Tag Archives | Children

Study Shows Children Can Be Better Than Adults at Figuring Out New Gadgets

Yasmin Anwar at UC Berkeley:

Preschoolers can be smarter than college students at figuring out how unusual toys and gadgets work because they’re more flexible and less biased than adults in their ideas about cause and effect, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Edinburgh.

The findings suggest that technology and innovation can benefit from the exploratory learning and probabilistic reasoning skills that come naturally to young children, many of whom are learning to use smartphones even before they can tie their shoelaces. The findings also build upon the researchers’ efforts to use children’s cognitive smarts to teach machines to learn in more human ways.

“As far as we know, this is the first study examining whether children can learn abstract cause and effect relationships, and comparing them to adults,” said UC Berkeley developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik, senior author of the paper published online in the journal, Cognition.

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Mistreatment of Palestinian Children Continues

Pic: "Stone Cold justice" (C)

Pic: “Stone Cold justice” (C)

César Chelala writes at Common Dreams:

An Australian documentary just released titled “Stone Cold Justice” alleges that some Palestinian children were being physically abused and forced into false confessions by the Israeli military to gather intelligence on Palestinian activists. Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, states in the documentary, “The natural reaction is that this is intolerable – these are intolerable cases, and that I would like my authorities to do their utmost to make sure that this will not be repeated and that this will change. And I believe that this is precisely what we are doing.”

Jewish leaders in Australia issue a blistering rebuke on what they call a “quasi-documentary”. They claim the documentary was a “blanket demonization” of Israel, “laced with sensationalism, inadequate skepticism and fact-checking.” An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) official debunked the allegations of torture contained in the documentary, and branded its director’s portrayal of the Israeli court system as “fictitious, blatant and malicious.”

The documentary comes after a 2013 UNICEF report entitled “Children in Israeli Military Detention (pdf),” which was sharply critical of Israel’s treatment of detained Palestinian children and youths.

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Afghan Children Pay the Price of Brutal War

Pic: US ARMY (PD)

Pic: US ARMY (PD)

César Chelala writes at Common Dreams:

Decades of insecurity and war have provoked a heavy toll on children’s lives and well being. An under-5 mortality rate of 199 per 1,000 live births as reported by UNICEF is among the highest in the world. That means that more than one out of every five children is dead by the time they are five. In addition, health and education systems suffer from lack of funds and qualified professionals, a situation worsened by the security situation.

The statistics are frightening. More than 60% of all child deaths and disabilities are due to respiratory and intestinal infections, and of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles. Diarrhea kills tens of thousands of children every year. Many also die from severance of breast-feeding before time. An estimated 7.5 million children and adults are at risk from hunger and malnutrition, the latter affecting children’s growth in particular.

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Posting A Child’s Life For The World To See Is A Privacy Issue

RECESS_AT_A_SCHOOL_IN_CHATTAROY,_WEST_VIRGINIA,_NEAR_WILLIAMSON,_FINDS_A_GIRL_READY_TO_PLAY_SOFTBALL._THE_TOWN_IS..._-_NARA_-_556453.tif

Pic: NARA (PD)

Some parents are to their children what the NSA and market research corporations are to the rest of us.  Myra Hamilton writes at the Conversation:

Children consistently delight and surprise us, and make us hoot with laughter. It’s only natural to want to share these moments with friends and family. But the trend of posting information about our young children on social media sites raises an important issue: don’t children deserve some privacy?

Traditionally, people may have told funny or icky anecdotes about their children to their nearest and dearest when they saw them, or wheeled out embarrassing photos of their naked children at 21st birthday parties.

But social media sites provide the opportunity to share this information far more widely. Parents can place information permanently online where it may come back to haunt them, or their children.

Many parents post photos and videos online of their young children during their most cute, funny, or embarrassing moments.

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A Peek Into the World of Children’s MMA

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Picture: Sebastian Montalvo/Polaris (C)

CNN covers the controversial world of children’s cage fighting. What do you think, disinfonauts? Barbaric or an acceptable recreational activity for children? Compare it to children’s karate or wrestling. Compare to the fall of Rome. Consider whether you would let your own children do it, if applicable. Use the space below to comment. You must show your work. Use a number two pencil and close your test booklet when you are done.

By the way, I’ve linked to a copy of the story at MMA Share’s site in order to avoid CNN’s nightmarish slideshow maze, but if you’re interested in navigating the gallery you can click here.

Welcome to Thunderdome, where winners and losers can be as young as age 5.

It’s called kids’ MMA, or Mixed Martial Arts, and New York-based photographer Sebastian Montalvo pulls back the curtain on one of the nation’s fastest growing youth sports, which claims more than 3 million boys and girls.

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The Myth of Choice: How Junk-Food Marketers Target Our Kids

Anna Lappé & Food MythBusters have a great new video series combating the processed food industry’s marketing onslaught:

Big Food spends close to $2 billion every year telling kids and teens what’s cool to eat through advertising, promotions, and sponsorships. Meanwhile, across the country, fast-food chains are crowding out grocery stores and supermarkets, narrowing the healthy food choices available.

Scary? It sure is, but together, we can work to curb this predatory marketing and stand up for real food.

We believe that marketing targeting to children and teenagers is a public health crisis. Watch our movies and dig into this page to understand why.

Protect our kids. Tell McDonald’s to end its predatory marketing to children and shut down happymeal.com. Visit http://www.foodmyths.org to take action!

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The Decline In Children’s Freedom And Rise In Mental Disorders

children_playVia Aeon Magazine, psychologist and researcher Peter Gray writes that children’s free time to play is an essential form of learning which is  now being denied them:

For more than 50 years now, we in the United States have been gradually reducing children’s opportunities to play. By about 1900, the need for child labour had declined, so children had a good deal of free time. But then, beginning around 1960, adults began chipping away at that freedom by increasing the time that children had to spend at schoolwork and by reducing children’s freedom to play on their own, even when they were out of school and not doing homework. Parents’ fears led them, ever more, to forbid children from going out to play with other kids unsupervised.

Over the same decades that children’s play has been declining, childhood mental disorders have been increasing. It’s not just that we’re seeing disorders that we overlooked before.

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“Unschooling:” Less Factory, More Garden

schoolsucksUnschooling takes to heart the old maxim that one should never let one’s schooling interfere with one’s education. This article from CNN describes unschooling in a formal setting, but it is more commonly practiced as a form of home-school:

Six-year-old Karina Ricci doesn’t ever have a typical day. She has no schedule to follow, no lessons to complete.

She spends her time watching TV, doing arts and crafts or practicing the piano. She learned to spell by e-mailing with friends; she uses math concepts while cooking dinner.

Everything she knows has been absorbed “organically,” according to her dad, Dr. Carlo Ricci. She’s not just on summer break — this is her life year round as an at-home unschooler.

“It’s incredible how capable she is,” Ricci said in a phone interview from his home in Toronto, Ontario. “And I think that all young people are that capable … if you don’t tell them they can’t or they’re not allowed, they surprise us in a lot of ways.”

Ricci is professor of alternative learning at Nipissing University and an advocate of unschooling, a concept that’s gaining popularity in both Canada and the United States thanks to frustration with the current public education system.… Read the rest

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