Today we decided on the name of our interdisciplinary research project on ‘Drowning Prevention for newly mobile infants under two’s in Bangladesh’. We were looking for one or two words in Bangla (or Bengali) that also sounded good in English and which was not already used for another research project in Bangladesh. A team from BU and CIPRB (Centre for Injury Prevention and Research, Bangladesh) using Human-Centred Design (HCD) tools came up with the name. The wider research team, after some debate and and checking for its current use in the research field, settled for the word Sonamoni (golden pearl).
BU is leading on a new interdisciplinary study of nearly £1.7 million funded by the UK National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR). Sonamoni aims to reduce the deaths of newly-mobile toddlers from drowning in rural Bangladesh. This multidisciplinary project is a collaboration of BU’s Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH), BU’s Department in Accounting, Finance & Economics and Department of Design & Engineering, and external partners, namely the University of the West of England, the University of Southampton, the Poole-based Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and the already mentioned CIPRB.
The Sonamoni project has been made possible thanks to a grant from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) through their Research and Innovation for Global Health Transformation programme. For more information, visit the NIHR website.
In Bangladesh, drowning is the leading cause of death in children between one and two years old. This low-income country has one of the highest rates of drowning, especially among children in the world. This four-year project will be working with communities to apply human-centred design techniques in Bangladesh. Together they will identify and prioritise potential solutions, develop prototype interventions, and assess the acceptability and usability of proposed interventions.
The i4i team has a webinar coming up on 13 July for two new funding calls, including one around the theme of Children and Young People’s Mental Health. Please do share with anyone you think may be interested:
The NIHR i4i Programme is launching two new funding calls this August:
i4i Connect 5 aimed at small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in need of a funding boost to reach the next stage in the development pathway, addressing a clearly defined unmet clinical need.
i4i – Digital Health Technologies for Children and Young People’s Mental Health– aimed at SMEs, NHS providers or higher education institutions (HEIs), this call encourages proposals addressing a range of children and young people’s mental health conditions particularly in regions that have been historically under-served by research activity or where there is high unmet mental health burden.
The i4i team would like to invite you to attend a webinar on the 13th of July, where you can hear more about the call specifications and application process. They will have two guest speakers, Professor Chris Hollis and Dr Charlotte Hall, who will talk about how evidence-based digital interventions can address an unmet clinical need in children and young people. You can register for the webinar here.
Your local branch of the NIHR RDS (Research Design Service) is based within the BU Clinical Research Unit (BUCRU) should you need help with your application. We advise on all aspects of developing an application and can review application drafts as well as put them to a mock funding panel (run by RDS South West) known as Project Review Committee, which is a fantastic opportunity for researchers to obtain a critical review of a proposed grant application before this is sent to a funding body.
Contact us as early as possible to benefit fully from the advice
We are absolutely delighted to organise a fantastic event, Digital Families Symposium 2021, that many of you will benefit from professionally and personally. Today by choice or not we are operating digitally. In the family settings, many of us have distinct and shared points of digital connection developing complex maps of digital family and household footprints. Children and young adults are online, gaming, connecting, learning and just ‘living’ overall. Digital resilience is an important development characteristic we are to build and possess if we are to consider ourselves responsible citizens of the modern world. When it comes to children developing digital resilience, parents and schools are to play a critical role in awareness, education, and establishing critical thinking amongst children and young adults. Our event’s aim is to support parents, educators and people who work in education, technology, family and children support sectors with advice on digital parenting and support.
In 2021 Children Mental Health Week (1-7 February) is focusing on children embracing themselves and learning to express themselves. Bournemouth University are excited to celebrate Children Mental Health Week and welcome you to the Digital Families Symposium 2021 event. Our virtual event’s theme is “Social media influencing. Express yourself and learn in a safe way”. We note that social media influencing as an element of digital consumption is not fully unpacked and integrated into the current version of the UK Digital Resilience framework. Our fantastic line-up of speakers is a point to NOTE, HIGHLIGHT & a No1 REASON FOR YOU TO BOOK YOUR TICKET! Few insights to help you with the decision:
One of the speakers, Dr. Elizabeth Milavidov, is an internationally renowned digital parenting expert, who is frequently asked to run corporate workshops for all employees who have parenting responsibilities already or might have in the future – pandemic increased the need for this. For our event we secured an opportunity where Dr. Milavidov will share her tips for free – this is an incredible opportunity.
Another interesting guest speaker – child vlogger and performer – Sapphire who will talk about online bullying from the child, child-influencer perspective.
Overall, we have speakers from the influencer industry and the CEO of Parent Zone, the UK’s digital family expert.
This symposium will provide:
High-level keynotes from leading experts
Best practice on how to adapt e-safety plans to account for challenges associated with consuming social media influencing content
Networking opportunities with speakers and other attendees.
WHO SHOULD ATTEND
Delegates* who will have an interest in this event will be people who are parents and who work in the Education, Family and Children Support, and Digital and Technology Sectors.
*This Conference is open to General Public (Parents) and Public, Private and Third Sectors.
Join us to hear the latest updates and guidance on the influencer industry, parental and educators’ engagement, and online safeguarding. Experts in influencer marketing, digital resilience and safeguarding, digital parenting will provide insights into how educators, schools, local authorities, and parents can address social media influencers’ impact on children’s and families’ online activities and developing strategies to ensure the protection of the most vulnerable. Become the master of your digital genie!
From educational toys to governmental guidelines and detailed nursery progress reports, there are lots of resources available to help parents track and facilitate their children’s development. But while there are tricks we can use to teach children to talk, count, draw or respect others, a surprisingly big part of how they develop is determined by the culture they grow up in.
Child development is a dynamic, interactive process. Every child is unique in interacting with the world around them, and what they invoke and receive from others and the environment also shapes how they think and behave. Children growing up in different cultures receive specific inputs from their environment. For that reason, there’s a vast array of cultural differences in children’s beliefs and behaviour.
Language is one of the many ways through which culture affects development. We know from research on adultsthat languages forge how people think and reason. Moreover, the content and focus of what people talk about in their conversations also vary across cultures. As early as infancy, mothers from different cultures talk to their babies differently. German mothers tend to focus on their infants’ needs, wishes or them as a person. Mothers of the African tribal group Nso, on the other hand, focus more on social context. This can include the child’s interactions with other people and the rules surrounding it.
This early exposure affects the way children attend to themselves or to their relationship with others – forming their self image and identity. For example, in Western European and North American countries, children tend to describe themselves around their unique characteristics – such as “I am smart” or “I am good at drawing”. In Asian, African, Southern European and South American countries, however, children describe themselves more often around their relationship with others and social roles. Examples of this include “I am my parents’ child” or “I am a good student”.
Because children in different cultures differ in how they think about themselves and relate to others, they also memorise events differently. For example, when preschoolers were asked to describe a recent special personal experience, European-American children provided more detailed descriptions, recalled more specific events and stressed their preferences, feelings and opinions about it more than Chinese and Korean children. The Asian children instead focused more on the people they had met and how they related to themselves.
Cultural effects of parenting
Parents in different cultures also play an important role in moulding children’s behaviour and thinking patterns. Typically, parents are the ones who prepare the children to interact with wider society. Children’s interaction with their parents often acts as the archetype of how to behave around others – learning a variety of socio-cultural rules, expectations and taboos. For example, young children typically develop a conversational style resembling their parents’ – and that often depends on culture.
European-American children frequently provide long, elaborative, self-focused narratives emphasising personal preferences and autonomy. Their interaction style also tends to be reciprocal, taking turns in talking. In contrast, Korean and Chinese children’s accounts are usually brief, relation-oriented, and show a great concern with authority. They often take a more passive role in the conversations. The same cultural variations in interaction are also evident when children talk with an independent interviewer.
Cultural differences in interactions between adults and children also influence how a child behaves socially. For instance, in Chinese culture, where parents assume much responsibility and authority over children, parents interact with children in a more authoritative manner and demand obedience from their children. Children growing up in such environments are more likely to comply with their parents’ requests, even when they are reluctant to do so.
As the world is getting increasingly globalised, knowledge regarding cultural differences in children’s thinking, memory and how they interact with adults has important practical implications in many areas where you have to understand a child’s psychology. For instance, teachers may need to assess children who come from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Knowing how children coming from a different culture think and talk differently can help the teacher better interview them as part of an oral academic test, for example.
Another important area is forensic investigations. Being aware that Chinese children tend to recall details regarding other people and be brief in their initial response to questions may enable the investigator to allow more time for narrative practice to prepare the child to answer open-ended questions and prompt them with follow up questions.
Also, knowing that Chinese children may be more sensitive and compliant to authority figures – and more obedient to a perpetrator within the family – an interviewer may need to spend more time in building rapport to help the child relax and reduce their perceived authority. They should also be prepared to be patient with reluctance in disclosing abuse within families.
While children are unique and develop at their own pace, the cultural influence on their development is clearly considerable. It may even affect how quickly children reach different developmental milestones, but research on this complicated subject is still inconclusive. Importantly, knowledge about cultural differences can also help us pin down what all children have in common: an insatiable curiosity about the world and a love for the people around them.
Western society has a rather specific view of what a good childhood should be like; protecting, sheltering and legislating to ensure compliance with it. However, perceptions of childhood vary greatly with geography, culture and time. What was it like to be a child in prehistoric times, for example – in the absence of toys, tablets and television?
In our new paper, published in Scientific Reports, we outline the discovery of children’s footprints in Ethiopia which show how children spent their time 700,000 years ago.
We first came across the question of what footprints can tell us about past childhood experiences a few years back while studying some astonishingly beautiful children’s footprints in Namibia, just south of Walvis Bay. In archaeological terms the tracks were young, dating only from around 1,500 years ago. They were made by a small group of children walking across a drying mud surface after a flock of sheep or goats. Some of these tracks were made by children as young as three-years-old in the company of slightly older children and perhaps young adolescents.
The detail in these tracks, preserved beneath the shifting sands of the Namibian Sand Sea, is amazing, and the pattern of footfall – with the occasional skip, hop and jump – shows they were being playful. The site also showed that children were trusted with the family flock of animals from an early age and, one assumes, they learnt from that experience how to function as adults were expected to within that culture.
No helicopter parents
But what about the childhood of our earlier ancestors – those that came before anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens)? Children’s tracks by Homo antecessor (1.2m to 800,000 years ago) were found at Happisburgh in East Anglia, a site dating to a million years ago. Sadly though, these tracks leave no insight into what these children were doing.
This assemblage of tracks is capped by an ash flow from a nearby volcano which has been dated to 700,000 years ago. The ash flow was deposited shortly after the tracks were left, although we don’t know precisely how soon after. The tracks are not as anatomically distinct as those from Namibia but they are smaller and may have been made by children as young as one or two, standing in the mud while their parents and older siblings got on with their activities. This included knapping the stone tools with which they butchered the carcass of the hippo.
The findings create a unique and momentary insight into the world of a child long ago. They clearly were not left at home with a babysitter when the parents were hunting. In the harsh savannah plains of the East African Rift Valley, it was natural to bring your children to such daily tasks, perhaps so they could observe and learn.
This is not surprising, when one considers the wealth of ethnographic evidence from modern, culturally distinct human societies. Babies and children are most often seen as the lowliest members of their social and family groups. They are often expected to contribute to activities that support the mother, and the wider family group, according to their abilities. In many societies, small boys tend to help with herding, while young girls are preferred as babysitters. Interestingly, adult tools – like axes, knives, machetes, even guns – are often freely available to children as a way of learning.
So, if we picture the scene at Melka Kunture, the children observing the butchery were probably allowed to handle stone tools and practice their skills on discarded pieces of carcass while staying out of the way of the fully-occupied adults. This was their school room, and the curriculum was the acquisition of survival skills. There was little time or space to simply be a child, in the sense that we would recognise today.
However, these observations contrasts to the story that emerged last year based on tracks from the older Homo Homo erectus (1.5m-year-old) at Ileret, located further south in the Rift Valley, just within the northern border of Kenya. Here the tracks have been interpreted as the product of adult hunting groups moving along a lake shore, rather than a domestic scene such as that at Melka Kunture. However, these scenes aren’t mutually exclusive and both show the power of footprints to provide a snapshot into past hominin behaviour.
But it does seem like the overwhelming parenting lesson from the distant past is that children had more responsibilities, less adult supervision and certainly no indulgence from their parents. It is a picture of a childhood very different from our own, at least from the privileged perspective of life in Western society.
In 2017, Nesta launched the Early Years Social Action Fund to scale proven social action programmes that help children aged four to achieve developmental milestones by directly supporting parents. The £1 million fund was used to support organisations that are making an impact, but require support to scale up. Having supported dozens of social action programmes to scale, Nesta have seen that social action works best when there is a clear role to complement, not replace public services, where opportunities fit in and around people’s lives and where any skills needed can be codified and learnt by many.
As the UK struggles with challenges of stagnating social mobility, increasing inequality, and lagging productivity, Nesta have compiled a list of 18 reasons why the early years of a child’s life are so important for social mobility and people’s life chances which show why in 2018 we need to do more to support new ideas that help give all children the best chance to fulfil their potential.
18 reasons to prioritise early years in 2018
By the time children start school, the gap between disadvantaged children and their peers can be as large as 15 months.
Children from disadvantaged backgrounds hear up to 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers by age three.
In the last decade, more than 2.5 million children in England – including over 580,000 poorer children – did not reach a good level of development by age five.
Opportunity is very unevenly distributed. Disadvantaged children in the best areas are twice as likely to reach a good level of development at age five, compared with similar children in the worst areas.
Gaps are evident by age two and a child’s development at as young as 22 months has been proven to be a good predictor for educational outcomes at age 26.
Of the £9.1 billion the UK Government is spending on early years, just £250 million will reach the most disadvantaged families. Or just 2.7 per cent.
In 2012, the UK was ranked 22nd out of 25 OECD countries for the proportion of expenditure in early years focused on closing the gap in opportunity.
The gap in educational attainment by the time a child starts school is one of the key drivers of social mobility, equivalent to, for example, up to two years of learning by the time they sit their GSCEs.
Top university graduates earn significantly more, on average, than graduates from less prestigious universities, and non-university graduates.
Social mobility is a key driver in productivity and economic growth. A modest increase in the UK’s social mobility to the average across Western Europe would increase annual GDP by 2 per cent in the long term (or an additional £39bn to the UK economy).
These 18 reasons go to show that early years is at the heart of social mobility. They underscore the importance – both at an individual and societal level – of focusing on ideas and interventions that can impact child outcomes as soon as possible so that no child begins school behind the starting line.
Where and when: Executive Business Centre, Monday, 25th January – 16:00-18:00
What: This ‘catalyst’ event is an opportunity for anyone with an interest in research with children and young people to:
meet BU researchers from across the university
share experiences and future research ambitions; and
develop future research partnerships
Operating in a ‘bring and buy’ spirit, this event recognises the benefits of sharing knowledge and expertise across different disciplines. The event is open to all those interested in research with children and young people whatever their research interests, affiliation or tradition.
Free movement of lawyers: proposals should evaluate the legal framework for the free movement of lawyers against market and regulatory developments in the single market. Funding is worth up to €500,000 over 11 months. Deadline 15.09.11
Roma in education: this funding supports transnational cooperation projects in the development and implementation of coherent and comprehensive joined-up educational measures to raise the participation and attainment levels of Roma students in general education and vocational educational training, and to support network activities for awareness-raising of the social integration of Roma children and students. The total budget for the call is €584,000 and each grant is worth up to €150,000 over a maximum of 12 months. Deadline: 16.09.11
Support for the Digitisation of European Cinemas: the aim of the ‘digitisation of cinemas’ scheme is to encourage cinemas showing a significant percentage of non-national European works to exploit the possibilities offered by digital. This call for proposals aims to facilitate the digital transition of cinemas screening European films by supporting the side costs linked to the purchase of a digital projector. Closing date: 15 September 2011
e-Skills for Competitiveness and Innovation: the aim of this fund is to develop, with relevant stakeholders, a coherent vision and a detailed roadmap as well as foresight scenarios on the supply and demand of e-skills for competitiveness and innovation in Europe (2011–2015). It will build on the momentum of the EU e-skills strategy. The skills needed include ICT, marketing, design, law, management, etc. for entrepreneurs, managers and ICT professionals and advanced users in all industries. Closing date: 16 September 2011
European Policy Network on the Education of Children and Young People with a Migrant Background: proposals should address the issues raised by the November 2009 Council conclusions on the education of children from a migrant background and stimulate high-level cooperation between Member State policy makers responsible for social inclusion through education, including cooperation between authorities in the countries of origin and host countries. The network should actively stimulate transnational cooperation primarily at governmental level, but also at the level of experts and practitioners. Grants are worth €500,000. Closing date: 14 October 2011.
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