Managing Your Child's Screen Time

Ask any parent and they will tell you - whether we like it or not, screen time has become a battle between most kids and their parents. With developers now offering apps and...

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Summer Vacation on a Budget

If your family is itching to hit the road but your budget won't allow a luxury summer getaway, never fear! It is entirely possible to vacation on a tight budget. With a little...

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Beat the Heat: Stay Hydrated!

Summer is here and in our area that means plenty of days with sweltering heat and blazing sun. Staying hydrated in extreme heat is not easy, but the alternative can be brutal. Dehydration can lead to a variety of ailments, none of them pleasant...

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Managing Your Child's Screen Time


Ask any parent and they will tell you - whether we like it or not, screen time has become a battle between most kids and their parents. With developers now offering apps and games targeted toward even younger children, parents are left to wonder how best to manage screen time for even preschool and toddler-aged children. 

A new study offers some insight but also has some surprises, including the fact that giving a preschooler a "two minute" warning for media shutdown may actually backfire. Even though the study found almost four in every five parents used the "two minute warning" technique, only 20 percent of them said it actually helped.

Researchers believe the "two more minutes" warning can both set expectations and remind a child that he or she is not the one in control. Unfortunately, this may lead to a power struggle.

In the study, researchers from the University of Washington interviewed 27 sets of parents, and 28 families also kept a "screen time diary" for two weeks. One finding ran counter to what many may believe: In most cases, parents were not deemed to be using a tablet or other device as a kind of electronic "babysitter," the research team found.

In fact, nearly all the parents expressed a "general negative impression" of screen media for kids, and felt exposure should be carefully monitored and limited. It was often tough to get a child to stop using devices on their own, however, and most said they - not their child - put an end to sessions. The most common reason for doing so was because of a change in situation, such as an impending play date.

How did the kids typically respond? Nearly 60 percent of the time parents got a "neutral" reaction to their request, and in 20 percent of cases children even reacted "positively," the researchers said. However, things turned negative in about 20 percent of cases. And nearly all parents said their child had, on occasion, thrown a tantrum in response to being asked to leave their device. More than a third of parents said turning screens off almost always sparked a fight.

So what else worked to prevent screen-related tantrums? Many parents said establishing regular, predictable viewing habits helped smooth out the process. Also helpful was shutting down electronics natural stopping points such as when a video ended, or when embarking on a daily routine such as breakfast.

Researchers encourages parents to consider not just the time spent viewing, but the content of what the children are viewing. They say that it is somewhat unavoidable for children to be interested in technology so the important role parents can play is in helping them find appropriate games, apps and videos to engage with.

Parents should pay extra attention to age appropriateness, as well as what content is appropriate for their child's unique disposition. Knowing what may frighten your child or, conversely, what will engage your child is one critical piece to solving the electronic dilemma.


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Ticks: How to Protect Yourself

Warm weather is here and many of us are spending more time outdoors. But with more time spent outside, especially when wooded areas, you face an increased risk of having a tick...

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Kimberly Williams-Paisley: Sharing Her Family Story

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Fresh and Spicy Summer Salad

Prepping dinner during the heat of summer can be brutal, especially when you need to fire up your oven or even your grill. This month we're saving the day with a variety of great...

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Ticks: How to Protect Yourself


Warm weather is here and many of us are spending more time outdoors. But with more time spent outside, especially when wooded areas, you face an increased risk of having a tick or other parasite latch onto you. Fortunately ticks don't fly, jump or fall from the sky so avoiding them is entirely possible.

Ticks generally move from grass to a living host, and crawl upwards, looking for a warm, moist area to feed. Ticks also have incredible anti-detection defenses. For example, their saliva is loaded with antihistamines, anticoagulants and other inhibitors that prevent wound healing, and dampen pain and itch responses.

But you can protect yourself and your family - here are our tips!

  • Protect your ankles. Wear long pants tucked into high socks when doing yard work. Wrap duct tape - sticky-side out - around where the pants and socks meet so that crawling ticks get stuck on the tape.
  • Dress properly. Use clothing, tents and other gear treated with repellent, such as permethrin. This repellent kills ticks, mosquitoes, chiggers and mites. These products are available online or at sporting goods stores.
  • Wear repellent. Apply topical insect repellent that contains less than 40 percent DEET. Children should use repellent that contains no more than 30 percent DEET.
  • Conduct tick checks. Tick bites are painless, so if you are in an area with ticks, perform a thorough tick check and remove ticks immediately.
  • Don't forget pets. The neurotransmitter blockers in anti-tick treatments and flea collars are very effective in keeping ticks from biting pets. When pets come indoors, check for crawling ticks to prevent them from getting off your pet and on to you.
  • Create a tick-free zone. You can make your yard less attractive to rodent, deer and other tick-carriers. Keeping lawns trimmed and creating barriers between your yard and the woods with wood chips, mulch or gravel can eliminate tall grasses where ticks crawl. Remove wood piles and stones where mice, chipmunks and squirrels may hide. These little critters keep tick larva and nymphs circulating in nature.
  • Hike carefully. Stay in the center of hiking trails to avoid contact with vegetation. 
  • Remove with caution: Don't use matches or the tip of a cigarette to burn off ticks. This could cause them to transmit bacteria more quickly. The correct way to remove a tick is to lift it gently with thin tweezers. It's also a good idea to use a magnifying glass while removing a tick. If you can remove the tick intact, you can bring it to your doctor's office or local health department for identification.

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