Don’t leave a phone in your child’s bedroom

Mike the Psych's Blog

talking_with_your_followers_1600_wht_9116Just the presence of a smartphone or device is enough to disturb children’s sleep patterns as they anticipate the possibility of getting a message and can’t relax.

Using devices  at any point in the 90 minutes before bedtime more than doubles the risk of a poor night’s sleep. Even leaving it charging in the corner can have a detrimental effect, possibly because children are subconsciously engaged with them if they know they are within earshot.

Researchers ta Kings College London examined the digital behaviour of 125,000 children across four continents. It’s known from previous studies that around three-quarters of children and adolescents have at least one device in their bedroom at night.

Screen-based media may adversely affect sleep in different ways: psychologically stimulating the brain, delaying or interrupting sleep time, and affecting sleep cycles, physiology and alertness. They effect both the quality and the duration of sleep.

Sleep is undervalued but…

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Facebook is for losers

A while since I posted this but the evidence all suggests that using social media can make you feel inadequate by comparing yourself with artificially inflated/enhanced profiles & pictures or number of people who like you.

Mike the Psych's Blog

figure_bed_computer_1600_wht_14033Most people who use Facebook do so to add positive updates but generally people who use Facebook tend to be more frustrated, angry and lonely.

This might be because positive updates from their “friends” make them feel inadequate.

Now researchers at Ohio University have discovered that people in a bad mood turn to social network sites and look up people less attractive or less successful than themselves rather than those more attractive and more successful.

Given a choice of profiles to look at on a new social networking link called SocialLink participants who had been put in a negative state of mind – by being given poor feedback on a test – spent more time looking at the profiles of people who were less attractive and less successful.

The message is if you’re feeling bad look for someone who’s feeling even worse and regain your emotional superiority.

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It’s…

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Does “the terrible twos” actually exist?

s1030647_2I’ve never agreed with the idea of the “terrible twos” and now a former teacher, coach, and therapist has come out and said what many of us have long thought.

Tantrums are caused by lax parental discipline and unrealistic expectation rather than being an inevitable part of child development.

9781785831089newGillian Bridge, in her new book The Significance Delusion says this behaviour is peculiar to the UK and the USA where there is an acceptance that toddlers’  frustrations are worked out in “semi-feral behaviour labelled the terrible twos” which doesn’t exist in many other parts of the world.

She says visitors to the UK are often baffled by misbehaving toddlers and either had higher standards of behaviour for their own children or were more indulgent of childhood without having expectations about a child’s self-control. Some thought Brits expected too much of their youngsters.

In more traditional cultures in Asia and Europe children are expected to learn quickly about hierarchies and the fact that adults had more rights than children because they had more knowledge, wisdom and experience. (Perhaps a lesson to be remembered as children get older and parents want to be their best friends on social media).

In Britain however toddlers are routinely taken to places where they are unlikely to behave well such as a pub or the cinema. “We take our children to an awful lot of places and get them to fit in with adult arenas which we wouldn’t have thought appropriate years ago” Bridge told the Times.

To make maters worse parents often ignore the ensuing meltdown or try to discipline them when their behaviour shouldn’t be unexpected in such environments.

She says this is apparent at the nursery gates where “harassed Mums and Dads … vainly attempt to restrain their struggling, squawking tinies or hopelessly give up on the attempt“. She says people view this almost as a rite of passage.

She added that parents are inconsistent and often didn’t behave to the standard they expected of their children.

Another so-called expert and super-many Jo Frost says these are the 5 areas where parents make mistakes.

Sleep – ensuring both parents and children get enough – and on a regular routine.

Food – establishing good eating habits and appropriate nutrition

Play – teaching children to socialise by playing and sharing

Screen time – no more than 30 minutes a day for toddlers

Manners – set a good example by behaving as you would like your children to behave.

I would include in that not smoking, getting drunk, or swearing in front of them – or is that too blindingly obvious?

Boys behaving disgracefully at school & where are the teachers?

figure_dancing_fad_500_clr_11824I was sickened to read that an MPs report says sexual harassment is rife in schools. Girls as young as 11 are groped, taunted and called “slags” and “sluts” and unwanted touching is accepted as a daily part of life in the classroom.

Well it shouldn’t be!

Apparently many boys think nothing of pulling up skirts, slapping bottoms and feeling girls’ breasts. Nearly 3/4 of girls had been called offensive names, over half had been sexually harassed and a third of girls aged 16-18 had been sexually touched at school. It’s assault people. In the workplace people would be sacked and even charged with a criminal offence.

What are the boys thinking about? On-line pornography will no doubt get some blame but what about the fact that most schools let pupils use their smart phones at school where they can sext away to their hearts content rather than confiscate them on arrival.

What do their mothers think about this? Do they think it OK? And what about those with sisters. Are they happy for this to happen to them? (If so we have bred a sick society).

And what are teachers doing about it? Well overlooking it obviously. It’s not the kids who need compulsory SRE (sex and relationship education) but the teachers who need to be reminded that they have a responsibility for the children’s safety.

Next time it happens line up the offenders and shame them and if it’s serious report it to the police; next time report it to the police anyway. Three strikes and you’re out springs to mind. We are too liberal about these behaviours.When teachers themselves have been found guilty of inappropriate behaviour with children and of posted inappropriate material on social media sites what kind of example are they setting?

No wonder girls are suffering more from depression than boys (but I also blame them for spending too much time on social media)

Girls more depressed & you can blame social media

stick_figure_liking_it_500_wht_9170On the face of it today’s young people have never had it so good. Teenage pregnancies are down, fewer of them smoke and they drink less than previous generations.

So what have they got to be depressed about?

Well they spend an awful lot of time on social media, posting selfies, seeking approval from others. “Like me, like me” they seem to beg.

It’s a recipe for disaster and means they are continually comparing themselves with others. And it’s all artificial.

They spend hours making themselves up for selfies. I’ve taken loads of photographs at parties and invariably the women want to check the photos to make sure they’re OK.

Whether its posting selfies or posting posed photos on Facebook using cats, cuddly toys and even their babies as accessories, it’s all about wanting approval. Over half of teenagers are said to spend more than three hours a day on social media. (I’ve posted before about my views on Facebook)

And this is the most risk-averse generation we’ve seen for ages and maybe that’s part of the problem. No-one dares misbehave any more in case it gets on social media (as it will) and is then held against them later in life e.g. at job interviews.

It’s been said that young people work harder at schools. I don’t believe that for one minute. Exams are easier, course work is often group work and there has been such grade inflation over the years (at all levels in the education system) that you can’t rely on the grading system.

Nonetheless there has been a 10% increase in girls being treated for depression and a 50% increase in self-harming. For boys there has been a decrease over the same 10 year period.

The psychological distress reported includes sleep loss, inability to concentrate, feeling unhappy and worthless. Girls report suffering these twice as much as boys (30% of girls).

Whether or not social media is totally to blame it clearly plays a part. The head of the charity Sane believes the internet has played a huge part. No longer can students get relief from school or peer pressure at home. It’s now always-on.

But lets not forget pushy parents. Kids from better off families report higher levels of stress and anxiety. Lower status children seem to suffer less – perhaps because they have lower expectations, or maybe because they are more resilient.

Schools which have banned smartphones report better results. Parents need to think about reducing screen time and switching off the wi-fi.

As I’ve posted before about smartphone users – Get a Life!

The government has promised to put £1.4 billion into providing mental health support for young people. Maybe we should start helping them closer to home.

 

Virtual reality can be as affective as medication in controlling pain

two_way_puzzle_people_1600_wht_4872Scientists have discovered that an “out of body” illusion can provide more temporary pain relief than powerful painkillers with pain diminishing by more than a third.

10% of adults in Britain suffer from some form of chronic pain, a medical condition which is poorly understood.

However research over the last decade suggest that the symptoms may be a s much psychological as physical. This has led to researchers exploring the use of virtual reality and immersive computer games.

Scientists at Anglia Ruskin University worked with 18 patients who all suffered from chronic pain for a variety of reasons, e.g. sciatica, migraine, back-ache.

They sat for 2 minutes wearing a head mounted display that showed a view of their back. White noise was played through earphones and they had hoods over their heads to block out distractions.

Then they were stroked with a stick either on their front or back.

The experimenters speculated that leaving your body behind, or diminishing the patient’s sense of ownership of their body, might help to reduce the intensity of pain as other experimenters have cured phantom limb pain using similar illusions.

Regardless of where they were stroked and regardless of their medical condition, the participants reported that the perceived pain was cut by an average of 37% while several said the pain had almost completely gone.

Opioid painkillers can relieve chronic pain by about 33% and other virtual reality games have cut it by 25%.

Theses obviously a promising field and although these illusions have not yet produced lasting relief it is fascinating to think that messing with your head in this way could help rewire the way your body interprets signals from the body which lead to the pain.

Marriage isn’t all it’s made out to be

champagne_banner_our_wedding_500_wht_604For years scientists have said that married people are happier, healthier and wealthier than single people.

Well it’s not true!

Single people exercise more, have better health and more friends compared to married people.

Psychologist Bella DePaulo says earlier studies are flawed because they didn’t take into account the consequences of divorce. In most studies people for whom marriage was awful were excluded as divorcees were counted as singletons.

In reality married people are unlikely to see life as a continuous opportunity to learn new things and develop friendships.

They are more likely to be putting up with an unfulfilling job and a dwindling circle of friends a they await their end.

DePaulo says that for many people being single is a positive, rational choice and they are living the dream.

Lifelong singletons also have more fulfilling jobs and are more interested in self-improvement.

Married people who end up getting divorced end up worse off than people who stay single thus skewing the results even more in favour of married people.

Other research suggests that married men are healthier because their wife nags them!

I’m surprised she doesn’t mention the impact of children or grandchildren on relationships.  Also in these days of gender fluidity and same sex marriages how do these trends influence the data?

You know what they say about lies and statistics!