1. More social connection online tied to increasing feelings of isolation

    March 22, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences press release:

    The more time a young adult uses social media, the more likely they are to feel socially isolated, according to a national analysis led by University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine scientists. In addition to the time spent online, the scientists found that frequency of use was associated with increased social isolation.

    The finding, published today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, suggests that use of social media does not present a panacea to help reduce perceived social isolation — when a person lacks a sense of social belonging, true engagement with others and fulfilling relationships. In the past, social isolation has been independently associated with an increased risk for mortality.

    “This is an important issue to study because mental health problems and social isolation are at epidemic levels among young adults,” said lead author Brian A. Primack, M.D., Ph.D., director of Pitt’s Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health, and assistant vice chancellor for health and society in Pitt’s Schools of the Health Sciences. “We are inherently social creatures, but modern life tends to compartmentalize us instead of bringing us together. While it may seem that social media presents opportunities to fill that social void, I think this study suggests that it may not be the solution people were hoping for.”

    In 2014, Primack and his colleagues sampled 1,787 U.S. adults ages 19 through 32, using questionnaires to determine time and frequency of social media use by asking about the 11 most popular social media platforms at the time: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine and LinkedIn.

    The scientists measured participants’ perceived social isolation using a validated assessment tool called the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System.

    Even when the researchers controlled for a variety of social and demographic factors, participants who used social media more than two hours a day had twice the odds for perceived social isolation than their peers who spent less than half an hour on social media each day. And participants who visited various social media platforms 58 or more times per week had about triple the odds of perceived social isolation than those who visited fewer than nine times per week.

    We do not yet know which came first — the social media use or the perceived social isolation,” said senior author Elizabeth Miller, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pediatrics at Pitt and chief of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. “It’s possible that young adults who initially felt socially isolated turned to social media. Or it could be that their increased use of social media somehow led to feeling isolated from the real world. It also could be a combination of both. But even if the social isolation came first, it did not seem to be alleviated by spending time online, even in purportedly social situations.”

    The researchers have several theories for how increased use of social media could fuel feelings of social isolation, including:

    • Social media use displaces more authentic social experiences because the more time a person spends online, the less time there is for real-world interactions.
    • Certain characteristics of social media facilitate feelings of being excluded, such as when one sees photos of friends having fun at an event to which they were not invited.
    • Exposure to highly idealized representations of peers’ lives on social media sites may elicit feelings of envy and the distorted belief that others lead happier and more successful lives.

    Primack, a family medicine physician, and Miller, a pediatrician, both encourage doctors to ask patients about their social media use and counsel them in reducing that use if it seems linked to symptoms of social isolation. However, they noted, much more study is needed to understand nuances around social media use.

    “People interact with each other over social media in many different ways,” said Primack, also a professor of medicine, pediatrics, and clinical and translational science at Pitt. “In a large population-based study such as this, we report overall tendencies that may or may not apply to each individual. I don’t doubt that some people using certain platforms in specific ways may find comfort and social connectedness via social media relationships. However, the results of this study simply remind us that, on the whole, use of social media tends to be associated with increased social isolation and not decreased social isolation.”


  2. How to get kids to use salad bars at school

    March 21, 2017 by Ashley

    From the BYU press release:

    Thanks to a national initiative, salad bars are showing up in public schools across the country. Now a Brigham Young University researcher is trying to nail down how to get kids to eat from them.

    BYU health sciences professor Lori Spruance studies the impact of salad bars in public schools and has found one helpful tip: teens are more likely to use salad bars if they’re exposed to good, old-fashioned marketing. Students at schools with higher salad bar marketing are nearly three times as likely to use them.

    “Children and adolescents in the United States do not consume the nationally recommended levels of fruits and vegetables,” Spruance said. “Evidence suggests that salad bars in schools can make a big difference. Our goal is to get kids to use them.”

    Some 4,800 salad bars have popped up in public schools around the country according to the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative. About 50 percent of high school students have access to salad bars at schools, 39 percent of middle school kids and 31 percent of elementary school children.

    Spruance’s study, published in Health Education and Behavior, followed the salad bar usage of students in 12 public schools in New Orleans. Spruance and coauthors from Tulane University administered surveys to the students and tracked the school environment through personal visits.

    Not only did they find better marketing improved salad bar usage among secondary school students, but they also found female students use salad bars more often than male students, and children who prefer healthy foods use them more frequently.

    “The value of a salad bar program depends on whether students actually use the salad bar,” Spruance said. “But few studies have examined how to make that happen more effectively.”

    Some examples of successful salad bar marketing efforts included signage throughout the school promoting the salad bar, information in school publications and newsletters, and plugs for the salad bar on a school’s digital presence.

    Spruance suggests that schools engage parents in their efforts to improve the school food environment–such as reaching out to parents through newsletters or parent teacher conferences. Of course, she says, offering healthy options at home makes the biggest difference.

    “It takes a lot of effort and time, but most children and adolescents require repeated exposures to food before they will eat them on their own,” Spruance said. “If a child is being exposed to foods at home that are served at school, the child may be more likely to eat those fruits or vegetables at school.”

    Spruance’s research builds off of previous studies that show students are more likely to use salad bars if they are included in the normal serving line.

    There have now been 2,401,500 kids served from salad bars in public schools nationwide. However, only two Utah public schools currently have salad bars funded by the Let’s Move initiative.


  3. Dogs, toddlers show similarities in social intelligence

    March 16, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Arizona press release:

    Most dog owners will tell you they consider their beloved pets to be members of their families. Now new research suggests that dogs may be even more like us than previously thought.

    Evan MacLean, director of the Arizona Canine Cognition Center at the University of Arizona, found that dogs and 2-year-old children show similar patterns in social intelligence, much more so than human children and one of their closest relatives: chimpanzees. The findings, published in the journal Animal Behaviour, could help scientists better understand how humans evolved socially.

    MacLean and his colleagues looked at how 2-year-olds, dogs and chimpanzees performed on comparable batteries of tests designed to measure various types of cognition. While chimps performed well on tests involving their physical environment and spatial reasoning, they did not do as well when it came to tests of cooperative communication skills, such as the ability to follow a pointing finger or human gaze.

    Dogs and children similarly outperformed chimps on cooperative communication tasks, and researchers observed similar patterns of variation in performance between individual dogs and between individual children.

    A growing body of research in the last decade has looked at what makes human psychology special, and scientists have said that the basic social communication skills that begin to develop around 9 months are what first seem to set humans apart from other species, said MacLean, assistant professor in the School of Anthropology in the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

    “There’s been a lot of research showing that you don’t really find those same social skills in chimpanzees, but you do find them in dogs, so that suggested something superficially similar between dogs and kids,” MacLean said. “The bigger, deeper question we wanted to explore is if that really is a superficial similarity or if there is a distinct kind of social intelligence that we see in both species.

    “What we found is that there’s this pattern, where dogs who are good at one of these social things tend to be good at lots of the related social things, and that’s the same thing you find in kids, but you don’t find it in chimpanzees,” he said.

    One explanation for the similarities between dogs and humans is that the two species may have evolved under similar pressures that favored “survival of the friendliest,” with benefits and rewards for more cooperative social behavior.

    “Our working hypothesis is that dogs and humans probably evolved some of these skills as a result of similar evolutionary processes, so probably some things that happened in human evolution were very similar to processes that happened in dog domestication,” MacLean said. “So, potentially, by studying dogs and domestication we can learn something about human evolution.”

    The research could even have the potential to help researchers better understand human disabilities, such as autism, that may involve deficits in social skills, MacLean said.

    Looking to dogs for help in understanding human evolution is a relatively new idea, since scientists most often turn to close human relatives such as chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas for answers to evolutionary questions. Yet, it seems man’s best friend may offer an important, if limited, piece of the puzzle.

    “There are different kinds of intelligence, and the kind of intelligence that we think is very important to humans is social in nature, and that’s the kind of intelligence that dogs have to an incredible extent,” MacLean said. “But there are other aspects of cognition, like the way we reason about physical problems, where dogs are totally dissimilar to us. So we would never make the argument that dogs in general are a better model for the human mind — it’s really just this special set of social skills.”

    MacLean and his collaborators studied 552 dogs, including pet dogs, assistance-dogs-in-training and military explosive detection dogs, representing a variety of different breeds. The researchers assessed social cognition through game-based tests, in which they hid treats and toys and then communicated the hiding places through nonverbal cues such as pointing or looking in a certain direction. They compared the dogs’ results to data on 105 2-year-old children who previously completed a similar cognitive test battery and 106 chimpanzees assessed at wildlife sanctuaries in Africa.


  4. Study finds new link between childhood abuse and adolescent misbehavior

    by Ashley

    From the University of Pittsburgh press release:

    An important learning process is impaired in adolescents who were abused as children, a University of Pittsburgh researcher has found, and this impairment contributes to misbehavior patterns later in life.

    Associative learning — the process by which an individual subconsciously links experiences and stimuli together — partially explains how people generally react to various real-world situations. In a newly released study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Pitt Assistant Professor Jamie L. Hanson detailed the connection between impaired associative learning capacities and instances of early childhood abuse.

    “We primarily found that a poorer sense of associative learning negatively influences a child’s behavior patterns during complex and fast-changing situations. Having this knowledge is important for child psychologists, social workers, public policy officials and other professionals who are actively working to develop interventions,” said Hanson, who teaches in Pitt’s Department of Psychology within the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences with a secondary appointment in the University’s Learning Research and Development Center. “We have long known that there is a link between behavioral issues in adolescents and various forms of early life adversities. Yet, the connection isn’t always clear or straightforward. This study provides further insight into one of the many factors of how this complicated relationship comes to exist.”

    To uncover these relationships, researchers asked 81 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 to play computer games where the child had to figure out which set of visual cues were associated with a reward. Forty-one participants had endured physical abuse at a young age, while the remaining 40 served as a comparison group. The most important aspect of the test, said Hanson, was that the cues were probabilistic, meaning children did not always receive positive feedback.

    “The participants who had been exposed to early childhood abuse were less able than their peers to correctly learn which stimuli were likely to result in reward, even after repeated feedback,” said Hanson. “In life we are often given mixed or little to no feedback from our significant others, bosses, parents and other important people in our lives. We have to be able to figure out what might be the best thing to do next.”

    Hanson and his colleagues also observed that mistreated children were generally less adept at differentiating which behaviors would lead to the best results for them personally when interacting with others. Additionally, abused children displayed more pessimism about the likelihood of positive outcomes compared to the group who hadn’t been abused. Taken as a whole, these findings clarify the relationship between physical abuse and the aggressive and disruptive behaviors that often plague abused children well into the later stages of childhood.


  5. Media multitasking linked to distractibility among youth

    March 15, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Helsinki press release:

    The aim of Mona Moisala’s doctoral dissertation was to study patterns of activity in cortical networks related to attention and working memory, as well as to investigate associations between performance in working memory and attention tasks and the extent of daily technology-mediated activities in 13-24-year-old subjects from Finland.

    The results reveal that the youth that reported a greater tendency to use several media simultaneously during their free time, struggled with the attention-related tasks in a laboratory setting.

    “They had a harder time filtering out distractive stimuli. This was also seen as higher activity in regions of the frontal lobe, which can be a sign of excessive strain,” Moisala points out.

    However, it is unclear whether the distractibility is caused by media-multitasking or vice versa.

    Moisala used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to record brain activity during task performance. Using this method, she also investigated why multitasking is difficult.

    “The results demonstrated that during division of attention between listening and reading, competition for neural resources in regions shared by these tasks was a major factor limiting the performance,” Moisala says.

    The studied youth who reported more daily computer gaming activity showed enhanced working memory functioning and better reaction times in the laboratory tasks. It was also easier for them to switch between visual and auditory attention.

    The cognitive benefits of computer gaming have also been reported in previous studies.

    “Taken together, the results from these studies are of great importance, since it is vital to understand how the increasing amount of on-screen time might affect or interact with the cognitive and brain functioning of the current youth,” Moisala says.

    She repeated the laboratory tasks two years later to gather data for the follow-up research for which she now seeks funding.

    “This data is exceptionally extensive and provides us with the possibility to investigate the effects of technology use on the developing brain,” Moisala says.


  6. Childhood bullying may lead to increased chronic disease risk in adulthood

    March 14, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Wolters Kluwer Health media release:

    Being bullied during childhood might have lifelong health effects related to chronic stress exposure — including an increased risk for heart disease and diabetes in adulthood, according to a research review in the March/April issue of the Harvard Review of Psychiatry. The journal is published by Wolters Kluwer.

    Recent advances in understanding of the negative health effects of chronic stress highlight a pressing need to clarify the longer-term health implications of childhood bullying, according to the review by Susannah J. Tye, PhD, of the Mayo Clinic and colleagues. “Bullying, as a form of chronic social stress, may have significant health consequences if not addressed early,” Dr. Tye comments. “We encourage child health professionals to assess both the mental and physical health effects of bullying.”

    Health Impact of Bullying — What’s the Evidence?

    “Once dismissed as an innocuous experience of childhood, bullying is now recognized as having significant psychological effects, particularly with chronic exposure,” Dr. Tye and co-authors write. Bullying has been linked to an increased risk of psychiatric disorders, although there are still questions about the direction of that association.

    Bullied children also have increased rates of various physical symptomsrecurrent and unexplained symptoms may be a warning sign of bullying. Dr. Tye comments, “It is important that we appreciate the biological processes linking these psychological and physiological phenomena, including their potential to impact long-term health.”

    Studies of other types of chronic stress exposure raise concerns that bullying — “a classic form of chronic social stress” — could have lasting effects on physical health. Any form of continued physical or mental stress can put a strain on the body, leading to increasing “wear and tear.” This process, called allostatic load, reflects the cumulative impact of biological responses to ongoing or repeated stress — for example, the “fight or flight” response.

    “When an individual is exposed to brief periods of stress, the body can often effectively cope with the challenge and recover back to baseline,” Dr. Tye explains. “Yet, with chronic stress, this recovery process may not have ample opportunity to occur, and allostatic load can build to a point of overload. In such states of allostatic overload, physiological processes critical to health and well-being can be negatively impacted.”

    With increasing allostatic load, chronic stress can lead to changes in inflammatory, hormonal, and metabolic responses. Over time, these physiological alterations can contribute to the development of diseases — including depression, diabetes, and heart disease — as well as progression of psychiatric disorders.

    Early-life stress exposure can also affect the way in which these physiological systems respond to future stressors. This may occur in part through epigenetic changes — alterations in gene function related to environmental exposures — that alter the stress response itself. Chronic stress may also impair the child’s ability to develop psychological skills that foster resilience, reducing their capacity to cope with future stress.

    The authors emphasize that although no cause-and-effect relationship can be shown so far. Future research — in particular, collaborations between clinical and basic science researchers — could have important implications for understanding, and potentially intervening in, the relationship between childhood bullying and long-term health.

    Dr. Tye and colleagues believe that current research shows the importance of addressing bullying victimization as a “standard component” of clinical care for children — at the primary care doctor’s office as well as in mental health care. They conclude, “Asking about bullying…represents a practical first step towards intervening to prevent traumatic exposure and reduce risk for further psychiatric and related morbidities.”


  7. Benefits of long-term use of ADHD medications questioned

    March 13, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Wiley press release:

    In a study that followed more than 500 children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) into adulthood, extended use of stimulant medication was linked with suppressed adult height but not with reduced symptoms of ADHD.

    The findings suggest that short-term treatment of ADHD with stimulant medication is well justified by benefits that outweigh costs, but long-term treatment may be associated with growth-related costs that may not be balanced by symptom-related benefits.

    “The most recently published guidelines (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2011) recommend expanding the diagnosis and treatment beyond school-aged children and using stimulant medication as first-line treatment for adolescents as well as school-aged children,” wrote the authors of The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry study. “Since this would increase the average duration of treatment and cumulative ME dose of medication in some individuals, the findings suggest growth-related costs may increase.”


  8. Children’s daily life highly regulated: US and Swedish differences

    by Ashley

    From the University of Gothenburg press release:

    Children in Sweden and the US experience their daily life as highly structured and regulated. But while US children state that homework and long schooldays are what makes everyday life difficult, Swedish children point to the continuous nagging and stress that occur in relation to daily routines. These are some key findings of a new study from the University of Gothenburg.

    ‘The children in both countries talked about progressively less time available for own activities, but the things they focus on in their stories differ,’ says education researcher Ylva Odenbring.

    Her interview-based study involved Swedish and US middle-class children 6-7 years old, all of whom had the economic means to participate in leisure activities.

    ‘Schoolification’ of childhood

    Previous research indicates that in the Western world, children’s daily life is largely focused around the time they spend in educational institutions and the time they spend participating in various leisure activities. Researchers talk about a ‘schoolification’ of childhood as children spend a large portion of their time in various educational institutions from early childhood through adolescence.

    Besides the time spent in educational institutions, children spend time engaging in leisure activities, and school-age children also have homework. Yet few previous studies have studied these issues from the children’s perspective.

    Over-organised lives

    ‘The US children mention homework, long schooldays and leisure activities as the main reasons for why their daily life is so regulated. In contrast, the Swedish children point to the daily routines in connection with being taken to and picked up from school and the nagging and stress they associate with them,’ says Odenbring.

    The study brings attention to some of the trends observed in many Western societies: that people’s daily lives, and this is also true for children, are becoming increasingly regulated and structured. The children’s descriptions of their everyday lives give an impression of overly organised lifestyles.

    ‘From a wider societal perspective, the study brings attention to the question of how children’s voices are included in the discussion on how to make everyday life less stressful and increase children’s wellbeing,’ says Odenbring.


  9. Flame retardant chemicals may affect social behavior in young children

    March 12, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Oregon State University press release:

    Some chemicals added to furniture, electronics and numerous other goods to prevent fires may have unintended developmental consequences for young children, according to a pilot study released today.

    Researchers from Oregon State University found a significant relationship between social behaviors among children and their exposure to widely used flame retardants, said Molly Kile, an environmental epidemiologist and associate professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at OSU.

    “When we analyzed behavior assessments and exposure levels, we observed that the children who had more exposure to certain types of the flame retardant were more likely to exhibit externalizing behaviors such as aggression, defiance, hyperactivity, inattention and bullying,” said Kile, the corresponding author of the study, which was published today in the journal Environmental Health.

    “This is an intriguing finding because no one had previously studied the behavioral effects of organophosphate classes of flame retardants, which have been added to consumer products more recently.”

    Flame retardants are found throughout the built environment in furniture, mattresses, carpeting, electronics, vehicles and more. The chemicals are added to the products and are not bound in the material, which causes them to be released into indoor environments.

    Manufacturers began adding flame retardants in 1975, in response to new legislation in California designed to reduce flammability in common household items. The state updated its flammability standards in 2014, and now allows furniture manufacturers to meet the standards without adding flame retardant chemicals to their products, but the chemicals are still widely used and they linger in the indoor environment.

    There are growing concerns that some flame retardants may have unintended impacts on health and development in children, and this study contributes to that body of research.

    The most common types of flame retardants found in the built environment are brominated diphenyl ethers (BDEs) and organophosphate-based flame retardants (OPFRs). OPFRs emerged as an alternative to BDEs in an effort to address some of the environmental health concerns posed by BDEs, which tend to remain in the environment for long periods.

    Past research has shown that both BDEs and OPFRs are linked to poorer cognitive function in children. But less is known about the relationship between the flame retardants and children’s social and emotional health, particularly during early childhood, a key developmental period for learning.

    “The social skills children learn during preschool set the foundation for their success in school, and also for their social and emotional health and well-being later in life,” said Shannon Lipscomb, an associate professor and lead of the human development and family sciences program at OSU-Cascades and a co-author of the study.

    For this study, the OSU research team recruited 92 Oregon children between ages 3-5 to wear a silicone wristband for seven days to measure exposure to flame retardants.

    The team included Kile, Lipscomb; Megan McClelland and Megan MacDonald of the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences; Kim Anderson of the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences; and Andres Cardenas of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and an OSU doctoral graduate. The research was supported by OSU’s Hallie E. Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families and the Environmental Health Science Center at OSU.

    The wristbands, developed by Anderson at OSU, have a porous surface that mimics a cell, absorbing chemicals that people are exposed to through their environment. When the wristbands are returned, Anderson can screen for up to 1,200 chemicals that may accumulate. The wristband is an easy and non-invasive way to sample children’s chemical exposure.

    The researchers had parents or primary caregivers complete questionnaires about socio-demographics and the home environment, and preschool teachers completed behavior assessments for each participating child. In all, researchers had complete data and wristband results for 69 children.

    Their analysis showed that all of the children were exposed to some level of flame retardant. Children who had higher exposure rates of OFPRs showed less responsible behavior and more aggression, defiance, hyperactivity, inattention and bullying behaviors. Children with higher exposure to BDEs were seen as less assertive by their teachers. All of these social skills play an important role in a child’s ability to succeed academically and socially.

    “We detected these links between flame retardant and children’s social behaviors while controlling for differences in family demographics, home learning environments and adversity,” Lipscomb said. “This suggests that flame retardants may have a unique effect on development apart from the effects of children’s early social experiences.”

    Further study is needed to better understand the links between flame retardants and children’s social skill development, the researchers said. They plan to pursue funding for a new study that continues for a longer period of time and considers how other aspects of children’s lives might affect the impact of flame retardants on their development.

    “The results of this research to date have shown potential impacts for child health and warrant a more thorough investigation,” Kile said.”If scientists find strong evidence that exposure to flame retardants affects children’s behaviors, we can develop strategies that prevent these exposures and help improve children’s lives. This type of public health science is needed to figure out how to address the root causes of behavioral concerns that can affect children’s school readiness and overall well-being.”


  10. Household chaos makes bringing up children with ADHD more difficult

    by Ashley

    From the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main press release:

    Researchers often observe inadequate parenting, a negative emotional climate and household chaos in families of children with ADHD. A research group at Goethe University Frankfurt and the universities of Bremen, Heidelberg, Tübingen and Kiel has now explored how these factors interrelate. The result is astounding.

    “We assumed that the parents of children with ADHD found it difficult to maintain a structured family life and daily routines due to their children’s symptoms. In turn, household chaos has an adverse effect on emotional climate and parents’ behaviour,” explains Dr. Andrea Wirth, research associate at the Department of Educational Psychology of Goethe University Frankfurt.

    The data of 84 children aged between 7 and 13 years was included in the study, of which 31 children were assigned to the ADHD group and 53 to the control group. Parental behaviour was assessed using a standardized questionnaire, which asked to what extent the parents looked after their children, praised or criticized them, how consistent they were in their parenting and whether they resorted to physical punishment. In order to document the emotional climate in the family, the psychologists asked one of the parents to talk about his or her child for five minutes and describe the child’s personality as well as his or her relationship to it. Household chaos was also recorded using a standardized test.

    As expected, parenting by the parents of children with ADHD was less adequate, they criticized their children more often und reported more household chaos than the parents of the children in the control group. However and to the psychologists’ surprise, the parents of children with ADHD rated their relationship to their children more positively than the parents of children without ADHD. The researchers presume that a possible reason, amongst others, might be that some of the families involved were already undergoing therapy, since improvements in the parent-child relationship have already been proven both for interventions with medication as well as those based on behavioural therapy.

    The exact relationship between the three constructs was examined with the help of statistical analyses (mediation analyses). “Household chaos seems to be some kind of mechanism through which the symptoms of children with ADHD have a negative impact on their parents’ behaviour towards them,” says Andrea Wirth. However, a chaotic environment does not appear to affect the emotional climate in the family. This contradicts earlier studies which had found a link between inadequate parenting and emotional climate. “A highly chaotic and unstructured household, to which the children’s ADHD symptoms are a contributing factor, makes it difficult for their parents to be authoritative in their upbringing. At the same time, it can be assumed that the parents — despite the prevailing chaos — are fond of their children, speak positively about them and enjoy spending time with them.”

    The research group at the LOEWE centre IDeA, of which Andrea Wirth is a member, is drawing up recommendations for future research aimed at designing parent training which can help parents to plan family life better, establish fixed routines and rituals, and organize daily life more efficiently. These may include, for example, turning off the radio and the television when the child is doing its homework, leaving the room to make phone calls, only receiving guests at certain times and letting the child do its homework alone in a quiet room.