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Oxford research suggests screen use has little effect on teen mental health

The negative impact of technology use on teen mental health has been found to be as insignificant as any adverse effects of teens regularly eating potatoes. Researchers from Oxford University found technology use has a miniscule negative influence on teen mental health, with just 0.4 per cent of adolescent wellbeing related to screen use. Researchers examined data from more than 300,000 teens and parents across the UK and US, using longitudinal study results to extract information for their research. “Our findings demonstrate that screen use itself has at most a tiny association with youth mental health,” lead researcher and Oxford Internet Institute director Professor Andrew Przybylski said. “The 0.4 per cent contribution of screen use on young people’s mental health Click here to continue reading.

Teenagers – it’s time to get moving

Many teenagers spend a lot of time being sedentary (sitting or lying down) at school or work, when travelling and during their free time. Modern conveniences such as smart phones, computers and food delivered to your front door encourage sedentary behaviour. But this lack of physical activity can have negative consequences for your physical and mental health. We have all probably been told we have to exercise to stay healthy, but how much physical activity is the right amount for teenagers? And what are the benefits? How much and why? All Australians aged 13-17 are encouraged to do 60 minutes of physical activity each day. There are numerous benefits of physical activity, including physical (improved fitness and decreased risk of Click here to continue reading.

Reading the same book over and over again

We often hear about the benefits of reading storybooks at bedtime for promoting vocabulary, early literacy skills, and a good relationship with your child. But the experts haven’t been in your home, and your child requests the same book every single night, sometimes multiple times a night. You both know all the words off by heart. Given activities occurring just before sleep are particularly well-remembered by young children, you might wonder if all this repetition is beneficial. The answer is yes. Your child is showing they enjoy this story, but also that they are still learning from the pictures, words, and the interactions you have as you read this book together. Kids want repetition A preference for familiarity, rather than Click here to continue reading.

Six things you can do to get boys reading more

The OECD consistently finds girls perform significantly better than boys in reading. This gap can also be observed across the Australian NAPLAN reading data. Research suggests reading more can improve literacy outcomes across a range of indicators. But girls typically read more frequently than boys, and have a more positive attitude toward reading. Parents read more with their daughters. This sends a strong and early message that books are for girls, as well as equipping girls with a significant advantage. Recent research found even though boys read less frequently than girls, girls receive more encouragement to read from their parents. So how can parents and educators help bridge the gap for boys’ literacy? Stop telling boys they only like non-fiction Click here to continue reading.

A reminder to ask boys the question R U OK?

One simple question is all it takes to start a conversation which could change a boy’s life. R U OK? Day is tomorrow, and Australians are being encouraged to remember to check in with friends, family or colleagues. The annual event has many aims, including highlighting the importance of dealing with mental health issues, breaking stigma attached to mental health and building networks of support in communities to assist those who need help. Though it may be a simple question in theory, asking someone you think may have some underlying mental health issues can be confronting and daunting to face the reality of helping them deal with the situation, listening to their thoughts and feelings, and finding necessary help for Click here to continue reading.

Five easy ways to boost children’s spatial skills

When we read maps, pack the car for holidays, assemble flat-pack furniture or cut cake into equal slices, we use spatial reasoning skills. These allow us to mentally manipulate objects or think in a way that relates to space and the position, area, and size of things within it. Not only is spatial reasoning an important skill in everyday life, it is important in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related careers. And it is never too early for children to develop and enhance their spatial skills. Spatial skills are linked to future success Spatial reasoning is the best predictor of whether children will end up in a STEM-related career. These skills are especially important in jobs where people need Click here to continue reading.

Helping boys navigate the world of fake news

In an online world where reputable and not so reputable websites and social media platforms vie for user attention and time, teaching boys how to decipher between real and fake news has never been so important. Boys are brought up to learn through play, using make believe and their amazing imaginations to think up ways to entertain themselves; from taking on pirates on the high seas, to having ninja battles against enemy teddies and cushions. As boys age they start to become more aware of what is real and pretend in their lives – moving away from the world of imaginative play and more into the world around them, including the digital landscape. Without growing understanding of websites and social Click here to continue reading.

Building resilience – it’s ok for boys to fail

In recent years, there has been a concerted effort to protect children from failure in order to safeguard their fragile self-esteem. This seems logical – failure is unpleasant. It tends to make you look bad, you have negative feelings of disappointment and frustration, and you often have to start again. While this is logical, it actually has the opposite effect. Children and adolescents in Australia appear less able to cope than ever before. The problem is, in our efforts to protect children, we take valuable opportunities for learning away from them. Failure provides benefits that cannot be gained any other way. Failure is a gift disguised as a bad experience. Failure is not the absence of success, but the experience Click here to continue reading.

Shared reading – the words are just the beginning

Reading to children is beneficial in many ways. Books offer a unique opportunity for children to become familiar with new vocabularies; the type of words not often used in day-to-day conversation. Books also provide a context for developing knowledge of abstract ideas for children. When an adult reads a book to a child, they often label pictures, talk about activities in the book, solve problems together and teach them new words and concepts. Reading to very young children can have long-lasting benefits for their later school success, not only in literacy but also in mathematics. Adding to this, early shared reading particularly helps children from disadvantaged families defy limitations associated with their socio-economic status. So, if there is only one Click here to continue reading.

The ‘Fortnite’ battle

Most parents have probably heard about and are seeing the online game Fortnite being played in their homes. I am often questioned about this game and spoken to about how it is being used at home and asked what should I watch out for? Many children have access to a range of gaming consoles at home and it is a little like giving a set of car keys to a restless adolescent, eager to experience the thrill of the open road. Like a driving instructor explaining the road rules before handing over the keys, I am sure parents try their best to put in place rules, guidelines and procedures and support to help their sons in their journey. However, the Click here to continue reading.