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Screen time habits: What matters most for children

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MINNEAPOLIS — Ah, the classic parental debate: Giving your kids an iPad will entertain them… but can the screen time cause harm? 

If you are a caregiver who allows your children to use screens, you probably feel some level of guilt. Based on your child’s age, parents and experts recommend varying screen time limits. 

But when it comes to screens, there is something that researchers say should be considered more than time.

“Content. Absolutely content,” said Deborah Nichols, Associate Professor in Purdue University’s Department of Human Development and Family Science. 

“All screen time is not created equal,” said Eric Rasmussen, Associate Professor and Chair of Texas Tech University’s Department of Public Relations and Strategic Communication Management. “Lean more towards the programming that’s designed to be educational instead of entertainment-based.”

Nichols and Rasmussen have spent their careers studying what media does to children. They are also parents and say that if you’re concentrating solely on screen time limits — reconsider.

“In my mind, [time limit guidelines] have the focus on the wrong place,” Nichols said. “The focus should be on helping your kids develop critical media literacy skills.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics changed its recommendations on children and screens in 2016. Instead of setting guidelines for specific time limits per age, they recommend looking at the “quality of interactions with digital media.”

“We don’t just sit down and mindlessly watch [screens],” Nichols said. “We select content that’s [age] appropriate and high quality.”

Nichols says her children were “PBS kids.” The nonprofit is focused on educational programming, with people on staff dedicated to creating content that helps kids learn. But there are other ways to tell you’re turning on good content. 

Rasmussen points to shows like “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” which are slower-paced.

“Kids learn when they have time to think about it,” Rasmussen said. “So, all the screen changes, flashing lights and loud noises [in a show] – that gets their attention, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into comprehension.”

Nichols says content focused on learning also includes repetition of key themes or lessons.

“Shows that use the same format and repeat content within that particular episode, kids are going to learn that better,” she said.

And if nothing else, listen to this:

“Instead of making so many rules about media, really parents need to be looking at [them]selves in the mirror and thinking, ‘Well, what am I doing with media?’ That’s what will change kids’ media use more than anything else.”

Download the free KARE 11+ app for Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV and other smart TV platforms to watch more from KARE 11 anytime! The KARE 11+ app includes live streams of all of KARE 11’s newscasts. You’ll also find on-demand replays of newscasts; the latest from KARE 11 Investigates, Breaking the News and the Land of 10,000 Stories; exclusive programs like Verify and HeartThreads; and Minnesota sports talk from our partners at Locked On Minnesota. 

Watch the latest local news from the Twin Cities and across Minnesota in our YouTube playlist:



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Kare11

Grow with KARE: Three types of Lavender

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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — When deciding which type of lavender to add to your garden, the choice will likely be between three main types commonly found at garden centers. All have flowers that are gorgeous and make beautiful garden plants, but beyond that, each variety has special and specific traits.

English Lavenders: Generally sweet and used for culinary purposes. Everyone has different tastes, of course, but generally, the varieties to used for cooking are from the Lavandula angustifolia family, known as English lavender. Any English lavender cultivar will be flavorful. Try “Royal Velvet,” “Folgate,” “Melissa,” “Munstead”, or “Lady.”

French Lavenders: Also edible but isn’t usually used for culinary. They have a higher oil content which can make the lavender taste soapy to some. That trait makes French Lavender wonderful for distilling into essential oil. The stems are also longer, which are great for cuttings.

Spanish Lavenders: Not hardy enough to thrive outside in Minnesota, but you may find them at garden centers as topiaries. These will not grow back in our northern climate if planted in the ground and should be treated as an annual.



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Rainbow Health abruptly shuts down

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According to the organization’s website, Rainbow Health served 2,366 Minnesotans last year alone.

MINNEAPOLIS — A nonprofit organization that’s long served the state’s LGBTQ+ community abruptly closed Thursday, shocking both its staff and clients.

In a statement posted to Facebook on Thursday, the organization announced the closure of Rainbow Health, saying:  “Due to insurmountable financial challenges, we can no longer sustain our operations.”

A similar message was shared with staff hours before the organization – that serves thousands of people across the state – closed its doors.

“We were told that Rainbow Health was insolvent and would be dissolving as of 5 p.m.,” said Ash Tifa, the program coordinator for Rainbow Health Legal Services.

According to the organization’s website, Rainbow Health served 2,366 Minnesotans last year alone. But workers say they work with tens of thousands of people within a marginalized community.

“Our organization serves thousands and thousands across Minnesota, with everything from case management, to therapy and telehealth, a pharmacy, housing support, rent checks, grocery money,” Tifa said, adding: “We’re the State’s largest AIDS-service organization.”

Tifa noted that the move comes just days after the organization’s CEO resigned following a unanimous vote of “No Confidence” by those workers who are represented by SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and Iowa. And while the workers remain deeply concerned for their clients, they also have questions and concerns for a board they feel didn’t keep them in the loop or fulfill their contract.

In a statement posted to SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and Iowa, the union stated: “Despite contract language in the workers’ union contract as members of SEIU Healthcare MN & IA that requires 30 days advance notice of layoff to union-represented employees, workers found out just hours before the organization said it was closing its doors forever, with no explanation of what happened or what is next for the workers, clients or community.”

Amid all the turmoil, advocates are also urging clients to consider other community resources for care. 

In a statement, Shannah Mulvihill with Mental Health Minnesota, said:

“I am saddened to hear about the closure of Rainbow Health, which helped serve important needs in our LGBTQIA+ community. Unfortunately, many nonprofits are experiencing significant funding challenges right now, especially those providing direct services and care. Many Minnesotans who had relied on Rainbow Health may not know where to turn for help, but there is support available during this time.

Mental Health Minnesota’s Warmline provides peer support every day from 9 AM to 9PM if you need to talk, and the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is open 24/7 if you’re struggling.

Minnesota Warmline (peer support)

Call: 855-WARMLINE (855-927-6546)

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

The Trevor Project (LGBTQ support)



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Business owners oppose proposed homeless shelter in Uptown

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The shelter would offer medical respite services to homeless people. Local business owners and residents plan to oppose at the Planning Commission’s Aug. 12 meeting.

MINNEAPOLIS — For the last four years, Mattisse Johnson has operated #FACE, her day spa in Uptown, with the door locked.

“Because all day long we have people off the street who try to come in,” she said. “We have had people we’ve let in, thinking they’re here for good reasons, and they’ve stolen from us. In the middle of the day.”

Mattisse says she wants her business to stay at the corner of West Lake Street and Colfax , because she’s a believer in Uptown — and its recovery.

“I love Uptown because growing up in Minneapolis, this was the dream,” she said.

But a proposed homeless shelter right across the street has business owners banding together in opposition. 

“I think it would be great somewhere else. I just don’t think it belongs on a business corridor,” Johnson said.

“One more thing that’s going to impede the recovery of uptown,” said State Farm insurance agent Lawrence Thomas.

Thomas, whose office is right next door, feels the same as Matisse — that homeless services are needed but that the location is not appropriate.

“And I feel like these conversations, if they’re uncomfortable, I get it. But they need to be had,” Thomas said.

The proposal before the Minneapolis Panning Commission is from Lakeshore Care Inc, a company formed in March. 

Its project description says they plan to “offer temporary, supportive care for individuals recovering from illnesses or medical procedures.”

Lakeshore Care told KARE 11 News they have a medical team with decades of experience to offer respite care.

They want that particular location for proximity to healthcare providers, accessibility, and community integration..

And they plan to address safety concerns in part with security patrols and not allowing clients to “loiter or wander aimlessly”

In this week’s meeting several people spoke out.  Local business owner Andrea Corbin from the Uptown Association and Lynnlake Association says residents are weighing in as well.

“It’s everybody that lives and works in this area,” Corbin said.

The next step in this process is the Minneapolis Planning Commission will hold a hearing on August 12.



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