Authors: Bob Sable and Madison Joseph
There is growing concern about social media’s effects on mental health, especially for kids.
In January, Seattle Public Schools filed a lawsuit against Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube for their roles in “creating a youth mental health crisis.” In February, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing about the issue, with some senators demanding social media companies be held accountable.
How does social media affect mental health? Are the concerns valid? And if so, what can parents and other adults do to protect kids (and themselves)?
Dr. Yolanda Evans, co-chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine and a principal investigator in the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s, sees the effects of social media firsthand.
In this Q & A with Dr. Evans, On the Pulse shares her expertise and provides helpful resources for families and caregivers.
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Authors: Madison Joseph
Seattle Children’s Therapeutic Gaming Program brings the power of video games, virtual reality and other therapeutic technology to enhance patient experiences and improve outcomes.
The program uses a variety of video games, consoles and technologies to help patients cope with the stress and boredom of hospitalization, as well as to provide opportunities for socialization, education and rehabilitation.
Since its inception in 2018, thanks to grant funding from Child’s Play Charity, the program has become a leader in the field of therapeutic gaming.
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Authors: Casey Egan
The new service brings care closer to home and increases access to urgent care for kids and teens across the state.
Beginning today, Seattle Children’s is offering telemedicine for urgent care services for the first time.
The new Virtual Urgent Care will expand services beyond our four in-person urgent care locations in Seattle, Federal Way, Everett and Bellevue to any eligible patient in the state of Washington.
This new service will bring care even closer to home and increase access to urgent care for kids and teens across the state.
Virtual urgent care allows patients to stay at home, or in another location of their choosing within Washington state, and use technology to see, hear and talk with a provider through a computer, tablet or other digital device.
At a time when health care organizations everywhere continue to see high patient volumes, this service will provide a new option for care for families in communities across Washington state.
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Authors: Heather Cooper and Ashley Speller
It’s important for parents and kids to talk about the dangers of viral ‘challenges.’
These dangerous stunts can involve ingesting things, such as biting into a liquid laundry pod or eating an intensely hot pepper. Other challenges can include dares that urge kids to get high or faint by taking several antihistamines, hyperventilating or through choking.
Some challenges circulating in schools push kids to steal items such as the restroom soap dispenser or a teacher’s coffee cup. There are also dares that involve shoplifting specific items from a grocery store.
Not surprisingly, many of these challenges are designed to create sensational social media, urging kids to capture their stunts on video and share them online. These viral moments, however, have caused serious injury among youth, school suspension or even arrest and prosecution.
Social media often glamorizes these kinds of stunts, so tweens and teens can feel the temptation to try them. Youth do not always think through the real risks or consequences, and stunts that seem silly or fun can result in injury. This is true for games like the ‘duct tape challenge,’ which boasts the goal of escaping after being bound by friends in the super-sticky, heavy-duty tape.
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Authors: Amanda Maier
“Before COVID-19 restrictions, patients facing surgery were given the opportunity to tour the hospital with their families ahead of time to help ease the nerves and to become comfortable with the process. Since that option became unavailable, Dr. Henry Ou took it upon himself to create a virtual tour that a kid can walk through on Minecraft! In their world! It is very impressive, and you can tell he has spent a lot of time and effort perfecting it for the kiddos.” — Mariette Broncheau, partner employee — Research
As a self-described “kid at heart,” Dr. Henry Ou said he’s got a good sense for how patients may be feeling, including what they’re interested in and which situations may be scary for them. When the pandemic struck and hospital visitation had to be limited, Ou used his kid-like perspective to accomplish a task very different than his usual surgical case — creating a Minecraft version of the hospital.
Minecraft is a video game that allows players to virtually explore a 3D world with different terrain and environments to accomplish various tasks or missions — a virtual LEGO world of sorts. Over the past 18 months, Dr. Ou has taken thousands of videos and photographs around the hospital and spent hundreds of hours during his personal time designing a Minecraft version of the hospital building.
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Authors: Seattle Children's Press Team
The latest screen-time related research from Dr. Pooja Tandon, a child health and development expert at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, was inspired by her oldest son.
“When my son entered middle school, I learned that students in many middle and high schools were allowed to have their phones with them at all times,” Tandon said. “I looked into this a bit more and found that even in schools where policies limited use during class, cell phones could still be used unrestricted during lunch and recess.”
This struck Tandon, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, whose research focuses on promoting healthy active and outdoor play for children and teens.
“My fellow pediatricians and I follow guidelines that recommend children and teens enjoy two hours of age-appropriate recreational screen time a day,” she said. “Yet, many children may be spending most of their waking hours in school with what could be unsupervised and unrestricted access to their phones.” Read full post »
Authors: Evan Koch
Physical activity may be one way for teen cancer survivors to reduce their risk of several chronic conditions. A team led by researchers at Seattle Children’s recently tested the practicality of using a Fitbit Flex and Facebook to help encourage physical activity among survivors.
The battle against cancer continues well after remission for many adolescents and young adults. Cancer survivors are at increased risk to develop chronic diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and second cancers.
Physical activity can be an important factor to help lower the risk of developing these conditions while providing an increased quality of life among survivors. However, many studies have shown that cancer survivors maintain a lower level of physical activity than their peers.
A team of researchers led by Dr. Jason Mendoza at Seattle Children’s Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development and Dr. Eric Chow at Seattle Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center recently tested the feasibility of a mobile health intervention aimed at encouraging increased physical activity among teen cancer survivors. The team tapped into wearable fitness technology, the Fitbit Flex, social media and self-determination theory (SDT) to develop an approach that meets teen cancer survivors where they’re at. Read full post »
Authors: Hanady Kader
The story of John Kahan and his wife, Heather, losing their son Aaron to SIDS 13 years ago inspired his colleagues at Microsoft to develop a data analysis tool for SIDS research, which they have donated to Seattle Children’s Research Institute. (Photo by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)
John Kahan manages a team of renowned Microsoft data scientists who are changing how society can use data effectively, from deciding when to plant crops to creating predictive business models.
But when he’s not at work, Kahan commits his time to a personal mission: Raising awareness about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and fundraising for research. John and Heather Kahan lost their baby boy, Aaron, to SIDS shortly after his birth 13 years ago.
When Kahan’s data science team learned about Aaron, they volunteered to apply Microsoft technology to SIDS data and donate the company’s emerging tech tools to Seattle Children’s researchers who study SIDS.
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Authors: Heather Cooper
The New Year is a time to look forward and consider making changes to improve health, wellness and overall happiness. Typical resolutions revolve around being more physically active, eating better, spending quality time with loved ones and breaking bad habits. Dr. Megan Moreno, adolescent medicine specialist and a researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, offers an idea that can help parents and teens free up time to focus on those resolutions or can be a worthy resolution of its own – a social media detox.
“A social media detox is a period of time in which a person steps away from using social media and reflects on the positives and negatives of being connected via social networks,” said Moreno. “Changing up your family’s social media use in the New Year can benefit you in many ways, from freeing up time for making healthy lifestyle changes, to improving your outlook on life.” Read full post »
Authors: Hanady Kader
New media policies from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend creating customized plans for your family’s media use.
In our digital age, it’s not uncommon to see a toddler on an iPad at the airport or a teenager at the mall fixated on a smartphone. To help families establish healthy habits for media use, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released new media and screen time policies for children, from infants to teenagers.
The two new policies update previous recommendations and emphasize the importance of critical health behaviors such as sleep, cognitive development and physical activity. The policies recommend those daily priorities be addressed first, followed by mindful selection and engagement with media. Read full post »