Issue 519, 26 Apr 2019

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New from the SMC global network

WHO gets stern on screens

New recommendations from the World Health Organization say children under the age of two shouldn't have any screen time.




The report outlines the amount of time children under-5 should spend sleeping, sitting and running around.

Letting them play computer games and watch TV or YouTube will increase the chance they grow up sedentary and obese, the WHO says.

Once they're walking, children should spend "at least" three hours doing physical activities each day, with kids aged three and four spending at least an hour in moderate to vigorous exercise, the guidelines state.

But London expert Professor Russell Viner from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) told Newshub the guidelines weren't helpful and parents should set the rules.

"Some people would like a straight up 'no more than three hours' or 'no more than two hours', and bam, that's done. However let's be clear, that's never going to work."

Research from the RCPCH had found only weak evidence for a time limit on screens, but good support that they should be avoided one hour before bedtime. 

University of London cognitive psychology reader Dr Tim Smith told the BBC the guidelines only further confused existing conflicting recommendations, including those from the RCPCH, that had "bombarded" parents in recent months.

"While the report makes a potentially helpful step in distinguishing sedentary screen time from active screen-based games, where physical activity is required, this remains an oversimplification of the many ways young children and their families engage with screen media," he said.

New Zealand's Ministry of Health discourages screen time for under-two-year-olds and recommends limiting screen time to less than one hour a day for children aged two years and older.

The full report is available on Scimex.

Quoted: Newsroom

"There’s also this threshold story, where it’s business as usual but at some point something snaps, and things change. It’s about being prepared for that moment."

University of Otago's Dr Dennis Wesselbaum on climate change and its driving effects on migration.

Babies contract measles

Two Auckland babies, aged 10- and 11-months-old, are among the latest confirmed people to have contracted measles.




The cases were confirmed this week and are both in West Auckland, where an 18-year-old and a 35-year-old were also diagnosed with the viral disease.

As at April 24, there had been 84 confirmed cases of measles around the country - including 39 in Canterbury and 21 in the Auckland area, according to ESR's weekly surveillance report. 

Babies receive the first of their two scheduled vaccines at 15 months, so children younger than that are particularly vulnerable to the illness, Dr William Rainger from Auckland Regional Public Health Service told Stuff.

"They rely on those around them being vaccinated against the disease."

The new Auckland diagnoses come as figures from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) show more than 20 million children worldwide are missing out on measles immunisation each year.

"A lot of people have to realise you don't get immunised just for yourself, but for the communities you live in as well," UNICEF New Zealand director Vivien Maidaborn told Newstalk ZB.

UNICEF has launched a global social media campaign #VaccinesWork to counter mis-information about vaccines, RNZ reported.

Policy news & developments


Christchurch Call: The Prime Minister will co-chair a meeting in Paris next month to attempt to end the use of social media to organise and promote terrorism and violent extremism.

M. bovis response: The Mycoplasma bovis programme will increase activity in the lead up to autumn and winter stock movements to limit the risk of disease spread.

Kea deaths in 1080 trial: At least two kea have died during the first stage of an aerial 1080 trial in the West Coast's Perth Valley.

Mermaid Pools rāhui: DOC is closing off an unofficial walkway that leads to Mermaid Pools in support of a rāhui placed on the area and to discourage visitor access.

Tuna bag limit: From June, there will be a daily bag limit of one southern bluefin tuna per person, per day in the recreational southern bluefin tuna fishery.

This week on the NZ Conversation.


Why New Zealand needs to translate its response to Christchurch attacks into foreign policy
Hanlie Booysen, Victoria University of Wellington

New Zealand’s dismal record on child poverty and the government’s challenge to turn it around
Michael Fletcher, Victoria University of Wellington

Rift between NZ government and aid agency over naming of nurse captured by ISIS
Alexander Gillespie, University of Waikato


See more NZ-authored content on the New Zealand homepage.

What we've been reading

With an abundance of news stories to possibly read, watch and listen to, it can be hard to find the gems. Here we highlight some of the stories that caught our attention this week.

Mapping the second brain: The latest science on the effect of your gut bacteria and how to boost them
Most of us have heard the five-plus-a-day message for fruit and vegetables. But new research into gut health suggests that advice may need tweaking, Donna Chisholm writes for New Zealand Listener.

Pacific climate migration a political tug of war
Newsroom's Laura Walters went to the island nation of Kiribati and Fiji to research their plight amid rising seas for this three-part series on climate migration. Here are parts two and three.

I used to be an anti-vaxxer
Writing for The Spinoff, Hannah McGowan once believed that vaccination was to blame for her Crohn's disease. But after seeking expert advice, the veil lifted and she realised her beliefs were based on information that was outdated, exaggerated, or incorrect. 

How a tiny endangered species put a man in prison
One dead fish, a drunken night and a shotgun changed Trent Sargent's life and proved the endangered pupfish in Devils Hole are not to be messed with, reports Paige Blankenbuehler in High Country News.

The media are complacent while the world burns
In this joint project, aimed at dramatically improving US media coverage of the climate crisis, US partners Columbia Journalism Review and The Nation launch a brand-new playbook for journalists fighting for a 1.5C world.

New from Sciblogs - NZ's science blog network


Some of the highlights from this week's Sciblogs posts:
NZ scenarios for technological change

Robert Hickson writes about a recently-released issues paper on the future of work.
Ariadne
“Raw” water – an update

It's incredible what people are willing to pay for something simply because it carries the tag "natural", Alison Campbell writes.
BioBlog
“Units of Linguistic Analysis” and why the past of English “go” is “went”

Linguistic units have been key in Andreea Calude's linguistic career - but what if we can do without them?
Lippy Linguist
Are deer the new moa revisited: the MythBusters episode

New research further debunks the myth that deer have replaced the ecological niche of moa.
Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives

Upcoming events


Please see the SMC Events Calendar for more events and details.
 
  • Moths and me: 27 April, Dunedin. A family-friendly session to find out about moths and learn some new te reo Māori.
     
  • Fishy feasts: 28 April, Dunedin. Join a marine scientist at the NZ Marine Studies Centre at Portobello to find out about marine food webs - who eats what in the ocean.
     
  • From the mountains to the sea: 28 April, Dunedin. Sir Alan Mark and Mike Joy  will discuss the state of New Zealand's freshwater.
     
  • How Wiki works: 30 April, Dunedin. Join Mike Dickison for a lesson on improving Wikipedia's coverage of us here in New Zealand.
     
  • Move, Eat, Sleep, Repeat: 30 April, Dunedin. Rachael Taylor's inaugural professorial lecture will discuss her research on how best to help people effectively manage their weight.
     
  • Is archaeology still relevant? 30 April, Dunedin. To mark NZ Archaeology Week, Ian Barber will consider how the study can be applied to today's most pressing problems.
     
  • A dream deferred? 1 May, Christchurch. Carrie Oelberger will examine how people with work devotion and family aspirations navigate career decisions.
     
  • Overtourism: 3 May, Wellington. Researchers will present findings from a report on how to manage urban tourism growth.
     
  • Bullying and child development: 3 May, Christchurch. Three academics will present on current research relating to the social issue of bullying.
     
  • Killer robots: 3 May, Auckland. Mary Wareham from Human Rights Watch will discuss the need for NZ to develop a policy to guard against fully autonomous weapons, or 'killer robots'.






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