New Research Links Excessive Screen Time and Suicide for Teenage girls

In the most sobering study on teens and screen time yet, researchers have found teenage girls who spend large amounts of time on computers and mobile devices were more likely to experience depression and attempt suicide.

 

The study used data from two nationally representative surveys that followed adolescents between the ages of thirteen and eighteen years old and national suicide statistics from the same age group. Researchers particularly focused on the effects of “new media”– any type of media having to do with computers. This includes some of the most popular forms of media among current teens: social media, apps, gaming, etc.

 

Researchers found that adolescent girls who spent three or more hours per day on a screen were 34% more likely to have a suicide-related outcome (suicidal thoughts, plans, or attempts). This number rose to 48% for girls who spent five or more hours per day online. These measures of screen time specifically excluded time spent on homework! In fact, girls who spent more time on homework reported lower depressive symptoms. Interestingly, this study did not find a correlation between excessive screen time and suicide-related outcomes in adolescent boys.

 

What can parents do? According to this study, moderation and balance are key. Depression and suicide-related outcomes were actually higher in teens who reported no screen time than teens who reported one hour of screen time or less per day. This may indicate the importance of in-person socialization for teens, as the study’s data linked social media use to spending time with people off-line. Print media use (books, newspapers, etc.), playing sports, physical exercise, and attending church were also found to predict lower levels of depression and improved mental health. Sadly, this study found that today’s teens are doing more of what makes them depressed (excessive screen time) and less of what makes them feel better (reading, exercising, attending church, socializing off-line). Dr. Twenge, lead researcher on this study, believes this is why suicide rates among adolescent girls have sky-rocketed in the last five years.

 

You can read the study in full here.

 

It’s more important than ever before to keep your family safe online and help your kids develop healthy screen habits. Clean Router monitors all activity on your internet network, blocks pornography and adult content, and helps you enforce a healthy schedule! Try the Clean Router Proven Process today!

 

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Bookmark Settings.CleanRouter.com

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Here’s why your kids shouldn’t watch TV before bed

A new report in the academic journal Pediatrics confirms what we already suspected– kids shouldn’t be on electronic devices before bed.

 

The researchers, a team from the University of Colorado, analysed all past literature on electronics, kids, teens, and sleep. They concluded screen use in the hour before bedtime was, in almost all studies, associated with worse sleep. Why? The researchers presented three possible explanations.

  • Time displacement
  • Psychological stimulation
  • Effects of “screen light” on the physiological process of falling asleep

 

Time displacement simply means the kids stayed up later than planned because they were watching tv. Since all of us adults have watched one too many episodes of our favorite show (especially since the advent of Netflix and the auto-start feature), it’s no surprise that kids, with their underdeveloped impulse control, frequently ditch their bedtimes in favor of another round of Minecraft or another episode of “Stranger Things.” We would probably all be better rested and get to bed on time more often if we turned off our electronic devices an hour before bedtime.

 

Then there’s the fact that our favorite games, shows, and apps are designed to be exciting. After all, that’s why we enjoy them! But such psychologically stimulating content works against our kids at bedtime. While you and I may be able to drift off just fine after the latest Marvel movie, kids are very easily overstimulated and need extra time to unwind after such vicarious thrills and cliffhangers.

 

Even the type of light emitted by electronic devices keeps us from a good night’s sleep. As the report states, “The spectral composition of light produced by many electronic devices is enriched for short wavelengths (∼450 nm) in the blue light range.9 Short-wavelength light is generally more effective than longer-wavelength light for suppressing melatonin levels, phase shifting the circadian clock, acutely increasing alertness, and altering subsequent sleep.” In other words, light from electronic devices  hinders our brain’s production of melatonin, the chemical which causes us to feel sleepy. The report goes on to explain that children’s eyes aren’t fully developed, so they are more susceptible to the effects of iPad light. Add that to the normal tendency of overtired children to fight sleep, and you have the perfect recipe for a poor night’s sleep.

 

You can read the full report in Pediatrics by clicking here.

 

Is your family in need of a good night’s sleep? Clean Router uses customizable features to encourage your family to power down the electronics and enjoy a relaxing evening and peaceful night.

 

Try the Clean Router Proven Process!

 

Complete the set-up wizard
Name your devices
Enable text and email notifications
Customize time restrictions
Bookmark Settings.CleanRouter.com

 

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How to recover deleted browsing history– A must-know for parents!

Maybe there’s a suspiciously large gap in your computer’s browser history. Maybe one of your kids seems unusually glued to the internet. Maybe you see more raunchy ads than usual. Maybe your computer got a virus for the first time. Or maybe you just have a hunch that something is not right. Either way, it might be time to check if your computer’s browser history has been deleted.

 

Now, why would someone delete a computer’s browser history? Many people periodically delete their browsing history along with cookies, temporary files, etc. to clean up their computer and increase their internet speed. However, kids are more likely to delete browser history if they’ve been out of bounds online. It doesn’t take much tech savviness at all, so kids either already know how or can learn how quickly. As a parent, it’s important to know how and where your kids spend their time online, just like you keep track of their whereabouts offline.

 

So, if you suspect your internet history has been tampered with, here’s what to do.

 

First, open your start menu and search for “System Restore.” Your computer may come back with with “System Restore,” “Create a Restore Point,” or something similar– pick the closest match.

 

Choose a restore point (a date and time), and click through any prompts. After the computer is done, reboot and check your browser history again. Anything that has been deleted since the date and time of your restore point will be there, and you’ll know if you need to be worried.

 

Alternatively, Clean Router records every website visited on your home internet network– even incognito browsing! You can choose to receive an email report, or check over the browsing history any time at Settings.CleanRouter.com. It’s easy, effective, and less than 50 cents a day!

 

Use our Clean Router Proven Process to keep your family safe online!

Complete the set-up wizard
Name your devices
Enable text and email notifications
Customize time restrictions
Bookmark Settings.CleanRouter.com

 

Order your Clean Router today!

Why you need to monitor your kids online

“What about their privacy?”

 

The never-ending struggle of parenting is finding the right balance between giving your kids enough autonomy to learn and grow and enough supervision to keep them safe. When kids start spending time online, many parents wonder if checking their browser history, demanding their kids’ passwords, and otherwise keeping tabs on what their kids do online violates their kids’ privacy. Checking your kid’s phone or tablet can seem a little too invasive– like reading their journal or taking the door off the bathroom.

 

It’s interesting that electronic use seems so private. On the one hand, adults often send and receive confidential information online. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, and computers are all clearly designed for one user at a time, and peeking over at someone else’s screen runs counter to modern social etiquette. On the other hand, the very nature of the internet is intensely public. With a keyboard and an internet connection, everyone and anyone can publish thoughts and ideas for the world to see. Each link clicked and website visited is stored in your internet browser and available to anyone with any computer savvy.  While online journals exist, nothing online is really a secret.

 

The lines between the online and off-line world are blurring out of existence. This means everything in the physical world– the beautiful, the horrific, the virtuous, and the evil– is reflected on the internet. When your child opens a browser, he or she is walking into the world. THE world, mind you, not his or her own world. We tend to think of social media as a digital tree house or school yard– something intimate, juvenile, innocent– when, in fact, the ocean or New York City would a better comparison. The internet is beautiful, loud, unforgiving, stormy, and yes, dangerous. If you wouldn’t let your child dive into the ocean alone or wander a metropolis, you should not let your child use the internet unsupervised.

 

An internet connection is access to every corner of the earth, and almost every person alive. And yet, we hand this power to children too young to walk out the door alone. Leaving our children to explore the internet alone is not respect for their privacy. It is tempting fate.

 

Use the internet to show children the ocean of humanity. Teach them to respect the roaring waves of politics, art, music, and ideas. Demonstrate to them how to stand on the stage of the internet and fight for what they believe in. But please, don’t let them swim alone.

 

Keep your family safe online!

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Research links media multitasking to distractibility

Do you scroll Facebook while watching television? Or listen to music while typing a research paper? Play a game on your smartphone as you listen to an audiobook? According to a new study, you may be hurting your memory and attention span.

 

Media multitasking– consuming more than one source of media at a time– has been increasingly common since the advent of the smartphone. According to a survey by Common Sense Media, half of teens watch TV or use social media while doing homework, and over half text (60%) or listen to music (76%) while doing homework. Furthermore, most of those who do so don’t believe it affects the quality of their work.

 

Unfortunately, a new study begs to differ. Conducted at the University of Helsinki as part of the doctoral thesis of Mona Moisala, the study followed 149 teens and young adults between the ages of thirteen and twenty-four years old. The participants self-reported the amount of time they spent media multitasking and completed various tasks that required attention and focus while researchers measure their brain activity with an MRI. Those who admitted to greater amounts of time spent media multitasking performed worse on the attention, memory, and focus tests. Furthermore, their brains showed higher levels of activity in the areas related to attention and self-control, indicating these participants had to work harder than the others to stay focused and complete the required tasks. You can read more about the study and Moisala’s doctoral thesis here and here.

 

It’s fairly obvious that multitasking makes us slower. Some of us may even admit that switching back and forth between jobs leads to a lower quality result. However, this research suggests the consequences of multitasking may extend far beyond the tasks we juggle. The more we multitask, particularly when media consumption is involved, the more we train our brains not to focus. We lose the ability to tune out distractions, our self-control weakens, and our memories don’t stick.

 

The adage is if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Perhaps the more applicable lesson for 2017 is if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing single-mindedly.

 

Tune out distractions and put the technology in your home back in its place!

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Three reasons to turn off your smartphone today

Did you know the average person spends almost 3 hours a day on their smartphone? That’s about 20 hours a week– the equivalent of a part time job! Here are three reasons to take a well-deserved vacation from your smartphone.

 

1.Your brain needs quiet

A growing body of research shows that downtime is essential for optimal brain function. Scientists believe a certain kind of brain activity, sharp-wave ripples, help us store and consolidate memories. These ripples can only occur when our brain is resting but awake. Unfortunately, we’re prone to pull out our phones at just that kind of time– when we wake up in the morning, on public transportation, waiting in line, before we go to sleep at night. If you’ve been feeling forgetful lately, keep your phone in your pocket next time you have a quiet moment and just be still.

 

 

2. A better night’s sleep

The blue light emitted by tablets, televisions, computers, and yes, smartphones, hinders our brain’s production of melatonin, the chemical that helps us fall asleep. Even if you fall asleep without difficulty, you may still want to read a book before bed. This study found that people who were on their phones at bedtime needed more time to fall asleep, spent a lower percentage of their time in bed actually asleep, and slept worse overall.

 

 

3. Improved relationships

Relationships obviously improve when people are calmer, better rested, and have better memories, but research shows relationships are helped in other ways as well when the phones are turned off. There’s a whole new line of research on “technoference” and its impact on relationships. Parents say their co-parenting improves when their phones are put away– they notice each other’s signals and work together more seamlessly.  Researchers have noticed that toddlers disintegrate when mom and dad check their phones and perk back up when devices are turned off. Women report more feelings of depression, lower life satisfaction, and lower relationship satisfaction when technology is allowed to interrupt couple time. Overall, pretty much every relationship in your family and social circle gets a boost when your phone takes a back seat.

 

Clean Router knows every smartphone (and family) needs some downtime.

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Unplugging may improve social skills, study suggests

A recent study suggests taking some tech-free time may improve tweens’ ability to recognize emotional cues from others.

 

The study, published in the academic journal “Computers in Human Behavior,” tested two classes of sixth graders (aged 11, 12, and 13 years old) on their ability to recognize nonverbal emotional cues. This was done by asking the participants to infer the emotional states of people in photographs and scenes from silent videos. One class of sixth graders then attended a five day nature camp, where the use of televisions, computers, and mobile devices was not permitted. The less fortunate sixth grade class stayed home, attended school, and maintained their current media habits which was, according to the surveyed sixth graders, about four and a half hours per day of media use. Both classes were tested again after the lucky sixth grade class returned home from camp.

 

After only five days, the sixth graders who spent five days away from technology significantly improved in their ability to read facial emotion– improvement the other sixth grade class did not match. You can read the original study here.

 

This study should be encouraging to parents (and teachers, therapists, grandmas, grandpas, and anyone who works with kids). In less than a week, these kids exhibited significant, measurable improvement. That means you don’t have to permanently ban all electronic devices from your home to promote your kids’ social development. Just a week or so at a time, perhaps during a family vacation or a portion of a school break, will help your kids to see and understand the people around them.

 

There’s no need to go overboard, though, because thanks to this study, we also can see that, given a little space, our kids will grow up and figure things out. The five day camp in this study was NOT emotional IQ boot camp or intensive social skills training– it was just a nature camp. The tweens didn’t need an intervention; they only needed a reason to log off and be present. As adults, we can give the kids in our care the incentive to unplug by modelling and insisting on tech-free times and spaces. If we make screen-free time normal, these kids will grow into adults who understand how and why to maintain healthy media habits.

 

Help your family unplug!

 Order your Clean Router today!

Toddler Tantrums? “Technoference” may be the culprit

When the kids are driving you crazy, think twice before you reach for your phone. New research suggests that kids, particularly toddlers and preschoolers, act out more when parents are too plugged in.

 

The study, conducted at Illinois State University, surveyed 170 American families about parental tech habits and the kids’ behavior. Brandon T. McDaniel, the lead researcher, focused primarily on “technoference,” a social science label for technology use interrupting real life interactions. Parents who had poor tech/life balance– checking the phone often, feeling lost without one’s phone, and/or turning to the phone when lonely– were more likely to have technoference in their relationships, which in turn correlated with more negative behavior from their children. The children in the study were around three years old.

 

Modern parents are becoming more attuned to children’s screen time, and rightfully so. However, like secondhand smoke, technology dependency affects even screen-free kids. This is not the first study to link heavy tech use to sub-optimal relationships, but this is the first to confirm the intuitive link between excessive smart phone attachment by a parent and toddler meltdowns.

 

The study also noted that not all of the children externalized the disappointment of losing their parents’ attention to a phone; many children withdrew and exhibited internalizing behaviors as well. While this may be more convenient immediately, children who internalize negative feelings suffer later as they struggle to develop healthy coping mechanisms. It’s not hard to envision a multi-generational cycle: a lonely or bored parent self-medicates with a screen, the child internalizes the hurt of being passed over for a screen, the child learns to cope with negative feelings through screens, the child becomes a parent and models the same heavy tech use, the children again take after the parents.

 

Parents, if you don’t model healthy screen habits, who will? Demonstrate unplugged time, prioritize face to face interaction over digital messages, and put your own devices to bed at a healthy hour. Children may follow rules temporarily, but their long-term habits as adults are more likely to resemble yours. Put the phone away, turn it off, shut it down, leave it alone. Teach your children to value reality over artificiality, and you’ll instill a lesson that will protect them for a lifetime.

 

You can find the original study here or read about it in the Chicago Tribune by clicking here.

Let Clean Router protect your family’s tech/life balance!

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Clean Router for Every Device in Your Home

Feature Friday: Why you should use Clean Router instead of Circle

“I have heard about this Circle thing.  How is Clean Router better?”

 

If you have been researching online filtering options, you may have heard or read a bit about Circle, another online parental controls system. However, after trying Circle ourselves, we believe Clean Router can offer a superior filtering experience to Circle. In spite of a few similarities, Clean Router significantly differs from Circle in ways that will impact your family’s online peace of mind.

 

1) Circle’s complicated installation- Setting up Clean Router is as easy as plugging in a router, and our friendly support team walks every new customer through it. Installing Circle, though, was a multi-step process involving app downloads and connecting through multiple networks. For busy parents or grandparents, especially those not confident in their tech skills, Clean Router is faster and easier.

 

2) Circle’s fundamental design is flawed – Unlike Clean Router, Circle is not a router. Users plug into Circle into the network, and it uses something called ARP-spoofing or ARP-poisoning.  Simply put, it tricks everything in the network to talk to Circle instead of your wireless router.

Circle_network

So what? The additional device adds an extra “hop” for all of your network traffic.   Circle causes quite a bit of extra latency to all of your web traffic, slowing down the whole network.  Circle also uses an old wireless protocol (802.11n), which also hurts your internet speed.

Speed aside, this ARP-poisoning also causes other problems.  Many devices are incompatible, and we have even heard users report that Circle broke their entire network!

 

3) No filter – Unlike Clean Router, which checks every website in real time, Circle does not filter online content.  Users can block certain categories of apps and create lists of approved and blocked websites, but we all know that the internet changes daily.  Clean Router’s IntelliFilter checks every packet that is coming thru from the DNS layer all the way down to the very content itself. We also were disappointed in Circle’s “blocked” page. No reason is given for blocking a website, and the page itself scrolls through Disney content and links to Instagram and Twitter. Parents can imagine how distracting this would be for a kid trying to concentrate on homework, and some of the content presented on the blocked page, while not pornographic, was not quite kid-friendly.

 

4) No dynamic filtering – While Circle asks you to label a website as good or bad, Clean Router understands the internet just does not work that way. What do you do with a site like FoxNews or MSN? Not all the content may measure up to your family’s media standards, blocking an entire news platform would inhibit your online experience.   This is exactly why dynamic filtering is so important. To ensure your family’s online safety, Clean Router checks every word and every picture of every website accessed on your internet network in real time. 

 

5) No support – Need help configuring your filtering or figuring out what URL needs to be white-listed to get a particular site to work?  Have a question about this feature or that feature?  Good luck getting in touch with Circle! The website doesn’t list a support phone number, a email address, a chat option, or any other contact method.  Clean Router provides award-winning US-based support.  Skeptical? Give our guys a call at 520-445-4673, shoot us an email at Support@CleanRouter.com, or go to our website and chat with us live. We won’t be shy about besting Circle in this area!

 

6) iOS- and Android-only controls – The only mechanism that Circle provides for controlling your kids’ devices or managing your network is through an iOS or Android app.  Need to access from a computer?  No luck. On the other hand, Clean Router allows you to access your account from any computer or mobile device!

 

7) No emailed reports – Clean Router delivers a PDF report to your email nightly informing you of each device’s internet activity.  And, we just rolled out our full Smart Reporting v2 that allows you even more control over these reports! This is not a feature offered by Circle.

 

8) Limited scheduling options- Circle only offers three scheduling options for devices: “BedTime” (a time for the internet to turn off for the evening), “Time Limits” (a limit on how much time each device can spend online per day), and “Pause” (turn the internet off temporarily). Clean Router’s scheduling feature allows users to set a schedule for each device in their home for any time of day and any day of the week! For example, if dinner time is always from 6pm to 7pm, you can automatically set the internet to turn off at 6pm every day. If you would like to offer more screen time on Saturdays than Tuesdays, Clean Router (but not Circle) lets you set a different schedule for each day of the week!

 

8) Keywords – Tired of your kid going to every Minecraft site?  Enter “minecraft” into the keywords list, and Clean Router will block any site containing those words.  For Circle users, respite from Minecraft requires hunting for hundreds of different domains and websites.

 

9) No YouTube filtering– With Circle, you’ll have to allow YouTube in all its sleazy glory or block it completely. CleanYouTube, our YouTube filtering service, offers your family the best of YouTube!

 

10) The bypass option– If you hit a page and need to bypass Circle, you’ll need to..

*Sign into the controls on Circle on your phone (since it doesn’t have any web controls)

*Add the website to an approved list

*Wait approximately 60 to 120 minutes (yes, 1 to 2 hours) for the page’s cache to clear

*Go back to your site.  

And then, you have to remember to go and turn it back off!  

Our bypass option made to be used– simple, fast, and secure.

For example, Victoria’s Secret is a popular resource for women’s clothing and cosmetics, but you may not want your twelve year old lingering over the sexy photos. When my wife needs to go to there, this is what she sees:

blockedpage_blacklist

My wife can enter the password, choose 15, 30, or 60 minutes, and hit the Temporary Bypass page.  Clean Router will unblock the site for the amount of time designated. She can do her shopping and leave without having to worry about remembering to re-block the website.  In the time Circle users need to unblock a site, my wife can finish shopping, give herself a pedicure, AND go for a run!

11) Circle is “by Disney” – Circle has a content partnership with Disney.  For users, this means Disney ads a-plenty and product-pushing galore. With such a direct funnel, be prepared for your kids to enter a whole new world of advertisements for the latest Disney gadgets and gizmos.  After you have bought 15 copies of Frozen, and your kids have bought 20 episodes of “Hannah Montana” you might feel a little less hakuna matata. When you’re ready, Clean Router can help you let it go.

 

The Clean Router is truly the ultimate parental control, and we continue to work hard to make sure that your kids are safe online.  We have taken industrial-level filtering, and scaled it down to something easy for parents to use.  If you need any help, our award-winning support team is here to help you achieve online peace of mind. Come partner with us to block all online pornography from your home and take back control of the internet today!

 

 

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parental controls for internet

Screens in bedrooms (even turned off) hurt sleep quality, study says

Research has indicated screen time before bed can negatively impact sleep quality. However, many of us sleep with our phones or tablets plugged in next to the bed. Does the mere presence of a screen affect how we sleep? For kids at least, a new study says yes.

 

The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, examined data from over four hundred studies, including 125, 000 children between the ages of six and nineteen years. Unsurprisingly, researchers found a “strong and consistent” relationship between screen time at bedtime and inadequate sleep, poor sleep, and daytime sleepiness.

 

More unexpected, however, was the finding that children who had access to electronic devices at night, even if they didn’t use them, also suffered in their sleep lives. In other words, just knowing a smart phone or tablet was plugged in nearby was enough to affect kids’ sleep.

 

While experts have long recommended removing electronic devices from kids’ rooms, most have focused on the safety implications. Kids are much more likely to wander into online trouble with privacy, and any parent would be hard-pressed to monitor their children’s online activity while sleeping or from the other side of a closed door. However, these findings give parents even greater incentive to enforce screen-free bedrooms. Poor sleep hurts kids physically, emotionally, academically, socially– pretty much in every area of life.

 

You can read the full study here. To learn more about screen time and sleep quality, check out another post from our blog by clicking here!

 

Need help putting the internet to bed? Clean Router can enforce the internet curfew on any, some, or all of your home’s electronic devices.

 

 Order your Clean Router today!