Is there a metal swing set in any back yard where your child plays?

DON’T let your child NEAR it unless you are sure it is anchored into the ground. Cement works well. Seriously.

Three-year-old Ann Reese and her parents were at a party on Christmas Eve. It was warm. They were outside. Ann Reese was walking behind a metal back yard swing set where other children were swinging. She was pushing her stroller with her three favorite dolls. Suddenly, the swing set fell over, striking Ann Reese. She died later that day.

If you have such a swing set in your back yard, anchor it now. If the day care center or the home where your child stays while you are at work has a metal swing set that is not anchored, do not let your child go anywhere in the yard until it is anchored.

It is easy to think, “But this can’t happen to my family.” I hope that is true. However, I know Ann Reese’s family never imagined such a thing could happen to them.

Please make sure any metal swing set in your child’s life cannot come out of the ground.

When is an online game really advertising?

Ads are everywhere. We can’t escape them. There was a time, though, when they were not part of our children’s everyday lives. But, that was a long, long time ago. We’ve come a long way from the days of large print on the outside of cereal boxes “SECRET DECODER RING INSIDE!” and “Toy Surprise Inside” of Cracker Jack.

There are now thousands of opportunities for our children to be exposed to advertising, and for most children (AND parents), it is not easy to figure out where entertainment ends and marketing begins. Children’s TV shows, both successful and not so successful, have long fueled toy manufacturers’ cross marketing efforts by adding dolls, action figures, games, etc. to toy chests everywhere.

A recent article in The Washington Post (“When is a kid’s online game actually an ad?”) discussed the growing difficulty of figuring out when an online game (in this case, an IHOP game based on Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax) is really just an ad directed at children. The Children’s Advertising Review Unit said it was advertising. IHOP said it was not.  To children, a screen is a screen is a screen. They do not differentiate between a TV and other screens in their lives. However, neither the Federal Trade Commission nor the Federal Communications Commission regulates non-traditional, electronic media. Marketers will have a field day until they are told not to.

I’m not in favor of lots of regulation; however, when it comes to children, I do think there is a need to limit the amount of exposure our children have to marketing directed toward them. I’m sure companies love that market, because children are so susceptible. Children have not yet learned to question and filter what looks like information but is really marketing. Grownups – parents – are supposed to do that. But with the enormous growth on ways to have access to children, parents may be outmaneuvered in this arena. Here is a link to some examples of cross marketing to children.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Should the government regulate advertising to children? What can parents do?

Tamiflu Approved for Infants

The FDA announced its approval for Tamiflu to be given to infants as young as two weeks old.

Important information for parents who give their infant Tamiflu:

  • Dosage must be carefully calculated for each infant according to the infant’s weight. That is, there is no ‘standard’ dosage for infants as there is for older children and adults.
  • Tamiflu is not approved to prevent flu infection in young infants. It is approved for that use in older children and adults.
  • A special dispense must be provided by the pharmacist so the proper dosage can be administered. The dispenser that has come with the medication will not give the proper dosage.

Be sure to ask questions and get every answer you need from both the health care provider and the pharmacist before giving the medication to your infant. Also understand what side effects to watch for.

Talking to Kids About Scary News

Words are inadequate. How do we even get our brain around what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut?

Children need help in getting their brains around extraordinary events – often just when parents are least able to figure out what to do or say. What do you tell your five year old? Your eleven year old?

Here is a link to an article with some helpful information – 5 Tips on Talking to Kids About Scary News.

Fear of Concussions

I remember when I was young and thought I was “bullet proof.” Others might get hurt while taking physical risks, but NOT ME!

All children and teens go through bullet-proof stages. One of the challenges of being a parent is guiding our son or daughter through those times to help them make good decisions.

Some parents who clearly recall the bumps and bruises and stitches and breaks and tears from their athletic youth are re-thinking what sports they will allow their own children to try. Especially with the recent focus on concussions in professional football, the fear of concussions may be reshaping the way parents make those decisions.

This article from The Inquirer tells the story of how one family handled the dilemma when their son wanted to play youth football.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-football. When I was growing up, my father was a high school football coach (in Texas), and I was the only one of my parents’ four children who did not play football. (Hint: I was the only girl.) I must say, though, that after watching my son out there on the football field, I was glad when he chose to concentrate on a different sport.

High School Football Brain Injuries the Highest Since 1984

Here is a blog post from my friends at Bisnar Chase, personal injury lawyers in California. This post has important information about the dangers of high school football players suffering catastrophic brain injuries.

I posted a blog about high school football brain injuries earlier this week.

Parents are told they must sign a waiver as part of giving permission for their child to participate in sports that gives up their right to seek compensation if their child is injured while playing. In Virginia, those waivers are not enforceable if someone’s negligence causes injury. So, if your child has been injured while playing sports, you should contact a Virginia child injury lawyer to determine whether your child can be compensated for her injury.

Do not assume you are without a remedy until you consult a lawyer.


Toys You Can’t Have

The Banned Toy Museum has a list of the top ten banned toys. Some are from long ago, some from very recently. According to the website, “these are toys that someone says you can’t have.”

I mean, after all, why would anyone think it was a bad idea to buy a kid an Atomic Energy Lab with four kinds of uranium ore (one of which is 250,000 more toxic than hydrogen cyanide)? Or a Derringer belt buckle that could shoot a bullet by “extending your stomach.” Who knew?

Or, how about lawn darts that pierced anything they hit, including children’s bodies?

We hear and read lots of people complaining that we are becoming a country of sissies and children are being coddled and over protected by regulations. I say I’m happy not to have such choices as these (and others on the list) available to children.

Football — Do Our Children Need It?

What do these NFL quarterbacks have in common?

  • Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
  • Alex Smith,  San Francisco 49ers
  • Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles

All three of them suffered concussions during football games on November 11, 2012. That means that 25% of the NFL games that day saw quarterbacks leave the game with a concussion.

There likely is no organization with more money to be used to provide protective gear to its players than the NFL. There likely is no sport with more resources to regulate player behavior and to provide professional referees on the field. Yet, concussions continue to occur and players continue to live lives greatly altered by their professional careers.

So, do we really want our sons to play football? Are our neighborhood sports programs safer than the professional sport with millions of dollars to be used to protect players?

The answer to the second question is yes & no. Youth sports are “safer” just because youth are not as strong or aggressive as professional players are. Youth sports come up short, however, in financial and personnel resources. Youth sports rely heavily on volunteers to run the programs, coach the players and regulate the play. Adults who volunteer to work in youth sports typically have experience playing or coaching or refereeing that sport. Also typically, none is a professional. Furthermore, youth sports do not always have trained medical teams standing on the sidelines.

Am I advocating eliminating professional football? No. The NFL is made up of adult men who can make their own decisions about whether and how and how long to play the “game”.  I have recently begun to hear from sports guys, however, that the growing attention being paid to the number of concussions and other serious injuries that happen on the gridiron may mean the beginning of the end of that violent sport. We’ll see about that.

Am I advocating eliminating youth sports, tackle football in particular? I’m not sure. To a great extent, kids participate in sports at their parents’ behest, or at least acquiescence. More often than not, the parent had a good experience with the youth sport and wants the child to have the same kind of experience. None of that is objectionable. However, when you sign your son up for youth tackle football, be sure to think about the seriousness of the risk you are taking. Sure, most kids who play tackle football as a youth do not get a concussion or broken neck or even a broken arm or leg. However, the consequences of a brain or spinal injury are so severe, parents should take time to seriously consider those consequences. Your son’s life may depend on it.



When Your Child’s Head Has Been Hurt – Information from the Brain Injury Association of Virginia

Child head injuries can be confusing for adults. How do you know if your child is really okay?

One thing NOT to do is to treat them as if they are small adults. They are not. Their brains are not finished developing, and their injuries are different from brain injuries in adults.

Some children have problems that may not be noticed right away after a hit on the head. Here are some tips from the Brain Injury Association of Virginia about what to look for and what to do When Your Child’s Head Has Been Hurt. Click on the “Taking Care of Your Child After Their Head’s Been Hurt” link to go to the downloadable PDF document.



Search for “When Your Child’s Head Has Been Hurt” in the search box for the downloadable PDF document.)

Can You Stop Your Teen from Texting While Driving? Here’s Some Help.

A majority (61%) of the teens who participated in a recent AT&T Teen Driver Survey admitted to texting while driving – and to “glancing” at their cell phone while driving.

Teens are not the only drivers who text while driving; however, they are the drivers that parents can put some limits on.

Several months ago, Techlicious posted a blog with great information for parents to use to curb teens’ ability to text while driving. Although the blog was posted last May and mentions summer driving, the information still applies. Although the solutions are not perfect, waiting for the perfect app while doing nothing does not seem to make sense to me.

There are a growing number of tools for parents to use to keep their teens safe behind the wheel when it comes to texting. I hope parents will make use of what is available.

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