SavvyBlog

Screen Addiction Is Taking a Toll on Children
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Kids and screen time, a dead-easy summer activity for families, moms helping other moms, what to say when your kid embarrasses you and some exciting news for two of our own. That’s what we’re talking about this week.

1. Screen Addiction is Taking a Toll on Children
We couldn’t stop talking about this fascinating article on nytimes.com called ‘Screen Addiction Is Taking a Toll on Children’. The article discusses the effects of internet addiction, from far-out clinical cases to something much closer to home for most of us: kids who just get too much screen time, which, as we’ve been told time and time again, is nearly all kids. Author Jane E. Brody says that there is ‘no question’ our kids have exceeded the per-day screen time allotment experts consider healthy for normal development. Brody paints for us a familiar picture, one of iPad use at restaurant tables and video games before school—which makes the article an absorbing read that might hit too close to home. We especially loved this takeaway from Catherine Steiner-Adair, a clinical psychologist and author of the best-selling book ‘The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age’: ‘If kids are allowed to play ‘Candy Crush’ on the way to school, the car ride will be quiet, but that’s not what kids need. They need time to daydream, deal with anxieties, process their thoughts and share them with parents, who can provide reassurance.’ Worth checking out as well is the comment section, where the New York Times has selected and starred their favourite thought-provoking gems. We like this one from a wise parent who suggests sitting with your child to learn more about their online activity, which might be ‘more varied and connection-building [sic] than you currently understand.’ Nice counterbalance, and all good food for thought.

a nature scavenger hunt with printable

2. Spend a Summer Day Doing a Nature Scavenger Hunt
Speaking of screen time, here’s a creative way to get the kiddos outside and away from said screens. The brilliant yet dead-easy-to-pull-off idea comes from one of our Savvy Storytellers, Gina of EastCoastMommy.com. Gina had the idea to make up and print off a simple nature-themed scavenger hunt for her boys and sent them off on their mission to find everything on the list. Sounds like a lovely way to spend a lazy day wandering your backyard, neighbourhood, or a local park. You could easily make up your own list, or just print Gina’s off here. Now go forth, young explorer!

3. A Welcome Reprieve on the Mom War Front
If it’s already a long week and you feel like you could use some good news, we’ve got some: the Mom Wars just took a serious hit in the best possible way. Cricketscircle.com recently compiled a heart-warming roundup of real life stories from moms sharing the wonderful things that other moms—strangers!—have done for them in a time of need. It’s a very touching read; we dare you not to shed a tear. Or twenty.

what to say when your kid embarrasses you

4. To the Embarrassed Parent of the Child Pointing at My Daughter
We’ve all been there: your young kiddo notices something or someone who appears different, and is either innocently staring or has perhaps asked an innocent question loudly enough to be overheard. In her open letter, ‘To the Embarrassed Parent of the Child Pointing at My Daughter’, mom Courtney Westlake answers the question we all want to know: what exactly do you say when that happens? Courtney tells us word for word what she wishes other parents would do and say when confronted with this situation—and we think her response is brilliant. It’s helpful, but it’s also inspiring and wonderful.

Gatherings: Bringing People Together with Food, by Julie Van Rosendaal and Jan Scott

5. We’re Super Proud of the ‘Gatherings’ Co-Writers
The Taste Canada Food Writing Awards (aka the highest honour for food writing in Canada) shortlist is out, and there’s a big SavvyMom Group connection! The cookbook Gatherings: Bringing People Together with Food, by Julie Van Rosendaal and Jan Scott is nominated in the general cookbooks category. Julie and Jan are both long-time contributors to our SavvyStories community, (Julie is the author of dinnerwithjulie.com; Jan of familybites.ca) and Jan is also our own SavvyMom food editor and a contributor to our sister site, RecipeGeek.com. We love Gatherings, and we’re so thrilled to see their hard work recognized. Congratulations ladies, and good luck—we’re rooting for you!

Have a good week!

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Free sunscreen in Boston parks
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Boston’s bright idea, risky play for kids, big breakfast changes, ticks and the ultimate packing list. That’s what we’re talking about this week.

1.  Boston’s Bright Idea Has Us Totally Jealous
Kudos to Boston. Beantown has come up with one bright idea that has us feeling green with civic envy: free sunscreen dispensers in city parks. The Boston city councillor who proposed the sunscreen-for-all initiative says that skin cancer and melanoma are not only some of the most common cancers—they’re also sadly the most preventable. The relatively inexpensive dispensers (at least as far as city projects go—they’re about $200 per unit) were donated by two cancer-fighting charitable organizations, so the initiative isn’t even costing the city any taxpayer money. The sunscreen dispensers look a little like our own ubiquitous hand sanitizer dispensers in both size and shape—and it stands to reason that public access to free sunscreen might decrease the occurrence of preventable healthcare crises and lessen the load on the healthcare system—just like free access to sanitizer and flu shots. Not to mention that it will help out those moms who sometimes forget to slap on the sunscreen before taking their kids to the park (been there). It’s civilized, smart, and we’re hoping it catches on here. 

they'll be fine.

2. A Little Bit of Risk Could Be Good for Your Kids
Free-range parenting advocates, rejoice. A new study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health has found that overprotective parenting, especially when it comes to play, contributes to sedentary children, and that letting kids run a bit wild can have beneficial effects on their physical, emotional and social health. Big news, considering ParticipAction’s recent annual Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, which graded kids’ activity levels at a dismal D- for the third year in a row. Injury-prevention expert and mother of two, Mariana Brussoni, expressed concern about the rise of a growing movement she calls ‘anxiety-based caregiving’—think the parent on the playground constantly telling their kid to be careful—and advocates stepping back and considering the child’s developmental best interests before making knee-jerk decisions on safety. It’s an interesting read that might trigger a little nostalgia for the unsupervised play of yesteryear.

no more artificial colours

3. General Mills Makes a Big Change
‘Breakfast behemoth’ General Mills, maker of rainbow-bright cereals like Trix, Reese’s Puffs and Lucky Charms, has announced plans to remove artificial colours and flavours from its cereals by 2017, opting to use spices and juice concentrates to colour the cereal without altering its flavour. While some food experts have dismissed the change as a marketing ploy, sugary cereal still being junk food at the end of the day—we’re happy to see a major company that actively markets to kids take a step in the right direction—no matter how small. 

how to protect against ticks

4.  Ticking, Ticking, Ticking…into the Future…
You’ve probably heard: ticks are the new mosquitos. Exciting, right? Who would have thought we’d become nostalgic for a time when a mosquito transmitting West Nile was all we had to worry about? Now ticks, and Lyme disease, are real concerns. There’s no need to panic or hole yourself up indoors all summer though—a good bug repellent and some know-how is all you need. Ticks take hours to actually burrow into the skin, so when you and the kiddos come in from a walk in the park, brush down everyone’s arms and legs and do a check-over. For tips on identifying ticks, and what to do if you find one, we like this fact sheet from the Tick Encounter Resource Center.

what to pack for overnight camp

5. What They Really Need for Overnight Camp
Sending any all-grown-up babes to overnight camp this summer? Whether you’re terrified and they’re thrilled, or you’re thrilled and they’re terrified, we know a few things to be certain: in all likelihood they’ll have a blast, the time will fly by, and the packing list the camp gives you won’t have everything they’ll really need on it. We’ve been there, packed that, and forgotten that, so learn from our experiences. Here’s what we send our own baby Savvies off to camp with

Have a good week!

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