Preparing Kids For Online Gaming

Preparing Kids For Online Gaming

online safety for kids

It can be very difficult at times to pull your child away from that special video game that they love so much, and this is why it’s so important to prepare your children for the ‘online gaming world.’  A recent study from the Pew Research Center indicates that 59 percent of girls and 84 percent of boys ages 13-17 regularly play video games. Many of these games are played online and may involve multiple players. 

In addition to safety and privacy concerns, parents must ensure that their child’s gaming activities do not become an addiction. When a gaming addiction develops, children may become detached from reality, resulting in negative consequences regarding their ability to socialize and regulate their emotions.  In extreme cases, parents may need to look to a professional for help. However, there are steps you can take to help prevent this. 

Setting healthy boundaries for your kids can help to guard against extreme gaming behavior.  For example, ensure that children have their homework finished before allowing them to engage in gaming.  Also, limit gaming sessions to a set time period of time. When finished playing video games, children should move on to other activities, engaging in active movement and social interaction with others.  

Parents should also know the ratings on games, talk to their children about how they feel when they play, and even play these games along with their children to experience them first-hand. I know I do this quite often with my children, so I can see the kind of activity that is taking place within the game.

online safety for kids

Here are some helpful talking points to help start the conversation with your child about video games and online gaming:

1. Can you show me your favorite game?

It is a good idea to get to know the games yourself and sit down with your child to let them show you how the game is played.  Talk to your child about what they can do in the game they’re playing. What is the overall objective of the game? What do they like most about playing it?  Is there anything about the game that they don’t like?

2. Can you play against other kids?

Some games have optional multi-player modes where your child can play with and against others.  Make sure you’re clear on whether you are happy for your child to play with others. If you are, ask them who they are playing with.  Establish rules around this that you can both agree on. Most games have a rating you can check to see if they are age-appropriate.

3. How much time should you spend playing?

It makes life a lot easier if you bring this subject up early on; it can be tricky to change well-established practices. Talk about why it’s important to have limits.  It’s a good opportunity to talk about the importance of being active, being outdoors, and spending time in the company of other children, and striking that suitable balance is key.

Remember, it can be hard to enforce restrictions.  It can also be difficult to accurately track the amount of time they are spending playing the game.  Some devices allow you to use parental controls to strictly enforce daily or weekly limits. In many cases, the device simply switches off once the allocated time has been exceeded.  While this is handy; it can be very frustrating for a child who is just about to reach a landmark in the game after a great deal of effort. We recommend not relying exclusively on parental controls, but use them to support your usual parenting approaches.

4. Can you chat with the other kids you are playing?

Many games allow players to chat with each other.  Be sure to agree on rules around this, and ask your child about who they think it is okay to talk to online.  Discuss your expectations around the type of language they should not use and how they treat others. Be very clear on the consequences of using bad language, being disrespectful, or not following the other agreed rules.  The threat of withdrawing access to the game can be a good deterrent to bad behavior.

Check if the game gives the option of disabling chat and if there is a safe chat mode. Some games allow limited forms of chatting where gamers can communicate with each other by selecting from a menu of phrases.  

5. What sort of information is NOT okay to share when gaming?

Explain to them the importance of not giving away any personal information online.  In the case of online gaming, it is a good idea not to use real names for game profiles and not to share passwords with friends.

6. What would you do if something inappropriate happens when you are playing a game online?

It’s important that your child is familiar with safety settings, privacy and reporting tools. It is equally important that your child understands they can talk to you if they experience anything inappropriate online.  This is also a good opportunity to encourage your child to play fairly and treat other gamers with respect.

Whether we like it or not, the online gaming world is here to stay so it’s best to be proactive and responsible when navigating this with your children.  As much as we may think some of the games in this ‘virtual world’ are disturbing or are indoctrinating our children with bad behavior, these games are here to stay.  We have to teach our children how to play and use these games responsibly.  

After all, I can still remember when Nintendo & Atari were the ‘new gaming devices.’  There was a time when people thought a game called ‘Donkey Kong’ was violent because they hit each other.  Nowadays kids are seeing things in these newer games that are a lot more disturbing than that, and in ten years those same people will be saying the same thing about the games of today.  

Ultimately, the responsibility lies with us as parents.  We have to teach our kids right from wrong, so when they are out in the ‘real world’ they will know the difference.

 

For more information, check out these resources:

Help Your Kids Be Prepared for Accidents!

At the park or playing ball – your kids can be prepared for the sun AND accidents with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind.  

Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.

Online Photo Safety for Kids

Online Photo Safety for Kids

online safety for kids

Online photo safety for kids should be on every parent’s mind.  It’s not uncommon nowadays for photos of children to be posted online before they are even born, but is it safe?  Announcing your pregnancy by posting a baby scan is a ‘thing’ on Facebook and Twitter. It doesn’t stop once there, a recent survey found that an average parent will post almost 1,000 photos of their child online before he or she turns five.  We live in an age of “sharenting,’ so we have to learn how to navigate this new trend in a safe manner.

Our children learn most from watching us and copying what we do.  If you want your child to only post photos when they have the consent of the people in them, ask their permission before posting photos of them. Likewise, if they ask you to remove a photo that they find embarrassing, take it down. The chances are your child will do the same if they find themselves in a similar situation.

There are no hard and fast rules for this topic, however, there are some things to consider before you hit the share button:

online safety for kids
Edit your life:

Be selective about what you share online.  Don’t post photos of everything that happens in your life no matter how cute you think your child looks in them.  Think twice about sharing photos taken in bathroom and bedroom settings. You can’t control the context in which the photos will be seen.

Ask yourself will this photo cause my child embarrassment now or in the future?

Everything we post online creates a digital footprint and for young people maintaining a good online reputation is becoming increasingly important. Parents should consider any long-term risks of sharing photos of their children online. Some photographs have the potential to go viral.

Check Your Settings:

Social networks regularly update settings, so it is important to review your settings. If you are a regular user of Facebook, the social network allows users to do a Privacy Checkup which makes it very easy for users to understand who they are sharing content with.

 

Who will see my photos?

Ensure you are happy with your privacy settings and understand who may potentially see your images. It is a good idea to regularly review your friend/connections on social networks. Some networks, for example, Facebook allow users to limit/customize who they share posts with.  Some things will always be public. Parents should beware that some posts/photos are always public for example; Twitter profile photos, Facebook cover images and featured photos.

Is your location service disabled? 

Many social networks and apps allow you to share your location. Some people may not be aware that this function is automatically enabled on some apps and networks.  Consider reviewing this when sharing family photos.

I realize that we ultimately want that ‘connection’ with people- to share our lives, our families, our children, and a great way to do this is through posting photos on social media and online.  The virtual world has brought us an entirely new way of interacting and connecting with others, but we just want to ensure that we do so in the safest way possible. 

Let’s do it responsibly, and you will find that if they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” we will be sharing beautiful novels with our friends, families and loved ones every time we post our cherished photos!

For more information, check out these resources:

Help Your Kids Be Prepared for Accidents!

At the park or playing ball – your kids can be prepared for the sun AND accidents with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind.  

Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.

Save Kids from ‘Cranky Time’ During Daylight Savings

Save Kids from ‘Cranky Time’ During Daylight Savings

It’s that daylight savings time of year again, and you know what that means…cranky kids, temper tantrums, and no sleep for you, right?  Well, not necessarily…we’ve got you covered. The ‘spring ahead, fall back’ time changes can mix up everyone’s schedule.  The loss of just one hour can really affect a child’s attention span, appetite, and overall mood. You can minimize the effects of daylight savings time by being prepared.

Here are some helpful tips on how to get kids back on track so everyone can get a good night’s sleep. 

Allow Time for Gradual Adjustment:

It takes some time to adapt to a loss of sleep.  So if your child normally goes to bed at 8 p.m., put him/her to bed at 7:45 p.m., then 7:30 p.m., and so on, until they are going to bed as close to 7 p.m. as possible.  This step-by-step process is not as much a shock to the system, as it is when you abruptly expect your child to fall asleep an hour earlier after the time change. If you’re having trouble getting your child to bed earlier, which is often the case in older kids, then just focus on getting them up in the morning a bit earlier instead.  When daylight savings time ends in the fall, this gradual approach can still help — follow the same guidelines — just push the wake-up times and bedtimes a little later rather than earlier.

To Make Bedtime Easier, Control the Lights:

Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate your body’s internal clock. The levels of this hormone increase in the evening as it becomes dark to help induce sleep. Melatonin levels decrease when it’s light out to assist with wakefulness and alertness.  Daylight savings time alters your natural cycle, and the results can be particularly difficult for kids. I recommend dimming the lights in your child’s bedroom and turning off all electronics about 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime. According to The National Sleep Foundation, these devices can reduce sleep time, sleep quality, and daytime alertness because of light exposure and brain engagement right before bedtime. 

In the morning, you should try to get your child into the light as much as possible. Natural sunlight is best, so if weather permits, make sure there is sunlight entering your home, or turn on the lights so it’s nice and bright! To help when you “fall back,” make sure your child has some light exposure in the early evening.  Be careful to ensure that your child’s room doesn’t become too bright too soon in the early morning.

Establish a Routine:

When daylight savings time begins or ends, it’s especially important to stick with a bedtime routine.  Your child is now dealing with a change in schedule that might throw him off.  It’s absolutely critical that they have a routine during bedtime because that’s what helps create a powerful signal for sleep. One option is giving your child a warm bath, reading him a book, and snuggling together before lights out.

Get Enough Sleep Beforehand:

In the days before you change your clocks, make sure your child is getting plenty of shut-eye. Sleep results in more sleep, so going into daylight savings time well-rested will greatly help your child because he won’t be cranky and overtired, which can make falling asleep even harder.

 

Be Supportive and Understanding:

In the days following daylight savings time, try to be more forgiving if your child is throwing extra temper tantrums or seems to be particularly frustrated or difficult in any way.  The time change can cause these short-term changes in your child’s mood, but your understanding and support will help them adjust a little better to the new schedule.

 

Take Care of You:

And most importantly, don’t forget to take care of yourself too!  Many adults feel sluggish and cranky themselves after the time switch, so make sure you’re getting the rest you need as well. Thankfully, these effects are all short-lived — within a week or so, everything should be back to normal.

As always, I’d love to hear which blogs resonate most with you!  Feel free to reach out and message me on Facebook & Instagram!

 

For more information, check out these resources:

Help Your Kids Be Prepared for Accidents!

At the park or playing ball – your kids can be prepared for the sun AND accidents with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind.  

Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.

The Importance of Teaching Kids to Be Independent

The Importance of Teaching Kids to Be Independent

Would you agree that kids tend to give up too easily?

 

My kids sure do.

Take my daughter and her homework for example. When she gets stuck on a problem, she gets really frustrated and whines about how she cannot figure it out.

She ends up sitting there, pouting…which leads to no homework being done.

So, what does mommy or daddy do? We come over and tell her how to do it. Which is all fine
and dandy because we do want her to know that we’re there for her when she needs help.

The problem was in how we, as her parents, were helping her.

Instead of guiding her into figuring out the solution to the problem herself, we were essentially giving her the answers.

Instead of having her attempt to talk out loud her thought process to figure out where she is
actually getting stuck and what exactly she doesn’t understand, we tend to jump in a little too early.

Anyone else guilty of jumping in too soon to help their kids?

She was not thinking for herself.  What kids these days are missing is that critical thinking component.  

Here are a few ways we take away from our kids’ independence:

  • Tell them the answer right away
  • Do it for them
  • Tell them how we think the task should be done

 

Ways we let kids think for themselevs and become more independent:

  • Ask your kids to explain what they’re stuck on
  • Give kids questions to think about as a way to guide them on what they need to ask themselves next to figure the problem out

 

One thing I’m working on with my kids is how to manage their time, especially in the morning.

Now this didn’t happen overnight, but we’ve gotten them on a morning routine that they are now used to.

They wake up, brush their teeth, get dressed, make their beds, come downstairs, get their backpacks ready to go, unload the dishwasher and eat breakfast.

My daughter does not like being tardy but she’s probably the one that drags her feet the most.

Most days she is good about getting her list done.  Some days, like today, we’re twenty minutes from needing to leave the house and she has barely walked down the stairs.  

Normally, I would jump in and remind them of the time and how they’ll be late if they don’t hurry up.

Nope!

This time, I just let them be.  

Eventually one of them noticed what time it was, and they got their act together.

We made it to school with 1 minute to spare but the entire time during the car ride there, they were quite nervous.  Especially when we had to stop at each red light.

But the lesson here is that if I don’t let them figure things out for themselves and learn things the hard way, then I am not doing them any favors.

The quicker I let them fail and learn from their mistakes, the better it is for them in the long run.

An excellent example I got from another mom that I’m starting to implement with my own kids now is what I call, the Power of 3.

If they have a problem, they need to figure out for themselves three different ways they can solve that problem before coming to an adult to get help.  

This could be anything.  The key is that when they come asking for help, they need to list out the three things they did to figure it out for themselves.

This promotes independence, self-reliance, critical thinking, problem solving skills, and confidence while preventing co-dependency, low self-esteem and lack of confidence. And who doesn’t want that for our kids?

Help Your Kids Be Prepared for Accidents!

At the park or playing ball – your kids can be prepared for the sun AND accidents with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind.  

Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.