Doing Life Together

ID-100181543Lately, we’ve heard a lot about people who think they can multitask but perform poorly. So parents all over America are turning off music and screens, telling their teens to focus on the single task of studying. Good idea, right?

Maybe not for all teens. Two high school researchers put together an impressive study that challenged the idea that multitasking is always bad when trying to learn. In their study, the teens discovered that a certain group of teens can multitask and experience improved performance. It was only 15% of the study participants (400 total participants) but for that group, listening to music, checking email and generally multitasking worked for them.

Why? One thought is maybe the brains of digital natives (those who grew up on multitasking on media) have adapted to all the stimuli and can cope. OR maybe there is a genetic component. No one is really sure but it is interesting that not all people who are heavy media multitaskers do poorly. Some of these “supertaskers” may just be able to handle all the distraction.

Keep in mind that most people don’t do well on tasks when heavy media multitasking is involved. But maybe, just maybe, you have one of the few teens who can. Maybe the digital native brains are adapting. Since, this is only one study, more will need to be researched.

In the meantime, I’m telling my teens to put down the devices, study with no distraction like their old-school mom!


Source: Poster presentation at the American Academy of Pediatrics conference, 2014

ID-10067034It happens to all of us. Someone sends an email that upsets us and we react by firing off an angry response. This impulse to react usually leads to regret and ends up damaging our relationships.

So how do we respond to hurt, upset or accusation from an email? And what do we do if we react in anger and wish we hadn’t? Here are 10 tips:

1) Don’t respond right away. Pause, sit with the feeling and don’t do anything. Rather than react from emotion, take time to calm down so you can react from a thinking position.

2) Write your response and store it in draft. Be careful though because you can hit send by mistake even in draft. Better yet, write your response on a Word document and let it sit for awhile. Come back to it later and read it with a clearer head. Decide then to delete, revise or send.

3) When you write, picture the person on the other end. Imagine sitting face-to-face and saying out loud what you are writing. This may temper your words and tone.

4) If you sent an angry email, pick up the phone and apologize. Don’t try to minimize what you did. Just say, “I wrote out of anger and that was not smart.  I should not have done that. I am so sorry.”

5) If your reaction to an email is intense, send a note that says, “I’ll respond a little later. Need time to process,” rather than avoiding the person or a response all together.

6) Search your heart and pray. Why are you reacting the way you are? Is it a good idea to repay evil for evil? Do you value the relationship enough to not lash out in revenge?

7) Have a third party read your email and tell you whether it sounds angry or defensive. Someone who is not emotionally involved can be more objective.

8) Remind yourself that once you write and hit send, it can’t be taken back. You can apologize but words are powerful and wound.

9) Give the person the benefit of the doubt. Even if you feel the email is angry or accusatory, check with the person first and ask about tone or meaning. Don’t assume.

10) Don’t send angry emails at all. The best solution is not to write an email when you are angry or upset. Better to find the person, talk in person and work things out the old fashion way-one on one.


medicine_on_a_handIf you have ever seen a TV commercial for a specific drug, you probably wonder why anyone would ever take that drug. The speed reading list of possible side effects is enough to stop most of us from even considering that drug. But the FDA requires that ads list the possible side effects of a medication.

All of this over warning can lead to overload and refusal to take medications even when they are needed. Fear can develop just knowing there is a possibility of problems.

About one-half to a third of people on drugs for chronic illness don’t take their medications because of fear of side effects.

But could those side effects be due to something other than the drug? Maybe  you are tired because you stayed up too late, or have a headache because you haven’t eaten in 6 hours. It’s true, we often attribute our health status to only the drugs, not the lifestyle or choices we are making.

Also, studies show that side effects can be imagined. Just knowing there is a possible side effect might make you think you have one or two. For example, if you know a medication has the side effect of tingling hands, you may start tingling. This is called the placebo effect. It feels real but it is related to your fear about taking the drug.

Listen, you have to take those side effects seriously. For example, a rash is not an imagined side effect. But check your fear level. Are you reacting to the fear of what could be and not taking a medication for that reason? This is especially important to ask when a life saving drug is involved.

If you are unsure, talk to your doctor. See if you could stop the medication for a few weeks to see if the symptoms go away. If they do, you may want to have a different medication prescribed. Work with your doctor on this rather than simply stopping. There is a balance between risk and benefit of taking certain drugs. Educate yourself but work together to develop a plan. Don’t allow fear to drive your decisions.

ID-100110373Mr. and Mrs. Johnson are considered good parents. But are they too lenient when it comes to letting their children watch movies filled with sex and violence? A new study sheds light on why parents may be too lenient when it comes to allowing children to view sex and violence in films.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study with 1000 parents. In the study, parents were shown multiple clips of sex and violence from films. This repeated exposure led to more acceptance of both sex and violence. In other words, parents became desensitized by viewing.

And because parents become more desensitized in these areas, they allow their children more access to this content. This is a problem because when children and adults see repeated sex and violence, they become less empathetic to the suffering of others as well as desensitized. Additionally, other studies note that this repeated exposure leads to more aggressive responses to conflict. And we have some evidence to suggest that desensitization transfers from fiction to real life.

In terms of sexual content, the concern is based in other research that has found that exposure to sexual content may also lead to early sexual initiation.

So parents think twice. Do you really want your children exposed to violence and sex at young ages or repeatedly at any age?

Maybe you aren’t aware that your own viewing of such content is affecting you and relaxing your standards with your kids. Your exposure could be affecting your judgment. So maybe the place to begin is to limit your own viewing.