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At the beginning of middle school, Melanie Hempe’s oldest son, Adam, started trading his outdoor time for playing video games inside and she became a Game-Cop Mom. Since Adam was a straight-A student, Hempe let his bad habit slide. 

“But his ninth grade school laptop proved to be too much to manage,” says Hempe, mom of four. “When he graduated from high school I thought he would outgrow his gaming. I did not realize that little kid hobbies become big kid hobbies.”

At the end of his freshman year, Adam dropped out of college due to his gaming. On the trip home, he said, “Mom, ‘World of Warcraft’ did something to me. I’ve been in bed for the last week, depressed.” Knowing that she did not want to have a gamer in her house for the next five years, she asked an Army recruiter to visit. Adam joined the U.S. Army where he could learn to shoot real guns instead of virtual ones.

Her son’s experience set Hempe on a quest to understand gaming and screen addictions.

“As a nurse, I felt like there had to be a scientific explanation for what happened to my son,” Hempe recalls. “I learned that gaming addiction is the number one reason boys drop out of college their freshman year.” 

Like gambling, this addiction can be hard to spot. “After a great deal of research, I decided to present my findings to parents at our school. I was shocked when over 100 parents showed up to that first meeting.” Families Managing Media was founded as an effort to help families prevent childhood screen addictions.

Think about your child’s relationship with their screen:

  • Is it the only thing that puts them in a good mood?

  • Are they unhappy when you take it away?

  • Is their usage increasing over time?

  • Do they sneak around hiding screens?

  • Do you know what they are doing on their screens; do you have all their passwords?

  • Does their screen time interfere with family time and their in-person friendships?

If you answered yes to most of these, your child may be headed for trouble.  

Hempe believes parents need to know at least four things about brain development to help with screen management. 

For starters, the prefrontal cortex (the reasoning center) is the last part of the brain to mature and it is impossible to accelerate this maturity. Even the most intelligent child can have issues managing time or paying attention. 

“Because Adam was smart, I expected him to be able to control his screen use,” Hempe says. “I now understand that this is a task kids are unable to do. Children are not little adults.”

Second, it’s helpful to know that your child’s brain development is based on the activities they are doing. Like dirt roads being paved, neuronal connections get stronger with use. The connections not being used get pruned away at puberty.  

“Practice typically makes things better, but unfortunately, with things like social media, practice makes it worse,” Hempe shares. “The longer a child is exposed to one type of experience, the harder it is to reverse that effect.” 

Video games and smartphones stimulate one area of the brain: the pleasure center.

Unfortunately, if the whole brain is not stimulated early, it’s a complicated fix in adulthood.  

Thirdly, screen time is not a neutral activity. Dopamine controls the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. When kids are on their screens, they get an instant dopamine rush from likes on social media, gaming, etc. The “dopamine feedback loop” is activated and a craving sets in. The bad news is that, school and other “less-exciting” things can’t compete with the novelty offered by screens 24/7.

Fourth, screens replace many activities that are foundational to healthy brain development. Handwriting, real play and playing music are very important for a young brain. 

“Movement is absent when your child is on a screen,” Hempe says. “Without enough movement, children have a hard time maintaining focus and dealing with distractions. Even 30 minutes a day makes a huge difference.” 

Reading is the first activity to go when screens are present, and it is the number one predictor of academic success. Sleep is another critical piece. Screen habits make it hard for teens to get the required 9.25 hours of sleep each night.

With this in mind, Hempe encourages parents to do the following:

  • Delay access to smartphones and video games. This allows more time for a child to mature so that he or she can use technology wisely. “No” for now doesn’t mean “no” forever. Social media and today’s video games are very addictive.

  • Follow your family’s accounts and co-view their screen activities. Nothing is private in the digital world, so your child/teen’s digital activity should not be private to you. Know exactly what they are doing on their screens.

  • Foster face-to-face social interactions. Social media is not designed for kids. Try a family social media account managed by you on a home laptop in plain view. They do not need six years of social media “training” to learn how to use it, but they do need face-to-face interactions with friends to learn critical social skills.

  • Spend more non-tech time together. Teens with strong family attachments show more overall happiness and success.

  • Help your kids choose and plan healthier forms of entertainment – they need your help. Don’t give the smartphone and video games all the power in your home.

“Our teens need us now more than ever,” Hempe asserts. “It is easy to detach from them when they are on their screens. They want you to help them say no to screen overuse. After all, the only thing they really want more than their virtual world is more real time with you.”

For more information on screen addiction, reclaiming your kids and reconnecting your family, visit Families Managing Media.

Check out this episode of JulieB TV on this topic, too!

Dr. Sheri Madigan and her research team wanted to know the prevalence of sexting behavior (sharing of sexually explicit images and videos through technological means) among youth. Between 2006 and 2016, they conducted a meta-analysis, looking at 39 different studies about sexting that included 110,380 young people from all over the world, including the United States.

Studies indicate that sexting has been on the rise among teens while teen sex has declined. Findings from the meta-analysis indicate that:

  • 1 in 7 teens send sexts, 
  • 1 in 4 receives sext messages, and 
  • 41 percent of teens are having sex according to a 2018 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
  • Additionally, older teens are sexting more often than younger teens.

While boys are often portrayed as the requestors of nude images, studies show that girls and boys are equally as likely to participate in sexting. Plus, most of them use their smartphones versus a computer when they sext.

Compared to boys, girls report feeling more pressure to sext and worry they will be judged harshly whether they sext or not. If they do, there is slut-shaming. If they don’t, they are considered a prude. Boys, however, may see sexting as a way to showcase their social status.  

Many sexters assume the images will remain private, but the research indicates that:

  • 12.5 percent of teens are forwarding intimate photos without the sender’s consent. 
  • Another 8.4 percent of teens had one of their own sexts forwarded without their consent.

According to the research team, these findings raise some concerns and challenges. Teens may feel that sexting is an expectation if everybody else is doing it. When sexting is coerced and images are used as a form of blackmail or a threat, the combination of digital insecurity and the teen brain processes could lead to compromised safety. Since teens’ brains are still developing, their capacity to critically analyze digital tools and apps may not be enough to keep them safe. So, what can parents do to help?

If you’re a parent, Madigan encourages you to talk with your teens about healthy dating relationships, peer pressure, digital security, sexuality and citizenship. Make it an ongoing conversation where you’re being proactive instead of reactive.

Also, discuss strategies for dealing with peer pressure surrounding sexting and the potential consequences of sending sexts. Once someone sends an image or video, there is no control over who sees it. 

Family Zone offers these 10 tips to help you deal with sexting:

  • Have open and honest conversations with your children.
  • Don’t abstain from educating your own children about sex and sexualized behaviors. If you don’t educate them, somebody else will.
  • Do not assume that your child will not pass on a nude photo or take one of themselves and share it.
  • Discuss the risks of sexting, including how they would feel if their photos were shared.
  • Be very clear about the law and criminal consequences with your children.
  • Discuss their digital footprint and what that means.
  • Explain their digital citizenship responsibilities.
  • Warn your children to never share photos with people they don’t physically know offline. Consider providing examples of grooming and pedophilia.
  • Attempt to explore if these behaviors are part of a bigger problem with self-esteem and confidence. Like everyone, children like attention and reassurance, but as parents we need to help our kids find healthier ways to feel good about themselves.
  • Ensure they know who they can talk to and where they can get help if needed. They may not want that to be you, so ensure they have a safe person to confide in.

For tips on parenting get our E-book “How to be a Guide for your Teen” Download Here

If you’d like additional resources to help guide these conversations, here are some good ones: Common Sense Media’s Sexting Handbook, Common Sense Media, Connect Safely, Social LEADia: Moving Students from Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership.

Activist, educator and author Dr. Warren Farrell is at it again with his book co-authored by Dr. John Gray, The Boy Crisis: Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We can Do About It. For many years, Farrell has been concerned for the welfare of boys, and he believes that fatherlessness is at the very heart of the issue.

In an Institute for Family Studies interview, Farrell asserts that today’s boys often struggle with a sense of hopelessness and a lack of purpose linked in part to family breakdown and father deprivation. He also believes that boys’ and men’s weakness is their facade of strength. 

A United Nations study found boys lagging behind girls in all the developed nations. The women’s movement has really helped young girls recognize that girls can take many paths and be successful. However, while girls’ sense of purpose has grown, boys’ sense of purpose has not. Boys seem to hear either that it’s all about earning money or being a loser. Farrell wonders what would happen if we told boys that being a full-time caregiver is a worthy option?

After poring through the related research, Farrell believes the gap between dad-deprived boys and dad-enriched boys will become the single biggest predictor of those who become economically poor versus economically rich. 

Boys with little to no father involvement often look to their dads as role models, but without much time with their dads, their role models are more “straw men” or “straw dads,” says Farrell. 

“These boys don’t benefit from overnights, hang-out time, and the many hours it takes for boys to bond with their dads and trust that their feelings won’t be dismissed. Dads tend to build bonds with their sons by, for example, playing games and rough-housing, and then use the resulting bond as leverage for their sons to “get to bed on time” lest there be “no playing tomorrow night.” 

This boundary enforcement teaches boys postponed gratification, whereas boys with minimal or no father involvement are more frequently addicted to immediate gratification. Additionally, having minimal or no father involvement increases the chances of video game addiction, ADHD, bad grades, less empathy, less assertiveness, more aggression, fewer social skills, more alienation and loneliness, more obesity, rudderlessness, anger, drugs, drinking, delinquency, disobedience, depression and suicide. Fatherless boys are also more likely to be imprisoned. 

In a TEdx Talk on “The Boy Crisis,” Farrell cites that since 1980 in California, 18 new prisons have been built, but only one new university. There has been a 700 percent increase in the prison population and it is mostly a dad-deprived male population. 

As an example of the pain of fatherlessness, Farrell mentioned Anthony Sims, known as the Oakland Killer. His last Facebook post was this:  “I wish I had a father.”

While many see guns as the problem, Farrell contends that school shootings are mostly white boys’ method of acting out their hopelessness. He says guns are also white boys’ method of committing suicide, and serve as a reflection of our inability to help constructively track boys to manhood. He points out that girls living in those same homes with the same family values and issues are not killing people at school.

Farrell speaks of attending a party once where he learned that a men’s group formed by Farrell had impacted a man named John more than any other thing in his life. When group members asked the man, “What is the biggest hole in your heart?” he blurted out, “I was so involved in my career, I neglected my wife and my son. That’s the biggest hole and a deeper hole because I ended up divorced. I remarried and the group knew that my wife was pregnant with our son.” The group then asked, “If you could do anything you wanted, what would you like to do?” He said he would take five years off and help raise his son. He talked with his wife, who told him to go for it. He shared that it had been two years.

When Farrell asked John if it was a good decision, he replied, “No. The best decision of my life. Up until I took care of my son, my whole life was about me, me, me. Suddenly it was about my son. I suddenly learned to love and be loved.” 

As they were wrapping up their conversation, someone asked for an autograph. Farrell thought it was for him, but it was for John. Farrell said, “I guess you’re famous. What’s your last name, John?” 

“Lennon,” he said. John Lennon had discovered he was not giving love by earning money as a human doing, but by being love. 

Many boys wander aimlessly, looking for their purpose. Farrell and many others believe one way to end the boy crisis is for fathers, uncles, grandfathers and other male role models to step up and stand in the gap, and for women to encourage men in their efforts to raise men of purpose.

For more information on the importance of fathers, download our E-book “Why Being a dad is a BIG Deal.”

True or False?

  • Cyberbullying victims are at increased risk for traditional bullying victimization, substance use and school problems.
  • Victims of cyberbullying suffer from anger, frustration and sadness.
  • Most victims of cyberbullying tell an adult about their experience.
  • Victims report that they are primarily cyberbullied by strangers.

If you answered “true” for the first two statements and “false” for the last two, you are correct.

News stories abound about young people and bullying. One of the most widely-known incidents is about Megan Meier, a then 13-year-old from Missouri. She became online friends with a person she thought was a new boy in town. The “friend” was actually a group of young people and adults who plotted to humiliate Megan because of a broken friendship with another girl. When Megan discovered the truth, she became distraught and later committed suicide.

Cyberbullying is defined as using the computer or other electronic devices to intimidate, threaten or humiliate another. It most commonly takes place on the Internet among students from a given school or neighborhood.

Researchers and co-directors of the Cyberbullying Research Center, Justin Patchin and Sameer Hinduja, collected data from more than 15,000 youth regarding their personal cyberbullying experiences. They found that:

  • Five percent of the youth they interviewed claimed to be scared for their own safety.
  • On average, 25 percent of youth have been a victim of cyberbullying.
  • Among this percentage, mean or hurtful comments, and spreading rumors were the most common forms of cyberbullying.
  • More than half of study participants feel that cyberbullying is as bad as, or worse than bullying in real life.
  • 41 percent of victims do not tell anyone in their off-screen lives about their abuse, but 38 percent told an online friend.
  • 16 percent admitted to bullying another individual online.
  • Most of the bullying offenders said they consider bullying to be fun or instructive; such as a way to strengthen their victims.

Your child uses cell phones, emails, instant messaging, websites, blogs, text messages and other methods to communicate electronically. All of them present a potential cyberbullying risk to your child.

What Do Parents Need to Know?

The impact of cyberbullying can be devastating. Cyber victimization can cause poor grades, emotional spirals, poor self-esteem, repeated school absences, depression and in some cases, suicide. These outcomes are similar to those of real-life bullying, except with cyberbullying there is often no escape.

Young people used to be able to avoid the “bully” once school was out. Today’s technology now makes it almost impossible to escape. Since few parents closely monitor their child’s digital use, it is far easier for bullies to get away with bullying online than in person. And as the quiz pointed out, kids rarely tell their parents about the bullying.

What Can Parents Do?

  • Establish that all rules for interacting appropriately with people in real life apply online.
  • Explain what cyberbullying is and why it is unacceptable to bully or to allow bullying to continue.
  • Talk with your teen about the nature of REAL friendships.
  • Encourage your child to talk with you any time they believe they or someone they know is dealing with a bully.
  • Model appropriate technology use.
  • Write a technology contract that includes any form of technology used in your home.

Cyberbullying can be a serious threat to the well-being of your child, but the best plan of attack is to be proactive. Being ignorant about technology in this day and age won’t cut it, so you’ll want to educate yourself as well as your children. As the saying goes, information is power.

For tips on parenting get our E-book “How to be a Guide for your Teen” Download Here.

Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV for more on this topic!

Years ago, people actually had to get up to answer the phone, the computer occasionally used to write papers, and the television only had three channels.

Now, people answer the phone everywhere, including the dinner table and the bathroom. While people write papers on computers, they often spend more time on Facebook or the Internet than actually accomplishing something.

And only three channels? Those days are over. On-screen viewing options are virtually limitless.

So how does all this technology impact families?

  • A 2010 American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers survey showed that 1 in 5 American divorces involve Facebook. And, 81 percent of divorce lawyers have reported a spike in cases that use social media for evidence.

  • One pastor even asked his congregants to quit using Facebook. Why? It’s because he saw so many couples experiencing marital problems because of connections to old flames through social media.

  • Research conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU) showed that nearly a quarter of teens have communicated with a boyfriend or girlfriend hourly between midnight and 5 a.m. via cell phone or texting. One in 6 communicated 10 or more times an hour through the night.

  • Many experts claim that texting contributes to sleep deprivation because most kids sleep with their phone within reach. It’s hard for them to resist checking the notifications.

  • According to a 2010 Pew Internet study, fully 72% of all teens – or 88% of teen cell phone users — text. Among all teens, their frequent texting has now overtaken the frequency of every other common form of interaction with their friends, including face-to-face interactions. For example, teens use texting to enhance friendships, handle a conflict, begin and end romantic relationships and even to mediate difficult conversations.

  • The average person watches four hours of television daily, which equals six months of eight-hour days. 

From family dinners and vacations to date nights and even Christmas morning, families are being slammed from every direction with technology, all in the name of staying connected. But, is staying connected with the outside world as important as staying connected with the people closest to you?

Perhaps one of the best things we can do is truly connect with each other. Families who are engaged with each other actually do better in every area of life.

Consider these questions:

  • Can you establish “no technology” time zones? For example, no cell phones or television at the dinner table – parents included. Maybe teens can leave phones in the kitchen at night and computers in public spaces. Perhaps time limits for social media could be helpful?

  • Would you rather your child participate in family game night or play a game on Xbox alone instead?

  • Is a family meal more constructive than family members eating on their own in front of a screen?

  • When your child applies for a job, will he be able to verbally communicate?

Technology is a lot like money. Families can either learn how to control how much technology invades their world or they can let it control them. Which would you prefer?

For tips on parenting, get our E-book, “How to be a Guide for your Teen.” Download Here.

Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV for an in-depth look on this topic!

When Kyle and Kate Jackson were on the dating scene, they didn’t want to meet people in bars or by chance. Since both of them were shy, they knew that even if they met someone they wouldn’t have the guts to ask the person out.

“I used to make fun of people who went online to find a date,” says Kate. “Once I got to the point that regular dating wasn’t successful, I decided to give it a try. For me, it made the whole process so much easier.”

A study published in 2013 by the University of Chicago indicated that 33 percent of couples who married met online. And, a Pew Research study in 2013 revealed that 59 percent of Americans believe that online dating is a good way to meet people.

When Kate and Kyle met online, they initially communicated by email. After sending emails back and forth, Kyle asked for permission to call Kate. They talked by phone for several weeks and when both felt comfortable, they decided to meet in person.

“I went to her house where her roommates were present and then we went out on our date,” says Kyle. “We made sure everyone knew where we were.”

Kate and Kyle met on Valentine’s Day 2008 and dated for a year before getting engaged on Valentine’s Day 2009. They wonder if their paths would have ever crossed without the online dating site.

If you are considering dating online, keeping yourself safe is a concern. These tips from Online Dating Magazine can help you safely navigate the world of online dating:

  • Arrange to meet in a public place – Never allow your date to pick you up from your home, and do not give out your home address. Consider going out with a group or on a double date when you first meet.
  • Go Dutch – This way you won’t feel any obligation to “return” the favor.
  • Realize that alcohol affects your judgment – Not only does it affect your judgment, but alcohol also lessens your inhibitions. Try to avoid alcohol on your first date.
  • Use your own mode of transportation – If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, you won’t have to rely on your date to get you home.
  • Don’t assume that your date is safe – Never let your guard down on a first date.
  • Avoid secluded areas – Stay in a public place for your first date and avoid secluded areas such as parks.
  • Listen to your gut – If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t, so leave immediately.
  • Always let someone know where you’re going – You might even consider arranging a time to call and check in.
  • Give your cell phone number – It’s safer to give out a cell phone number instead of your landline (if you still have one).
  • Always remain alert – Even if you’re having a blast and the chemistry is great, it’s a good idea to remain alert the whole evening. Make sure you have a cell phone on you.

No matter how you meet, taking your time can help you make wiser choices when it comes to choosing a mate.

Have you ever thought about how today’s amazing technological advances affect relationships?

There are very few places where you can’t technologically connect in some way. You can place calls whenever and wherever. It’s fairly inexpensive and there are no additional fees. In real time, you can show or tell anyone what you are eating, post your latest fashion escapade or something that just happened. Who would have guessed you can actually conduct business halfway across the planet with someone you may never meet in person?

Why would anybody need to read books anymore or memorize anything when with a few keystrokes the information can be on a screen in front of you? The world has never been so flat when it comes to communicating.

How does all of this impact relationships?

What if you get an email from a friend who lives out of town who is really struggling? Inventions like Skype or FaceTime make it feel like you are practically there live and in person, which is good. But does it replace being able to hug someone when things are tough?

Do you remember calling home from college once a week to talk to your parents? It required remembering all that happened during the week before and that also meant there were many things you had to figure out on your own because mom and dad weren’t available at the drop of a hat to give you their best problem solving maneuver. So—how are young people impacted by constantly being able to be in touch with their parents when life gets challenging versus taking a stab at trying to figure it out for themselves?

Have you ever experienced miscommunication in a text message? For example, take the word “fine.” You text your spouse saying you want to go out to eat tonight. Your spouse replies, “Fine.” There are tons of ways to interpret that word and the person’s intent behind it.

How about boundaries? At first, constant connectivity was super-exciting for everyone. Now people realize that being reachable anywhere and anytime may not be so great. Constant pings at the dinner table can make it challenging to have meaningful conversation with family and friends.

There is a fair amount of chatter these days about how digital devices and other technology have changed thinking and behavior. Is technology overload a thing? Does constantly switching back and forth between incoming text messages, email and the task at hand affect attention span? Has creativity diminished?

And, have we replaced meaningful conversation with friends and family with photos and the snippets of life we see on Facebook?

Ask yourself. How can you enhance your most meaningful relationships if you change or limit the way you currently use technology?

For tips on parenting get our E-book “How to be a Guide for your Teen” Download Here

Today’s teens have always had technology in their world, from learning colors and counting to playing games, watching movies and Skyping with their grandparents. Since teens are digital natives, it’s logical for technology to play a role in relationships, especially romantic ones.

In 2014 and 2015, the Pew Research Center survey examined American teens’ (ages 13-17) digital romantic practices. The online survey and focus group results are telling.

Though 57 percent of teens have digital friendships, teens are far less likely to start a romantic relationship online. Most teens with dating experience (76 percent) say they have only dated people they met in person. Only 8 percent of all teens have dated or hooked up with someone they first met on social media, and most of those introductions are on Facebook.

Still, technology is a major vehicle for flirting and expressing interest in a potential partner. Teens also use social media to like, comment, friend or joke around with a crush. Among all teens:

  • 55 percent have flirted or talked to someone in person to express their interest.

  • 50 percent have let someone know they were romantically interested by “friending” them on social media.

  • 47 percent have expressed their attraction by liking, commenting or otherwise interacting with that person on social media.

  • 46 percent have shared something funny or interesting with their romantic interest online.

  • 31 percent sent them flirtatious messages.

  • 10 percent have sent flirty or sexy pictures, or videos of themselves.

Overall, 85 percent of teens in a romantic relationship expect to hear from their significant other once a day. Sometimes teens expect even more.

  • 11 percent expect to hear from their partner hourly.

  • 35 percent expect to hear something every few hours.

  • 38 percent expect to hear from their significant other once a day.

Teens say texting is the top way to spend time together, which is interesting since they aren’t actually together.

Additionally, phone calls, in-person time and other digital means for staying in touch were in the mix. As for spending time with their current/former boyfriend or girlfriend, teen daters preferred:

  • Text messaging: 92 percent

  • Talking on the phone: 87 percent

  • Being together in person: 86 percent

  • Social media: 70 percent

  • Instant or online messaging: 69 percent

  • Video chatting: 55 percent

  • Messaging apps: 49 percent

Thirty-one percent of teens who dated reported that a current or former partner has checked up on them multiple times per day. They use the internet or cellphone to ask where they are, who they are with or what they are doing.

Teens were also surveyed about potentially controlling and harmful behaviors they may have experienced in relationships.

  • 15 percent (or 5 percent of all teens) say a current or former partner used the internet or text messaging to pressure them to engage in unwanted sexual activity.

  • 16 percent have been required by a current or former partner to remove people from their friends list on social media.

  • 13 percent said their current or former partner demanded they share their email and internet passwords with them.

  • 19 percent report that a current or former partner has used the internet, digital media or a cellphone to threaten them.

  • 8 percent report that a current or ex-partner used information posted on the Internet against them, to harass or embarrass them.

After a relationship ends, 22 percent of teens state that a former partner used the internet or a cellphone to call them names, put them down or say really mean things to them. Fifteen percent report that a current or former partner used mobile phones or the internet to spread rumors about them.

Technology connects us in many ways, but teens need more information about technology and romantic relationships.

Although dating is an opportunity to get to know someone, identify common interests, see if your personalities get along and whether you enjoy each other’s company — it is different from marriage.

Teens still need your help to understand the meaning of dating and what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Furthermore, help them understand that:

  • Posting mean things is poor form and disrespectful.

  • Demanding passwords is inappropriate.

  • Constantly checking up on a partner is unhealthy.

  • Demanding to know who, what, where, why and how from someone is controlling, dishonoring and disrespectful behavior.

  • Texting back and forth is different from spending time with someone.

Don’t assume your teen knows how to successfully navigate romantic relationships. Take every chance you get to teach them how to respect and honor others.

For tips on parenting get our E-book “How to be a Guide for your Teen” Download Here

Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV for an in-depth look on this topic!

Have you ever awakened in the middle of the night and checked for email or text messages? If so, chances are good that your kids have, too.

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) 2014 Poll revealed interesting findings when it comes to families and their sleep patterns. Of those surveyed:

  • 89% of adults and 75% of children have at least one electronic device in their bedrooms. While a television was the most common device, 45% of parents and 30% of children had a tablet or smartphone with them when they go to bed at night.
  • 26% of parents and 16% of children sent or read emails and text messages after initially dozing off. Technology has become commonplace in the bedroom. However, the duration and quality of sleep appears to suffer when children and adults leave devices on past bedtime.
  • Sleep quality was significantly worse for children who sometimes left the television, tablet/smartphone or music player on at night.
  • Children who leave their devices on get less rest on school nights than other children. Parents estimate it’s a difference of nearly one hour, on average, per night.
  • Parents also view of the quality of their child’s sleep negatively if the child leaves electronics on during the night. This holds true even with older children, who are more likely to leave things on. Teens with left-on devices are estimated to get, on average, half an hour less sleep on school nights.

“For children, a good night’s sleep is essential to health, development and performance in school,” says Kristen L. Knutson, a biomedical anthropologist who researches sleep at the University of Chicago. “We found that, when parents take action to protect their children’s sleep, their children sleep better.”

The NSF shares these tips to improve your child’s sack time:

  • Make sleep a healthy priority in your family’s busy schedule. Children ages 6-10 need 10-11 hours of shuteye. Older children need 8.5-9.5 hours.
  • Set appropriate and consistent bedtimes for your entire family.
  • Know how your child is using electronics in the bedroom. Create a plan for appropriate use at night and set boundaries about use before and after bedtime.
  • Educate your family on how light from electronic device screens can interfere with winding down.
  • Talk to your child about the importance of sleep for health and well-being.
  • Create a snooze-supportive bedroom and home environment, dimming the lights prior to bedtime and controlling the temperature; in most cases, temperatures above 75 degrees and below 54 degrees will disrupt your rest.
  • Encourage activities such as reading or listening to music before bedtime. These are more relaxing than watching TV, playing video games or surfing the Web.
  • Make sure children’s activities, including homework, can be completed without interfering with bedtimes.

Research shows, when it comes to technology, kids are following their parent’s lead.

“Parents need to be good role models in their responsible use of electronics and their children will follow suit,” says Monique K. LeBourgeois, a psychologist who researches sleep at University of Colorado Boulder.

It may be hard to resist, but setting the tone for a good night’s rest can lead to a happier, healthier home.

Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV!

Think back to summers when you were a kid. You might recall getting up, doing a few chores and then heading outside to play, only taking a break for lunch. Your mom or dad’s call for dinner was probably met with complaints about coming inside.

In an informal survey of adults about their childhood summer memories, people recalled catching fireflies, climbing trees, fishing and playing outside with friends. They also mentioned riding bikes, running through the sprinkler and lots of other activities. As they thought about their response, they usually smiled and laughed as the memories replayed in their mind.

Most would agree that times have dramatically changed, but not necessarily for the better.

Instead of spending time playing outside, various studies indicate many children will get up and head straight to some type of screen. In fact, 8- to 10-year-olds spend on average between five and seven hours playing games, watching movies or television. For teens, this number increases. This is a stark contrast to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that children 10 and older spend no more than two hours a day watching a screen.

Too much screen time can increase a child’s risk of having trouble sleeping at night, experiencing attention issues and developing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Additionally, numerous studies have shown that children eat more unhealthy food while watching screens, which can lead to weight gain.

While many parents grow weary of this battle, it is definitely one worth fighting.

When children move away from screens and interact with others, it helps them develop communication skills. They also learn how to get along with others and problem-solve when there is disagreement over a kickball game score. Play helps build a child’s imagination and enhances their ability to entertain themselves.

So, here’s a challenge: Unplug from the screens and encourage your kids to spend their time in other ways.

Initially, you will undoubtedly get the usual push-back, but stand your ground. Know that you are setting the stage for your children to create some great memories. If they say they are bored, offer them some ways to work around the house. They’ll probably find something to do in order to avoid chores – and it teaches your child to entertain themselves.

The American Academy of Pediatrics actually says that doing nothing at all is better than staring at a screen. For example, car rides without DVDs allow a child to look at their surroundings and let their imagination run wild.

While unplugging might not be the most convenient thing to do, see it as intentional preparation for launching your child. Moving away from screens gives them the chance to learn necessary skills to help them navigate through life. Who’s up for the challenge?

Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV!