Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Night-time Screen Use and Sleep

Any child or teen who has access to an iPad, tablet, or smart phone seems to have it glued to their hand, giving it up reluctantly only when parents or teachers insist. 

We often recommend e-books for the students we see hear at The Yellin Center who have difficulty with printed material. They are great ways to allow students to access material they might not be able to read on their own and to keep up with both class content and the latest popular book series that their friends might be discussing. However, our recommendation is always accompanied by a reminder that using an e-reader before bedtime can affect sleep.

A newly released study (this open access study shows up as an abstract, but the full text is available from this link as a free download) which looked at data from over 6600 11 to 12-year-olds from in and around London who reported any use of Screen Based Media Devices (SBMD - mobile phone, tablet, laptop, television etc) supports our cautionary recommendation.

The goal of the researchers was to look at the impact of SBMD in both dark and artificially lit rooms and to determine whether and how such use affected sleep and what scientists call "health-related quality of life" (HRQOL). Scientists found that the subjects "... who used mobile phones or watched television at night-time with the light on in the room experienced worse sleep outcomes than adolescents who did not use these devices at night-time. However, the effects were even greater when device use occurred in darkness." In addition, any kind of night-time use of even one SBMD was "... associated with poor sleep quality on all dimensions including experiencing difficulty falling asleep."

These findings may provide the push needed to get teens to put away their devices at bedtime -- and, hopefully, can influence their parents as well. Sleep well!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

52 Conversations for Social-Emotional Development

A short piece in Ed., the always interesting magazine published by the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), led us to a new tool for parents and teachers to support children's social-emotional development. Jenny Woo, a recent graduate of HGSE and a parent herself, created "52 Essential Conversations" for children -- and adults -- ages five and up.

The cards cover such broad areas as responsible decision-making and social awareness, and are designed to be used in a variety of ways -- as conversation starters at home, as writing prompts or circle time discussion topics in a classroom, or even in a psychologist's office.

Woo designed the cards to follow the framework of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, which has established national standards for "research, practice, and policy, to equip educators and policymakers with the knowledge and resources to advance social and emotional learning in equitable learning environments". She explains, in a video, that she had recently lost a friend to cancer and had been thinking about what life guidelines she would want to leave for her own children. She set up a Kickstarter campaign and brought the cards to market last year.

Talking to kids isn't always easy. This tool can be a valuable way to start a conversation and share your values with the children in your life.