Received a work-from-home mandate from your boss? Here’s how working parents like yourselves can simultaneously manage the kids while working from home.

Meet your newest coworkers: your children.

In the last couple of weeks, the world has experienced an unprecedented halt in many areas of our everyday lives. Social distancing measures have been put in place, some services have ceased operations, and some of us have been lucky enough to be able to work from home. Working from home is a brand-new ball game to some of us. Never have we had to attend to so many online meetings, we’ve got to be extra disciplined and focused, and for us parents, we’ve got our kids to look out for on top of everything else.

Working with our kids at home sounds like an absolute dream. Time spent with them is always time well-spent, and we wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world.  So, implementing work-from-home mandates means more time with the children at home, right? Yes, true, but the challenge lies in balancing productivity at work, and keeping an eye on your child.

While you want to continue being as productive as you can be, you don’t want to neglect your child either. It’s normal to feel guilty when you’re little one is tugging at the hem of your pants for some playtime, but you’ve got no choice but to respond with a shush and a shake of the head. You don’t want to disappoint your child, but neither do you want to be unproductive when you’re supposed to be working.

Getting used to the new normal.

Working from home is now the new normal for us working adults. As we adapt to the new normal, we need to figure out ways to help our children adapt too:

1. Create a schedule for your little one

While you’re working your usual 9-5, albeit from home, get your little one busy from 9-5 too! It’s tempting to just hand them a tablet or a phone for them to play with, but we wouldn’t want to run the risk of contributing to excessive screen time in our children.

You could instead plan a little schedule for your child to follow. Assuming your child wakes up at around 8 in the morning, after breakfast you could get him/her to do some engaging activities – like painting or jigsaw puzzles. It could look something like this:

  • 9-11am: Painting time! You could assign them a few things to paint such as a fruit bowl, their favourite cartoon character, or even a self-portrait of themselves. Make the tasks as fun as possible!
  • 11am-12.30pm: Prep time for lunch. Involve your little one in some simple lunchtime cooking. Pasta, rice, or even just making a sandwich would make for a fun midday activity to enjoy with your child.
  • 12.30-2.30pm: It’s back to the laptop for you so you can use this time to give your little one a jigsaw puzzle to complete. But make sure the puzzle pieces together an interesting enough image for your child to want to complete it. Disney characters or superheroes are always a fail-proof option. 
  • 2.30-4pm: You’ve got that big afternoon meeting coming up with your boss so this would be a great time to put junior down for a nap! Napping provides some much-needed downtime and recuperation for children and is essential for physical and mental development during childhood.
  • 4-5pm: Ah the long-awaited last hour of work! During this time, you can consider giving your child some small chores to do around the house – you can start by asking him/her to arrange his/her stuffed toys according to colour/size. If your little one is a little older and past the age of 9, you can get him/her to start setting the table for dinner too!

2. Explain that you’re busy

Sometimes, words are all you need. It takes some time, but it’s well worth it. Gently explain to your child that you’ll be busy from 9am to 5pm and you’re not ignoring them on purpose. Explain to them what you really do at your job, in simple words of course. No “analysing profits” or “budget forecasting” lingo. Relate it back to your child too; just like how every child has to go to school and be a good student, you have responsibilities outside the home.

3. Leave work at work

Once you’re off work, you’re off work. With work-from-home measures in place, it’s far too easy to blur the lines between the hours. Once you’re done with your responsibilities for the day, refocus your attention on spending some quality time with your family.

Don’t give yourself the excuse that you need to check your e-mails “just in case”. No scrolling through LinkedIn either, or checking how that marketing campaign has been panning out on social media. Be present with your family once work has ended for you, and cherish the time you have with them.

Working from home is the new normal now and our children likely understand that too. It’s not every day they get to see both mommy and daddy at home all the time. Having responsibilities in and out of the home is challenging, but we are adaptable and we each can find that balance to work productively at home while taking care of our children. As the situation continues to evolve, let’s continue evolving and adapting as well.

Please remember to take steps to continuously protect yourselves and your loved ones. Wash your hands regularly with soap, avoid touching your face and eyes, and consult a doctor if you’re sick.

With a global pandemic on the rise, we are going to be spending more time than ever at home in the coming months. If you’re a parent, this means you’ll probably be spending a lot of this time keeping your kids entertained.  While it’s tempting to let them play on their devices all day, overuse of screens can negatively affect their eye health in the long-term. As a parent of two toddlers I know how hard it can be to keep your kids busy all day, so I’ve put together a list of some easy activities you can do with your kids at home that won’t involve screens and also won’t break the bank!

Why do they need to spend time off their smartphones?

While smartphones can be wonderfully useful tools to keep your kids entertained for hours on end- like most good things; they have some negative side-effects.

Our eyes are built to be able to see things near and far. But when we spend all day on our phones; focusing on things close to us, they are put under a lot of pressure and this causes them to stretch. This elongation causes light rays to focus on an area just in front of the retina (rather than on the retina itself), making objects far away appear blurry; a process that can lead to myopia or short-sightedness. While myopia doesn’t affect everyone, it is becoming more and more prevalent with the emergence of technology and smart devices. Worldwide, almost a quarter (23%) of us are short-sighted, while in Singapore it affects 80% of young adults (1).  

While there is a chance your kids may not develop myopia, they may still suffer from other side-effects of screen-use, such as Digital Eye Strain. Putting too much strain on your eyes can cause them to become itchy, dry and tired and can sometimes induce headaches. Kids can often get so involved in whichever game they are playing or movie they are watching to notice the painful side-effects, therefore it’s important to keep an eye on them.

Finally, overuse of smartphones can also impact your kids’ mental health. Social media and virtual gaming apps are designed to trigger the rewards centres in your brain. Getting a message or a “like” on a post can trigger the release of the feel-good hormone, dopamine. This can, over time, become highly addictive, especially with kids whose sense of self-control might not have developed yet. In extreme cases, smartphone addiction can induce symptoms of anxiety and depression as they become overly reliant on their smartphones for this dopamine kick.

After reading all of this, you may be tempted to take your kids’ smartphones away completely. However, in this ever-evolving world, they are going to be surrounded by technology at every stage of their lives, so it’s important to instil good behaviours in them while they are young. Instead of stopping them from using their screens, simply swap it for different, device-free activities. 

3 fun and easy device-free activities to do at home!

1. Arts and crafts

While arts and crafts can often involve buying a variety of different supplies, there are lots of activities that don’t involve a trip to an art supplies store. You can use old newspapers and magazines to do scrapbooking or to make papier-mâché sculptures. Extra sheets of paper can also be used to do origami- try these instructions on how to make a paper crane!

2. Board games

Board games like Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit are great because they involve the whole family and can be stretched out over a couple of days. Don’t have your own? No problem, you can DIY your own version using these templates.

3. Cooking

Pass on some of the domestic responsibilities to your kids and maybe even teach them a thing or two along the way! Start simple by getting them to find ingredients in the cupboards and mix them together, just think- one day they’ll be making meals on their own!

Rest assured that you’re not alone!

With lots to worry about right now, it’s important to view this not as a burden, but simply as an opportunity for your child to try new things. It’s also important to remember that you’re not alone! 

As a parent, I know how easy it is to get caught in a spiral of negative thinking during these trying times- we’ve all got a lot on our plates! But by focusing your attention on the things that you can do rather than what you can’t, can help you break out of this negative spiral. From one parent to another, I hope these suggestions help!

Parenting is by far the hardest job on earth. Mix that in with keeping up with smartphones in the digital age? You’re going to need parental control apps to help you with that.

The 21st Century parenting conundrum

The year is 2020 and as parents of children growing up in this generation, we’ve got a whole new conundrum our parents never had to face: the difficulty of managing our child’s screen time.

The 21st Century is basically synonymous with digital connectivity. Smart devices are here to stay and our children’s use of it is only going to increase exponentially. With schools rolling out plans to incorporate tablets into the curriculum, and entertainment easily found at the swipe of a finger, there’s more reason to own a smart device today. We parents are no different – we use our smart devices for work and for entertainment. It’s only natural for our children’s screen time to increase. Thus, it’s important we help to minimise that, but it’s a delicate balancing act.

On one hand, we don’t want to micro-manage our children; we want to trust them with their own devices. On the other, it’s impossible to shake off that funny feeling that they might be spending too much time on their devices. How often have we heard our friends complaining that their little ones have been spending way too much time on the screen? That nagging feeling may cause us to hover over our child’s shoulder far more often than what we’d like.

Enter: Your new digital assistant

Constantly hovering over your child’s shoulder isn’t the best feeling in the world. Your child won’t like it because he/she may feel like he/she’s being watched. And you wouldn’t like it either because you wouldn’t want to be viewed as a surveillance cop – truth be told, who would?

The solution to the problems of the digital age lies in the digital realm – It’s no Alexa, it’s no Siri, but it’s parental control apps. Countless parental control apps exist and all of them serve the same purpose – that is to help limit your little one’s screen time, and protect them from negative online influences.

The plano App is one such parental control app in particular that can help your child do just that with the following functions:

1. Device break reminders

The app runs in the background of your child’s phone and every 30 minutes, the plano app reminds your child to take a break from his/her phone. The breaks last up to 2 minutes at a time. These device break reminders serve a second purpose – they also help to prevent the progression of myopia. Constant smartphone use can place a lot of strain and stress on the eyes and this can inadvertently lead to myopia.

2. Block apps*

If you notice your child using a particular app excessively, you can use the plano app to take matters into your own hands. As a parental control app, the plano app allows you to use its settings to block apps on your child’s phone. So, if your little one can’t get his/her eyes off YouTube, you can use the plano App to block YouTube effectively.

3. Device time scheduling

Are there certain periods of time when you’d just wish your child would put down his/her phone? Maybe it’s during dinner time, maybe it’s during family game night. Whatever time it is, with parental control apps like plano, you can control and reduce your child’s screen time any time.

It’s the 21st Century, and with 21st Century problems come 21st Century solutions. With parental control apps, you don’t have to worry about constantly looking over your little one’s shoulder. You can trust the app to help teach your child the right smartphone habits to help them minimize their screen time.

*subject to your device’s technical capabilities.

In the past few weeks, the world has undergone a whirlwind of changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with the spread of the pandemic is the sentiments of fear, uncertainty and panic sweeping nations worldwide. 

Parenting at the height of the crisis

Every time we turn on the television or open our social media applications, we are bombarded with information about the situation. As parents, sifting through the flurry of information for the facts can be a challenging and overwhelming ordeal.

Even worse, with fake news about the pandemic spreading like wildfire, we may even be guilty of harbouring certain misconceptions about the situation. 

Equipping yourself with all the right information

Gaining clarity about the situation is so important; it can make a world of difference in your parenting journey and in keeping your emotions at an even keel especially in these tumultuous times. Consequently, quelling your little ones’ fears, answering their questions about the pandemic and remaining confident in knowing all the right steps to take to protect your family no longer seems like such a tall order.

A good start to gaining clarity on the situation is to clear up some of your misconceptions about COVID-19. 

Myth 1:

Wearing a mask is sufficient in protecting you and your child against the disease.

False.

The virus is transmitted through direct contact with the respiratory droplets of an infected person. Hence, wearing masks do decrease the likelihood of the virus being passed to you or your child. However, they should not be considered an iron-clad guarantee.

According to the World Health Organisation, additional measures like avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth is crucial. This is because contaminated hands can transfer the virus to the eyes, nose and mouth and from there, the virus can enter the body! 

Remember to maintain good hygiene practices and teach your child how to do so. These include: washing hands frequently and thoroughly, covering the mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when coughing and sneezing and seeking medical care early if you or your child has cold/flu-like symptoms.

Myth 2: 

There is very little we can do in the face of the pandemic.

False.

It is easy to feel downright helpless with the influx of news coverage on the spread of the virus, the increase in reported cases and death counts worldwide. However, this simply isn’t true – there is so much we can do! 

Do not underestimate the effectiveness of adhering to national health guidelines. Everything from following the recommendations against ‘panic buying’ to practicing social distancing goes a long way in helping to flatten the curve i.e. slow the rate of new cases. 

Myth 3:

The Chinese are to blame for COVID-19. 

False.

COVID-19 knows no geographical or social boundaries. While the virus originated from Wuhan, China, a person’s ethnicity, nationality or language is not a risk factor for the virus. Fear and panic breed xenophobia and social stigmatisation. It is now more important than ever for us to step in and level with our children about making incorrect assumptions like this. 

Talk to your child about how reactions to the pandemic in the news and social media can perpetuate harmful stereotypes and anti-Asian sentiments. This is a good opportunity for you to have open conversations about xenophobia and the importance of being compassionate in these trying times.

At the end of the day, all we want is to shield our little ones from the virus and help them feel safe and secure amidst all the confusion, stress and fear. Perpetuating myths like these will only serve to breed panic and uncertainty in our own homes. Tackling COVID-19  begins with fighting misinformation and educating ourselves and our little ones!

Cancelled schools, new social distancing measures implemented, and work from home mandates have been put in place. Suspense hangs in the air, but it’s important that we parents share with our little ones lessons we can all learn during these tumultuous times and ease their worries.

What’s the right answer?

The global pandemic, COVID-19 has altered many parts of our lives. Our worlds have become consumed with anxiety and trepidation. Schools have been cancelled, and work from home measures have been implemented. As a mother of an 8 year-old daughter, I’ve seen my little girl’s eyes fraught with worry, confusion, and fear. Clutching her favourite teddy bear, looking up at me with nervous eyes, I wake up each morning to her questions:

“Why can’t I go to school to see my friends, Mum?”

“What’s happening? Why do we have to stay at home all the time?”

“What’s going on?”

“Are we sick?”

Her questions keep coming and I sit there pondering about the best response, the best way to explain the global scale of the situation, and how to keep her spirits up.

Your little one has probably asked you a couple of similar questions about the situation. And while every single one of them are valid, they may have left you in between a rock and a hard place. Trying to find the right words to encapsulate the gravity of the situation is tricky – on one hand you don’t want to simplify the situation, but on the other hand you don’t want to cause any more unnecessary fear and anxiety. On top of it all, you want to remind your child that home is a safe and comfortable place for your little one; it’s no easy balancing act.

Becoming a bulwark of support.

I sat my daughter down on her bed and wrapped a blanket around her for comfort. As her mother, I knew what I had to do – I had to be strong and be the best parent possible for her amidst this situation. So here’s what I did:

1. Started a conversation

There’s a lot of information circulating out there about COVID-19, and I thought it would be a good time to teach my daughter about ‘fake news’. It’s important to teach our children how to discern the difference between credible sources and less credible ones in order to avoid getting misled. So, I began by asking my daughter what she knew about the virus and encouraged her to ask questions. Use this opportunity to also correct any misinformation, but do so in a simple manner.

Sparking a conversation around this issue gives you the chance to allay any of your little one’s fears and nervousness. If you don’t have the answers, it’s alright to tell your child that you’re not too sure. Pause, research, and let your child know that sometimes we don’t have all the answers. But that’s why it’s important to keep learning and keep informed by the right sources.

2. Acknowledged that some things have changed

You probably can’t go out to the nearby park as often as you used to, or your little one’s soccer practices may have been cancelled totally. It’s a huge bummer, and nothing breaks our hearts more than seeing a frown across their faces over something you can’t control. My daughter was so upset her dance recital was cancelled she lay in her tutu pouting – it was something she worked so hard for, and had remarkable fun doing.

On the bright side, you can practice ‘reframing‘ with your child! Reframing is a psychological thought process that helps people look at a situation from a different perspective. While acknowledging that while some things have changed, some things have also stayed the same! Instead of dwelling on cancelled plans I told my daughter that we could still enjoy afternoon tea times, bedtime stories, and game nights.

3. Planned activities and play times

Spending all day at home may mean more time for your child to catch up on his/her favourite shows, but that doesn’t mean we should go overboard with screen time. Rules still need to be followed and phones still need to be kept aside from time to time.

Use this chance to spend more time with your child by planning playtime activities or bonding activities at home. There was one Thursday afternoon when my daughter and I decided to go on a baking spree and baked bread, cookies, and cupcakes. She pretended to be a bakery owner while I was the customer – needless to say, it was a much kneaded (pun intended) day of fun and flour.

Spirits up, and never going down.

The situation may seem bleak, but that doesn’t mean our spirits should be too. While my daughter’s questions haven’t exactly stopped, she’s at least bouncing around with her spirits as high as her ponytail. So, as we look forward and face the pandemic we are living in, let’s hold our children’s hands and let them know that we are here facing it together with them. For we will always be in their corner, no matter when, where, or what.

Please remember to take steps to continuously protect yourselves and your loved ones. Wash your hands regularly with soap, avoid touching your face and eyes, and consult a doctor if you’re sick.

With screen time increasing, it’s important we parents know which iPhone parental control app to use to manage their device use.

An ageless internet and infinite screen time

The thing about iPhones is that despite coming with an off button, we never seem to use it. Our iPhone-wielding children are the same, and it basically offers them an endless amount of screen time.

3pm after school? Games with friends!

5.30pm before dinner? Maybe a little YouTube.

7pm after dinner? Hey, I know! I’ll make a TikTok video!

8.30pm – oh! Time to tune in to my friend’s Instagram Live video before bed.

With the screen constantly occupying your child’s time, it feels almost impossible to find even a sliver of time to bond with your little one or fork out time for homework. And let’s not get started on trying to persuade them to put the phone down before bed.

The solution: Best Parental control apps for iPhone

As parents of digitally-wired children, we need to get our heads in the game; for when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Just as our children are taking to a thousand and one applications to entertain them, so can we parents take to applications to limit their screen time.

Parental controls – iPhone

And what sort of apps? iPhone parental apps! These apps serve as a parental block on iPhone, an internet filter for iPhone, and a location tracking app all rolled into one.  Beyond that, they can also help you remotely lock your child’s iPhone, and be used as a screen time iPhone app (which allows you to monitor and consequently minimize your child’s screen time!)

While our children are entitled to their own privacy online, it’s ofttimes necessary that we monitor the amount of time they are spending on their phones. Prolonged exposure to the screens has been proven to lead to issues such as myopia, screen addiction, and may even result in mental health like anxiety or depression.

Screen time has become a part of all our lives and as our children grow older, the more screen time they will be exposed to. However, the screens aren’t inherently bad, rather it’s the relationship we forge with our devices that are of concern. If your child is spending incessant durations of time on his/her screen, the best parental control app for iphone like the plano can serve as a great tool to teach your child healthy habits to manage their relationship with their phones.

The Plano App is the one You Need

With so many parental monitoring apps populating the market, how do you choose the best parental control app for iPhone? Apps that help to block other apps and browsers, apps that help you give your child a time-out, the list is endless. However, few apps also take your child’s vision health into consideration too. Essentially, you need an iPhone parenting app to help you. What exactly does the plano App do?

1. Device break reminders

Screen time remainder

As a parent, you have a million things to do throughout the day, and reminding your child to take a break from his/her phone is just one of the many. Having to look over your child’s shoulder is a tiring chore atop of everything else – but the plano app does it for you.

The Plano app reminds your child to take a device break every 30 minutes he/she spends on the screen. For about a minute and a half, your child will be unable to use his/her phone and he/she has to take a break from the screens.

These half-hourly break reminders serve to create a habit of device breaks. This way, your child will be able to learn the right device habits to not only minimize his/her screen time but also safeguard his/her eyes from myopia. If your child follows these break time reminders, they will earn points that can be used to request for fun activities and items in the plano shop is a reward system for kids

2. Scheduling device times

Set the screen time limit

There are times when you’d wish your little one would just put his/her phone away – such as dinner time, bedtime, or homework time. The plano app also allows you as the parent to schedule specific times when your child is allowed to use his/her phone. You get full control of when your little one is and isn’t allowed screen time so you can say goodbye to phones at the dinner table!

3. Remotely lock child’s iPhone

Remotely lock child's iPhone

Have there ever been instances when you caught your little one using his/her phone when he/she should have been asleep? As a parent of an eight-year-old boy, I sure have. I wished I had a button to remote lock my child’s phone. The remote locking function found on the plano app lets you do something like that – while it doesn’t completely switch off your child’s phone, you have the power to lock your little one out from all the apps present on his/her phone. 

4. Location boundary ( iPhone location tracking app )

With stay home measures easy across the world, many of us will be finding our lives gradually return to the old normal i.e. going back to our offices for work, and our children heading to school instead of learning remotely. As such, it can become much more difficult to monitor your child’s phone activities, especially when you are not physically present near them.

plano allows you to set designated boundaries at a radius of 350m, 550m, or 1km of safe distance before the phone is blocked. It also makes for one of the most effective tracking apps for iPhone as you will receive push alerts when your child exits the designated boundaries you have set!

The dawn of the internet has crashed upon our children like a tidal wave and there’s no stopping it. However, as parents of the digital age, we can set up bulwarks to protect our children from the effects of excessive screen time. Plano can do just that – not only does it serve as an iPhone parental monitoring app, it also teaches your child healthy habits they can easily pick up while using their phones. Check out the Plano screen time parental control app here today!

*subject to your device’s technical capabilities.

Parenting is hard. You are basically guiding a tiny human through this crazy, confusing world without any guidance yourself. And if you are a new parent, everything you do feels all the more like a shot in the dark.

When it comes to rewarding our children, it is a whole new ball game altogether. Creating an effective rewards system is deceptively challenging; many of us run the risk of overdoing our rewards to the point where we end up spoiling our children.

How do you know if your rewards system is turning your child into a spoilt brat? These are some signs you can look out for:

1. When rewards turn into bribes

We’ve all been there: Your little one screams “I hate you!” in the supermarket (with onlookers judging your parenting skills or lack thereof) because you wouldn’t buy him/her ice cream until you relent and buy the pint to make the tantrum stop.

If you find yourself ‘rewarding’ your child to stop misbehaviour, i.e. when you say something like, “I will buy you the ice cream if you stop crying,” it likely a bribe.

Here’s what to do instead:

Set expectations for your child before any event where you anticipate a meltdown or temper tantrum. For instance, you can prime your child to expect a reward if he/she plays by your rules. Making sure you communicate these rules and rewards clearly early on will effectively teach your child how to respect your rules and will teach them the value of earning privileges.

Remember, while ‘bribing’ is oh-so satisfying and convenient in the moment, in the long run, it only serves to make your child feel a sense of entitlement and continue exhibiting inappropriate behaviour.

2. Over-rewarding achievements

Like bribing, rewarding your child for their achievements is only effective in the short run:

You tell your child that every time they get an A grade for a test, you will buy him/her a game or gadget or even give him/her a monetary incentive. And true enough, your child studies hard and achieves the A-grade.

You think to yourself, that was easy. However, as the days go by, you notice that the motivation to work hard has dipped. In fact, your child may even start demanding bigger rewards for good grades!

Here’s what to do instead:

As seen in the above scenario, giving your child excessive rewards exclusively based on their achievements tends to backfire as it fails to cultivate the intrinsic motivation to work harder for their successes.

Instead, teach your child how to appreciate their achievements without a material prize. You can try other ‘rewards’ like giving them words of affirmation or appreciating their efforts with an excited praise or even displaying their report card on the fridge.

Making them feel proud of their successes will teach them the value of education and hard work. In the long run, this sense of pride will develop their intrinsic motivation to achieve their goals.

Rewarding something they already enjoy doing

This is also known as the ‘overjustification effect.’ Research has shown that when parents offer an extrinsic reward for actions their children already find internally rewarding, children will be less intrinsically motivated to continue performing that action!

For instance, if your child already enjoys helping around the house, and you reward him/her for it on top of that, you might be responsible for diminishing the joy they derive from this good behaviour. The more you reward your child for helping you with the chores, the less likely he/she will want to help you to begin with.

Here’s what to do instead:

Pay attention to what your child already enjoys doing – take note of these actions and remind yourself not to give them material rewards for exhibiting positive behaviour, as tempting as it may be. Instead, you can reinforce their positive behaviour with words of encouragement as an indicator of your appreciation for them.

A good rewards system teaches skills for a lifetime.

At the end of the day, a holistic rewards system encourages children to have a sense of discipline, be goal-oriented and be intrinsically motivated. While every parenting journey comes with its own set of challenges, implementing a good rewards system may be all it takes to crack the code to raising a child right.

When our kids are glued to the screen all the time it can be difficult to pry them away. But here’s a pretty good way you can cut their screen time by at least half.

Every parent’s arch-nemesis: our kids’ smartphones.

Parents, can you remember the time before smartphones invaded our little ones’ lives? Perhaps it was the time when they were still in nappies, or just before they started primary school. Whenever it was, it’s a time gone by. Nowadays, it’s more common to see our children hypnotized by their little palm-sized devices and spending endless hours on screen time.

Screen time for kids elicits the same emotions we mothers get when we manage to get a night of uninterrupted sleep – pure bliss. In fact, studies have shown that screen time can trigger the release of dopamine, the feel-good hormone. So when we interrupt our little one’s YouTube binge, games, or TikTok videos, they get really mad. Cue tantrums, cue shouting, cue tears (from both your child and you).

Beating the screen.

We’re living in a media-centered world. While we can’t stop our children from using smartphones entirely, we can however try to curb their screen time. Here’s how you can effectively halve your child’s screen time, starting from today:

1. Start with the end in mind

The moment you notice your little one pick up his/her smartphone, ask him/her what they intend to do with it. The reason could be as innocent as wanting to catch up on the latest episode of Paw Patrol, or to take a break from their school work – these are acceptable reasons. After all, who doesn’t like to catch the latest episodes of their favorite shows, or unwind after a long day?

Ask your child how long he/she hopes to spend on the screen and negotiate from there. Screen time for kids should follow the guidelines recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO):

  • 0-2 year olds: no screen time at all
  • 2-5 year olds: 1 hour of screen time a day
  • 5 and above: A little more screen time can be introduced, but moderately. No more than a few hours of screen time a day.

2. Discuss consequences, establish incentives.

Setting up boundaries and ground rules are also a necessary step in limiting your child’s screen time. On the flip side, it’s equally important to let your child know the reward of following the rules diligently. For instance, if your child keeps to his/her promise of only 30 minutes of screen time, reward them with 30 minutes of playground time too! Or, you could reward them with their favorite dish for dinner.

It’s a more carrot and less stick approach to limiting your kids’ screen time, but such positive reinforcement has been proven to inspire continuous good behavior in the future – and hopefully less screen time!

3. Install an app to limit screen time

Sometimes the best way to combat screen time is to invade the screen itself. Parental control app like Plano helps to limit your kid’s screen time. Plano reminds your child to take an eye break every 30 minutes of screen time. If your child follows these eye break reminders diligently, he/she earns points! These points can be used in the plano shop to request for items and activities that your little one can enjoy!

The app also allows you as a parent to schedule appropriate device times – for instance, if your child has homework to complete, you can schedule a specific hour where your child will not be able to use his/her phone at all.

You can’t stop time, but you can stop screen time.

Times are changing and the uptake of smart devices among our youths has increased tenfold. Smart devices aren’t inherently bad, however, it’s the relationship our children form with them that we need to take note of. Screen time is indeed one of the biggest thieves of our children’s time and health, but no screen can replace the love and care we have for our kids. So let’s start quashing screen time today, and help our kids develop a healthy smart device relationship.

No parent wants to be the “bad cop” in their family, but at the end of the day, someone has to lay down the ground rules. While in an ideal world, parental responsibilities would be shared evenly, in reality, finding a balance is often harder than you think. While there are many ways to work around this problem, parental control apps are a great solution, and here’s why.

As a stay-at-home mother of two daughters, I often felt like the “bad cop” in our family. While my husband is a great father, he wasn’t around all the time, which meant I had to do most of the disciplining myself. My kids love using their smartphones and, if they had the chance, would use them from dusk until dawn. With my husband at work, I felt like I was constantly having to keep an eye on them to make sure they weren’t on their screens too much- I’d often catch them using their smartphones just before bedtime or at the dinner table. Overuse of smartphones can have negative effects on kids, sometimes causing smartphone addiction or short-sightedness (otherwise known as myopia). 

My husband and I wanted to maintain our lifestyles but ensure this didn’t put a burden on me. So naturally, as true 21st Century parents, we turned to the World Wide Web to do some research. I found lots of studies explaining how the “good cop/bad cop” dynamic can be an ineffective parenting style and how monitoring your kids 24/7 can be unsustainable. More importantly though, I also found articles suggesting how to avoid this.

The solution we found: parental control apps!

While parent control apps can sometimes get a bad rap for encouraging “helicopter parenting”, our experience with them was far from negative. Not all of them are bad – they take away the responsibilities of the “bad cop” by doing the disciplining for you. They are free and easy to download onto your child’s smartphone and can be used to monitor their behaviour. plano is a parental control app that tracks how long your child spends on their smartphone and reminds them use it responsibly and take regular breaks.

But is it healthy to monitor my child that much?

What’s great about parental control apps is that you can customize what you monitor and what you don’t. The plano app features allows you to seamlessly switch between parent and child mode so that you are only monitoring your child’s screen behaviour when it is appropriate, for example; when you are out to dinner or after you have put them to bed. This means that your child won’t feel like they are being monitored all the time. 

plano also encourages kids to take responsibility for their own screen-use habits. It rewards them with points when they demonstrate good screen-use behavior, for example, if they take an eye break every 30 minutes. My kids were super excited about this idea and tried as hard as they could to limit smartphone use so they could get as many points as possible. They could use these points in the plano shop to request discounted device-free activities such as piano lessons, tree-top climbing sessions and more!

With the help of parental control apps, I didn’t feel like I needed to be by their side 24/7 and, as a result, my husband and I were able to spend more quality time with our kids; not as “good cop” or “bad cop”, but equally as their parents.

Feeling slower, drained and downright uninspired? It’s not you. It’s that tiny screen you’re probably reading this off right now.

We have so much to thank technology for: Feeling bored and lonely on a Friday night? Tinder’s got you covered. Have a pressing question you need answered at once? Google has all the answers. And the list goes on.

Technology has evolved to become such an ever-present entity in almost every aspect of our lives, so much so that we simply can’t function without it. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we spend an unhealthily large chunk of our lives behind some form of a screen and this kind of lifestyle seems almost unavoidable in this digital age.

What if you become aware of just exactly how your screens are damaging your brain – will you change the way you consume technology then? We’ve gathered most common reasons why your tech-habits are putting you through a world of hurt and how to address them:

1. Information Overload

Think about the sheer number of decisions you make on an average workday. This includes the volume of work emails, calls and social notifications that you need to respond to (amongst others). Every ping you receive demands your attention, making you flitter from one task to the next and by the end of the day, you have so many tabs open that both your computer and your brain feel overheated.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With every notification, as our gadgets force us to make decision after decision, it drains us of our mental energy. The worst part? No matter how rational you think you are, it gets progressively harder to make choices as the day goes on.

This decision fatigue you experience everyday manifests itself in your physical actions in the worst ways: a sudden outburst at a family member, splurging on things unnecessarily, gorging on unhealthy food etc. The solution?

Filtering is key. This means you should be ruthlessly selective about the information you consume for the day and prime yourself to focus on the important stuff and ignore everything else. However you choose to do this, it is important that you find a method that works for you.

2. A sedentary lifestyle

Adulting is hard work. We spend most of our workdays cooped up inside stuffy office buildings, only encountering the outside world during lunch and when we leave for the day. Unfortunately for us, it comes at a hefty price – spending too much time staying inactive, sitting behind the screen can take a toll on our health; everything from digital eye strain to cardiovascular diseases.

Naturally, as our screen time takes a large bite out of our day, it leaves us less time for other activities like working out and socializing. More than that, research shows that leading a more sedentary life is linked with the thinning in brain regions associated with memory!

The work we produce is only ever as sharp as our minds. If you find it challenging to remember to take periodic breaks, develop a system for yourself – something as simple as setting alarms to scheduling timeouts may be all you need to do. Better yet, invite your colleagues to step out with you – a buddy system is a fool-proof way you can ‘enforce’ breaktimes and also creates a positive workplace culture that prioritizes everyone’s health.

Lack of quality sleep

Longer screen time is associated with decreased sleep efficiency i.e. the ratio of the total time spent asleep (total sleep time) in a night compared to the total amount of time spent in bed. One of the main reasons why many of us experience low levels of sleep efficiency is because of our phone usage in the bedroom. This has been linked to increase the amount of time it takes for us to actually fall asleep after we turn the lights off.

When we experience a restless sleep the night before, you most definitely feel the effects of it the day after – you feel irritable and may even develop a headache. Dauntingly, there are more biological consequences to your poor-quality sleep than you may realise. Research shows that poor quality sleep can cause heightened stress responses, impaired memory and even delay reaction times!

Naturally, the best way to improve your sleep quality is to make your bed a no-screen zone. Having a digital detox a few hours before bedtime will give you enough time to prime your mind for a night of restful sleep and can even help you fall asleep more easily!

Technology is only a means to an end

We toil behind our screens day in and day out for many purposes – to climb the corporate ladder, to lead a comfortable life and to give our families the best life we possibly can.

However, at the end of the day, if your mental faculties are not performing at their maximum, it will seriously infringe on your ability to achieve all these goals in life. So, take a moment to ask yourself this: Is staring at your screens all day truly worth it?