Media Highlights

Current events, news topics, research articles, or other recent developments related to health, development, and behavior in children.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Researchers explored the potential benefit of a brief intervention to help busy parents gain knowledge and skills to manage their children's daily screen time effectively. The intervention consisted of a 1-hour instructional session followed by a 1-hour hands-on workshop with the assistance team. The instructional session provided background information regarding the positive and negative impacts of children's media use, basic strategies for limit-setting and positive parenting, a discussion of challenging circumstances (e.g. multiple siblings, friend's houses, education vs. entertainment), and specific tools for setting up and managing common devices (e.g. passwords and filters). The hands-on workshop allowed parents to ask more questions and bring in their own devices for 1-on-1 technical assistance from the  assitance team.

Parents who participated reported satistfaction with the intervention and more confidence in managing their child's screen time. Data analysis also showed that participating parents implemented more technology-specific parenting strategies after the workshop and reduce the average amount of preceived screen time.



Friday, December 1, 2017

​The ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) has been implicated in a variety of key cognitive processes, many with analogy among humans, primates, and rodents; social cognition, emotional regulation, and reward/value-based decision-making. In this brief review, the authors pull together representative pieces of research in each of these areas (running the gambit of data from animal behavioral studies, to human fMRI studies, to studies of psychopathology), to paint a picture of the many functions of the vmPFC and how it networks with other parts of the brain in these various roles. Biological Psychiatry


Friday, October 27, 2017

1 in 4 students in grades 5 through 12 report being bullied according to updated survey data from nonprofit YouthTruth Student Survey. Verbal bullying, in person, was the most common experience. Perceptions of difference remain a potent driving force behind bullying. The top three reasons why students though they were being bullied were how they looked, their race or skin color, because they were gender non-conforming. NPR

This article from JAMA Pediatrics in 2015 suggests that states have a powerful role in preventing bullying.

Here's what you can do:

Monday, October 23, 2017

Researchers at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand conducted the first, fully blinded, randomized, controlled trial of a dietary supplement in children with ADHD who were not taking psychotropic medications. 

93 children, ages 7-12 years who met criteria for ADHD based on diagnostic interview (K-SADS-PL) and parent/teacher reports (Conners questionnaires), were randomized to 10 weeks of treatment with either a proprietary formula of micronutrients (Daily Essential Nutrients) or placebo; both provided by Hardy Nutritionals.

After treatment, clinicians (but not parents or teachers) reported greater improvement in their impression of overall function, ADHD, and mood symptoms in the treatment group. Parents reported greater improvement in conduct problems, and teachers reported greater improvement in emotional regulation.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

In a new study published in the journal Child Development​, researchers at San Diego State Univeristy analyzed data from seven large, nationally representative surveys of U.S. adolescents between 1976 and 2016. They found that fewer adolscents in recent years engaged in typically "adult activities" such as gaining a drivers' license, trying alcohol, dating, having sex, or working for pay. The authors suggest this as evidence that the entire developmental trajectory from early adolescence to mature adulthood is slower than it once was. 

These findings are in line with that predicted by life history theory, wherein resource-rich environments allow for a longer, slower developmental path, and harsher, unpredictable environments encourage a faster path.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

​Researchers at the University of Virginia followed 169 people for 10 years, starting when they were 15 years old. At age 15 and 16, they were asked to bring their "closest, same-gendered friend." The friend was asked to rate the "strength" of their friendship with the subject. The study found that close friendship strength at age 15 predicted teen self-worth and social acceptance one year later at age 16. In the long-term, having a stronger friendship in adolescence was associated with less depression, less social anxiety, and more self-worth at age 25. On the other hand, those reporting a higher level of self-perceived social acceptance as a teenager actually had higher levels of social anxiety as a young adult.The authors suggest that "adolescents who prioritize forming close friendships" are better equipped to navigate social relationships in adulthood, than "adolescents who [instead] prioritize attaining preference" among their peers. NPR | Medical News Today​ | Article​


Friday, August 4, 2017

A study examining data from the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project looked at the relationship between early parenting and temperament characteristics and later child antisocial and positive behaviors. Mother's reported on their own discipline practices and their children's temperament at 15 months of age, the children's self-regulation abilities at 25 months of age, and their aggression, deliquency, compliance, and prosocial behaviors in 5th grade. Path analysis was used to model the relationships between discipline severity and temperament at 15 months and child behaviors in 5th grade, with self-regulation at 25 months as a potential mediating factor. More severe types of discpline included verbal and physical punishment, wheres as less severe forms of discipline included time-out, loss of privileges, and prevention strategies.

For European American children, the study found that negative emotionality as infants predicted self-regulation at 25 months and that both predicted aggression in 5th grade. Self-regulation in these child also predicted later delinquency, compliance and prosocial behaviors. Interestingly, in this cultural group, discipline severity was not related to any of the later child characteristics or behaviors.

In African American children, the study found that both negative emotionality and discipline severity as infants predicted aggression in 5th grade. Discpline also predicted deliquency and degree of prosocial behaviors. Self-regulation in this cultural group was an independent characteristic of the child that predicted compliance and prosocial behaviors separately from discipline or negative emotionality.

The authors discuss the possible cultural factors that could contribute to these between-group differences. 

One interesting result that was shown, but not discussed in the study, was that negative emotionality in the African American infants was correlated with discipline severity. This suggests that in these African American families, the quality of discipline may change in response to infant temperament (and vice versa), whereas choice of discipline in the European American families was not related to the child's temperament.

One potential hypothesis arising from these results is that children whose families use discipline to respond to their emotional state end up learning to use similar behaviors to respond their environment, whereas children whose families use a consistent level of discipline, regardless of emotional state, do not develop behaviors that reflect the discipline, but do develop regulation skills that reflect their underlying temperament. In either case, children's inherent level of self-regulation appears to be important for adhering to social expectations. Medical News Today | Pubmed​


Friday, July 21, 2017

​A thoughful commentary in this journal regarding children who are undocumented in the United States: Who they are, how and why they got here, what they face as they grow up, and why it is important to develop realistic solutions that also respect them as fellow humans. Article​


Friday, July 21, 2017

​Early intervention programs under Part C of the Individuals with Disability Education Act serve a developmentally heterogeneous population of children ages birth to 36 months. Applying mixture modeling to developmental assessment data from 1513 children who participated in a large, urban early intervention program, we identified four subgroups of children with distinct developmental profiles. This study describes the identified subgroups and suggests implications for clinical practice and service planning. Video | Article​


Friday, July 21, 2017

A longitudinal study that followed very preterm/very low birth weight and full-term mother-infant dyads from birth to 18 months assessed both infant feeding problems and maternal sensitive parenting at term, 3 and 18 months and examined the direction of the associations between both. Results showed that the association between maternal sensitivity and feeding problems differed in very preterm and full-term mother-infant dyads. In full-term infants, there was a reciprocal association from 3 to 18 months; while in very preterm infants, higher feeding problems decreased maternal sensitivity over time. Video | Article​