Under Trump, EPA kills funding for kids' health research centers

“The Trump administration is ending funding for a network of research centers focused on environmental threats to kids, imperiling several long-running studies of pollutants' effects on child development,” report @CorbinHiar & @ArielWittenberg for @EENewsUpdates. Read the rest

Amazon told to stop selling kids' school supplies that contain over 80 times the legal limit of lead

This pencil pouch has over 35 times the legal limit of lead, 29 times the legal limit of cadmium.

Epic DIY medieval castle playroom/bedroom built for grandkids

What an amazing DIY castle playroom-bedroom for some seriously lucky grandkids. Read the rest

FTC fines app TikTok/Musical.ly $5.7 million for child data privacy violations

Today's FTC ruling impacts how the TikTok app works for users under the age of 13.

What did we do to deserve dogs?

This is what happiness and best-friends-forever friendship looks like. Read the rest

Instagram to blur self-harm images after Molly Russell's suicide

Molly Russell, 14, took her life in November 2017.

Adam Savage is back, in 'MythBusters Jr.' on Science Channel (Wednesdays 9 pm ET/6 pm PT)

Adam Savage is back with an all-new show, and he’ll be tweeting live during tonight’s MythBusters Jr. on ⁦The Science Channel⁩. The episode is named "Battery Blast," so we're expecting there will be explodey explosions, and they're mentioning “straight as an arrow” so, pointy weapons. Read the rest

Rigorous new scientific study: Link between kids screen time and their well-being is highly overstated

In a heavy-duty new scientific paper published this week, University of Oxford researchers argue that the association between adolescent well-being and digital technology use is tiny. Really tiny. From Scientific American:

(The paper by experimental psychologist Andrew Przybylski and grad student Amy Orben) reveals the pitfalls of the statistical methods scientists have employed and offers a more rigorous alternative. And, importantly, it uses data on more than 350,000 adolescents to show persuasively that, at a population level, technology use has a nearly negligible effect on adolescent psychological well-being, measured in a range of questions addressing depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, pro-social behavior, peer-relationship problems and the like. Technology use tilts the needle less than half a percent away from feeling emotionally sound. For context, eating potatoes is associated with nearly the same degree of effect and wearing glasses has a more negative impact on adolescent mental health...

“We’re trying to move from this mind-set of cherry-picking one result to a more holistic picture of the data set,” Przybylski says. “A key part of that is being able to put these extremely miniscule effects of screens on young people in real-world context.”

Not surprisingly though, your mileage may vary. Not surprisingly, it all depends on the kid and what they're actually doing on the screen.

In a previous paper, Przybylski and colleague Netta Weinstein demonstrated a “Goldilocks” effect showing moderate use of technology—about one to two hours per day on weekdays and slightly more on weekends—was “not intrinsically harmful,” but higher levels of indulgence could be.

Read the rest

LEGO stop-motion short film by 8-year-old girl animator

This 8 year old is a lot more patient and creative than most adults I know. What a cool little kid-made short film. Read the rest

The Chinese government is putting tracking chips into school uniforms to watch every move kids make

Just when you thought that the Chinese government's extensive surveillance of the country's citizens couldn't get any creepier or more intrusive, Xi Jingping slyly raises an eyebrow and asks the west to hold his Tsingtao:

From The Epoch Times:

In China’s latest quest to build an all-seeing surveillance state, schools have become part of the state’s monitoring apparatus.

Students at more than 10 schools in Guizhou Province, one of China’s poorest provinces, and the neighboring Guangxi region are now required to wear “intelligent uniforms,” which are embedded with electronic chips that track their movements.

The uniforms allow school officials, teachers, and parents to keep track of the exact times that students leave or enter the school, Lin Zongwu, principal of the No. 11 School of Renhuai in Guizhou Province, told the state-run newspaper Global Times on Dec. 20.

If students skip school without permission, an alarm will be triggered.

If students try to game the system by swapping uniforms, an alarm also will sound, as facial-recognition equipment stationed at the school entrance can match a student’s face with the chip embedded in the uniform.

Each of the "intelligent uniforms" contain two tracking chips which, according to the company that makes them, can withstand temperatures of up to 150 degrees Celsius and at least 500 runs through a washing machine -- so much for accidentally destroying the hardware. In addition to keeping track of the whereabouts of the kids that wear them for every moment of their school day, the uniforms' chip set can also tell when a child is nodding off during the school day and be used to make cashless purchases of school lunches and other educational necessities. Read the rest

Bay Area organization offers free birthday parties to homeless kids, cake and all

Habitot Children's Museum in Berkeley, California is making an unusually generous offer to the families of homeless kids. They are providing them with the opportunity to celebrate their child's birthday at their facility for free. Their free birthday party offer includes all the standards: decor, pizza, juice, cake, and even goodie bags for the guests. Plus, they gift the birthday child something special.

Now, I'm not sure the age limit for the eligible children but, according to their site, the museum serves infants, toddlers and preschoolers.

Want to learn more? Email the museum's Family Programs Manager at familyprograms@habitot.org. Also, if you have the means, please consider donating to Habitot so they can keep the magic going.

photo by Yoshika Mcalister Read the rest

Meet Helen, 5, detained by Trump, forced to sign away her rights in court.

“On Helen’s form, which was filled out with assistance from officials, there is a checked box next to a line that says, “I withdraw my previous request for a Flores bond hearing.” Beneath that line, the five-year-old signed her name in wobbly letters.”

What the Trump administration is doing to these thousands of children is morally repulsive. We have to stop it. Read the rest

Austistic boy hates being in photos, mom lets him wear T-Rex suit for family pics

Photographer and mom Samantha, aka Roaming Magnolias, shared this incredible gallery of photos on Reddit/IMGUR today. One of her sons is autistic and hates being photographed. His sibling does not mind it. Mom's creative parenting solution, and some amazing images, below. Read the rest

Couple jailed after abusing child and selling him to pedophiles

A German 48-year old citizen and her 39-year old partner have been sentenced to 12 years in prison after being found guilty of repeatedly raping her son. If that’s not enough, the filth also sold the boy to pedophiles she found on the Dark Net, who further abused the child and filmed it, over a two-year period. It goes without saying that Germany, and most anyone else that’s heard about it, has been horrified by the case.

From The Guardian:

In Tuesday’s verdict, the couple was ordered to pay €42,500 (£38,000) in compensation to the boy and another victim, a young girl.

Local authorities have been accused of failing to protect the boy, who now lives with a foster family. The mother’s partner was supposed to be banned from having contact with children. Officials removed the boy from the family in March last year, but a local court sent him back weeks later.

According to The Telegraph, six others were jailed for their involvement in the sexual abuse of the boy. Because of the way that Germany handles criminal cases that involve rape, none of the parties responsible can be named by the media.

I can’t even begin to imagine the life-long harm that’s been done to those kids in the name of self-fulfillment and greed, nor can I understand the how a system designed to protect society’s most vulnerable failed them them so completely.

Image via Flickr, courtesy of Blogtrepreneur Read the rest

Brazil's ambitious anti-poverty initiative engages its youngest citizens

New research suggests that a key cause of poverty is poor parents' lack of engagement with neonates and toddlers. Brazil is trying to change that by showing parents the importance of interacting meaningfully with young children through eye contact and activities. Read the rest

Ohio judge: transgender teen lacks "maturity, knowledge and stability" to get a name change

The slow eroding of autonomy for trans youth continues apace in Ohio, where a judge denied a legal name change to a trans teen who has taken all available social and medical steps required to do so. Read the rest

Beach Toy Library: Borrow a sand toy, leave a sand toy

There have been all kinds of neat alt-libraries, places where you can check out things other than books. There are ones for tools, American Girl dolls, and musical instruments (and undoubtedly lots more).

Here in Alameda, at the entrance of a charming estuary on the west end of town called Crab Cove, there's a Beach Toy Library. You can "check out" a sand-friendly toy to play with out of the wooden box, or leave one that you found. I love the spirit of this but given the condition of the toys in the box, I suggest people leave some new toys they "find" at the store.

photos by Rusty Blazenhoff

(I Love Alameda) Read the rest

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