2 social scientists explain how childcare insecurity is hurting caregivers across the US

daycare
Not having childcare affects mothers’ interpersonal interactions and quality of life.

  • Childcare insecurity, or limited or uncertain access to adequate care, is a public health issue.
  • The pandemic caused a spike in need that impacted the well-being and mental health of caregivers.
  • Biden has proposed policies to address the issue, but economic constraints aren’t the only cause.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Childcare insecurity is a term we’ve come up with to describe limited or uncertain access to adequate childcare.

It factors into many Americans’ decisions whether to even have a child. Parents – mothers especially – often weigh the cost of childcare in their decision to return to work. And when a kid has a disability, there may not even be childcare options that meet the family’s needs.

As researchers who study how policies and systems affect well-being and health, we argue that childcare insecurity is a public health issue similar to food insecurity.

And just as with food insecurity, increasing access is necessary. However, access alone will not address the problem.

Read more: Some wealthy parents are eager to give their children multicultural experiences, from elaborate trips to nannies that speak multiple languages. During COVID-19, they’ve had to get creative.

Why childcare insecurity matters

Female caregivers in the US have traditionally borne most of the burden of finding and managing childcare and providing care directly. This results in stalled careers, higher stress, and lower earnings.

When schools and childcare facilities were forced to close or restrict access during the COVID-19 pandemic, millions more American parents and guardians – men and women alike – found themselves suddenly facing childcare insecurity. This affected their well-being and mental health.

A group of health psychologists surveyed parents throughout the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. About 4% of the parents reported having high stress levels “before COVID-19.” But by May 2020, that share had ballooned to 22%.

Meanwhile, sociologists who surveyed and interviewed US mothers in April and May of 2020 found that not having childcare affected mothers’ interpersonal interactions – such as increased frustration with their children – and quality of life.

How common is it?

In January 2020, 26 million working caregivers in the US “did not have an in-home care option” – whether a parent, grandparent or older sibling – for children 14 years and younger, according to a Rand Corp. analysis of data from the US Department of Labor.

A World Bank Report from December 2020 estimated that globally, over 40% of all children who needed quality childcare or preschool in 2018 did not have access to it. That’s nearly 350 million kids.

President Joe Biden has proposed some national policies to address childcare insecurity in the US – for example, limiting the percentage of income families need to spend on childcare to 7% by providing subsidies to care providers. This would likely improve access.

However, childcare insecurity is not always based on economic constraints. The quality of childcare, location, hours, and access for children with disabilities can all play a role as well.

The Conversation US publishes short, accessible explanations of newsworthy subjects by academics in their areas of expertise.

Cassandra M. Johnson, assistant professor of nutrition and foods, Texas State University and Shailen Singh, assistant professor, department of organization, workforce, & leadership studies, Texas State University

The Conversation
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The Delta variant may be making COVID-19 more common in kids – but severe infections are still rare

face mask kid school covid 19
Kindergartner Grace Truax, 5, removes her mask before posing for a portrait during “picture day” at Rogers International School on September 23, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut.

  • COVID-19 vaccines haven’t been authorized for children under age 12 yet.
  • That means kids are at higher risk of contracting Delta, the most transmissible variant to date.
  • But experts are more worried about kids spreading the variant than getting severely ill themselves.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The best way to protect yourself from the Delta variant? Get vaccinated.

But that’s not an option for the roughly 48 million children under 12 in the US. So for the time being, children are at high risk of acquiring a Delta infection.

“The fact that we’re seeing outbreaks in certain parts of the country specifically in children is because, at this moment, those are the most vulnerable hosts because they’re not vaccinated,” Erlinda Ulloa, a pediatric infectious-disease specialist at the University of California, Irvine, told Insider.

Delta is the most transmissible coronavirus variant to date. An analysis from Public Health England found that it’s associated with a 60% increased risk of household transmission compared to Alpha, the variant discovered in the UK. Alpha is already around 50% more transmissible than the original strain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That means the variant can more easily spread among kids, too. Indeed, several countries have recently recorded a higher share of coronavirus cases among children.

In Israel, half of the 125 new infections reported on Monday were among children, according to the country’s health ministry. Around 70% of Monday’s new infections, the ministry added, were caused by Delta.

Researchers in Scotland also found that Delta cases were present mostly in younger age groups. In the UK overall, a study still awaiting peer review found that coronavirus infections are now five times more prevalent among children ages 5 to 12 and young adults 18 to 24 than among those older than 65. (Delta now accounts for up to 99% of the UK’s coronavirus cases, according to Public Health England.) Most young adults who recently got infected were unvaccinated, according to that study.

In the US, meanwhile, kids represented nearly 25% of new weekly cases for the week ending June 17, despite making up around 22% of the population. That’s higher than the overall share since the start of the pandemic: 14%.

The US’s Delta cases appear to have tripled in just 11 days, from just 10% of all coronavirus cases sequenced in early June to 31% of all cases last week, according to an estimate from the Financial Times. At that rate, experts predict Delta will become the nation’s dominant strain in a matter of weeks.

“With these new, more contagious variants, I think we’re going to see that children and schools do become more of a focal point of spread,” Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, told CNBC on Monday.

Kids could spread the virus to unvaccinated adults

coronavirus hug
Seven-year-old Jacquie Carney runs to hug her grandma, Donna Vidrine, upon arrival in Los Angeles, California on November 23, 2020.

Disease experts say kids don’t seem to be developing more severe COVID-19 as a result of Delta – or that they’re are somehow more biologically susceptible to contracting the variant than adults are.

“There could be increased transmissibility of this virus, but it’s increased transmissibility to all people, not just because you’re a child,” Ulloa said.

The Scotland researchers found that getting infected with Delta doubles the risk of hospital admission overall relative to Alpha. (Previous studies have suggested that Alpha may be 30% to 70% deadlier than the original strain.) But even if you doubled a child’s risk of being hospitalized from a Delta infection, it would still be “minuscule,” according to Eyal Leshem, an infectious-disease specialist at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center.

That’s because severe COVID-19 is extremely rare among children: In the US, kids account for just 1.4% to 3.3% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations and less than 0.23% of all COVID-19 deaths.

However, the variant’s transmissibility means that kids who get infected with Delta can easily spread the variant to unvaccinated adults, or perhaps to people who see a less robust immune response to vaccines – like the elderly or immunocompromised.

Some kids may get severely ill in rare cases

child brazil covid-19
Alex Glailson, a nurse technician, examines a child in Ilha de Marajo, Brazil.

Pfizer and Moderna expect to release trial data about the safety and efficacy of their vaccines in young children in the fall, then apply for FDA authorization. Until then, disease experts continue to recommend masks for unvaccinated kids.

In very rare circumstances, some kids may get severely ill from Delta. Ulloa said she has seen a few pediatric patients who were hospitalized after contracting the virus from an unvaccinated family member.

“If we’ve had a few cases here and there, then that’s the story that we’re getting: that basically a lot of the family members are vaccinated, but then they’re exposed to an unvaccinated, infected person,” she said.

Gottlieb told CNBC that any rise in pediatric hospitalizations could simply be due to the virus’ transmissibility.

“It’s just math that if more kids get infected, even if the rate of bad outcomes in kids is very low, more kids are going to have bad outcomes,” he said.

Ulloa said she’s also seen a few kids develop a persistent cough or fatigue similar to adult long-haulers – patients those whose symptoms last at least three weeks, but can drag on for months.

“I wonder if these different variants are more likely or less likely to cause these long-haul syndromes in kids,” Ulloa said. “That’s something else that we’re going to be investigating.”

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The Delta variant is fueling school outbreaks in Israel, leading the country’s cases to tick up

israel kid vaccine
A boy receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in the Israeli city of Holon, near Tel Aviv, on June 21.

  • The Delta variant seems to be causing an uptick in Israel’s COVID-19 cases, particularly in schools.
  • Vaccinated Israelis may need to quarantine if they’ve been exposed to the variant, officials said.
  • Experts are more worried about kids spreading the variant than getting severely ill themselves.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

On Monday, Israel recorded its highest daily coronavirus tally in two months: 125 new cases, up from around 15 cases at the start of the month.

The Delta variant seems to be to blame: Emerging research suggests that Delta is more transmissible and possibly deadlier than any other coronavirus strain so far. So less than a month after Israel lifted its remaining coronavirus restrictions, the country announced that vaccinated people can be told to quarantine if they’ve been exposed to that variant.

Delta represents around 40% of Israel’s coronavirus cases over the last four weeks, according to the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data. Israel’s health ministry reported that 70% of the 125 new infections recorded on Monday were caused by the Delta variant. Roughly one-third of those new infections were among vaccinated individuals, the ministry said, and half were among children.

Indeed, many of these new cases have been traced to school outbreaks. But disease experts are more worried about kids spreading the variant than getting severely ill themselves.

That’s because severe COVID-19 cases are still extremely rare among children: In the US, kids account for just 1.4% to 3.3% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations and less than 0.23% of all COVID-19 deaths.

So even if you doubled children’s risk of being hospitalized from a Delta infection, it would still be “minuscule,” according to Eyal Leshem, an infectious-disease specialist at Sheba Medical Center, Israel’s largest hospital.

However, children can spread the virus to unvaccinated adults, or perhaps to people who might see a less robust immune response to vaccines – like the elderly or immunocompromised.

Israel is trying to preempt another outbreak

israel vaccine masks
People sit along the promenade in Jaffa, Israel on April 18.

Israel’s schools fully opened in May, masks are no longer required indoors or outdoors, and mass gatherings have been taking place across the country. But the country just started vaccinating kids ages 12 to 15 earlier this month, so only 2% to 4% of that age group has been immunized so far. In televised remarks on Tuesday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett urged Israelis to “vaccinate your children.”

Israel’s new restrictions go beyond quarantines: Health minister Nitzan Horowitz told the Israeli Parliament on Wednesday that any residents who travel to a high-risk country – Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, India, Mexico, or Russia – could be fined “thousands of shekels.” (One-thousand shekels is around $308.) Masks will also be required at airports, border crossings, and medical facilities.

“What I guess they’re doing is trying to first provide more conservative or restrictive recommendations, see the [epidemiological] curve, see what impact this has, and then loosen the restrictions rather than be more liberal about restrictions and then face 10,000 cases a day,” Leshem said.

In one to two months, Leshem added, public-health experts could have a better idea of Delta’s effects.

“We’re all still observing Israel as a case study of what’s going to happen in a country where 90% of the population at risk is already vaccinated,” he said, referring to the number of adults who have gotten their shots.

“If we see Israel reaching several hundreds of cases a day, even thousands of cases, but we don’t see a substantial increase in the number of severe cases and hospitalizations, then the public-health angle would be to restrict normal life as little as possible,” he added.

Some infections among vaccinated people, experts say, can’t be avoided.

“Surely there will be cases of breakthrough infections among vaccinated people and further transmission,” Dr. Hagai Levine, an epidemiologist at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical Center School of Public Health, told Insider. “We need to find the right balance, as quarantine to vaccinated people is a burden.”

Delta’s triple threat

israel travel restrictions
Israelis and vaccinated tourists get tested for COVID-19 upon arrival to Israel’s Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv on May 23.

An analysis from Public Health England found that Delta is associated with a 60% increased risk of household coronavirus transmission compared to Alpha, the variant discovered in the UK. Alpha is already around 50% more transmissible than the original strain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers in Scotland also found that getting infected with Delta doubles the risk of hospital admission relative to Alpha. (Previous studies have suggested that Alpha may be 30% to 70% deadlier than the original strain.)

What’s more, emerging research suggests that a single vaccine dose doesn’t hold up as well against Delta as it does against other coronavirus strains: Recent Public Health England analyses found that two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine were 88% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 from Delta, while a single shot was just 33% effective. That’s compared to 95% efficacy against the original strain, with 52% after one shot.

Young people increasingly represent the majority of new coronavirus cases not just in Israel, but around the world.

The Scotland researchers found that Delta cases were more prevalent among younger age groups. And a study still awaiting peer review found that coronavirus infections in the UK are five times more prevalent among children ages 5 to 12 and young adults between 18 and 24 than among those above 65. Most young people who recently got infected were unvaccinated, according to the study.

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The declining American birth rate is unlikely to bounce back, new study says

baby

Today’s baby bust looks unlikely to turn into a delayed baby boom.

That’s according to the latest research from Melissa S. Kearney and Phillip Levine at the Brookings Institution, who say that births in the US are unlikely to rebound. The research comes on the heels of a recent CDC report that found the US birth rate fell by 4%, the sharpest single-year decline in nearly 50 years and the lowest number of births since 1979.

The total fertility rate – or the number of live births a woman is expected to have over her lifetime – also fell from 2.12 in 2007 to 1.64 in 2020, below the 2.1 replacement fertility rate needed for the population to naturally replace itself.

Declining birth rates during an economic downturn are typical. But the recession of 2020 was paired with a global health crisis, which could yield a stronger impact. Demographers are currently debating whether the current drop will prove to be a temporary or permanent phenomenon: Will women will end up having babies at a later date or have fewer babies overall?

Brookings’ analysis implies the latter, that US fertility rates will be below replacement levels for the forseeable future. Considering that women who were born in 1975 to 1980 had an average of around 2.2 total lifetime births, Brookings took a look at expected lifetime births for more recent age cohorts.

It forecasted the total number of children ever born based on simulated age profiles of women in the 1985 to 2000 birth cohort under conservative, moderate, and aggressive scenarios. For each cohort, the total number of children ever born per woman continues to further fall. The forecasted fertility rate for the 2000 cohort is 1.44 conservatively, 1.77 moderately, and 1.92 aggressively, all well below the replacement fertility rate.

That is all to say, women are expected to have fewer babies going forward.

A decline in births could reshape the economy

This trend isn’t just another fallout from the pandemic, according to Brookings. It follows a decade of declining births for multiple cohorts of women as they wait to have babies until a later age. The simulated fertility rates, Kearney and Levine wrote, are similar to those in high-income countries.

Christine Percheski, associate professor of sociology at Northwestern University, recently told Insider that the US has been slow to fall in line with worldwide birth trends. “It’s about women having access to education and employment opportunities,” she said. “It’s about the rise in individualism. It’s about the rise in women’s autonomy and a change in values.”

Macroeconomic forces are another major factor in the decision to postpone having kids, a reflection of how expensive the US economy has become. Millennials have grappled with the lingering effects of the Great Recession and soaring living costs for things like housing and, of course, childcare.

If Brookings’ analysis proves to be true, experts are worried the US is entering a demographic crisis that would result in an economy with an aging population that isn’t replaced by enough young workers. It could yield higher government costs and a smaller workforce that would have to front the care costs for aging populations, creating a shortage of pension and social security-type funds.

Read more: The declining American birth rate could actually be good for the economy

But Mauro Guillén, Wharton professor and author of “2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future” told Insider in April that the decline in births is a “temporary blip,” likely to last one to two years.

“Young couples have said, ‘Give me a rain check, I don’t want the baby now because there’s too much uncertainty,'” he said. “But they will have those babies later. They don’t cancel their plans to have babies for life.”

Regardless of what happens, a declining birth rate doesn’t have to mean devastation for the economy. It will undoubtedly be an economic shift, but such change isn’t necessarily bad. It just requires structural adjustments, like creating new policies that accommodate to changes in population in size, and for people to welcome a reshaped economy with open arms.

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The declining American birth rate could actually be good for the economy

birth rate us
The birth rate dropped during the pandemic, as is typical during economic recessions.

  • New CDC data found the US birth rate fell by 4% in 2020, the sharpest decline in nearly 50 years.
  • Experts are worried this is a crisis, but it’s not necessarily bad news.
  • It’s a sign of progress for women and could also be part of a reshaped, better economy.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) dropped a new report that revealed the US birth rate fell by 4%, the sharpest single-year decline in nearly 50 years and the lowest number of births since 1979.

The news seemingly sent America – and American media – into shock. One demographer deemed the trend a “crisis” in an interview with CBS, while The New York Times explored how the pandemic may be fast-forwarding American decline, and another demographer told CNN the baby bust could have the opposite effect of the 1950s baby boom.

I wrote about the baby bust a few weeks prior to the latest data, tracing the pandemic’s influence on the decision to have kids and how it could either slow down the economy in the long term or result in a delayed baby boom.

But here’s the thing: A declining birth rate isn’t necessarily bad news. It’s both the continuation of a decades-long trend and a symbol of progress in gender equity. And while it signals some economic distress, it may also represent the start of a solution to America’s affordability problem.

The big question is whether women will end up having babies at a later date or will have fewer babies overall. It’s too soon to tell.

Fewer babies doesn’t have to mean devastation for the US economy, depending on Biden’s success in boosting worker productivity with his infrastructure plans and how the economy continues to reopen. But it does mean change, and maybe the cries of despair over the declining birth rate are more about resistance to the unknown than looking forward to a reshaped America with differently shaped families. The declining birth rate is a step into the great unknown, and that could be exciting.

A sign of progress

American birth rates have been declining for six years as millennial women have been waiting to have babies until a later age. Birth rates among teens, which have fallen nearly every year for the past three decades, were down by 8% last year.

This is normal, if you look at worldwide trends.

Christine Percheski, associate professor of sociology at Northwestern University, told me last month that there’s been a broader shift among high-income countries and some middle-income countries for women to postpone having kids until later ages. The US, she said, was a little slower to see that increase.

Look no further than the declining fertility rate, or the number of live births a woman is expected to have over her lifetime. It tracks closely with birth rates and since 1950, the worldwide fertility rate has dropped from an average of 4.7 children to 2.4 children.

It all signals economic progress. “It’s about women having access to education and employment opportunities,” Percheski said. “It’s about the rise in individualism. It’s about the rise in women’s autonomy and a change in values.”

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A declining birth rate is partly due to a rise in women’s autonomy.

Women, she continued, are choosing to stay in school longer and waiting until later to marry. The Pew Research Center found that the more educated a woman, the more likely she was to postpone having a child until her 30s. This stat can be partly explained by the fact that women today find themselves with more life options than women 50 years ago (it could also indicate that educated women are financially burdened, but we’ll get to that soon).

Clare Mehta, an associate professor of psychology at Emmanuel College who studies established adults, previously told Insider that millennials are finding fulfillment in building a professional life for themselves because of new opportunities previous generations didn’t have. “Women want to have careers now before they settle down, people want to feel as though they’re financially secure,” Mehta said. “That wasn’t happening in the past.”

It’s part of how millennials are redefining adulthood. While many people have described the generation as “behind” due to their myriad economic woes, they’re really just creating a new normal.

A turning point for the economy

Now, while the rise in women’s autonomy has helped birth rates climb for women in their later 30s and in their 40s in recent years (amid the overall declining birth rate), they declined for this cohort during 2020. This might spark some concern over just how severe the effects of the pandemic are.

Declining birth rates during an economic downturn also aren’t abnormal. Recessions typically have the strongest economic influence on birth and fertility rates. “People tend to wait during periods of political and social unrest,” Percheski said.

The Great Recession saw a 9% decline in births, per Brookings, about 400,000 babies fewer than there would have been otherwise. And while the Spanish Flu only resulted in an economic contraction instead of a recession, that public health crisis also led to a drop in births. That the pandemic combines both health and economic crisis could have a greater impact on birth rates.

But recession or no recession, underlying macroeconomic factors are influencing the birth rate. Millennials have long been facing an affordability crisis, plagued by the lingering effects of the Great Recession and soaring living costs for things like housing, healthcare, and, of course, childcare.

Looking back at the stat that more educated women are more likely to have kids at a later age in this context points to a new perspective: Education often comes with student debt. Women may be waiting to have kids not out of choice, but out of a desire to get their financial footing and pay off student debt first.

A declining birth rate therefore also reflects how expensive the US economy has become. It’s not the drop in births that’s distressing, but the affordability problem that it signifies. If we look closely at these issues, the birth rate could serve as a turning point for a better economy.

Not an economic decline, but an economic change

Experts are worried today’s baby bust will result in an economy plagued by an aging population that isn’t replaced by enough young workers. That might result in higher government costs and a smaller workforce that would have to front the care costs for aging populations, creating a shortage of pension and social security-type funds.

But what if it doesn’t?

Percheski said the country will likely need to make structural adjustments like creating new policies that accommodate to changes in population in size.

Percheski has company in the form of President Joe Biden. His American Families Plan proposes investments of $1.7 trillion in the care economy, with a focus on support for families including an expanded child tax credit and universal pre-K. It’s an ambitious proposal that, combined with a large infrastructure investment via the $1.7 trillion American Jobs Plan, seeks to boost the productivity of American workers in a 21st-century context.

Less births and less workers may not spell economic disaster if these plans – or others like them – can boost American workers’ productivity. I’ve already written about evidence that productivity has increased during the pandemic, while reopening has brought a wage boost for most workers. Inflation comes with these trends, but a more productive worker could essentially pay for that inflation, as well as paying for a prosperous society with less babies in it.

millennialskids_ Alexi Rosenfeld
Fewer births could be the way of the future.

By examining some of the factors contributing to the decline in births, we can start with preventative adjustments now. Work structure in America – like expensive childcare and lack of paid parental leave – is a big deterrent to having kids.

That’s only the beginning of a few issues that could be addressed: expensive healthcare (or lack thereof), climate change, and debt are other hindrances to having kids. For many millennials, the latter comes in the form of student loans. While Biden’s Education Department has canceled billions in student debt, trillions remain outstanding. Borrowers and politicians alike have been arguing for more student-debt relief.

The exact impact this would have on births is unknown, but society needs these improvements anyway. If we do get to the point of having to make population-based changes 20 or 30 years from now, it doesn’t have to mean the economy is going downhill, but rather in a new direction.

Maybe the declining birth rate is not a problem, but a way of telling America it’s time to start a new chapter.

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My day job was hairdresser to stars like Paul McCartney. But I worked in my spare time to build a company I set up with my friend. It made $2.5 million last year.

Joel Silverman Kids Know Best
Joel Silverman.

  • Joel Silverman, 33, was a high-end hairdresser when he saw a business opportunity.
  • He and a childhood friend set up KidsKnowBest, which researches what kids really think for brands.
  • He tells freelance journalist Chris Stokel-Walker for Insider.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

I’m an Essex boy, so I’m obsessed with my hair. I used to have it cut every two or three weeks. When I was 16 or 17, the woman who cut my hair said: “You should be a hairdresser. You’d love it. You’d be creative.”

I ended up getting a job in a salon called Daniel Galvin, one of the three top salons in London, sweeping hair, trimming hair, washing everything, still as an apprentice, and I loved it. I couldn’t even hold a comb. I had no idea what I was doing.

I picked it up pretty quickly. I kind of fell into it because I didn’t know what to do, but ended up carving out a very successful career and loved it.

I ended up working on [iconic British TV talent competitions] “The X-Factor” and “Britain’s Got Talent.” I worked on catwalks and music videos. I realized that the best thing about hairdressing is it’s a skill you can take anywhere in the world. I lived and worked in Sydney, Australia.

By 21, I was probably earning more than most 25-year-olds doing hairdressing in London. I had a very good wage and then got a little bit homesick.

When I got home to Britain, I went to another salon, cutting the hair of celebrities and high net-worth individuals including Paul McCartney, Pamela Anderson and Elizabeth Hurley.

I spent 18 months working [at that salon], then at another salon for a further eight years, travelling the world.

I’ve always had this entrepreneurial way about me. I always felt I wanted to do more, but it wasn’t necessarily to do with hairdressing. As great as it was, I thought it would be tough to run your own salon.

I always had ideas for new businesses. I’ll always adapt to the market in things that I could earn money from. I used to sell sweets at school. I was going to open a sushi restaurant in Essex. I ended up finding a chef, I just couldn’t find a location. Another idea I had was for a concierge service, trying to find a gap in the market.

But I ended up setting up KidsKnowBest with a mate, Rob. We’ve been friends since we’re seven or eight. Every time he spent time with his daughters, he wanted to make the most of it.

He used to take them to films. The films would get terrible reviews, but his kids were gripped. He wondered why he’s reading reviews by 40-year-old men for kids’ films.

Why don’t we ask kids whether they actually think these films are good? And that was kind of where it started. “Is there a platform that lets kids have a voice, that lets kids show what they really think of things that are made for them?”

We were formed in 2016, started as a publisher, and turned into an agency in 2018. I spent the first 18 months working six days a week between hairdressing and KidsKnowBest. We were creating video reviews of all things made for kids, including books, films and toys, then publishing those reviews on our original website.

This helped show the gap in the world of research. Now we ask kids’ opinions on behalf of brands. When we raised our second amount of finance [for $405,000], I knew it was time to give up hairdressing. I went full-time.

All Rob and I have ever done is look at things that are missing and see if we can build a solution, and look at things that are working and think if we can accelerate.

The second round of funding was to build our app. On the first version of our website, we’d noticed that every time we put a quiz up, engagement would be really high.

We felt quizzes were a good way of getting an understanding of an audience.

We built this quiz app called YakYak, and what it is now is a polling tool. We put any question about anything – food, animals, films, video games – and our users, who are a mix of kids we specifically recruit, and those who register via our app with permission from a parent or guardian, keep answering them in exchange for points that convert into charitable donations.

That was the start of KidsKnowBest 2.0: all this understanding of an audience that is under-served.

We can collect information in a compliant way that can help us go back to our clients and say “this is what kids like and what they don’t like. This is how you should be talking to them and marketing to them.”

That’s where it grew from.

I went to America in 2018 and 2019 to a couple of conferences and we got commissioned to do a huge global survey on Spongebob Squarepants.

Last year we had, pre-COVID, 11 of us full-time. In 2020 we had 1.8 million pounds ($2.5 million) in revenue, and this year we’re projecting 6 million pounds ($8.5 million). We were not a typical startup – we were an overnight success that took us three years to get there. Suddenly we had a couple of big wins.

Suddenly it was like a snowball effect: we started hiring great people. We expanded the team to 35. We’re playing with the big boys.

Next is expansion into the US. We’re already serving clients over there from the UK, but I believe the market over there is 10 times what the UK is, and having feet on the ground there will help us.

We’re now going through a fundraising round to expand our data platform to help us navigate that kids space and understand the audience better.

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Teens would rather break their bones than lose their phones

Following is a transcript of the video.

Adam Alter: “Nomophobia” is a new word that’s being coined to describe no mobile phobia, and it’s the idea that a lot of us, in thinking about not having our phones, experience something like a phobia, and this is supposed to describe hundreds of millions of people today, and I’m sure that number is growing at the moment. What that means is that when you think about, for example, your phone falling out of your pocket, tumbling to the ground, and shattering into a million pieces, you should experience anxiety symptoms, and it’s especially true among young people.

I ran a study at one point where I asked young people, a whole lot of teenagers, a very simple question. I said to them: “Imagine you have this very unpleasant choice. So, you can either watch your phone tumble to the ground and shatter into a million pieces or you can have a small bone in your hand broken.” Now, that seems to people of a certain age and older like a fairly straightforward question with a straightforward answer. It seems ridiculous. Of course you choose to save the integrity of your hand and let your phone break. You can always replace a phone, but for young people this is actually a very difficult question. In my experience, about 40% to 50% of them will say, “Ultimately, I think it probably makes more sense to have a bone in my hand broken than it does to have my phone broken.”

And you can understand why that is, apart from the fact that it is expensive to have a phone repaired and there’s some time where you’re without your phone. That is their portal to a social world that is very important to them. Being without that social world for a while is probably not as detrimental in some respects as being without a particular bone in your hand. Most of the time, you can get by and you can see this in the way they ask follow-up questions. So, a lot of these teens will say to me things like, “Is it my left hand or my right hand?” and the most important question, “Once I break that bone in my hand, can I still use my phone? Is it a bone that I need to be able to scroll on the phone, because if it is, then that’s no deal, but if it’s not a bone that I need to use my screen at least I can continue to use my phone during the time I’m healing.” If people are willing to endure physical harm to keep their phones that obviously suggests that this is a major issue.

The definition that I like for behavioral addiction that makes the most sense to me is an experience that we return to compulsively over and over again because it feels good in a short run but in the long run, it ultimately undermines our well-being in some respect. So, it can be someone who notices that over time their social relationships are degrading because they don’t have a consistent, face-to-face contact with people and that’s especially problematic for kids who need time in that real face-to-face social world because that’s where they develop all the competencies of being a social creature. The way to work out what other people are thinking, to share your feelings in a way that you want them to be shared for other people to understand you for you to make just the right facial expressions at just the right times. Those seem like obvious and easy-to-do things for most adults but for kids it’s very difficult to do that. They take time to hone those skills and so you need face-to-face time to do that and if you don’t have that, if you’re spending all your time on screens because it’s really fun to crush one more candy on Candy Crush or do whatever it is that you might be doing, you’re not developing those long-term competencies and therefore your long-term well-being is degraded.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in April 2018.

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How To Help Your Kids Develop An Entrepreneurial Mind

Reading Time: 4 mins

Every parent hopes they have a genius on their hands, let’s be honest! But what if you could encourage your child’s brilliant mind to get them started early in life with an entrepreneurial attitude? That’s exactly what the folks at www.teiyu.co.uk offer. Teiyu use a storytelling approach to build an entrepreneurial mindset in children…and you can find out more below.

Because they believe, as we do, that it’s possible to help nourish kids in developing an overall leadership attitude and skillset.

  1. Teach Them About Money Early On
  2. Encourage A Leadership Attitude
  3. Inspire Creative Thinking
  4. Help Them Develop Excellence 
  5. More Ways Kids Can Make Money

Teach Children About Money Early On

Help your kid make millions by teaching them early on

At school, we hardly get any financial education at all. Sure, we’re taught maths – but there’s no real insight into how percentages (interest rates) and sums (budgeting) really impact our lives outside of the classroom.

Teaching your children about money early in their development doesn’t mean giving them lectures, either! You could start by demonstrating the importance of saving, by giving pocket money each week. For older children, what about showing them how bills work – raise their pocket money allowance, but take some back to pay ‘bills’ (you can sneak it into a savings account for them, if you like!).

Another way to encourage children to think about money is to include them in financial activities. When you go grocery shopping, for example, take a calculator. Tell them your total budget and ask them to monitor whether you’re sticking to it. Or, if you go to a restaurant, give them a budget to spend on their meal and see what they can get with it from the menu.

When they understand how money makes the world go round, it’s much easier to encourage them to consider how they want to make their own money. You can, for example, exchange a few pounds for chores they complete around the house. For older children, encourage them to take on a part-time job – that could be making and selling crafts, taking on a paper round (they still exist!), or helping older neighbours with their shopping or gardening.

 

Encourage a Leadership Attitude

When your child understands how money works, it’s a good time to start encouraging their entrepreneurial mindset. This starts with a leadership attitude!

Teiyu is a great resource for children who want to get ahead. It’s a storytelling strategy about a lizard called Teiyu, who helps children solve problems in the land of Teguria. It’s a positive, encouraging experience that helps children embrace problem-solving strategies on their own.

Other ways to encourage a leadership attitude is to volunteer with community groups, or attend other groups such as Scouts or an after-school sports team. This helps develop important skills like communication, teamwork, and delegation – as well as helping your child identify their own strengths along the way.

 

Inspire Creative Thinking

Inspire creative thinking to help your kid make millions

Another key attribute to help your kid make millions in the future is to encourage creativity. Abstract problem-solving is a perfect way to help your child identify unique ways to reach a solution. You can do this through techniques such as the Teiyu stories, as well as showing them real-world problems that need a solution.

For example, let’s say you have an arts and crafts afternoon ahead of you. Let your children build a castle from a shoebox and cardboard – but tell them it has to do certain things! Does the drawbridge go up and down? Is there a secret entrance? Things like this will help your child take instruction but think creatively to reach the solution.

Creative thinking when it comes to money is another step towards an entrepreneurial mindset. For older children, you could ask what they want to buy with their pocket money. You can work out with them how long it will take to save up for it – and get them to find ways they could make more money to save faster. This might be, for example, selling some of their old clothes and toys that they’ve grown out of at a car boot sale. When they see how much faster they can get the thing they want to buy, if they make money as well as save it, you’re encouraging creative thoughts around money from a young age.

 

Help Your Child Develop Excellence

Being brilliant at something is the most notable attribute of all entrepreneurs. For some, it might be technological savvy. For others, they could be great with social skills. Help your child find their passion – and the skills they’re great at – and nurture them.

This will help them to develop excellence in these habits, skills, or hobbies over time. As they become confident in these areas, it’s easier for them to identify their strengths and how they might be able to use them to make money through an entrepreneurial mindset. One great example of this is the 12-year-old investor we spoke to on the MoneyMagpie podcast! He realised very quickly that understanding the stock market was a great skill, and he nurtured it, and is already a leading example to other children about how to invest wealth!

 

Special offer

Right now, MoneyMagpie readers are able to get an exclusive 50% off the Happy Pack. All you have to do is use the discount code HOPE50 at the checkout.

 

More Ways Kids Can Make Money

There are lots of ways to include your children from an early age when it comes to understanding (and making) money. Here are a few more ideas:

The post How To Help Your Kids Develop An Entrepreneurial Mind appeared first on MoneyMagpie.

Women are taking a ‘rain check’ on babies, and it could change the shape of the economy

millennialskids_ Alexi Rosenfeld
The number of births have been declining during the pandemic.

  • America is seeing a “baby bust” as women put off having kids during the pandemic.
  • The drop in births intensifies a pre-pandemic trend of decreasing birth rates and fertility rates.
  • It could slow down the economy in the long term, but it could also result in a delayed baby boom.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The predicted baby boom is looking more like a baby bust.

While many thought a year locked up would lead to some serious babymaking, Brookings Institute economists Melissa Kearney and Phillip Levine forecasted the opposite last June: The pandemic would lead to 300,000 to 500,000 fewer births in 2021, they said.

So far, their predictions are on track.

Nine months after the first lockdowns began in the US, the number of births in the country had declined by 7%, according to data provided to CBS News by health departments across more than 24 states. And fertility rates – the number of live births a woman is expected to have over her lifetime – are already lower in the first few months of 2021, said Christine Percheski, associate professor of sociology at Northwestern University.

“We’re going to see many fewer babies in 2021,” she told Insider.

The drop continues a pre-pandemic trend of declining birth rates and fertility rates, as childbearing women, many of whom are millennials, delay having children. Both of these rates decreased by 2% from 2017 to 2018, per the latest CDC data, with the birth rate hitting its lowest in 32 years. As of January 2020, the US fertility rate sat at 1.73 births per mother – a stark contrast from the peak in 1957 at 3.77 births per women.

Demographers have expressed concerns over what this means for the future of America, as the fertility rate is below the replacement rate – producing as many births each year as deaths – of 2.1 births per woman.

The decline in births over time is the result of both economic distress as well as progress for women in the workplace, with potential long-term implications, such as a smaller workforce and higher cost of caring for the aging. It’s too soon to say whether we should be concerned about these economic effects, but it’s already clear the economy is in for a big change based off what happens to the American birthrate.

Catching up to a global shift

American women are having babies later. While US birth rates have declined for nearly all age groups of women under 35, per latest CDC data, they rose for women in their late 30s and early 40s.

But this is actually bringing the US in line with worldwide trends – or helping it catch up, depending on your perspective. High-income countries, and increasingly middle-income ones, have long seen women delaying their first child until later ages compared to American women, Percheski said.

It’s a sign of better access to education and employment opportunities, a rise in individualism and women’s autonomy, better sex education, and a shift from religious-based to more secular values, she said. But on a more individual level, having kids at a later age is also a result of women choosing to stay in school longer, waiting until later to marry, and paying off student debt first.

mother baby
American women delaying childbearing is bringing the US in line with worldwide trends.

To be sure, macroeconomic forces are another major factor in the decision to postpone having kids. Millennials have grappled with several of these, from the lingering effects of the Great Recession to soaring living costs for things like housing and, of course, childcare.

Finances are one of the top reasons why American millennials aren’t having kids or are having fewer kids than they considered ideal, Insider’s Shana Lebowitz reported, citing a survey by The New York Times. To raise a child to age 18 in America, it’ll cost parents an average of $230,000.

A ‘rain check’ on babies

Recessions typically have the strongest economic influence on birth and fertility rates. “People tend to wait during periods of political and social and rest,” Percheski said.

The Great Recession saw a 9% decline in births, per Brookings, about 400,000 babies fewer than there would have been otherwise. And while the Spanish Flu only resulted in an economic contraction, that public health crisis also led to a drop in births. A pandemic lumps together economic and health turmoil, which Brookings says could result in a greater impact on births.

parents pandemic
Sara Adelman became a working-from-home mom during the pandemic. Birth rates typically decline during periods of economic crisis.

But whether the current lapse in babymaking will translate to fewer babies overall or just a childbirth postponement, Percheski said. She said she thinks we’ll see a reduction in the number of women having two or three kids, as happened during the financial crisis.

Mauro Guillén, Wharton professor and author of “2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future” told Insider that the decline in births is a “temporary blip,” likely to last one to two years.

“Young couples have said, ‘Give me a rain check, I don’t want the baby now because there’s too much uncertainty,'” he said. “But they will have those babies later. They don’t cancel their plans to have babies for life.”

A ‘demographic time bomb?’

A decline in birth rates has sparked worries that the US may be headed for what’s known as a “demographic time bomb,” in which an aging population isn’t replaced by enough young workers.

This could slow the economy in the long term by creating higher government costs and a smaller workforce, who will have to front the care costs for aging populations. It could also create a shortage of pension and social security-type funds and impact things like school enrollment and college demand.

Japan is a famous example of just such a time bomb, long ticking demographically. Experts in that country are now worried that a pandemic-fueled baby bust could worsen the country’s aging crisis that strains the working population. Like Japan, Italy is facing an aging population and dropping fertility rates, to the point where the government has begun issuing fertility ads. So far, high levels of immigration have kept the US from seeing the same economic impact that has hit these other countries.

But Percheski said a decline in births isn’t necessarily bad – it will just require structural adjustments, like creating new public policies that respond to changes in population size.

family child tax credit mothers
Today’s baby bust could end up being tomorrow’s baby boom.

In some ways, fewer classmates for those born in 2021 could be good, she added.”If there are fewer people competing for jobs when they hit the job market, that’s not bad from their perspective, but it does require us to make adjustments.”

America can also change now to avoid having to do it later, such as making childcare more affordable. “Raising children is one of the great joys of life, but it’s also one of the great burdens,” economist Tyler Cowen said in a recent panel with the American Enterprise Institute. “If we don’t have innovations to make raising children either easier or more fun or less costly, we’re in big trouble.”

But if the pandemic-fueled birth decline just results in women bearing children at a later age rather than having fewer kids or none at all, per Brookings, the fertility rate may be underestimated. It could even result in a delayed baby boom.

Guillen said he thinks we’ll see a higher number of births in 2022 and 2023, which could make preschools fuller. He said he’s more concerned with the mortality rate than the birth rate, but in any case the full effects of the birth decline won’t truly be seen until 20 to 30 years later.

“Generally, it would be better to have a smoother evolution of pace, but recessions always have their effect,” he said.

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A parent’s review of Disney Plus: It’s hands down the best streaming service for kids

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Disney_Plus_kids_profile_UK
Disney Plus features a ton of kid-friendly content.

  • Disney Plus is packed with family-friendly entertainment perfect for parents and their kids.
  • Parental controls allow you to fine-tune what your kids can watch and set a PIN to protect profiles.
  • At $8 a month, Disney Plus is also affordable, making it a great choice for families on a budget.

Table of Contents: Masthead StickyMonthly Subscription Service (small)

Bringing the magic of Disney to the small screen, the Disney Plus streaming service has a lot to offer families and kids. And best of all, the platform comes in at a budget-friendly price of just $8 a month.

After spending over a year watching the service with my wife, our 8-year-old daughter, and our 11-year-old son, I continue to be impressed by the platform’s selection of all-ages content and kid-friendly navigation options. Here’s why Disney Plus remains our go-to streaming service for family viewing.

What can kids watch on Disney Plus?

wonderful world of mickey mouse

Disney Plus features a ton of movies and shows for kids and families. There’s a good mixture of blockbuster films and TV series that cover Disney’s entire library, from classics like “Snow White” and “101 Dalmatians” to recent releases like “Moana” and “Frozen II.” Live-action versions of “Aladdin” and “Lion King” sit alongside the animated originals.

The Disney Plus catalog also includes Pixar titles like “Toy Story,” Marvel superhero blockbusters, “Star Wars” cartoons and movies, documentaries from National Geographic, and plenty of kid-friendly titles from Disney Channel, Disney Junior, and Disney XD.

In the US, Disney Plus has no R-rated content at all. The maximum ratings are PG-13 for movies and TV-14 for shows. This makes its library uniquely suited for families. Outside of the US, Disney Plus recently added an adult-focused section called Star, which does include R-rated movies and mature shows. Thankfully, Disney makes it easy to restrict access to these programs if you have kids.

My family experience with Disney Plus

the mandalorian
“The Mandalorian”

We signed up for Disney Plus when it first launched, and I recently renewed it for another year. As big “Star Wars” and Marvel fans, my whole family has enjoyed watching and rewatching the major movies.

The highlight of the service so far has been “The Mandalorian,” which became a weekly treat that brought us all together. We’ve also enjoyed introducing our bemused kids to nostalgic movies like “The Black Hole” and “Freaky Friday.” There’s a lot of choice if you’re hunting for family-friendly films, and we often pick something from Disney Plus for family movie nights.

My 8-year-old daughter is by far the most avid watcher of Disney Plus in the house. She loves the Disney and Pixar movies and watches favorites over and over. She also enjoys many of the Disney shows. My 11-year-old son is less interested, but there are certain series they frequently watch together, such as “Phineas and Ferb,” “Gravity Falls,” and “The Simpsons.” He also likes some of the National Geographic documentaries.

My wife and I enjoyed “WandaVision,” but that’s one of the few things we’ve watched on Disney Plus without the kids. That is beginning to change, however, with the addition of Star in the UK where we live.

Parental controls on Disney Plus

Disney Plus parental controls
Parental controls are included to restrict what kids can watch on Disney Plus.

With the launch of Star in international markets, Disney Plus revamped its parental controls, enabling optional PIN protection for profiles. The updated parental controls rolled out globally, so they also brought new options to parents in the US.

When creating a profile for your child, you can now specify the content rating from TV-Y at the bottom of the scale all the way up to TV-14. This gives you tighter control for kids of different ages.

You can also toggle on “Kid’s Profile,” which changes the Disney Plus interface and limits the profile to content that’s suitable for kids. In the US, that means shows rated up to TV-Y7-FV and films rated G. The kid’s interface also organizes titles into simpler categories like “Super heroes” or “Princesses” instead of the “Marvel” or “Disney” categories you see with regular profiles.

The “Kid’s Profile” is ideal for younger children and, as long as you add a PIN to other profiles, there’s no danger your child will find anything inappropriate.

There is one potential issue here for families with multiple children, however. We set up PIN protection for the adult profiles, but didn’t want to for the kids. We allow my son to access 12+ content, while my daughter has the “Kid’s Profile” setting. But we soon found that this meant there was nothing stopping my daughter from choosing my son’s profile to gain access to a slightly wider library. The only way around this was to add a PIN to my son’s profile.

Can different family members watch at the same time?

Disney Plus profiles
Disney Plus supports multiple profiles.

For any family-friendly streaming service it’s important to have support for a wide range of devices, and the option to have multiple simultaneous streams. Disney Plus nails this with support for most smart TV brands, Roku, Fire TV, PlayStation, Xbox, and pretty much any Android or Apple media device you can buy. You can also stream through a web browser.

You can have Disney Plus play on four devices simultaneously, so you and you children can watch different titles at the same time. You can also download as much content as you want on up to ten mobiles devices. This makes it easy to save shows for your kids to watch later when you might not have access to an internet connection.

How does Disney Plus compare to other services?

We also subscribe to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Technically speaking, Disney Plus has some advantages since it offers 4K movies at no extra cost and it handles limited Wi-Fi bandwidth gracefully.

With Netflix, you need a Premium account at $18 a month to get 4K and stream on four screens simultaneously. With Prime Video, there’s no extra cost for 4K, but you are limited to three simultaneous streams. Prime Video is also slightly more expensive at $9 a month on its own, or $13 a month as part of Amazon Prime.

There are more adult-focused titles on Netflix and Prime, but Disney Plus is better for young kids. Classic Disney films are the kind of movies that kids will watch over and over. This type of content is disappearing from other services as Disney continues to make its programs exclusive to Disney Plus.

Netflix and Prime Video do offer some family favorites like “SpongeBob Squarepants,” “Pokemon,” and “Scooby-Doo,” but we’ve also found that they carry a lot of subpar shows. The fact that they change content often can also lead to disappointment. So far, Disney Plus seems to have a more permanent library.

There’s quantity and quality for kids on Disney Plus. If family viewing is a priority for you, then Disney Plus can’t be beat right now.

Should your family get Disney Plus?

Disney Plus adult profile UK

Choosing a streaming service for your family will largely depend on your children’s tastes and your own beliefs about what’s appropriate. We feel Disney Plus is a must-have for kids around 10 and younger, but it isn’t as good for older kids unless they’re heavily into “Star Wars” or Marvel.

It’s nice to have a streaming service you can browse together without fear of inappropriate content, and there’s always something on Disney Plus that you can watch with a family of all ages.

You can sign up for Disney Plus today for $8 a month or $80 a year. In the US, you can bundle the service with Hulu and ESPN+ for $14 a month. This is a great way to supplement your Disney Plus subscription with access to live sports and more adult-focused content, making the bundle a value that’s equally strong for kids and their parents.

Monthly Subscription Service (small)Bundle Monthly Subscription (small)

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