Purposeful Ideas | F A M I L Y ~ F U N

 

TV and video games are the go-to for my kids, and a good majority of others, when they need some downtime. But they aren’t relaxed when it’s time to power off. Why are they still wound up? ~I know mine aren’t the only ones.~

It’s hard to admit, yet the same thing happens to me. ‘But I’m not gaming.’ (I confidently tell myself.) My screen time is focused on “real-life productivity,” or at least most of it. (My pride deflates. This isn’t actually true. Anyways…) Gaming, social media, whatever it is, most of us like to check out with electronics. Self-control and time management are much needed skills…for all of us.

Just how important is this? Well, here’s what I found. Research has revealed a strong comparison between excessive video gaming and drug addiction. What!? I know! That sounds ridiculous. But you should read up on it. This is one of many articles that explains. http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/features/video-game-addiction-no-fun My gosh, that’s crazy, right?

In addition to ‘preventing addiction’ (as if that weren’t enough), there are a lot of other reasons to make boundaries with screens in our homes. If you’ve been reading the blog, you know my thoughts on digital roaming, — it’s one of the biggest reasons for us.

I’ve decided to seek after some purpose-filled tech-y activities for my family, alternatives to gaming. My kids are getting older (I have tweens now!!), and the options are growing with them. We are constantly moving forward, trying to figure out each new stage. Below is a compilation of ideas that I’ve discovered, and I want to find more! We’re going to attempt one of these this next week, or if I’m lucky, a few. If you have anything to add, I’d love to hear about it! Please share with us in the comments below or http://www.wethriveonline@gmail.com

Even while we explore new ideas, I’ll still try my best to be excited when our kids unlock new levels or accomplish something so totally irrelevant to real life on their screens. That is, after all, just one easy way to connect with them. 🙂

Tech-y Alternatives to Gaming

(Disclaimer: The links below may not be a good fit for every home. Be sure to preview them first.)

~Find something to celebrate every day. Explore holidays around the world, fun facts, etc.Some ideas can be found here. http://www.familyeducation.com/fun/calendars/2016-interactive-fun-facts-calendar

~Science projects, art projects, STEM projects! (There are so many sites!)

~RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) Find some online or just make up your own.

~Solvemysteries.http://kids.mysterynet.com/solveit/

~Photos – Make a book, edit pictures, or enter a photo contest. Learn new photography skills. Choose a theme and set some photography goals. (holiday decorations, favorite things in my neighborhood, my family, my favorite hobby, “me”, etc.)

Take on a Minecraft challenge WITH your kids! This book has awesome ideas. You can learn more about what they’re doing and also engage alongside them with the different activities. I love this book because it helps us meet our kids at their level.https://books.google.com/books/about/Unofficial_Minecraft_Lab_for_Kids.html?id=IWkzDAAAQBAJ&source=kp_cover&hl=en~

~Go on virtual field trips with Google Earth or other sites. This is one that I’ll need to research some sites for.

~Become globally aware. (I’m always telling my kids about current events in the world, but what if we did the research together? What if they learned about these things themselves? I wonder what kind of solutions they might come up with for humanitarian issues and needs, both worldwide and in our local community.) Here are a few sites I’m going to check out.

http://exploraworld.org/globally-aware/

http://asiasociety.org/mapping-nation/toolkit

https://www.commonsense.org/education/blog/3-creative-ways-to-teach-global-awareness

~Produce and edit stop motion videos and family movies. (iMovie, Voki, Animato, etc.)

~Make a family blog.

~Learn to type (on a real keyboard).

~Recipe search and learn to cook.

~For kids who like to write or create: Use photos or silly prompts to write short stories. Exchange the stories with friends, kids in the neighborhood, or by email. Everyone can add to them. Or, instead of writing, do this with a drawing or art project.

~Learn a new skill, or improve one that interests you. (Typography, fitness, drawing, painting, instruments, etc. When filtered, videos on youtube can be amazing for DIY learning.)

~There are some more greateducational ideas on these sites.

http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech/tech146.shtml

https://sites.google.com/site/anchortechnologytomorrow/50-more-ways

~Other interesting sites to explore for projects:

https://iearn.org/cc/space-2

http://www.gamesforchange.org/play/

http://www.instructables.com(They have online classes too.)

https://makezine.com

Modern Day Characters

Extraordinary lives make beautiful gifts for teaching. Lately, we’ve been learning a lot from the examples of two in particular, and my family has had some interesting conversations. Just turn on the tv…or don’t. — It wouldn’t necessarily make a difference. You hear people talking about them everywhere, our presidential candidates. I don’t remember it being so intense when I was young, but election interest seems to be on the rise with kids these days.

Anyway…

While November voting is fast approaching, something else calls for attention with the two candidates, regardless of who wins. Digital recordings have ball-and-chained each of them to negative actions from their pasts. Their choices have have been recorded, and accountability is pressing. It’s a perfect example of modern day character and consequence, and digital awareness.

I waiver upon airing the debates in my home. The behavior between grown-ups is hard to explain to my kids, and it’s embarrassing. Among the most innocent of it, why do they always interrupt each other? We’ve watched as the character of two potential presidents has been cross-examined by choices from their past. Digital trails have fossilized their past mistakes, and they are traceable, regardless of time. These are the kinds of examples that can segway to incredible conversation in our homes. Digital history is lasting for everyone, and it can be reviewed years from now. Whatever we do and say online leaves a trail.

So, I’m choosing to be thankful for the example of these modern day characters. I’m thankful because they’re leading me toward great conversation with my kids. Along with digital permanence, here’s a short list of what we’ve been talking about. I wonder what else I could add. Any ideas?

Character matters most when you think no one is watching.

Social Media spreads things like wild fire. Be careful what you post.

Live life like you’re being recorded. You never know who’s watching.

Being sneaky never leads to good things.

Who you are matters more to others than what you do.

Money can’t buy you everything.

Pride surely comes before a fall. Humility is honorable.

Disengaged Together | A Family Crisis

Have you heard about “lifeguard parenting”? It’s when parents rescue their kids in emergencies, but aim to support independence. They give freedom, but they stay close by and aware. Technology freedom and parenting meet here.

 

Screen time, tech, networking – whatever you call it – the digital world has captivated our attention and our lives. Is it ok? I mean, is it ok to use a screen for almost everything? Do we even have a choice? Time management is hard enough for myself, but as a parent — juggling it for my kids too, it’s a lot of work. This has been one of the greatest challenges for me and Dave. Setting boundaries and sticking to them wears us out. BUT it’s worth it! Every day, every exhausted evening, every prayer…it’s all worth it to us. Let me tell you why.

With just a few clicks, our family can totally disengage from one another, even while sharing the same room. Each of us finds a connection somewhere else. And without boundaries, these connections could easily dull our relationships. What are these new connections, and why are we all so mesmerized?

The digital path leads us places, takes us anywhere we want to go…literally. So we have to ask, “Do we know where our kids are? Do we know what they’re doing?”— even when we sit side by side.That is why we push forward. That’s why the issue of limitations matters to us and why we make an effort for technology boundaries in our home. We are just at the beginning of this process, learning by trial and error. But we believe it is incredibly worthwhile.

I ask myself, how can we monitor all of this…seriously, how? Can we just not have electronics around anymore? Could it really be so easy? I don’t think so. Technology is a growing part of our world and everything we do. It’s even a key component for public school instruction. So, it seems we should all agree on this. Our children need to know the circumference of digital freedoms, that good and ugly exists — before they’re independent users. We can’t defend the digital world as a simple realm anymore…It isn’t. — I’m not saying that kids need details. That could be disastrous. I’m saying, if we let our kids roam, they better have safety gear and survival skills for wherever they’re headed.

How can I talk to my kids without scaring them? I don’t want to say too much or too little. Where’s the line that defines ‘over-protective’ and ‘under-protective’? It seems so different for everyone. I need confidence and a positive approach, so I am ready to lead my kids toward good things. I want any fear that I have to sharpen me. I remind myself that boundaries are stepping stones, not walls. Enforcing rules and protecting our kids is not mean. I have to remember my heart for these little people and our purpose with boundaries. Freedom is meant to be good.

Have you heard about “lifeguard parenting?” (Who’s coming up with these terms anyway?) I like this new label. Different from a helicopter parent, the ‘lifeguard parent’ rescues their kids in emergencies, but supports their independence. They give freedom, but they stay close by, and they stay aware. As my kids get older, I want them to know – with certainty – that they are not alone…yet they are becoming strong and independent decision makers. As they reach out, I want to be tuned in enough to warn them when waters become dangerous and help them find safety. We have to pay attention with diligence. Would a lifeguard on duty look away from the station?

In each of our homes, whatever lifestyle we choose, let’s try the best we can to lead our children toward a strong foundation with technology. It will be worth it!

 

Technology <> A License to Drive

Driver’s training. There were three of us, then 16-year-old kids, who positively tell a similar story. Sharing a brief 5 hours together that week, we learned the road rules somewhere between a long loop of Elvis music on Oldies radio and our instructor’s take on Karaeoke. He was definitely a big fan and excited to tune in for the Elvis birthday broadcast. I don’t remember much else about the experience, not learning to parallel park, or even where we went. For me, the class was a mere requirement to get a driver’s license. — Like most baby drivers, I thought my driving knowledge was adequate already. I just needed to get a paper so I could legally steer the wheel.

Fast forward two decades, and a driver’s license is now one of the last desired freedoms for kids. Many have known independence as early as preschool age, when they began “driving” on digital roads and surfing the web. They have a strong understanding of how technology works, and their experience easily befuddles the idea that a click of their fingers could suddenly lead to danger. They may ask ‘why all the fuss’ when a parent tries to shield them from new threats. It makes sense.

We didn’t share details of internet danger with our kids when they first learned to use computers. We just removed the web from their devices and only downloaded the 4+ games. I mean, who tells their kids about such things as cyberbullying and sextortion when they’re only 5?! How do you have a conversation like that?

I can’t even believe it, but our oldest is now in junior high! He’s at an age of which social media and digital communication are essential elements for connection. He craves autonomy, and we know it is important for his growth. Kids need guidance with these things before they “leave the nest.” But it’s so scary! Digital freedom can lead to a web of darkness.

Here’s the concern, as I’m sure many parents can relate. How do we effectively communicate digital safety to our kids…to reach their hearts? The key to real digital freedom is having a heart’s desire to thrive, and this can’t be forced. No one can convince the heart of another person. Our approach in talking about internet threats needs to be power-packed and positive. If the focus of our conversations is primarily on the darkness, resentment and rebellion have breeding ground, just as much as if we were to withhold freedom altogether. It’s such a tricky endeavor.

Technology is at the core of our culture. It is the primary form of communication and productivity for most jobs and social settings, and it’s not something to avoid. As summer approaches, kids all over the world will have more time to use their devices. Electronics will be a tool for many outlets, both positive and negative. The time is opportune to discuss digital safety with our kids, to guide them with electronics, to support their growth as digital citizens.

I recently discovered this site, http://www.kidsmart.org.uk. It is a great resource to start discussions and overview content. And as the web is constantly changing, so are resources and concerns. The conversation is ongoing. The goal is to listen with our hearts, not for the sake of independence, but to gain true freedom. The path is what matters.

What inspires you to be digitally safe? Is your heart longing to thrive?

Internet Safety | A Heart to Thrive

Internet freedom boosts knowledge, broadens communication, ignites collaboration, and so much more. But it also opens lines for hidden rebellion. And each of us face an active battlefield here, whether we like it or not.

This battlefield, the “digital world,” is a place where technology users from multiple generations spend time together every day.

People of all ages are engaging in a spectrum of activities online, and the ability to monitor their actions is limited. Kids and adults are exposed to an array of content, and we know it’s not all good. There’s a ton of things that can go wrong, and they do. I don’t mean to be pessimistic, but as a mother of 3, this is my greatest concern today.

What happens when exposure precedes physiological maturity? Without barred windows, or chain locks, dangerous activity isn’t forewarned. Digital communities look very alike, and sometimes we can’t see what lurks around a corner. Our devices, seemingly safe and intact, offer measureless possibilities that leave us hugely vulnerable.

Digital awareness matters for everyone. Children and adults share equal freedoms online. And when electronic independence is given at a young age, awareness is necessary very early on. The power to choose a safe digital path has become an essential skill to train. Even with pursuits for safeguarding, a heart yearning to thrive is the only anchor.

Screens are everywhere, and limitations vary from place to place. This is why true boundaries must focus on free will. Individual choices are what ultimately determine each person’s electronic route. So, emotionally, psychologically, and even physically, every technology user needs a decisive plan for survival.

We have power to to thrive, and it begins with our choices. Wethriveonline.com is the start of my course. I want to thrive, don’t you?