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A health professional visited our playgroup a little while ago. Inevitably, she bought up screen time. “It’s just so tragic to see these active children turn into a shell of themselves! They just sit there, immobile, blank looks on their faces!”

The other parents nodded. 

One mum bought up that viral Huffington Post article featuring a series of photographs of children’s faces lit by the glow of screens, mouths agape, hooded eyes. “Screens turn them into zombies!”

I hate that series of photos, partly because it’s such an aggressively invasive thing to do – to capture people’s expressions when they’re unaware and vulnerable – but also because my children don’t often act that way in front of screens.

I couldn’t help myself. “That’s interesting to me, to hear you say that. Because my kids’ favorite program is ‘Diego’, and when they watch that they are up on their feet, doing the jogging, cheering the responses. And even when it isn’t an action show, I watch my children wriggling to the edge of their seat in excitement. They are laughing and nodding and smiling.”

Funnily enough, all the parents began nodding again. “Yes! They get so in to it, it’s almost as if the characters are their friends!”

“My kids love Peppa Pig so much that they dance in their seats the whole way through it.”

“It is the highlight of their day!”

In one minute the conversation went from despair about screens to warm fuzzies about the enjoyment screens bring our children.

How to explain these reactions?

We’re in a tough situation as parents in 2017. We are breaking new ground. We are the first generation to raise children in a digital world, and we’re grappling with all the information out there about screens.

On one hand, we can see the pleasure our children get from them – and we want our children to enjoy their lives, don’t we? We also get to cook dinner without the 5 p.m. meltdowns that I suspect have haunted humankind for millennia. We can see that screens aren’t going anywhere, so we mustn’t try and act like they don’t exist.

On the other hand, almost every time we scroll through our Facebook feed, we find at least one article banging on about how screens are damaging our children’s brains or creating violent teenagers or irreparably breaking our children’s relationship with nature. All evidence-based, apparently.

We look at our hands, at the information piled up in them. We weigh the two sides, and brain damage and violence feels pretty damn heavy. So we opt in favor of our child’s brain, even knowing it will make them (and us) a little unhappier. Or we vote for happiness and feel wracked with guilt for raising a child with a slightly less than optimum brain, who will probably end up on a Most Wanted show for a violent outburst.

What if the hand holding the evidence didn’t feel so weighty?

What if that hand also held information about the neutral, or even good, side of screens?

What if recent vigorous studies showed that screentime for teenagers had no bearing on their mental health – that, even in the most extreme use, only impacted mental health by about a third of the impact of missing breakfast?

What if another recent study by the University of London found that toddlers who used tablets experienced no negative impact on developmental milestones? What if, in fact, the use of tablets correlated with the speedier development of fine motor skills?

What if it had been proven that no relationship existed between use of screens and a lack of time outdoors?

What if 100 eminent scientists were urging us to stop freaking out because the evidence used to scare us about screentime is baseless?

It’s not my business to tell you what to do about screens. We’re all forging our own path. All of our children are different. Each of our situations is different.

But as a fellow loving parent and fellow pioneer in this bold new digital world, it feels important to share with you the shaky nature of the more popular science on screentime. It feels vital that we get clear on the fact that there are far worse things for our children than an ipad.

As an advocate for child rights, I wanted to put some information into your hands that frees you up to make a decision that fits with your child’s wishes. If we dig a little deeper and open our minds a little more, it often happens that something our child wants can also be in their best interest.

Decisions based on fear are not life-giving. All the scaremongering about screens makes zombies of the parents – not the children.

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Jessica Simpson celebrated her baby shower this weekend (after getting a cupping treatment for her very swollen pregnancy feet) and her theme and IG captions have fans thinking this was not just a shower, but a baby name announcement as well.

Simpson (who is expecting her third child with former NFL player Eric Johnson) captioned two photos of her shower as "💚 Birdie's Nest 💚". The photographs show Simpson and her family standing under a neon sign spelling out the same thing.

While Simpson didn't explicitly state that she was naming her child Birdie, the numerous references to the name in her shower photos and IG stories have the internet convinced that she's picking the same name Busy Philips chose for her now 10-year-old daughter.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to name nerds and trend watchers.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

Simpson's older kids are called Maxwell and Ace, which both have a vintage feel, so if Birdie really is her choice, the three old-school names make a nice sibling set.

Whether Birdie is the official name or just a cute nickname Simpson is playing around with, we get the appeal and bet she can't wait for her little one to arrive (and her feet to go back to normal!)

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Mamas, if you hire a cleaning service to tackle the toddler fingerprints on your windows, or shop at the neighborhood grocery store even when the deals are better across town, don't feel guilty. A new study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School shows money buys happiness if it's used to give you more time. And that, in turn could be better for the whole family.

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As if we needed another reason to shop at Target, our favorite store is offering some great deals for mamas who need products for baby. Mom life can be expensive and we love any chance at saving a few bucks. If you need to stock up on baby care items, like diapers and wipes, now is the time.

Right now, if you spend $100 on select diapers, wipes, formula, you'll get a $20 gift card with pickup or Target Restock. Other purchases will get you $5 gift cards during this promotion:

  • $20 gift card when you spend $100 or more on select diapers, wipes, formula, and food items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select beauty care items
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select household essentials items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select Iams, Pedigree, Crave & Nutro dog and cat food or Fresh Step cat litter items using in store Order Pickup
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select feminine care items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock

All of these promotions will only run through 11:59 pm PT on Saturday, January 19, 2019 so make sure to stock up before they're gone!

Because the deals only apply to select products and certain colors, just be sure to read the fine print before checking out.

Target's website notes the "offer is valid using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock when available".

The gift cards will be delivered after you have picked up your order or your Target Restock order has shipped.

We won't tell anyone if you use those gift cards exclusively for yourself. 😉 So, get to shopping, mama!

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