Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Viewpoints from the Journal

Viewpoints from the interdisciplinary leaders in optimal developmental and behavioral health for all children.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

A study published last week in Lancet Child & Adolescent Health looked at the relationship between cognition in 8-11 years olds and their daily recreation screen time, sleep duration, and physical activity. Using newly released data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study, the authors found that children meeting recommendations for limited screen time (<2 hours per day) and those meeting recommendations for both screen time and sleep duration performed better on measures of global cognition. (MinnPost summary)

Though these correlations do not prove a causal direction, the data do add to an emerging picture that too much screen time disrupts and/or displaces the normal social interactions (e.g. from parents) on which normal human development relies.

We dug into our archives and found some articles we’ve published about the impact of digital media and screen time on children’s behavior and learning.

Drs. Munzer and Radesky give us two complementary articles about digital media use as a marker for child self-regulation problems and negative parental outlook about a child’s behavior.

Drs. Khan and Reich present results about how the crucial activity of reading together can be disrupted by the presence of a television or even just by switching from paper to e-books.

Finally, Mr. Sanders discusses a potential intervention to help families understand the good and bad of screen time, and how to develop a family media plan.

Regardless of how much you favor the use of digital devices and digital media in your own world, it is important to understand that they are much more than just passive enhancements to our lives. For better or worse, they are dynamic influences that have real impacts on our children’s minds and our family relationships. Having a good understanding of what digital technology can or can not do may be the difference between having a useful tool and becoming the used tool.

--Jeffrey H. Yang, M.D.

JDBP Web Editor

See the rest of our collection on Digital Media, Media Use, and Social Media

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A high school in Pennsylvania ​informed parents that it would be conducting an active shooter drill today (Thursday, September 13) using blanks to expose everyone to the sound of gunfire. Unsurprisingly this decision has incited a lot of responses of differing opinions regarding the necessity or advisability of such realism in the simulation.

We dug into our archive, and present to you this small collection of articles about guns, violence, and interventions at school.

Dr. Marjorie Hardy provides two studies (Article 1, Article 2) on gun interventions in a range of school-age and adolescent children, finding that, especially in the young children, interventions that try to make guns seem less desirable may have no or the opposite effect.

Dr. Oscar Purugganan and colleagues provide a study that looked at “proximity to violence” and its impact on psychosocial outcomes. Not surprisingly, those that are actual victims of violence have the greatest risk of maladjustment. However, we also learned that witnesses of violence are also at risk and must not be forgotten.

Finally, Dr. Judit Thurnherr and colleagues provide an analysis showing that any intervention for curbing youth violence in school needs to address classroom and school-wide attitudes, in addition to the risk factors of the individual student.

Clearly, more information is needed to find the best ways of preventing gun violence and keeping our kids safe. Regardless of where you stand specifically on the issue of firearms, I ask that you please consider that this issue is more than just about the guns, the victims, or the shooters.

There are a lot of other consequences to any intervention. In carrying them out, let’s make sure we’re doing our best to also protect our kids’ mental health and their trust in our communities. After all, what good is preventing violence if by doing so we also scare the life out of them, stifle their growth, and inhibit them from ever venturing out to make the world a better place.

--Jeffrey H. Yang, M.D.

JDBP Web Editor

For best practices on active shooter drills I referred you to the this guide from the National Association of School Psychologists.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Disclaimer: I was provided a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Fish Are Not Afraid of Doctors​​​ (A Maud the Koala Story)

By J.E. Morris

Maud the Koala is going to see her doctor. But she’s a little nervous. What’s there to be nervous about? Her doctor is nice. The office is pretty. She gets to see cool gadgets. And there are fish! She can do this. She’ll get a sticker too. And if the fish can be there, then she can too. After are not afraid of doctors.

Author Jennifer Morris takes us through the calmly terrifying experience of our childhood well child check-ups. The beginning of this comic book-style reader has us joining Maud and her mother as they enter the doctor’s office. The illustration style reminds one of Sunday morning newspaper comic-strips; clear outlines, simple colors, and few extraneous details. Yet the emotions and feelings of each character are plain to see (providing a great excuse to talk about feelings, perspectives, facial expressions and body language). Using description sparingly and primarily letting the pictures do the talking, Morris emphasizes the mundaneness of the doctors visits.  A few bits of conversation are used to punctuate the unsettled emotions that arise with a trip to the doctor. Then when the real object of contention appears (hint: it’s pronounced “vax-i-nay-shun”), Morris launches into more vivid descriptions accompanied by full page illustrations to quickly immerse us into what is happening. But the trick is, you don’t know it’s happening. Before you know it, the book is over, and we’re simply left with a wonderful shared lesson about getting through daily experiences that are just out of our comfort zone. In a few pages, we’ve learned about distraction and visualization, two common and easy relaxation techniques for dealing with anxiety. All done with a minimal amount of lecture. As my high school English teacher used to say, “show me, don’t tell me.” Morris certainly does this marvelously.  This is a book that helps us with our fears, without being a book about our fears. And for those of you verbal learners who just have to have the instructions, there’s a nice debriefing summary at the end that explains what this was all about. Use this book as a bedtime story, a social story, or just as an excuse to spend some time together with your child.

—Jeffrey H. Yang, M.D.

Maud the Koala_FANAOD Cover Hi-Res.jpg

Publisher: Penguin-Random House
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4 – 8
Grade Level: 1st - 2nd (Flesch–Kincaid)

Monday, July 9, 2018

July 8, 2018

Individuals and families from Central America are coming to the U.S. to seek asylum due to the violence, intimidation and threats in their home countries.   There also continues to be attempted entry into the U.S. by immigrants seeking opportunities for a better life for themselves and their children. 


On April 6, 2018 Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a "zero-tolerance" policy regarding attempted illegal entry into the U.S.   This policy led to incarceration for adults and separation of children to a variety of holding situations.


Children and parents belong together.  Children who are separated from their primary caregivers may experience toxic stress and a disruption of attachment that can have severe emotional, behavioral and physical implications.   Depending on the age of the child and the circumstances of the separation, there can be long-term effects such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, learning problems, or substance abuse.


Children should not be confined in unfamiliar locations without their parents.  Children who have been separated from their caregivers should be returned to their families as soon as possible.   In the meantime, they should receive emotional support, nurturing and age-appropriate intervention to help mitigate the effects of the separation.   Children should also not be given psychotropic medications without the knowledge and consent of their parents.  


As professionals in the field of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, we have grave concern that the current practices at the U.S.-Mexico border will lead to a different kind of "border crisis" – in which a generation of children will experience lifelong repercussions as a result of our misguided approach to immigration enforcement.   SDBP supports legislation that provides for family unity and humane treatment of children and families who are awaiting adjudication of their immigration cases.   SDBP opposes legislative policies and practices that separate children and parents and that fail to take into consideration children's unique developmental needs.  


Background information has been gathered by SDBP Advocacy committee and can be found on our Website under Advocacy Committee.


You can find information on how to contact your US congress people by going to It is important that your voice is heard!


Nancy Lanphear, M.D.

Concerned Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician and current SDBP President

Friday, June 22, 2018

​In light of the heartbreaking evidence of family disruption seen in recent weeks at our southern border, we felt it appropriate to gather together a collection of papers and reviews published in the Journal regarding the effects of psychosocial trauma, maltreatment, toxic stress & adversity on the health and wellbeing of children and families. While many of us see these policies as abhorrent from the perspective of human rights and compassion, perhaps shining a light on the scientific evidence might bring truth to power and help those who are responsible for these policies pause to consider their immediate and long term effects. 

Lee M. Pachter, DO, Editor in Chief​

View the Collection