Sunday, March 24, 2019

Recent Research About the Effects of Children's Screen Time

Children gaming
Children gaming

Pediatricians and concerned parents have paid attention to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations concerning the amount of time youngsters spend watching television or engaged with other electronic media. However recent research calls these recommendations into question. Does additional screen time beyond the AAP recommendations adversely affect children’s mental health?

A UK study published in 2017 in Child Development surveyed parents of 2- to 5-year olds. They were asked how much time their child(ren) spent watching TV, playing video games, or engaged with electronic media (computers, cell phones, handheld electronic devices). They also answered questions about several measures of childhood psychological well-being, including attachment to the caregiver, reliance (bouncing back from not getting their way), curiosity about learning new things, and positive affect (smiling and laughing). The researchers controlled for ethnicity, age, gender, household income, and caregiver education, as these factors were thought to also affect childhood mental health. There was no significant difference between the mental health of children whose parents abided by the APA guideline and youngsters who spent more time in front of a television or other screen.

A different UK study published in 2019 in Nature Human Behavior examined adolescents’ mental health and use of digital technology. Researchers statistically examined three large datasets and found that the relationship between digital technology use and adolescent well-being explained only 0.4% of the variation among individuals. They conclude that “these effects are too small to warrant policy change.”  Apparently, the question of the impact of screen time on the mental health of young people is still open for debate.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Children’s Screen Time

Children and Computers
Children and Computers

In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced new guidelines for parents concerning their children’s screen time, encouraging limiting their exposure to television and other forms of electronic media. Among the age-related recommendations:
  • Children under 18 months old should not be exposed at all, except for video-chatting with distant family members.
  • Children from 18 months to 2 years old can be introduced to high quality programs while sitting with and discussing with their parents.
  • Children from 2 to 5 years should continue to watch appropriate programs with their parents, no more than 1 hour per day.
School age children and teens should have consistent rules about use of electronic media, including types and time spent. They should be encouraged to have media-free family time, media-free locations in their homes, and adequate sleep and physical activity.

Parents are encouraged to create a Family Media Plan. The Plan will help family members choose and use online media purposefully, without taking the place of physical exercise, family-oriented time or sleep.

More specific guidance for parents of children under age 5 and for school-age children and teens is available.

Children’s Mental Health Week was February 4-10, 2019

Strengthening Mental Health
Strengthening Mental Health

Those of us who parent or care for children often focus on their physical well being. We want to be sure our children eat healthy foods, stay active, and get enough sleep. But bodies and minds are closely linked, so it’s also important to support our children’s mental health.

Here are some resources to help parents and carers support children’s mental health:

iPhone and Android services for the blind: Opportunities to volunteer

Volunteer Hands
Volunteer Hands

By ArcticPixy, Virtual Ability community member

I'd like to inform everyone about a few services released for iPhone and soon Android to help blind and visually impaired people that I thought some folks might want to assist and volunteer in.

Seeing AIis one of these, but does not require volunteers.
This application has features such as:
      Currency identifier,
      Short text, to be able to read things such as recipes on boxes, names on mail envelopes and packages, and so on,
      Document scanner,
      Product, to be able to scan UPC codes from sellers such as Amazon, Best Buy, and others,
      Person, to recognize your friends and describe other people,
      Scene preview, to let you know what kind of area you are in,
      Color preview, to identify colors of items, and
      Handwriting preview, to enable us to read handwritten notes on paper, blackboards, and so on.

Two services in particular could use volunteer help.

The next application I'd like to bring to your attention is called Be My Eyes.
Basically, the person connects/calls in using the app, and another sighted person gets connected to the one being assisted. The blind user can ask things such as colors of items, what kind of things are on a menu, such as in a vending machine, or touchscreen, and so on.

To get more information and to volunteer for “Be My Eyes,” go to their website:

The last and final item I want to share is a pair of smart glasses. The service is called “Aira.”
Similar to Google glasses, I find this service more helpful for traveling, being that they can see everything pretty much from a straight path. The glasses have a camera, and they can help you out much easier.

Aira” can also be used just like “Seeing AI" and “Be My Eyes," but each app has its uses. "Aira" is a little more accurate and steady.

In order to register/volunteer to help with “Aira,” an application has to be filled out, and you will be evaluated. To volunteer, go to their website: