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Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

In a month, on my 49th birthday, my youngest child starts the first day of her last year of school. As a mom, I have mixed emotions. I’m excited for her and all she has and will accomplish, yet I am sad that my baby is a senior. Where did all of those years go? Just yesterday a social media memory reminding me that she passed her driver’s test popped up. It seems like yesterday when she was in the driveway practicing her maneuvering (parallel parking) over and over in preparation. Now, she drives herself wherever, whenever she wants.

My mom teaching my daughter how to drive her stick shift car

As she enters this year of “lasts,” I too will be entering a year of lasts. This will be my last year in my 40’s.  I can remember thinking about my last year in my 30’s. Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled to be experiencing another birthday! As I have said, “I want to get older, but I don’t want to get old.” In my 22 years working in healthcare, I saw younger people who were much older than their chronological age and older people who were younger than theirs. I decided very quickly that I wanted to be the latter. I’m sure my children would say I am old, though.

This year of lasts will be filled with lots of happiness and joy, as well as LOTS of tears, especially on my part. My kids make fun of me for crying at the drop of a hat. My colleague recently wrote a blog about the benefits of crying, so as the tears stream down my face, and they for sure will, I will not worry so much about hiding my tears. While I certainly don’t want to rain on her parade as these exciting events occur, I am mourning these last moments with my last child. I find myself thinking about all the things I wish I would have done while my kids were young and here all the time. Had I known how fast time would pass, I would have made more emotional deposits. While it’s never too late to start, I wish I would have worried less about cleaning the house or whatever else I thought was important.

Though all of the decisions my daughter will face over the next year will be exciting for sure, they may also be stressful. The American Psychological Association gives these symptoms of stress that you may see in your child:

  • Irritability and anger:  Stressed-out kids and teens might be more short-tempered or argumentative than normal.
  • Changes in behavior:  Sudden changes can signal that stress levels are high.
  • Trouble sleeping: A child or teen might complain of feeling constantly tired, sleep more than usual, or have trouble falling asleep.
  • Neglecting responsibilities: An adolescent may suddenly drop the ball on homework, forget obligations, or start procrastinating more than usual due to stress.
  • Eating changes: Eating too much or too little can be reaction to stress.
  • Getting sick more often: Stress often shows up as physical symptoms. Children who feel stress often report headaches or stomachaches and might make frequent trips to the school nurse.
My mom, my 3 kids, and me

As my daughter and I navigate this next year, I want to support her as she prepares for the next stage of life. We toured one of her 3 college picks last month, we will be touring a second one next week and the final one during fall. As I have watched her two older brothers make a few mistakes along the way, I know she too will make her own mistakes. These tips from AARP can help parents to maintain a healthy relationship with their children as they enter into and navigate adulthood:

  • Observe respectful boundaries.
  • Listen more than you talk.
  • Do what you love together and intimacy will follow.
  • Set ground rules for how to disagree.
  • Make room for the significant others in their lives.

I’m not too worried about my daughter and her ability to handle this next year, though I’m not sure about me. While the ultimate job of parenting is to put ourselves out of a job, I hope my children always want me to be part of their lives even when they are responsible, productive, well-adjusted adults who no longer need my guidance or reassurance.

Written by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Melissa J. Rupp, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County, rupp.26@osu.edu

References:

American Psychological Association. (2019, October 24). How to help children and teens manage their stress. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/topics/child-development/stress  

Fishel, E., & Arnett, D. J. J. (2013, April). Parenting Adult Children, Friendship with Grown-Up Kid. AARP. https://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-04-2013/parenting-adult-children-family-relationships.html

Quealy, K., & Miller, C. C. (2019, March 13). Young Adulthood in America: Children Are Grown, but Parenting Doesn’t Stop. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/13/upshot/parenting-new-norms-grown-children-extremes.html?.%3Fmc=aud_dev&ad-keywords=auddevgate&gclid=CjwKCAjw3MSHBhB3EiwAxcaEu8XfiLpibGmTN7PCkXe2x6aXx8W8tmUtlXmcAUyEfZ_dgOyHSxt_NBoCVj8QAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds.

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Summertime! What memories do you have of time spent as a child during June, July, and August? There may be summer chores that come to mind like tending the garden or mowing lawns. But I do hope that you have some freedom memories as well, like riding your bike, swimming, spending time in the woods, or other outside pleasures.

Child playing in spraying water

My first tendency is to create plans and then strategically schedule, schedule, schedule. How can we squeeze in this trip before that trip and still fit in camps? How can I make sure my kids are reading regularly and contributing to household chores?

Then, in the midst of this sea of questions, float images of my own childhood memories. Many of them are of the spontaneity of summer. Cannonball competitions at the community pool while 80s pop music blasted over the speakers. Swinging on the big tree swing at our family shelter by the river.

I want that for my children. In these transition years from child to adult, they are not little adults, they are adolescents. Play is so important that it has been recognized by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights as “the right of every child.” The American Academy of Pediatrics says that play, or free time in the case of older children and youth, is essential to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth.

Children paying ball outside in a grove of trees

This summer I want to intentionally let my kids be bored at times. Why is that such a button-pushing word for many parents? Have we really failed as parents if we hear “I’m bored” from our kids? We have many jobs as parents, but it is not our job to constantly entertain and provide things for our children to do. They will create their own play. Carrie Shrier, Michigan State University Extension, explains that complex play takes time to develop. It involves rules, conversation, negotiation, and organization on their part, not ours. Resist the temptation to give children something to do. You might be surprised how involved and complex their play becomes when adults don’t interfere.

In our home this summer, we will still have expected times to go to bed and rise and shine. There will also be expectations for barn chores, house chores, and yard chores. But, I hope my kids will be pleasantly surprised that their “rules making mama” expects them to play and explore in their own way – technology free – each and every day.

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Coshocton County

Reviewed by: Kellie Lemly, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Champaign County

Sources:

Shrier, C. (2016, June 8) Five rules for summer play. Michigan State University Extension. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/five_rules_for_summer_play

Yogman, M., Garner, A., Hutchinson, J., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. M. (2018). The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children. Pediatrics, 142(3). https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2018-2058

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Two years ago, when I was pregnant with my son, my husband and I did many things to prepare for his arrival. We took a childbirth class, set up a crib, decorated a nursery, and installed a car seat. What did we not know to do? Prepare for the changes that would come to our relationship during our transition to parenthood!

Did you know that most married couples experience a significant drop in relationship quality within three years of the birth of their first child? In her book All the Rage: Mothers, Fathers and the Myth of Equal Partnership, psychologist Darcy Lockman cites this research as she explores gender inequalities within unpaid work (e.g. parenting and chores) and how they impact relationships.

While most American men in relationships believe that equal division of unpaid labor is very important to a successful marriage, the actual division of this labor is hardly equal. Although the gender inequality gap narrowed from 1965 to 2003, it has remained stagnant at a 35/65 division of unpaid labor ever since.

A New York Times article on the division of labor within parenting relationships reads:

“Though there are lots of male partners who do their fair share, there’s an area of parental labor that remains frustratingly resistant to change for many couples: It’s called “worry work” or, colloquially, the mental load. Both terms describe a constant, thrumming, low-level anxiety over the health and well-being of your children, and women tend to do more of the worry work than men do. It’s an endless list of organizational tasks that runs through your head like ticker tape: We’re out of milk when do we need to apply for preschool is the baby outgrowing her onesies. According to the 2017 Bright Horizons Modern Family Index, working women are twice as likely to be managing the household and three times as likely to be managing their kids’ schedules as their male partners.”

“Worry work” has also been called “emotional labor”, and it refers to “the invisible and often undervalued work involved in keeping other people comfortable and happy”.  In All the Rage, Lockman states that most couples “intuitively, rather than consciously and explicitly, divide the work of planning and remembering… and intuitively, it mostly falls to women.” Consequently, because one partner is doing more than the other, resentment, bitterness and discord start to take hold.

If you feel affected by an imbalance in worry work in your household, the New York Times offers a helpful guide for dividing emotional labor. The first step suggested is to recognize and talk about the perceived imbalance. You and your partner should each express your desires, preferences and, goals – both as parents and individuals. When having this conversation, respect yourself and your partner by taking these desires seriously and expecting your partner to do the same. If the conversation gets heated, don’t be afraid to seek outside support. A therapist may be able to offer a neutral perspective and help you arrive on common ground.

When you and your partner feel like you have a shared understanding of the worry work problem in your relationship, work together to create a comprehensive list of emotional labor tasks, thinking through both individual and family needs. It may be hard to remember everything that should go on the list, but you can always add to it as needed! Some items to include are grocery shopping and meal preparation, laundry, household chores, managing bedtime and bath time routines, making sure bills are paid on time, and scheduling and taking children to appointments and extracurricular activities. As you create this list, you and your partner will divide tasks and agree upon what your new division of labor will look like.

If you’re like me, you may have experienced worry work personally but did not have a name for the issue prior to reading this article. Now that you can name and recognize a potential source of strife in your life, I encourage you to begin addressing the problem today!

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

Reviewed by: Bridget Britton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Carroll County

Sources:

de la Cretaz, B. (2019). How to Get Your Partner to Take On More Emotional Labor. The New York Times. https://parenting.nytimes.com/relationships/emotional-labor?te=1&nl=nyt-parenting&emc=edit_ptg_20190612?campaign_id=118&instance_id=10123&segment_id=14197&user_id=86dd6cac18c7ca41e6c8d433d5340d6c&regi_id=92717125

Grose, J. (2019). A Modest Proposal for Equalizing the Mental Load. New York Times Parenting. https://parenting.nytimes.com/work-money/mental-load?module=article-group&topic=Work%20And%20Money&rank=3&position=2

Lockman, D. (2019). All the Rage: Mothers, Fathers and the Myth of Equal Partnership. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062861443/all-the-rage/

The Gottman Institute: A Research-Based Approach to Relationships. Parenting. https://www.gottman.com/about/research/parenting/

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Do you ever wonder if you are giving your kids too much or doing too much for them? I thought maybe it would get easier to determine this as my children got older. Now I find myself with a teen and a tween, and I am discovering this question never goes away.

A couple of years ago I came across a book called “How Much Is Too Much?: Raising Likeable, Responsible and Respectful Children in an Age of Overindulgence.” A team of researchers including Jean Illsley Clarke, Connie Dawson and David Bredehoft, has conducted studies over the past two decades about the effects of overindulgence on children and how this affects them as they grow up to be adults.

Teenage girl wearing sparkly pink clothing and a tiara, talking on a cell phone.

My first thoughts about overindulgence were garbage bags full of birthday and Christmas presents or towering ice cream sundaes dripping with sticky toppings. But these researchers define overindulgence as “giving too much of anything to a child so that it slows their learning and developmental tasks.” Overindulgence hinders children from learning the necessary life lessons and skills needed to thrive as adults.

One question parents can ask themselves is: “Will doing or giving this keep my child from learning what he or she needs to learn at this age?”

I think that naturally leads to the questions, “what is developmentally appropriate for children at different ages and how much can kids really handle?” Here is some research-based guidance about expectations that are appropriate for children at every stage of development.

At different stages, we become capable of learning and experiencing different things. Here are some key words to describe the expectations in each stage of development:  

  • Prenatal is “becoming”
  • Birth to 6 months is “being”
  • 6 to 18 months is “doing”
  • 18 months to 3 years is “thinking”
  • 3 to 6 years is “identity & power”
  • 6 to 12 years is “structure”
  • 12 to 18 years is “identity, sexuality & separation”

You may not think that a 6 to 18-month-old child could have a “job,” but one of the expectations is that they begin to signal their needs and to form secure attachments with parents. They also should begin to learn that there are options in life and not all problems are easily solved.

The 18-month-old to 3-year-old child is beginning to establish the ability to think for themselves. They should can follow simple safety commands such as stop, go, and wait. This is the time they begin to express anger and other feelings. They can also begin to do simple chores at this point.

During the pre-school ages of 3 to 6 years old, children learn that behaviors have both positive and negative consequences. They begin to separate fantasy from reality as they move through this stage. They also begin to learn what they have power over and express preferences.

A father teaching his son to wash dishes.

I feel like I’ve been in the 6 to 12-year-old phase for a while now as a parent. I love one of the phrases that Clarke uses: “To learn when to flee, when to flow, and when to stand firm.” This is also the age when they gradually become skillful at and responsible for complex household chores. My son was doing all our household laundry at age 9. He would continue to ask questions to validate his sorting skills, but he had the mechanics down.

And then we come to adolescence, ages 13-19. Their jobs are to emerge gradually, as a separate, independent person with their own identity and values within the context of the family. Although they continue to participate in family celebrations and rituals, much energy is spent on finding a healthy peer group.

Parenting is a tough job. Keep the end in mind. If we want to raise responsible adults, then helping them develop skills and competence at each stage of development is the greatest gift we can give them.

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Coshocton County

Reviewed by: Heather Reister, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Butler County

Sources:

University of Minnesota Extension. Parenting in the Age of Overindulgence Online Course. Retrieved October 12, 2020 at https://extension.umn.edu/courses-and-events/parenting-age-overindulgence-online-course

Schrick, B. Appropriate Chores by Age: 2 – Teen. University of Arkansas Research and Extension. Retrieved October 12, 2020 at https://www.uaex.edu/life-skills-wellness/personal-family-well-being/family-life-fridays-blog/posts/images/Appropriate%20Chores%20by%20Age.pdf

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As I recently reminisced with a group of friends, interwoven in our conversation were comments about our use of technology when we were teens. We wrote letters to one another instead of sending emails. We made very short long-distance calls rather than texting. We even took photos on a camera with film that had to be developed!

In the last week I have become the parent of a teenager. This is a time of transition in my parenting style. We want to raise young people who can not only function on their own but make good and wise choices and be of benefit to others and society. Therefore, we should be well-informed parents on the topics below when it comes to teens and screens.

Cyberbullying: Bullying is a tale as old as time, but technology allows for increased opportunities to harass others without limitations of time and space. This often leads to silent and continued suffering for teens. One of the best resources that I have found on this topic is from the Cyberbullying Research Center. This is co-directed by two professors of criminal justice from the University of Wisconsin and Florida Atlantic University.

They define cyberbullying as: “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices. This includes incidents where adolescents use technology to harass, threaten, humiliate, or otherwise hassle their peers.” According to their research over the past 13 years, 28 percent of students have experienced cyberbullying in their lifetimes.

Online predators: A 2014 Oklahoma State University study explored teacher and counselors’ perceptions of preventing sexual assault from online predators. They identified five themes that contribute to this problem including lack of parental supervision, social networking websites and chat rooms, teenagers need for relationships, instant gratification among teenagers, and lack of education for parents. A Cornell University study from 2013 showed that many parents were underestimating risky online behavior of their children.

One idea I find particularly interesting is creating a family online safety contract with expectations for both child/teen and parents. There are lots of examples to set the stage for some great discussions about boundaries. Having “parental controls” turned on is not the same as having conversations with your tweens and teens about expectations while online.

The lingo: I laughed at a t-shirt I saw the other day that said, “No one prepares you for the transition from Ma-ma to Mommy to Mom to Bruh.” Teens have always had their own language. One way to decode or to better understand abbreviations and acronyms is through the Common Sense Education Digital Glossary or Cyberbullying Research Center Glossary. They can help you understand vamping and doxing, the difference between TikTok and Yik Yak, YOLO, FOMO, PAP and POS.

All in all, the worst thing we can do as parents is hand youth a tablet, phone or laptop and just hope they will be safe. We wouldn’t say, “Here’s a car. Drive it whenever you want, however you want, anywhere you want.” The most important thing we can do is to talk with our tweens and teens about the good and the bad and set clear expectations. Adolescents don’t think about the future or consequences the same way that adults do. That is why they have us in their lives. It is both a great privilege and challenge to be in this interdependent coaching phase of parenting a teen.

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Coshocton County

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Sources:

Cyberbullying Research Center (2020) Summary of Our Cyberbullying Research (2007-2019) https://cyberbullying.org/summary-of-our-cyberbullying-research

Baghurst, T., Alexander, R., Tapps, T. (2014) Academic Exchange Quarterly Winter Volume 18, Issue 1 Ways To Protect Students From Online Predators. http://rapidintellect.com/AEQweb/t5414v4.pdf

Segelken, H.R. Cornell Chronicle (October 202, 2013) Parents could be clueless about risky online behavior. https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2013/10/parents-could-be-clueless-about-risky-online-behavior

PureSight Online Child Safety (2020) Family online safety contract. https://puresight.com/Useful-tools/family-online-safety-contract.html

Common Sense Education (2020) Digital Glossary. https://www.commonsense.org/education/digital-glossary

Hinduja, S. and Patchin, J.W. Cyberbullying Research Center (2020) Glossary: Social Media, Cyberbullying, & Online Safety Terms To Know https://cyberbullying.org/social-media-cyberbullying-online-safety-glossary.pdf

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As the parent of a one-year old, I sometimes feel like my husband and I find ourselves playing a game of “hide the smart phone” with our son. We try to keep our phones out of sight because the moment he sees one, he grabs for it and wants to play with it. I’m sure many parents of young children can relate!

Earlier this year, a colleague of mine sent me an article titled “Is Secondhand Screen Time the New Secondhand Smoking?” This article certainly has an eye-catching title that may seem extreme to some. While I think this article has some valid points, I want to acknowledge up front that screens are not inherently evil, and the author of this article is not saying that a parent’s use of a screen is the same as a parent’s choice to smoke. Unlike smoking, screens have many useful and necessary functions in our world today, and it would be unreasonable to stop using them altogether.

What is concerning about parents’ screen use is that – like smoking – screens can be addictive.

When parents “read the news, check email, text friends or scan social media parenting groups… kids, even babies, notice these habits. They see parents reach again and again for a seemingly magical object that glints and flashes, makes sounds and shows moving images. Who wouldn’t want such a wonderful plaything? Trouble is, if the desire for a phone builds in infancy, it can become second nature.”

As I watch my own son grow and develop, I am becoming ever more aware of how I am always on stage for him. He is constantly watching what I say and do and learning how to interact with the world through me. Consequently, I have become much more mindful about how, when and where I use my smart phone. I have made a conscious effort to refrain from checking email or social media at times when I could be interacting or engaging in unplugged playtime with him, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. This effort has necessitated a shift in my media use habits. I check apps less often and only during certain times of the day. To help lessen the temptation to pick up my phone while with my son, I also turned off all non-essential notifications such as those for email and social media. Currently, the only notifications I receive are for phone calls and text messages.

Still, there are times when my husband or I need to use a smart phone in the presence of our son. In these occasions, some experts suggest narrating your actions to your children, whether you are ordering diapers or checking the weather. When parents take time to explain how they use their screens, and when they mindfully consider their use of screens in the first place, they help children learn to interact with technology in a healthy way.

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Reviewed by:  Donna Green, Retired Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Erie County

Sources:

American Academy of Pediatrics (2018). Children and Media Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/Pages/Children-and-Media-Tips.aspx

Caron, C. (2019). Ask NYT Parenting: I use my phone for everything. Is that harming my kids? https://parenting.nytimes.com/culture/phones-parents

Powers-Barker, P. (2019). Congratulations! You are a role model. Live Smart Ohio. https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/family-and-relationships/powers-barker-1osu-edu/congratulations-you-are-a-role-model/ Renstrom, J. (2020).

Is secondhand screen time the new secondhand smoking? The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/is-secondhand-screen-time-the-new-secondhand-smoking-129500

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Today’s topic is one that comes up often in discussions on screen time: are video games safe for my children to play? It is a complicated question with no easy answer, but I wanted to share some of the latest research.

It is first helpful to define what we mean by a video game. Games have a wide variety of intended audiences and purposes. They range from education focused (like math or words games) to competitive skills games (like sports and racing) to those that are primarily focused on killing and violence. University of Minnesota Extension offers some positive results from the healthy, balanced use of video games. These include increasing motivation for children, quick and clear feedback about performance, and they can promote a feeling of mastery for their participants.

For the purposes of this article, we will focus on research about violent games, because these are usually the games parents and grandparents are most concerned about.

First off be familiar with the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings listed on the box. E is appropriate for Everyone, age 6 and up. E+ is appropriate for ages 10 and up. T means appropriate for Teens or youth age 12 and up. M ratings are for mature audiences and are not appropriate for any age youth. Parents are responsible to use these ratings, as most stores do not enforce them.

Over the past few years, there has been conflicting research data presented from media on the actual effects of playing violent video games. For decades, Brad Bushman at The Ohio State University has been studying this topic. In 2012 his study found that people who played a violent video game for three consecutive days showed increases in aggressive behavior and hostile expectations from others each day they played. Those who played nonviolent games did not. His more recent study last year found that children who played violent video games were more likely to play with real guns.

However, the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford recently found no relationship between aggressive behavior in teenagers and the amount of time spent playing violent video games. Experts from Common Sense Media cite there are lots of factors that will determine whether kids will become aggressive, antisocial, or apathetic towards others.

The following information from the American Academy of Pediatrics Media Violence Policy is incredibly helpful. “Some research has indicated that the context in which media violence is portrayed and consumed can make the difference between learning about violence and learning to be violent. Plays such as Macbeth and films such as Saving Private Ryan treat violence as what it is—a human behavior that causes suffering, loss, and sadness to victims and perpetrators. In this context, with helpful adult guidance on the real costs and consequences of violence, appropriately mature adolescent viewers can learn the danger and harm of violence by vicariously experiencing its outcomes.”

I have found the most recent research studies focus more on the “loss of good” behavior rather than the “increase of bad” behavior. Research at Loyola University Chicago compared the brains of gamers and non-gamers and results suggest chronic violent gameplay may affect emotional brain processing or ability to show empathy. Additionally, some of the actions players are able to do in the game simulations are concerning; especially with the treatment of women. I am personally surprised there are not more studies examining the potential of violent and sexually suggestive games as a gateway to domestic violence and pornography.

Be very familiar with any game your child is playing. Read up about it. And if you decide to exclude these games from your home, have an honest and open dialogue with your teen about why.

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Coshocton County

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Sources:

Olson, K.A. University of Minnesota Extension. (2009) Video games: A problem or a blessing? https://extension.umn.edu/communication-and-screen-time/video-games-problem-or-blessing

Entertainment Software Rating Board. (2020) https://www.esrb.org/ratings-guide/

Ohio State News. (December 9, 2012) Violent Video Games: More Playing Time Equals More Aggression. https://news.osu.edu/violent-video-games-more-playing-time-equals-more-aggression/

The Ohio State University School of Communication. (October 4, 2017) Bushman co-authors study on violent media and children’s interest in guns. https://comm.osu.edu/news/bushman-co-authors-study-violent-media-and-children%E2%80%99s-interest-guns

Przybylski, A.K. and Weinstein, N. Royal Society Open Science. Volume 6, Issue 2 (February 2019) Oxford Violent video game engagement is not associated with adolescents’ aggressive behaviour: evidence from a registered report https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsos.171474

Common Sense Media. (2014) Does exposure to violent movies or video games make kids more aggressive?  https://www.commonsensemedia.org/violence-in-the-media/does-exposure-to-violent-movies-or-video-games-make-kids-more-aggressive

Pediatrics Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. (2001) Media Violence. (https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/108/5/1222.full.pdf

Stockdale, L. Loyola University Chicago. (2015) The Influence of Media Violence on the Neural Correlates of Empathic Emotional Response https://ecommons.luc.edu/luc_diss/1495/

Photo: https://www.pickpik.com/video-controller-video-game-controller-remote-control-gaming-console-game-43645

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pinwheel

COVID 19 has added stress to our lives in a way that just a few month’s ago was unimaginable. Now more than ever, it is important for parents to take care of themselves so they can take care of their children. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. We know that when families are experiencing stress, children are more likely to be abused or neglected.

Protective Factors are “conditions or attributes (skills, strengths, resources, supports or coping strategies) in individuals, families, communities or the larger society that help people deal more effectively with stressful events and mitigate or eliminate risk in families and communities”. Strengthening Families identifies 5 Protective Factors to help families build resiliency and support:

  1. Parent Resilience: No one can eliminate stress from parenting, but building parental resilience can affect how a parent deals with stress.
  2. Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development: Having accurate information about raising young children and appropriate expectations for their behavior help parents better understand and care for children.
  3. Social and Emotional Competence of Children: A child’s ability to interact positively with others, to self-regulate, and to effectively communicate his or her emotions has a great impact on the parent-child relationship.
  4. Social Connections: Friends, family members, neighbors, and other members of a community provide emotional support and concrete assistance to parents. Social connections help parents build networks of support.
  5. Concrete Support in Times of Need: Parents need access to the types of concrete supports and services that can minimize the stress of difficult situations, such as a family crisis, a condition such as substance abuse, or stress associated with lack of resources.

We all face challenging times in our lives, but when we have supports in place, we have the tools we need to accept, adapt or overcome them.  Building your own resilience is one way to support your child because it gives them stability and confidence in knowing that they can rely on you. Creating this type of environment for your child makes them feel safe and builds self-reliance, problem solving and self-regulation which are skills they will use throughout their lives. For more about resilience check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1r8hj72bfGo.

For ideas and strategies to maintain your sanity and support your children during the pandemic, check out this Parent’s Guide to Surviving COVID-19 from the Brookings Institute or these resources from our co-workers at Iowa State University Extension https://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/disaster-recovery.

Writer: Heather Reister, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Butler County.

Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Sources:

Center for the Study of Social Policy’s Strengthening Families (2018). About Strengthening Families and the Protective Factors Framework. https://cssp.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/About-Strengthening-Families.pdf

Gail Innis, Protective Factors: What are they and how can they help families? February 17, 2014, Michigan State University Extension, https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/protective_factors_what_are_they_and_how_can_they_help_families

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Father taking photo of daughter playing in snow.

Think about what you share about yourself on social media. Do you make sure there are no photos of yourself with alcohol in hand? Maybe you only share photos from times you feel put together. How do you react when someone “tags” you in an unflattering or embarrassing photo? It is your right to choose what is shared on your social media.

Now consider what you share about your children on social media. Sharenting is a term used to describe an oversharing of information about children on social media. For the first time, young people are growing up to find they have an online presence they had no say in creating. In the United States 92% of two-year-old children already have an online presence and about one-third of these children were first introduced to the online world as newborns.

There are many benefits to parents sharing about their children on social media. Parents can share their pride in their child’s accomplishments or share photos with distant loved ones. Sharing parenting experiences with friends and family can help parents feel supported. However, sharing on social media creates lasting impacts that can follow a child throughout their life. Understanding that while most parents have their child’s best interest in mind, many have not considered how their social media presence can impact their child’s wellbeing and safety. Before sharing about children on social media there are some things you may want to consider:

  1. Your privacy settings on your social media sites.

Many social media sites have options that allow users to limit who sees different posts shared. Often users can limit posts to social media friends, or those users designate as close friends. Consider making your settings more private on posts that contain photos or information about children. Also know that people can save things you share and re-share them without your permission.

  1. Is there anyone you would not want to have this information about your child?

If the answer is yes, reconsider sharing the information. Examples of information you may want to reconsider sharing include, full name, birth-date, school name, home address, location of child, or phone number. Try looking up yourself or your child online, you may be surprised how much information already exists.

  1. Would you be OK if others used this photo without your permission?

While sharing a photo of children in the pool or bathtub may be cute and seem harmless, understand that others who can view the photo can use it for something else you may not approve of. One study found that almost half of all photos found on a pedophile sharing site were originally shared by parents on social media or blogs.

  1. Could your child be embarrassed about what is shared?  

The reality is, one day, your child will likely see what has been shared about them on social media. When I google myself, one of the photos that results is an unflattering photo of me in 9th grade. I wish that this photo could be removed, but it continues to follow me online. Before posting something online consider if you want it to be part of your child’s online presence. Other examples include information disclosed about a child’s diagnosis, behavioral issues, or criminal history that could follow them into adulthood.

  1. Are you willing to give your child the opportunity to “veto” what is shared?

In a study that surveyed youth 10 to 17-years-old what their parents shared on social media, it found that most of the youth preferred when the information shared was positive.  They did not like their parents sharing photos that they deemed unflattering, too personal, or highlighted the negative. Chances are you want your child to be viewed as well-behaved, smart, and happy- is what you’re posting supporting that goal?

Taking time to protect children’s online presence can be as simple as taking a moment to consider “would I want this shared if it were about me?” Having a conversation with older children, like the one modeled in this video, could also be a good step toward better understanding between family members as well as better online safety. 


Written by: Courtney Woelfl, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Cuyahoga County.

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Sources:

Minkus, T., Liu, K., & Ross, K. W. (2015). Children Seen But Not Heard. Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on World Wide Web – WWW 15. doi: 10.1145/2736277.2741124

Moser, C., Chen, T., & Schoenebeck, S. Y. (2017). Parents? and Children?s Preferences about Parents Sharing about Children on Social Media. Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems – CHI 17. doi: 10.1145/3025453.3025587

Steinberg, S. B. (2017). Sharenting: Children’s privacy in the age of social media. Emory Law Journal, 66(4), 839-884.

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“A friend asked me for a nude photo,” my fifteen-year-old daughter told me one night.

“He what?!” I whispered struggling to grasp onto a rational thought.

I knew this friend.  In this case, it was a boy who had been in my home. The realization that my daughter had a friend that would make such a request of her was shocking to me! I had heard these stories from friends or read about them on the internet. I naively tucked myself into a false reality where these “friends” did not exist in our lives.  Yet they did.

A study done in 2014 by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that sexting behavior (both photo and text messages) was not uncommon among middle school youth.  According to the Law Enforcement Bulletin, juvenile sexting is increasing in frequency with 20 percent of teenagers (22 percent of girls and 18 percent of boys) admitting to sending naked or seminude images of themselves or posting them online. A survey done amongst teens indicated that nearly one in six teens between the ages of 12 and 17 who own cell phones has received naked or nearly nude pictures via text message from someone they know.

The impacts of sexting can be lasting and far-reaching.  Instances of sexting have ended in youth suicide, juvenile court charges, or harassment among peers. Sometimes charges or sex offender registration requirements will follow youth into their adult years.  Even employers and colleges have reversed decisions due to pictures posted by candidates.

To help youth understand the impacts of sexting parents and caregivers should discuss sexting with early adolescents.  This can be an uncomfortable topic to approach with your teens.  Let me be blunt in saying- get over it! This is a conversation that parents must have with their kids. Approach it honestly and openly with your youth.  Ask them what their experience or friends experiences have been with sexting.  We can learn so much from just listening to our kids, and as we listen, teaching opportunities present themselves. 

Remind your teens that not everyone is sexting! The pressure to send a flirty text may be increased if they feel like they are the only one not sending nude pictures.  The statistics say 20 percent of teens, while that statistic may be higher than we want as parents, it is not every teen.  Let your teen know that 80 percent of their peers are not engaging in this behavior, and they are not alone when they say no. 

Make your teens aware of the consequences of sending these types of photos. They could get kicked off of sports teams, face humiliation, lose educational opportunities, and even get in trouble with the law. If a picture is forwarded to someone underage, the original sender is responsible for the image.  The sender may face child pornography charges, jail time, or have to register as a sex offender. 

Help your teens understand that after they hit “send” they no longer have control over where their pictures end up. The boyfriend or girlfriend they share it with can easily share it with their friends, and their friends with their friends, and on and on. . .  Encourage your teens to not take images of themselves that they would not want everyone to see.

When teens receive or are shown a nude or inappropriate photo encourage them to tell a parent, teacher or a trusted adult.  Helping them to have a plan when they encounter these situations will help them know how to respond appropriately.

As a parent or caregiver if a teen approaches you with a nude photo they’ve sent themselves or received from someone else, take a deep breath.  It is important to keep lines of communication open. Reacting too harshly or overacting can hinder future communication with your teen about tough subjects.

Although I was concerned about the request my daughter had received after we talked I appreciated the opportunity it created to have a conversation about sexting. The conversation carried over into discussions with my other children, coworkers and friends.  She shared with me what she had done to respond to the request; saying no and blocking the friend from her social media.

For more tips on tackling tough technology conversations with your kids visit The American Academy of Pediatrics.

Sources:

Ohio House Updates “Sexting” Law Related To Minors: Majority Caucus: The Ohio House of Representatives. (2018) http://www.ohiohouse.gov/republicans/press/ohio-house-updates-sexting-law-related-to-minors

Sexting: Risky Actions and Overreactions. (2010). https://leb.fbi.gov/articles/featured-articles/sexting-risky-actions-and-overreactions

Talking to Kids and Teens About Social Media and Sexting -Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics. (2013)

https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/Pages/Talking-to-Kids-and-Teens-About-Social-Media-and-Sexting.aspx

Sexting and sexual behavior in at-risk adolescents.(2014) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3904272/

Written by: Alisha Barton, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County

barton.345@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Lorrissa Dunfee Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Belmont County

Dunfee.54@osu.edu

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