Let’s fight (the bad guys): Do superheroes teach kids good or evil?

Everyone loves a good superhero story. Superheroes have been a fixture in American pop culture for decades, but in the past 10-15 years we’ve witnessed a resurgence of superhero mania. Between movies, TV shows, toys, and even national conventions, the superhero fever is real. Given that superhero stories are characterized by themes of fighting against evil, defending others, and promoting justice, many parents encourage their children’s engagement in superhero media, even as early as preschool.…

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The benefits of multilingual education

This November, California voters will vote on Prop 58 (also called Prop 58-LEARN [Language Education, Acquisition, and Readiness Now]; Senate Bill 1174). This bill, introduced by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), will bring back California parents’ option to choose multilingual education for their children. I will be upfront and disclose that—as a researcher of bilingual children’s language and cognitive development—I am fully in support of this bill. But my goal for writing this post is…

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On Essena O’Neill, #fitspo, and the “real-ness” of social media.

If you’ve been on social media in the past 48 hours, you may have seen one of several articles making the rounds about Essena O’Neill, the former teen Instagram model (yes, that’s a thing!) who gained popularity for her bikini-clad selfies and fitness tips. Essena made the decision to quit Instagram after growing disillusioned and unhappy with the staged nature of her social media presence. Before deleting her Instagram account, Essena recaptioned all of her…

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Getting your Zzz’s as a baby: How you learn to sleep depends on your culture

The topic of how to get babies to sleep can be a touchy and stressful subject for many parents. There’s been a lot of popular articles written on the topic, and these articles have been published in unsurprising places like Parents Magazine and HuffPost Parents, as well as some less expected places like The Washington Post and Forbes. Articles like these are often filled with information about the pros and cons of every imaginable sleep arrangement…

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Understanding Bullying: Facts vs. Fiction

At 10:00 P.M. every night, I receive an email update from Google Alerts listing all the news articles from the day containing the word “bully”. Some of these are inspiring stories of victims who have spoken up and made a difference, others are heartbreaking accounts of bully-related suicides. What strikes me about many of these news stories is that they oftentimes perpetuate certain myths of bullying. Although some components of bullying may seem easily explained…

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Infants Learn to Walk by Learning to Fall

When a baby starts to fall, our natural instincts tell us to protect them and quickly catch them.  In general, parents’ instincts are to catch their children before they “fall” in many aspects in life.  But, as with many things that require you to fail before you can succeed, infants need to learn to fall before they can learn how to walk.  Researchers at New York University directed by Dr. Karen Adolph have conducted research…

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How little does it take to make someone racist?

Suppose I told you today that, from now on, you would be identified in your work place or school as being on the Blue Team. Then I listed a group of peers you didn’t know well as also being on your team. Another group would be the Red Team. A few weeks go by, during which you don’t work in your color group, nor do you hear any information about what the Red Team is…

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Media 24/7 in kid’s lives

A new study came out from Kaiser that talks about the astonishing amount of time that children spend with media today. Media is defined as tv, music, video games, print, computer and movies. Today’s kids 8-18 spend 7 1/2 hours using media, almost as long as an adult work day! Before parents stress too much, we should remember that in the 19th century, adults were worrying about a new media that they thought would ruin…

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