Parenting is crazy roller-coaster ride. And now with the series of stay-home notices, lockdowns and self-isolation measures thrown into the mix, the ride has gotten bumpier and scarier.
Not only do we have to protect our family from the pandemic, there’s that added stress of balancing our parental duties and professional lives, now all under one roof.
Screen Time is at an all-time high and we should be worried
One of the biggest modern stressors many parents have been tackling in the last few months is screen time. From children to adults, the time spent on digital devices has skyrocketed. In fact, our research has shown an increase in screen time of almost 20% for children and adults in Singapore!
The negative health consequences of our children’s excessive screen time are alarming. It is associated with eye issues like near-sightedness (myopia) and digital eye strain, and even musculoskeletal problems like neck, shoulder and hand pain.
Beyond that excessive screen time is linked to Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD). IAD is now officially recognised by the World Health Organization as a mental health problem and is considered an emerging public health crisis, particularly for young people.
What can we do as parents to protect our little ones from the pitfalls of technology?
Flipping the problem into the solution
Thankfully, we live in a time where a handheld device is all that is needed to elevate our parenting game. Yes, that’s right – the problem is a viable solution!
These days, the parenting-app market is heavily saturated with a huge number of quality apps. ‘Smart’ parenting has evolved from being just a fad for some tech-savvy parents, to a cornerstone of achieving important parenting goals in this digital age.
However, as a parent, the sheer number of app options to choose from can be overwhelming. Fortunately, we have created 3 simple steps to help you choose the parenting app that’s a perfect match to your parenting style.
Step 1: Figure out who is behind the Screens
Research is crucial when it comes to choosing the right app to suit your parenting needs. Don’t worry, it does not have to be extensive. A simple google search on who founded or developed the app, their motivations and research they have used can tell you whether the app’s claims are legitimate or if it is just a waste of data and/or money.
Take the reputable kids language app Duolingo ABC for example. A background check on the app’s founders would tell you the amount of research that went into it and their team’s accolades on the education and Computer Science front.
For example, educational apps that offer science-based learning objectives should have a team of experts in that particular field behind the app.
Step 2: Take it for a test-drive. Or find out from someone who has.
With so many parent apps in the market, many of the apps that you are eyeing may be free. If they are not, a trial period or a freemium version of the app may be available for you to dip your toes in before making the full commitment. Otherwise, online reviews from fellow parents can help you with the decision.
Look no further than the flurry of activity on Reddit’s AskParents forum (subreddit) everyday, where parents from all walks of life give their opinions on anything and everything parenting. Unsurprisingly, ‘best parent apps’ or ‘parental control apps’ are common discussion topics that crop up every other day.
In these discussion threads, you will find parents sharing their experiences with apps that they may have found useful or have had horrible experiences with. Like Reddit, there are many parenting forums online on app recommendations that can help you make an educated decision on what apps you should invest in.
Step 3: Identify the functions and features your parenting style demands
When it comes to choosing the right parental control app in particular, the best ones often offer plenty of features to limit and restrict your child’s device usage, track and block apps and internet usage and are highly customisable to suit different parenting styles.
Beyond the parental ‘control’ elements of a parental control app, there are certain apps in the market that serve to empower and educate children on their device use. Our parental management app, plano was developed to do just that.
Plano is a science-based app that has a suite of child safety functions that parents can toggle to restrict their children’s device use. Moreover, it helps children develop a healthier relationship with their devices by rewarding them through its innovative points system. *
At the end of the day, you are irreplaceable
Whatever app you choose to help you along in your parenting journey, always remember that apps serve to enhance, not replace your role as a parent. The bottom line is, it is your responsibility as a parent to help your little one develop a healthy relationship with technology; there is no app that can do that for you!
*Exclusive offer for all Singaporean parents: From now to 1st June, our 1-year annual premium membership ($29.98) of the plano app is FREE.
We hope this will help you manage your little one’s screen time and internet safety, especially now that the school holidays are in.
This initiative is our way of showing that as a Plano family, we stand with you in these unprecedented times!
Download plano here to enjoy the full suite of parental control features now unlocked for you!