Stories about: Thriving

5 tips for helping a child with needle phobia

child teddy bear blood draw needle phobia

Many children are afraid of needles to varying degrees, and may become anxious in the days leading up to a medical visit or take longer to get shots or blood draws because of their fear. For some, that fear can reach the point of interfering with their medical care.

On our sister blog Thriving, child psychologist Carolyn Snell, PhD, of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Medical Coping Clinic shares five tips for families that can help them prepare their child for blood draws and other procedures requiring needle sticks. She also shares suggestions for approaching situations where a child’s needle phobia is so great that it delays necessary care.

Do you care for children with needle phobia? Consider sharing Snell’s tips with their families or caregivers.

How much screen time is too much screen time for a preteen?

preteen video game Minecraft mediatrician Michael Rich
(Volt Collection/Shutterstock)

How much screen time is too much? That’s the essence of a question one parent sent in to Boston Children’s Hospital’s Mediatrician, Michael Rich, MD, MPH, director of the hospital’s Center on Media and Child Health, about the hours upon hours her preteen daughter spends on the computer playing Minecraft.

Rich notes that as screens have become ever present in society, the pediatric establishment’s view on screen time has evolved:

As technologies continue to develop and screen media become more and more prevalent in all of our lives, experts including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) are moving away from the concept of screen time limits for children.

Before offering advice on how to talk to her daughter about her Minecraft time, Rich adds that families need to view a child’s on- and offline activities in the context of her age and developmental needs:

Remember, your daughter is at a stage in life where one of her key developmental tasks is how to prioritize activities and manage her time. Her academic and social demands are increasing and she is moving out of the nuclear family unit to a much larger universe of peers and the public. Minecraft is just one of many activities she will need to prioritize, put into perspective and ultimately regulate in terms of her time and attention. Ironically, time management and getting enough rest is essential to success within the game of Minecraft.

See the rest of Rich’s response on our sister blog Thriving.



Technology, teens and face-to-face communication


Are youth losing the ability to communicate face-to-face? A worried mother and student of media recently put that question to Boston Children’s Hospital’s Mediatrician, Michael Rich, MD, MPH, director of the hospital’s Center on Media and Child Health.

In his reply on our sister blog Thriving, Rich does not paint a comforting picture:

[Young people] have more connectivity than ever — and far less connectedness to others and to the world.

Not only are they disconnected in the moment, but this focus on devices can hinder their development of the social skills needed to communicate with others in-person.

But the issue is more nuanced than just too much time with screens:

Mobile phones are just tools and, used in healthy and safe ways, can help us communicate and stay connected (or reconnect) to people we love and can help us form new relationships with others all over the world. Technology only distances us when we misuse these tools by allowing them to come between us rather than connecting us.

See the rest of Rich’s response on Thriving.

Unsupervised smartphone time for a toddler: good or bad?

toddler smartphone child media Thriving Mediatrician
(Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock)

Is it okay to let a three-year-old use a smartphone or tablet unsupervised? That’s the question a parent recently posed to Boston Children’s Hospital’s Mediatrician, Michael Rich, MD, MPH, director of the hospital’s Center on Media and Child Health.

His answer? Not really:

Using a smartphone, tablet, or even watching TV together allows you to observe your daughter’s immediate response to and use of the screen, while also creating a shared experience. This kind of joint media engagement (JME) provides a richer and healthier experience for the child both in terms of her social-emotional development and for her learning.

Handing a young child a screen to pacify her is problematic, both because it appears to reward her for the behavior you are attempting to pacify and because of what her screen time displaces.

Read the rest of Rich’s response on our sister blog, Thriving.