Parents, don’t be alarmed if your optometrist says your child needs an eye patch. You might have questioned why your little one needs to even wear one, but rest assured, it’s just a necessary procedure to treat amblyopia.

What’s there to cover?

Amblyopia, or more commonly known as ‘lazy eye’, is the most common reason why children wear an eye patch. In order for children to see clearly, both eyes must function well together. When your child has amblyopia, it means that one eye doesn’t see as well as the other. This can cause your child’s brain to process images and sights a little blurry. If left untreated, your child’s vision in that eye may be lost permanently.

To train the weaker eye, your optometrist will usually place an eye patch over the ‘good’ eye. This is done to train and strengthen the weaker eye to see clearly. You can think of it as a workout for the other eye.

So how can we parents help?

Using an eyepatch to treat amblyopia is one of the most effective methods of treating the condition. However, it can be unnerving for children to cover one side of their eyes, especially their ‘good’ eye. When that happens, you’ll find your child itching to peel the eye patch off or complaining incessantly. Here are some tips that can help make eye patching a less anxious process for your child:

1. Get all the information you need from your optometrist

First things first, check with your child’s optometrist how long he/she would need to wear the eye patch. In some circumstances, children are only supposed to wear the eye patch for a few hours each day. This could be a huge relief for your little one who hates the discomfort of wearing an eye patch for extended periods of time. Also, for most patches, your child only has to wear it when he/she is awake. There’s no need to go to sleep with it so your child can sleep comfortably!

2. Focus your child’s attention on other projects during patch time

Try to keep your child busy while he/she is wearing the patch to get their mind off of it. You could perhaps organise an arts and crafts project, a day out at the park, or even a little board game activity together!

3. Check in with your optometrist regularly

It’s important to schedule regular check ups with your optometrist to examine the progress of your child’s eyes. Your optometrist will be able to report on your child’s vision health development, whether there’s a need to continue patching, and if so, how long more.

Our children’s eyes are important to the overall development of their health. If your child has amblyopia or other vision issues, it’s necessary that you follow up with your optometrist has soon as possible to determine and treat the problem. You can book a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist near you today at planoeyecheck.com* to monitor and examine your child’s visual health.

*only available in Singapore

We all love a good hearty meal, and even more when we’re eating it with the company that matters most. But it can all take a sour turn when uninvited guests join the table – our phones.

Living on a digital diet

Be it breakfast, lunch or dinner, the phone always somehow makes its way to the dining table. Like a reflex action, the moment our children sit down at the dinner table, they immediately whip out their phones and start uploading their whereabouts on Instagram. Then, the messages come flooding in and they spend majority of the evening glued to the screen. Nowadays, we’re unfazed when we notice children using their phones while eating with their family.

“It’s normal for kids these days,” we say to ourselves. However, it shouldn’t be.

Meal times are usually the only times we have to spend together as a family and screen time shouldn’t get in the way of that. In fact, during a 2018 study, researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) have found that using your phone at the dining table can one feel less socially engaged and more distracted [1]. In that same study, it was found that when 300 people were tasked to go for a dinner with their families or friends, they ended up using their phones for an average of 11% of the meal. Imagine spending 11% of your precious family meal time staring at a screen instead of bonding with the people you love.

Stop their hunger for the screens

If your children are constantly staring at the screen during a meal, it’s time you pull the plug on those devices and start setting some ground rules:

1. All devices off the table

According to the above 2018 study from UBC, the researchers found that phone use is infectious. They mentioned that people are more likely to use their phones at the table if they see others doing so too.

Parents, if you’re guilty of using your phones at the dining table, it’s high time you toss those phones away because you might be influencing junior to do the same. Make it a rule in your household to set the phones aside during all meal times to prevent yourself and your children from being tempted to use their phones at the table. That way, you can all enjoy some quality time together over a sumptuous meal without being distracted by every ping and ring.

2. Create conversations that centre around your children

Sometimes, the reason why your children zone out during meal times and end up on social media is because they’re not involved in the conversations over dinner. Go beyond the usual “how was your day?” and “what do you think of the food?” questions. Really use this time to get to know your children and dig a little deeper about them. Depending on your child’s age, the way you speak to them will elicit different responses. Here’s some pointers on how to speak to your kids based on their age:

Preschoolers:

Ask specific questions about their day. For example, you could ask, “What did you like better today at school? Play time or snack time?” or “Did you play with your friends today? What did you guys play?” Such questions help your preschooler focus their attention on one specific subject which will help them zone in on one anecdote to share with you.

Elementary school kids:

As your children begin elementary school, their lives will be mostly centered on their schooling days. Thus, it’s important for you to get to know their curriculum closely, that way you’ll know what your child is talking about when they’re telling you about their day. You could start by asking them how they felt about a particular teacher’s class, or if they have any interest in specific extra curriculars.

Kids at this age will also understand a lot more about your daily routines so feel free to pop in a few of your own anecdotes and share about your day.

Teenagers:

Ah, adolescence, a time when your kids are trying to figure out who they want to be. It’s also a time when your kids tend to be a little more closed-off than when they were smaller. During this period, it’s important to listen more than speak. It’s important to reassure your teen that you’re always there to listen to them and that you’re there supporting them. Over the dining table, you could ask your teen if anything cool or interesting happened that day, or about their dreams for the future. Keep an open mind and try to stay as neutral as possible. That way, your teen won’t feel like he/she is being judged and would feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings with you.

3. Use parental control apps 

If your child just can’t seem to go without his/her phone even at the dinner table, consider using parental control apps like plano to help you. You can 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. That way, your child will be able to focus on family time over a meal instead of the screens.

Making the most of all our time.

There’s never enough time for any of us and that’s why it’s important to seize every opportunity available to spend time with our loved ones. As our children grow older, it’s important we help them balance this time and understand the importance of managing their screen time. Some day, they’ll have families of their own and we’d want them to spend that precious time with their own families as well. And in that time, those devices can wait.

References
[1] Dwyer, R., Kushlev, K., & Dunn, E. (2018). Smartphone use undermines enjoyment of face-to-face social interactions. Journal Of Experimental Social Psychology78, 233-239. doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2017.10.007

Ever caught your child using their phones in bed after you’ve switched off the lights? We understand that staying in touch with their friends is important but staying up all night to text just won’t cut it. By spending their nights on their phones instead of sleeping, it could affect their health, grades and social life [1]. It might be time for you to help your child manage their device usage at night and ensure that it doesn’t interfere with their sleep.

Why you shouldn’t use your phone before bedtime.

Almost all of our devices emit a large amount of blue light, a type of light in the blue segment of the color spectrum that mimics daylight. By using your devices at night, you are tricking your body into thinking that it is day time and it keeps you awake. The exposure to blue light thus disrupts your internal body clock and rhythm.

Additionally, checking your phone stimulates your brain to keep you awake and active, hence prolonging your sleep. In this digital era, we feel the need to always be connected and available, giving rise to our compulsion to check our social feeds, emails, or any notifications that pop up almost immediately. Your mind can stay engaged long after you’ve put down your phone [2], making it much harder to fall asleep.

For children, this could result in being less attentive in the day as they may be tired and agitated from the lack of sleep. This could in turn affect their performance in school and their relationships with family and friends. So how can you ensure that your child is getting enough rest? We have some tips for you to try out.

4 ways to encourage a no-device pre-bedtime routine with your child

1. Set a schedule

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that you should put away your phone at least 30 minutes before bedtime [3]. You can easily limit your child’s device usage before bedtime by downloading the plano app. Set a daily schedule on your child’s device and you no longer have to constantly check on them after the lights are off. 

2. Read a book together

Hop into bed and read a book together. This helps your child to be distracted from their devices and not reach out for it right before bedtime. Establishing a good bedtime routine with relaxing activities, instead of devices that stimulate the brain to be active, can help your child fall asleep faster and ensure they get an ample amount of sleep.

3. Low Light Detection

The plano app is designed to be able to detect when your child is using their phones in the dark or in dim lighting. It will prompt your child to find better lighting or they will not be able to continue using it. This can encourage your child to put away their devices when the lights are out and go to sleep instead.

4. Limit your Wi-Fi

Most routers have parental control features that allow you to schedule the Wi-Fi access time limits. By switching off the Wi-Fi at night, it would discourage your child from using their phones and browsing the internet. With limited accessible functions on their phones, they would soon be bored of it and decide to go to sleep.

Start by explaining to your little ones the ramifications of using their devices before bedtime and encourage them to put their devices away and head to bed. You can always turn to parental control apps like plano to make it easier for you to get your child to bed. Try these tips and discover how much sleep can improve your child’s day!

References
[1] Preston, E. (2016, March 14). How to keep your kids away from their phones at night. TrackMyFone. https://www.trackmyfone.com/blog/how-to-keep-your-kids-away-from-their-phones-at-night/
[2] Cleveland Clinic. (2019, April 22). Put the Phone Away! 3 Reasons Why Looking at It Before Bed Is a Bad Habit. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/put-the-phone-away-3-reasons-why-looking-at-it-before-bed-is-a-bad-habit/
[3] SCL Health. (n.d.). Why It’s Time to Ditch the Phone Before Bed. Retrieved July 23, 2020, from https://www.sclhealth.org/blog/2019/09/why-it-is-time-to-ditch-the-phone-before-bed/#:%7E:text=Stop%20using%20electronic%20devices%2030,least%2030%20minutes%20before%20bedtime.

Have you ever experienced eye twitching? It could mean more than a muscle spasm.

Why does my eye twitch?

Medically known as ‘myokymia’, some of us may have experienced eye twitching and it’s when our eyes suddenly go into a spasm for reasons beyond our comprehension. It usually goes away after awhile, but it can be annoying. At worst, it can persist for days. Usually, our eyes twitch because they are tired and this can be caused by too much stress, eye strain and fatigue, dry eyes and allergies.

The most common cause of eye twitching is stress and eye strain, especially when we spend a prolonged duration of time staring at our digital screens with no periods of rest in between. As a result, though you might not feel it, your eyes are under the weight of a lot of stress which causes them to twitch. When this happens, it’s your eye’s way of telling you to take an eye break, fast! During this time, it’s important to look away from your screen, close your eyes for a minute or two, and simply breathe.

Dry eyes are another common source of myokymia. When we stare at the screen for excessive periods of time, our blink rate actually decreases. Our eyes aren’t lubricated enough which results in dry eyes. When this happens, your eyes can sometimes twitch as a natural response to the lack of moisture therefore, it’s important for you to grab some eye drops and restore moisture in your eyes.

If you have allergies, it’s necessary for you to take note of the cause of them. Eye allergies can show very serious symptoms such as redness, swelling, and eye twitching and sometimes, all at once. Over-the-counter eyedrops do help alleviate these symptoms, but it’s important to consult an eye doctor for a proper prescription to prevent them.

When it’s time to see an eye doctor

Eye twitching doesn’t just occur in adults, it can occur in children too. For our children growing up in the digital age, their eyes will be the first to experience the consequences of excessive screen time – think myopia, digital eye strain, and yes, eye twitching!

With their young eyes being so vulnerable to these symptoms, it’s important to get their eyes checked annually. As a parent, you can book a comprehensive eye check at your nearest optometrist for your child at planoeyecheck.com*!

As our children’s eyes are still developing, it’s important we safeguard them and prevent any eye health problems from arising. After all, as parents, we want them to grow up free of any health and vision problems.

*Only available in Singapore. Plano eyecheck is a booking platform with partnerships with W Optics, Nanyang Optical, Videre Eyecare and Optic Point. You can choose from a wide range of outlets located all across Singapore to book your child’s next eye exam at a convenient location near you at any time.

Having a good night’s rest is sure to guarantee an even better day, but rarely do we manage to enjoy one nowadays. That’s because of the one thing we can’t seem to go about our days (and nights) without – our phones.

One notification before bed and suddenly you’re up all night

Nowadays, everyone has a smartphone, including our children. For all of us, we can’t shake off the feeling to check our phones every time a notification pops up or when we’re given some gaps of free time. In the day, we might use them for work purposes. After 6 however, our phones turn into sources of entertainment that keep us up all night and that’s where some of our sleep problems begin.

For our children especially, sleep is extremely important for their growth. So, when they spend hours on screens before bedtime, it can affect their quality of sleep and their overall health. In fact, a new study has shown that using phones before bedtime results in poorer quality of sleep in children between the ages of 6 to 19 [1].

What gives, though?

The first reason being that blue light that is emitted from the screens. Blue light is found in our smartphones, tablets, laptops, and almost every digital device you can think of. What’s bad about blue light is that it can interfere with our sleep patterns. Not setting the screens aside before bed can therefore compromise the quality of sleep our children enjoy.

Another reason is because of the overload of information which keeps your mind psychologically engaged. Social media provides us with hundreds upon thousands of information in mere minutes and when our children are exposed to them, it stimulates the brain which causes it to be more active and awake. It then delays NREM sleep (that deep quality sleep we all need) [2], and can leave them staring at the ceiling for hours before finally falling into slumber.

With this knowledge of course we’d want to keep the screens away from our kids before bedtime, but how? Where do we start?

Keeping the screens aside

If you want to keep the screens aside, start by scheduling some downtime. In order for our bodies to prepare for a good night’s rest, both the mind and body need to relax. Our children may insist on using his/her phones up until they have to brush their teeth, but that’s a little too late. Studies have shown that you should keep your phones aside minimally 30 minutes before going to sleep [3]. That means if your child’s bedtime is at 9pm, he/she should stop using his/her phone by 8.30pm at the latest.

However, there are nights when we parents just can’t keep our eye on the clock every minute because we’ve got so much to do. To help you make your load a little lighter, you can use parental control apps like the plano app.

The plano app runs in the background of your child’s phone and as a parent, you can use the app to set no-device times on your child’s phone. If your child has to be in bed by 9pm, you can set a no-device schedule between 8.30pm until the following day, and whenever else! Your child won’t be able to access his/her device during that duration time. It’s a great way to keep your child’s smartphone use in check too as the app provides you with reports about your child’s screen time and overall device usage.

Sleep is often taken for granted. During those hours of pure rest, our bodies are given the chance to recuperate and prepare itself for the following day. As our children grow up, it’s important that they don’t lose out on those precious Zs so that they can grow up healthily.

References
[1] Carter, B., Rees, P., Hale, L., Bhattacharjee, D., & Paradkar, M. (2016). Association Between Portable Screen-Based Media Device Access or Use and Sleep Outcomes. JAMA Pediatrics170(12), 1202. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.2341
[2] Basics on Sleep. (2020). Retrieved 24 July 2020, from https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-101
[3] How and Why Using Electronic Devices at Night Can Interfere With Sleep – Sleep Foundation. (2020). Retrieved 24 July 2020, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/why-electronics-may-stimulate-you-bed

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 https://www.mumbrella.asia/2016/06/excessive-screen-time-harming-singaporeans-health-bad-media-habits-passed-from-adults-to-kids

Myopia is the leading cause of visual impairment in children and excessive near work is one of the most important environmental risk factors for the onset and progression of myopia.

In this technology-dependent age, screen-based activities constitute a new form of near-work. As the age at which our children are exposed to smartphones and tablets gets younger and their duration of uninterrupted periods of screen time gets longer, there is a clear imperative to develop early interventions that help to protect our children’s vision from the harmful effects of screens.

Battling myopia in a digitised world

As I always say, technology itself is not the problem, but what needs to be addressed is our reliant relationship with technology. At Plano, we saw an opportunity to flip the problem into the solution. That is exactly why we developed plano, a parental management mobile application which is designed to reduce myopia-related risk factors, including excessive screen time and lack of outdoor activity, and empower healthier device usage in children from an early age.

plano achieves this through a combination of science-based eye health features and child-safety functions including a face-to-screen distance tracker, digital eye health and progress reports, an app blocker and remote screen locking.

How the plano app works

1. Eye health prompts

The app runs in the background of smart devices, sending friendly alerts and reminders that promote good eye care practices. What is unique to plano is the use of science-based eye health prompts which work to modify children’s device use habits.

For instance, plano’s face-to-screen prompts ensure that children comply with the recommended smartphone viewing distance of at least 30cm away from their eyes.

plano app’s face-to-screen distance prompt

Eye break prompts which are triggered after 30 minutes of continuous device use as well as spectacle detection prompts (which appear when children who use spectacles are not wearing them) also serve to cultivate good device use and eye health habits from an early age.

2. The plano Shop

While the prompts are a good first step to kickstart the process of behaviour change, we wanted the app to be able to incentivise long-term behaviour change. We hence created a points- and rewards-based system within the app to achieve two objectives, namely, to reinforce children’s good device use and to encourage them to engage in device-free outdoor activity, an important protective measure against myopia.

Children earn ‘plano points’ every time they follow and comply with the reminders which they can use to request exclusive activities from the plano Shop, which parents can approve and purchase. In this way, the in-app rewards platform effectively encourages children to want to be actively involved in their own vision care journey.

3. Parental control functions

When developing plano, we recognised the importance of giving parents the ability to monitor their children’s device use, even if they are not physically there to keep an eye on them. As such, we included a suite of parental control functions in the app.

plano app’s app blocker, device time scheduling, and remote locking functions

4. Plano Eyecheck *only available in Singapore

We also wanted the app to serve as a platform to get children into optometry and to close the loop for eye care service delivery in Singapore and the rest of the world. We designed Plano Eyecheck, an in-app referral system to do just that.

Parents are prompted with in-app reminders when their children are due for an eye examination. The platform then connects parents to their nearest optometrist and allows them to locate, book, and manage appointments for a variety of eye care services. *Parents can also access Plano Eyecheck online.

More than just an app

Plano is an eye health ecosystem that includes more than just the plano app. With plano Eyecheck and our educational and eye health promotion work, we aim to go beyond acting as a parental control tool, and to truly put eye health on the map.

Our journey first began in the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) – Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) Incubator programme. From the app’s humble beginnings in Singapore less than 3 years ago to now, the team’s passion and vision has propelled plano to be launched worldwide and to be adopted by more than 250,000 households.

Like it or not, screens are everywhere and constantly surround our children. We believe that plano is an important part of the answer to helping curb the harmful effects of excessive screen time and to help parents protect their children in the battle against myopia in this digital world.

* plano users can look forward to a series of exciting announcements which include a new app interface for both parents and children and improved product functionality. To download the app on your mobile device, click here.

Is your child struggling in school? It could be due to an undetected vision problem. Your child may have trouble seeing the whiteboard clearly and hence lose focus in class. This is just one of the few signs that could mean it is time for an eye examination.

Undetected vision problems may affect your child’s performance beyond the classroom. Children rarely complain about their vision as they may not realise any problems.Therefore, it is important that you recognise some signs showing that your child may have vision problems and require glasses.

Our research has shown an increase in screen time of almost 20% for both children and adults in Singapore during the pandemic. The excessive use of devices constitutes near work, which has been proven to be associated with myopia. Hence, parents should take note of the following behaviours that could indicate vision problems:

1. Squinting

Have you ever noticed your child squinting his eyes, struggling to see something in front of him? Squinting is a natural reaction in an attempt to see things clearly, as it helps improve the vision momentarily. By squinting, we create a pinhole effect by allowing only a small amount of light into the eye, hence resulting in a clearer image [1]. If you catch your child squinting, he/she could be compensating for poor vision and should have their vision checked. 

2. Sitting too close to the television or holding devices too close

The general rule of thumb is to be at least 5 times the distance from the screen as the screen is wide. If your child is sitting abnormally close to the television [2], holding his device way too close, or lowering his head while reading, it could be a sign of nearsightedness, or myopia.

Nearsighted children have clear vision at a close range and blurry vision at a distance. By moving the closer to the objects, it brings the object to their focal point and makes the image bigger [3]. If you catch your child moving closer to objects, it may be time for an eye examination, as vision problems may become worse with time if uncorrected.

3. Rubbing eyes excessively

Excessive eye rubbing may be an indication of eye fatigue or strain and can be a sign of many vision problems. Rubbing our eyes also has negative consequences and serious repercussions on our eyes, especially if we have pre-existing eye conditions like myopia and glaucoma [4] .

4. Tilting the head

Children may tilt their heads to adjust the angle of vision to compensate for eye misalignments. This could be a sign of muscle imbalance or amblyopia, also known as lazy eye [5]. They tilt their heads to relieve the strain on their eyes and/or minimise their double vision. At times, they could also tilt their heads to correct a refractive error by squinting [6].

5. Covering one eye

Your child could be covering one eye if he/she has better vision in one eye and poorer vision in the other. They could be covering the eye with the poorer vision, so that it does not affect the vision while they look at something. Covering one eye could be a sign of double vision or other vision problems. If uncorrected, it could increase the risk of developing amblyopia. 

Schedule the next eye examination for your child today

You can simply locate, book and manage your next appointment with plano Eyecheck, a user-friendly online platform that connects families in Singapore to their nearest optometrists. You can make an appointment for a variety of eye care services, including comprehensive eye check-ups and myopia control consultations.

Prevention is always better than cure! It is recommended to do a comprehensive eye examination annually to help diagnose any undetected vision problems. If your child has never done an eye examination, it’s not too late to book an appointment here.

References:
[1] Invision. (2014, July 8). Why Do I See Better When I Squint? https://www.invision2020.com/see-better-squint/#:%7E:text=A%20small%20amount%20of%20the,the%20eye%20as%20you%20squint.&text=Basically%20only%20a%20small%20amount,The%20result%20is%20better%20vision.
[2] Bedinghaus, T. (2019, June 24). Can a Close TV Damage Your Eyes? Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/ideal-distance-for-tv-viewing-4153791
[3] Bedinghaus, T. (2020, May 7). Signs Your Child Might Need Glasses. Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/top-signs-your-child-needs-vision-correction-3421600
[4] SimonEye. (2018, December 19). Why You Shouldn’t Rub Your Eyes. Simon Eye Associates. https://www.simoneye.com/eye-care/why-you-shouldnt-rub-your-eyes/#:~:text=Potential%20Damage,other%20part%20of%20your%20body.[5] Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Amblyopia (Lazy Eye). Retrieved July 14, 2020, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/amblyopia-lazy-eye
[6] American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. (2018, August). Abnormal Head Position. https://aapos.org/glossary/abnormal-head-position
[7] Bedinghaus, T. (2020, May 7). Signs Your Child Might Need Glasses. Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/top-signs-your-child-needs-vision-correction-3421600

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.