Category: Parenting

How to Reduce Screen Time for Families

Convenant Eyes - Reducing Screen Time

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids between the ages of 8 and 18 spend an average of 7.5 hours per day in front of screens.  It may be on social media or watching TV or playing videos games.  Even adults will agree that the hours “fly by” when engaging with the digital world.  Don’t worry, the 7 Day Digital Detox is not asking you to go offline for 7 Days.

Rather, it’s 7 days of tech-free family activities and conversation starters delivered to your inbox.   It’s a chance for your family to reconnect without looking at a screen.  Life is about balance.  It’s about developing healthy habits that doesn’t necessarily mean stopping something you love to do altogether.

It’s not uncommon to see a group of teens sitting together, each of them on their phones on social media or texting, but none of them interacting with each other.  The same thing happens with families at home.  Let’s face it.  Watching TV kills time.  Surfing the web or scroll posts on social media can eat up hours. The temptation for distraction from life is great but ‘so called’ relaxing time can also lead to online burnout.

There is also the time reading online news, most of which is negative. It can bring a person down without a balance of reading stories that are positive and uplifting.

No one denies the benefits of being able to keep in touch with family and friends miles away, especially in this time of social distancing.  But even when you look at the hours we spend on screens, how much of it is actually having a digital conversation compared with reading and viewing information in silence.   Studies have claimed too much screen time can cause social and family dysfunction, as well as development delays and depression.

Human Interaction Takes Planning

If we don’t set time aside to do things as a family, it won’t happen.  It’s the difference between cooking dinner and having family members just take their food from the stove to eat wherever they like, or saying “tonight, we’re going to have a sit-down meal together”.  It takes a simple commitment.  A meal together is one activity a family can do to have a conversation, as long as everyone doesn’t bring their phones to the table.

Planning to do something can be easy to talk about.  It’s much more difficult to follow through on unless at time is set.  For example, at 5 o’clock today we’re all going for a walk.  Friday nights are game night.  Keep it interesting by exploring fresh new activities like new language games the whole family can enjoy.   Or how about a family drive to a scenic outdoor viewpoint in your local area.

And there’s nothing wrong with a movie night.  True, it’s more time in front of a screen but can be a fun time to spend time together compared with everyone just watching their own favorite show in solitude.  The same can be said for videos games done together on one screen as a family. It’s certainly better than when kids individually looking at their screens with no interaction with those around them.

covenant eyes how to reduced screen time

As mentioned, it’s not about eliminating screen time, only reducing screen time it in our daily lives while connecting in a personal way with our family.  Puzzles anyone?  It may not be everyone’s preference.  In that case, break up your activities in groups.  Some work on a puzzle while others play a game or build a connectable toy.

So why not give it a try?

Sign up for the 7 Day Digital Detox and you’ll receive one email per day for 7 days.  Each email will consist of fun ideas to help you reconnect as a family in fun way.

Start Your Free Digital Detox Here!

The Digital Detox is inspired by the same parental control software company that developed Covenant Eyes, the program that also teaches kids how to be responsible internet users. Screen time monitoring is just one of the features that parental controls offer, in addition to preventing the much worse consequences of when kids come into contact with explicit material online.

Any attempt to reduce screen time, avoid screen time addiction, or protect families from harm online begins with a conversation.  The 7 Day Digital Detox is great way to open the lines of communication between family members so that having those important conversations happen naturally.

The Importance of Teaching Your Children About Screen Addiction

5 Things Your Child Can Learn Online

Things your child can learn online

When it comes to showing your child the internet, there’s a lot to explore. It can be overwhelming knowing where to start. Just because there are dangers online shouldn’t stop parents from exploring productive and beneficial opportunities for kids to learn. It’s all about finding the right programs to benefit and complement their real-life learning skills.

If you’re not too sure where to begin when it comes to the internet and your child, let’s talk about five things that your child can learn online.

1.     Try a Readability App

A lot of kids struggle to learn to read. Whether it’s at home or kindergarten, for some reason, they’re just not getting it and coming to you frustrated. Teaching them to learn how to read is also easier said than done.

However, there are now online resources that make it a little easier to teach your child how to read. A readability app has a variety of different reading programs to encourage them to persist and learn an important new skill. From pointing out where they make mistakes to encouraging different reading levels, this is a great way to build up your child’s confidence around reading.

2.     Teach Them Math

Math is another tough skill to teach a child, especially if they’re not naturally inclined that way. Luckily, there are a number of different online resources that can not only prepare your toddler for what they will learn in school but can also make learning math fun and interactive.

Whether it’s a math learning game or math training that improves their skill levels, you’ve got many different options to choose from.

3.     Ignite Their Creativity

You may not know it, but there are a lot of resources on the internet for kids that aren’t just mindless games. In fact, there are game apps made for kids with education in mind, designed specifically for the purpose of encouraging their creativity.

Make sure that you find a game and encourage the child to think for themselves and inspires them to use their imagination and get creative.

4.     Learn to be Organized

One of the biggest skills that your child will learn as they prepare to start school is how to be organized and plan ahead. When they’ve got to get up and make their lunch, get dressed, and remember what homework they have to hand in today, having planning skills is going to make all this a lot easier.

There are now quite a few apps that can help your child plan ahead, so they can see their schedule in front of them and not get so overwhelmed by the day.

5.     Improve Language and Grammar Skills

Another essential skill for your child to learn as they get ready to start school is grammar – and, of course, language. These two go hand in hand with reading, so it’s no surprise that there are interactive apps and games that can help improve your child’s grammar and language skills.

While the internet can be tough terrain from time to time, there’s also a lot on offer when it comes to your child learning new skills. Make sure to keep them safe online too, and monitor their activity whenever you can.  There are also methods to help limit your kids screen time to ensure a proper balance between all of their activities.

Around the World Online With Kids

Internet Safety Checklist for Preschoolers

online safety for children

Here’s What Parents Should Teach Their Little Ones… Almost a decade ago, parents and caregivers didn’t have to worry about teaching their preschool aged children’s online safety. It’s the opposite today. Children are now being raised in the digital age.

Today, kids grow up learning how to use technology just like learning how to speak or walk. In fact, if technology isn’t a part of their lives, they would be unusual in society.

Touchscreen technologies have made the internet far more accessible than it used to be. It’s quicker and easier to use on a tablet or an iPad since you don’t need a mouse and a keyboard to navigate.

Some online safety risks for preschoolers

Not all parents believe there is a need to navigate and control how their 4 to 5 years old kids use the internet. Because what can go wrong. They are not using social media and they are barely spelling anything right.

It’s true, preschoolers don’t usually get exposed to as many risks as older children since they are usually using the internet under the supervision of an adult. However, that doesn’t mean parents can excuse themselves from taking certain practical internet safety precautions. Even if your preschooler goes online to play games or watch videos, they are still at the risk of accessing inappropriate content.

Raising Children Au says, there are three kinds of internet safety risk for preschoolers – content, contact and conduct.

  1. Content: This includes the content that children might find upsetting, uncomfortable, or disgusting. Examples are images of animal cruelty, violence, pornography or videos that are meant for older children.
  2. Contact: Children might come in contact with people they don’t know. For instance, they might end up on a communication app like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp and send some personal photo or video to one of your contacts or even a stranger (on Facebook).
  3. Conduct: This risk includes children acting in a way that might hurt others. For instance, they might end up deleting some important file or accidentally make in-app purchases.

Children know more than we think!

If you think your preschooler isn’t smart enough to understand what the internet is, read the results of this study where 70, four-year-old children were asked what they know about the internet. 40 percent of the children in the study were able to describe what the internet is. Their understanding of the internet was associated with the experiences of going online and using technology with their family. They defined the internet as something they use to play games; something that mommy uses for work or big sister uses for sending emails and more.

Internet safety checklist to follow

Before children make up their own meaning about the internet, why not tell them what the internet is? Experts say you can start by teaching them that the internet is a net of technology we used to “talk” to each other. Once they understand that then we can move towards teaching them how to protect themselves online.

Here is a checklist that can help parents teach their little ones about internet safety:

  • Explore the internet together: Start by exploring the internet together with your children. They will learn when you are exploring with them. Show them interesting websites, ask them to show you how to play their favorite game, or you can even simply talk about the video they were watching.
  • Be involved: Encourage your children to use devices in the lounge or the kitchen. This will let you keep a close eye on how they are using the internet and monitor what they are watching. Don’t forget to be involved in their enjoyment.
  • Use passwords: You must know when your child is accessing the internet and a smart way to do that is to set passwords on all internet-enabled devices. Make sure these devices are out of your child’s reach. They will have to go through the process of asking permission to access the device and making you put the password so that they can play a game or listen to nursery rhymes. P.S. Don’t share passwords with them.
  • Activate safe search settings: Your toddler will probably use Google and YouTube to do their thing on the internet. Enable safe search settings on both of them. This allows you to apply restrictions on inappropriate search results.
  • Select the right content: Help them choose safe, educational, and fun games or videos. Research games or shows that would be appropriate for your child. You must be confident about the content your child is watching because they will be learning a lot from it.
  • Teach them good and bad: It’s totally okay to talk to your child about good and bad content on the internet. Encourage them to come to you if they see something scary or upsetting. Here is how you can start the conversation: “Some videos on the internet can be scary. Tell mommy/daddy if you see something that scary or makes you unhappy.”

Put yourself in control

Don’t be afraid to use parental controls. There are plenty of child monitoring apps that allow you to set parental controls to manage and control what content your child sees online.

Lots of parents take refuge in monitoring apps for children. It’s being used for monitoring and supervising online behavior of preschoolers and older kids alike. In short, it puts you in control of the online activities of your child and ensuring their safety by providing online protection of your little ones:

  • Manage Web Browsing: Usually, kids directly go to YouTube or the game that’s installed on their tablet. But some are smart enough to browse through Google, too. Parental controls allows you to check the web browsing history of your child’s tablet from a remote location. This feature is also useful if your child is with the nanny and you are just curious about what they are making your child watch.
  • Set boundaries: It is never too early to set boundaries on how much internet or screen time your child gets access to. Set rules regarding how much time your child spends online. You can set screen-time limitations by locking their digital devices altogether. Practice this when it’s time to eat so that they develop the habit of eating without a screen in front of them or when it’s bedtime so they could sleep without any distraction.
  • Block Apps: If your children share a tablet or phone, the apps that your older kid uses may not be appropriate for your toddler. With parental controls you can block the apps that you find inappropriate for one or both kids and let them spend the right amount of time on the internet, worry-free!

Monitoring apps as the likes of Xnspy are great for working parents who leave their kids and their tablets with babysitters and don’t know how much time they are spending online or what they are doing online.

Other things to teach

You mustn’t forget to teach your child how to protect themselves one. Tell them to:

  • Seek help whenever they see a pop-up in the middle of a game or video
  • Be near an adult whenever they are using a device
  • Only click on the tabs or apps your parent or babysitter has set up for you
  • Don’t share personal information (like photos or videos) with anyone

It makes sense to set boundaries to stay safe from internet dangers.  The internet is a large part of the daily lives of many young ones. They don’t just watch their favorite YouTube clips and play games online but also talk to long-distance relatives over video conferencing. Security and safety begins by teaching kids how to stay safe online from a young age.

Now let’s explore how parents can be involved in making sure their kids are safe at school.

Woodworking Projects and Ideas for Kids

Wood Woking Project for Kids

Encouraging imagination is important for kids’ mental growth, especially nowadays where information and entertainment are spoon-feed over screens. One of the fun ways to put our kids’ imagination into practice is through woodworking projects. It’s a balance between creativity and cognitive skills, plus kids are able to create something unique and personal.

Whether for home schooling or working on group projects in a school classroom, these ideas will challenge kids to stretch their brains as they think about making something original using mostly wooden objects. Kids may also be encouraged to search for wooden objects that could possibly work for their woodworking projects ideas.

Train and Tracks

We know how young kids love to play with trains – and this one is super easy to make. All you need are three wooden boxes, a wooden spool, and six pasta wagon wheels. But before going ahead with the assembly, let your little ones have a little fun with paint and ask them to color the blocks.

Once the blocks are nice and dry, use wood glue to attach the pieces together. Glue on the wooden spool to be the train engines smokestack. For the tracks, popsicle sticks on a piece of cardboard would do the trick!

Personalized Boxes

Adult supervision may still be needed for some easy wood projects for kids, especially those that require power tools.

If your little one wants to create a box for storing crayons, marbles, or any other personal items, he may need your hand in building one.

The box can be any size he wants – wider, taller, smaller, bigger. The lid could be sliding too. Kids would need wood, a pencil, tape measure, sandpaper, hand drill and assorted bits, speed square, and a saw for cutting the wood into the right pieces. If you want it to be simpler, you can also use wood glue to attach the pieces together.

Play Tent

Kids absolutely love the idea of building forts in the backyard. Like many woodworking projects, although larger than the previous ones, this one is a breeze to create. Built in just 10 minutes or less, your kids will be playing with their toys or reading books under the tent in no time!

You’d need four long pieces of wood (about 42” each), a long dowel piece, fabric, and drill. Note that the drill bit should match the dowel size for a secure fit. All it takes is drilling a hole on each end of the wood, inserting the dowel, attaching the fabric, and the tent is complete!

Robot Buddy

It’s more like creating a friend than just a simple wooden toy. For this project, you’d need an assortment of wooden blocks, heavy-duty string, wood glue, drill, and a wood burning pen.

Before you drill in the holes, make sure it’s a perfect match for the string size. The string should fit snugly inside.

Drill one hole in the head block and one in each limb block. The body block needs two holes on the side and two holes on the bottom, one for each hand and foot. Once the holes are ready, fill them with glue and stick in the strings using a nail.

Assembly takes a few minutes as you have to let the glue dry as well. Don’t forget carving the eyes and mouth with the woodburning pen. After that, your kid will now enjoy the companion of his robot buddy.

Benefits of Woodworking For Kids

Woodworking is a great physical activity. It will bring some benefits that go beyond the physical of kids.

  • Develop good skills creativity
  • Help build a positive mentally
  • Teaching patience
  • Help with mature emotional and communication

Kids’ woodworking projects are some exciting projects and easy to do. Also, if you spend time working out with kids on wood projects, they will get develop skills better with time. Eventually, they can do projects without any help.

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