This week, April 30 – May 6, 2012, is National Screen-Free Week. This annual event is a program of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) and is designed to encourage parents, children, teachers, schools and communities across the country to turn off all forms of screen-based media, including television, video games, computers, cell phones, etc., and instead spend time with family and friends and participating in other activities, such as reading, daydreaming, exploring nature, playing outside, and more.
Formerly known as TV-Turnoff Week, the CCFC has expanded it to include all screen-based media. It is the organization’s goal that Screen-Free Week will be a “springboard for important lifestyle changes that will improve well-being and quality of life all year round.”
The ever-increasing availability of technology and electronic devices has dramatically increased the amount of time kids (and adults) spend in front of a screen and has drastically reduced the time spent on non-media based activities. The CCFC estimates the amount of time preschoolers spend in front of a screen is 32 hours a week, and even more time is spent by older children and teens. The amount of time spent with screen-based media has reduced time spent outdoors, time spent with family and friends, time spent engaged in sports and other forms of fitness and has contributed to the childhood obesity problem. Too much screen time can also lead to poor school performance, sleep problems, and behavioral issues in some children and teens.
I’ve lost count of how many parents have talked with me about how their children’s behavior changes after playing video games or watching television, especially if those games or shows involved any violence or aggressiveness at all. I’ve seen firsthand how video games affected one of my nephews and would turn him from a sweet, caring boy to an aggressive, defiant child. After the problem continued to worsen, my sister made the drastic decision to no longer allow any video games. At first my nephew whined and begged to play, but as time went on he found other ways to occupy his time and entertain himself and his behavior at home and even at school greatly improved. At the age of 10, even he realizes the negative effect video games can have on him if he spends too much time with them. Of course, every child is different and not all are adversely affected by media and technology, but even if they are not, over-use and over-stimulation can still be a problem.
Screen-based media can also interfere with with kids’ ability for creative, imaginative play. Turning off the screens for a week can help them tune into their imaginations, especially if you encourage them to play with toys that promote creativity. Introduce your kids to some of your favorite childhood pastimes and participate with them. Instead of screen-based electronic games, play board games or go outside and play hide and seek, freeze tag, or a fun sport. Go for a bike ride or a walk around your local park. There are so many ways to spend time together and have fun without any technology at all, your family may even decide to turn off the screens more often!
Certainly technology has improved our ability to do many things, including educate our children, but we need to be aware of the harm that over-use can cause and use screen-time wisely. Taking a break from the abundance of screens in our world can be a healthy way to detox and reconnect with our family and friends face to face.
For more information about Screen-Free Week, visit CommercialFreeChildhood.org.
Children are very quick to point out differences. With their limited experiences and understanding, it is hard to explain that differences are a wonderful part of life. Talking to our children about diversity can be tricky. We don’t want to compromise our family values, but we want to cultivate a true respect for everyone.
There are a few key conversations we can have, that will help.
- Have a “diversity” conversation. Talk about differences that exist in your family. “Jill’s favorite color is pink, yours is blue. Your favorite food is spaghetti, mommy loves chicken” Explain that we are all different, and that is a good thing, not bad. When you encounter new people, explain that there are differences and similarities between all of us just like having different favorite colors. This simple conversation will help our children begin to understand diversity and see that liking different colors and foods is not bad, just different.
- Challenge your children to get to know someone new on a regular basis and find out what they have in common. If they conclude that they have nothing in common, teach them that they still deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. Tie this back into your “diversity” conversations. “Remember, Jill likes a different color than you do, we don’t treat her mean because she likes something different.” Talk about how treating others with respect means that we take some time to get to know them and understand them. Our children need to understand that they might not like all the other kids, but they need to give them all a chance. In our house we encourage our children to meet someone new at school each week. Then our children talk to us about all the things they learned about the new person during dinner each Friday night.
- Talk about the fact that diversity does not mean we forgo our values. Begin when children are young, and explain that there are choices that other people make that are not acceptable in our home. That is fine, but that doesn’t mean that we are rude or judgmental because they choose differently. To raise children who accept diversity talk to them about different cultures and traditions. You can start with something as simple as having them try different foods.
We will find that by talking to our kids about diversity, they will also learn key values like love, respect, kindness, and compassion for others.Pin It
Chickenpox is a viral infection that we primarily recognize as a disease with a very uncomfortable, itchy rash. It can sometimes lead to serious side effects, including pneumonia and bacterial infections. Fortunately, a vaccine was developed in the 1970s for the prevention of chickenpox and has been routinely used in the United States since 1995. It will prevent the disease in 85 to 90 percent of exposed children, and the protection lasts for 20 years.
Your daughter is certainly susceptible at her age. If she was immunized, she should be protected from this exposure. If not, she could still get a dose of vaccine within 72 hours of exposure, which should prevent any serious manifestations of the disease. But it won’t stop her from getting sick.
Each day we use Twitter to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 25 news-worthy events.
- CDC: 2011 was worst measles year in US in 15 years http://t.co/1li51dMw 2012-04-22
- Carrot but no stick for a healthy child http://t.co/jcp5nzZ3 “unreasonably restrictive” diet creates temptation for “forbidden fruit” 2012-04-21
- Stewie the Duck Launches Free Water Safety App on iTunes http://t.co/vBkGOwdz 2012-04-20
- In Blur of A.D.H.D., Kids Sleep Troubles May Be a Culprit - http://t.co/LCsr0kAV 2012-04-19
- Laundry: Being Green While Getting Clean! | Healthy Child Healthy World http://t.co/qGyyvYHi 2012-04-19
PedSafe Headline of the Week:
Help your kids stay safe on prom night http://t.co/gqcd3sgw Terrific tips!!
- Soothing Babies During Vaccination - http://t.co/mO3S2A5Q 2012-04-19
- Teenage Birth Rate Is Lowest Since 1946 - http://t.co/nblOFErR 2012-04-19
- Salt can affect kids food preferences – Fast Food In The U.S. Has Way More Salt Than In Other Countries : NPR http://t.co/jPQ5yobN 2012-04-19
- Interpreters in pediatric ER may limit medical errors: study http://t.co/tGtEj8sp 2012-04-19
- Nearly 1 in 4 Grandparents Store Prescription Medicines Where Children can Easily Find Them http://t.co/wk6MTpdM Pls be careful! 2012-04-19
- 2012 Bug Repellent Cheat Sheet | http://t.co/1S8nQ2PQ 2012-04-18
- Michigan hospitals add PulseOx test to uncover heart defects in newborns http://t.co/D7bO2P0y 2012-04-17
- April is Autism Month; New Studies Look for Causes | Healthy Child Healthy World http://t.co/okdm97dU 2012-04-17
- Death From Accidental Injuries Among Kids Drops 30%: CDC http://t.co/FZfe0Efz 2012-04-17
- Kids helping kids: Children giving own hair are Locks of Love’s biggest donors – South Florida http://t.co/NVAEsQan http://t.co/uwhjADu3 2012-04-16
- States Seek to Curb Exorbitant Drug Costs Incurred by Patients – incl many for kids – http://t.co/o4ZgJrvh http://t.co/KvSnZgIr 2012-04-16
- Kids Will Have To Cut Serious Calories To Halt Obesity Trend : NPR http://t.co/YKv5J9AI 2012-04-16
- Ditching the stroller can help your kids be fit and healthy | The Salt Lake Tribune http://t.co/BUfIepb5 2012-04-16
- Alternative Therapies Aren’t Used as Substitutes for Asthma Meds: Study – US News and World Report http://t.co/R38WysSK 2012-04-16
- Media Detox – Screen Free week is April 30th | Confessions of a Dr. Mom http://t.co/0bDLAuTh 2012-04-16
- All About Pediatric Asthma http://t.co/DlVxrzGG 2012-04-16
- Are video games making kids fat? Screen time and childhood obesity. – Slate Magazine http://t.co/xEGpt0CA 2012-04-16
- Oregon children get E. coli from raw milk – significant risks from raw milk! http://t.co/JNotZQ0Y 2012-04-16
- Toddler fights for his life, as advocates push for new infant health screening test – Tampa Bay Times http://t.co/teMEvid6 2012-04-16
- Help your kids stay safe on prom night http://t.co/gqcd3sgw Terrific tips!! Pls RT! 2012-04-16
- Child Safety Seats: Are They Too Difficult to Install? – Driver’s Seat – WSJ http://t.co/RhRz2yM7 2012-04-16
Lyme disease has gotten a bad name. Originally described in Connecticut and New York, on the coast, near the town of Old Lyme, it was found to be carried by the deer tick (the vector), a far less common tick than the tree or dog tick. It now has also been found in most parts of the country and cannot be transmitted from person to person. The deer tick is very small, about the size of the head of a pin, and as opposed to a wood (dog) tick will not engorge with the blood of other mammals, so it is often times very difficult to see when scanning the skin. This tick must remain attached and feeding for 24 to 48 hours before it is capable of transmitting disease. Only about 5% of tick bites with the deer tick in an endemic area will result in Lyme disease in the human. Ticks and tick bites are far more common during the summer months so that is when your powers of observation need to be finely tuned. You should carefully examine your children at least twice a day for the presence of any tick attached to your child’s skin. Be sure to look in those places not easy to observe such as the scalp, between the fingers and toes, and in the pubic and the perineal areas (between the genital area and the anus).
When found, these ticks should be removed from the skin by applying a tweezer to the mouth parts firmly very close to the skin, and with firm steady traction (not sudden and jerky) pull the tick from the skin. You may leave some dark mouth parts in skin; don’t try to remove them but cleanse the area well with soap and water and treat as you would for any abrasion or cut. Those mouth parts may very well come out on their own or may remain and not cause a problem. Of course these areas can become secondarily infected ( as any cut or abrasion might) with bacteria and that would result in redness, swelling, warmth over the area and pain or tenderness Since ticks actually breathe very infrequently the idea of smothering them with petroleum jelly or other thick substance would not be practical. Do not try to burn them off with a heated pin or freshly lit match head as the only thing you will probably burn is your child’s skin.
If the disease is transmitted to your child (let me point this out again, this is rare) a mild illness with feverinitially might occur in some, this is more likely not the case however, and chronic long term vague illness is also not necessarily what you will see. The rash of Lyme’s disease also does not occur in all cases and is fairly characteristic: initially a reddened bump that subsequently clears in the middle leaving a red ring that slowly and inexorably enlarges. Sometimes there is more than one ring and other times that ring may enlarge significantly to cover entire body parts and extend to others. As a result, it is sometimes difficult to recognize this as a ring. There are blood tests that can detect the presence of Lyme disease but these might not be positive for several weeks. Treatment is easily accomplished through the use of an antibiotic for 21 – 28 days and there is time to begin treatment, up to a week to 10 days without fear of the disease progressing. The antibiotics used are common to everyone generally without side effects: Amoxicillin for young children and doxycycline (a form of tetracycline) for children 8-10 years and older.
This is a diagnoses made usually on clinical grounds; that is as a result of your child’s doctor’s experience in light of a certain constellation of signs and symptoms. Checking the tick for the presence of Lyme disease (if you have the tick) is not recommended and neither is preventive treatment if living in a high density tick area. There are reports of “chronic Lyme disease” and the treatment of such a suspected occurrence is not clear- probably the services of a specialist (infectious disease) should be sought.
Summary- Lyme disease is not very common even though you may hear of cases in your area. If you are concerned after a tick bite take your child to his/her doctor and he/she will make the diagnosis and suggest treatment if necessary. Check your child twice a day for the presence of any ticks and remove as described above. There is plenty of time to begin treatment and the antibiotics used are well tolerated; once treated it is not recommended to repeat lab work if done originally, and it can be assumed that the illness is gone and will not leave long lasting problems.