The glitz and glam of awards season is upon us. The 2017 Oscar nominations are full of family-friendly films, and celebrities who usually become popular for how they look. But some might say stars have an extra responsibility to show their fans how to change the world. This diverse group of role models is great for kids and teens who want their celebs to stand for something. Kids can visit the websites of their favorite stars to see how they’re giving back to the community and follow in their footsteps, or they may simply get inspired to explore local volunteer options.
And, remember, kids aren’t just passively consuming celebrity culture. Check out these kid YouTube stars who are creating their own media and fanbase.
Let’s be clear: No one needs a robot. Or a rubber ducky that puts your baby to sleep. But it might be nice to have a gadget do your parenting work for you once in a while — especially after a long day. Now, with hundreds of new tech tools hitting the market, you can. But should you?
With WiFi, apps, GPS, speech recognition, movement tracking, and more, these new gizmos are programmed to interact with your kids, entertain them, and keep them healthy. For most parents, the idea of a device taking the parenting reins ranges from “over-my-dead body” to “I’ll take two.” Certainly research shows that warm interactions with a loving caregiver are best for children’s development. But just for fun, we consider who (or what) is better able to handle these parenting chores:
- Getting Kids to Sleep?
- Entertaining Kids?
- Keeping Track of Kids’ Locations?
- Keeping Kids Healthy?
- Being Your Kid’s Friend?
Find out who wins when it comes to parenting chores – Man or Machine?
If you get your news online or from social media, this type of headline sounds very familiar. What’s real? What’s fake? What’s satire? Now that anyone with access to a phone or computer can publish information online, it’s getting harder to tell. But as more people go to Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and other online sources for their news and information, it’s even more crucial that all of us — especially kids — learn to decode what we read online.
Google and Facebook are starting to actively crack down on publishers of false or misleading news. But ad-supported networks are in somewhat of a bind, since they get money when users click on these stories — so the crazier the headline, the more money they make. Most kids and teens get their news from their feeds, so they need to learn how to view stories critically (and they should learn that skill anyway!). Even little kids can start to think about some key media-literacy questions. And as kids get older, parents can help kids become more sophisticated critical thinkers. Please click here to find the tips to share with both young and older kids to help them spot fake news.
As we are all trying to move forward from the vitriolic comments from the election, we hope this holiday season all families can start with a simple pledge! Put your devices away at the table! Families everywhere are pledging to put down their devices at the table. Why? The holidays are all about connecting with each other, not devices. Whether you’re going to dinner at Grandma’s or teaching the kids an old (or new) family recipe, those special moments deserve to be treasured. Take the #DeviceFreeDinner
Twitter: Keep holiday celebrations focused on family, not phones. Create memorable moments w/#DeviceFreeDinner! Free tips: http://comsen.se/2fC7RUK
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to be together. This year, take the #DeviceFreeDinner challenge with the whole family, and focus on what you’re really thankful for: each other. http://comsen.se/
Serving certain age groups seems to be a no-brainer for TV studios. There are social-emotional skill-builders for preschoolers, literacy-
However, a new trend toward smart, funny, quality programming for tweens is changing the equation. Shows with over-the-top acting and less-than-positive messages are beginning to share the schedule with programs offering tweens enough of an edge to make them feel a little more grown-up, along with lessons on character that use subtlety to make a point and role models you’ll be happy to see them emulate. Check out these cool new picks like Milo Murphy’s Law and Legendary Dudas and see the rest of list here.
If you want to monitor the amount of violence your kids see playing video games, curate what they play. The truth is, the majority of the hyper-realistic, hyper-popular games are really best left to mature players. But instead of saying “no” all the time, Common Sense thinks you’ll be more successful if you say “wait” and offer kids alternatives in the same genre, that are more age-appropriate. Click here for our just released list of the 10 Most Violent Video Games of 2016 (And What to Play Instead), and check out our list of non-violent games for kids of all ages.
And, for tweens and teens who have constant access to devices, they can stumble across actual scenes of real-life violence in their social media and news feeds. But just because we have 24/7 access to news doesn’t mean we have to let our kids witness everything from war to street violence. Check out How to Handle Violent Videos at Your Kid’s Fingertips< for practical ways to help children make informed decisions about their social media feeds — and help put things in perspective for them when they do scroll by those violent videos and images.
November 8, Election Day, is almost upon us. It’s been impossible to avoid the barrage of sound bites pulled from contentious presidential debates and stump speeches. And, as our kids learn about the political process, it’s critical we give them context and perspective around the latest campaign trail gaffe or candidate counterattack. Common Sense’s 17 Tips to Steer Kids of All Ages Through the Political Season offers advice for helping your kids become media-savvy participants in democracy. And, it will take you less than one minute to check out this advice video highlighting 5 Things to Tell Your Kids About the Election.
Have you been wondering about Virtual Reality games and if you should introduce this “new” gear to your kids, but you have no idea where to start? Don’t worry. From Google’s inexpensive Cardboard VR viewer to Sony’s new PlayStation VR, this guide will help you figure out what makes sense for your family’s interests, needs, and budget. Here are your options if you want to dip your toe in the water, wade knee-deep, or really swim with the VR big fish. Keep in mind, virtual reality is a quickly changing technology, so always check out the companies’ websites and user reviews before you take the leap.
The best option for families with young kids are the virtual reality viewers. Virtual reality viewers are inexpensive, handheld devices that offer three-dimensional views and the feeling of being in a different place. The viewers’ lenses work by extending the depth of static images or animation but do not allow you to interact with your environment. To use them, download any app labeled “VR” in either iTunes or Google Play, launch the app, and insert your smartphone into the viewer. Click here to learn more about all the options for VR that may work for you and your family.
At Hamlin, digital citizenship is interwoven into the social emotional learning components of our program.
In K-4, teachers offer a digital citizenship lesson once a month as a part of Toolbox. In 5th and 6th grade, Ms. Beck and Ms. Davis team up to regularly deliver digital citizenship classes, and in the 7th and 8th grades, advisory teachers check in with their students and teach digital citizenship during advisory time at least once a month.
At home this week, we ask that you consider taking the Device Free Dinner Challenge! Having family dinners together, without your devices, helps model what a healthy relationship to technology looks like. It also gives the benefit of making deeper connections with your child(ren) and is correlated to better nutrition, better academic performance, and fewer behavioral problems.