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Why teens can make bad decisions

From getting beyond drunk at a friend’s party, to some seriously questionable outfit choices, teenagers often do things that seem outlandishly stupid. But we now know why: the areas of the brain that control decision-making don’t fully develop until early adulthood. A teen’s developing brain places them at greater risk of being reactive in their decision-making, and less able to consider the consequences of their choices. So how can parents help their teenagers learn and apply good decision-making skills? The difference between what teenagers know and do Most children demonstrate an understanding of “right” and “wrong” behaviour from an early age. As language develops, children are able to give clear reasons as to why certain behaviours are undesirable. But children Click here to continue reading.

Back to school blues: overcoming shyness 

This month, more than 3.5 million young people will start or return to schools across Australia. For most young people this is a time of high excitement and energy. The long holidays are coming to an end and they are looking forward to seeing old friends, making new ones, and being a grade higher. But the excitement is often tinged with a hint of trepidation – “who will be in my class”, “will they still like me”, “what teachers will I get”? For some young people, these worries can dominate their life. The good news is parents can help their kids through it. What is shyness and social anxiety? Shyness is a personality characteristic that exists on a continuum across Click here to continue reading.

Learning to build a positive digital footprint

Rather than just teaching children about internet safety and reducing their digital footprint, we should also encourage them to curate a positive digital footprint which will be an asset for them in their future. Today’s children are prolific users of the internet. Concern has been raised about the future impact of the digital footprints they are generating. While much discussion of this issue focuses on keeping children safe, little is known about how children manage their digital footprints. While digital footprints are considered to be a liability, if managed well they can be an asset. Digital footprints can showcase identity, skills and interests. This is important in an era where employers “google” candidates to check their identity and verify their suitability. In this context, having no digital footprint can Click here to continue reading.

Study habits for success: tips for students

Right now, thousands of Australian school children are taking a well-earned break from the classroom. Long breaks like this help us clear our minds, but they can also provide an opportunity to prepare for the learning year ahead. If you’re a student, this might mean thinking about your study habits. Here are some suggestions to help you learn as efficiently as possible. Focus! And don’t multi-task Our brains are impressive machines, but they can’t handle everything at once. There is simply too much going on in our sensory environment for us to digest. To be effective, we need to direct our attention to just one or two tasks at a time. That generally means no background music – it won’t help Click here to continue reading.

Boredom busters can include a little learning

The hype and festivities of Christmas are over, the New Year has been rung in and children across Australia have been on school holidays for weeks – boredom is starting to bite. With kids eager to keep their minds and bodies active over the holidays parents can struggle with finding activities and events to keep them entertained, engaged and happy. Western Sydney University Mathematics Education Professor Catherine Attard says calls of boredom from holidaying children should signal to parents that their sons and daughters need some “physical or mental activity to keep them occupied and to vent energy, just like needing food to satisfy feelings of hunger.” In an article for the Conversation, A/Prof. Attard says there are many problems Click here to continue reading.

Balancing the scales of social media use – good vs bad

Young people spend a lot of time on social media. They’re also more susceptible to peer pressure, low self-esteem and mental ill-health. A number of studies have found associations between increased social media use and depression, anxiety, sleep problems, eating concerns, and suicide risk. Certain characteristics of social media may contribute to these negative effects. Cyberbullying Cyberbullying has been linked to depression, anxiety, social isolation, and suicide. Compared to “traditional” forms of bullying, cyberbullying can be witnessed by a larger audience, the perpetrator can remain anonymous, and the victim may find it difficult to escape. Social media platforms have taken steps to address cyberbullying (such as Facebook’s bullying prevention hub), and almost all social media content can be reported to Click here to continue reading.

Kids digital usage limits need rethinking

Digital guidelines for children have been challenged by new research from Oxford University which has found no consistent link between digital usage limits and children’s wellbeing. Lead author Oxford Internet Institute’s Dr Andrew Pryzbylski said the findings suggested there was “little or no support for the theory that digital screen use, on its own, is bad for young children’s psychological wellbeing.” “If anything, our findings suggest the broader family context, how parents set rules about digital screen time, and if they’re actively engaged in exploring the digital world together – are more important than raw screen time,” Dr Pryzbylski said. “Future research should focus on how using digital devices with parents or care-givers and turning it into a social time Click here to continue reading.

Teaching preschoolers internet safety

Fifteen years ago, parents and caregivers did not have to worry about teaching pre-school aged children about internet safety. A new report prepared for the Children’s Commissioner of England suggests this time has passed. Children now live in a digital age, which means internet access is a daily part of life for many young children around the world. Touchscreen technologies have changed how accessible the internet is for very young children, particularly between the ages of four and five. It’s now quicker and easier to connect to the internet using these technologies, as they don’t require the same level of fine motor and literacy skills used to navigate a mouse and keyboard. More recently, the Internet of Things has become Click here to continue reading.

Bedtime routine key to best start

What happens in the early years of a person’s life has a profound effect on how they fare later on. Thousands of research papers – many of them using the rich data in the British Birth Cohort studies – have shown that children who get a poor start in life are much more likely to experience difficulties as adults; whether that’s to do with poor health, or their ability to enjoy work and family life. Ensuring that children get enough sleep is one of a number of ways to get them off to the best possible start in life. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that toddlers should get roughly 11 to 14 hours of sleep every day. For children aged three to five years, Click here to continue reading.

Boredom is not a bad word – it’s an opportunity

As the summer school break approaches at speed, parents are beginning to question how fast the first dreaded “I’m bored!” will be uttered by their sons. Play dates, movies, park adventures and Christmas celebrations are all at the ready, yet there is still plenty of time for young boys (and older ones) to complain about a lack of “stuff to do” – and it seems that’s ok. Researchers and psychologists see a child’s ability to deal with boredom as a challenge which can affect their coping skills as adults. Key skills in managing those “boring” moments need to be developed in childhood to help in adulthood when boredom needs to be dealt with without complaint or tantrum. Nature Play WA Click here to continue reading.