This week is social media week and a good time to remember some safety social media tips for our kids.
- No online site is truly secure or private. Be sure your child knows not to share personal information.
- Make sure privacy controls are set to private to limit strangers following your child online.
- Help your child understand that he shouldn’t post anything online that he wouldn’t “tell the world” since nothing online is truly private.
- Let your child know that she shouldn’t talk to anyone online that she doesn’t know.
- Tell your child not to enter free giveaways and contests since these require personal information. If a friend forwards anything like this, they should delete it immediately.
While social media has many positive aspects, be sure it doesn’t consume your children – there are some social skills kids can only learn from face to face communication and play.
Whether we like it or not, the internet is part of our children’s lives. They need it for school and they use it for play. Sometimes, honestly, it gives us a break when they are “quietly” using the computer. Sadly, we can never let down our guard when it comes to keeping our kids safe online. Here are 5 easy internet safety tips. Feel free to add your own in the comment section!
- Content Blockers – Don’t be afraid to block content. Your child doesn’t need to see everything on the web when she is searching for her latest science project.
- Communicate – Content blockers don’t block everything. Be sure to talk to your kids about what to do when something inappropriate pops up.
- Openness – Keep your child’s computer in the open like a family room where you can supervise activity more easily.
- Guidelines – Be clear on when, how long and what sort of work and sites a child can visit on the computer.
- Pay Attention – Children can innocently (or not so innocently) get caught up in sites, messaging, etc that is harmful. Nothing replaces a parent who pays attention.
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Technology is part of our parenting lives. Smartphones have become part of who we are. We use it for grocery lists, to remind us which child is supposed to be where at any given time, To help us remember which side we last breastfed from, to know what stage of development our child “should” be at and the list goes on and on. There are many parenting apps and they are wonderful and make our lives easier. At the same time, they can distract us from the very thing we are trying to do – make our children’s lives better.
We may want to send that one last tweet, update our Facebook or pay that one last bill while waiting in line all while shushing our kids because they are asking us a million questions. Maybe at least once a day we can give ourselves a smartphone time out and be a little more present to our kids. Maybe instead of doing that quick update on Facebook, we can play a quick game of I Spy or I’m Going on a Picnic, etc.
So join us in the smartphone parenting challenge where at least once a day we put down our phones and use a “filler” moment to pay attention to our kids. That “filler” moment will become tomorrow’s precious memory.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released recommendations that babies and toddlers should learn from play, not TV or computers. This is news to the 90% of parents who say that their children under 2 watch some form of electronic media. Parents of good will have bought the many video programs for infants and toddlers that are labeled as educational, but evidence does not support this since children under 2 do not have the needed understanding to learn from TV. Further studies have also shown that unstructured play time is more valuable for developing your child’s brain than electronic media.
Unstructured play helps children:
- To think creatively
- Problem solve
- Develop reasoning & motor skills.
It’s not easy to turn off the TV, but we have seen moms who are doing just that. Kristin from Our Ordinary Life decided to ditch TV & our friends at the National Wildlife Federation have great resources for helping kids turn off the TV and turn on creativity. We love that turning off the TV and playing with your child has health benefits for parents as well as helps your family to bond. We know it’s possible to limit TV, but we want to hear from you!
Do you set screen time limits for your children? If so, share your tips with us!
Our digital age has brought us to a new level of multitasking. We talk on the phone, while emailing on our computer and looking up the latest deals on our smartphone. It’s hard to just be still and be unplugged. Our kids have learned to do the same. They seem to be always connected to an Ipod, cell phone, video game or some sort of digital device. While there are many benefits to our digital age, there are also some drawbacks.
Neuroscientists have found that when people keep their brains constantly “on”, they skip the downtime needed to embed and remember information which is how we learn. In addition, if our brains are constantly receiving external stimulation, we give up the mental quiet that is necessary for creativity and imagination. This “downtime” is especially important while your child’s brain is developing.
We know it’s not easy to be unplugged, but because it’s so important it is imperative to instate a “Digital Free Zone” at your house. This could be an hour before a meal or before bedtime or in the middle of the afternoon. This “Digital Free Zone” is a time when all digital media; TV’s, phones, radios, iPods, computers, etc. are all turned off. Your kids may moan and groan over this at first, but soon that time will become precious time to imagine, learn and grow. And don’t forget that the “Digital Free Zone” applies to the adults in the house as well.
What tips do you have for turning down the digital noise in your house?
Today is the official first day of summer (hooray!) and with that often comes camp time for kids! There are all sorts of great summer camps out there. We love camps that get kids outdoors, teach them new things and give them opportunities to make new friends. Wonder if your child doesn’t like traditional summer camps? Wonder if your child is more into film-making, cartoon creation, science and engineering? Well, there is a camp for these special interests held by the Digital Media Academy.
Check it out. Your child just may be the next Steven Spielberg in the making!
We are blogging from Austin where we gratefully have a break from the Chicago cold and are seeing a lot of families outside taking in some play time. (We love all the Kolcraft, Jeep and Contours strollers we are seeing in Austin! They are everywhere!) It made us stop and think about how important play is for children. Remember our friends at NWF who did a study on the importance of outdoor play? Turning off the TV and video games and playing outdoors has so many benefits for your child. It may be difficult to pull them away from the lure of electronics so a few ideas to help.
- Start a garden – Starting a simple garden, be that in a planter or in the yard, is a great way to get your child outdoors and spend special one-on-one time with each other. Together you can plant flowers or vegetables and watch them grow. It also teaches your child responsibility since a garden needs daily care of weeding, watering, etc. It can also be a time to help your child’s science classes become alive.
- Take a neighborhood walk – Walk to different parts of your neighborhood and observe the birds and other animals. See if you can identify birds by their different chirps. Take note of the different trees and flowers you see as well as the cloud shapes. Nature is your canvas to learning!
- Become a stargazer – Get a blanket and gaze up at stars. Get a guidebook on stars from your library or download Google sky. Make a game of seeing how many stars you can find!
- Childhood games – Remember Mother May I, Red Rover, Kick the Can, Red Light Green Light, Hopscotch, blowing bubbles? Teach your child your favorite childhood games, get them moving and share a part of your childhood fun with them.
- Hit the beach – Spend a day at the beach looking for unusual rocks, shells, etc. See which ones you can identify and those you cannot, use your imagination and give them a name! If you don’t live near a body of water, go to a public pool and pretend that you are sea creatures – dolphins, crabs, sharks, etc. You can make your own underworld fun!
What are your ideas for getting your kids outside to play?
Moms today are on the move. We are juggling schedules, work & home life, school – you name it, we are juggling it. Thankfully technology can give us an extra hand every once in awhile. Recently Maternity & Style put together a list of mom-friendly apps that can help us with everything from sleep & potty training to fitness & calendar keeping. We wanted to share this mom-friendly list of apps with you.
Hopefully with the touch of a screen, you may get some mom relief in your busy day.
Everyone knows the holidays are hectic, but for a parent every day can be hectic! One easy way to keep up on all that’s going on during your pregnancy, child’s development and more is to download the free parenting app by Parenting magazine.
The app has articles, tips, age-by-age development guides and more. We love it to have parenting info on the go!
You can download your free iphone/ipod touch app at parenting.com/app.