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Portrait of happy teens looking at camera in the park at summer

Thank you for helping prevent youth suicide

Over the past 2 weeks, we have been auctioning off Kookaburras captain Mark Knowles’ hockey singlet , signed by the RIO Olympic men’s hockey squad, to raise money for a charity that helps to prevent youth suicide.

All proceeds from the auction go to zero2hero, an amazing not-for-profit that seeks to raise awareness about youth suicide in Australia. They do this by speaking directly to children and young people.

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The auction result

The auction finished this week, and raised $510 for zero2hero. We received 40 bids for the framed Kookaburra’s singlet, which was kindly donated by Kookaburras captain, Mark Knowles.

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How zero2hero helps prevent youth suicide

At eebudee, we are passionate about supporting charities that help young people in Australia, and globally. This is why we hold fundraising activities, such as charity auctions.

zero2hero was chosen because of the way in which CEO Ashlee Harrison and her team connect and empower young people, who may be at risk of suicide.

Their vision?

Every child and young person is educated and empowered to effectively deal with mental health issues.

The team at zero2hero achieves this by:

  • Holding fun events like ‘zero2hero’ day, where schools and workplaces are inspired to learn more about mental health issues.
  • Offering schools the opportunity to host inspiring speakers, who share stories and insights about youth suicide prevention.
  • Running camps, which empower young people to become leaders in their community.
  • Participating in mental health forums, such as ‘In your head’, which will happen during Mental Health Week on 12 October 2016.

For more information about zero2hero, including how to donate to this great charity, please head here.

What next?

If you know of a charity that is doing amazing things for young people in Australia, the US or anywhere in the world, please leave a comment in the comments section below, or post your thoughts on Facebook.

We are always looking for new ways to support not-for-profits that are empowering and inspiring kids and young people.

Safe social media

Our organisation is eebudee, a ‘toolkit’ that assists parents with preparing their kids for the online world – the good, the bad and the ugly. We do this through fun, education and participation. You can check out our beta web platform at www.eebudee.com.au

By signing up to eebudee you help us continue our work helping parents, kids and communities.

We also post regular insights about how to raise children in this ever-expanding digital age. You may also like to check out our Facebook community, Safe Social Media for Kids.

Young man playing computer game back of the head view

Online gaming may boost performance at school

RMIT University completed a recent study, which found that gaming improves results in science, mathematics and reading. The Australian study discovered that children who engage in online gaming are likely to achieve 17 points (approximately 4%) higher in a math test.

Here’s what else they found.

The study

  • Researchers analysed the online habits of 12,000 Australian teenagers, aged 15 years.
  • Data relating to online habits was taken from PISA, the Program for International Student Assessment.
  • It was then compared with the teenagers’ academic results.
  • Researchers found online gaming assisted with developing problem solving and analytical skills in young people.

Why gaming improves outcomes at school

Associate Professor Alberto Posso from RMIT was reported as saying to ABC.net.au that when online gaming, children have to understand at least some principles of chemistry, which means they need to comprehend science too.

Posso also told ABC.net.au that, according to some psychologists, large online games can benefit cognitive development.

What about social media?

The same researchers also looked at whether social media consumption impacted academic results. They found that using Facebook or other social media applications had the opposite effect.

That is, excess use of social media hindered academic success.

Why does social media reduce academic success?

The same researchers also examined whether social media consumption impacted academic results. They found that using Facebook and other social media applications had the opposite effect.

The negative effects of social media were mostly felt when teens spent hours scrolling through Facebook and similar social media applications. Researchers found that children who accessed social media every day scored 20 points less in math, than kids who didn’t use social media at all.

Posso told ABC.net.au that this was because kids are not really solving problems when they use Facebook. There is also the ‘opportunity cost’ of spending too much time on an activity that is not likely to improve academic performance.

For the full study, head to the International Journal of Communication.

What does this mean for my child?

These results may be scary to parents who have children that spend many hours on social media. But really, the correlation between reduced academic performance and social media use appears only to arise when social media use is excessive.

You may like to read some of our tips on monitoring children online, to ensure they do not tip the scale into excessive social media consumption.

In terms of gaming, we can now see that it is not the ‘waste of time’ many parents believe it to be. In moderation, it can indeed improve academic outcomes for teenagers. This is certainly encouraging.

For more fresh facts relating to safe gaming and social media habits, please Like our Facebook page – Safe Social Media for Kids. If you have an issue you’d like us to address in a blog post leave a comment below.

 

 

Teenagers working on laptop in school campus

How social media affects teenage brains

The UCLA brain mapping centre conducted a study on teenage brains and their response to social media. Researchers discovered that when teens received ‘Likes’ on a picture they posted, the reward centre of the brain is activated.

They discovered some other interesting facts too.

The study

  • Scientists used an fMRI scanner to take an image of the brains of 32 teens.
  • The scan was taken while the teenagers were using a social media application that resembled Instagram.
  • As the teens used the app, the scientists noticed that specific areas of the brain were activated when the teens received ‘Likes’ on pictures they posted.
  • The reward centre of the brain was the most active region.
  • Likes were actually assigned by the UCLA research team, although the teens thought their peers were responsible for them.
  • When a teenager saw a high volume of ‘Likes’ on their own photo, the nucleus accumbens, a section of the brain responsible for reward circuitry, was noticeably active.

What does this mean?

Researchers believe that since reward centres of the teenage brain are activated when using social media, they are likely to want to keep using it more.

UCLA lead author Lauren Sherman was reported as saying to CNN that reward circuitry is thought to be particularly sensitive in adolescence. This, in turn, may explain why teenagers use social media so avidly.

The impact of peer influence

The experiment also had implications relating to how teens react to their peers Liking a post on a social media app. Participants were shown a number of ‘neutral’ images, including things like friends and food, as well as ‘riskier’ images containing alcohol and cigarettes.

Researchers found that the kind of image did not affect the quantity of ‘Likes’. Instead, teens were more likely to ‘Like’ a picture that was popular with their peers, no matter what the image was of.

This has obvious positive and negative implications for teenagers, who are likely to feel good when multiple Likes are received, and bad when they do not receive a high volume of Likes.

What does this mean about the brain?

Scientists do speculate that social media is impacting our brains, especially plasticity, which relates to the way the brain changes and grows after it has different experiences.

When the brain learns something new, that experience is encoded in it. This happens because neuron connections strengthen and change.

For example, a study found that white matter in the adult brain altered as a person learned to juggle over a few months. Brain scans before and after showed distinct changes in the structure of the brain. (Head here to read the fully study.)

It also follows that time on social media could make the brain grow and change. Dr Iroise Dumontheil from Birkbeck University was reported as saying to CNN that these new social media skills are neither a good or bad thing, just a way of adapting to our environment.

Find out more

For more insights into how children and young people use social media, please Like our Safe Social Media for Kids Facebook page. We also post regular blogs on our website, so check back weekly for new articles!