Despite social pressure, boys and girls still prefer gender-typical toys

Fifty years of research on children's toy preferences shows that kids generally prefer toys oriented toward their own gender.

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  • A recent meta-analysis overviewed 75 studies on children's gender-related toy preferences.
  • The results found that "gender-related toy preferences may be considered a well-established finding."
  • It's a controversial topic: Some people argue that these preferences stem from social pressure, while others say they're at least partly rooted in biology.
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For some, the pandemic eased mental health distress

Children with pre-existing mental health issues thrived during the early phase of the pandemic.

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  • While COVID-19 physically affects adults more than children, mental health distress has increased across all age groups.
  • Children between 5 and 17 sought help for mental health issues at much higher rates in 2020.
  • However, a new study found children with pre-existing mental health issues experienced reduced symptoms when lockdowns began.
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Retrain your brain for long-term thinking

Escaping the marshmallow brain trap.

  • Roman Krznaric, philosopher and author of the book "The Good Ancestor: A Radical Prescription for Long-Term Thinking," says that there are two parts of the human brain that are driving our decisions and ultimately determining what kind of legacy we leave behind for future generations.
  • Short-term thinking happens in the marshmallow brain (named after the famous Stanford marshmallow test), while long term thinking and strategizing occurs in the acorn brain. By retraining ourselves to use the acorn brain more often, we can ensure that trillions of people—including our grandchildren and their grandchildren—aren't inheriting a depleted world and the worst traits that humankind has to offer.
  • "At the moment we're using on average 1.6 planet earths each year in terms of our ecological footprint," says Krznaric, but that doesn't mean that it's too late to turn things around. Thinking long term about things like politics and education can help "rebuild our imaginations of what a civilization could be."

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16 values children learned from pop culture in the past 50 years

A 50-year study reveals changing values children learned from pop culture.

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  • A new study tracked changes in values tweens (8-12 years old) get from popular culture.
  • The researchers compared 16 values over a 50-year-period.
  • The report was created by the UCLA's Center for Scholars and Storytellers.
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Help your kids, but not too much, says new Stanford study

Flying that helicopter too low is counterproductive.

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  • A new study at Stanford finds that giving too much direction to children can be counterproductive.
  • Children that are given too much advice display more difficulty regulating their behavior and emotions at other times.
  • The researchers suggest a balance between being involved while allowing children to figure things out on their own.
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