Reducing Screen Time–Even Just a Little–Makes a Big Difference

mrdad - screen time ripple effect

mrdad - screen time ripple effectDear Mr. Dad: My wife and I have an 11-year-old who’s very tech savvy and spends a lot of time on her phone and computer. A lot of experts—you included—talk about how we parents should cut back on our kids screen time. That sounds like a great idea, except that we both work full time and are exhausted when we get home, and neither of us has the energy to get into a battle with our daughter. We tried limiting her screen time, but after a few weeks, we didn’t see any difference in her behavior or her grades. Is there really any point in forcing the issue? Our home seems a lot more peaceful when don’t bug our daughter.

A: I love technology, and I’m constantly amazed at the marvelous things it allows us to do. But when it comes to kids (and many adults), there can be too much of a good thing. The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that children spend an average of seven hours per day in front of some kind of screen (TV, computer, phones, and other devices). In addition, quite a bit of research indicates that there’s a direct correlation between screen time and obesity, eating disorders, poor academic performance, and other problems.

In our gut, most parents understand that we need to monitor our children’s screen time, but given how pervasive screens are in our daily life, limiting them is really hard. What makes it even harder is that, as you pointed out, it doesn’t produce immediate benefits. As a result, we can get frustrated, question why we’re trying in the first place, and simply give up rather than risk getting sucked into a knock-down-drag-out fight.
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The Latest Articles for Military Families

I just posted a new batch of articles for military families on about.com.

This month I covered: the many ways deployment affects parents and children, strategies to help kids keep busy when a parent is deployed, understanding–and handling–rebellious teen behavior, how to make a temporary home feel like a permanent one–something many military families struggle with, and overcoming the challenges of long-distance relationships.

Please feel free to share these articles.

My Daughter, the Emerging Artist

talya photography

talya photography2My middle daughter, Talya, is a photographer and will be exhibiting some of her work at the Conception NYC Emerging Artists Show this Saturday, December 20. The show gets underway at 7pm at the Cutting Room, 44 East 32nd Street & Park Ave. You can get tix here or at the door.

Check out more of her work on her Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/talyabrottphotography/photos_stream

HPV Vaccine: The Safe Choice for Your Kids

Dear Mr. Dad: I have boy/girl twins who are 11. Their pediatrician suggested that my daughter get a vaccine for HPV, but he didn’t offer it to my son. I’ve got three questions. First, why didn’t he suggest the vaccine for my son? Second, why are they offering a vaccine against sexually transmitted diseases to 11-year-olds anyway—isn’t that too early? Third, it seems to me that vaccinating kids against STDs will only make them more likely to have sex and less careful than they ordinarily would be. Am I right?

A: That’s a lot of questions, so let’s jump right in. But a warning: This column will include some adult words, so reader discretion is advised.

Your pediatrician should have recommended the HPV vaccine to your son. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vast majority of a number of cancers are attributed to HPV. For girls, these include cancer of the cervix or anus (over 90%), vagina and throat (over 75%). Boys are also just as susceptible to anal and throat cancers, plus HPV causes nearly two thirds of cancers of the penis. HPV is also linked with nearly 100% of genital warts—an equal opportunity STD.
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AdoptUSKids: An Adoption Option You May Not Have Considered

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aWhen we think of adopting a child, the we usually think of China, Eastern Europe, and Africa. But did you know that there are currently 402,000 children in the U.S. foster care system? Or that there are more than 100,000 children in the U.S. under 18 who are waiting to be adopted? Either way, you can help by becoming a foster parent or adopting a foster child. And AdoptUSKids is there to help you.

AdoptUSKids has two main goals. First, to educate the public about the need for foster and adoptive families, second, to “support States, Territories, and Tribes in their efforts to find families for children in foster care, particularly the most challenging to place” (which includes older kids, those who are part of a sibling groups, and children of color).

Since the launch of the campaign in 2004, more than 22,000 children who were once photo-listed on the AdoptUSKids website are now with their adoptive families and over 35,000 families have registered to adopt through AdoptUSKids.

So what can you do?

Start by taking a look the videos and listen to some of the stories from adopted children and adoptive parents here: https://www.youtube.com/user/adoptuskids

For more information about adoption, or about becoming an adoptive parent to a child from foster care, please visit  www.AdoptUSKids.org or visit the campaign’s communities on Facebook and Twitter.

29% of High School Students Use E-Cigarettes

National data have shown teen use of e-cigarettes is increasing steadily each year. A new survey of high school students in Hawaii found 29 percent have used e-cigarettes, which is substantially higher than previous estimates. The study, “Risk Factors for Exclusive E-Cigarette Use and Dual E-Cigarette Use and Tobacco Use in Adolescents,” in the January 2015 Pediatrics (published online Dec. 15), surveyed 1,941 high school students in Hawaii in 2013. Students reported their use of e-cigarettes, tobacco cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana, as well as psychosocial factors related to substance use, such as parental support, academic involvement, peer smoking and sensation-seeking behaviors.

Researchers found 17 percent of students reported using e-cigarettes only, 12 percent used both e-cigarettes and cigarettes, and 3 percent used cigarettes only. Students who only used e-cigarettes had fewer psychosocial risk factors than students who used both cigarettes and e-cigarettes. According to the study authors, this raises the possibility that e-cigarettes are recruiting medium-risk adolescents to cigarette smoking who otherwise would be less susceptible to tobacco use.