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Why is reading so important?

Reading is a form of communication and the literacy rate is one of the world’s development indicators. But when it comes to children’s health and development, why is it so important? 

Reading is a uniquely human trait, and there is an area of the brain designated for the development of this skill. 

It stimulates the growth of the brain’s white matter — a set of nerve fibers that helps the brain to learn and function in general. Reading not only increases white matter, but also allows information to be processed more effectively.

There are broadly three kinds of intelligence: the crystallized, the fluid and the emotional. 

  • Crystallized intelligence is the blend of wisdom that shapes our brain. It’s the potentially useful pieces of information and knowledge that collaboratively form the foundation of our ability to navigate and prosper in the world. 
  • Fluid intelligence is the ability to solve problems, comprehend concepts and identify patterns. 
  • Emotional intelligence is the ability to read and respond to feelings, either yours or other people’s. 

Reading develops and sharpens these three types of intelligence. 

There are even more benefits to reading if we add other languages into the mix. Apart from developing communication skills, reading in another language increases the regions of the brain involved in spatial navigation and the process of learning. 

How the cleaning and sanitizing of cell phones prevent the contamination of viruses and diseases like the coronavirus

Did you know that a cell phone screen can contain 30 times as many microorganisms as a clean toilet? That is why it is important to always disinfect your cell phone. In times of coronavirus, the need for cleaning the cell phone and tablet screen only grows. 

We take our phones everywhere. We leave them in our pockets, on counters, on tables. We use them on the bus, on the subway, and often even in the bathroom. The amount of germs accumulated on the cell phone is huge and it is important to sanitize it, even more so if children also use it. 

HOW TO CLEAN AND SANITIZE?

Damp a cotton ball (without soaking it) with isopropyl alcohol and wipe the entire phone with it.  Isopropyl alcohol doesn’t damage the phone and kills the microorganisms, cleaning the phone. 

How frequently the phone should be sanitized depends on the way each person uses it. If the phone is used in places with greater amount of germs and then during meals, it is recommended to clean it at least twice a day. If the person doesn’t usually use the phone in places with higher incidence of germs and bacteria and doesn’t take the phone to the dining table, then it is necessary to sanitize the phone only once a day. 

Don’t forget to clean and sanitize the cell phone case! It also collects a lot of dirt, mainly the rubber ones. That applies to cell phones and tablets. 

Why did Truth and Tales win the gold seal of the Mom’s Choice Awards?

We are proud to announce that Truth and Tales has won the gold seal of the Mom’s Choice Awards! 

The Mom’s Choice Awards is a platform that evaluates products and services developed for children, families and educators. The Mom’s Choice Awards is recognized for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. The Mom’s Choice Awards is a program from the United States, but it has already evaluated thousands of items from more than 55 countries. 

The items are reviewed by the Mom’s Choice Awards in terms of production quality, design, educational value, entertainment value, originality, appeal and cost. The evaluators of the Mom’s Choice Awards are interested in items that promote good will, that are inspirational and that help families grow emotionally, physically and spiritually. 

Truth and Tales has earned the gold seal of the Mom’s Choice Awards by meeting all of the requirements above with excellence, but we can mention some of the highlights. 

What are the Truth and Tales differentials? 

The type of stories

We can start with the quality of the books: the curation of Truth and Tales is done by neuroscientists, doctors and education professionals that attend conferences and events, being in constant update mode. 

That is why the teaching stories were selected for Truth and Tales: they contain important elements that not only assist in the literacy process and in the contact with reading, but also help the child to grow into a mindful human being

Truth and Tales acts in cognitive development, in emotional balance with emotion recognition and in negotiation skills, in addition to developing attributes such as empathy and perception

The narrative 

The narrative was considered so the child would be surprised by the characters: the villain who isn’t evil, the “mistake” which doesn’t go wrong, the adults who don’t know everything. It may seem like a detail, but with a plethora of stories bringing this dichotomy of good guy/bad guy, right/wrong, and adults who know everything/children who know nothing, young readers start to relate this to what happens in life and take it as gospel. 

The degrees of subtlety are also an important factor in Truth and Tales. The tales are profound and perception comes in waves – gradually and bit by bit. The child who read the tales at the age of 5 will have a different experience and perception after reading it later at the age of 8. The penny drops unhurriedly and in very specific and personal ways for each person. Each individual’s needs are quite different, and the teaching stories act in accordance with them. 

Inside Truth and Tales 

The design is undoubtedly one of the strengths of Truth and Tales: in addition its dazzle, it was crafted for calm and peaceful reading, with colors that don’t over excite children’s brain. All of this added to the animated and interactive features that allow for a rich and fun experience

The game mechanics were also very well-considered. Why isn’t it like a normal book, where the child turns the pages? We created an interactive book in which the child has the privilege to explore the characters and the setting. In the beginning of each book, we teach readers how this interaction works without them noticing and, from this moment on, each different touch on the book sceneries is a surprise. To give children the freedom to stop, appreciate, search for details and focus their attention on what they are doing was something we made sure to bring to Truth and Tales. 

Truth and Tales also relies on optimal font for dyslexia throughout the app. The karaoke tool also helps children who are in middle of the literacy process. While the narrator tells the stories, the sentences appear at the bottom corner of the app, turning yellow when the words have been read. 

Truth and Tales was conceived and produced based on the most up-to-date studies and research on games and children. The app was not created for children to never put the phone away, after all, it is not recommended that children between the age of 5 and 7 spend more than 1 hour a day exposed to screens and, between the age of 8 and 10, 1 hour and a half. 

Loot Boxes: are we getting our children addicted to gambling without noticing?

Have you ever heard of loot boxes? They are quite similar to collectible sticker packets. 

Loot boxes are reward boxes in video games, computer games and app games which give the user random items that may be used in game matches. By opening one in the game, the users can find characters, weapons, clothes, costumes and even dance steps, but they never know what they might encounter, specially when there are items rarer than others. In some cases, the items that come in loot boxes are sold separately in the game stores. 

Loot boxes are present in very popular games such as Fortnite, FIFA 18, Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. They are easily accessed on any of these games and may usually be acquired in two ways: freely, but with a limited number per day, or by buying them. 

Along with the surge in games came the large amount of gameplay videos, when players record their performances in a game and upload them on YouTube. In gameplays of this type of game, it has become common practice to make loot boxes unboxing* videos: youtubers buy several of them to open and comment on the items that they “won”. 

How it works

Due to the random prizes, the mechanics of loot boxes in games are being compared to the mechanics of casino games: you pay for something you don’t know if you will win. In the games in question, the user will never leave empty-handed, since items will always turn up, but you never know which items will be and the probability of winning what you desire in the first loot box you open is very small.

There are other similarities between loot boxes and gambling games. The casino logic of “the more you play, the higher your chances of winning an item” is also in the mechanics of the reward boxes. There is also the color factor: casinos are quite colorful and bright. The same thing happens when a loot box is opened: the items jump on the screen and there are lights and sounds that encourage the player to play more and more. 

The mechanics of loot boxes in games are cause for concern, mainly in relation to children games, for being quite similar to a casino, since gambling is addictive and children don’t understand how it works. According to NBC News, loot box practices have been drawing the attention of psychologists and anti-gambling groups, who claim that consumers of these games may exhibit addictive behavior similar to that of gambling games when they buy reward boxes. 

Loot boxes around the world

Countries like Belgium and the Netherlands have forbidden the sale of games with loot boxes mechanics, but France and New Zealand don’t consider them as gambling features. The European Union is still debating whether the mechanics used are harmful to the point of being prohibited. 

Loot boxes drive a 30-billion-dollar economy and are one of the most profitable sources in the gaming industry. The mechanics are not necessarily  bad and harmful, but they need to be reexamined. Countries like China and South Korea have discussed the matter and demand game publishers to disclose the chances of winning each prize in the loot boxes

The loot boxes controversy continues

The UK’s Minister for Digital and Creative Industries Margot James has taken a stand about loot boxes before the UK Parliament. According to Games.Industry.biz, James considers loot boxes a way for people to buy items and enhance their game experience without the expectation of financial return. 

Margot James states that if there is evidence that loot boxes are connected to gambling problems and games of chance, then she will be concerned and agree that is necessary to take action and do something about it. However, to this moment, there has not been enough research and data regarding this subject. James defends that, in order to regulate loot boxes and ‘online bets’, research is necessary to understand the situation and justify the action (in this case, regulation). 

The counterpoint to loot boxes: Immersive and addictive technology report

In the first few weeks of September, the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) published and handed to parliamentary inquiry a 84-page report about immersive and addictive technologies, after 9 months of production. The report brings data and evidence from all sides of the gaming industry, including developers and commercial and academic institutions, and determined a “lack of honesty and transparency between social networks and representatives of game companies.” 

If the government wants to maintain the same posture regarding loot boxes even after the DCMS report, the committee asked for a document explaining the reasons why loot boxes and the mechanics of gambling in video games and apps are the exception to the act of gambling. 

The Committee remarked that the evidence on the potential damage caused by loot boxes (simulated gambling) remains scarce and, therefore, recommends a number of preventive approaches for the future. 

Suggestions regarding loot boxes 

Furthermore, the Committee suggested that the UK government should advise the PEGI** to apply the existing gambling content label and the relevant age restrictions to games that exhibit loot boxes or similar mechanics. 

The report even recommends that, going further than loot boxes, the gaming industry is responsible for protecting the players against potential damage and should support independent research on “the long term effects of loot boxes and gambling mechanics”. 

The DCMS Committee president Damian Collins said that “playing contributes to a global industry that generates a revenue of billions. It is unacceptable for companies with millions of users, children amongst them, to be so ill-informed they are unable to have the conversation about the possible damage of their products”. 

At last, the Committee suggested that legislation is necessary to protect children from games which are not age-appropriate. This sprung from the concern that companies are not reinforcing age restrictions. 

One of Explot’s backbones is science and, just like Margot James, we support that conscious decisions be made based on facts and research. But we still worry about the exposure of children to loot boxes, like the DCMS Committee. Even though, in some countries, games need to inform the chances of winning the items, children have no concept of probability, therefore, the measure to protect the users doesn’t apply to the youngest players. 

*Unboxing is when someone opens gifts, packages, boxes, etc. It became popular when youtubers started making videos unwrapping gifts they had won or something new they had bought. 

**Pan European Game Information, game content evaluation system created to help clients make informed decision before buying games, video games and apps. 

My children are addicted to cell phones. What now?

Cell phone and technology use in general by children has been attacked by the media, schools, doctors and family. Technology can be an ally if used responsibly and with guidance from the parents, but it is common to find children who are already addicted to screens. 

But if my kid is already addicted, what should I do? 

First, we need to understand what happens when a child is using the cell phone completely out of place and proportion. Technology use becomes a problem when: 

  • They prefer to spend all their free time on cell phones, tablets or TV;
  • They no longer play with things they like in order to be on the phone;
  • They get extremely irritated when the cell phone battery dies or when an adult imposes a time limit;
  • They are not as present in family activities: they don’t pay attention to conversations and don’t interact with family members because they are connected to the cell phone; 
  • They don’t do schoolwork under any condition, even if the parents ask or remind them (this is worth noting: most kids don’t like to do homework and try to desperately avoid this responsibility. This item is more valid in comparison to how the children used to deal with homework before they only wanted to spend time on electronics);
  • The children or teenagers demonstrate more aggressive behavior than before starting to use screens excessively;
  • Sleep is affected. Bedtime is increasingly delayed to later in the night and the children are having trouble relaxing and falling asleep. That is connected to the amount of stimuli that the brain receives and the content consumed by the children close to sleeping time; 
  • The children recreate violent scenes and acts frequently and without considering what they are doing;
  • They become monothematic: always talking about the same things and without showing interest in other subjects; 

If you have identified some of these items on your children’s behavior, it is possible that technology is being used excessively in your house. 

What to do when children use the phone too much?

Before taking action, watch how you spend your free time at home and the frequency with which you use the phone, tablet or television. Children copy their parents’ behavior and, if parents also use technology excessively in front of them, it is more difficult for children to change their behavior with respect to screens. If you work using your phone, it is worth explaining that it is part of your job. 

Time spent together with family is key to children’s lives, and putting the phone away during these moments is important. Helping children overcome excessive phone use is to also look at your own habits and reconsider how you use it. 

:: Also read: Loot Boxes: are we getting our children addicted to gambling without noticing? ::

Having done that, talk to your children about phone use regardless of their age. Explain the reasons why excess technology isn’t healthy. But remember that warning them isn’t about causing panic or shame. 

Establish a time limit along with your child. Involving children in this type of decision makes the limit seem less unfair to them, in addition to them also consenting to the using time. 

Enjoy your and your children’s free time together. Instead of being on the phone, play board games, make up a game of your own, teach them how to cook, make dinner together. Take advantage of this time to strengthen your family bond. 

It is worth noting that participating in phone, tablet or TV activities within the children’s stipulated time is healthy: the bond is also formed and, at the same time that you become closer and you manage to get a sense of what they are consuming on the phone, the children also see that you are interested in their world.  

Another piece of advice that may help when the time to put the phone away comes is a physical stopwatch on which you and your children can set the agreed-upon time together when they are about to use the phone or tablet or watch television. The stopwatch can have a theme or even be customized by the children. 

Having an “offline basket”, where everyone in the house, including the adults, leaves the phone when they are not using it is also a good idea. Mealtimes are the perfect moment for the basket to be full, for example. 

A helpful suggestion is not to treat the phone as a bargaining chip or as a prize/punishment resource. Placing devices in such a way on children’s lives can make them do schoolwork not because they have to, but in order to earn more time on the phone. 

When it comes to punishment, it is unfair to take away an agreed-upon “right” due to misbehavior, specially when such behavior is unrelated to the phone, television or tablet. Using phones to award or punish may cause deep insecurity and ensuing anxiety in children, since there isn’t a clear rule as to when they will earn or lose the right to use them. 

Technology: when should I introduce it to my children?

“When should I introduce technology to children?” As a technology company aimed at children, we hear this question frequently from friends, family and acquaintances, whether they are parents, uncles and aunts, grandparents or people who plan on having children some day. 

Our first piece of advice is: don’t give children a tablet or phone before they turn 2 years old. Screen exposure to children under the age of 2 doesn’t bring any benefits and can entail on the delay of cognitive functions. It is worth noting that television is also a screen and the same due care as the phone and tablet must be taken! If the child is older than 3 years old and is already asking for screens, we have posted about the time limits of screen exposure 

Many adults get concerned when their children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces or children they know are not interested in screens, don’t ask to play on the phone or are not “into television”. Stay calm: they are not going to be behind their classmates in terms of technology. 

Technology is moving forward at increasingly faster rates and children who learned how to use phones in the 2010s will have to relearn to use the ones from 2020, since they will be completely different technologically. Technology was made to be intuitive and easy to use. If your children become interested at the age of 12, rest assured they will learn to navigate the device quickly and with ease. The same applies to 5, 7 or 10 year-olds. 

The later they come into contact with cell phones and technology, the safer children will be. We know there are many benefits: a number of apps aimed at child development are arising and are true amusement parks to the little ones’ creativity, but we can’t ignore the fact that the screen is enticing. If we, adults, already lose track of time when we are on the phone, for children that is even worse.

Our stance is this: the more children want to wait before starting their “technological life”, the more they will benefit from technology. But there’s no need for polarization. If children show an early interest in technology, there is no problem in letting them use it responsibly, with adult participation and supervision, time limits and the consumption of quality content suitable for their age. 

Physical activity, games and lots of fun: Health for our children!

Carol is a physical therapist and 6-year-old Pedro and 2-year-old Clara’s mother. She is in lockdown with her family, without being allowed to leave her apartment (literally!) since her building has been closed by the Civil Defense, and she has had to get creative in order to make her children practise physical activity. 

The benefits 

Children are a source of energy and life! It is in their nature to be in motion and in creativity. To stimulate and support this nature can be a huge incentive to the promotion and development of health in children and teenagers. 

The practice of physical activities during childhood and teenage years helps to readjust the energy balance and to prevent obesity, improves blood circulation and the oxygenation of the body and the brain, boosts the metabolism, reinforces the immune system, improves cognition, self-esteem and the feeling of well-being. 

Physical activity develops muscle strength, flexibility and endurance, improves motor coordination, stimulates bone metabolism, increases breathing and heart capacity, and lifts the mood, in both the short and long term. 

Being physically active everyday is important for the promotion of integral health in children and teenagers, and it is fundamental that activities are enjoyable and adequate for the individual state of growth of each child and teenager. 

What is it and how can it be done?

According to the Brazilian Society of Pediatrics, physical activity can be stimulated in children’s lives from their first year of life. Rolling over, crawling, walking, running, jumping and other types of exercise bring numerous health benefits. 

In times of technological advances and wide availability of virtual games, tablets and videogames, the practice of physical activity can fall by the wayside. Children usually mirror and are inspired by the actions and life habits of their parents or the adults surrounding them and, because of that, we need to be careful with what we want to pass on to our children and teenagers.  

Following a healthy routine with the incentive of good eating habits, meditation and physical exercise at home so the little ones keep being active is very important to promote healthy growth and development. 

But what should be done, and how should it be done, when there are strenuous work hours, so little time and a thousand things to handle? And furthermore: what about when you are in lockdown, without being able to leave the house, and with two children in an apartment? 

It’s okay, mom and dad, we are in this together! There are days in which we look like a family of athletes, but there are days in which everything becomes a mess! Relax, it’s one day at a time until it turns into a pleasant routine. 

I will share with you here some of the things we have been living and which are working in my experience! 

We can create a favourable and attractive environment to the practice of physical activities with children. Anything goes! You can play around, dance, play games, throw a party, put on music – the important thing is to let them do the activity freely and at ease. 

Determining a time of the day to carry out the physical activity is quite interesting and it works. For instance, at 10 o’clock in the morning we gathered in the living room and called out for the exercise hour. We put on a nice song that the children like and watched how they reacted. And then we proposed a series of exercises to them and we all executed them. 

These workouts usually last from 10 to 15 minutes, and involve jumping jacks, squats and push-ups. Our children more often than not mimic us doing these exercises and gradually get in the mood! From then on, we let their imagination and creativity run freely! Sometimes it turns into a mess, at others we manage to do it and create super fun exercises! 

It is important to guide them while also being attentive to the flow, to what the children want to tell and show us! They will often have much cooler and fun ideas and inventions than the ones we want to propose to them! 

I will mention some activities here that the children and we enjoy together and that may be great for you too! 

  • Activities that involve motor skills such as running, dancing, rolling, and jumping can be great fun and dynamic. They stimulate creativity, attention and global and focal motricity, laterality, and spatial and body development!
  • Creating obstacle courses with hula hoops, cushions, empty PET bottles or using their own toys as obstacles and barriers to cross can be a lot of fun! Let the child create and help in the construction! 
  • Target practice activities, such as throwing bottle caps or plastic or paper balls into plastic cups (or other containers); standing plastic bottles as targets and throwing hoops or the inside of a duct tape roll to hit them; 
  • Sack race using pillowcases;
  • Long jumps in a mattress, using duct tape to record each person’s jump in order to stimulate movement motor skills, strength and flexibility; 
  • Miming games with themes such as animals or characters. It stimulates body language and body awareness; 
  • Relay race games, in which a baton or a ball is passed on;
  • Throwing balls into baskets or buckets to stimulate concentration and motor coordination; 
  • Soccer with a cardboard ball; 
  • Games such as “who can gather the toys faster after the whistle” or “who can find more green balls” for example, in a set amount of time; 
  • Simon says: run, jump on one foot, clap your hands, bring your hand down to your foot, sit down and stand up…

There are a lot of games we can create in form of exercise! If we make room for physical activity in our routines and bring our children with us, what is supposed to be an important benefit to our health also becomes a moment of love, joyfulness and bonding! 

Share the activities you do at home with us on instagram! Just tag @truthandtales.app

Balance with technology: how to find it?

Physical activities, limited screen time and a good night sleep reduce impulsive behavior in children 

The article Association between 24-hour movement behaviour and impulsivity in American children, published in the American Academy of Pediatrics, showed that balancing physical exercise, limited screen time and a good night sleep can reduce the rates of impulsive behavior in children, as well as present other benefits.

Impulsive behaviours

Impulsive behaviors in children are reflections of anxiety: impatience, when the child interrupts other people, when the child talks, screams or laughs at inappropriate moments, or when they put themselves in hazardous situations without thinking. It’s worth remembering that these behaviors are normal and are part of  all children’s development, but it’s necessary to observe when they occur with exaggeration and too much frequency. Children who have these exaggerated impulsive behaviors are usually labeled as “troublemakers” at school or even at home. If you live together with a child who exhibits this type of behavior, avoid using labels of any kind. 

Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth

The study is based on the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth, a initiative of the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology that brings guidelines based on evidence with habits that highlight the integration of all movement behaviors that occur throughout an entire day. The guidelines encourage children and young people to “sweat, step, sleep and sit” in the quantity indicated and considered beneficial in the course of 24 hours. 

The guidelines were developed by the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Group (HALO) of the The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP), ParticipACTION, The Conference Board of Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada and a group of researchers from the whole world, with the participation of over 700 Canadian and international participants. 

The guidelines of the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth suggest that children between 5 and 17 years old should practice moderate to high physical activities for at least one hour a day; not exceed two hours a day of screens for recreational purposes; and sleep from 9 to 11 hours a night. 

How does the 24-hour movement Guidelines for Children and Youth interfere in children’s impulsive behavior? 

HALO researchers analyzed data of over 4,500 children. The data contained self reports categorized in 8 competences that characterize impulsive behavior or not. These competences evaluate patterns such as to leave a task unfinished or to act irrationally in the face of negative emotional states. 

The study showed that children who follow the three guideline recommendations scored positively on all competences and had higher positive scores in 5 out of the 8 competences in relation to children who didn’t follow the guidelines recommendations, concluding that the balance of the sleep, screen time and physical exercise triad can reduce disorders related to impulsiveness. 

Furthermore, the results suggest that children who follow the three guideline recommendations have better cognitive functions; less chances of developing obesity; better diet and better quality of life in relation to children who don’t follow any of the recommendations.  

Both the research itself and its results are quite significant, since the amount of children and data collected is relevant. It is difficult to find research projects with samples and database this big, and the results only prove the success of the research. 

Children and exposure to screens: how far is it okay?

People who were born from 1985 onwards belong to the millennial generation*, considered “digital native”, in other words: children who were born surrounded by various technology, including the use of screens. Television and video games were the technology used by children and young people throughout the 1980s and the 1990s and they had a lot of influence in countries such as Brazil, England, Germany and the United States.

Millennials are already in the job market, raising families and experiencing parenthood. It’s a generation that really values technology, after all, they grew up in the midst of it. An example of this is that, according to the Mindminners website, having a smartphone is as important to this generation as having a healthcare plan.

What about the children of millennials, how do they fit into all of this? How can children live amongst screens and gadgets in a healthy way? 

Book, story, educational, game and music video apps are quite popular on phone and tablet screens of parents of children from 2 to 8 years old. Most of the kids already know how to use it and will ask for the device, since they see their parents using it. At this age, it’s recommended to prioritize the time with the child without using such tools, since the child wants to play with someone. If the parents’ attention is on the child, his or her craving for spending time with screens will be much smaller. 

It’s worth remembering that the keyword is flexibility. As the child grows, the desire to play online will also grow. The “rules” should always be reevaluated and reflected on by the parents from time to time and analyzed whether they are still valid and effective for the child. 

Nowadays, letting children over the age of 2 have contact with smartphones and tablets is almost inevitable and, because of that, prohibiting it is not the solution: the child will want it even more. Balance is always welcome: to suggest, participate and prioritize playing offline and without screens, but not to prohibit the full use of screens. 

Marianna Nolasco, age 33, is mother of Laila, age 8. Laila won an old iPad from her parents at the age of 2. Back then, Marianna didn’t feel the need to limit screen use time, since Laila would split her time evenly between playing games, the iPad and her stuffed animals. The iPad had a lot of game apps and educational videos. 

Today, Laila inherited her mother’s old phone, but she doesn’t use it much as it is outdated. She prefers to use her parents’ phone to play, despite having an iPad all to herself. Her favorite game is Minecraft. Marianna says that the last few months have been a struggle, since Laila wants to spend most of her free time with the game. 

Because of that, Marianna has limited the screen use time: now, Laila can only play for two hours a day (one in the morning and one at night). In addition to Minecraft, Laila really enjoys playing Love Balls along with her mother, which has become a pastime activity to them. 

Risks

According to the Canadian Paediatric Society, screen exposure (of any kind: television, computer, cellphones, tablets) negatively affects the language, attention, cognitive development, task performance, short-term memory, reading and math on children under the age of five. With respect to children under two years old, some difficulty in distinguishing what is reality and what happens on screen was perceived. 

Also, children exposed in excess to screens, in other words, more than two hours a day, exhibit aggressive and antisocial behavior, usually because parents are more inclined to use technology as a “pacifier” to children with “challenging” behavior. 

When it comes to physical health, children who spend a lot of time in front of screens daily have a bigger risk of becoming sedentary and overweight. When apps have no parental control, children are exposed to fast food advertisements, for example, that encourage them to eat “snacks” any time and stimulate this feeding pattern, in addition to their spending more time sitting or lying down exposed to screens when they could instead be practicing activities that demand a minimum of physical exercise. 

This type of advertising usually targets children from 2 to 6 years old. Sleeping problems are also associated with screen exposure: using devices with glowing screens — that contain blue light — before sleep causes the suppression of melatonin, the sleep hormone. To mitigate this problem, many devices and apps contain the blue light control tool, that diminishes the device screen glow and minimizes sleeplessness effects. 

Benefits 

The potential benefits to children’s development happen from two years old onwards, when they are exposed to content, language, time and design appropriate to this phase. Quality programs and apps promote positive aspects on the cognitive development, imagination, and language (learning new words) and help with the literacy process. It’s worth remembering that the benefits are only possible when screen exposure is done responsibly, accompanied by and without replacing the affection and presence of parents and relatives. 

In relation to physical health, it’s very hard to claim that the use of screens is beneficial to children. Only if children use apps related to a physical activity, like yoga or dancing, in which the users need to move, will they have some benefit. 

This benefit can be found in games such as Just Dance by Nintendo Wii, and Labo, a cardboard accessory for Nintendo Switch that allows the user to put together tools to interact with games, like an armor, for instance. 

Recommendations 

To minimize the negative effects, the Canadian Paediatric Society suggests that children always be accompanied by their parents or other relatives during this type of activity. 

To prioritize educational apps and in which the child uses creativity and there is interactivity involved, to respect the rating and to avoid content with advertising are also important suggestions. 

Choosing along with the child what will be watched is also effective (“let’s watch this, at this moment, for this reason”). Limiting the use of smartphones in public spaces, during family routines and during mealtimes is a good habit to increase and encourage interaction between family and friends, and to get the child to distinguish from an early age what is and what isn’t reality. 

With respect to the choice of what to consume, it is recommended to choose quality content and which doesn’t expose the child to advertising. In case there is exposition, help the child to recognize and question the advertisements, stereotypes and other questionable content. 

In relation to content, pay attention to some items such as body image, violence, social problems, diversity and gender. 

Due to sleep quality, it is recommended that the child have no kind of electronic device in his or her bedroom and that he or she avoid using screen devices for at least an hour before bedtime. 

The use of screens by children under 2 years old is not recommended. 

For children between 2 and 5 years old it is recommended the use of one hour a day at most and it shouldn’t be part of children’s routines. 

Parents should also police themselves in the use of cellphones. Children follow examples and if the parents spend too much time behind screens, children will also want that. To enjoy family moments and respect mealtimes without the use of screens is fundamental for the child to have good habits when it comes to all technology. 

What are Teaching Stories?

Stories and tales are elements present in the life of children from almost every culture in the world. It is through them that wisdoms, values and customs stay alive throughout generations.  But do traditional stories, that are present in many cultures, especially the western ones, transmit the message with the same objective as when they were created? Do they contain the necessary elements for the original message and intention to remain intact throughout the years? In this post, we are going to talk a little bit about types of different stories called teaching stories

There are some eastern tales that were created with some elements allowing the real intention to survive and touch many people throughout generations. They are the teaching stories. 

They don’t bring moral to the story, nor do they bring the repetition of well-known patterns naturalized by people – such a characteristic that many folktales repeat. Teaching stories use certain words and events that, organized in such a way, act in the brain in a different manner. 

The surprising ways with which the characters can solve an incident encourage the brain to expand and perceive new possibilities, acting directly on cognitive development. 

Since these stories do not belong to behavioral association patterns, children can develop more flexibility when it comes to solving problems and dealing with situations with which they are not used to living. If children have contact with teaching stories, they will be able to become adults more prepared for the unexpected  and more perceptible in relation to emotional intelligence and themselves. 

The effectiveness of teaching stories in people’s brains is based on studies. One of the researchers about the subject was psychologist and author Robert Ornstein. Many of the teaching stories that Robert Ornstein researched were published by the English professor, author and researcher Idries Shah. 

You can check the teaching stories published by Idries Shah on The Idries Shah Foundation website. Aside from the stories, there is a wide range of books, class audios and texts about children, children’s literature, child psychology and psychology in general. It’s worth checking them out!