Schools are starting to reopen and starting a new school term can be stressful for both you and your child, let alone during a global pandemic. Our children may feel nervous or reluctant going back to school after learning from home for a few months. They may also find it difficult to be wearing masks and be physically distanced from their peers in school. As parents, these few questions may be popping up in our heads: How do we ensure our child keeps their mask on? Will they be able to keep a distance away from their peers in school? Fret not! We have 4 tips on easing your child into school reopening.

Prepare your child for a different school experience

Schools will most likely roll out new rules that ensure safe distancing, mask wearing and practicing good hygiene habits in general. Instead of forcing these rules upon your child, teach them about the pandemic and help them understand why such safety measures are necessary. 

You could let them read some age-appropriate stories on COVID-19 and public health to make it easier for them to understand [1]. It’s good to practice some of the hygiene habits at home, like washing your hands thoroughly with soap, and remind them to do it in school too. Reassure your child that the safety measures are put in place to keep them safe and healthy.

Prepare a back-to-school kit

It would be ideal to put together a back-to-school kit that consists of extra masks and a hand sanitiser. Our children may be running around in school and their masks could easily fall off. By having these extra masks in their backpack, you wouldn’t need to worry that your child picks up their mask from the floor and puts it back on. While not all schools mandate that children should be wearing masks, it would be recommended to do so to prevent the transmission of any infected droplets [2]. You could get your child reusable cloth masks that fit better on their face and that could potentially be cost-saving in the long run. In addition, the hand sanitiser provides a convenient option for them to sanitise their hands wherever they are. This simple yet effective back-to-school kit could be a solution to your worries.

Check in on your child

In addition to checking in on their physical health and grades, you should also look out for signs of stress and anxiety. Your child’s mental health could be compromised in view of the pandemic, and it’s important to let them know that it’s normal and alright to feel overwhelmed at times [3]. Talk to them and try to understand their problems, let them know that you will always be there for them.

Have a good night’s sleep

Last but not least, make sure your child has a good night’s sleep. Children between the ages of 6-13 should get 9 to 11 hours of sleep a night in order to help them develop physically and mentally. If you find your child spending late nights on their phone, it might be time for you to step in. You could limit their device usage by setting a schedule with plano app or find other ways to help manage their device usage at night. I’m sure we’d all want our children to have a good rest and start their day happily. 

You can now help ease your child into school reopening and also put your worries to rest. We all have a part to play in making our children’s school experience much better!

References:

[1] Strauss, V. (2020, July 22). Ten things parents could and should do to help schools safely reopen. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/gdpr-consent/?next_url=https%3a%2f%2fwww.washingtonpost.com%2feducation%2f2020%2f07%2f22%2ften-things-parents-could-should-do-help-schools-safely-reopen%2f

[2] Bai, N. (2020, June 26). Still Confused About Masks? Here’s the Science Behind How Face Masks Prevent Coronavirus. University of California San Francisco. https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2020/06/417906/still-confused-about-masks-heres-science-behind-how-face-masks-prevent

[3] UNICEF. (2020, June 16). Supporting your child’s mental health as they return to school during COVID-19. https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/supporting-your-childs-mental-health-during-covid-19-school-return

plano highlighted in one of the episodes of Ethiroli, a series from Vasantham (Mediacorp).

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We all want our kids to grow up healthy and happy. That’s why we make them wear bike helmets, stop them from eating too much junk food and make sure they go to bed early. 

However, when it comes to technology, protecting our kids feels much harder. 

Smart devices are wonderfully practical and convenient, but like any good thing, they have inevitable drawbacks when used too much. Using your phone for more than two hours a day can increase the chances of developing short-sightedness, digital eye strain, and even screen addiction. 

While it’s easy to tell our kids to get off their phones, it’s much harder to enforce good screen use habits. It’s often difficult to gauge how much time kids spend on their devices without monitoring them 24/7. So how do you know where to draw the line? How much screen time is too much? To start with, it’s good to get an understanding of how much time they are spending online. You can look out for signs in their behaviour, or simply track their screen time with a parental control app. Here’s how.

3 signs your child is spending too much time on their smart devices:

1. Eye rubbing

If you notice your child rubs their eyes regularly, it is likely they have been spending too much time online. When we stare at a screen for prolonged periods of time, we tend to open our eyes more and blink less. This causes them to become dry and sore and can even lead to digital eye strain (or DES). Eye rubbing is a telltale sign that your child has been using their screen too much and needs to switch off.

2. Fatigue

If your child regularly complains about not getting enough sleep, they could be using their smart devices too late at night. The blue light emitted from phone screens suppresses the release of the sleep hormone melatonin, tricking the brain into thinking it’s still daytime. To avoid this, it may help to enforce a curfew an hour before bedtime, or download a parental control app such as plano. plano has a blue light filter* which can come in handy to help your kids get to sleep earlier and avoid insomnia.

3. Their phone says so.

The plano app can also track your child’s screen use and remind them when it’s time to take a break or switch off for the day. You can access your child’s screen time data from your own phone by downloading the app onto your device. Or, if you want to encourage your kids to take some initiative, plano’s point-rewards system can help them learn to switch off on their own. plano rewards your child with points whenever they display good screen behavior (e.g. if they use their device for less than 2 hours in a day). These points can be used in the plano shop to request fun, device-free activities- a great incentive to get your child involved in the process!

Better late than never.

If you do notice your child has developed a not-so-healthy relationship with their smart devices, don’t fret! Screen addiction is a very common phenomenon in today’s world. One study in 2016 found that 62% of Singaporeans admitted they were addicted to the Internet [1].

The best way to combat screen addiction is to start now! Establishing a healthy relationship with technology at a young age can help benefit them well into the future as they grow up in an increasingly digitized world. And remember, you’re not alone! plano’s in-built systems can help teach your kids how to develop and maintain good habits towards technology in a fun and simple way!

References
[1] Hicks, Robin. (2016). 62% of Singaporeans admit they’re addicted to internet, media habits being passed on to kids. Retrieved 18 July, from mumbrella.asia

Ever felt guilty of not paying your children enough attention after a long day of work? Fret not! We’re here to help you get started with your weeknight bonding sessions.

Put down your phone.

Focus on your children once you get home by putting your phones away. Our devices tempt us to respond immediately to our work when we should be present with our children. By staying connected to your office 24/7, you will find yourself giving partial attention to your child and being less productive at work [1]. While we are experts at multitasking, doing both is not helpful at all.

“I hate my mom’s phone and I wished she never had one [2]”, was the response a 2nd grader in Louisiana gave when asked about an invention they wish had never been created. This sentiment was shared amongst 4 out of 21 students in the class. Your children know when you spend more time on your phone than with them, and all they want is for you is to give them your undivided attention.

Let’s not be prisoners of our smartphones. You can always wait until your child is in bed before you catch up on emails or your social media. Not only will you get more quality time with your child, you’ll also be more efficient at finishing your work and you’ll have uninterrupted alone time at the end of the day.

Let your children help you cook.

You’d probably be thinking that it would be much easier and faster to do it alone. But why not take advantage of the time to be with your children instead of chasing them out of your kitchen? Not only do you get a kitchen assistant, you will also be teaching them how to cook – an important life skill, how to take care of themselves and how to eat healthy [3].

Start by giving them simple tasks like washing the rice and vegetables, and gradually, they’ll be able to put a breaded fish into hot oil without flinching. While this may seem daunting at first, but soon they can look at any restaurant dishes and say “I can make that too!” This “can do” attitude can carry a child beyond the kitchen [4].

You will start getting to know your children, and they you, better while cooking together. Get to understand each other’s habits, preferences and pet peeves. You may even start sharing recipes, techniques, and anecdotes once they grow older [5]. Show them that there is fun beyond the screens and start by inviting them to join you in the kitchen today!

Create a bedtime routine.

It’s not just brushing teeth, getting dressed and going to bed. It’s about adding that extra personal time in your routine to get the most out of your weeknights.This could be reading a book with your child and then climbing into his bed to have a quick chat about his day. This is a precious time of vulnerability and connection for you and your child [6].

More often than not, they would share with you the things troubling them, situations that made them happy, or if they were hurt today. Give your child a tight hug and let them know you are there for them. These intimate moments will be the ones you’ll miss once they grow up.

You could also set a no-device bedtime routine with the plano app. Schedule daily device usage limits and spend your precious weeknights with your children device-free! Spend some quality time together and have a pleasant end to your busy day.

References
[1] Mejia, C. (2019, March 11). 5 Ways Parents Make Evenings Really Count. Fatherly. https://www.fatherly.com/parenting/productivity-make-most-of-evening-family-time/
[2] May, A. (2018, May 24). I wish my mom’s phone wasn’t invented, 2nd grader writes in school project. Usatoday. https://eu.usatoday.com/story/tech/nation-now/2018/05/24/2nd-graders-tell-teacher-wish-mom-phone-wasnt-invented/640059002/
[3] C. (2017, December 13). Working Mom Hacks: 4 Ideas to Make the Most of Weeknights. Iowa City Moms. https://iowacity.momcollective.com/2017/12/13/working-mom-hacks-weeknights/
[4] Dell’Antonia, K., & Laskey, M. (2015, September 2). Cooking With Kids: 5 Reasons You Should Be Doing It. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/03/dining/cooking-with-kids-5-reasons-you-should-be-doing-it.html
[5] Dell’Antonia, K., & Laskey, M. (2015, September 2). Cooking With Kids: 5 Reasons You Should Be Doing It. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/03/dining/cooking-with-kids-5-reasons-you-should-be-doing-it.html
[6] Alexander, C. (2019, July 29). Why you should make bedtime routine with your kids a priority. Aleteia. https://aleteia.org/2019/07/29/why-you-should-make-bedtime-routine-with-your-kids-a-priority/

All too often, we see the same sight of a family sitting together and each member is using their phones for different purposes. While we’re all digitally connected, we’re sometimes the most disconnected from the ones closest to us. Here are 5 family-friendly activities you can do to bond with your family.

Going screen-lite.

Now, there’s no way we can totally get rid of the screens in this day and age. As much as those devices take up a good majority of our time, they’re also essential to our daily 21st-Century lives. We use them for communication, information and entertainment. Especially since work-from-home, the whole family’s been on the screen. Both parents are probably working behind the screen and our children are likely having online classes.

However, as the saying goes, too much of a good thing can be bad. Which is why it’s time we try going screen-lite. We all need a couple daily doses of screen time to keep in contact and up-to-date with our work. When all’s finished, it’s good to take some time away from the screen and catch up with our loved ones.

Establish some ground rules surrounding screen time as a family – perhaps no screen time after 7pm, or no phones at the dinner table. Once there’s a standard screen rule that all family members can agree upon, you can use those no-screen time zones to have some fun together away from the screens.

Finding fun outside the screens.

Here are 3 family-friendly activities you can enjoy altogether away from the screens:

1. Cook together

Food always brings people together and there’s no better way to bond than over a hearty meal. What’s more fun is when you make the food on your own. Plan for a day when the whole family can come together to whip up a meal. You could give the kids specified stations such as tossing the marinade for the meats together, or teach them how to chop a few onions or tomatoes.

Of course, for safety reasons adults should be the head chef in charge of the hob and the oven. However, it’ll serve as a good way to introduce your little ones to some culinary skills and teach them a thing or two about frying or baking. The food is guaranteed to taste 10 times more delicious when the whole fam bam gets together and creates a meal for themselves, by themselves.

2. Get competitive

How about a board game night? There are tons of family-friendly board games out there on the market. ‘The Game of Life’ is a classic family game which also teaches kids about, well, life! There are also more strategic games such as ‘The Settlers of Catan’ which can teach kids about logical thinking. It’s a great way to impart new lessons to your children and have fun at the same time. You could even switch it up by suggesting a forfeit for the loser – cleaning up the dishes after that wonderful home-cooked meal sounds good.

3. Move together

There’s nothing better than the great outdoors. A great way to spend time together as a family is to plan for a day out at your local park! You could cycle together or go for a hike at a nearby hill. It’ll be a great way to leave your phones aside and just enjoy the wind in your hairs.

Re-focus our attention on our loved ones

Screens sometimes get in the way of connecting with the ones we’re right in front of, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying to. To reiterate, it’s important to establish rules about screen time in the house to balance our device and non-device time. When it comes to our children however, that can admittedly be an uphill battle. Parental control apps can help you manage your child’s screen time and inadvertently encourage family time as well!

plano is one such app that can help you achieve this. plano helps to monitor your child’s device use and reminds your child to take regular breaks from the screens every 30 minutes. As a parent, you can also use the plano app to schedule no-device times. For instance, if your child is not allowed to use his/her phone during dinner time, you can use the plano app to lock his/her device during those hours.

If your child follows these prompts and reminders in the plano app, he/she can earn points! These points can then be used in the plano Shop* to request for device-free, and outdoor activities. Parents can even join in the fun for some of these activities such as a ziplining adventure at Singapore’s Mega Adventure.

Our loved ones are all near and dear to us, so let’s make sure we use our time with them wisely. Let’s intentionally set aside those screens and focus our attention on them.

With kids demanding every strand of your attention, how do you enjoy some much-needed ‘me’ time without turning to the screens as a quick-fix?

Trying to ditch the screens.

Screens have become commonplace in the 21st Century and our children are no stranger to them. Nowadays, you can find almost anything on the net from entertainment to information which is why the screens can keep our little ones occupied for hours on end.

For that reason, whenever we need some time to ourselves – be it for work or for some time alone – the screens have become our emergency exit. It’s simple solution after all. If we need to keep the children quiet for a good hour or so, why not whip out the ol’ tablet and put some Paw Patrol on?

The dilemma that most of us parents face in this digital age is whether we should give our children screen time in exchange for some of that coveted ‘me’ time. Screen time has become a hot button-issue in this day and age and we’re bound to feel some degree of guilt whenever we hand our kids some device time. On one hand, we don’t want them to become screen zombies, forever hungry for their next digital dose. However, we do want to keep them quiet and occupied while we carve out some time for ourselves. As with most predicaments though, there is a middle ground to be found.

Meeting in the middle

The reality we parents are probably aware of is that screen time is here to stay. There’s no denying it, so the next time you afford your child some screen time, don’t beat yourself up. It’s just part and parcel of growing up in 2020 and beyond. What you can do is work around it.

Firstly, it’s important to note the recommended screen time durations. According to the World Health Organisation, these are the screen time guidelines parents should follow:

  • 0-2 year olds: no screen time at all
  • 2-5 year olds: 1 hour of screen time a day
  • 5 and above: A little more screen time can be introduced, but moderately. No more than a few hours of screen time a day.

Once you’ve established the duration of screen time your child is allowed, you can then work on the sort of content that he/she is consuming in order to make that time productive. There’s a lot of enriching content that can teach kids new skills or broaden their knowledge – from language learning to kids documentaries. The next time you give your child screen time, instead of switching on another episode for them to stare mindlessly at, choose some educational content for them to enjoy!

Take advantage of your child’s allotted screen time and focus on what you want to do for yourself during that time. Be it a short online yoga session, a bath or a meeting, you can use that time for yourself too! What about the kids though? How am I going to make sure they won’t go overboard and extend their screen time?

The plano app can help you do just that. You can use the plano app to set device times on your child’s phone. For instance, you can schedule no-device times. If you intend to allow your child to use his/her phone from say, 1pm-2pm, you can set no-device times after 2pm. Your child won’t be able to use the phone after that. The app also reminds your child to take a break from the screen every 30 minutes with device break reminders. During this time, your child won’t be able to use his/her device for 1-2 minutes and can take a quick eye break from the screens.

Your ‘me’ time is essential and for your children, screen time is here to stay. You can take advantage of the time that your children are allowed to spend on the screens to do the things that you want to get done. However, it’s critical you set the boundaries straight from the beginning and be aware of the sort of content your children are consuming. That way, you’ll be able to find that balance and moderate screen time while finding time for yourself.

In this digital age, our children are probably exposed to smartphones and social media daily. They may not fully understand and recognise the extent of online dangers, which leaves them vulnerable to cyberbullying on the web.

As much as you are prepared to protect your children from such dangers, they may be reluctant to confide in you even if they are being cyberbullied. They may be afraid that the cyberbullying will worsen if they complain or worried about losing their online privileges, like getting their devices taken away [1]. Hence, rather than risking it all, children might just try to resolve it on their own.

How you can recognise the signs of cyberbullying.

Your child could be a victim of cyberbullying if he/she is [2]:

  • Uneasy about going to school
  • Unexplained anger or frustration after being online
  • Withdrawn from friends and family
  • Suddenly stops using the computer 
  • Nervous or jumpy when receiving a text or email
  • Secretive about what he/she does on the computer

How you can help your child.

Finding out that your child has been cyberbullied is painful for any parent. While you may want to retaliate to protect your child, it would be best to take a step back and make rational efforts to stop the bullying [3].

Start by letting your child know that the cyberbullying was not their fault. Often, they would take the words of the bullies too seriously and be convinced that they are the cause of the problem. Praise your child for choosing to speak up about it and reassure your child that he or she is not alone [4].

If your child is reluctant to discuss and reveal further information, do not reprimand them for that. Instead, try to help them understand that you are here to help and slowly gain their trust to speak up.

Once you’ve understood the whole situation, try to reach out to the school and let them know. Most schools, especially in Singapore, have strict protocols for responding to cyberbullying [5]. The school would be in a better position and authority to reach out to the bully and help your child.

What you can do is to collect screenshots of the conversations, messages and any other evidence that show clear proof that your child was cyberbullied [6]. Keep a record of these incidents to help with the investigation process. Proceed to block off communication with the bully. Refrain from replying to their messages or contacting them directly to aggravate the situation.

Plano is here to help.

The plano app allows you to block certain apps and browsers* that you deem inappropriate or dangerous for your children. You can also schedule and limit their screen time to ensure that they are not spending excessive time on their devices.

While we provide the tools for you to help your children maintain healthy device habits, do remember to educate them on internet safety and cyber etiquette. Let’s help prevent our children from falling victims to cyberbullying or become cyberbullies themselves.

*Only for android users

[1] SCHOLASTIC PARENTS STAFF. (n.d.). 6 Signs Your Child Is Being Cyberbullied—And What to Do About It. Scholastic. Retrieved July 14, 2020, from https://www.scholastic.com/parents/family-life/social-emotional-learning/technology-and-kids/tackle-online-bullies.html
[2] SCHOLASTIC PARENTS STAFF. (n.d.). 6 Signs Your Child Is Being Cyberbullied—And What to Do About It. Scholastic. Retrieved July 14, 2020, from https://www.scholastic.com/parents/family-life/social-emotional-learning/technology-and-kids/tackle-online-bullies.html
[3] Common Sense Media. (n.d.). What should I do if my kid is bullied online? Retrieved July 14, 2020, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/cyberbullying/what-should-i-do-if-my-kid-is-bullied-online
[4] Hirsch, L. (2014, June). Cyberbullying. Nemours KidsHealth. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/cyberbullying.html
[5] Yang, C. (2017, July 22). What can schools do about cyber bullies? The Straits Times. https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/what-can-schools-do-about-cyber-bullies
[6]  Hirsch, L. (2014, June). Cyberbullying. Nemours KidsHealth. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/cyberbullying.html

Research shows that the average person sees as many as 5,000 advertisements a day [1]. Sounds like a lot, right? It makes sense if you think about it; ads are presented to us through many different channels; on the TV, on billboards, in the supermarket, at the shopping mall, and on the Internet.

Smart devices in particular give us access to an endless source of information, available at our fingertips. While this can be super convenient, it poses the question; is this constant access to information having a toll on us? More importantly, how can we prevent it from impacting on our little ones and the generation of the future?

What is information overload?

The term information overload was popularized by author Alvin Toffler in his book Future Shock (1970). It explains why we feel overwhelmed when exposed to too much stimulation. Our brains can only process so much information at a time, so when we are fed too much, we go into overdrive and lose the ability to make decisions.

Information, especially in the form of glossy advertisements, can be like candy to a child’s brain. You’ve probably seen it before; any time a child is given a smart device, they become transfixed and can spend vast amounts of time glued to the things. This makes them highly susceptible to information overload; they are endlessly curious and, at the same time, lack the self-control and ability to switch off.

Spending extended periods of time on their smart devices can cause kids to feel tired, overwhelmed, and unable to concentrate on other tasks. This can impact on their ability to complete homework, get to sleep, and focus in social situations.

This doesn’t sound ideal, huh? So, you must be asking, how do we make sure our kids don’t suffer from information overload?

How to prevent information overload in your kids

Unfortunately, kids don’t come with an instruction guide on how to raise them. And we can’t necessarily ask our parents how to combat this very modern problem. Nonetheless, there are plenty of steps you can take to prevent your kids from being exposed to too much information. Here are three top tips:

1. Block ads

On most search engines, you can install an ad blocker extension to get rid of unwanted ads. This can help reduce Internet clutter and also prevent your kids from clicking on inappropriate sites.

2. Encourage regular breaks

Getting your child to take a break every 30 minutes can help prevent information overload and also take some of the pressure off their eyes. Staring at a screen for too long has been shown to negatively impact eye health, in some cases leading to short-sightedness or myopia. 

etting your child to take a break every 30 minutes can help prevent information overload and also take some of the pressure off their eyes. Staring at a screen for too long has been shown to negatively impact eye health, in some cases leading to short-sightedness or myopia. 

3. Switch off before bed

Browsing the internet too late at night can trick the brain into thinking it’s still daytime. The blue light emitted by screens can also suppress the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. It is recommended to switch off devices at least an hour before bedtime to prevent insomnia. 

A complex problem… with a simple solution.

Parenting can be tough, especially in the rapidly changing, increasingly digitized world of the 21st century. But don’t forget, you’re not on your own! Apps like plano can help make it easier to prevent information overload in your kids.

plano runs in the background of your child’s phone and reminds them to use their device responsibly (e.g. to take a break every half an hour). If your child displays responsible screen behaviour, they are rewarded with points which they can redeem in the plano shop to request fun, device-free activities. This points-reward system helps incentivise your kids to maintain a healthy relationship with their smart device through the use of positive reinforcement. 

Even more, plano’s “blue light filter” function can be used to change the color of your child’s screen so that it emits red and yellow hues rather than the harmful blue light. This helps prevent melatonin suppression to make sure your little ones get to sleep on time!

Teaching your kids how to live in the “Information Age”.

The Internet isn’t all that bad, it’s a wonderfully convenient tool that’s great when used in moderation. It’s not so much about banning the Internet or smart devices completely but making sure our kids develop a healthy relationship with them. It’s the same with junk food; we can give our kids sweets every now and then, but it would be silly to give them reign over a whole candy store!

These three tips can help foster in your child a good relationship with their smart device so that they can avoid information overload and live happy and healthy lives.

References:

[1] Story, L. (2007). Anywhere the Eye Can See, It’s Likely to See an Ad. Retrieved 14 July 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/15/business/media/15everywhere.html

We’ve all heard about ‘screen time’ and with all the talk about reducing screen time, we’ve been conditioned to think of it as something bad. While it’s true that prolonged screen time has been proven to result in some serious consequences such as myopia and even mental health issues, but it’s not all bad!

In fact, screen time is a great way for your little ones to unwind and connect with their peers in today’s digital age. As parents, we can help our kids discern what defines good and bad screen time. By educating them about the right on-screen activities and the appropriate duration they can expend on screen time, you’ll be able to create a positive screen experience for your child.

The good.

Aside from connecting with loved ones who may be miles apart, there are a variety of other ways your children can use the screens productively. There are a ton of eye-opening, educational content that your child can find on the internet. From National Geographic Kids on YouTube to Disney Nature, your child can watch a myriad of insightful, factual shows that teach them about the world they live in. You could even make this into a family activity where the whole household gathers to watch an episode every evening!

Besides shows and edu-series, there are games out there that are dedicated to encouraging critical and creative thinking. Minecraft is a famous one that pushes kids to interact with the spatial digital environment they are in. Not all games are as brainless as we might have been told to think!

So, the next time your child wants to play a game on his/her device, try sitting down with him/her to understand more about the game that he/she is playing. If it’s an educational game that benefits their cognitive skills, then go for it! If it’s a game that involves mindless bashing, you might want to reel back. Once you have made a decision about the productivity of the game, sit down with your little one and let him/her know your thoughts about it.

By directing your child to such positive and productive on-screen activities, screen time becomes engaging for them.

The bad.

For us parents, we’re probably well-acquainted with the bad side of screen time. Endless hours spent laughing at nonsensical videos and pointless scrolling through social media are probably some examples that come to mind. Besides the type of content that your child is exposed to, it’s also about the duration of time they spend on screens. Even spending hours on productive, educational games can be bad if it’s impossible to pull your little one away from them.

Research has shown that spending prolonged periods of time on the screen can lead to mental health issues and vision problems like depression and myopia, respectively. While screen time can be used fruitfully, as the saying goes, ‘too much of a good thing can be bad’. At the end of the day, it’s necessary to manage our children’s screen time no matter what they’re using that time on.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), children under 5 should not be exposed to more than 1 hour of screen time. In fact, those under the age of 2 should not even be allowed any screen time at all. For those of you with older children, it’s possible for you to negotiate with them an agreed duration of screen time throughout the day. In order to help your child better manage his/her screen time, you can consider downloading parental control apps like plano.

Plano helps to monitor your child’s device use and reminds your child to take regular breaks from the screens every 30 minutes. As a parent, you can also use the plano app to schedule no-device times. For instance, if your child is not allowed to use his/her phone during dinner time, you can use the plano app to lock his/her device during those hours.

If your child follows these prompts and reminders in the plano app, he/she can earn points! These points can then be used in the plano Shop* to request for device-free activities.

At the end of the day, we care for all our children. It’s important we help them understand the differences between good and bad screen time and the fine line that separates them. Our screens are here to stay and for our little ones growing up in today’s digitalised world, we need to guide them to maintain a responsible relationship between themselves and their devices. After all, we have the power to control our devices and not the other way around.

*Only available to Singapore plano users.

With the advancement of technology, most of us seem to spend our time online as it is a way to stay connected to the world. Remember when we were children? We used to meet our neighbours to play hide-and-seek around the block or at the playground. Those days are long gone and our kids are now connecting with their friends online instead. While this is how our society has adapted to the digital age, we must also be wary of spending excessive time on the screen.

Why You Should Set An Example

As our children are still developing, excessive screen time can have some damaging consequences to their health. Most notably, it could lead to a progression of myopia, and without early intervention, it may develop into high myopia. Excessive screen time can also cause digital eye strain (DES) and bad posture, which we definitely don’t want our children to suffer from. Hence, we should nip the problem in the bud and teach our children good screen time habits, by setting the right example ourselves.

Imagine taking the device away from your child and he/she sees you still on your phone or computer. This would make them question your good intentions and wonder why you can continue using your device while they can’t. “Do what I say, not as I do” isn’t exactly the most effective parenting method, no matter how we might wish for it to be true.

The reality is that the example you set for your child determines their behaviour growing up, as they learn by observing and imitating people around them. By setting a good example of putting away your device for an eye break, it allows your child to mimic your positive behaviour as well. 

When you start by putting away your device, your child will be more willing to listen to your advice and follow suit. Help them understand the detrimental effects of excessive screen time and patiently explain that you are coming from a place of concern. And since you are taking a break together with your child, you can go out for a walk, bring your child to a playground, or spend time solving puzzles together.

We are here for you!

The plano app helps you to simply schedule your child’s device usage time and eye break reminders. For instance, setting a no-device time during family bonding is a way to engage your child in the activity and encourage conversations. The app will also prompt your child to take a break every 30 minutes for 1-2 minutes, so that they can take their eyes off the screens and give it a rest.

Furthermore, by following the prompts given, your child can accumulate points that can be used to request for rewards in the plano Shop*! We have device-free activities that your child can enjoy at Mega Adventure to the NUSLKC Museum

By rewarding your child for good device use, plano helps tackle device dependency in a fun and encouraging way. You can set the example by also taking an eye break to encourage your child to follow the prompts and earn some points. It’s also a great opportunity to put down your device and engage in some bonding activities with your child today!

*Only available to Singapore plano users.