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December 2017 Archive

Potential Dangers of Technology Overuse by Toddlers

Friday, December 15, 2017

In today's environment, is it not uncommon for parents to use electronic devices to entertain or occupy their toddlers and young children. How many times have you gone into a restaurant or waiting room and witnessed children intently watching videos or playing games on a phone or tablet? Are we helping or harming our children? The answer may be both. While there certainly are educational programs and applications that may prove beneficial and enhance learning, overuse can cause some problems.

Consider the following...

1. Overuse of electronic devices can cause a lack of movement or exercise for children. If they spend hours in front of a screen after school or on the weekends instead of playing outside with other kids, they are at a higher risk of becoming overweight.

2. Spending time outdoors soaking up sunlight and Vitamin D affects our circadian rhythm. Overexposure to blue light from electronic devices can also have a physical impact on our bodies. We should all spend some time outdoors in the sun. If we don't, it can affect our sleeping patterns and our mood.

3. Overstimulation is another risk of spending too much time in front of a screen. Overuse can decrease a child's ability to focus on other tasks. Children can also develop nervous habits when they are allowed a significant amount of screen time, and then it is taken away for any reason.

4. We risk thwarting our children's social and communication skills when they spend too much time alone playing video games or watching videos. They may not develop the ability to learn and act on social cues, and may become isolated when they are around other children. Psychological issues such as anxiety and depression can also develop over time.

5. Remember the days when we as children had to make up our own games and use our imaginations to fill our time. WIth so many options for children today, they don't have to be as imaginative or creative in their playtime. This can impair brain development and ultimately slow their ability to learn over time. Not to mention the issues of privacy and safety when a child spends time online.

As parents, we should be role models for our children. They often imitate what they see us doing. If we always have a device in our faces, they will want to do the same. We have to take time out to interact, play, and create human connections with our children. Set daily time limits for device use and have a specific purpose for its use. If using an educational program, limit the time to 15 or 20 minutes. Come up with alternative activities for your children. Make up games with them. Have conversations about things going on in the world. This can also apply to older children and teenagers. The more we teach our children to interact with the world around them, they better off they will be as adults.

Just Like a Butterfly by Tori Leckie

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Originally posted on December 6, 2011 by Tori Leckie

I was working on a magazine feature not long ago about the science of happiness. Fascinating. My intrigue first began post hearing an interview on Dubai Eye with a professor of happiness based here in the UAE. He started the discussion by saying that in the history of Harvard, the course with the most popular sign-ups EVER was one on the science of happiness.

I’m already a sucker for books on positive psychology and personal development so digging a little deeper into this whole subject has kept me entertained for hours …

So today … Tori’s top takeaways from her reading and research so far … it’s not brain surgery, indeed many are obvious. But sometimes, we forget. We get so wrapped up in looking forward that we forget to focus on the now.

* Seeking ‘happiness’ alone is misguided; happiness is a byproduct of loads of different things in life: a meaningful purpose, passions, relationships with friends, family, lovers and others etc

* Natural selection has wired us in such a way that it’s not the outcome but the process that makes us happy. Happiness comes from feeling we are making progress rather than achieving specific outcomes. This is why we should always break our big goals down into little goals

* Your prefrontal cortex is prone to a cognitive illusion called the impact bias … what this means is that our brain vastly over estimates how happy certain outcomes will make us feel e.g. ‘If only I had X, I’d be happy’

* To be happy with work, three key needs need fulfilled: autonomy--you have control over your time and what you do, competence--being excellent at a useful and valued skill and relatedness--feeling connected to others

* We overestimate the effect that acquiring material goods will have on our long-term happiness. That 60-inch TV, VB handbag or jewel-encrusted pair of Manolos will not make much of a long term dent (other than to your bank balance) after the initial high. Once over a minimal threshold of wealth, increases do not bring much extra happiness

* Work out. It gets you into a meditative-like state and pumps natural painkillers through your brain. We’ve all heard of the ‘runners high’ … and many of us experience it regularly first hand. Learning to push yourself when exercising makes you more resilient when facing the inevitable hardships in life. Exercise also powerfully boosts your mood and alleviates depression among those unfortunate enough to suffer from it

* To those of you who worry constantly about what people think of you: they’re thinking about you less than you imagine. Other people are thinking about themselves, not you

* Take more chances. ‘Worst case scenarios’ don’t usually transpire and are not as painful as you imagine they will be. Terrified to ask someone out on a date? Do it. If they say no, you will NOT be crushed forever with humiliation; it will be nowhere near as bad as you think it will be. (And, all else being equal, you have about a 50% chance of a stranger agreeing to a date with you--not bad odds)

* Fulfilling, intimate, close relationships are important, but never reply on others for your own happiness / feelings of content … that should come from within

* Don’t just ‘count your blessings’; vividly visualise how your life would be if those blessings were suddenly taken away from you. This elicits sincere gratitude

* ‘Chase your dreams’ is good advice. Find a way to make money doing what you would do if you couldn’t make money out of it !" the thing that gets you into a flow state. But this must be tempered with a dose of reality: there is no magical occupation in life that will fill you with endless delirious happiness. Thinking otherwise will lead you to be relentlessly unhappy and dissatisfied

* Having too many options leads to perennial dissatisfaction. The freedoms you have and the multiple alternative life possibilities available to you, are, paradoxically, a source of enormous dissatisfaction.

* Simplify your life. You are probably doing too many unnecessary things that clog up your schedule, stress you out, dilute your productivity and detract from the day to day enjoyment of life

* If circumstances in your life are causing you unhappiness, sit down with a pen and paper and work out what the problems are and what steps you can take to eliminate the problems. Do not ruminate--" eliminate!

* Not everyone will love and adore you. Some people will detest you and they will be multiplied if you become successful. Don’t waste your time trying to make everyone like you

* We are wired in such a way that losing stings more than winning brings pleasure … but some suffering is inevitable; it the flipside of having a mind capable of intense joy and love.

* Be friends with happy people. Get rid of toxic friendships. Who you surround yourself with is crucial to your well-being, your life satisfaction and your success in personal endeavours.

Quite a lot here I know … perhaps a post worth printing out and sticking to the fridge. Or perhaps just remember the wonderful words of Henry David Throeau:

“Happiness is like a butterfly. The more you chase it, the more it eludes you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it comes and sits softly on your shoulder.”

Link to original blog...Just Like A Butterfly

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