My Blog - Children's Medical Center

Posts for: January, 2020

Modeling healthy phone habits for our children can be challenging. Oftentimes, your phone is used for work, ordering groceries, checking the weather, nearly everything you do can be done on your phone. We are more connected now than we’ve ever been. However, all that connecting may be hurting your actual connection with your children and their ability to learn.

Here are 4 reasons to put down your phone:

  1. Positive feedback builds self-esteem. Children are constantly learning and they want to show you what they’ve learned. They thrive on your reaction. By responding with positive attention­ — a smile, a laugh, words of encouragement and affirmation — you are building their confidence and encouraging them to keep trying.
  2. Eye contact creates a stronger connection and emotional impact. This is especially important with babies. You can see a baby light up when you make eye contact and talk to them. That contact is vital to their brain growth and development.
  3. Talking to your child builds brain power. Children learn by watching and you set the example for what they’re picking up. Communication and social skills are developed through listening, talking, reading, singing and playing with their parents. That’s hard to do when you’re on the phone.
  4. Your child is your priority. When a child is competing for your time and attention, they can feel unimportant. Children learn how to interact with others and how to love others by watching their parents. It’s based on how their parents and caregivers love them, teach them, and encourage them.

So, what can you do as a parent to change your digital phone habits?

  • Designate tech-free times. Make it a daily habit that you do not use your phone for certain periods of time. For example, mealtimes, bath time, or even designate certain rooms as tech-free, like your child’s bedroom.
  • Plan tech-free outings. Quality time can create memories that will last a lifetime. Yes, you want to get that picture, but not every moment of every outing needs to be documented. Try to make some outings digital-free and be present in the moment.
  • Use technology effectively. There will be times that you have to be on your phone in front of your children. Include them in what you’re doing. Talk to them about what you’re doing, what you see, ask them questions about it. Create a dialog that shows them you care about them and they are more important than your phone.

Are You Concerned About Your Child’s Speech and Language Development?

Children’s Medical Center can help answer any questions you have, address any concerns and perform an assessment to evaluate your child’s development. Call us today to set schedule an appointment.

Palm Harbor (727) 787-6335

West Chase (813) 891-6501

Trinity (727) 376-8404

Lutz (813) 751-3131

Here are some common questions parents and caregivers have when it comes to the HPV vaccine.

What is HPV?

There are a few types of human papillomavirus (HPV). Some types cause warts on the skin, others effect the genital or anal areas and some types can cause cervical cancer. The two most common types that cause cancer are type 6 and 11.

How Common is HPV?

Twenty million Americans are currently infected with HPV and nearly six million Americans are infected every year. Nearly half of all new infections are diagnosed in girls and young women between 15-24 years old. HPV is the most commonly sexually transmitted disease in the U.S. It’s common for someone infected with HPV to not know it. The best way to avoid contracting HPV is through abstinence.

What is the link between HPV and Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer has only one cause, and that is HPV. Oftentimes, cervical cancer does not occur until twenty years after the initial infection. If given the HPV vaccine before becoming sexually active, the likelihood of contracting HPV and in case, cervical cancer, is reduced nearly 100%.

Who Should Get the HPV Vaccine?

Children between the ages of 9-12 are recommended to receive the HPV vaccine. It is given as two shots, spaced 6-12 months apart, if the vaccine is received before the age of 15. For those that receive it after the age of 15, three doses are recommended. Getting the vaccine for your children before they become sexually active is imperative.

Is the HPV Vaccine Safe?

Yes, the HPV vaccine, also known as GARDASIL®, is safe. It is made using surface protein from the virus, therefore it cannot cause HPV or cervical cancer. Some symptoms you may see include redness or tenderness at the site of the infection or a low-grade fever. The vaccine will last a lifetime and help prevent cancer.

If you have questions about the HPV vaccine for your child, contact Children’s Medical Center.

We are here to answer any questions you may have and help guide your decision-making when it comes to the HPV vaccine for your adolescent child. If you need assistance or recommendations in how to communicate with your child on how HPV can be contracted, we can offer ways to foster healthy conversations.

The National Institutes of Health has launched a study that will be conducted on kids ages 9-10 throughout the United States. The study is in the early phases and will last ten years, but the early results are fascinating. Although the study will take years, here are some of the results to date:

  • MRI results from 4,500 participants showed varying differences in the brains of children that use digital screens more than seven hours per day. The biggest difference being premature thinning of the cortex.
  • Kids who spend more than two hours per day on screens are already performing lower on thinking and language tests.

The study was highlighted on ‘60 Minutes’ which featured multiple doctors and researchers that are taking part. We highly encourage you to watch the full segment to see how screen time could be affecting your child’s brain. Here are few key takeaways:

  • Babies younger than 18-24 months should avoid digital use completely, other than facetime for phone calls. The first two years is one of the most crucial times for brain development in children.
  • When Toddlers are using i-pads, tablets and phones to watch videos or play games, their attention is captured for a much longer period of time than during any other type of play. The products are designed to hold their attention as long as possible. Parents should control the amount of time a child is using them, and an adult should always be present.
  • Findings are showing that the percentage of teens that say they are lonely or depressed has spiked in recent years. A test that limited college-students to just 30 minutes of social media use a day, found that they felt significant decreases in loneliness and depression. Talk to you teen about how much time they are spending on social media.
  • Scans on the brains of young adults are showing a dopamine effect when they are actively using their phones. The release of dopamine has a role in cravings and desire. This constant gratification means they are much more likely to be impulsive and stay on social media compulsively.

Technology is here to stay — it’s part of your day-to-day, but how you use it, engage with it and allow it to be a part of your young child’s life is up to you. If you have any questions about how this technology is affecting your child, please call Children’s Medical Center. Our doctors are happy to help guide you an assist in creating a media plan that works best for you and your family.