This month's postings, September 2008


Put down those scissors and run over here! There’s a new warning about a dangerous new pastime that is causing serious accidents: oblivious texting. The American College of Emergency Physicians says there are increasing reports of injuries resulting from text messaging while walking, biking, inline skating and driving. Most injuries are cuts and sprains caused by texters walking into lampposts or walls, or tripping over curbs. (I am not making this up.) But several injuries involving children have been serious: A 15-year-old girl fell off her horse while texting, suffering head and back injuries; and a 13-year-old girl was burned on her belly, arms and legs after texting while cooking noodles. Talk to your kids about oblivious texting — and then be sure to set a good example. Srsly.

Boob tube, part XXVII

That friendly drone in the corner may not be as harmless as you think. Turns out, having a television set on in the background is bad for babies’ brains. A new study in the journal Child Development finds that even when children don’t understand or pay attention to the TV, it’s interfering with their cognitive development. In the study, 50 kids ages 1–3 were given a toy to play with while a TV was off, and then on. When the TV was on, children at each age spent less time playing, focused less on their playing and frequently switched toys — even though they never looked at the television for more than a few seconds! ‘Nuff said.

Food lures

TV ads that feature kid-friendly foods are on the rise; now, we’re getting a good idea of just how much food advertisers are spending to target your kids. A new Federal Trade Commission report finds that the biggest food companies spent $1.6 billion in 2006 on TV ads, store displays, special packaging, Web sites, contests — even e-cards! — to suck in young eaters. That’s actually less than some predicted, but still, it’s a whopping chunk of green to lure green consumers. Among the biggest spenders: soda companies, spending $492 million to target kids in 2006 alone.

Smart zone

Kids who need a little help with schoolwork — or just need a quiet place to study — can now target the Study Zone at King County Libraries. Trained (and background-checked) volunteers will provide free tutoring for kids in grades K–12 during Zone hours on subjects from math, to science, to WASL and SAT test prep. Volunteers are also needed; high school and college students can earn community service hours. Visit for info .

New arrival

One of PM’s early-learning partners, Talaris Research Institute, is welcoming triplets: three new kits to help parents learn about child development at baby, toddler and preschool ages. Each kit includes an instructional DVD and booklet, and age-appropriate books and toys to help you engage with your little one. The kits are $99 each; visit for more info.

Healthy baby

At ParentMap, we’re expecting, too! Due in September: our newest little maplet, HealthMap. It’s packed with info parents want and need, on everything from nutrition and immunizations, to stuttering and cybermedicine. HealthMap is the latest in our growing family of trusted resources for parents; watch for LearningMap in October, too!

Money me!

That’s what moms told us in this month’s PM poll. We asked Puget Soundarea moms to dish about their secret wish. Forty-three percent said they’d chose to have $25k more in annual income. Tied for second were dropping 15 pounds, and having a more romantic partner relationship (21 percent each). Another 8 percent of moms said they’d wish to have an extra hour in their day every day. Only 5 percent said they’d opt for upping their IQs, which can only mean one thing: Northwest moms are plenty smart already.

Celebrate! Grandparents Day is on Sept. 7!

— Kristen Dobson


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