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Rewarding children’s behaviour with screen time can lead to more screen time: study

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New Canadian research has found that parents who reward their children with screen time for good behaviour could be encouraging children to spend more time in front of a screen, especially on weekends.

Carried out by researchers at the University of Guelph, the new study involved 62 children between 18 months and five years of age and 68 parents, who were questioned about how they monitor their children’s screen time, when children are allowed screen time and whether the parents spend time in front of a screen when around their children.

“We wanted to investigate the impact of parenting practices on toddler and preschooler screen time because this is the age when habits and routines become established and they tend to continue throughout life,” said Tang. “Also the use of mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, has soared in popularity among this age group in recent years.”

The findings, published in the journal BMC Obesity, showed that the majority of parents use screen time to control behaviour, especially on weekends.

The results also showed that children of parents who use screen time as a reward or revoke it as punishment actually spend more time on a smartphone, tablet, computer or in front of the television than children whose parents don’t, around 20 minutes more a day on weekends.

The researchers suggested that such an approach leads to more screen time because using it as a reward or punishment increases a child’s attraction to the activity.

“It’s similar to how we shouldn’t use sugary treats as rewards because by doing so we can heighten the attraction to them,” explained study author Jess Haines. “When you give food as a reward it makes children like the carrot less and the cake more. Same thing with screen time.”

Children also spent more time in front of a screen if their parents used their phone, tablets and other screens in front of them, with the effect even stronger when the mother was the one spending time in front of a screen.

“It’s possible the parent is allowing the child to be in front of a screen while they are,” said Haines. “For parents of younger children, this isn’t as common because parents can have their screen time while a child is napping or in bed. But as children get older, out-grow their naps and have later bedtimes, spending time in front of a screen without children around becomes more difficult.”

Children who were allowed to use screens during meals also experienced more time in front of a screen, something which the researchers discourage, explaining the mealtime is a good opportunity for families to connect with each other.

Children under two years of age should not have any time in front of a screen at all, they added.

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University of Windsor establishes first Canadian transportation cybersecurity centre

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The University of Windsor will be the site of Canada’s first organization dedicated to countering threats to the connected transportation marketplace.

The SHIELD Automotive Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence will focus on developing the skills, innovations and policy to secure connected and autonomous vehicles.

Researchers will partner with industry, government and community stakeholders.

Co-founding and heading up the centre will be Dr. Mitra Mirhassani of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Dr. Ikjot Saini of the School of Computer Science.

In the past year, the two University of Windsor professors were both recognized as being among Canada’s top talents in the automotive cybersecurity field.

“Hardware and software vulnerabilities could put personal information and vehicle safety in jeopardy,” said Mirhassani.

“Transportation systems are especially susceptible to attacks from malicious actors due to the complexity, implementation costs and lifecycles of equipment and platforms.”

The SHIELD centre is a continuation of the Windsor region’s focus on developing its cybersecurity ecosystem.

The province has already designated the area as the regional tech development centre for cybersecurity and border logistics.

The cybersecurity centre got a further boost this week with the announcement of a memorandum of understanding with the Automotive Parts Manufacturing Association (APMA).

APMA and SHIELD will collaborate to develop market-based technologies to meet the needs of producers and consumers and build academic programs to address industry’s evolving requirements.

“We hope that this partnership will help to advance a cybersecurity culture shift in the industry in Canada,” said APMA president Flavio Volpe.

“There is much work to be done to protect our collective interest in advancing this country’s globally competitive automotive sector.”

The centre will also promote the sharing of knowledge among parties to advance standards and enhance policies in the field.

Part of the plan is to offer micro credentialing through the university’s Continuing Education programs.

“We plan to offer consultation and test services to small- and medium-sized Canadian companies that will help them stay up to date,” said Dr. Saini.

“Open-access publications and public webinars will widely share the latest information.”

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Hamilton police charge ‘Hugs Over Masks’ protest organizers in two separate events

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TORONTO — Hamilton, Ont., police say they have charged two organizers of an anti-mask protest group for holding events that allegedly violated public health rules.

Police say the events were held in downtown Hamilton on Jan. 3 and Jan. 10.

The force alleges that 40 people attended first event and 60 attended the second.

Current provincial restrictions limit gatherings to a maximum of 10 people outdoors.

Police say they informed the “Hugs Over Masks” organizers that the planned Jan. 10 gathering would result in charges, but they went ahead with the event.

They say a 27-year-old man and 38-year-old woman are facing charges under the Reopening Ontario Act that carry a minimum fine of $10,000 if convicted.

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Ontario issues stay-at-home order to start Thursday as Ford declares state of emergency

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Premier Doug Ford is declaring another state of emergency, effective immediately, in response to surging COVID-19 infection rates.

In a news conference on Tuesday, Ford announced Ontario is issuing a stay-at-home order, effective 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

It requires people to stay home except for essential activities such as accessing health care or shopping for groceries.

The new measures also include restricting the hours of operation for non-essential retail stores such as hardware stores to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Addressing big box stores, which are allowed to remain open, Ford said an inspection blitz is coming to ensure they are following proper protocols.

“I’m going to come down on them like an 800-pound gorilla,” he said.

Schools in Hamilton, Toronto, York, Peel and Windsor-Essex will not return to in-person learning until Feb. 10.

Other public health regions, including Halton and Niagara, will find out when students can return to class by Jan. 20.

Schools will now require students in grades 1-3 to wear masks and masks will be required outside where physical distancing can’t be maintained.

Child-care centres for non-school aged children will remain open.

The premier announced the restrictions shortly after the province released new projections that show the virus is on track to overwhelm Ontario’s health-care system.

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