- The Respect App – technology, our kids & us
- Is my iPhone obsession making me less engaged as a mom?
- Helping kids use cell phones responsibly
- My Tween’s first BlackBerry – A 101 digital guide for dads everywhere
- Mommies who blog and/or comment: why we do it
- Review of iPad eBooks for kids
- Porn, children and the internet – a case of hide and seek?
- Fun educational internet sites for kids
- Tweeting parents beware!
- When is your child ready for a cell phone?
- Kids and technology – good or bad?
- Are you raising a technological wizard or a creative, imaginative thinker?
- Limit TV Time with a Token System
- The Smartphone Monster
- To Wii or not to Wii, that is the question…
by Mia Von Scha, Transformational Coach, motivational speaker, children’s author, student to two Zen Masters (aka kids), avid cloud watcher and lover of life.
There’s a lot of grumbling amongst the parents of modern teenagers about their lack of communication skills and the amount of time spent ignoring their parents in favour of their technological relationships. And I’m really hoping there are some parents of little kids reading this too, because this problem inevitably starts when they’re much much younger, and it starts with you!
Kids learn by example. I’m sure you’ve heard that one before! So watch your own and your partner’s behaviour around technology. Do you switch on your laptop before you’ve even said good morning? Do you shut your kids out while you quickly catch up on some emails? Do you take calls when they’re busy speaking to you?
How about leaving your emails until they’ve gone to bed, ignoring the calls or even better, switching your phone off and giving them your full attention?
I think all families should have technology-free time and the earlier you initiate this, the less resistance you’ll have as they grow older and the better habits they will pick up. Make dinnertime a technology-free time for everyone in the family. This is one of the most important things you can do in terms of keeping an open channel of communication in your family – no phones, no laptops, no TV. And try to make at least one holiday a year a techno-free time too – go to the bush where there’s no signal and no electricity, go overseas without roaming, or simply insist on all technology being left behind.
We need to teach our kids how to communicate without these things, to really connect, and this can only happen if we do it ourselves!
A couple of weeks ago I took my daughter to the park. She was unusually clean (it was 3pm on a Sunday), beautifully dressed and without her dummy. So it was a magnificent photo opportunity, of which I took iAdvantage. Milla on the slide. Milla on the horsie thing. Milla on the roundabout. The only problem was, while I was photographing her, I wasn’t playing with her. So it wasn’t the outing it could’ve been.
Then, we went to her playschool open day, and I made the decision to leave my phone in the nappy bag. Granted, I have no photos of her playing, interacting, munching, exploring. But that’s because I was with her. Getting covered in grass, play-doh, biscuit crumbs and other kids’ sticky handprints. It was fun. For both of us.
When telling a friend about the day I realised that I’m so often tweeting about the cute things Milla does, facebooking the pics of her in the garden, pinteresting the button art I made for her room and imessaging all and sundry about her sheer genius, that she’s playing alone. Or drawing on the carpet. Or nagging me to ‘come thit here’.
My husband often says that he doesn’t need to take as many photos of her as he used to, because he’s experiencing her with his eyes, and that’s better. I used to think he was just being lazy, but he could be right. My problem is finding the balance.
To be frank, I’ve relied on my phone for company in many social situations. Some people/events are tedious/scary, so I doubt that’s going to change. But when I’m with my kid, the phone, and its assorted apps, needs to be an extra – not the focal point. And once the photos are taken, and the memories captured, it’s time for an iBan.
I’d love to know what you think. Are you one of those people who feels that recording the milestone is a big chunk of the joy, or are you feeling the need to switch off?
Photo credit: Pinterest
By Zaheer Khan, a specialist in technology related security, an idealist but most of all indulges with computers, apps and new phones when not running around with his Light Saber and his kids through the parks of JoBurg
Children and young people have always been keen to grasp the opportunities offered by new technologies, and mobile phones are certainly no exception.
So, what is an appropriate age to buy your child a cell phone? More importantly is it safe for children to use and what are the long term effects on them.
Buying a cellphone for under 12 yr olds makes no sense because:
I am not opposed to limited usage of a borrowed parents’ or siblings’ phone. Parents who see a specific need to introduce it to their children earlier should take precautions to ensure that it becomes a tool and not just a toy that becomes abused
Ways to Introduce a cellphone responsibly :
If a child wants their own phone, let them enter into a contract with a service provider and take responsibility for paying the monthly fee until the contract expires. Make it clear that the payments continue until the end of the contract even if the phone is lost or broken. The phone can also be used as a disciplining tool where its privileges are taken away while the responsibility of paying the bill still continues.
Be aware of the risks involved which include:
Use parental controls
Computers and other digital technologies like games consoles and mobile phones have parental controls. These let you do things like:
Check the equipment’s user manual or manufacturers’ websites to see what controls you have access to. Contact your internet service provider (ISP) or mobile phone operator to find out about any child safety measures they offer
Setting rules with your child
The best way to set reasonable rules for your child’s phone use is to :
- Inappropriate behaviour ie being on the phone when having a guest over, or texting at the dinner table
- use of abusive or threatening language in any online communication
To keep your child safe you should tell them not to:
Parents should also remember that most smart phones are doors to the internet and that any risks posed by the internet similarly apply to cellphones as well.
We need to rely on our kids to teach us about the dangers facing their generation (technology and otherwise) – we teach them the basic values and morals, they teach us about technology, and together we figure out how to bring our values and morals to the new technology/situations in a way that is reasonable and not overly restrictive
by Barrie Bramley, Chief Imagination Officer (wherever he is and whatever he’s doing) and Conference Speaker delivering perspectives around the Future of Work. He’s a dad and curious human being. He can be found digitally at www.barriebramley.com
I was the dad that many parents looked to for advice on ‘what age to give your child a cell-phone’? I speak on trends and technology and most importantly, how all these changes impact people? My answer was always the same…..”I’m going to hold off as long as I possibly can. Preferably until they’re 23 or 24.” I was a hero to some for holding such a strong line.
Well that all came crashing down when my 12 yr old daughter had finally built an unbeatable case for a cell-phone. I had ended up sounding like my mother when I had wanted that radio-controlled boat. For comfort I keep reminding myself that I may have lost on the cell-phone, but I’d won on the ‘I wont sound like my mom’ front.
Watching my daughter and her new ‘BB blankie’ has been the most fascinating experience I’ve had in a long time. Here are some of my observations:
● When you read that they don’t go anywhere without their phones, they’re not exaggerating. My own daughter won’t let me phone her on her phone in case she misses a BB message or an important Status Update.
● There is a direct correlation to phone usage and the development of ‘sophistication’. I remember reading an article that described the difference between maturity and sophistication. The author was suggesting that rural children often grow quickly in maturity (looking after siblings and cattle, etc) and urban children often grow quickly in sophistication (make-up, media exposure, etc). His view, and I agree, is that urban children are exposed to too many things before they are mature enough to deal with them.
● The most fascinating observation, though, has been watching her ‘network’ She went from a conversation circle of maybe 5-8 to one of 30-40. And while much of this engagement is confined to a digital space, it works itself out in the real world. She’s gone out more, done more, seen more of her friends, more regularly.
The bottom line is that this is all a gigantic experiment. There are no answers, no rule books, no 7-habits, no 13 fundamentals, and no silver-bullet. Here’s what I do know:
● My daughter needs a guide to hold her hand through this. I can’t leave that role to her friends.
● I can’t afford to behave in a way that forces her conversations underground. I will respect her space and privacy, and keep working at being an interesting friend that she wants to engage with.
● I’ll find ways to gently point out the impact of messing up in a digital world. It is, after-all, the same set of rules as a physical world.
● I will work hard to grow and understand the world-view of the digital native. I will Facebook, and Tweet, and Foursquare, and MXit, and Blog…. even when I’m not sure what I’m doing or why I’m doing it? I will eventually understand and I will stay relevant in my daughters world.
Good luck, and remember, the force is strong within us : )
by Tiffany Markman, mom to a delicious one-year-old , a book reviewer and a freelance copywriter, editor and writing trainer who tries to balance her workaholic tendencies with addictions to smooching her toddler, salacious non-fiction, caffeine, her iPhone and more. Follow Tiffany’s tongue-in-cheekery on twitter.
A colleague (also a mommy blogger) and I were discussing the comments that appear below news articles; specifically, the fact that people a) get nasty, b) start fights, c) ‘flame’ each other and d) use comments areas as forums for venom.
A recent example is the contemptible commentary beneath Facebook posts by DJ Paul Rotherham, after his wife was badly injured in a hijacking in Marlboro recently. Another is the range of masochistic insults faced by a friend of mine, a News24 columnist, when she confessed to taking her baby to the Home Affairs office and being delighted when they let her (and her screaming child) jump the queue.
Columnists and journos very seldom read the comments below their pieces, because it’s hard not to be hurt by the insults that thoughtless (or malicious) people often hurl. This is why online nasties are known as ‘trolls’ – and writers are sensitive to them.
But mommy bloggers do read the comments. All of them. Because that’s why we blog in the first place: to vent, to rant, to confess, but also to get support and buy-in. And, if we’re very brave, to assuage some of our guilt about how we parent.
I started my mommy blog, Dear Thumper, because – as a first-time preggie – I was absolutely filled with anxieties: about my growing baby, her health, her room, the fact that I worked too hard and too much, the fact that I drank coffee, whether or not natural birth would be possible, how maternity leave would pan out. The mist in my brain was thick and foggy, and the only way to clear it was to type it up. I also wanted a record for close family and friends of how ‘Thumper’ was developing and how I was feeling, as well as a week-to-week record for her to read one day, if she’s interested.
None of the mommy bloggers I know do it to present agendas. Or to convince others to do things differently. We do it to share. To put ourselves out there and exhale. Very few of us write for our audience (in a Dear Reader sort of way); we mostly write for our children, for our families, for our own personal sanity or for kicks.
Then, I had a revelation: Forget the trolls for a moment. Many mommies don’t blog – because they don’t have the time, don’t have the confidence, aren’t sufficiently tech-savvy, are a bit shy or are justifiably afraid of being lambasted. So their comments on news and other articles serve as their confessional too. A way to side with issues they agree with and have their say about those they don’t. A way to get others’ tips.
(This was beautifully illustrated in the comments on my first JoziKids post, which represented a wide spectrum of views on the Stay-At-Home vs Working Mommies debate but also provided insights into how people who strongly disagree can share radically opposing views in a sensible way. But that’s not always the case.)
So, mommies, I’m opening this one up to the floor: Do you blog? If so, why? (And what’s the url?) If not, why not? Do you comment? What moves you to do so?
by Melanie Minnaar, mom to ‘archangels’, Michael and Gabriel, Managing Director of Halo – a full service advertising agency, founder of SA Twitter Blanket Drive ( #TBDZA). If she wasn’t in marketing she would be an activist for meaningful change and worthy causes. You can follow her on twitter
My iPad is a serious, non-salaried team member of my workforce which I would like to be taken seriously in the workplace. However, I must confess that the lure and attraction of the thousands of Children’s apps available was too great a temptation – and now too ingrained in our family time. In addition to anything-Dr. Seuss which now lives comfortably on my device, these are my Top 5 iPad story apps for children:
Numberlys is an interactive story app from Moonbot Studios which tells the story of the world where only numbers exist. That is until a group of friends decide that there has to be more out there and through trial and error they inadvertently create the alphabet. This is a favorite with both my 2yr old and 7yr old who can both, for a change, jointly participate in an app. The interactive parts are all centered around creating new letters in various fun ways.
Available from the Apple App Store.
This interactive bedtime story app has proved to be such a hit with my 2 year old. Surprisingly, the interactivity doesn’t seem to overstimulate him before bedtime but actually calms him down ready for sleep. It is a very simple story of a farmhouse where the lights need to be turned off in each of the rooms by your child so that the animals can go to sleep. The animation is beautiful and engaging.
Available from the Apple App Store.
CARS 2 WORLD GRAND PRIX READ & RACE
I don’t believe there are any little boys who don’t love the Cars movie franchise… This book allows your child to role play as they read by creating their own racing cars which then get to race against Lightning McQueen and Francesco when the story is finished. The quality is as you have come to know from Disney/Pixar and there is 3D race car customization.
Suitable for ages 4-7.
Available from the Apple App Store.
POOH’S BIRTHDAY SURPRISE
This is a wonderful Disney Learning interactive storybook best suited for 3-5 year olds. As your child follows the word-by-word narration they are invited to join in the birthday party planning with all the beloved characters from the Hundred-Acre Wood.
My 2 year old is fascinated by the the puzzles and problem-solving challenges presented throughout the story.
Available from the Apple App Store.
My 7 year old is nuts about dinosaurs – and crazy about this app. March of the Dinosaurs is an interactive story book based on the NatGeo C
hannel ‘s “Escape of the Dinosaurs” and created with team members who worked on the BBC’s “Walking With Dinosaurs”. Your child will experience 3D views of most Arctic dinosaurs. You can follow the story page by page or jump ahead to your favorite sections. There are loads of detailed fact pages for each species. This app will grow with your child and even parents will learn something new every time you open the app.
Available from the Apple App Store.
William Bird is director of Media Monitoring Africa an Ashoka and Linc fellow. He has been monitoring the media for 16 years working on children and media issues for 12. He recently presented at the 12th South African Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (SAPSAC) Conference on Online Victimisation of Children. William is also the father of two young boys.
We live in a world that is radically different to the world we grew up in, more so if you’re over the age of 30. I’m not talking about all the changes in technology, or how our country has changed, I’m talking about the explosion of information we are exposed to and overloaded with. One of the most disturbing effects of this overload is the likelihood that your child will be exposed to pornography and because most of us haven’t prepared them for it, they won’t know how to deal with it.
Why is your child likely to see pornography?
Extremely widespread access to social media chat rooms and to the internet via cell phones means that as parents it becomes increasingly difficult to regulate what our children access and when. Often they are exposed to sexual content accidentally via an MMS from a friend, an email, a link or on any of the social media sites. Often such content is sent from other children.
When sex is forbidden and never discussed, but at the same time the messages conveyed via popular songs, music videos etc say its fun and stimulating, children’s curiosity can lead them to search for answers via a cell phone without anyone ever knowing. At some schools, we are aware that students often exchange addresses of porn sites with each other or in more extreme cases use their phones to film each other and then distribute these clips.
What can you do as a parent?
For younger children filters, passwords and adult supervision are highly recommended but with older kids it ‘s much more complicated
Most children, 12yrs and older will know a nerd, who with a few instructive clicks can bypass any nanny security. And on cell phones there is close to no protection at all. This age group needs to know how to distinguish what is appropriate and what isn’t. They need critical media literacy skills, and to self regulate. They also need parents who talk to them about sex and love and how pornography distorts what is real.
We need to explain that:
Parents who pretend it isn’t there or think children will never be exposed are just creating distance between their child’s reality and themselves. The moment that distance gets bigger, children keep bigger secrets, the less communication the more remains unsaid and unknown and that is when children become more vulnerable to sexual exploitation.
One last thing you can do, is learn how to use a cell phone – beyond dial and sms, ask your child or have a tech party with your friends and invite a nerd.
Before I end off, I need to make three key points. Exposing a child to porn is a criminal offence under the Film and Publications Act. Also any porn that has any kind of portrayal of children engaged in sex is also a criminal offence. So any of you who get your kicks watching children in porn – know that you are actively participating in child abuse. Don’t do it. If you know someone who is or has- report them to the police. Thirdly, I think we are hopelessly behind in our policy and child protection in those instances where children are exposed to sexual content that they have not sought out but that is the subject of another article.
by Mandi Holtshausen, entrepreneur, passionate homeschooling mom to 2 precious girls, visit her blog for a personal insight into their homeschooling journey. Follow her on twitter@HomeschoolingSA. Click here for more information about homeschooling.
The internet is a wonderful source of education and entertainment for our children. Learning can be fun with interactive games and puzzles covering mathematics, science, spelling and topics on the fascinating world around us. Although, just like we need to protect our children from bad elements on TV, we need to be cautious and protect our children from the bad side of the Internet. This can be achieved by installing a good family friendly filter like K9 Web Protection , which is free, on our computers.
Furthermore, we need to educate our children about how to use the internet in a safe manner; explaining the dangers that exist. I heard of a situation where a young boy wanted to check his new email account and typed in the wrong address. He typed “male” instead of “mail” and the images that popped up on the screen were of a pornographic nature. Now these images are embedded in his mind forever, there is no erasing it and what has been done is irreversible. Children are naturally curious about the world around them and we need to focus that curiosity in the right direction.
Here is a brief list of websites that my children and I have found to be fun and educational at the same time:
www.kids.discovery.com Fun games, puzzles and activities about animals, myths, space etc. Follow the link on this site called YUCKY and play whack-a-roach and find out gross and amazing info about your body.
www.worldmathsday.com A fantastic site where your child can play math related games. On World Mathematics Day they can compete against children around the world. At the end of the event they receive a certificate for all their hard work of each year trying to break the world record.
www.worldspellingday.com This works on the same concept but with spelling games. Speakers or headphones are needed.
www.kidshealth.com This site is friendly to kids, teens and parents. It has information about how the body works with helpful advice. A great homework helper. They also have a newsletter to subscribe to.
www.nationalgeographic.com Fun facts and interactive games like “African Adventures” and “Plan it Green”. They also have a section for much younger kids, puzzles, coloring book and interactive “Plant a Garden” and “Learn to Share”.
www.dltk-kids.com Fun printable children’s crafts, coloring pages and holiday projects.
Too much time on the Internet is not recommended. I believe that only an hour of television or computer time should be allowed every day. Children should play and the development of gross motor skills are just as important.
Please share fun educational sites you have found for your kids with us.
For every word, comment, tweet, blog post and Facebook status I put out there, I consider that my son, who is only 20 months old and cannot say internet let alone type the word, could and might one day read what I’ve written. I’ve been tempted to swear a lot and slag people off, and complain and be rude on the internet. But then I ask myself if I’d be proud for my child to one day read what I’ve written, and that is the ultimate deciding factor before I hit the “send” button. And I don’t always get it right. A certain tweet of mine once got me in the bird poo, and it was a lesson that came with some tears but a resolution that I’d try not to do it again.
I sometimes watch bemused and shocked how moms slag off their partners, their kids, their teachers and their lives. I appreciate and love the fact that the web gives us freedom and a voice, but I think as parents we need to be cautious and set a fairly decent example. I don’t want my child to think it’s okay to be malicious, impatient, intolerant and unable to confront people face to face, which is why I’ll do my best not to act like that not only in front of him, but through what I put out on the web. And you might argue that by the time my son can read, the tweets and Facebook comments will be long deleted into cyberspace, but I believe we leave big imprints on the way, and I’d rather err on the side of cyber caution (or neurosis, if you will). Either way, it’s a good exercise in guarding my tongue (or my finger), and remembering that good manners do start at home and from my work laptop, Macbook, iPad and iPhone.
by Jude Foulston, new mom, wife, entrepreneur, friend and crafter who’s loving the challenge of trying to keep it all together on a daily basis. She works for TomorrowToday and is the creator of Jamtin– an online directory for all things handmade.
I realize that there are situations where it’s convenient for kids to have cell phones but we must remember that with this convenience comes responsibility. Does the convenience of having a cell phone positively out weigh the risks that phones expose these kids to?
“When you hand kids phones today, you’re giving them powerful communications and production tools. They can create text, images, and videos that can be widely distributed and uploaded to Web sites. They can broadcast their status and their location. They can download just about everything in the world. If you think your children’s technological savvy is greater than their ability to use it wisely, pay attention to the gap. Times may have changed, but parenting hasn’t. We’re still the parents. And it’s our job to say “no, not yet.” (Source: http://www.commonsensemedia.org.)
I do think it’s important to ask what the phone is being used for – if it is to have contact with a handful of people then are you limiting the airtime per month, and checking their internet access? If it’s going to be used as a gaming platform then certainly limit airtime and make it known that the phone is meant as a gaming platform and nothing else. There’s no taking back the experience when your 11 year old is exposed to completely unsuitable adult content via his phone, so whatever the reason, make sure these rules are adhered to and that you are comfortable enough with the handset so that you can monitor the activity on the phone on a regular basis.
Speaking of Adult Content Management – did you know that Facebook has an age limit of 13 years? According to recent SA research, 50% of the Generation Y that were interviewed (average age of 18) use Facebook as a search engine. What you use Facebook for and what your 13 year old use it for could be two different scenarios.
Which leads me onto the next question – perhaps the question isn’t whether your kids are ready for the responsibility that being exposed to the internet brings, but more importantly is how are you teaching your children to interact in this space? What responsibility are you, the parent, taking on? Yes, at times it seems that technology is part of these kids DNA and it’s hard to believe you can teach them new stuff in this space, but just as you would teach your children how to interact on a social level, not to speak to strangers, etc, you should also be teaching kids the same principles in the online space.
Connect with your kids here, teach them, get comfortable in their space. Beat them at their own games, and hopefully with more knowledge and information sharing between families the technology and content that is out there won’t be so scary for all of us.