Posts in Behavior
Beggin for Sexts

I hear from many pre-teen and teen girls that they or their friends have been asked by boys via social media to send nude pics. In one discussion I had with a 10th-grade girl this week, she told me it “happens all the time” to her. This is so very disturbing. 
Now here is the real killer. The guys have been known to make threats if the girls don’t comply. Girls are threatened with social embarrassment on many fronts.

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SMART Tips for Real Life Change

With 2017 on the horizon, the last few days of 2016 are resolution season. Are you considering making some positive life changes? Great, me too. But how can we make the changes stick…for real this time?In my twenty years as a physician I have witnessed and experienced how hard it is to actually make a behavior change, no matter how compelling the reason. Even in the face of chronic obstructive lung disease, patients with years of tobacco use try to to quit and don’t always succeed. A person with diabetes can find it so hard to control eating habits, even though it’s a life and death matter.

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Family gatherings: Face-to-face or face-to-screen?

How comfortable are your kids talking to extended family and adult friends? One concern I often hear from parents is that they think screen time decreases face-to-face communication skills. I have not found any exceptional data around this issue. Families and friends will be together for the holidays and in these settings many kids and adults will gravitate towards their personal devices. When situations are uncomfortable or activity is slowed down this is accepted behavior these days. It upsets me when I see kids disappear into their screens when those special multigenerational opportunities for conversation are right in front of them.

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Do you know how much time parents spend playing video games?

How much time do you, the adult, spend on screens?  This week Common Sense Media (CSM) released the results of a survey of 1800 parents that found that parents spend 7.5 hours a day of non-work time on screens, and 1.5 hours a day of work related screen time.  (Of note, if a respondent reported doing two screen things at once, such as watching TV while texting, the study counted that as two hours). Seven and a half hours is a lot, but if you include all the time parents are watching TV shows, *playing video games, doing social media, or on their phones while eating breakfast, while walking down the street, sitting on subways ... you can see how this adds up. 

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Who knows the family screen time rules?

When my daughter Tessa, who is in Screenagers, saw the completed film, I was shocked by one of her first reactions. She said, ”I didn't realize so many other kids are dealing with all this rule stuff like we are." Of course, she had been with me over the years as I was making the film, and yet somehow, she did not know how common it is for families to struggle with setting limits. She went on to tell me how rarely any of her friends talked about their rules around screen time. 

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Is there a time and a place you unplug each day? Each week?

With Thanksgiving this week, it is a good time to think about the various practices of “unplugging." 

To help find times to unplug, a good starting point is to think more about when our kids are not on screens during each day, rather than when they are on screens. From there it's easier to set guidelines around unplugging. I’ve heard about many creative approaches to unplugging:


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    Sleep: Is this one time you can separate from your phone?

    Tech Talk Tuesday #39
    Does your teen sleep next to his/her phone?

    A new meta analysis published in Jama Pediatrics confirmed how portable devices like cellphones and tablets are seriously affecting our children's sleep.  Sleep is one of the biggest pediatric public health issues of our time. I hear this firsthand when I ask groups in the post screening discussions "who sleeps with their cellphones their room?" Most hands in the room go up.

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    Pediatricians have new screen time guidelines... what are yours?

    Tech Talk Tuesday #38
    What are your rules when it comes to your kid's screen use?

    This week the American Academy of Pediatrics released new recommendations on screen time.  

    They now recommend that children younger than 18 months “avoid digital media use (except video-chatting),” but kids 18 months and older can use digital media. They also say that children 2 to 5 years should limit their time to one hour a day and for youth 5 years and older they now don't really have a recommended cap on screen time.


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    Cellphones at school, what are the rules?

    Tech Talk Tuesday #32
    What is a phone's role at school?

    My daughter is in 9th grade in a junior high, and my son in the high school, and it seems every year they, and I, are not entirely clear on the rules at school around cellphones. Tessa tells me that one teacher has a zero tolerance policy. On the first day he told them that if he catches them with a phone, he will put it on his desk—In this first week, he has not confiscated one during her class.  Another “more chill” (in Tessa’s words) teacher says if you finish your work you can be on your phone. He added that there are “appropriate times to be on your phone and non-appropriate times.”  I’m eager to have a Tech Talk Tuesday tonight with my kids about how this is all working...the different rules, their desire to check their phones versus their need to pay attention, etc. 

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    Homework and screen time, what's the plan this year?

    Tech Talk Tuesday #31
    How do you balance homework and screentime?

    Screen time and homework can be a real problem. Our children often need screens to do their homework and then are automatically vulnerable to distraction when they need concentration the most. Famous research out of Stanford showed that when people multitask they feel as if they are doing better and better at the different tasks but actually they are doing worse and worse on all of them. 

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    Staying connected, then and now...

    Tech Talk Tuesday #30
    How do you contact your friends and family through technology?

    When I was young I saw the Truffaut film, Small Change, that made me want to be French. I started working at various jobs at 12 and by 16, I was able to pay my way to France for a summer to travel alone. Ok, why am I telling you this? Well, I remember trying to stay connected with people back home in Berkeley and spending a lot of time picking out postcards to send. I remember hoping the postcards would get home before I did—geez, did postcards to take forever back then, and even now they still take so long. I thought this would be a great conversation to have for Tech Talk Tuesday this week. Here are some questions to get the conversation going:

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    4 Tips for creating a screen-time contract for the new year

    Tech Talk Tuesday #29
    What’s your back-to-school screen time plan?

    As summer break nears its final days and I see the fall frenzy of school-and-everything-else schedules coming my way, I am preparing for the transition. As I envision the back-to-school scene for our family, I know we have a lot of adjustments to make to get ourselves into “fall mode”. Amidst considerations around supplies, extracurriculars, transportation, and meals is of course…managing screen time.

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    The new summer camp anxiety: Unplugging Angst

    Tech Talk Tuesday #23
    If you were to unplug for a week how do you think that would make you feel?

    This summer there are many opportunities for kids to be plugged in, but also many are getting the unique experience of unplugging because they are going to away to camps or in day camps that don't allow devices. There was a study done out of UCLA that shows that children who spend even 5 days without their devices, in tech-free camps, have restoration of the capacity for empathy.

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    Not all screen time is created equal

    Tech Talk Tuesday #21
    What are your go-to passive screen time distractions?

    If your child’s life has included a Minecraft phase, you know what I’m talking about. There’s the beginner level of the game that you play, walking from place to place collecting resources for survival, and there are the deeper levels, that can include creating entire neighborhoods to programming your own action sequences and building tools that you make available to other players.

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    Are you more “real” online or in person?

    Tech Talk Tuesday #15
    Who is the real you? The online or in person version?

    Who hasn’t been tempted every once in a while to be a little bit of something they usually aren’t? A little bolder, better, more opinionated or clever than we might appear in our everyday lives? I remember prank phone calls being a typical middle school way to get into a little mischief and “be” someone else.

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    “Mom, did you have to say that with my friends around?”

    Tech Talk Tuesday #14
    How do you enforce your rules on your children's friends?

    If you’ve tuned into Tech Talk Tuesday before, you might already know that in my family, we have decided that the car is a “screens-off” space for all of us. It works great when it’s just us in the car. We talk, we catch up, we sit quietly.

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