysMama.com!

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Physician: American Children ‘Immersed in a Culture of Disrespect’

Let’s face it. Almost every child has likely had some type of meltdown in public, causing great embarrassment to both the child’s parent and to other witnesses in the vicinity. But while such disrespectful behavior is embarrassing at age two, it’s downright horrifying the older a child gets.

Dr. Leonard Sax recently experienced one of these horrifying displays of disrespect in his medical practice. He describes the scenario in a recent edition of The Wall Street Journal:

“Kyle was absorbed in a videogame on his cellphone, so I asked his mom, ‘How long has Kyle had a stomach ache?’ Mom said, ‘I’m thinking it’s been about two days.’ Then Kyle replied, ‘Shut up, mom. You don’t know what you’re talking about.’ And he gave a snorty laugh, without looking up from his videogame. Kyle is 10 years old.”

Unfortunately, such behavior is no longer an anomaly, as Dr. Sax goes on to explain:

“I have been a physician for 29 years. This sort of language and behavior from a 10-year-old was very rare in the 1980s and 1990s. It would have been unusual a decade ago. It is common today. America’s children are immersed in a culture of disrespect: for parents, teachers, and one another. They learn it from television, even on the Disney Channel, where parents are portrayed as clueless, out-of-touch or absent. They learn it from celebrities or the Internet. They learn it from social media. They teach it to one another. They wear T-shirts emblazoned with slogans like ‘I’m not shy. I just don’t like you.’”

 

(RELATED ARTICLE: “Doctor Nails the Problem with American Parenting“)
 

But while disrespectful children have become the norm, Dr. Sax has found that respectful, obedient children still exist out there, largely because there are still a few parents who practice authoritative parenting. And according to Dr. Sax, it’s not too late for parents to change course and start instilling respect in their children. His recommendations for doing so are summarized in the following three points:

1. Put the family before the child.

“Prioritize the family. The family meal at home is more important than piling on after-school extracurricular activities. Instead of boosting self-esteem, teach humility.”

2. Remove distractions.

“[N]o screens when you are with your child. Put your cellphone away. No electronic devices at the dinner table. Teach the art of face-to-face conversation.”

3. Draw a line in the sand, and don’t look back.

“If you’re going to make a change, don’t be subtle. New Year’s Day is as good a time as any to sit down with your children and explain that there are going to be some changes in this household: changes in how we talk, in how we behave, in how we treat one another.”

Americans have tried the kinder, gentler, let-me-be-your-friend approach to parenting for the last several decades. If the behavior problems in schools and the heightened level of sensitivity on college campuses are any indication, this parenting approach hasn’t produced the positive outcomes we were hoping for. Is it time for today’s parents to reverse course and begin teaching their children to respect others first instead of their own little selves?

This post Physician: American Children ‘Immersed in a Culture of Disrespect’ was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Annie Holmquist.

The One Thing Your Family NEEDS For Christmas {and every other day of the year}

I’m so excited to FINALLY reveal what I wanted to shout from the rooftops! Check out Circle with Disney, the only gift I can basically guarantee won’t give you buyer’s remorse. Yes, it’s that cool.

Every family needs this in their home.

4 {Amazing} Things You Can Do With Circle

Set appropriate filters for EACH DEVICE. Use the pre-designed ones or customize your own

Circle Filters

Track where your family is spending their time online

Circle Insights

Give your devices a BED TIME!

Circle Bedtime

PAUSE the internet! Yes. you. can.

Circle Pause Feature

Last week {before I knew about Circle} I downloaded 7 different parental control apps on my iPhone to find the right fit for my family. I started making notes about install difficulties, bugs, things I liked and didn’t like about the user interfaces. And now there’s Circle – and honestly, it does exactly what I want it to – and my whole side by side review of apps is over. {and I’m breathing a big sigh of relief}

The best part? When I showed my 13-year-old what was coming his way, he actually said he thought it was cool. He’s excited to track his time . . . and to show me that he doesn’t spend as much time as I think he does. Game ON.

Parental Controls App Circle With Disney

Check out what other Circle customers are saying:

As the father of four kids from elementary through college age, I am not exaggerating when I say Circle is EXACTLY the device I have been looking for to control the internet in my house. Circle truly is peace of mind in a little white box. —Wayne Stocks

I have to tell you this has been HUGE for our family. We have teens and being able to see what they are doing on every device is a game changer. —Rebecca Phillips

Circle has literally changed our lives and how our family spends time on the internet. My worries of what my children could be exposed to online has changed overnight by the use of Circle. I can pause the internet anytime making getting chores or homework done much easier these days. —Terra Nyce

Circle makes it easy for me to protect my kids online, monitor usage across all our home’s devices, and create conversations with the entire family. It’s rare that something is simple and effective, but Circle is both. — Michael Lukaszewski

Circle With Disney Logo

* This post contains affiliate links. All of the opinions are my own. I’ve been vetting various parental controls apps for a couple of weeks and this is truly the best one I’ve tried!

New Guidelines For Screen Time, Are You On Board?

Little cute boys having fun time using tablet at living room

Maybe you’ve heard that the American Association of Pediatrics has revised their rigid screen time recommendations for children in favor of somthing a bit more, er, realistic.

Previously the recommendation was no screen time for children under the age of 2, and after that to keep screen time to 2 hours or less per day. That old recommendation emerged in 2011, before the iPad 1st generation was even launched and since then we’ve had a landslide of other tablets and apps created specifically for children.

Technology changes in the blink of an eye, or about as fast as it takes my 2 year old to figure out child proof locks. These days, most toddlers know their way around an iPad long before the age of 2, iPods are pretty standard and come with built in wi-fi, and most tweens and teens (and their parents too) have smartphones glued to their palms at all times.

It is what it is, right? The same way I can’t imagine my life without DVR and GoogleMaps is the same way your kid won’t be able to imagine life without their smart phone, iTunes and Instagram (or whatever’s coming along next).

The AAP’s new approach toward screen time has more to do with managing the quality of time spent using technology and recognizing that parenting strategies apply the same to screen time as they do in any other environment.

  • practice responsible usage yourself
  • monitor and curate the different apps and platforms your kids use carefully
  • set limits
  • teach accountability
  • engage together

The above bullet points are just a few highlights from an article published on the AAP News website, and truthfully I think they really nailed it so make sure you give it a read.

I especially liked this part:

“Content matters. The quality of content is more important than the platform or time spent with media. Prioritize how your child spends his time rather than just setting a timer.”

Fighting with kids over screen time is one of my least favorite things to do in large part because I have always felt guilty about my kids turning into potentially brainless media obsessed drones.

But the thing is, they won’t, because I’m an involved parent and I pay attention.

They’re still really active kids. They know how to use their imagination and most of the time will pick playing outside with friends over Minecraft any day. We’re pretty selective about the kinds of apps our kids play with and I don’t even put games on my phone anymore. After my 3rd iPhone took a swim in the toilet, I finally learned my lesson… We make it a point to get outside as often as we can and I regularly enforce screen free days throughout the week.

And yet, an iPad app is helping my 5 year old learn his letters, my 7 year old is learning strategy and problem solving on a different app, and my two year old has already figured out the pass code so I guess their brains aren’t in any immediate danger of disintegrating.

These recommendations are more in line with what we’ve been doing at home already and that makes me feel like we’re on the right track. They may even manage to grow up and become responsible, contributing members of society. Fingers crossed!

My kids are still fairly young (my oldest son is 7) so I’m interested to hear what the parents of older kids have to say on this topic.

How do you stay on top of screen time for your kids, teens and tweens especially?

How do you tackle social media use and at what age did you let your kids venture out online alone?

(Truthfully? I’m a little bit terrified of that!)

 

Talk to me, Goose! It’s all gonna be okay, right?