Computer Vision Syndrome: Is Tech Harming Your Family’s Vision?

Last updated on March 5th, 2018 at 12:17 pm

Computer vision syndrome symptomsIn today’s technological society, most of us have become accustomed to using multiple devices that have screens – televisions, computer monitors, tablets, smartphones, hand-held gaming consoles, and the list goes on.

And as the number of screen devices has increased, so has our time spent staring at these devices. It’s not unusual to spend several hours of each day looking at these various screens and this has led to concerns about what affect all this screen time may be having on our vision…and on our kid’s vision.

Could your technology harm your vision? I was recently asked to address this concern on Fox 23’s Great Day Green Country.

 


 

Feb 23rd: AMC’s Sensory Friendly Film is Escape from Planet Earth

Last updated on February 18th, 2013 at 09:58 pm

Sensory Friendly Films logoOnce a month, AMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and with other special needs ”Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings“ – a wonderful opportunity to enjoy their favorite “family-friendly” films in a safe and accepting environment.

The movie auditoriums will have their lights turned up and the sound turned down. Families will be able to bring in snacks to match their child’s dietary needs (i.e. gluten-free, casein-free, etc.), there are no advertisements or previews before the movie and it’s totally acceptable to get up and dance, walk, shout, talk to each other…and even sing – in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced during movie screenings unless the safety of the audience is questioned.

Does it make a difference? Absolutely! Imagine …no need to shhhhh your child. No angry stares from other movie goers. Many parents think twice before bringing a child to a movie theater. Add to that your child’s special needs and it can easily become cause for parentalEscape from Planet Earth panic.  But on this one day a month, for this one screening, everyone is there to relax and have a good time, everyone expects to be surrounded by kids – with and without special needs – and the movie theater policy becomes “Tolerance is Golden”.

On Saturday February 23rd at 10am local time, Escape from Planet Earth will be screened as part of the Autism Society “Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings” program. Tickets are $4 to $6 depending on the location. To find a theatre near you, here is a list of AMC theatres nationwide participating in this fabulous program (note: to access list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

Coming March 30th: The Croods 2-D

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Editor’s note: Although Escape from Planet Earth has been chosen by the Autism Society as this month’s Sensory Friendly screening, we do want parents to know that it is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for action and some mild rude humor. As always, please check the IMDB Parent’s Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your child.

Getting Braces: How to Find an Orthodontist You Can Trust

Last updated on February 18th, 2013 at 09:57 pm

Beautiful braces smileFirst things first: I hope you had a wonderful holiday. My 9-year-old daughter, Kate, believes in Santa, so the last couple of weeks of 2011 were filled with wonderful anticipation (“Will he bring me a Harry Potter wand?”) and good behavior (the Santa card is better than any time-out chair). Speaking of magical creatures that leave presents, Kate is also fond of her visits from the tooth fairy. And that brings me to what I’d love to share with you today.

I wasn’t prepared for what happened at her pediatric dentist’s office recently during a routine cleaning. Her dentist checked the teeth for cavities (none – yay!), put on a couple of sealants, told her she needs to floss a little better (we’re working on that – thanks, Disney Princess Flossers!), and then the surprise: She handed me a couple of business cards for local orthodontists. I must have stood there with my mouth wide open, but words weren’t coming out. What was in my head: My kid has lots of baby teeth left! Why on Earth would she need to see an orthodontist now? The dentist suggested that Kate get a consultation before her next visit – and then got called away for an emergency.

I’m sure I could have phoned the dentist the next day to follow up, but I hit the Web instead. And I found out that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that kids see an orthodontist by age 7 to check for crowded teeth or misaligned bites. The crowded-teeth issue actually rang a bell; I remember from previous visits that Kate’s dentist suspected that her mouth might be too small for her big-kid chompers. But I was still feeling uneasy because I’ve heard from my friends who have older kids that you can go to three orthodontists and get three different opinions. So I decided to call Ted Sherwin, a family dentist in Orange, Va., and spokesman for the Academy of General Dentistry, for some straight answers.

Sherwin acknowledged that it can be difficult for parents to reconcile the treatment recommendations from various orthodontists, but he also pointed out: “There is more than one path to successful results.” Hmm. Sherwin added that an orthodontist recommendation from a family dentist you trust is golden. And you don’t have to stop there. After a little more digging, I found that HealthGrades.com, an independent website, allows patients to comment on the medical or dental care they receive from a particular practitioner.

As it turned out, one of the business cards Kate’s dentist handed me was for an orthodontist that my friend had also recommended. With two thumbs up, it seemed smart to try him first. We’ve got an appointment in a few weeks.

In the meantime, Kate is eagerly anticipating another visit from the tooth fairy. “Do you think that instead of giving me money, she can get Daniel Radcliffe to call me?” asked Kate. My response: “No, sweetie, the tooth fairy doesn’t take special requests.”



Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 02-04-2013 to 02-10-2013

Last updated on March 2nd, 2018 at 04:33 pm

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

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 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Headline of the Week:

YouTube Isn’t As Safe For Children As Parents Think, Study Finds  http://t.co/MTVHlv8a

Kik – What It Is and What Parents Need to Know

Last updated on March 2nd, 2018 at 04:33 pm

kik-logo-thumbSexting has parents concerned – and rightfully so. A byproduct of this concern is a heightened sense of awareness that we’re seeing from parents. I get emails every day from parents asking me how to prevent their child from downloading certain apps, and what’s the best way to monitor what their child is doing on their smartphone. Sexting continues to be an underlying concern in all of these conversations — probably because kids and teens use their smartphones to text more than anything else, and according to kids in the UK, sexting is just the new way to flirt. But what a lot of parents aren’t aware of is the fact that their child doesn’t need to be on a texting plan in order to text. There are plenty of third-party apps that offer texting services for free, and one that has come up in several conversations that I’ve had with parents is Kik.

What Is Kik?

Kik is an instant messenger app—think AIM chat or texting. The app is available for free on all mobile platforms, and is well-received by the millions of people, mainly because it can replace a texting plan through their cell provider. Through their data plan or Wi-Fi connection, Kik users can send and receive text messages and photos to an individual on their Kik contact list, or they can start a group chat with several Kik contacts. Instead of using phone numbers, each Kik member has a username. This username can be accompanied by a profile photo, if the user wishes, but ultimately this is Kik’s way of creating a sense of privacy among their users.

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Inviting People to Kik

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Kik users can use the Invite a Friend option to invite new people to connect with them on Kik. This can be done in several ways, but the method that poses the greatest risk to your child’s privacy and safety is the ability to invite people via social networks. With the click of a button, your child can reach out to the public communities on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Tumblr (among many others) with the message “Kik me”. No surprise here, “Kik me” is Kik’s way of starting a new instant message conversation between the sender and the recipient, whoever they may be.

Kik users can also manually search for someone’s Kik username and start a conversation that way, or they can dig into their phone’s contact list to see who’s already on Kik. Of course, the latter is a much safer approach to connecting with people on Kik since these people are already known to the user in some form or another.

Privacy and Parental Controls

Though Kik makes it easy to block other Kik users and ignore message notifications from new people, they offer zero parental controls, leaving it up to the child or teen to set these privacy settings on their own.

Another Kik safety concern that you should be aware of, and this is credited to Michael Sheehan’s blog titled “Parents Beware: Instagram & Kik Messenger Are a Dangerous Combination & What Social Dangers to Check For”, is the fact that kids and teens are sharing their Kik username on public social networks, like Instagram, through comments and profiles. As you can imagine, doing this opens the door to unwanted solicitations from Internet trolls, “pervs” and cyberbullies. In Michael’s case, his daughter’s friend received a request to chat on Kik via Instagram and the next thing she knew she was being asked to send naked photos of herself.

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The reason I wrote this piece wasn’t to bash Kik or to tell you that it’s an unsafe app for your child or teen; whether you feel it’s safe enough is entirely up to you and the maturity level of your child. But just like with any app or website that isn’t specifically created for children (and thus COPPA compliant), the safety and privacy risks tend to be more prevalent. With that being said, if your child is 12 or younger, they shouldn’t be using Kik at all. If your 13 or older teen prefers to use Kik instead of texting, and you’re saving some money in the process, you don’t need to delete the app from their phone, just have a very serious conversation with them about the safety risks involved with sharing their Kik username in public social networks and forums. While you’re at it, take five minutes to make sure they’re using the privacy settings.

The Internet will never be a totally “safe place” for our children, so we as parents have to remain vigilant and educated in order to take what we learn and pass it on to our kids.

A Key Tool in Flu Prevention: Your Child’s Elbow

Last updated on August 29th, 2015 at 08:27 pm

Children Flu Sneeze Elbow SickYou can help stop cold and flu season in its tracks by helping your child learn to take a hands-free approach to hygiene. In other words, teach your little one to cough and sneeze into the crook of the elbow instead of into the hand.

Here’s why: If your child blocks a sneeze with his hands, the germs then spread to anything he touches – desks, chairs and pencils – and they can remain contagious for several hours.

And it doesn’t take much of a sneeze to start the spread of germs. Just one “achoo” releases thousands of infectious droplets into the air. It’s no wonder scientists estimate that about 80 percent of infections are transmitted by hand!

You can help make this stay-healthy strategy a habit by designating a “sneeze spot” on your kid’s sleeve with a sticker. But why is the elbow the safest spot to catch a cough? Unlike the hand, it doesn’t touch much of anything.

Finally, make sure your whole family does the elbow sneeze all year long – not just during cold and flu season – to remind your child to follow suit.