From Ex-Lax to Xbox
When geezers become gamers.
A big study suggests preschoolers who get nonparental child care are more likely to become disruptive in fifth or sixth grade. Nonparental child care includes nannies, day care, and "anyone other than the child's mother who was regularly scheduled for at least 10 hours per week." Caveats: 1) Kids who get good child care also do better on vocabulary tests. 2) The differences are small. 3) Parenting quality and genes are bigger factors. Conservative spins: 1) If you put your kid in day care, you're inviting the other kids to raise him, so they all become silly and disruptive. 2) Moms should stay home. 3) The problem will get worse as more parents dump their kids into day care. Liberal spins: 1) The study has no control group. 2) It doesn't adequately distinguish good child care from bad. 3) Kids who learn freedom and responsibility in good day care may be labeled disruptive by elementary-school teachers, because elementary schools treat kids like prisoners. 4) If you really want a generational disaster, try forcing moms to deal with kids all day on top of their paying and nonpaying jobs.
Latest Human Nature columns: 1) Machines that read your mind. 2) Real diets for real people. 3) Invasion of the naked body scanners. 4) The future of pain-beaming weapons. 5) Gay sheep and human destiny. 6) More on gay sheep. 7) The power to shrink human beings. 8) The first human embryo factory. 9) Lesbians of mass destruction.
Will Saletan covers science, technology, and politics for Slate and says a lot of things that get him in trouble.
Photograph on Slate's home page of a hand holding a cell phone by Digital Vision. Photograph on Slate's home page of a man napping by David De Lossy/Photodisc Green/Getty Images.