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Children average 3.4 hours daily on electronic devices, poll finds
 
 By Delthia Ricks
Newsday.com

Children younger than 18 throughout the metropolitan area are logging substantial amounts of time on electronic devices with 65 percent riveted to screens in excess of three hours daily and 22 percent glued to devices for more than five hours a day, a new public health poll has found.
 
The attraction: Games, cartoons, texting, chatting, surfing — immersion into cyberspace.
 
“As a pediatrician I was aware that kids were spending time on these devices, but it is really shocking to me to see the number of hours that were found in this poll,” said Dr. Warren Rosenfeld, chairman of pediatrics at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside.
 
The survey, commissioned by South Nassau, found that children on Long Island and in New York City are spending an average of 3.41 hours per day of nonacademic screen time with devices such as smartphones, tablets, computers and televisions. The phone survey of 600 parents of children younger than 18 was conducted for the hospital April 9-12 by LJR Custom Strategies, a professional polling corporation with offices in Washington, D.C. and New Orleans.
 
Children, the poll found, have distinct preferences about the types of devices they use.
Seven percent use a desk or laptop computer as their primary screen. More than 90 percent preferred logging time on smartphones, tablets or sitting in front of a TV, the poll revealed.
Details of the survey were to be discussed Thursday morning at the hospital.
 
“Human contact is lost when too much time is spent with a device,” Rosenfeld said. “They are not outdoors running, playing and enjoying the 3-dimensional world.” Instead, some youngsters are becoming too focused on activities involving 2-dimensional images emanating from devices, and parents are not doing enough to wean their kids from the cyberworld, Rosenfeld said.
 
The American Academy of Pediatrics in 2016 cautioned that too much screen time — especially in young children — can delay cognitive, language, social and emotional development.
 
Children of all ages are attracted to electronic devices. For the youngest — ages 2 to 5 — academy pediatricians recommend limiting screen time to no more than one hour per day of high-quality programming.
 
The organization also has developed guidelines to help parents oversee device usage and warned that inactive periods spent with electronic devices may play a role in childhood obesity.
 
Despite the academy’s recommendations, the South Nassau poll found that fewer than half of parents surveyed knew about the guidelines and only 13 percent had heard about them from a pediatrician.
 
Beyond the academy, the National Sleep Foundation has cautioned against too much exposure to the bright, short wavelength light emitted from screens, which is called “blue light.”
 
Blue light exposure just before bedtime “can delay the release of sleep-inducing melatonin, increase alertness, and reset the body’s internal clock,” according to the foundation, referring to the body’s natural circadian rhythms.
 
Dr. Lauren Hale, a professor of family and preventive medicine at Stony Brook University School of Medicine, told Newsday in 2015 that a book before bedtime is a healthier alternative to electronic devices because of blue light exposure.
 
The South Nassau’s poll, however, found some parents deem themselves ineffective at curtailing their children’s screen time.
 
For example, 25 percent of parents reported their screen-limiting efforts as very successful. Sixty-two percent of parents said they do not use parental control settings designed to limit screen time.
 
“Smartphones and other devices obviously are essential now in most families, but we need to understand that while there are positive benefits, there can also be negative effects on healthy social development. Moderation is key,” Dr. Adhi Sharma, South Nassau’s chief medical officer said in a statement Wednesday.
 
The survey, meanwhile, is South Nassau’s second this year and the sixth in a series of quarterly Truth In Medicine polls, which the hospital began last year. The surveys question people on Long Island and in New York City about critical medical issues that affect large segments of the population. The aim of the polls is to help spur public education to improve public health, Rosenfeld said.
 
South poll finding
  • Average Long Island/New York City household has three smartphones, 2.89 televisions, two tablets and 1.65 computers
  • More than 90 percent of children prefer to spend their screen time on smartphones and tablets or in front of a TV
  • 51 percent of parents with children 6 and under say they use parental controls to monitor their children’s screen time.
  • 36 percent of parents with teens try to limit screen time
  • Parents who restricted youngsters’ screen time or used parental controls are more likely to eat dinner together
Source: South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside
 
 
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Identifying with others who control themselves could strengthen your own self-control
 


 
Is self-control something you can acquire, like a new language or a taste for opera? Or is it one of those things you either have or don’t, like fashion sense or a knack for telling a good joke?
 
Psychologist Walter Mischel’s famous results from the “marshmallow test” seem to suggest self-control is relatively stable and not easily learned. In this test, children sit at a table in an otherwise empty room and are given a choice: They can have one marshmallow right away, or, if they can wait for the experimenter to get more marshmallows from another room, they can have two instead. Most children see this as a no-brainer and opt to wait for two marshmallows.
 
The real test is waiting. Children are left alone in the room for up to 15 minutes or until they taste the marshmallow. Children vary in how long they can last without sampling the delectable treat in front of them, and it turns out that the longer they wait, the better they will fare later in life – socially, emotionally and academically. Other tests find similar patterns. People who demonstrate more self-control in childhood are, as adults, healthier, wealthier and more law-abiding.
 
Mischel himself has emphasized that children who showed more self-control used a variety of strategies that could be learned – like distracting themselves by singing and turning away from the marshmallow or distancing themselves from the marshmallow by imagining it as an inedible, fluffy cloud.
 
A less optimistic view holds that children who were good at distracting themselves had more self-control to begin with, which helped them activate self-distracting thoughts and behaviors rather than fixating on the sweet treat in front of them. And although Mischel found that children could be induced to wait longer if they were taught these kinds of strategies, there’s no evidence that such experimental interventions alter children’s spontaneous self-control behavior outside of the lab.
 
But don’t throw your hands up in resignation and reach for that second slice of chocolate cake just yet. A new wave of studies suggests that maybe self-control can be learned, provided that social forces encourage this learning. In a new study, my colleague and I found that children will use self-control if they believe others they identify with do.

Everybody’s doing it

Despite enormous interest in improving self-control, researchers have had limited success (so far) in figuring out how to train for it. The general approach has been to target the cognitive processes – called executive functions – that support self-control.
 
Researchers have children practice activities that activate these processes. Training can lead to some improvements on similar tasks, but typically does not generalize to other untrained tasks or outcomes. This is a real problem because a key goal of self-control training is to be able to transfer strengthened skills to real-world situations.
My colleague and I wondered if group influences might be key. Maybe capitalizing on social processes like group values and norms could have a broader influence on self-control skill development. So we designed a study to test whether group behavior influences children’s self-control.
 
We randomly assigned American preschoolers to a group – for example, telling them they were in “the green group” and giving them a green T-shirt to wear. Then we told them that their group waited or didn’t wait for two marshmallows. We also told them about another group (the “out-group”) that did the opposite of their group (the “in-group”). This step was designed to enhance their identification with their own group. Other studies have shown that this kind of procedure leads to in-group favoritism in preschoolers and adults alike.
We found that children waited longer for two marshmallows if they were told their in-group members waited and that out-group members did not versus if they were told that their in-group members didn’t wait and out-group members did. Kids who were told their in-group members waited also lasted longer than other kids who didn’t learn anything about their group’s behavior.
 
Why did children follow their group? In a follow-up experiment, we found that children whose group members waited subsequently preferred other nongroup individuals who waited for things like stickers, candy and money. This suggests children weren’t simply copying what their group members did. Rather, it seems that the group’s behavior influenced the value the child subsequently placed on self-control.
 
We’ve since replicated these findings in another culture, finding that Japanese children will choose to wait for more stickers if they believe in-group members wait and out-group members don’t. Impressively, Japanese children still follow their group even if they are given reason to identify with the out-group.

Outside influences on internal control

This research is the first to show that group behavior motivates young children’s own actions that involve self-control. Identifying with a group can help kids use and even value self-control when they otherwise would not have.
 
These findings converge with other recent and classic findings that social forces influence self-control in children. Children will wait longer for two marshmallows if they believe the person dispensing them is reliable and trustworthy. Children also model other people’s self-control behavior. Even infants will work longer to achieve a goal if they see an adult try to achieve their own goal repeatedly.
How do these findings of social influences on self-control square with the fact that the marshmallow test and others are so reliably predictive of later life outcomes? Do they mean that self-control actually isn’t stable? Not necessarily.
 
You could just be someone who likes to wait for or save things (there are 3-year-olds like this, believe it or not), but this doesn’t mean your behavior in a given moment isn’t subject to social influences. Even young children will adjust their baseline self-control tendencies depending on the context, saving less when saving turns out to be disadvantageous.
 
And social influences could, over time, play a role in shaping how much a person tends to use self-control generally. For instance, imagine a child grows up among peers who really value doing well in school and use self-control to complete homework before running off to play. Exposure to this group norm could influence the child to do the same. The idea is that the more you practice self-control, the easier it gets to use it. Repetition will strengthen the underlying neurocognitive systems that support these skills.
 
So can self-control be learned? My answer is yes – what can seem like an inborn trait may actually be substantially influenced by social forces. Parents may be able to help kids build this skill by exposing them to role models (in real life or stories) who demonstrate and value self-control. Adults may be able to increase self-control by spending time around friends who use it. Ultimately, cultivating self-control as a personal value and norm may be critical to using and developing it, whether you are young or old. With a little help from your friends, resisting that second piece of cake may be easier than you think.
 

Gluten Free Recipe:

Baked Oatmeal Cups – 10 Ways 

Baked Oatmeal Cups – switch up your morning breakfast routine with these 10 different flavors for an easy and healthy breakfast on the go. Perfect for making ahead and freezer-friendly. Best of all, they’re gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free.  
Do you ever find that your mornings are too rushed that you can’t sit down for a healthy breakfast? These Baked Oatmeal Cups are the perfect solution.
The single-sized portions are perfect for portion control and make them super convenient to grab on the way out the door. Plus, these baked Oatmeal Cups are freezer-friendly, so you can make a batch ahead of time and just reheat one or two as needed in the morning.
 
Use cooking spray, or silicone (not paper) muffin liners
  • Before getting started, lightly coat a standard muffin tin with cooking spray or line a baking sheet with silicone muffin liners.
  • Coating your muffin tin ensures that the baked oatmeal will not stick to the pan.
  • Skip the paper muffin liners since the oatmeal cups will stick to them
Make them gluten-free and nut-free (as needed)

To ensure your baked oatmeal cups are gluten-free, be sure to use gluten-free oats. You can also omit the nuts and nut butter if you have a nut allergy at home.
 
Use your favorite combination of sweeteners.
These baked oatmeal cups are refined sugar-free and use maple syrup to sweeten them up. Feel free to swap or add additional honey, coconut sugar, date puree, or your favorite low-carb sweetener instead.
 

Have fun with your add-ins

Fold in or sprinkle any add-ins of your choice. Coconut chips, freeze-dried fruit, chopped nuts or chocolate chips add  texture and flavor. Or make a batch with several different flavors and customize individual cups for picky eaters.
 

How to Store Baked Oatmeal Cups

Store oatmeal cups in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to five days. Or wrap them up individually and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave or toaster oven to enjoy throughout the week.
 
You can serve as is, with yogurt, almond milk, nut butter or some jam to liven things up.
  

Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes
Servings: 24
Calories: 176 kcal
 

Ingredients

OATMEAL CUP BASE: use this for all the oatmeal cups + the ingredients listed for the flavor you are making

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk or any other milk
  • 2 large eggs, (or use flax eggs for vegan) (For each flax egg - 1 tablespoon flax seed + 3 tablespoons water)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup OR honey
  • 4 teaspoons melted coconut oil OR canola oil *coconut oil will harden with any cold liquids - this is totally normal and will melt down once baked
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats gluten free as needed

ALMOND BUTTER BANANA

  • 1/4 cup creamy almond butter or your favorite nut or seed butter
  • 1 medium-sized ripe banana mashed
  • 1/2 banana sliced, for garnish

APPLE CINNAMON

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (total of 1 teaspoon of cinnamon)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 medium apple peeled, cored & diced (about 1 cup)
  • thin apple slices for garnish, optional

CARROT CAKE

  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened)
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped pecans or walnuts

CHOCOLATE CHUNK

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chunks (dark, semi-sweet or dairy free)

HONEY WALNUT

  • 1/4 cup honey leave out the 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup walnuts chopped (plus more for topping)

LEMON ALMOND POPPYSEED

  • juice & zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon poppyseeds toasted if possible
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds plus more for topping if desired

PINEAPPLE COCONUT

  • 2/3 cup fresh pineapple chopped
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut plus more for topping if desired

PUMPKIN CRANBERRY

  • 2 tablespoons canned pure pumpkin not pumpkin pie filling
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds pepitas
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries or raisins

RASPBERRY CHOCOLATE

  • 1/3 cup fresh raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped freeze-dried raspberries, for garnish (optional)
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks

STRAWBERRY

  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh strawberries chopped (plus more for topping)
  • 2 tablespoons freeze-dried strawberries (optional) chopped (plus more for topping)

 

Instructions

OATMEAL CUP BASE: (start with these steps for all of the oatmeal cups)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray or line baking sheet with silicone liners. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flax seeds and water to make the flax egg. Set aside until thickened (about 2 minutes) (Skip if using regular egg). After 2 minutes, whisk in milk, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and fold in the oats.

ALMOND BUTTER BANANA:

  1. Stir in almond butter and mashed banana.
  2. Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin tin or silicone muffin liners. Top each serving with sliced bananas.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 18-25 minutes, or until set.
  4. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing from tin. Enjoy immediately or freeze in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave when ready to enjoy.

APPLE CINNAMON

  1. Stir in the additional 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, applesauce, and chopped apples.
  2. Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin tin or silicone muffin liners. Top with more sliced apples, if desired.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 18-25 minutes, or until set.
  4. Enjoy immediately or freeze in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave when ready to enjoy.

CARROT CAKE

  1. Stir in applesauce, nutmeg, carrots and coconut. Fold in raisins and nuts.
  2. Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin tin or silicone muffin liners. Sprinkle with additional coconut, raisins and pecans, if desired.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 18-23 minutes, or until set.
  4. Enjoy immediately or freeze in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave when ready to enjoy.

CHOCOLATE CHUNK

  1. Stir in chocolate chunks. Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin tin or silicone muffin liners. Press additional chocolate chunks on top, if desired.
  2. Bake in preheated oven for 18-23 minutes, or until set.
  3. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing from tin. Enjoy immediately or freeze in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave when ready to enjoy.

HONEY NUT

  1. Stir in the honey (leave out the maple syrup from the base recipe) and nuts.
  2. Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin tin or silicone muffin liners.
  3. Sprinkle additional chopped nuts on top.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 17-23 minutes, or until set.
  5. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing from tin. Enjoy immediately or freeze in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave when ready to enjoy.

LEMON ALMOND POPPY SEED:

  1. Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, almond extract and poppy seeds.
  2. Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin tin or silicone muffin liners. Press tops with sliced almonds.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 17-23 minutes, or until set.
  4. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing from tin. Enjoy immediately or freeze in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave when ready to enjoy.

PINEAPPLE COCONUT

  1. Stir in the pineapple and shredded coconut.
  2. Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin tin or silicone muffin liners. Sprinkle tops with coconut chips, if desired.(optional).
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 17-23 minutes, or until set. 
  4. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing from tin. Enjoy immediately or freeze in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave when ready to enjoy.

PUMPKIN CRANBERRY

  1. Stir in canned pumpkin, pumpkin seeds and cranberries.
  2. Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin tin or silicone muffin liners. Press additional pumpkin seeds and cranberries on top, if desired.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until set.
  4. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing from tin. Enjoy immediately or freeze in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave when ready to enjoy.

RASPBERRY CHOCOLATE CHIP

  1. Stir in chopped fresh raspberries, freeze-dried raspberries and chocolate chips.
  2. Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin tin or silicone muffin liners. Press additional chocolate chips and freeze-dried raspberries, if desired.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 18-23 minutes, or until set.
  4. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing from tin.
  5. Enjoy immediately or freeze in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave when ready to enjoy.

STRAWBERRY

  1. Stir in chopped strawberries and freeze-dried strawberries.
  2. Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin tin or silicone muffin liners. Top with more freeze-dried strawberry slices, if desired.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 18-25 minutes, or until set.
  4. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing from tin. Enjoy immediately or freeze in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave when ready to enjoy.
 
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