Categories
Tech and Family

Helping Parents Navigate Screen Time With Their Kids

There is no doubt, technology has helped many families during the pandemic. From connecting friends over video to keeping the kids from going crazy during shorter “remote learning” days.

However, that has led to an increase of screen time and negative impacts.

Screen time has been an issue for parents for years already. For some time already parent resources such as Parent.com have been warning about the dangers of excessive screen time for kids[1]. (There is even an article on how screens are killing the “imaginary friend.”)

If kids 8-18 were spending upwards of 7 hours a day[2] on devices before the pandemic, how much more time are they wasting there now?

What can a parent do? What is a healthy amount of time to spend on devices?

What the experts say

Many health sites, such as MayoClinic.org don’t give suggested limits for how much time kids should spend on devices. However, they do suggest that for kids under the age of two that unstructured play is essential for healthy brain development and that they learn better from live interaction than video.[3]

The reality is that hard and fast rules rarely work and aren’t even fair considering that students are increasingly required to use computers for schoolwork. The key, experts agree, is that parents are involved with their kids and monitoring how much time kids are online and what content they are viewing[4].

Sharing Power

The truth is like most things in life, challenges such as screen time allow parents to interact with their kids in meaningful ways.

For example, the team at the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development teach that helping our kids negotiate helps them develop into healthy adults. Negotiating our needs is a key mark of healthy autonomy as an adult. This is what KPICD calls “sharing power” or “giving voice.”

Here is how it looks for families with screen time.

Let’s say dinner is on the table so you call the kids to get washed up. Immediately junior starts to panic and act out. What is the issue? He has been working for 45 minutes to beat a hard level on his game and is just five minutes from nailing it.

Sharing power means that you can offer him a compromise (or he can request one). What could that look like? Perhaps you ask how much time he needs to complete the level. He says five minutes, and you agree to it knowing that it will likely take a bit longer. This is compromise. It share some of the power of the decision with your child.

Obviously, there are times when a compromise doesn’t work. But the more you work with your child, the easier it will be to say “no” when necessary. The point is that screen time is inevitable, so you might as well take advantage of it to teach your children critical skills for adulthood.

Modelling Good Habits

One of the most powerful ways to change the behavior of children is to model healthy habits. This means that parents need to turn off the phone as well. Some key times would be:

  1. During meals
  2. 1 hour before bedtime
  3. During family time
  4. While driving

You can’t expect your child to adopt behavior if you don’t model it.

Also, if you take away something from your child that is enjoyable, maybe even a way to cope with stress, you need to replace it with something. The reason video games and screens are so addictive is that they tap into the reward centre of the brain, releasing the hormone dopamine when something amazing happens, or a level is complete[5].

Do you remember how hard it was to wean your toddler of her soother? If our kids are truly addicted to their screens (a distinct possibility), then we need to wean them off as well.

Activities that build relationships are powerful antidotes to screen time. So, go for walks. Play ball outside. Go for a swim. Or play board games. Just don’t opt to watch yet another movie together because it’s easier than engaging. The key to countering something like screens is to give a child what they were created to enjoy, attachment to their caregiver.

It might seem strange for a computer store to post a blog on healthy parenting, but the truth is we value family. We want your family to be strong so that our community can be strong.

This summer, determine that you won’t allow screens to become the default for your kids. Plan ahead to make sure you don’t take the path of least resistance in parenting. Your kids will be better for it!

[1] https://www.parents.com/search/?q=screen+time

[2] https://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/health/parents-need-to-dramatically-cut-kids-screen-time-say-health-experts/

[3] https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/screen-time/art-20047952

[4][4] https://www.todaysparent.com/kids/tween-and-teen/screen-time-guidelines-canadian-paediatric-society/

[5] https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/are-video-games-and-screens-another-addiction

 

Categories
Tech Trends

Three Tech Trends In 2021 Small Businesses Need To Watch

It goes without saying that 2020 was the year of the remote office. This presented great challenges to many businesses, but where a challenge arises, innovation can occur.

Some companies were uniquely poised to thrive in the pandemic conditions. For example, the video-conferencing platform, Zoom, saw sales soar 326% to $2.6bn in 2020.[1] Social media became even more central as a way to connect individuals and market products. And on the corporate side artificial intelligence, online HR, and automation became even more essential.

These trends will continue in 2021, not only because the pandemic is still continuing but because companies have recognized significant advantages to working remotely. (For two simple examples consider the money that was saved by lowering the overhead of offices when staff started working from home, or the potential savings when conferences and training events went online making them far more affordable for the average person.)

What follows are three interesting trends that small businesses need to watch as the year progresses.

1 – AI-Powered Everything

Artificial intelligence became a key player in 2020. The speed at with the COVID-19 vaccines were developed was thanks in part to AI which was able to mine volumes of data to predict certain viral developments. Currently AI is now being used to aid with the vaccine roll-out.

Interestingly, according to Forbes.com at Silicon Valley’s Synopsys Science Fair in 2020, 31% of all winning software projects used AI. Impressively, 27% of those AI’s were built by grade 6-8 students![2]

There are applications for small businesses as well. Keap’s CRM employs AI to help businesses qualify leads and automate campaigns. These are critical time-savers, as the customer life cycle continues to change and develop.

Advanced language learning has also helped businesses by providing more intuitive experiences with chatbots. Chatbots are gaining massive popularity and are popping up on every kind of website. The power of the chatbot is that they are on-call 24/7 and can provide effective help when the customer needs.

2 – Automation

One of the growing needs of small businesses is automation. The more menial tasks can be automated the more efficient a business becomes. It isn’t just about saving time, but the energy it takes to switch from one activity to another. Research has shown that your brain can make a finite number of decisions each day. Decision fatigue is a growing topic among productivity experts who encourage you to put your most important tasks at the start of your day. (Incidentally, this is why Steve Jobs wore essentially the same thing each day; he wanted to save his energy for more important decision.)

This is why the more you can automate your business, the better your business will do because you, and your staff, will be able to focus on what makes the business successful.

For example, when you collect new leads through social media, you shouldn’t have to send introductory emails; those should be automated. Time-tracking for projects can be automated. Invoicing can be automated. Weekly reminders to staff can be automated. Abandoned online shopping carts can have an automatic messages sent to customers in an attempt to regain the sale.

Email automation has been an essential feature in most email marketing services such as MailChimp and MailerLite, but with advances in platforms such as Zapier and Integromat, just about every conceivable task can be automated or optimized for efficiency through automation with low or no-coding required!

For the serious small business owner, automation is essential to understand and employ!

3 – Cybersecurity

Platforms like Zoom aren’t the only ones taking advantage of increased online presence. With the increase of online activities and particularly with the essential rise of video conferencing and cloud-based storage solutions, cybersecurity has never been more important.

On a user-level, businesses need to make sure their employees understand how to create and maintain secure passwords and keep their smart devices secure. At the enterprise level, customer data, confidential internal communications, company data, and websites all need to be protected.

If you are concerned about the cyber security of your company, give eBytes a call. They can assess your level of security and offer solutions to shore up holes in your defences.

2020 was an unusual and challenging year, but there really were some fascinating advances made in tech; ones which will have benefits in 2021 and beyond!


[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/business-56247489

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/nishatalagala/2021/03/15/artificial-intelligence-in-2021-five-trends-you-may-or-may-not-expect/?sh=7e9d5fdb5677