From Screen to Green: What happens to kids social skills when they go cold turkey on all media?

copy-copy-copy-2-e1356636746920.jpgThe fact is we all stare at screens more than we would like and many of us rely on these tools to communicate with others, even during times when we should be spending quality time with our families and friends. So does all this time staring at screens, which may take time away from looking at faces, change the nature of what we learn about the social world? Our study, at the Children’s Digital Media Center@LA, at UCLA, asked this question. We compared two groups of approximately 50 6th grade children each over a period of five days, one group had no access to screens of any kind, while the other did.

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New Research from Common Sense Media – Media Use 0-8 years of age

First posted on Psychology in Action.

Common Sense Media released a study today about media use of children from 0 to 8 years of age.  The research is an extension of research originally conducted by Kaiser; the study appears to be quite thorough (for example, this study also contacted people who don’t have landlines and only use cell phones). The last Kaiser study done with this age group, from 0-6, was in 2005, and they were able to do some comparisons to see how much things had changed.  After all, back then, Youtube had just begun, the iPhone and iPad were not invented, and no one knew what an app was.

Turns out, a lot of people still don’t know what an app is.  Surprising?  Not when you consider that the participants in this survey research represented the entire nation, at all SES and ethnicities.  The fact is that many Americans do not own a smart phone and even though the digital divide is no longer a chasm, it still exists.  1/3 of the respondents reported that they did not know what an app was!

Other surprising findings were:

  • 30% of children under 2 have a television in their bedroom
  • Parents read less to their young children since 2005, a full 10 minutes less.
  • Interestingly, African American families read more to their children than White and Hispanic parents – an additional 10 minutes a day.
  • Kids this age watch as much Sponge Bob as educational TV

For more about this study, you can find it here: 0-8 Media Use

And for those that missed it, here is the video about a child who thinks that a print magazine is a broken Ipad.



Is texting bad for my children?

Listening to NPR on the way home from dropping my kids off at carpool, I heard an advertisement from  It was a PSA, and it started with the words “Is texting bad for your children?”  The smooth toned announcer then informed us that “Unfortunately it is,” and went on to tell the listeners why — lack of sleep and more.   Even on NPR, the data that well meaning advertisers report is misused and can consequently mislead parents.  Let me explain why. Continue reading “Is texting bad for my children?”


Sexting: Should teenagers be expelled?

Phones are being used by teens for sexual exploration via the exchange of sexually suggestive content (sexting).  Sexting includes explicit text, and nude or semi-nude personal pictures or videos captured on a cell phone or digital camera and sent via personal texts, emails, and instant messages. (Uhls et al, 2011).   Pew research in 2009 found that 4% of adolescents report sending sexts while 15% report receiving them.  The report also found that there was no difference in the amount of sexts sent or received even when parents checked their children’s cell phones.  Thus, kids seem to do it, even if they know their parents may see the photos!

Yet even adults, elected officials such as Anthony Weiner, have made these kind of boneheaded moves.  And so far, he is claiming that he won’t resign.  In this environment where everyone has access to this tool and thus bad (or stupid) behavior is easily documented and passed on to many others, should youth be punished?

Continue reading “Sexting: Should teenagers be expelled?”