Anxiety plagues everyone at one time or another and there are some people who suffer with it more than others. Kids are not immune to the effects of anxiety. It can take a toll on their well-being and the freedom of just being a child. But, there is something that can help – a lot. The Daily Beast reports that a new study published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease reveals that decreasing or stopping the development of childhood anxiety might be as simple as having a dog.
— Dr. DOG (@DrKukur) November 30, 2015
The study involved 643 children that were eighteen months or older. The authors of the study found that 21% of the kids that did not have a pet dog at home were diagnosed with anxiety and only 12 percent of the kids with a pet dog at home were diagnosed with anxiety. One of the authors, Bassett Medical Center’s Anne M. Gadomski, said that she often heard babies utter their dog’s name as their first word. It is true that young children love their dogs.
She also said the study was about the symptoms of anxiety and trying to find a way to prevent mental illness and obesity in children.
“This is more about anxiety symptoms and trying to look at ways of preventing child obesity and childhood mental illness. It’s giving us a direction for future studies.”
There are some naysayers out there, though. Research professor Dr. Herold Herzog is one of them. He considers the whole idea of dogs reducing or preventing anxiety as an “unsubstantiated hypothesis.”
“I think that it has been overly hyped by the media. Many of the studies are flawed. Some studies do show a positive impact of pet ownership. However, other studies have found no effect or even negative effects.”
Considering this is the technological age and the kids growing up now have no idea what life is like without their iPad or other smart device, it is important to consider the impact these devices have on people. Early this year, a study was done at the University of Missouri that found many people experience separation anxiety when they are without their iPhone.
The Huffington Post reported that the study, which was called “The Extended iSelf: The Impact of iPhone Separation on Cognition, Emotion, and Physiology,” was conducted on forty university students. Russell Clayton, a doctoral candidate that worked on the study, said that based on the results it’s best if people just keep their iPhones with them at all times.
“Our advice would be to carry your iPhone with you, but to silence your phone during cognitively demanding tasks (i.e., work, meetings, exams, etc) in order to avoid any potential distractions that may reduce your attention throughout the day.”
It’s hard to say how much of a child’s anxiety comes from the fast-paced technological world that has become today’s reality, but if having a dog can help, then it’s something for parents to consider. But there are other things that can help alleviate anxiety. Perhaps just getting kids outdoors and in nature more often is the deal-breaker. Getting out in nature is good for the brain, according to the study tweeted about here.
— Sylvia Carlson (@sylvia_carlson) November 30, 2015
Perhaps dogs help children with anxiety because they are a part of nature that kids can be exposed to in the home. The Huffington Post reports that the researchers from the dog study said it might be possible for having a dog to help prevent childhood anxiety from becoming a disorder later in life.
“If exposure to pet dogs during childhood is inversely related to mental health problems, positive child-dog interactions could prevent the evolution of these problems into full-fledged disorders during adolescence or later life.”
Perhaps just more exposure to nature in general could do the same.
[Image via Shutterstock]