Sunday, July 15, 2012

Children and computers

Very interesting article over at The Guardian.

"Her (Dr Livingstone's ) advice for parents is two-fold. First, get online with your children when they're little, to help them figure out how to manage their internet use. "And second," she says, "less shouting at the kid to get off the computer and more, 'Let's go to the park.' We're a busy bunch of parents and it's easy to put them in front of a game while we get on with stuff we need to do. All kids say computer use is a time filler – a way of avoiding boredom."

Boredom. My childhood was filled with it. Hours spent watching raindrops crawling down the window. Days doodling alternative worlds, or inventing radio shows on play-and-record tape machines. Today's kids have far more tedium-killers, from all-day cartoons to a never-ending parade of squeaking, beeping, speaking electronic toys. Plus, they expect us to help them with their entertainment. I don't remember getting instructions from adults about how to do stuff, other than how to ride a bike. And even that was just a sharp push in the back as you careered downhill towards a ditch. Generally, we were left alone to get on with whatever we were doing.

These days, not only are we encouraged to show our love for our kids but increasing awareness of children's rights means we also have to take more care of them. The law insists. You can't drive without them being safely strapped in. You can't leave them alone while you nip to the shops. No way would you chuck an eight-year-old out of the house at 9am on a Saturday and tell him not to come back before tea.

Perhaps it's no surprise that we occasionally shove them in front of computer games. Yes, it's to give us a break from them. But it's also to give them a break from us."

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The health risks and benefits of cycling in urban environments compared with car use: health impact assessment study

Excellent study published in the British Medical Journal stating that:

"The health benefits of physical activity from cycling using the bicycle sharing scheme (Bicing) in Barcelona, Spain, were large compared with the risks from inhalation of air pollutants and road traffic incidents.

Public bicycle sharing schemes can help improve public health."