Technology in kids’ bedrooms lead to poorer health, study suggests

A recent study conducted by the University of Alberta, Canada found that

Children who bask in the nighttime glow of a TV or computer don’t get enough rest and suffer from poor lifestyle habits.

A provincewide survey of Grade 5 students in Alberta showed that as little as one hour of additional sleep decreased the odds of being overweight or obese by 28 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively. Children with one or more electronic devices in the bedroom—TVs, computers, video games and cellphones—were also far more likely to be overweight or obese.

Read the rest of the brief report here.

Sexting – what every parent should know

New South Wales Department of Education and Communities has published a parents’ guide to sexting, including a podcast from a child psychologist:

Listen to child psychologist Kimberley O’Brien talking about the dangers of sexting.

Kimberly O’Brien on sexting

At a glance

  • Sexting involves the use of a mobile phone and the transmission of a sexual image or message between two people.
  • Educate your child about what it is and why it’s illegal.
  • Give your child suggestions of what to do if they receive a sexting message.
  • Discuss the consequences of sexting and the damage that can be done to reputations in the long term on the internet.

This is a great resource for parents. Access the whole guide here.

Make kids get phone licence says Michael Carr-Gregg

Recently well known child and young adult psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg attended a learning and teaching conference in Melbourne where he suggested that students earn a licence to use a mobile phone after learning safe and responsible use. The Age reports:

His intention is not to ban them, rather to facilitate greater use of technology by first teaching students what safe and responsible use is and then obtaining their agreement to abide by a set of rules and conditions.

Students would sit a licence test online with their parents needing to sign up to validate their digital rights, says Dr Carr-Gregg.

”There is absolutely no point in banning them because it is going to be the central part of their education. This would at least ensure they have the skills, the knowledge, strategies and basic competencies before they’ve brought the device to school,” Dr Carr-Gregg said.

Read the whole report here.

What are parents afraid of?

Last week internet researcher and expert danah boyd asked her followers “what they’re afraid of with their kids’ use of social media. (Note: this is a biased crowd.)”

Among the issues were:

  • privacy
  • safety
  • influence of outsiders
  • loss of control
  • being bullied or a bully


Young people and technology: fear and wellbeing

Recently, ABC Radio featured a session on the wellbeing on young people using technology.

We hear a lot about young people and technology but how much of what we know is based on actual research? In this program we speak to some of the leading researchers in the field. We examine the connection between young people, technology and wellbeing, and question whether some of our fears about kids and technology are actually valid.

Guests included:

             Dr danah boyd; Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research and Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture and Communication              at New York University.
Dr Amanda Third: Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities and Communication Arts Institute for Culture and Society, University of Western Sydney. Research Program Co-Leader, Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre.
Associate Professor Jane Burns: CEO of the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre.
Makhala Swinson: Member of the Young and Well CRC Youth Brains Trust and Lifeline phone counsellor, Youth Ambassador, Photographer.
Maxine: Participant in the ‘Living Lab’ experiment.
Chris Pycroft: Participant in the ‘Living Lab’ experiment and member of the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre’s Youth Brains Trust.
             Nicole: Participant in the ‘Living Lab’ experiment.
Listen here. More information here.

Privacy controls to be adopted by mobile phone operators

Recently the BBC reported that ‘ international mobile operators would be giving customers more control over how data about them is being used.’

The action will limit the kinds of data available to marketers and others if a subscriber adds restrictions.

“There’s a burning need for the industry to develop a way to communicate what the consumer has consented to,” said Andrew Bud, head of the Mobile Entertainment Forum (MEF) which is co-ordinating the tools’ development.

Here’s hoping Australia is a part of this.

Kids and Tech: Parenting Tips for the Digital Age

Social media blog Mashable has published a Q & A with Scott Steinberg, author of parenting book called The Modern Parent’s Guide. Scott addresses social media pitfalls in this interview.

Topics include:

  • How has technology changed parenting?
  • How can parents best protect their children from online threats while respecting their privacy?
  • A wide range of products monitor children on their mobile phones and the Internet. Where is the line between appropriate supervision and spying? Is there one?
  • What rules do you have in your house regarding technology use?
  • Sites like Facebook and Twitter technically don’t allow users under the age of 13, but many tweens lie about their age in order to sign up anyway. As a parent, should you prevent your children from signing up for such sites, even if their friends are using them? If so, what are some alternative sites they can use?
  • What is a reasonable amount of time for children to spend interacting with a screen each day?