No matter where you look, screens are everywhere. The proliferation of easily portable tablets and smartphones means many people, adults and children alike, are never too far from the nearest screen. While that accessibility has dramatically changed the way many people live their lives, excessive exposure to screen time can produce a host of unwanted side effects.
Steven Gortmaker, a professor of the practice of health sociology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, has studied the negative effects of excessive screen time on children since the 1980s. According to Gortmaker, such effects include higher rates of obesity among kids who watch too much television and difficulty sleeping among youngsters with access to small screens, such as the screens of smartphones. In addition, a 2012 study published in the journal Psychiatry Research linked screen time with impaired cognitive function in young males.
But adults are not immune to the effects of excessive screen time, either. Spending significant time being sedentary and staring at screens can increase adults’ risk for cardiovascular disease. An Australian study published in the December 2012 issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that, compared with persons who watch no television, those who spend a lifetime average of six hours per day watching television can expect to live 4.8 fewer years.
So what can families do to cut back on their screen time? While it likely won’t be easy to put down smartphones and tablets and turn off laptops and televisions, the following are a handful of ways for families to spend less time staring at screens.
· Remove televisions from bedrooms. Parents may find it impossible to gauge, much less control, how much time their kids spend watching television when youngsters have TV’s in their bedrooms. Though this will likely be met with considerable resistance, remove televisions from bedrooms in your home. Set a positive example for kids by removing your own bedroom television as well. Come kids’ bedtimes, make sure all devices, including smartphones and tablets, are left in common areas of the home rather than bedrooms so kids are not tempted to watch videos instead of falling asleep.
· Institute a “no screens” rule during meals. Many parents grew up in households that did not allow televisions to be on during meals, and while the times might have changed with respect to the technology, similar rules can still prevail today. A “no screens” rule during meals gives parents and their kids time to catch up, bond and foster stronger relationships.
· Do not use the television for background noise. Turn the television off when it’s serving as just background noise. If you need background noise, turn on some music instead.
· Log screen time. Logging screen time for each member of the family can provide an estimate of just how much time the whole family spends staring at screens. Encourage each member of the family to spend as much time being physically active as he or she spends staring at screens. Set goals for each member of the family to reduce their screen time, even rewarding those who reach their goals.
Reducing screen time can improve overall health and help family members reconnect with one another.
Celebrate the season with pop-able fall flavors
(Family Features) As part of the season of change with leaves crunching underfoot and a crispness in the air, remember to pause to celebrate a food known for its change, crunching and crispness – popcorn.
In honor of National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, a time when farmers head to the fields to harvest crops, gather with loved ones to celebrate this humble yet extraordinary snack. Whether it’s prepped on the stove, in the microwave or purchased ready-to-eat, Americans consume around 14 billion quarts each year of the wholesome whole grain, according to the Popcorn Board.
With each kernel, popcorn’s tantalizing aroma fills the air, setting off a journey of sensory bliss, as the sound of popping echoes in ears and the taste of buttery goodness dances on tongues. Whether enjoyed at the movies, during a cozy night in or at festive gatherings, popcorn brings people together, creating moments of shared joy and laughter. Catering to every palate, popcorn’s versatility knows few boundaries, as it can be dressed up with caramel, chocolate or even savory seasonings.
Join the celebration this fall with a fitting recipe like Old Fashioned Bourbon Maple Popcorn with Pecans. Accented with warming flavors of bourbon, orange and bitters, this maple-glazed treat offers a fun, cocktail-inspired snack perfect for sharing.
Discover more snacks that celebrate fall flavors at Popcorn.org.
Old Fashioned Bourbon Maple Popcorn with Pecans
- 8 cups popped popcorn
- 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon bourbon
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 dash bitters
- Place popcorn and pecans in large bowl.
- In small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine maple syrup, bourbon and butter; bring to boil. Cook, swirling pan, 3-5 minutes, or until mixture thickens to corn syrup consistency. Stir in orange zest and bitters.
- Drizzle maple syrup mixture over popcorn; toss to evenly coat. Cool completely and serve.
Tips: Substitute bourbon with rye or whiskey. For “mocktail” popcorn, substitute with non-alcoholic bourbon or whiskey.
Find holiday gifts teens, young adults will actually like
(Family Features) One of the best parts of the holidays is being together with those you love, and for many families that time together involves the exchanging of gifts among loved ones young and old. Finding the right gift for everyone can be a challenge, especially if teenagers and young adults are on your shopping list.
It seems like social media feeds are constantly filled with a new tech item, style, pastime or trend, making it more challenging to pick out gifts for the young ones on gift lists. This year, consider some on-trend gift ideas – like Jelly Belly Jelly Beans – to show appreciation for the Gen-Zers in your life with presents and stocking stuffers that can win them over.
New in Tech
As one of the most popular categories of gifts for teens and one that’s always evolving, deciding which devices and gadgets to gift can be hard. Consider your loved ones’ hobbies and interests to make the job easier; for example, if they’re music lovers or podcast fanatics, wireless earbuds or headphones are a perfect option. If social butterflies are on your shopping list, portable phone chargers and smartphone accessories like a pop-out phone grip can make sure they’re one step ahead of their next photo or social post.
For Boba and Candy Lovers
Many Gen-Zers love a good cup of bubble tea or boba swag, so feed their cravings with an option like Jelly Belly Boba Milk Tea jelly beans. With gift boxes, snack bags and more, these delicious treats made for candy lovers provide a perfect balance of tea, tapioca and sweetness in five true-to-life milk tea flavors: Mango, Taro, Matcha, Strawberry and Thai Milk Tea jelly beans. Find these treats at JellyBelly.com where you can purchase online or locate a store near you.
For teens heading to college or young adults venturing out on their own, consider gifting items to spruce up their new spaces. You can give them a helping hand to start their next chapter with fun decor items like throw pillows and blankets or add life to their new homes with stylish wall art or flower subscriptions. For simple reminders of home, consider candles with their favorite scents or aromatherapy diffusers and essential oils to add a touch of calm to the chaos of heading out on their own.
Play to Their Hobbies
Help them embrace their talents and favorite activities whether it’s art, reading, cooking, gaming, playing sports or mastering instruments. New paint kits and supplies can help young Picasso’s take their art to the next level while a new appliance or cookbook can provide an upgrade for avid home chefs.
The Gift of Music
Whether they have a favorite band or are up-and-coming musicians themselves (or both), give the gift of music with fun ways to enjoy their favorite songs. Record players and vinyl records are making a major comeback while portable speakers allow music lovers to take their favorite sounds wherever they go. A subscription to a streaming service can be perfect for casual listeners or, if you’re looking to splurge, consider concert tickets.
From jogging around the neighborhood to exploring nearby parks and trails, outdoor enthusiasts can never have enough gear. Runners are always searching for the latest sneaker launch or fitness tracker to keep on pace with their goals while more casual enjoyers of the outdoors may love a new water bottle, picnic blanket or beach bag.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (girl opening gift)
Getting your pet ready for fall
(Family Features) Pets provide unconditional love to their companions; in return, it’s important to make sure they live happy and healthy lives by providing the best care possible. This means making sure that in addition to food, treats and toys, they receive daily care for their eyes, ears and overall health.
With a desire to bring a dog into his family’s lives, Albert, a Bausch + Lomb employee, rescued a terrier mix named Watson. However, it soon became apparent Watson needed some extra love and care to help protect his eyes and ears from irritation and excess buildup. When finding a remedy proved difficult, Albert worked with veterinarians to develop Project Watson Health Care for Dogs, a comprehensive line of quality products targeting these specific areas.
To help ensure your furry member of the family has the best head to tail health possible, consider these tips.
Schedule Regular Vet Visits
Routine wellness checks are an essential part of your pet’s care. Annual screenings, even if your dog seems healthy, allow your veterinarian to provide vaccines to combat disease and uncover any health issues that may have otherwise gone undiagnosed until symptoms advanced.
Watch Your Pet’s Diet
Feeding your pet a proper diet based on his or her breed, age, size and lifestyle plays a big role in overall health. A balanced diet that includes high-quality food can lead to a shiny coat, healthy skin, bright eyes and may also help strengthen your pet’s immune system, maintain intestinal health, increase mental acuity, regulate weight, keep muscles and joints healthy and more.
Support Clean Ears and Eyes
Often overlooked, the eyes and ears are vital areas to the overall health and wellness of your pet. To help keep these areas free of any buildup of bacteria that may cause irritation, consider an option like the line of Project Watson Health Care Products for Dogs, which includes an eye wash, eyelid wipe, ear wash, ear wipe and supplements made using high-quality and naturally inspired ingredients.
Excessive blinking or pawing at the eyes can be signs of buildup, irritation or infection. Dirt and debris trapped around the eyes can also clump in fur, leading to skin irritation and infections while excessive tear production can lead to fur staining, which can develop an unpleasant odor. Eye wipes can be used daily to relieve staining and remove excess buildup. Washing your dog’s ears may help reduce dirt, debris and wax buildup; help prevent itching; and reduce the chance of infection while keeping ears smelling fresh.
Create an Exercise Routine
Walks, games in the backyard and social time with other pets can help keep your furry friend in good physical condition. While different breeds and species often have different needs, adequate activity can provide benefits beyond the physical, including reducing boredom, which can potentially lead to anxiety or destructive behaviors.
In addition to regular vaccinations, ensure your pet is up to date on parasite prevention. This includes fleas, ticks, mites, heartworm and more which can cause reactions ranging from mild to severe (or even fatal in some cases of heartworm or Lyme disease). Look for pests and skin abnormalities when grooming your pet and contact your vet if your pet excessively scratches, chews or licks his or her fur or ears, or persistently shakes his or her head.
For more solutions to keep your four-legged friend happy and healthy, speak with your veterinarian or visit tryprojectwatson.com.
Bausch + Lomb
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