Surcharges, Credit Cards and more...

“Surcharges And Headwinds Loom As Credit Card Spend Rebounds.”
You pays your money, they say, and you takes your chances.

Or, in a twist on that saying: You pays more money because you’ve taken your pick — of payment method, that is, which in this case would be the credit card.

At a high level, consumers are picking up the tab, and then some, for what it costs merchants to offer credit card payments. It’s a practice that begs the question: Where will we see charges popping up next?

The debate over interchange — and how merchants account for that cost of doing business, and whether or not they can (or should) pass those costs along to end consumers — has raged for a while. And the clamor may grow louder as consumers shift at least some of their debit spending back onto credit cards.

Surcharges, of course, are the additional fees that merchants attach to transactions when users pay with cards. And though the surcharges cannot exceed the amount the merchants pay the card networks to have their payments processed, passing those fees on to the end-user might become a hot button issue, spurring consumers to opt for other payment choices.

Smaller Firms Embracing The Surcharges

The Wall Street Journal notes that only about 5 percent of smaller firms actually institute surcharges, but that’s up markedly from the 2 percent seen just a few years ago. In terms of mechanics, let’s say the interchange cost levied on the merchant stands at 2.7 percent — that merchant can move to levy a charge equating to 2.7 percent onto the consumer. Options to offset those charges include a tactic where discounts are applied to cash transactions (though in the age of COVID, that option may be less warmly embraced by consumers).

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“Evidence that spanking alters the brain.”
As disciplinary tactics go, spanking is ineffective, and it may be harmful, too. A new study suggests that spanking alters the brain, making kids more reactive to potential threats, and more at risk for developing behavior problems.

Over the years, I’ve followed the research on spanking, and the evidence has been quite consistent.
Spanking doesn’t improve behavior problems. If anything, it appears to makes them worse.

It’s part of the larger trend for physical punishment in general. When researchers have reviewed the best-designed studies — conducted in countries throughout the world — they’ve found that physical punishment is not associated with positive outcomes over time.

On the contrary, when kids are subjected to physical punishment, they tend to experience more behavior problems in the future. And the effect appears to be dose-dependent:

The more frequently parents use physical punishment on a child, the more severe the child’s behavior problems tend to become (Heilmann et al 2021).

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“Video games and attention: Gaming enhances some attention skills, and hinders others.”
What’s the connection between video games and attention? Do video games cause attention problems? Or do they help children focus? It seems that both are true.

Certain “action” video games can enhance a variety of visual attention skills, and they may even help children with reading disabilities. But there’s a downside. Action gaming may also hinder “proactive control,” a kind of attention that is patient, careful, and sustained.

Here are the details.

Unpacking the concept of attention

What do we mean when we say someone is “paying attention?” What do we mean when we say someone has “good visual attention skills”?

Attention is about focusing your mental resources on something, and avoiding distractions. But that’s a pretty vague description, isn’t it? If we unpack the concept of attention, we find that it includes a number of distinct abilities.

For instance, imagine you are a lifeguard, standing on a tower overlooking a crowded shore. You see lots of people in the water, but it’s your job to look out for other things too. And then you see it — the dorsal fin of a shark.

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“How to communicate with your teenager: Key signals to send.”
Families are better off when teenagers communicate openly with their parents. But how do we inspire better communication? An experimental study shows the way: We need to provide kids with crucial signals of active, supportive listening. Not only does it make kids feel better. It also encourages them to confide in us.

Adolescence can be a rough time. Many kids wrestle with emotional problems, and some develop behavior problems. How can parents help?

Sensitivity and responsiveness are important (as I explain elsewhere, it can protect your child from toxic stress).

It’s also important to recognize your teen’s increasing needs for autonomy.

And one of the most fundamental components?

Talk. Open, friendly, effective communication.

Such high-quality communication can improve relationships, and keep parents informed about the challenges their children face. It can also help a child cope with difficult emotions.

On the flip side, communication deficits linked with negative outcomes. For example, consider the type of trouble that psychologists label as “externalizing behavior” — behavior that is disruptive, aggressive, or anti-social.

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