What went viral this week: Pregnant Disney Princesses + an airline nightmare

Now, more than ever, we need to hear those good news stories.

Pregnant Disney Princesses

Last week was a week.

We lost a legal and cultural icon with the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and deadly wildfires continue to blaze on the West Coast. Now, more than ever, we need to see creativity, kindness and compassion in our world—we need to hear those "good news" stories, but we also need to see the headlines that show us how and why the world needs to change .

And right now both kinds of stories are going viral.

Here are the viral stories you need to read right now:


Why this mom went viral after she was kicked off flight with 2-year-old son

Mom Rachel Davis is going viral after sharing her travel troubles on Instagram. Davis says she was trying to fly from North Carolina to New Hampshire on American Airlines when she was kicked off a flight because her 2-year-old son would not keep his mask on.

Parents can understand how frustrating flying with kids must be right now, and Davis says that her son had been on four other flights with American Airlines within the week and had not been required to wear a mask on those flights.

"I tried repeatedly, begged him, bribed him, pleaded with him, did everything I could while he was screaming and crying as I tried to hold him and put the mask on, feeling my absolute lowest of lows as a mother," Davis wrote on Instagram, adding that her family had to make alternative travel arrangements with the airline after all the passengers deplaned. It was incredibly stressful, she says.

Most airlines do not require children under 2 years old to wear masks, and American Airlines is one of them. In a statement to Motherly the airline explained: "To ensure the safety of our customers and team, American Airlines requires all persons 2 years and older to wear an appropriate face covering throughout the entirety of their journey. Policies are enforced and approved face coverings are made available at key points throughout the customer journey. We've reached out to the family to learn more about their recent travel experience and to address their concerns."

Unfortunately, Davis' son was over 2, so he did need to wear the mask per their policy, but that doesn't mean that airline attendants couldn't have shown some compassion or empathy when they saw Davis struggling. Traveling right now is so stressful and while the CDC and other health authorities do recommend masks for everyone over 2 years old, some children will not be able to wear masks. It's something that's important for everyone to remember as we move through this pandemic together.

These Disney princess maternity shoots are stunningly perfect

A Brazilian photographer found a way to make expecting moms feel like absolute royalty: styling them like Disney princesses during their maternity sessions. The results are ridiculously cool, and something these moms are going to treasure forever. If you're looking for some inspiration for an upcoming maternity shoot of your own, you're definitely going to want to pin these pics.

Photographer Vanessa Firme says the idea to dress moms like Disney princesses came to her when she was working with a client who was expecting a little girl she planned to name Bella. That reminded them of Belle, so Firme decided to dress the mom in the princess's iconic yellow gown. Firme says that first shoot was so amazing she immediately realized she wanted to do more like that. "I thought: this must be what happens after 'happily ever after'," she explained.

Since that first Belle session, Firme has transformed pregnant mamas into Ariel, Snow White, Jasmine, Cinderella and even Maleficent. She's even gotten some dads to join in the fun, like one who dressed up as the Beast. Even more adorably, she's also had the opportunity to do sessions with some of the babies after they're born and include them in the Disney-inspired shoots as well.

Firme says the shoots aren't just about getting great photos. She says they let the moms forget about the not-so-magical parts of pregnancy, if only for a short time. "They were removed for an instant from the real world and taken to a world of enchantment." She says she also thought about the ways that children idolize their mothers, and view them as princesses in their own right. Now, they'll have pictures to match that sentiment.

Firme has styled so many amazing shoots, she says she "can't choose a favorite." And we definitely can't either.

Anderson Cooper shares sweet selfie with baby Wyatt: 'He’s such a happy baby'

Anderson Cooper's cute co-anchor is growing up!

The veteran journalist shared a sweet selfie with his son, Wyatt. "My son will be five months old in less than two weeks," Cooper wrote on Instagram. "He is such a happy baby even though he has started teething. He loves being read to and so far Dr. Seuss is his favorite, particularly One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. Ok, that's my favorite, but he does seem to like it a lot."

Cooper's followers were quick to show their support for the father and son duo.

Watch What Happens Live host Andy Cohen commented, "❤❤❤❤❤❤" while fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg pointed out that Wyatt looks an awful lot like Cooper's late mother, Gloria Vanderbilt.

The newscaster announced baby Wyatt's arrival back in April with a heartfelt post, thanking their medical team and surrogate. "As a gay kid, I never thought it would be possible to have a child, and I'm grateful for all those who have paved the way, and for the doctors and nurses and everyone involved in my son's birth.

Most of all, I am grateful to a remarkable surrogate who carried Wyatt, and watched over him lovingly, and tenderly, and gave birth to him."

Cooper wrote about how he wishes his late parents and brother could meet Wyatt. "I imagine them all together, arms around each other, smiling and laughing, happy to know that their love is alive in me and in Wyatt, and that our family continues."

There's a lot to love in the new photo, between Cooper's proud papa smile, Wyatt's exposed belly, and their matching gazes. Here's to hoping we see more of this news team soon!

Katy Perry shares adorable gift Taylor Swift sent for baby Daisy

Katy Perry recently shared the sweet gift that Taylor Swift sent for her newborn daughter, Daisy Dove (and of course it went viral). "Miss 🌼🕊 adores her hand embroidered blankie from miss @taylorswift 😩😩😩," writes Perry. "Hope it's one she drags around for years till it becomes an unrecognizable shred that she keeps in her pocket as a teenager 🥺♥️"

Swift embroidered a flower and the words "Daisy Bloom" on the blanket.

Perry, 35, and fiancé Orlando Bloom, 43, welcomed daughter Daisy to the world in August. The singer also tagged the location of her post as "Stream Folklore"—a nod to Swift's latest album, which dropped in July.

We love to see women supporting women—and adorable baby gifts!

This Black mom + her white daughter are going viral for the best clapback to ‘Are you the nanny?'

Her video went viral on TikTok and it's one everyone should see.

Jenna Wilder is a Black mom raising a white daughter and as she explains in the video, the constant invasive questions from strangers are upsetting.

The TikTok is one of those "Nope Yep" videos. It shows Wilder and her 6-year-old daughter answering questions set to Lil Skeet's song.

"Are you the nanny?" ("Nope!")

"Are you her mother?" ("Yup!")

"Did your husband cheat on you?" ("Nope!")

"Does she call you Mommy?" (Yup!)

"Is she biologically yours?" ("Nope!")

"Do you love her unconditionally?" ("Yup!")

Wilder made the video because she's tired of the questions and because she wants to help foster a new perception of families. As we've said before at Motherly, families don't have to match, and that's not just okay—it's beautiful. But that's a lesson more people need to learn.

"It's a lot of, 'Oh, are you the nanny?' Wilder tells TODAY Parents. "No one has ever outright asked, 'Did you kidnap that child?' But that's what they're trying to figure out."

It's a racist and uninformed assumption and it needs to stop, not just for Wilder's family but for all families that don't share skin tones or features. Three of Wilder's children are mixed race and her 6-year-old daughter is white. And when she's out with her kids people make comments, asking which kids are hers or if she works in childcare.

"I'm like, 'Nope. These four are mine. I take care of them all day, every day. I worry about them all the time. I'm their mother,'" Wilder said.

Wilder and her husband adopted their now 6-year-old daughter when she was a toddler. "We realized quickly that she hadn't been introduced to a lot of Black people or people of color. I think she was in shock," Wilder tells TODAY Parents. "We've always talked a lot about race in our home because my husband and I are an interracial couple. So, we just started having even more conversations about skin color. We explained how being in a family has nothing to do with skin color."

Thank you, Jenna, for educating TikTok (and now the rest of the internet).

This mom's viral post is about so much more than chicken nuggets 

Back in July, Steph Willson wrote a Facebook post detailing her feelings about her children growing up. This week, that post is spreading across the internet with moms everywhere relating to Steph.

The picture she posted is simple—it's just a couple of plates of chicken nuggets and fries—but the story she tells alongside it is the story of motherhood. It's the story of the "lasts" we have with our children without realizing that this is the last time.

Wilson writes:

"One day you'll realize you are serving them whole chicken nuggets instead of cutting them each into four pieces.

One day instead of a bath they will want to shower, then you'll look back and realize their last night time bath was months ago.

One day you will realize that the last night that they slept in their crib was the day before.

One day you'll realize that their car seat is no longer facing backwards and you don't need that little rearview mirror on the head rest anymore.

One day you will realize that you haven't given them a child proof water bottle in three weeks.

One day you will miss brushing their teeth for them because now they can do it themselves.

One day you will see them take their own seatbelt off and they don't need your help anymore.

You never know when the last day of a precious phase will be, so embrace having to help them a little more, embrace it taking longer to prepare one of their meals, embrace all the effort it takes to get them in and out of the tub because before you know it that phase will be gone and they will be just a little bit bigger in a little bit more independent."

Hundreds of thousands of people have shared Wilson's post. She tells Motherly: "I am beyond humbled that part of my motherhood journey has resonated with so many other women and if the post allowed one mom to feel like they were not alone that made it all worth it for me. Fortunately, it allowed hundreds of thousands of mothers to not feel alone and that in itself is a dream come true for me."

Thank you, Steph.

This surrogate mama is caring for baby months after giving birth due to COVID-19 travel restrictions 

A surrogate who agrees to carry a child for another family is already doing amazing, admirable work. But one Idaho mom has ended up taking on more than she ever could have imagined. With the baby's parents stuck in China due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, Emily Chrislip has now been caring for the surrogate child since May.

Chrislip told TODAY Parents that the baby's family knew what a big ask it was. "They were like, 'We understand if it's too much.' They didn't pressure us."

She says after some debate, she and husband ultimately agreed to it—knowing that the alternative would mean sending the baby to live with a nanny full-time. "We knew the right thing to do was to care for her, Chrislip said. "We knew we could give her a loving home."

She told People that they initially expected the situation to last for about four weeks—but now it's been more than four months.

Surrogates work very hard to keep emotional boundaries in place throughout the pregnancy, and Chrislip explains that she's had to be diligent about keeping those boundaries in place even while caring for the baby round the clock for the past few months, including things like pumping instead of breastfeeding. With a child of her own at home, she's also had to make it very clear to her son that the baby won't be with them forever and is not a sibling.

"She's not our child," Chrislip explains. "She belongs with her parents. We want to get her to her parents." Nonetheless—Chrislip says the baby girl is getting all the love and care she needs right now. "We just treat her as our own because at this stage in life it is so important to have the proper attention and love," she explained to People.

Even though Chrislip has found herself in an unimaginable situation, she knows that the baby's parents are dealing with something even harder. "I can't imagine what they are going through," she told TODAY. "They tried to have a child for so many years and now they can't be with her."

She says the two families video chat regularly and the parents send care packages to their little one. And in the meantime, all involved are hoping for a speedy reunion.

These Schitt's Creek costumes are perfect for Halloween 2020 

Beloved Canadian export Schitt's Creek swept the Emmys over the weekend and it might just sweep Halloween, too.

Mom and designer Lauren Mancke is collecting Instagram likes this week after posting a now-viral shot of children dressed up as the cast of the CBC comedy.

"When I thought maybe we shouldn't do #manckemonthofcostumes this year, I just kept thinking, but we just have to do @schittscreek," she captioned the pic. "As Moira would say and with the vigor of a wartime radio operator, the show must go on! Be sure to follow along for DIY costumes every day in October using @primarydotcom clothing."

This idea deserves as many awards as the show received!

A pregnant woman saved her husband from a shark attack in Florida

Pregnant women are superheroes in so many ways and one Georgia mama-to-be is extra heroic.

Atlanta couple Andrew Eddy, 30, and Margot Dukes-Eddy, 29, were on a private boat with family in the Florida Keys when Eddy went snorkeling and was attacked by a shark. His pregnant wife, Dukes-Eddy, reportedly jumped off the boat and hauled her injured husband back on board.

A Monroe County Deputy noted in their report that the pregnant Dukes-Eddy saw the shark fin and the blood from the boat and moved immediately to save her partner.

"Without hesitation, she dove into the water and pulled Eddy to the safety of the boat," the deputy noted. "The family called 911."

Eddy's shoulder was severely injured in the attack, but thanks to the quick thinking of his pregnant wife he will survive to see their baby born.

Getty

When you ask any two mamas to share their experience with breastfeeding, you are bound to get very unique answers. That's because while the act of breastfeeding is both wonderful and natural, it also comes with a learning curve for both mothers and babies.

In some cases, breastfeeding won't be the right path for everyone. But with the right tools, resources and social support systems, we can make progress toward the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation to continue breastfeeding through the first year of a child's life. After all, breastfeeding helps nourish infants, protects them against illnesses, develops their immune systems and more. Not to mention that mothers who breastfeed experience reduced risk for breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

With National Breastfeeding Awareness Month this month, it's a great time for mamas (and expectant mamas!) to gather the supplies that will support their feeding journey—whether it looks like exclusively breastfeeding, pumping or combo-feeding.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Designed for regular use, this double electric breast pump allows mamas to customize the cycle and vacuum settings that work for them. The 100% SoftShape™ silicone shields on this pump form-fit to a wide range of breast shapes and sizes—which means more comfortable, more efficient pumping. And every pump comes with two complete Dr. Brown's Options+ bottles, giving you everything you need to go from pumping to feeding.

$159.99

Dr. Brown’s™ Breast Milk Collection Bottles

There's no need to cry over spilled milk—because it won't happen with these storage bottles! Make the pump-to-feeding transition simpler with Dr. Brown's Milk Collection Bottles. The bottles adapt to Dr. Brown's electric pumps to easily fill, seal and transport, and they work with Dr. Brown's bottle and nipple parts when your baby's ready to eat. (Meaning no risky pouring from one bottle to another. 🙌)

$9.99

Breast Milk Storage Bags

With an extra-durable design and double zip seal, your breast milk will stay fresh and safe in the fridge or freezer until it's needed. Plus, the bags are easy to freeze flat and then store for up to six months, so your baby can continue drinking breast milk long after you are done nursing.

$9.99

Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump with Options+™ Bottle & Bag

Here's something they don't tell you about breastfeeding ahead of time: While feeding your baby on one side, the other breast may "let down" milk, too. With this one-piece Silicone Breast Pump, you don't have to let those precious drops go to waste. The flexible design makes pouring the milk into a bottle stress-free.

$14.99

Dr. Brown’s® Manual Breast Pump

No outlet in sight? No worries! With this powerful-yet-gentle Manual Breast Pump, you can get relief from engorgement, sneak in some quick midnight pumping or perform a full pumping session without any electricity needed. With Dr. Brown's 100% silicone SoftShape™ Shield, the hand-operated pump is as comfortable as it is easy to use. Complete with Dr. Brown's® Options+™ Anti-Colic Wide-Neck Bottle, a storage travel cap and cleaning brush, consider this the breastfeeding essential for any mama who has places to go.

$29.99

Options+™ Anti-Colic Baby Bottle

With the soft silicone nipple and natural flow design of these bottles, your baby can easily switch between breast and bottle. Clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to the vent, your baby can enjoy a happy tummy after feeding sessions—without as much spit-up, burping or gas! By mimicking the flow and feel of the breast, these bottles help support your breastfeeding experience.

$7.99

This post is sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

7 hacks for simplifying after-school snacks

Prepping delicious and nutritious foods shouldn't take all day.

When you're in the middle of the school year and managing a family, each minute of time becomes very precious. Sometimes that means healthy food choices in the household can take a backseat. But don't stress it, mama. Prepping delicious and nutritious choices for the kids to munch on doesn't need to take all day.

Remember to keep it fun, simple and interactive! Here are tips for simplifying after-school snacks once and for all:

1. Prep snacks on Sunday

This simple trick can make the rest of the week a breeze. Tupperware is your friend here, you can even write different days of the week on each container to give the kids a little surprise every day. I really like storage with compartments for snack prep. Personally, I slice apples, carrots or cucumbers to pair with almond butter and hummus—all great to grab and go for when you're out all day and need some fresh variety.

2. When in doubt, go for fruit

Fruit is always a quick and easy option. I suggest blueberries, clementine oranges, apples, frozen grapes or even unsweetened apple sauce and dried fruit, like mixed fruit. It's fun to put together a fruit salad, too. Simply cut up all the fruit options and let the kids decide how they'd like to compile. Prepped fruit is also great to have on hand for smoothies, especially when it's been sitting in the fridge for a few days—throw it in the blender with some nut milk and voila.

3. Pair snacks with a dip

Hummus is a great dip to keep on hand with lots of versatility or you can grab a yogurt-based dip. Easy and healthy dippers include pre-sliced veggies, baby carrots and multigrain tortilla chips. Plain hummus is a great way to introduce seasonings and spices too—shake a little turmeric, add fresh basil and you'd be surprised what your kids will take to.

4. Have high-protein options readily available

Snacks with high protein, like cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, hard boiled eggs and jerky will fuel kids for hours. One of my favorites is a turkey stick, which is a fun addition to the hummus platter. Just slice into bite-sized pieces. I love cottage cheese because it can go savory or sweet, use as a dip with your prepped veggies, or drizzle pure maple syrup and sprinkle with berries.

5. Always keep the pantry stocked

Monthly deliveries keeps the pantry updated without a trip to grocery store. Many kids are big fans of popcorn, granola and pretzels. We like to DIY our own snack packs with a little popcorn, pretzels, nuts and whatever else is in the pantry so there's always something different!

6. Make cracker tartines

I love the idea of replicating popular restaurant dishes for kids. Here are some of my favorite snack-sized tartines using any crisp bread, or favorite flat cracker of your choice as the base. There are no rules and kids love adding toppings and finding new combinations they love.

  • Avocado crackers: Use a cracker and then layer with thinly sliced avocado, a dollop of fresh ricotta cheese topped with roasted pepitas or sunflower seeds.
  • Tacos: The base for this is a black bean spread—just drain a can of black beans, rinse and place into a wide bowl. With a fork or potato masher, lightly smush the beans until chunky. Spread onto your cracker and top with tomato, cheddar cheese and black olives. Try out a dollop of super mild salsa or some lime zest to introduce some new flavor profiles.
  • A play on PB&J: Smear peanut butter, almond or a favorite sun butter on the cracker. I like to get a mix it up a bit and put fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries and tiny diced apples) and a little bit of dried fruit sprinkled on top.

7. Pre-make smoothie pops

The easy part about meal prep is the prep itself, but knowing exactly how much to make ahead is tricky. Freeze a smoothie in popsicle molds to have a healthy treat ready-to-go snack. They're super simple to make: Add any fruit (I like apples, berries, pineapples and mangoes) and veggies (carrots, steamed beet and wilted kale) to a blender with your favorite nut milk until you have consistency just a bit thinner than a smoothie. Pour into your trusty reusable popsicle molds and then into the freezer to make an ice pop so good they could eat them for breakfast.

Family Foodies

15 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these indoor outdoor toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.


Stomp Racers

As longtime fans of Stomp Rockets, we're pretty excited about their latest launch–Stomp Racers. Honestly, the thrill of sending things flying through the air never gets old. Parents and kids alike can spend hours launching these kid-powered cars which take off via a stompable pad and hose.

$19.99

Step2 Up and Down Rollercoaster

Step2 Up and Down Rollercoaster

Tiny thrill-seekers will love this kid-powered coaster which will send them (safely) sailing across the backyard or play space. The durable set comes with a high back coaster car and 10.75 feet of track, providing endless opportunities for developing gross motor skills, balance and learning to take turns. The track is made up of three separate pieces which are easy to assemble and take apart for storage (but we don't think it will be put away too often!)

$139

Secret Agent play set

Plan-Toys-Secret-agent-play-set

This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Stepping Stones

Stepping-stones

Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.

$99.99

Sand play set

B. toys Wagon & Beach Playset - Wavy-Wagon Red

For the littlest ones, it's easy to keep it simple. Take their sand box toys and use them in the bath! This 12-piece set includes a variety of scoops, molds and sifters that can all be stored in sweet little wagon.

$17.95

Sensory play set

kidoozie-sand-and-splash-activity-table

Filled with sand or water, this compact-sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$19.95

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Foam pogo stick

Flybar-my-first-foam-pogo-stick

Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

$16.99

Dumptruck 

green-toys-dump-truck

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It's made from recycled plastic milk cartons.

$22

Hopper ball

Hopper ball

Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it's thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.

$14.99

Pull-along ducks

janod-pull-along-wooden-ducks

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$16.99

Rocking chair seesaw

Slidewhizzer-rocking-chair-seesaw

This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.

$79.99

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$79.99

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$24.75

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

Even 5 hours of screen time per day is OK for school-aged kids, says new study

Researchers found screen time contributes to stronger peer relationships and had no effect on depression and anxiety. So maybe it isn't as bad as we thought?

MoMo Productions/Getty Images

If you've internalized some parental guilt about your own child's screen time usage, you're not alone. Numerous studies have shown that exposure to significant amounts of screen time in children leads to an increased risk of depression and behavioral issues, poor sleep and obesity, among other outcomes. Knowing all this can mean you're swallowing a big gulp of guilt every time you unlock the iPad or turn on the TV for your kiddo.

But is screen time really that bad? New research says maybe not. A study published in September 2021 of 12,000 9- and 10-year-olds found that even when school-aged kids spend up to 5 hours per day on screens (watching TV, texting or playing video games), it doesn't appear to be that harmful to their mental health.

Researchers found no association between screen usage and depression or anxiety in children at this age.

In fact, kids who had more access to screen time tended to have more friends and stronger peer relationships, most likely thanks to the social nature of video gaming, social media and texting.


The correlations between screen time and children's health

But those big social benefits come with a caveat. The researchers also noted that kids who used screens more frequently were in fact more likely to have attention problems, impacted sleep, poorer academic performance and were more likely to show aggressive behavior.

Without a randomized controlled trial, it's hard to nail down these effects as being caused directly by screens. The study's authors analyzed data from a nationwide study known as the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study (ABCD Study), the largest long-term study of brain development and children's health in the country. They relied on self-reported levels of screen time from both children and adults (it's funny to note that those reported numbers differed slightly depending on who was asked… ).

It's important to remember that these outcomes are just correlations—not causations. "We can't say screen time causes the symptoms; instead, maybe more aggressive children are given screen devices as an attempt to distract them and calm their behavior," says Katie Paulich, lead author of the study and a PhD student in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience. Also worth noting is that a child's socioeconomic status has a 2.5-times-bigger impact on behavior than screens.

Weighing the benefits with the risks will be up to you as the parent, who knows your child best. And because we live in a digital world, screens are here to stay, meaning parents often have little choice in the matter. It's impossible to say whether recreational screen time is fully "good" or "bad" for kids. It's maybe both.

"When looking at the strength of the correlations, we see only very modest associations," says Paulich. "That is, any association between screen time and the various outcomes, whether good or bad, is so small it's unlikely to be important at a clinical level." It's all just part of the overall picture.

A novel look at screen time in adolescents

The researchers cite a lack of studies examining the relationship between screen time and health outcomes in this specific early-adolescence age group, which is one of the reasons why this study is so groundbreaking. The findings don't apply to younger children—or older adolescents, who may be starting to go through puberty.

Screen time guidelines do exist for toddlers up to older kids, but up to 1.5 hours per day seems unattainable for many young adolescents, who often have their own smartphones and laptops, or at least regular access to one.

Of course, more research is needed, but that's where this study can be helpful. The ABCD study will follow the 12,000 participants for another 10 years, following up with annual check-ins. It'll be interesting to see how the findings change over time: Will depression and anxiety as a result of screen time be more prevalent as kids age? We'll have to wait and see.

The bottom line? Parents should still be the gatekeepers of their child's screen time in terms of access and age-appropriateness, but, "our early research suggests lengthy time on screen is not likely to yield dire consequences," says Paulich.

Children's health

Mom and gorilla bond over their babies at the zoo: ‘It was so beautiful’

The new mothers shared a special moment at a Boston zoo.

Franklin Park Zoo/YouTube

Motherhood knows no bounds.

When Kiki the gorilla spotted a new mom and baby visiting her habitat at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, she immediately took a liking to the pair. Emmelina Austin held her five-week-old son Canyon to the glass so Kiki could get a better look.

The gorilla spent nearly five minutes happily pointing and staring at baby Canyon.


Emmelina's husband captured the sweet moment on his phone, in a video that's now gone viral.

Mother shares unique maternal bond with gorilla (FULL VIDEO) www.youtube.com

Why was Kiki so interested in her tiny visitor? Possibly because Kiki's a new mom herself. Her fifth baby, Pablo, was born in October.

Near the end of the video, Kiki scooped up Pablo and held him close. The new moms held their baby boys to the glass and shared a special moment together: just a couple of mothers, showing off their little ones.

"When I walked into the zoo that day, I never could've imagined that we would have had that experience," Austin told ABC News. "It was so beautiful, and we walked out just over the moon."

We can't get enough of the sweet exchange. There's something special about sharing your little one with the world. Mothers of all ages, races–and it turns out, species–understand.

Our favorite viral mama + kid videos