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Digital balance needs a realistic rethink

The hot topic on most parents’ minds these days is finding the digital balance for their kids. No matter what age their children are – from toddlers to teens – parents continue to grapple with finding a healthy balance between screens and switching off. Researchers from the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne have called on the government to update national guidelines for child screen usage, with new research from the Australian Child Health Poll finding current guidelines do not equate to usage needs of children and the changing face of digital technologies. Research lead author and pediatrician Dr Anthea Rhodes said guidelines for screen use in children were last updated in 2014 and new recommendations may help parents set realistic rules Click here to continue reading.

Bullying hits academic achievement of boys

Bullying among young students in Australian primary schools is having damaging effects on their academic performance, according to new research from the Murdoch Children’s Institute. The institute’s latest research has found one third of boys aged 8-9 years are experiencing bullying on a weekly basis at school. In comparison, one quarter of girls the same age are also victims of frequent bullying. Researchers used unique methods in their research, looking at child-reported bullying and using NAPLAN results as markers for academic achievement. MCRI’s Dr Lisa Mundy said bullying was most common during primary school as children entered the “juvenile phase of development” prior to puberty. “This is the stage where peers become more important to kids and they start to Click here to continue reading.

Spotafriend – social media “friend” app or more?

There is an app for everything – including those targeted at teens to make ‘friends’ at the swipe of a button, track peoples movements and communicate anonymously. Parents struggle to learn about these constantly evolving and new apps and how to monitor their teens’ use of them. Kik, Yellow, Spotafriend, WebKinz, Snapchat, Omegle, Yik Yak, Burn Note, Instagram, Line – the list of apps teens are using to communicate with friends and the wider world online is seemingly endless and always changing depending on peer use, media coverage, parental knowledge and app capabilities. The key concern is how teens as young as 12 years of age are engaging with strangers online. Without the correct controls set on the apps they Click here to continue reading.

Engaging boys in learning

It’s the official halfway point of the 2017 school year, a perfect time for parents to review how their son’s learning is progressing and how to tackle any issues. Boys and engagement don’t always go hand-in-hand in the classroom and with recent figures showing one in four students quietly disengage in the classroom setting parents need to gain perspective of their sons’ learning environments and whether their boys are active participants in their own education. Disengagement from the classroom can happen at any age, from the youngest of learners not wanting to fill in worksheets of numbers, letters and words to older students struggling to see the point of learning activities with no obvious relevance to their day-to-day life. Passively deciding Click here to continue reading.

Video games play on attention: review

Video game playing can change the brain, making gamers more attentive and heighten visual perception according to the latest review into research. Scientists collected and summarized results from more than 115 research projects on video games from across the globe, finding research suggested game use could result in changes to the brain regions responsible for attention and visuospatial skills and make them more efficient. The Frontiers in Human Neuroscience Journal recently published the scientists’ findings. Lead author Marc Palaus said with sensationalist claims by the media in the past about the negative effect of video game use he and his colleagues wanted to try to determine whether there was scientific evidence of brain changes. “Games have sometimes been praised or Click here to continue reading.

Reading for fun is more than a story

Young people are more enthusiastic about reading today and they are reaping the benefits associated with reading for enjoyment. Nearly 60 per cent of more than 42,000 8-18 year olds surveyed by the UK’s National Literacy Trust for its 2016 Annual Literacy Survey said they enjoyed reading “very much” or “quite a lot”. General levels of reading for enjoyment have increased in the annual survey since 2005 with a 15 per cent increase in recent years. National Literacy Trust director Jonathan Douglas said it was great to see young people reading for entertainment, interest and enjoyment. “We are thrilled that our research has found children’s enjoyment of reading to be at an all-time high,” Mr Douglas said. “When children enjoy Click here to continue reading.

Dads urged to break silence

Dads are being urged to break the silence and start a conversation with their boys which could be vital to their mental health. headspace launched its annual Fathers Campaign last week, encouraging dads to speak to their sons about mental health issues. With latest figures showing just 13 per cent of boys report any mental health concerns, the agency is eager to help boys break down perceived stigmas around mental health issues and speak up. NRL star Nathan Hindmarsh is the face of this year’s campaign, saying at the launch he was proud to support the initiative as a father of four boys. “I look at my four boys and I want them to know that I will always be Click here to continue reading.

Phone use at bedtime impacts more than sleep

Mobile phones are an essential part of most teenage boys’ lives but new research shows those boys who use their phones late into the night are experiencing poor sleep and mental health problems. Researchers from Murdoch and Griffith Universities studied more than 1000 WA students aged 13-16 years over a four year period, finding increased night-time mobile phone use was directly linked to depressed moods in teens, decreased self-esteem and lower coping capabilities among participants in the study. Head researcher Lynette Vernon said mobile phone use was a problem for teens when using the phone took priority over other essential parts of their lives – i.e. sleep. “We found that late night phone use directly contributed to poor sleep habits, Click here to continue reading.

Boys lag in self-regulating skills in early years: new study

Self-regulating behaviour is the key to successful learning in the early years of education and girls are continuing to outperform boys in this landscape according to new research from Queensland University of Technology. Researchers looked at gender differences in academic outcomes and the relationship between these outcomes and classroom behaviours in their study “Gender differences in early literacy and mathematics achievement and self-regulatory behaviours in the first year of school”. They found girls were “more likely than boys to stay on task, pay attention, be organised and flexible, be eager to learn and be independent in their learning behaviours, reflective of self-regulation”, according to teacher ratings. “The gender differences prior to school competence suggest that girls are entering school better Click here to continue reading.

Fathers’ workloads continue to impact kids

A third of Australian children aged 11-13 years say their fathers work too much, a new study led by Australian National University has found. The study, which observed around 3,000 fathers and their children as part of the ‘Growing Up in Australia’ study, also found that one third of children did not always enjoy time with their dads. Lead researcher Professor Lyndall Strazdins said fathers’ long hours on the job, including regular night and weekend work and difficulties getting time off work, contributed to their children’s perceptions. “Australia’s work culture and social norms are making it hard for dads to be the fathers they want to be,” said Professor Strazdins from the ANU Research School of Population Health. “More than half Click here to continue reading.