by Sherry Posnick-Goodwin
A new study has linked computer usage and social media — tweeting, texting, smartphones and laptops — with violence, cyberbullying, school woes, obesity, lack of sleep and other problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting children’s use of the Internet for entertainment, including Facebook, TV and movies, to two hours per day. Online homework is an exception.
Also related to cyberbullying: Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 256, allowing schools to take disciplinary action for cyberbullying whether it occurs on or off the campus. The law applies to emails, texts and social media, and goes into effect this January.
Three warning signs a child is being cyberbullied:
A child becomes sad, depressed, angry, withdrawn or anxious after looking at a computer or cellphone.
A student withdraws from friends, family and activities they previously enjoyed.
A child refuses to go to school, experiences a drop in grades, and avoids group activities.
Check out NEA’s Health Information Network (neahin.org) for resources to identify and prevent cyberbullying.
Children who are spanked in early childhood are more likely to be aggressive as older children, but they are also more likely to do worse on vocabulary tests than their peers who have not been spanked, according to researchers at Columbia University who analyzed date from more than 1,500 families. While several studies have found a connection between spanking and aggressive behaviors, the finding that spanking can be linked to cognitive ability is somewhat new.
While most public school districts have weathered the rise of charter schools without a negative fiscal impact, certain risk factors are making it harder for districts in economically challenged areas to remain financially viable as charters continue to grow, says a recent report from Moody’s Investors Service. When declining enrollment happens, school districts cut back services, making charters look more appealing, which causes a further population drop. And making cuts can be more difficult because charter schools pull students from a variety of grade levels across a district, so it is challenging for district officials to make strategic decisions to cut back on expenses, such as consolidating classrooms or schools.
Thousands of California students in foster care are suffering from an "invisible achievement gap," with worse academic performance, a higher dropout rate, and placement in more failing schools than their statewide peers, according to a new study by the Stuart Foundation. The experiences they've had — abuse, neglect, moving from home to home — are having an impact on their ability to academically achieve. The youths switched schools more often than other students (each transfer can set a student back as many as six months, research shows) and suffered far greater levels of emotional trauma than their peers. Such factors, researchers say, are key reasons why they performed worse in English, math and the high school exit exam than even low-income students overall.
More schools are giving parents almost instant access to their students' grades and assignments online, allowing them to put their students' classwork under daily scrutiny. But teachers and child psychology experts say parents should try to keep a balance between getting involved and becoming "helicopter parents" who control their kids' academic lives so closely that they struggle to develop independence. "Teacher websites and online grade reports can be wonderful tools to help parents be engaged with their child's school," says Jennifer Shroff Pendley, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del. "However, these same tools can lead to parental overinvolvement or helicoptering."
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