Videos entertain young children but they do not learn from them, finds study of Indian children

A new study shows that although young children are interested in watching videos and may engage by pressing buttons they do not learn from them. The children were studied at four ages: 6, 12, 18 and 24 months old (via Science Direct).

The study in India assessed 55 children at 6 months old, they were then followed up every six months. The researchers observed the children’s skill in interacting with touch screens and their recognition of people in videos, they also made a note of the videos that appealed to them the most.

At 6 months of age the children were enjoying listening to music and by a year were watching the YouTube clips. They were also able to recognise their parents at 12 months and themselves (at 2 years old).  The investigators conclude that while the clips were entertaining for the children they did not  learn anything from the videos.

The full news item is available at Science Daily

The full journal article is published in Acta Paediatrica, the abstract can be read at Wiley 

Full reference:
Yadav, S., Chakraborty, P.,  Mittal, P., & Arora, U . | 2018  | Children aged 6-24 months like to watch YouTube videos but could not learn anything from them  | Acta Paediatrica  |  DOI: 10.1111/apa.14291

The full article is available for Rotherham NHS staff to request here 



A child’s reduction in cognitive skills such as self -restraint is an indicator of future tendencies towards aggression finds German study

Rohlf, H. L. , Holl, A. K.,  Kirsch, F ., Krahé, B .,  & Elsner, B| Longitudinal Links between Executive Function, Anger, and Aggression in Middle ChildhoodFrontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience | DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2018.00027

New research from Germany indicates that young pupils in primary schools with reduced cognitive skills for planning and self-restraint are more likely to show increased aggression in middle childhood. The study looked at the relationship between aggression and executive function which is a measure of their cognitive skills that enable individuals to control their behaviour to achieve goals.  (via Science Daily)

anger-1007186_1280While previous studies have shown that antisocial behavior is related to lower executive function, the link between childhood executive function and aggression over time is under researched . Equally, researchers do not yet understand the relationships between executive function, specific types of aggression and other contributing factors, such as how easily someone becomes angry. 

Lead researcher Helena Helena Rohlf and her fellow researchers tested German primary school pupils aged between 6 and 11 years old at three time points: the start of the study, around a year later and about 3 years later. The children were assessed using behavioral tasks to reveal different aspects of their executive function, including memory, planning abilities and self-restraint. The pupil’s teachers were also asked to record their tendency towards different types of aggression: physical aggression, relational aggression (such as excluding others), reactive aggression (reaction to provocation), and proactive aggression (aggression in “cold blood” without provocation). The children’s parents were surveyed about their child’s tendencies towards aggression.

They found a correlation between a greater the number of deficits children displayed at the beginning of the project and higher aggression at one and three years later.  Rohlf and her colleagues also found that an increased tendency for anger in children with reduced executive function may partly explain their increased aggression in later years.   Deficits in executive function were related to increased reactive aggression over time, but not proactive aggression.

Rohlf said: “this ties in with the idea of proactive aggression as ‘cold-blooded’, planned aggression.” “Executive function allows children to behave in a planned and deliberate fashion, which is characteristic of proactive aggression.”

Another significant finding was that executive function had similar effects on aggression in girls and boys. “We found that although aggressive behavior was more common among boys, the links between executive function, anger, and aggression seem to be similar for girls and boys,” said Rohlf.

The results suggest that training programs that help children to increase their executive function, and manage their anger, could reduce their aggression.

The full journal article can be read at Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience 

Do teenagers who frequent Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites perform worse academically?

The investigators explored whether young people’s social media usage and engagement correlated with their attainment in school.  The researchers identified 59 studies (which  included almost 30,000 people) undertaking meta-analyses on this topic. 


The four results of the meta-analyses:

• The first result: Pupils who use social media intensively to communicate about school-related topics tend to have slightly better grades. This finding was anticipated by the  scientists in the study

• The second result: Pupils who use Instagram and the likes a lot while studying or doing their homework, tend to perform slightly worse than other students. This form of multi-tasking thus seems to be rather distracting.

• The third result: Students who use social networking sites very frequently, regularly post messages and photos and spend a lot of time there have slightly lower grades. This negative effect is, however, very small.

• The fourth result: Pupils who are particularly active on social media do not spend less time studying. So there is no scientifically verified proof of social media stealing valuable time for schoolwork from pupils.

According to the researchers using social media does not seem to have a significant adverse impact on school grades.

Story from Science Daily 


The popularity of social networking sites (SNSs) among adolescents and young adults has raised concerns that the intensity of using these platforms might be associated with lower academic achievement.
The empirical findings on this issue, however, are anything but conclusive. Therefore, we present four random-effects meta-analyses including 59 independent samples (total N = 29,337) on the association between patterns of SNS use and grades.

The meta-analyses identified small negative effects for general SNS use and for SNS use related to multitasking.

General SNS use was unrelated to the time spent studying for school  and no support for the time displacement hypothesis could be found in a meta-analytical mediation analysis. SNS use for academic purposes exhibited a small positive association.

Hypotheses with regard to cross-cultural differences were not supported.

Full abstract from Springer 

Full reference: Marker, C.  et al | Active on Facebook and Failing at School? Meta-Analytic Findings on the Relationship Between Online Social Networking Activities and Academic Achievement | Educational Psychology Review | 2017 | DOI: 10.1007/s10648-017-9430-6

This article can be requested by Rotherham NHS staff here 

Consultation to transform children and young people’s mental health support

Have your say on government plans to transform children and young people’s mental health support

The children and young people’s mental health green paper was  launched in December 2017, and the Department for Health and Social Care is now seeking the views of mental health professionals.

Proposals include:

  • the development of a new community-based workforce to improve availability of support in non-clinical settings
  • incentives for every school and college to have a designated lead for mental health
  • the introduction of a new four week waiting time for children’s mental health services in pilot areas

Full details available from NHS Improvement

The consultation is open until 2 March and can be accesssed here

The Mental health of young women and girls

The Mental health of young women and girls: how to prevent a growing crisis | Mental Health Foundation

This policy paper from the Mental Health Foundation reports that the mental health of young women and girls is deteriorating, with the gap between men and women widening  over recent years.  The evidence section in this paper shows that the last 15 years have seen an unprecedented rise in reported mental health problems amongst young women and girls, with their needs reaching crisis levels.

mental health
Image source:

The paper makes a series of recommendations including:

  • identify pressure points and social determinants of mental health and wellbeing in young women and girls, to support the development of tailored mental health guidance aimed at preventing mental health problems for those at highest risk
  • improve the understanding of how to prevent mental health problems in young women by decision makers.

Full document: While your back was turned: How mental health policymakers stopped paying attention to the specific needs of women and girls

How NHS eating disorder services are failing patients

The Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman has published Ignoring the alarms: how NHS eating disorder services are failing patients.

This is the report from an investigation that found Averil Hart’s death from anorexia would have been avoided if the NHS had cared for her appropriately. It highlights five areas of focus to improve eating disorder services:

  • The General Medical Council should conduct a review of training for all junior doctors on eating disorders, informed by research being conducted by the Faculty of Eating Disorders at the Royal College of Psychiatrists;
  • The Department of Health and NHS  England (NHSE) should review the existing quality and availability of adult eating disorder services to achieve parity with child and adolescent services;
  • The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) should consider including coordination as an element of their new Quality Standard for eating disorders;
  • Health Education England should review how its current education and training can address the gaps in provision of eating disorder specialists we have identified. If necessary it should consider how the existing workforce can be further trained and used more innovatively to improve capacity. Health Education England should also look at how future workforce planning might support the increased provision of specialists in this field;
  • Both NHS Improvement (NHSI) and NHS England (NHSE) have a leadership role to play in supporting local NHS providers and CCGs to conduct and learn from serious incident investigations, including those that are complex and cross organisational boundaries. NHSE and NHSI should use the forthcoming Serious Incident Framework review to clarify their respective oversight roles in relation to serious incident investigations. They should also set out what their role would be in circumstances like the Hart’s, where local bodies are failing to work together to establish what has happened and why, so that lessons can be learnt.

Full report: Ignoring the alarms: How NHS eating disorder services are failing patients

Transforming children and young people’s mental health

Ways for schools and colleges to support pupils’ mental health are set out in a green paper, as well as plans for new mental health support teams.

The government has published proposals to improve mental health support for children and young people in England. Over £300 million has been made available to fund them.

The government is asking people for their views on the planned measures, which are set out in a green paper. The measures include:

  • encouraging every school and college to have a ‘designated senior mental health lead’
  • setting up mental health support teams working with schools, to give children and young people earlier access to services
  • piloting a 4-week waiting time for NHS children and young people’s mental health services

Other proposals in the green paper include:

  • a new working group to look at mental health support for 16 to 25-year-olds
  • a report by the Chief Medical Officer on the impact that technology has on children and young people’s mental health, to be produced in 2018

The consultation on the green paper will run for 13 weeks until 2 March 2018.

Full document: Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision: a green paper

This short video describes the main proposals in the green paper.