Archivi tag: Kids

Being arrested for giving freedom and building confidence in your child?

In South Carolina a mother was arrested for letting her 9 yrs old child play alone in the park in front of her work place (a McDonald’s). She also lost custody of the child who is currently in the hands of the Department of Social Services.

The girl had a cell phone to keep in contact, but after three days someone called the police.

I see two issues here:

1) The mother is african american. She (correctly in my opinion) thought  that it was better for her daughter to play in the park instead of sitting all day at the Macdonald’s

Would have the outcome been the same if we were dealing with a white professional letting her daughter play alone in the park while she played tennis?

2) This is part of the tendency towards over protection of kids, shifting later and later in life the assumption of some basic responsibilities (and the development of related skills).

Until the end of the XXth century, in cities and in towns alike, kids could go around the neighborhood alone, explore, play. They were sent to run small errands and survived crossing streets, even taking buses! Now all of this is seen as pathological.

I would consider it not only normal, but advisable!

Here the link to the Slate article

Parents Are Now Getting Arrested for Letting Their Kids Go to the Park Alone

park
A working mother chose to let her child go to the park rather than sit in McDonald’s all day.

Photo by 1000 Words/Shutterstock

Debra Harrell, 46, let her 9-year-old daughter play outside alone at the park. The South Carolina child had a cellphone she could use to call her mother in case of emergency. On the girl’s third day alone at the park, someone asked her where her mother was. The girl said her mom was at work. (Harrell works at McDonald’s and didn’t want her daughter to have to sit inside the restaurant for hours on a beautiful summer day.) The result? Harrell was arrested for “unlawful conduct towards a child” and put in jail; her daughter is now in the custody of the department of social services.

Most commentators—save for a few busybodies interviewed by the local news who nattered on about the possibility of the child being abducted by a strange man, something that’s extremely rarethink that authorities went way too farin arresting Harrell. It angers me, as a citizen, to see the police overreach this way. How is it benefiting this child to be put in the custody of social services? And since I’m a parent, Harrell’s arrest scares me: How can I appropriately parent my child when doing something that seems relatively safe, if out of fashion, can get you arrested?

I asked Dorothy Roberts, a professor of law, sociology, and civil rights at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare, if state laws give any specifics about how parents should behave. As in, if you leave a child of X years alone for Y amount of time, it’s a crime. Roberts responded via email:

The short answer is that every state has its own child maltreatment laws and definitions of neglect—and they are all very vague with no specifics. Most include within neglect failure to provide adequate supervision. South Carolina’s child welfare law is actually more specific than most, but still doesn’t specify the age—”supervision appropriate to the child’s age and development.” But how does the judge/jury determine what’s appropriate? I don’t know of any law that specifies the age or the precise nature of failure to supervise.

Roberts further explained that states determine whether to treat neglect as a crime or as a child welfare matter. She says it is “recent and rare” for the parent to be charged with a crime and adds that the vagueness of the statutes leave “a lot of room for discretion by social workers, police, judges, and prosecutors, to determine which/whose failures to supervise to pursue. This allows race, class, and gender biases to influence decisions in both the child welfare and criminal justice systems.”

Certainly those biases could be at play here: Harrell is black, and class is definitely behind how her situation came to be in the first place. As Jonathan Chait points out in New York magazine, when welfare reform was passed in the ’90s, single mothers were pushed into low-paying, full-time work that did not provide enough income to afford child care.

It’s clear that Harrell was put in a difficult situation and made what she thought was the best choice for her child. But a lot of the posts defending Harrell imply that if she weren’t working, letting a 9-year-old go to a park by herself would have been a questionable call. I’m with Lenore Skenazy, founder of the “free-range kids” movement, who believes modern helicopter parenting has gone too far. She writes, “It may feel like kids are in constant danger, but they are as safe (if not safer) than we were when our parents let us enjoy the summer outside, on our own, without fear of being arrested.” It should be normalized for children who are nearing the end of elementary school to begin doing some things on their own. If every parent who let their fourth-graders go to the park unsupervised were arrested, all the moms from 1972 would have been behind bars.

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Nuovo Articolo contro l’ossessione della sicurezza…un osso rotto non è la fine del mondo

A breve distanza dal precedente una nuova voce, questa volta dal giornale inglese The Independent, si leva contro la bozza che viene oggi costruita attorno ai nostri bambini, eliminando ogni rischio, ma privandoli al tempo stesso di stimoli e esperienze essenziali proprio per dotarsi degli strumenti necessari a gestire i rischi quando, prima o poi, si troveranno fuori dalla bolla protettiva.

Sta a noi genitori cominciare a ridurre ed eliminare le protezioni eccessive e ridare ai bambini l’autonomia necessaria. Certo oggi le città sono oggettivamente più pericolose, ma spesso è la nostra percezione che è cambiata. Possiamo, ad esempio, mandarli a comprare qualcosa nel negozio dietro l’angolo, poi al supermercato un po’ più lontano.

Spero che questo fiorire di prese di posizione porti ad un effettivo cambio di atteggiamento.

 

When we stop children taking risks, do we stunt their emotional growth?

Playgrounds are closing down. Parents rarely let their kids out of sight. Society is hamstrung by ‘health and safety’, says Susie Mesure

 for The Independent, Sunday 25 May 2014

A small face looms out of the gloom, bringing his red scooter to a halt just before the road. The boy, five, is on his own. Seconds later, he’s off again, calling over his shoulder, ‘I’ll meet you after the bike tunnel.’ I find him, breathing heavily, by the school gate, beaming with pride not at beating me but making the journey (more or less) alone. But his bubble is soon pricked: his face crumples after a classmate calls his exploits ‘naughty’. And heaven knows what his grandma would say!

For parents, this is the dilemma of everyday life in the urban jungle: do we keep our children on a metaphorical umbilical cord or cut them free? It’s little wonder that kids are growing up afraid to take risks when we’re so scared of letting them live for themselves. And admit it, if you’re a parent, you are scared, your heart beating a little faster at every headline of woe or tree they climb. Even, or perhaps especially, when we’re paying someone else to look after them. Thus a working mum grabbing lunch in a café calls to check up on her child. First eavesdropped question, “Is the playground nice?” Then, “Is it soft underneath?”

We like our playgrounds cushioned and our children accounted for: they’re signed up to music lessons, drama classes and organised sports as soon as they can walk and talk – the latest being mini rugby clubs for tots as young as two. “The dominant parental norm is that being a good parent is being a controlling parent,” says Tim Gill, author of No Fear, which critiques our risk-averse society. But at what cost? And what’s the alternative? And most importantly, when are we letting them play?

A Danish conference hall gently buzzes with grown men and women trying to replicate the exact pattern of six coloured plastic bricks being held up on stage. About 150 people have gathered in Billund, Lego’s HQ, at the invitation of the brickmaker’s philanthropic arm, the Lego Foundation, because they are worried that children are being short-changed when it comes to that “p” word, the right to which is enshrined in a UN declaration no less. They range from Harvard professors to ambitious entrepreneurs; all are united in their concern that children are paying the price for our parental panicking. In other words, playtime is over.

The upshot, warns Peter Gray, a psychologist at Boston College and author of Free to Learn, is anxiety and depression; even suicide is increasing. And it’s all because children feel “their sense of control over their lives has decreased”. He should know: now 70, he recalls growing up in the US in the 1950s. “By the time I was five, I could go anywhere in town on my bike. I could go out of town as long as I was with my six-year-old friend.” His research links the rise of emotional and social disorders with the decline of play: “If we deprive children of play they can’t learn how to negotiate, control their own lives, see things from others’ points of view, and compromise. Play is the place where children learn they are not the centre of the universe.” And in case you’re not sure: “When there’s an adult there directing things, that is not play.”

Louis is joined at the Tumbling Bay play area by his friend MayLouis is joined at the Tumbling Bay play area by his friend May (Kitty Gale)

David Whitebread, a psychologist at the University of Cambridge, tells one session how kids deprived of playtime can’t learn how to “self-regulate”, a fancy term for being able to control their own emotions and behaviour. This, he says, is so important for children’s development that the Government’s obsession with getting them to read and write ever younger is a “complete waste of taxpayers’ money”. His message is simple: “The big job is to teach parents that they must spend time doing things playfully with their children if they want them to do well. Self-regulation is a better predictor for how well children do later in life than reading and writing.”

Back home, it’s the Easter holidays and I need to put what I’ve heard into practice. But we live in busy south-east London, two-way traffic tears down our terraced street. I can’t just tip my sons, aged five and two, outside. For starters, I’d probably be reported to Social Services: one recent Saturday, the postman came running up to our door because he’d seen both children set off down the street by themselves. For the record, they were walking approximately 100 metres round the corner to their friends’ house. Our back garden is small, we lack nearby woods, and even the local park is a write-off: one tiny playground for under-fours too boring even for the two-year-old and the other, for over-eights, to be found padlocked and out of bounds.

It’s a far cry from the open-to-all climbing frame outside Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum that we visited on a family holiday, and which required real ingenuity; or even its ambitious French counterpart, in the Marais neighbourhood of Paris, which replaced a far tamer version. No, our only real option was a Tube trip to the newly opened Tumbling Bay play area in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – along with the rest of southern England as it turned out. This is the future of British playgrounds, or would be if councils had any money to build and maintain them: spending by English local authorities on public play areas fell by nearly 40 per cent from 2010 to 2013 according to a recent report in Children and Young People Now, an industry publication. As a result, almost one in three councils has closed at least one play facility. The Association of Play Industries (API), the manufacturers’ trade body, last month said first- quarter orders for play equipment had sunk to an eight-year low. This followed the Government axing Labour’s £235m Playbuilder programme to invest in play provision.

“Crikey! Crikey Heeeellllllpppp!” squeals an excited Louis, my five year old. He’s disappeared up a haphazard wooden structure that reminds me of Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree and him of a giant space ship. “Mummy! Look at my feet. They’re not touching where they’re supposed to. May,” he barks to his friend. “Don’t go the high way!” Too late: “I’m doing it Lou! I’m done. I’m done.” Even the two-year-old is happy enough, roaming around in the bark chips being a troll underneath one of the bridges. For him, even the extra wide slide is a massive leap of faith when you’re hanging, fingertips gripping the edge, willing yourself to let go.

Not that everyone is equally free to let themselves go: two boys wearing Spiderman crash helmets suggest not all parents are comfortable with what is undeniably a challenge. Which is as it should be, says John O’Driscoll, whose company Adventure Playground Engineers built the structure to an Erect Architecture design. He much prefers his play areas to look risky. “If you put up some steel poles, little climbing frames, and rubber surfaces, people think that’s safe, so if an accident happens they’re shocked. If you make something look risky, dodgy, hard and crunchy people make their own minds up. [But] breaking the odd bone is par for the course. Kids learn really quickly not to do something again. We’re really fortunate to have the NHS. There’s no need to sue anybody to get a broken arm fixed.”

Louis makes it across the rope bridge and finds the perfect hiding place in a twisty tree

Louis makes it across the rope bridge and finds the perfect hiding place in a twisty tree (Kitty Gale)

Ah, the so-called compensation culture. “We’re trying to put adventurous play into public parks and schools but we’re battling against a ‘sue, sue, sue’ mentality,” O’Driscoll adds. “Some kids are growing up in nurseries with bouncy floors, growing up without the concept of gravel or grass. Everything they’ve played on bounces, which gives them a false sense of security,” he says. Although statistics on playground accidents are impossible to find – the then k Department of Trade and Industry used to break down hospitals’ A&E admissions but stopped in 2002 – experts are ambivalent about those rubber floors. “Has it been worth all those hundreds of millions of pounds?” asks David Yearly, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ play safety manager. Impact-absorbing surfaces, as they’re known, typically take between 30 and 40 per cent of a new play area’s capital budget. “Do children take greater risks? Do they perceive they’re safer than they actually are? Soft surfaces only protect heads. You’ll still break an arm.”

Rudi Warren, nine, is living proof that the odd accident isn’t all bad news. A fall in a north London playground – he copied a friend jumping from a slide to a rope but missed and fell – ended in a broken wrist. He’s now more circumspect than his mother, Rachel, who is relaxed about what happened. “I wouldn’t do it again,” Rudi says. “I’ve been much more cautious that I shouldn’t do whatever someone tells me to and should think about what I’m doing.”

Something parents might find surprising – I know I did – are the guidelines in favour of a degree of risk set out by the Play Safety Forum, a grouping of national agencies, in a document called “Managing Risk in Play Provision”. “Simply reflecting the concerns of the most anxious parents, and altering playground design in an attempt to remove as much risk and challenge as possible, prevents providers from offering important benefits to the vast majority of children and young people,” is one choice line. That said, decisions rest with the ones paying the bills, usually local authorities. “Playground companies are definitely innovating a lot more but the problem is you have a risk-averse client base. So it’s catch-22,” sighs Michael Hoenigmann, API’s chairman. Coupled with current austerity drives, which are slicing maintenance budgets, “there’s a move to less adventurous, more static equipment. But children don’t like that so it’s a waste of money in the long term.”

The person banging the risk drum loudest is perhaps the least expected: Health and Safety Executive chair Judith Hackitt. “The perception people have is that there’s more risk than there really is. Over-protective parents have lost sight of the fact that part of their role is to teach children to be independent. The downside is children are growing up risk unaware. They think they’re fireproof.” She is far from alone in blaming 24-hour media for blowing up isolated incidents into something parents – wrongly – imagine to be the norm when the reality is there are no more children falling out of trees and no more children being abducted today than a generation or two ago.

The one thing there is more of is traffic. In 2012, Government data shows that 2,272 children were seriously injured, of whom 61 died. This, then, is why kids aren’t allowed outside unsupervised. Just 2 per cent of children cycle to school, for example, according to research, although nearly half of children say they’d like to. It also helps explain why the proportion being driven rose to 44 per cent in 2012, up from 38 per cent in 1995. Parent-led initiatives such as Playing Out, which shuts streets to cars for a certain period each week, are helping, but the bureaucracy involved is massive and progress is slow.

What, then, can we do? For Professor Gray it’s all about challenging those boundaries. “Ask, ‘Where can I allow my kid more freedom?’ and push against the limits of what culture seems to allow.” And above all, do what you can to get other playmates outside. “Children aren’t attracted to the outdoors but to other kids,” he points out. Tim Gill, who has spent years working to improve children’s lives, thinks it’s all about giving your kids “microadventures”. He adds: “I hope and believe that growing numbers of parents will sign up to a vision of giving children more everyday freedom. And that those parents will have an impact. Look for ways to scaffold your children’s independence.”

If this sounds scary, just take it step by step. Gill used to let his daughter choose the stairs on the Underground instead of the escalator; Louis has been taking easy detours on his own ever since he was three, often no more than a few metres. But it all builds up, that tightness in your chest gradually easing. And so I swear I barely blinked this morning when a worried woman called after my departing bike, “Your son. He’s gone the other way.” Because two minutes later there he was, whizzing into view exactly where I expected him, that smile justifying my boldness.

Bring on the microadventures.

The way we played: Adventures in time

Free to roam: A young Peter Popham with his mum and dadFree to roam: A young Peter Popham with his mum and dad

1950s: Peter Popham

I grew up 150 yards from Richmond Park  and its hundreds of acres of unpatrolled wilderness, with gates that were never locked, ponds deep enough to drown in and woods and bracken enough to hide any number of homicidal perverts. My sister and I roamed this wonderful area unaccompanied and unchecked from the age of four or five. Growing up in the 1950s [b. 1952] there was awareness of the potential dangers posed by “dirty old men”, and we were warned not  to speak to strangers or get into a stranger’s car, but this mild parental paranoia never escalated into direct supervision: I taught myself to swim in Leg of Mutton pond, skated on Pen Ponds when they froze, sledged in Petersham Park when it snowed, built dams across the brook, learnt to ride a bike on the path to Bog Lodge and played for hours in the dense woods of Sheen Common. Sometimes Mum or Dad were on hand, but often they weren’t; back then it simply wasn’t an issue.
1970s: Mike Higgins

All of the stories about my and my brother’s childhood that my elder daughter likes to hear sound a bit hairy by modern standards. We grew up in Cape Town until the age of seven  or eight, and spent a lot of time outdoors.  I remember my brother (above right) coming home with a gashed foot after playing on a building site all afternoon. We loved spending as much time as possible up on our suburban bungalow’s roof, picking at bodies of dead lizards and taunting our mother. And we often went barefoot, the soles of our small feet growing thick on the hot pavements. The only place I recall being completely out of bounds was a big concrete drainage ditch round the corner. A few times, Gavin escaped good  and proper, and was found a few miles away wandering about or on my bike. And I did once swing as high as I could at the local playground before throwing myself off to see what would happen. I landed on my head, and it hurt, a lot (no bouncy floors back then).

1990s: Ellen E Jones

I grew up on a council estate in the east London borough of Hackney, before the posh people stole it and turned it into an urban-themed play area for their offspring (you know who you are). We didn’t have a garden, but there was  a small tyre swing and a death-trap climbing frame which my mum could see from our  5th-floor balcony. I was allowed to “play out” there from the age of seven. When I was about nine, my realm expanded to include the shops round the corner. That was it. I never learnt to ride a bike (no space) and there weren’t any fields to roam in (that’s me on holiday, above right), but what my upbringing lacked in flora variety, it made up in fauna. The nature of inner-city housing meant more people in closer quarters boasting all manner of ethnicities and mental-health diagnoses. I had met a greater swathe of humanity by my thirteenth birthday than most meet by their thirtieth. It was an idyllic childhood – though probably not as Enid Blyton would have imagined it.

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#science #physics #edchat A really cool “magic” trick to teach and entertain

At ESOF, European Science Forum held in Dublin this past July, the “Physics Buskers” showed many cool experiments and tricks that showed snd explained physics through everyday materials.

THis “electric motor” made with 4 simple pieces (a battery, a cilinder magnet, an iron screw and a piece of wire) is the coolest.

Unipolar Motor Instructions and Discussions here the full pdf .

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Life is tough: build resilience into your kids #parenting #edchat #resilience

“Just one person who is enthusiastic about the child. Just one person who lights up when the child walks into the room. Feeling close to one dependable adult is at the heart of resilience for children.”

Toddler Behavior – Backbone and Bounce….Building Resilience!

by Patty Wipfler

What can parents do to help their children bounce back under adversity, with a basic sense of confidence in themselves in spite of difficult circumstances?

And when a parent has a child that collapses when things are difficult,what can be done to foster resilience?

In a sense, these are perhaps the key questions of parenting!

Toddler Behavior During any ten-year period, I would venture to guess that in the lives of most families, at least one genuine crisis will develop, or ongoing difficulties will grind toward the unworkable stage.

And though we work hard to prevent it, our children will be hurt by these crises, and will need a reservoir of inner confidence in themselves to come through well.

So how do we build resilience? Studies have shown that if just one person in a child’s life is consistently supportive, a child is much more likely to overcome difficult circumstances. Just one person who is enthusiastic about the child. Just one person who lights up when the child walks into the room. Feeling close to one dependable adult is at the heart of resilience for children.

We parents love our children deeply, but sometimes our communication with them gets muddled. Disapproval, impatience, or indifference clouds our interactions with our children when we’re overloaded. We have toplay many roles with them–sleep monitor, cleanliness checker, homework prodder, educational guide, the list goes on! And as we juggle those roles, our ability to feel our hearts lift when they walk in the door can wilt.

Toddler Behavior – Dedicate Time and Enthusiasm

Special Time is a simple way to remind our children that we love them.

It works especially well when there are persistent irritants in our relationship with them, because it disciplines us, the parents, to be pleased with them for a specific period of time. I call Special Time a “listening tool” because it’s a reliable tool for putting us parents in the “listening,” accepting, and enthusiastic role, so that our children can tell that we’re behind them.

To do Special Time, you set aside a period of time, short or long, whatever you can carve from your day or week. You say, “Hey, tomorrow I’m going to have 1/2 hour after dinner, and we can do whatever you want to do! Think about it, and we’ll make it a date!” (If you have older children, you need to set conditions around whether or not you have transportation to go somewhere, and whether or not you will spend money, and how much.)

Then, you enthusiastically go with whatever activity your child chooses. Jumping on beds, building a fort in the living room, making pancakes, going outside and playing catch, lighting a whole box of matches one by one in the back yard…whatever they’ve chosen, you love them, make lots of eye contact, touch them affectionately, and energetically throw yourself into the play. Set a timer, and don’t let anything short of an earthquake interrupt your focus on your child. When the timer goes off, let your child know you loved being with him, and let him know when the next Special Time will be.

What your child chooses will help you see what he loves and what he wants, which are very important communications for you to receive. Special Time helps children feel close to their parents, and that closeness is the heart of resilience. When a child’s parents aren’t able to play a good role, any other caring adult willing to be “crazy about” the child, and to give Special Time in some form, can build resilience in that child.

Toddler Behavior – Listen to the Feelings That Emerge

Often, Special Time reveals feelings our children carry that they hope we will hear. And this brings us to the second factor I think is crucial in building resilience in children. When children have someone willing to listen to their feelings all the way through, they can bounce back from disappointment.

They don’t have to carry festering upsets year after year. They express them, cry or tantrum their way through them, and see their world as shinier and more hopeful afterward. I like to call this Stay-listening, because the parent has to make a conscious decision to stay with a child so he can clear away his upset feelings.

Here’s one parent’s story of how Special Time and Stay-listening can work:

“I could tell my 7-year-old daughter was going to “blow” anytime. She was upset at every little thing, elbowing her sister, accidentally tripping her, things like that. So I told her, “Tomorrow we’re going to do Special Time, and you can play whatever you want to with me.”

“She woke up at 6 a.m. and came in ready to do Special Time! So I got up, and we played this game over and over that she kept winning. She was delighted to win, and I made sure I lost. That was part of the deal.”

“At one point, my younger daughter came in and wanted my attention. I told her, ‘This is Zetta’s time, and I’m playing with her. You can go with your Daddy.’ She didn’t want to go, so getting her situated with her Dad took some time.

When I came back, I saw Zetta huddled behind the sofa, furiously writing. I asked her, ‘What are you writing?’ She showed me. It was, ‘I hate my sister. She’s ugly. I hate curly hair. I don’t want her around.’ I said, ‘Good, I’m glad you’re writing all this down. Do you hate her?’ trying to give her permission to have these feelings.

She told me, ‘I don’t want a sister! I want to give her away. I wish we had never had her!’ She went on for awhile about how much she didn’t like her sister. Then, she said, ‘Would you sit and watch a video with me all the way through?’ I never sit with them while they’re watching their videos. So I said I would.”

“She then went into the other room, put the video on, and went and got her sister. She put her sister on the bed, curled up with her, and put her arms around her. Then she said, ‘Mom, come and sit here. I think you should be right between us, so Annie gets to sit next to you, too.’ She moved Annie over, and made a place for me. We sat and cuddled and watched the video together, and she was lovely with her sister the rest of the day.”

Children build resilience when someone cares enough to listen to their upsets all the way through, without arguing, trying to be logical, or condemning them for how they feel. The feelings are like a storm passing through–if the lightning can strike and the thunder can roll, the energy of the storm dissipates.

If no one listens, the bleak thoughts and bad feelings get stored up, hard to manage and ready to pop at every little excuse. With regular chancesto be heard, respected, and loved through an emotional storm, children come to depend on themselves and their ability to get through tough times, unfair times, frustrating times, and lonely times.

Stay-listening gives a child a sense that although you don’t have the same feelings as they do, you can love them just the same, and stay with them until the feelings change for the better. With listening, the feelings do lift. With listening, problem solving will follow a good, cleansing emotional storm. And your child, if not resilient already, will become so as you Stay-listen through necessary upsets that help him clear the feelings he trips over every day as he tries to learn, love, and bounce back from adversity.

We Parents Need to Build Support

Of course, to make these kinds of generous initiatives toward your child, you need to build your resilience as a parent! Parenting is an emotional ultra marathon— there’s so much to learn and so little help with the work.

Setting up a Listening Partnership, so you can take turns being listened to and returning the favor for another parent who’s trying hard, is an excellent way to build your own resilience. You need some good hearted person, who’ll keep their advice and judgments on a short leash, while you talk about how parenting is going for you.

Special Time and Stay-listening are much easier to do when you’ve had permission to tell someone your hopes, and where they’ve been dashed or put on hold. These Listening Partnerships make a surprising difference in the feel of life as a parent! And they give us a fighting chance to have fun with our children, an important part of building their bounce and their backbone.

The articles below give a perspective on parenting based on the PLI approach, Parenting by Connection. A deeper discussion of this approach is found in PLI’s booklets, Listening to Children, Setting Limits with Children, and Supporting Adolescents. You may reproduce articles without permission.

Source:

http://www.parentleaders.org parents leadership institute

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Tablets: The new Nanny. Is it Good or Bad for Kids?

by  for Mashable

Gadgets such as smartphones and tablets are becoming more and more embedded in kids’ lives. From middle schoolers with smartphones to babies who are comfortable with an iPad but can’t work a magazine, many children today grow up as true digital natives. And parents are catching on that gadgets can help control and distract their little rugrats.

According to one study, nearly a quarter of parents have given their kid a smartphone, iPod or iPad to keep them busy while they take care of business. Nearly 40% of kids aged eight and under have used tablets or smartphones in some capacity. And tablet usage by kids aged 12 and under rose nearly 10 percent from last summer to fall, according to another survey.

But can so much tech immersion ever replace human supervision and interaction for young humans? The online education portal Schools.com pulled statistics from a variety of news and research sources to compile an infographic showing just how much technology modern kids grow up around.

Many parents seem to think gadgets don’t just keep kids occupied — they can also help them grow and learn. 77% of parents think tablets are beneficial to kids, and 77% think they help develop creativity, according to Schools.com’s findings. More than a quarter of parents have downloaded apps for their kids. The top genres? Fun, at 46%; education, at 42%; and creative, at 28%.

Check out the infographic below for the fuller picture on just how much trust parents put in gadgets.

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[#infographics] Is tech saturation good or bad for the modern teenager?

An interesting infographic taken from Mashable about communication technology used by our kids. Please note the dominance of texting (SMS) and the irrelevant share of emails!

by 

Arguments can be made either way, but there’s no debating that today’s teens are more wired than ever. And digital permeates the lives of young people in general, too.

People aged 18-34 have an average of 319 online connections, according to a recent Pew Research Centerstudy. That’s compared to an average of 198 connections for the 35-46 group, and the numbers continue to decrease from there.

Pew also recently reported that 63% of teenagers text message with friends on a daily basis, compared to 39% who speak on the phone daily and just 35% who interact face-to-face outside of school. Other research has found that text-happy teens send more than 100 messages per day.

But the digital revolution comes with drawbacks. A 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study found a correlation between media consumption and poor academic performance. The study found that 21% of young people between the ages of eight and 18 consume at least 16 hours of media per day, while 17% consume less than three hours per day. 47% of the heavy users reported typically earning grades of C or below in school, compared to just 23% of the light users. Twice as many heavy users as light users reported getting in trouble frequently.

The Internet education portal OnlineSchools.com combined the Kaiser and Pew findings with research from Common Sense Media and other organizations to put together an infographic showing how technology is affecting young people. Some of the findings are a couple years old, but the infographic does provide interesting food for thought. Check it out below for a fuller picture.

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61% Of Parents Log Onto Kids’ Facebook Accounts (and I don’t like it!)

Research shows a majority of parents intrude into their kids’ account. These results match my personal experience from speaking with other parents at school meetings, and leaves me revolted. Spying is not a substitute for dialogue and trust, that of course needs some time to be built. But, in general, JUST RELAX! Your kids online are doing not more not less than what you have done at their age with other tools.

Here is the report by Jackie Cohen ( April 18, 2012)

Parents and their kids play a cat-and-mouse game on Facebook: The former tries to keep tab on the latter, which responds by running faster, prompting the former to do the same.Kids know that their parents are watching and think that ignoring their folks’ friend requests takes care of the problem. Parents realizethat they’re being ignored and get desperate. Desperation leads to the kinds of behavior unearthed in a survey by security software maker AVG.

  • 61 percent of U.S. parents admitted to logging into their teenager’s Facebook account without letting the kids know;
  • 20 percent of the parents said they’ve encountered explicit messages in their kids’ accounts;
  • 72 percent say they’ve befriended their teen on Facebook to monitor behavior;
  • 20 percent suspect their children are accessing pornography or illegal music downloads;
  • 20 percent suspect their teens of “sexting,” sending nude images of themselves to others;
  • 20 percent of American parents also suspect their teens of “sexting” via their mobile phones; and
  • 80 percent of parents believe their teens befriend people online who they’ve never met in person.

AVG concludes:

Parents need to be conscious about the way their kids are interacting with technology from a very early age and not just from when they are at school… By the time they are teenagers, many teens have acquired a level of tech independence that can both confuse and concern many parents.

However, leaving aside the rights and wrongs of accessing a teenager’s social media account, there are a lot of questions about how effective this really is. Almost every teen now has an Internet enabled smartphone, which gives them a large degree of freedom away from parental eyes.

Wanting to make sure that a teenager is safe online and that s/he isn’t posting anything that might affect his or her future educational prospects is only natural. But especially when you get to 16-17 year olds, you are not talking about children anymore.

An open discussion about how they use technology and working with teens to make them aware that colleges and employers now routinely carry out online searches of applicants is important.

By the time they are ready to leave the parental home for further education, or for a job, as a parent you want to make sure that they are leaving home with an adult sense of taking responsibility for their actions. That sense of responsibility is just as important in the online world as it is in the real world.

Overall, every parent has to find their own approach, but speaking openly with your kids about their online activity is a great step forward.

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