There was some serious girl power rocking the first-ever Google Science Fair this year. Three American girls took home the top prizes, beating out 7,500 competitors from 91 countries. Prepare to be impressed as you read about what these young gals have been up to. First up, there's Shree Rose, who at 17, discovered a way to improve treatments for women battling ovarian cancer who have built up an immunity to chemotherapy drugs. For her hard work, she won an impressive $50,000 scholarship. Pick your jaw up off the floor and read about 16-year-old Naomi Shah, who is looking for ways to improve the lives of asthma sufferers. Let's not forget Lauren Hodge, who at just 13 years of age, studied carcinogens in grilled chicken. Just when you're convinced that today's teens are going to hell in a hand basket, you read something like this and realize this next generation is going somewhere much cooler.
Together with circumcision and breastfeeding, the vaccination battles round out the parenting wars trifecta. For those brave enough to enter the fray, a new round of inoculation debates is making its way across the internet. In this corner, we have the non-vaccinating mom, who recites the worst things people can say about parents who don't vaccinate their kids. According to her, you shouldn't argue for the greater good (i.e. benefits of herd immunity), nor should you tell a non-vaccinator that she doesn't love her kids. And in this corner, we have the pro-vaccinating mom, who says that despite claims to the contrary, vaccinations are not a personal decision but a public health issue. She also says that while it's unlikely that American kids will actually die of the diseases they aren't inoculated against, it can be incredibly expensive to treat them for those diseases. There you have it, now feel free to debate it amongst yourselves.
In case you were looking for another reason to institute a family dinner, here it is. New research shows that teens who eat dinner with their parents are 35 percent less likely to develop eating disorders. They are also significantly more likely to eat healthy foods and develop other healthy eating habits. Experts say that you may have to force them to the table, but it's worth it. These same experts say that the dinner table is also a great forum for a little familial chit chat. But, they say, refrain from the tired, "How was school today?" question and instead pose fun hypotheticals like "If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it and why?" to get the conversation rolling.
In a preemptive strike against potential new government regulations, food and beverage companies that advertise to kids have developed a new set of "self-regulations." The industry is proposing limits on the amount of calories, sugar, sodium and saturated fat that will be allowed in food that is targeted to kids. The move came after the government proposed new, much stricter guidelines. While some hail this move as a significant advance, others are skeptical, based on the industry's past attempts to self-regulate. One communications professor has said that more than 70 percent of the food advertised to kids ranks in the poorest nutritional category, and that asking the food and beverage industry to regulate the nutritional content of foods would be akin to asking auto manufacturers to set speed limits.
Parents' faces are lighting up with joy as they realize fewer people are lighting up onscreen in kids movies these days. In 2010, amount of smoking in youth-rated movies decreased once again. Last year saw a 72 percent drop in onscreen tobacco use from 2005 in movies with a G, PG or PG-13 rating. Between 2004 and 2007, several Hollywood studios implemented policies to reduce smoking in movies, and many say the numbers show that the policies are working. Tobacco companies aside, who doesn't love policies that make smoking not-so-hot?
Dana Macario is a TODAY Moms contributor and Seattle mom to two sleep-depriving toddlers. She is currently developing an alarm clock that will start an IV coffee drip 10 minutes prior to wake-up time. Once properly caffeinated, she also blogs at www.18years2life.com.