Let’s go camping!

Summer has finally arrived, and it is time for everyone to go outside and enjoy some outdoor family fun! Camping is a great summertime activity, and it offers opportunities for your family members to explore nature and escape the “noise” (e.g., televisions, tablets, social media).

Outdoor activities, like camping, hiking, fishing, and biking, can provide many health benefits such as increasing Vitamin D intake, improving overall mood, improving concentration, and decreasing stress (Harvard University Medical School, 2010). Sharing outdoor activities while camping can also offer unique opportunities for your family to connect to and learn about each other.

The first time you go camping you may experience some uncertainty. However, careful planning, especially if you have younger children, can help ensure you have a successful camping experience.

Practice Inside

  • Practice camping in your home. If you have enough space, set up a tent inside and decorate your campsite – remember to be creative (e.g., make smores in the microwave, string up lights to simulate stars, play nature sounds).

Practice Outside

  • If you’re unsure of how your children may react to camping, or sleeping outdoors, set up a small campsite in your backyard. Backyard camping can offer your family a similar experience and allow you to understand what may be needed when (or if) you decide to take your camping a bit farther from home.

Create a List

  • As part of the planning process, create a list of camping essentials that you will need, like a tent, blankets/sleeping bags, pillows, food, water, sunscreen, fire starters, medication, and appropriate clothing, but remember some specialty items that might bring comfort to your children like a favorite blanket or a special toy. To learn more about camping essentials visit https://www.myopencountry.com/camping-tips/

Include your Children in the Planning Process

  • Children like to be involved, so it’s important to talk to them about what camping is, why you want to do it with them, and what they can expect. Be sure to address any concerns they raise and come up with solutions to any expressed concerns as a team.

Measure Your Skills

  • If you’ve never been camping yourself, you may want to look for a campsite that is located on resort property or a campsite that has amenities (e.g., public restrooms, on-site store) close by. Remember, even if you’re an experienced camper, your children might still be new to camping, so you may want to consider choosing an area that’s challenging but not too much for them to handle.

Take Precautions

  • If you are a bit skeptical about venturing out alone, invite some additional family members or friends to join along in the fun.
  • Many campsites have restrictions, like burning fires or bringing pets. Be sure to carefully vet the camping locations you’re interested in and keep a detailed list of any regulations.
  • To help your children avoid getting lost, teach your children the buddy system. Younger children should team up with an adult, and older children can get together with a peer.

Camping can be an enjoyable activity for your family and a way for you to create special memories together. Your children will benefit from being outdoors and finding ways, places, or things to explore. Who knows, it may become your family’s favorite vacation getaway!

 

Resources

Baer, T. (2019, June 24). 30+ tips on camping with kids, from parents who have been there. The  Dyrt Magazine. https://thedyrt.com/magazine/lifestyle/camping-with-kids/

Conghalie, B. (2021, March 8). Camping hacks and tips from fire to shelter. My Open Country. https://www.myopencountry.com/camping-tips/

Reference

Harvard Medical School. (2010, October 12). A prescription for better health: Go alfresco. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/a-prescription-for-better-health-go-alfresco

Digital Empowerment Resource

Media has become an integral part of everyday life for youth and families. Media habits that youth develop at an early age may continue through adulthood. Providing support to children to navigate the digital world responsibly – enhance the positive attributes and cope with the challenges and dilemmas – at a young age may increase their abilities to have respectable, meaningful interactions with others through constructive online engagement. Online platforms can offer youth and children a vast virtual world, which increases their exposure to a variety of topics and diverse individuals – good and bad. Professionals and parents serve as the cornerstone to teaching the fundamental skills of digital citizenship to youth and empowering youth to be good digital citizens by helping them understand the virtual world and helping them know how to keep themselves safe within that world. To aid in the healthy development of youth, the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State (Clearinghouse) partnered with the Department of Defense’s Office of Military Community and Family Policy (MC&FP) to create a Digital Empowerment Resource to provide support to professionals and parents as they educate children about what it means to be a good digital citizen and empower them to positively participate in the virtual world.

The Digital Empowerment Resource offers activities and resources that can be used to speak with children and youth about media use and communicate the importance of good digital citizenship. Activities have been developed to make it easier for the professional to identify appropriate material to use in daily lesson planning with children who are 5 to 10 years old and adolescents and teens who are 10 to 18 years old. In addition, resources are provided that offer supplementary support to the professional on specific digital citizenship topics. Furthermore, resources include posters that can be printed and placed in facilities, parent handouts, and family activities that can be used to engage the entire family in practicing good digital citizenship habits.

Podcast

Representatives from the Clearinghouse recently spoke with the Military Family Learning Network about the Digital Empowerment Resource. A podcast recording can be found here: https://militaryfamilieslearningnetwork.org/podcast/exploring-the-thrive-initiatives-digital-empowerment-resource-for-parents-and-professionals-anchored-episode-23/

Digital Empowerment Resource

The Digital Empowerment Resource is available at no cost and can be downloaded directly from the Thrive Website: https://thrive.psu.edu/for-professionals/resources/

 

Nutritional Health before and during Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body is your baby’s first environment. Just as you would prepare the outside world for your baby by purchasing a baby crib, installing a car seat, or prepping your home for safety with outlet plugs, you should also prepare your body for pregnancy by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Eating nutritious foods and avoiding other foods and substances is important for you and your baby. Remember, many factors, including your own health, safety, and the choices you make, affect your body and your baby.

If you are considering conception, planning for the pregnancy, and preparing your body can improve your chances of having a healthy full-term baby. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can increase your overall health and improve your chances of conception. Research indicates diets high in folic acid, polyunsaturated fats, and plant-based foods can positively impact fertility (Panth, et al., 2018). If you are planning to become pregnant or if you are already pregnant, you may want to consider some of the following nutritional health tips.

Learn what to eat. Eating nutritious foods and learning about appropriate food choices during pregnancy is essential for your health and the health of your growing fetus. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), and these guidelines offer information about healthy foods you may want to consider eating while you are pregnant. Some of those foods include the following:

  • Dairy products are sources of calcium, protein, vitamin D, and phosphorus. These nutrients are essential for your baby’s developing bones, teeth, heart, and nerves:
    • milk, cheese, yogurt.
  • Protein can positively affect the growth of fetal tissue and the brain, and it can increase the mother’s blood supply:
    • beef, pork, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, nuts.
  • Carbohydrates are a source of energy, so they help the mother support and grow the baby:
    • whole-grain bread and pasta, rice, oatmeal, corn, potatoes.
  • Healthy fats, which are called unsaturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats, help improve the heart and how it functions:
    • olives, nuts, avocados, meats (HHS, 2020).

Know the benefits. There are many benefits to consuming nutritious foods and eating a balanced diet of protein, fat, and fiber while you are pregnant. Eating healthy foods can help you maintain your health; give you more energy; help reduce stress, either while trying to conceive or during pregnancy; and help decrease fatigue, nausea, or anemia. Eating the appropriate foods can help ensure a healthy birth weight for your baby and support his or her brain development and reduce birth defects (HHS, 2020).

Follow safe food practices. Pregnant bodies are more sensitive to food-borne illnesses. Good food safety practices should be followed and include the following:

  • Ensure food has been cooked to safe minimum internal temperatures.
  • Wash all fresh produce.
  • Avoid raw dairy and eggs and raw sprouts.
  • Check that food like milk, cheese, and juice say pasteurized on the label.
  • Consume fish with some caution. Fish can have mercury, which is a heavy metal that can make you sick and harm your baby’s development. Shark, swordfish, tuna, and marlin often contain mercury. Smaller fish like sardines, cod, flounder, tilapia, and canned light tuna are nutrient-dense and provide many benefits.
  • Avoid raw fish and raw shellfish.
  • Stay away from deli luncheon meats, and hotdogs should be reheated to steaming hot to kill Listeria (a foodborne illness that can be serious during pregnancy).
  • Avoid organ meat, like liver, as it may have too much vitamin A.
  • Minimize your caffeine intake. A little caffeine is fine but aim for no more than 300 milligrams or 2 to 3 cups of coffee a day.
  • Avoid sweetened beverages and junk foods. These foods are not nutrient-dense, and they contain significant added sugars or sugar substitutes.
  • Avoid alcohol; there is no known amount of alcohol that is considered safe during pregnancy (HHS, 2020).

Some pregnancies may have more health challenges than others. However, you can improve your baby’s first environment by making healthy nutrition choices and regularly visiting your pregnancy healthcare provider. Preparing your body, making appropriate food choices, and maintaining your overall health will help you give your baby the best start possible.

Visit your healthcare provider if you plan to become pregnant or if you are pregnant and talk about your health history and your partner’s health history. You and your partner may need to make changes to your nutrition, medications, and lifestyles. Healthychildren.org provides additional tips (e.g., exercise, stress reduction, family planning, healthy relationships) on taking care of yourself before and during pregnancy.

Resources

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2021). Prenatal decisions to make. Healthy children. https://healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/prenatal/decisions-to-make/Pages/default.aspx

U.S. Department of Health and Human Service. (2020). Dietary guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf

References

Panth, N., Gavarkovs, A., Tamez, M., & Mattei, J. (2018). The influence of diet on fertility and the implications for public health nutrition in the United States. Front Public Health, 6, 211. https://www.doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2018.00211

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2020). Dietary guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf

 

Outdoor Safety

In spring, the weather is getting warm, and you and your family can go outside and be physically active. Whether you go biking, geocaching, hiking, walking, or swimming, you should consider some safety measures. Following safety measures like wearing helmets and sunscreen are essential to protect you and your family while you enjoy the outdoors. Here are tips to keep you and your family safe during outdoor activities:

  • Wear helmets correctly. Helmets can protect you and your child while you participate in activities like baseball, rollerblading, and bike riding. Helmets should be well maintained, age-suitable, and appropriately certified for use, and they should be worn regularly and correctly. Learn about helmets and how to make sure you are wearing them properly at HEADS UP.
  • Drink water and stay well hydrated. Water is healthy and has zero calories and no added sugar. Water is essential for the body – drinking it helps keep joints, bones, and teeth healthy; allows the blood to circulate; and may improve your mood. Drinking water keeps us hydrated while we engage in outside activities. When you sweat, you need to replace the water your body has lost. During activities like running, biking, and playing soccer, your child should drink water before, during, and after the activity. Hereis more information about the benefits of drinking water and staying hydrated.
  • Wear the proper footwear. Biking in flip-flops, hiking in high-heeled shoes, and playing soccer in slippers are not recommended. Wearing the right shoe for the activity can decrease your chances of injury. Proper fitting shoes cushion and support the foot, feel comfortable, and fit well. You can learn more about safe footwear from the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society here.
  • Use sunscreen. Sunburns and skin damage can happen even on cloudy days. Try to put on sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outside. Use an SPF of 15 or higher. Remember, reapply sunscreen after swimming, sweating, or toweling off. You can find additional sun safety tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here.
  • Limit cellphone distraction. Research says that most playground injuries happen when parents focus on cell phones instead of watching and playing with their children (Lemish, 2019). While playing with your child outside, try to use your cell phone on a limited basis and only as needed.

Getting outside and getting physical activity can be an enjoyable experience for you and your family. Just remember to be safe and have fun!

 

Resources

American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society (2021). How do I choose shoes for my child? FootCare MD. https://www.footcaremd.org/resources/how-to-help/how-to-select-childrens-shoes

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). Heads-up helmet safety. https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/helmets/index.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). Sun safety tips for families. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/sun-safety-tips-families.htm

Healthy Children (2020). Choose water for healthy hydration. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Choose-Water-for-Healthy-Hydration.aspx

Reference

Lemish, D., Elias, N., & Floegal, D., (2020) Look at me! Parental use of mobile phones at the playground. SAGE Journals, 8(2), 179-187. https://doi.org/10.1177/2050157919846916

 

 

Healthy ways to celebrate National Nutrition Month

We all know we should practice healthy eating habits for our general health and well-being. Parents want their children to be healthy, so they follow healthy eating habits with their children throughout the year – but March is National Nutrition Month, so parents can use March to dedicate extra time and attention to nutrition! Here are a few ideas to inspire you and your family to focus on good nutrition and healthy eating for National Nutrition Month!

Try choosing one of the following healthy eating challenges during the month of March!

  • Make your own taste test kitchen at home and try new foods! This is one way to introduce your children to foods that they may normally refuse to try or maybe never have had the opportunity to try. Think outside of your regular food items and explore different spices and tastes together. For example, you might try kiwi or star fruit, or even foods made with saffron and cardamom or other spices from different parts of the world.
  • Try to eat breakfast as a family. Eating a healthy, well-balanced breakfast can be a good way to begin your day together. MyPlate is a resource for information on what constitutes a well-balanced meal.
  • Try limiting sweetened beverages by drinking water with slices of lemons or limes and play an educational game! Rethink Your Drink demonstration is a fun way to teach your children about healthy beverages choices.
  • Teach your children how to read a nutrition facts label. This can be an activity for the whole family. Look through your pantry or cupboards for grocery items, read the labels, and talk about the ingredients. Make a game out of it, like the person who finds the label with the least number of ingredients gets to pick the dinner menu for Friday night.
  • Use the MyPlate website to find games and activities for children of all ages. Get creative!

Any small change that you make to improve the nutrition of you and your family this month is a big success!

 

Resources:

Action for healthy kids. (n.d.). Rethink your drink [Activity]. https://www.actionforhealthykids.org/activity/rethink-your-drink/

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2021) Myplate.gov. https://www.myplate.gov/life-stages/kids

 

References:

Action for healthy kids. (n.d.). Celebrate National Nutrition Month. Healthy Kids Blog. https://www.actionforhealthykids.org/activity/celebrate-national-nutrition-month/

 

 

Internet Safety for Parents

Internet safety should be considered seriously. Children have access to information, videos, pictures – the list is long – through the internet. Information is easily accessible, and personal information is shared frivolously and dangerously. As a parent, you need to understand how to educate and protect yourself and your children. There are internet safety laws in place to add a layer of protection for your children under the age of 13.

Internet Safety Laws

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) helps protect children younger than 13 and is designed to keep anyone from getting a child’s personal information without a parent’s knowledge or consent (Ben-Joseph, 2018).

Online Protection Tools

Many internet service providers have available software that assists in blocking sites and restricts personal information from being sent online.

Here are some free parental control software programs for you to examine.

  • Qustodio
  • OpenDNS FamilySheild
  • KidLogger
  • Kaspersky Safe Kids

Streaming services like Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV have parental controls built into them. Gaming services like PlayStation and Xbox have parental control options also (Ellis, 2020).

Getting Involved in Kids’ Online Activities

Teach your children safe and responsible online behavior by exploring the internet with them. You don’t have to literally look over their shoulder to monitor your children’s internet usage. Create your own social media accounts, and follow your children to keep tabs on what they are posting and who they are communicating with online.

Share these basic guidelines for online safety with your children.

  • Never post or trade personal pictures
  • Never reveal personal information, such as address, phone number, or school name or location
  • Use your screenname only, and don’t share passwords
  • Never agree to meet in person or online without parental consent or supervision
  • Never respond to threatening messages or posts
  • Always tell a parent or trusted adult about any communication or conversation that was scary or hurtful

Remember these basic guidelines for parental supervision.

  • Keep the computer in a common area where you can watch and monitor who uses it
  • Monitor time spent on smartphones or tablets
  • Bookmark kids’ favorite sites for easy access
  • Check credit card and phone bills for unfamiliar charges
  • Find and learn about the online protection offered by your child’s school, after-school care, friends’ homes, or any place where your child could use a computer without your supervision
  • Take your child seriously if he or she reports an uncomfortable online exchange

The Internet and Teens

Teenagers want – and need – some privacy. They may carry smartphones with them and have access to the internet at all times. Keep having the same conversations with your teens about passwords, staying safe online, and being careful about sharing personal information.

The internet can also provide a safe, virtual, environment for your teens to explore and have the freedom to do so. Not everything about the internet is ominous and scary. It can be helpful in learning and acquiring knowledge. It can be helpful in connecting with friends and family who are all over the world. It can be a place where your children can express their thoughts and ideas through informational websites, such as blogs. Starting internet safety conversations at a young age can increase your children’s online awareness and engagement in safe behaviors (Dredge, 2014).

 

References

Dredge, S. (2014, August 11). How do I keep my children safe online? What the security experts tell their kids. Children’s tech. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/aug/11/how-to-keep-kids-safe-online-children-advice

Joeseph, E. (2018, April). Internet safety. Kids Health. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/net-safety.html

Techradar. (2020). The best free parental control software and apps 2020. https://www.techradar.com/best/parental-control

Children under 24 months are sweet enough without adding sugar!

Dietary guidelines for Americans are issued every 5 years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services. The 2020-2025 guidelines include updated information about added sugar for children younger than 24 months and recommend these children do not receive any added sugars. In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has updated labels to include information on whether a food has added sugars and how much. 

Read the labels

The biggest sources of added sugars in the typical American diet are soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages, desserts, snacks, and candy. An example of information about added sugar in packaged foods is now available on the “Nutrition Facts” label (FDA, 2021).

What is added sugar?

Many foods or beverages have extra sugar and syrups added to them when they are processed or prepared. These added sugars have many different names, such as brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, and sucrose (FDA, 2021).

Here are a few ideas for how you can help your family reduce added sugar intake:

  • Read nutrition facts labels carefully (CDC, 2020). Many foods now list whether a food has added sugar and/or the amount of added sugar. You also can find information about added sugar by reading the ingredients. Avoid serving foods and drinks with added sugar to children under 2 years old. Learn more about nutrition facts labels here (Healthy Children, 2020).
  • Serve water and milk. Avoid serving soda, sports drinks, sweet tea, sweetened coffee, and fruit drinks. Milk is a good beverage choice, and it contains natural sugar (lactose) and provides calcium, protein, vitamin D, and other nutrients children need.
  • Limit fruit juice. Fruit juice has more sugar per serving than whole fruit. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 4 ounces of 100% fruit juice a day for children ages 1 through 3 years old. It is recommended that you do not give fruit juice to infants under 1 year old (Healthy Children, 2020).
  • Go fresh and limit processed, pre-packed food and drinks. Sugar is often added to processed and pre-packaged food items while they are being made or at the table. For example, there are hidden sources of added sugar in processed foods like ketchup, dried cranberries, salad dressings, and baked beans (CDC, 2020).
  • Satisfy your child’s sweet tooth with whole fruit (Healthy Children, 2020). Keep bananas, oranges, or grapes in your young child’s line of sight, and offer these and other fruits regularly.

By limiting sugar and avoiding added sugars in your child’s diet, you are helping to ensure proper nutrition and a healthy beginning for your child. An app is available through the USDA My Plate Campaign to help you follow the new guidelines available on the My Plate website (USDA, 2021).

 

References:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, December 17). Food and drinks for 6 to 24 months old. Nutrition. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/foods-and-drinks/foods-and-drinks-to-limit.html

Healthy Children. (2019, March 25). How to reduce added sugar in your child’s diet: APA tips. The American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/How-to-Reduce-Added-Sugar-in-Your-Childs-Diet.aspx

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2021, January 4). Changes to nutrition facts labels. https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/changes-nutrition-facts-label

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). What’s on your plate? MyPlate. https://www.myplate.gov

U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2020,

December). Dietary guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 (9th ed.). https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf

Social Media and Self-Esteem

The creation of social media sites and applications has changed the ways in which people interact, connect, and share with one another. Perhaps children and adolescents are the most affected by these technological advancements. Teens and pre-teens are among the highest consumers of social media. As the number of social media sites and apps increases, children and adolescents increase their usage (Anderson, 2018). So, questions arise regarding social media usage such as can too much time spent on social media impact the way children see themselves?  Can social media usage affect a youth’s self-esteem?

Social media can be positive and negative. It’s positive for children to use social media as this platform allows them to share interests or posts about their favorite sports, celebrities, artists, and talents with a diverse group of like-minded individuals. However, social media can be negative if children are using social media as a measure of their likability or popularity (Koutamanis, 2015). Parents need to remember that even though technologies are quickly changing, the developmental needs of children remain the same (Orth, 2018).

Research has demonstrated an individual’s ability to verbalize a sense of his or her overall worth as a person emerges around the age of 8, which suggests that this time period is very crucial in the development of self-esteem (Orth, 2018). During this stage, children begin to discover their abilities and characteristics and begin their evolution into being known by and identifying with what they have discovered about themselves. Children in mid to late childhood (i.e., ages 8 to 10 years old) are able to understand that success in domains of personal importance promotes high self-esteem, whereas failure in these domains undermines their sense of competence and takes a toll on self-esteem (Orth, 2018).

As children emerge into late childhood and early adolescence, parental approval continues to affect self-esteem, but it is not as influential as peer approval (Erol, 2011). During adolescence (i.e., ages 11-19 years old), youth are undergoing the process of identity development, and self-esteem is an important part of this development. During this developmental period, adolescents’ self-esteem is likely to be affected by the feedback they receive online through social media sites (Burrows, 2017). Teens describe social media platforms as a key tool for connecting and maintaining relationships, being creative, and learning more about other cultures and diverse peoples. Clearly, in these ways, social media usage can be a positive experience; however, youth are also exposed to the negative aspects of social media use, such as drama and bullying or feeling pressure to present themselves in a certain way (Anderson, 2018). Furthermore, adolescents tend to over interpret or misjudge the extent to which others are evaluating them, which can lead to a preoccupation with how they look in the eyes of others (Valkenburg, 2016). Positive feedback received online has been shown to enhance self-esteem, and negative feedback has been shown to have the reverse effect (Valkenburg, 2017).

Positive impacts on self-esteem can occur through interactions via social media if adolescents feel a sense of connectedness and support, but some experiences online may have a negative impact on self-esteem. The negative impact is not always caused by cyberbullying or a negative comment. When a child does not receive the expected or desired feedback or feels a sense of pressure to “perform” or post content, the right content, for “friends,” this pressure or stress can cause anxiety and will probably negatively affect a child’s self-esteem.

Today, parents must find a balance between mitigating the negative risks to their adolescent’s self-esteem that can happen when engaging in social media and allowing their youth to engage on social platforms. Realizing and enforcing this balance can lead to arguments or a parent’s guilt about his or her child being the outcast or “left behind” socially because he or she is not allowed to be on social media constantly.

Awareness of how much time your child spends on social media and the level of importance he or she places on social media interactions can be a telling factor into how these interactions are affecting your child’s self-esteem (Brewer, 2015). Social media’s negative effects on children may promote unhealthy behaviors like becoming isolated or irritable or experiencing a drop in grades or loss of interest in activities (Verduyn, 2017). To address these adverse effects and help their child develop social skills, parents could foster a sense of purpose through encouraging their child to engage in volunteering, sports, creative arts, clubs, or other in-person activities.

Parents are their children’s first teachers and understanding how to promote your child’s positive online interactions and build your child’s self-esteem can be done by modeling those behaviors. For example, parents may want to carefully consider if they want to post pictures of their child on social media and may want to think about the content of the photos. A “cute” picture of your child taking a bath may be embarrassing to your child. Model ethical behavior, ask permission from your children before posting online pictures or activities that involve them, and teach your children to respect the privacy of others.

 

References

Anderson, M., & Jiang, J. (2018). Teens, social media & technology 2018. Pew Research. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2018/05/31/teens-social-media-technology-2018/

Brewer, G., & Kerslake, J. (2015). Cyberbullying, self-esteem, empathy and loneliness. Computers in Human Behavior,48, 255–260. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2015.01.073

Burrows, A.L., & Rainone, N. (2017). How many likes did I get? Purpose moderate’s links between positive social media feedback and self-esteem. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology,69, 232–236. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2016.09.005

Erol, R. Y., & Orth, U. (2011). Self-esteem development from age 14 to 30 years: A longitudinal study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(3),607–619. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0024299

Koutamanis, M., Voosen, H. G., & Valkenburg, P. (2015). Adolescents’ comments in social media: Why do adolescents receive negative feedback and who is most at risk? Computers in Human Behavior, 53, 486–494. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2015.07.016

Orth, U., Erol Y., & Luciano, C. (2018). Development of self-esteem from age 4 to 94 years: A meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Psychological Bulletin, 144, 1045-1080. https://doi.org/10.1037/bul0000161

Valkenburg, M., Koutamanis, M., & Vossen, H.G. (2017). The concurrent and longitudinal relationship between adolescents’ use of social network sites and their social self-esteem. Computers in Human Behavior,76, 35–41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2017.07.008

Valkenburg, M., Peter, J., & Walther, J. B. (2016). Media effects: Theory and research. Annual Review of Psychology,67, 315–338. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-pscyh-122414-033608

Verduyn, P., Ybarry, O., Résibois, M., Jonides, J., & Kross, E. (2017). Do social network sites enhance or undermine subjective well-being? A critical review. Social Issues and Policy Review,11(1), 274–302. https://doi.org/10.1111/sipr.12033

 

Influenza and Children: Your child may benefit more than ever from an Influenza (flu) shot this year!

This year’s flu season will coincide with the ongoing spread of the COVID-19 virus. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are cautioning the occurrence of a “Twin-demic.” That is when two diseases spread at the same time. Yes, you can contract Influenza and COVID-19 at the same time, which could overwhelm our healthcare systems.

In children, the flu illness is more dangerous than the common cold. There are more than 200 different viruses that cause the common cold, which is an upper respiratory virus that usually only causes symptoms in the nose and throat areas. Rarely does the common cold cause fever or serious complications for children. Influenza or the flu is a lower respiratory infection that attacks the lungs and our oxygen exchange system. The flu commonly causes fevers and reduced oxygen levels, which can lead to very serious and life-threatening illnesses for children, like pneumonia (CDC,2020).

There can be some confusion surrounding the flu shot and how it actually works in our bodies. The flu shot is a vaccination made up of three to four different kinds of influenza virus strains. This year, the flu shot contains the H1N1, Type A, and Type B strains (CDC, 2020). The flu shot has only pieces of the viruses and does not cause the flu. It takes about 2 weeks for the immune system to create antibodies from the flu shot.  Every year, scientists decide what are the best viral strains of the flu to use in the annual flu vaccination, and these strains, on average, have a 45% rate of accuracy (CDC, 2020). Any flu antibodies your body creates will lessen the symptoms and severity of the flu, and you may be better off than if you had not been vaccinated at all (Arriola, 2017).

The flu shot offers several benefits to your child, such as the following:

  • Reduce the spread of flu to others.
  • Reduce flu illnesses and make them shorter and milder if you do get them.
  • Reduce doctor’s visits.
  • Reduce the number of missed school days.
  • Reduce the risk of flu-related hospitalization and death.
  • Provide preventive care for children with chronic health conditions.

The flu shot is very important for children and teenagers who are at high risk of complications from the flu, including those who have the following characteristics:

  • Are between 6 months and 5 years of age.
  • Have chronic heart or lung disorders.
  • Have chronic conditions that weaken the immune system.
  • Have diabetes.
  • Have chronic kidney disease.
  • Have chronic anemia or a hemoglobin disorder.
  • Have a chronic neurological disorder.
  • Are severely obese (body mass index ≥40).
  • Need to take acetylsalicylic acid (ASA or Aspirin) on a daily basis.
  • Live with another child or adult who is at risk of complications from the flu.

In addition to children, pregnant women and individuals and caregivers who care for children less than 5 years of age should also receive the flu shot (Thompson, 2016). Given during pregnancy, the flu shot helps to protect the baby from the flu for several months after birth, which is a time when he or she is not old enough to be vaccinated (Benzowitz, 2010).

 

Additional Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, August 31). What are the benefits of flu vaccination? https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccine-benefits.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, September 11). A strong defense against flu: get vaccinated! https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/freeresources/general/strong-defense-against-flu.pdf

 

References

Arriola, C., Garg, S., Anderson, E. J., Ryan, P. A., George, A., Zansky, S. M., Bennett, N., Reingold, A., Bargsten, M., Miller, L., Yousey-Hindes, K., Tatham, L., Bohm, S. R., Lynfield, R., Thomas, A., Lindegren, M. L., Schaffner, W., Fry, A. M., & Chaves, S. S. (2017). Influenza vaccination modifies disease severity among community-dwelling adults hospitalized with Influenza. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 65(8), 1289–1297. https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/cix468

Benowitz, I., Esposito, B., Gracey, D., Shapiro, D., & Vázquez, M. (2010). Influenza vaccine given to pregnant women reduces hospitalization due to influenza in their infants. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 51(12),1355-1361. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21058908/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, August 31). What are the benefits of flu vaccination? https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccine-benefits.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, September 11). A strong defense against flu: get vaccinated! https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/freeresources/general/strong-defense-against-flu.pdf

Thompson, M., Kwong, J., Regan, A., Katz, M., Drews, S., Azziz-Baumgartner, B., Klein, K., Chung, H., Effler, P., Feldman, B., Simmonds, K., Wyant, B., Dawood, F., Jackson, M., Fell, D., Levy, A., Barda, N., Svenson, L., Fink, R., Ball, S., Naleway, A. (2016). Influenza vaccine effectiveness in preventing influenza-associated hospitalizations during pregnancy: A multi-country retrospective test negative design study. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 68(9),1444–1453. https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciy737