The Low-Down on Parents’ Posts, Processed Foods and Outdoor Play

The Low-Down on Parents’ Posts, Processed Foods and Outdoor Play



What does the latest research say about the potential harm of parents’ online sharing, the concerns about prepackaged, processed meals and the benefits of outdoor family time? Take a look:

Parents’ Posts

What parents share with others about their children in today's digital age presents new and often unanticipated risks, according to new research presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) 2016 National Conference & Exhibition.

Based on their findings, pediatrician Bahareh Keith, DO, MHSc, FAAP, and law professor Stacey Steinberg, JD, encourage pediatricians to give parents healthy rules of thumb about online disclosures related to their children. Parents often create their children's first digital footprints. Previous research has shown that 92 percent of 2-year-olds in the United States have an online presence, and about one third make their first appearance on social media sites within their first 24 hours of life.

“The amount of information placed in the digital universe about our children in just a few short years is staggering,” says Keith, director of the pediatric global health track and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Florida College of Medicine. “Parents often consider how to best protect children while the child is using the internet. However, parents—including myself, initially—don't always consider how their own use of social media may affect their children's well-being.”

Processed Foods

Plenty of research shows that processed foods contain more calories, sugar, sodium and saturated fat than whole foods. Yet parents often opt for prepackaged, processed meals and frozen dinners because they save time. But processed convenience foods can contribute to a poor diet, which led researchers from the University of Minnesota and Duke University to study underlying reasons why parents purchase them.

Although saving time is an obvious reason for buying these already-prepared meals, researchers wondered what else might be motivating parents to purchase lesser-quality nutrition options for their family. According to the findings published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, nearly half (49 percent) of parents bought prepackaged meals because their families really liked them, one third of respondents purchased ready meals because their kids could help prepare them, and roughly one quarter (27 percent) favored the money-saving aspect of frozen dinners.

These research findings raise concerns that choosing ready-made, processed meals means decreased availability of fruits and vegetables, increased availability of less nutritious foods and less self-sufficiency in cooking and meal-planning skills.

“If parents are not confident in their ability to cook, then prepackaged, processed meals are an appealing but less nutritious option,” points out the study’s lead author Melissa Horning, PhD, RN, PHN.

Outdoor Play

We all know the value of unplugging from our electronics, but new research from the University of Illinois highlights that families who spend time together outside are happier, healthier and get along better.

Previous research has proven that spending time in nature boosts attention, restores social cues and improves mood for individuals. But this new research focused on whether outdoor time had the same effect if it’s a family activity.

“When your attention is restored, you’re able to pick up on social cues more easily, you feel less irritable and you have more self-control. All of these are variables that can help you get along better with others,” explains Dina Izenstark, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at U of I, and lead author of a recent study published in the Journal of Family Theory and Review.

 

Lisa Beach is a freelance journalist, copywriter and humor blogger. Check out her writer’s website at LisaBeachWrites.com and visit her humor blog at TweeniorMoments.com.

 

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