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Adults Get Schooled in Children’s Mental Health, Device-free Family Time

Behavior change campaigns also take on bullies
November 7, 2017

SE2 is passionate about our work to support early childhood development. For the past 18 months, we’ve had the opportunity to support a statewide awareness campaign focused on an oft-overlooked area of child development: social-emotional learning and mental health.
Any discussion of mental health can be complicated by stigma. But when we are talking about the mental health of babies and very young children, there can be even greater reluctance on the part of parents and providers to broach the topic — even when there is a concern.
Our work in this realm drew us to this piece published recently in the New York Times. It highlights the fact that, like any other ability, social and emotional skills (from managing emotions to making friends to caring for others) must be learned and practiced. The early years, before kindergarten, is a key time for this social-emotional development. Yet when children show a greater need in this area, evidenced by “acting out”, our response is often to punish — rather than provide focused support as we would for other developmental concerns.
“Early childhood education can be an invaluable opportunity for learning social and emotional skills. But when teachers repeatedly punish young children, their efforts can cause lifelong harm,” the author writes.
One in 10 preschoolers is suspended or expelled for behavior problems, but suspension teaches children nothing about how to behave differently and instead often make matters worse and compounds the challenges that children face over time.
Like any other skill, acquiring social-emotional abilities takes time and plenty of adult support. In a society more interested in the pill rather than the process, addressing misbehavior in young children requires a dramatic change in mindset.  
It has all the makings of a profoundly important and impactful social marketing challenge.
Eric Anderson, Director of Outreach and Engagement
Our friends at Comcast’s Mountain West Region brought our attention to the great ads for Common Sense Media starring Will Ferrell.  Common Sense Media helps parents navigate the challenging media landscape that their kids face. But these ads highlight the importance of parents setting a good example — in this case for a #devicefreedinner. A Comcast survey found that more than half of parents have been told by their children to put their smartphones away during meals.
Ali Nipert, Content Strategist
Brands are increasingly weighing in on social issues — pulling on our heartstrings and forcing us to think about tough topics. Burger King was the latest brand to tie a social message into its advertising, taking on bullying for National Bullying Prevention Month. The result? Turns out more people are willing to stand up to bullies when the victim is a Whopper Jr. over a high school junior. Sigh. Luckily, the ad takes an inspirational turn, and the advertisers succeed in  giving us “all the feels” and inspiring us to be better humans.
Laura Bernero, Owned Media Strategist
“While social media has helped connect the world, it seems that just a handful of close friends still influence us most.” That’s what Snapchat is hoping can help the company compete with Facebook and Instagram, both of which vastly outnumber the social media platform in user numbers. Data recently released by Snapchat outlined the four influence areas that impact consumer purchase decisions. Whether we’re deciding on what brand of gadget to purchase or where to donate our money, we’ll still go with a friend’s recommendation first.  With this in mind, Snapchat will seek to present itself to advertisers as the app with the most engaged, committed users.

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