It’s what’s on the inside that counts.

“What mental health needs is more sunlight”

Glenn Close

The subject of mental health deserves more attention than it currently is receiving, and for good reason; mental health is an important component of our overall well-being. When our mind is happy and healthy, we feel happy and healthy. As parents of children growing up in the 21st Century, we’d want this for them.

The 21st Century abounds with digital devices, and our little ones are no stranger to them. However, as great as our screens are, children and teenagers who spend more than 7 hours a day on screens are twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression. They may find it difficult to focus and complete tasks, forge friendships, and may even experience a lower curiousity than their peers. Naturally, this would be a growing area of concern for parents like ourselves who are raising digitally-wired children.

Of course, the next best course of action is to reduce the amount of time our children spend staring at the screen. One of the best ways we can do that is to bring our children outdoors!

Suns on our backs, blue skies above our tracks.

Being in the 21st century, the greatest highlight of our children’s day is getting their hands on the latest iPhone or unlocking a new level on their game. They’ve forgotten the pure joy of scooting outdoors, rolling in the leaves, and running till their feet drop.  

Going outdoors is not only a great way to reduce the amount of time your child spends on the screens, but it has also been proven to alleviate mental stress. Outdoor physical activity has been shown to lower anxiety levels and significantly improve the emotional and physical health of children. In fact, being outdoors amongst the greenery helps to combat anxiety, depression, and other mental health stresses.

Close probably didn’t realise the weight of her words when she said mental health needs more sunlight, huh?

The gift of play.

Going out to play is one of the best joys of childhood. Add some friends into the mix and you’re guaranteed to have a ball of a time. Remember when we would play with our friends at the park? Laughter would fill the air and our silly imaginations would wash our worries away. Throwing in a toy would definitely amp up the fun! White and Black Trading’s All Surface Swingball is a great two player game for your child and his/her friends to play with!

As the name suggests, it’s a ball that swings! To be exact, it sits at the end of a tether string and two players have to hit it back and forth as it swings – a little like tennis. The tether will move up and down, and the player who manages to move the tether up to the top, wins! A game of great fun, the All Surface Swingball can serve as an immense stress reliever – hitting the ball back and forth will help them release any built-up stress. Also, you never know – a game of swingball could lead to something bigger. After all, world-renowned tennis player, Andy Murray, started his tennis career by playing swingball!

The best thing for us parents? It can be easily stored in a carrier box, and you can conveniently set it up in any outdoor location. So, you can definitely bring this outdoors to your nearby park, put it up, and it’s game on! Once the game’s finished, you can easily collapse it and store it back in the same carrier box. You can get yourself the All Surface Swingball from the plano Shop* today!

Putting the ‘great’ in the great outdoors.

Bringing your child outdoors for some good ol’ fashioned fun is always a good idea. It’s a splendid way for your child to run around and spend some time away from the screen. But more importantly, it helps relieve them of their stress and anxiety that stem from school or their smartphones.

As parents ourselves, if there’s one thing we will do, it’s protecting our kids’ mental and physical health. And if bringing them outdoors is going to help them, even just a little bit, then let’s all get out and do it today.

*only available to Singapore plano users.

Everybody makes mistakes, but it’s far worse if you don’t even know that you’re committing them. Here are 3 parenting mistakes you could be making without being aware of it.

The world’s most difficult job.

Parenting is arguably one of the most challenging jobs that we will ever have to go through. We can’t clock out when it strikes 5 in the evening, and it’s basically 24/7. Parenting is a lifelong commitment – we don’t retire from parenthood when we hit the big six-o, it continues even until we’re old and gray.

No matter how much time has elapsed, we’re bound to make some blunders on our journey as parents. While it’s acceptable to make mistakes, it’s important we’re aware of them too. On some occasions, we could be committing some dire mistakes that we are completely unaware of. Here are 3 parenting mistakes we might unknowingly be committing:

1. Giving in

We all strive to give our children the best and to make them happy. We would do anything to put a smile on their faces. However, there’s a difference between making them happy and spoiling them. When your little one asks for a new game or stuffed toy, it might pain your heart to say no to that cute little smile.

But giving in to them all the time may actually harm them more than help them – it can breed a sense of entitlement in your little one and they might grow up being unable to face rejection. According to psychologist Dr. Kindlon, when we give in to kids too much, it could lead to consequences like pride and greed. We wouldn’t want our little ones to grow up like that, so it’s important we stand firm when and say no when we have to.

2. Fighting their battles

There comes a point where your child will be faced with a battle of his/her own. It could be a little tiff at the playground when your child’s friend didn’t let him/her ride the swing, or the time when someone at school didn’t want to share biscuits with your little one.

While we would never want to see our child get hurt or feel upset, we need to let our children slay their own dragons. While it’s alright to offer them a hand of support, a listening ear, or a shoulder to cry on, you should not intervene in their battles. Getting involved in every minor conflict can harm your children’s development in the long run as this may breed a sense of over-dependency. Allowing them to fight their own battles also helps to boost their self-esteem and communicate with their peers to resolve conflicts.

Unless the situation has gone code red and someone has been actively bullying your child, it’s best to trust your child to handle the situation on his/her own.

3. Letting technology get in the way

As a working parent, you might be swamped with a dozen and one emails to attend to and this may spill over to your time at home. And as much as we want to remain productive and make that appointment that’s been sitting on your to-do list for so long, it’s also important to know when to stop. Set that phone aside and spend time with your little one once you return home from work. Neglecting them for your devices and forgetting to spend time with them can harm their social and emotional development. This could lead to emotional disorders later on in life and may manifest in loneliness and anger.

The same goes for your little one! If your child is spending excessive amounts of time staring at the screen, ask them kindly to set the phone aside to spend some quality time together. Otherwise, the plano App can help remind them to take device breaks every 30 minutes. You can even use it to schedule device-free periods on their phone so you won’t miss out on that quality time your family deserves.

The perfect parent doesn’t exist.

There isn’t a one-size fits all answer when it comes to parenting models. Just as each child is different, each parent is different as well. However, it’s also necessary that we are made aware of our pitfalls and correct them. At the end of the day, our children don’t need the perfect parent, they need a parent who’s always there for them, who supports them, and loves them unconditionally.

“Am I a good parent?” – Every single parent at some point in their parenting journey.

We often ask ourselves this question in the low moments of our parenting journeys. However, this is one that should be classified under the list of unproductive parenting questions that does not add any value to you, save for perhaps therapeutically allowing you to wallow in periods of self-doubt.

Instead, every successful parenting journey begins with a few fundamental questions that look deceptively easy but demand multi-layered answers unique to each parent.

These questions empower you to move forward in your journey with intent rather than being pulled along for the ride and ultimately give you a sense of direction in raising your kids right.

1. What kind of child do I want to raise?

What do you value as a parent – success or kindness? Sure, these are not mutually exclusive but what you prioritise determines how you choose to raise your children.

An article by Wharton professor, Adam Grant and his wife Alison Sweet Grant, notes the interesting contradiction between what we say we want to see in our children versus what we actually do. So, while many of us say that kindness and caring for others are important character traits we want to raise their children to have, we in fact subconsciously prioritize achievement above anything else!

Our contradictory priorities and their unforgiving implications

And as research shows, this mismatch between our actions and stated values is confusing to our children and consequently has a damaging impact on their ability to empathise! 

The art of striking a healthy balance 

What can we do to strike a balance between these priorities? The first step is to acknowledge that some of your parenting goals, like instilling moral values in your children, may have been unintentionally taking a backseat to make way for other goals, like academic success. 

The next step is to consciously give yourself ample opportunities to reprioritise these. After internalising and reprioritising, the final step is materialisation. Have discussions about the value of being caring and supportive with your kids. Model empathetic behaviour in your own actions in your interactions with the world. Whatever way you want to approach the final step, it is important that you find what works for you and your child.

2. Did I overdo it today?

When it comes to rewarding and/or punishing your child, how do you know if you’ve gone overboard? 

Rewarding vs. spoiling your child

A good rewards system is careful not to spoil your child. It should serve to motivate your child to work towards being better at something. For instance, if your child has specific behaviour problems like anger management, a rewards program can help them master good behaviour.

If you realise that your rewards don’t serve the purpose of promoting desirable behaviour, and are solely for the purpose of appeasing him/her,  it is time to reign it in. 

Punishments

To help you with this, communicate a set of rules in your household. Establishing these boundaries with your kids will help create a sense of consistency and will prevent you from meting out sporadic punishments that extend beyond the crime.

3. Was I present today?

As parents, the cogs in our brains are always turning, our thoughts constantly flittering from one worry to the next, and this happens more times that we care to admit: on the commute, during work and even during family dinner. While this is an unavoidable occurrence, it comes at a rather hefty cost – precious bonding time with our children.

Ask yourself this: When was the last time you were truly present mentally, with your child? When was the last time you sat down with your little one and listened to what he/she was saying, without being distracted by calls, texts or your own thoughts wandering to a looming deadline, work responsibilities etc.?

Parenthood is probably one of the most challenging roles you have taken up to date. However, the sooner you realise that your little one’s childhood is a fleeting gift, the easier it is to internalise its preciousness and the importance of spending real, uninterrupted time with them! 

Don’t lose sight of what matters!

Parenting is a confusing, crazy circus act. We’re so often consumed by thoughts of failing ourselves and our children. So we work non-stop for a better life for our kids, not realising that all they really want is a little more time with us. Let’s pause for a moment and ask ourselves how we can put our best foot forward. Only with that can we keep our eyes on what really matters – our kids!

We all want the best for our kids, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. With so much going on in today’s age it often feels as though we have to be super vigilant to make sure our kids stay safe and healthy. We as parents have lots to worry about and smartphone addiction is just another concern to add to the list.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are plenty of ways to prevent the onset of smartphone addiction- it’s just about knowing where to start.

As a mother of two nine-year-old daughters I know how hard it can be to get them to do the right thing. Growing up, all our parents had to care about was stopping us from getting our hands on too many sweets. This was relatively simple as they had control over which foods they brought into the house. 

These days, keeping our kids away from things that are potentially addictive is much harder. Smartphones provide access to an endless source of entertainment for kids; millions upon millions of games to play, videos to watch, and apps to download. It’s sometimes hard to know where to set the boundaries- a challenge that our parents never had to deal with. If you’re looking to prevent smartphone addiction in your household but can’t ask your parents for advice, check out these three tried-and-tested rules that can help you get your kids off their screens.

3 rules for tackling smartphone addiction: 

1. Be patient.

Getting your kids to change an unhealthy habit is never easy and never a quick fix. Remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Take baby steps and introduce small changes every day. Suggest going for a five minute walk or ask them to help chop some vegetables for dinner. Nothing too hefty; just enough to give them a small break- this way they are less likely to notice that any change is taking place at all. 

2. Swap it, don’t stop it.

As you probably know already, kids don’t respond very well to being told they can’t do something. Instead, focus on what they can do. Suggest an alternative so that they don’t feel like they are giving something up- rather just swapping it for something else. You can swap screen-time for other fun activities like playing sport, learning a musical instrument or trying a new skill like cooking or arts and crafts! 

A great app that can help with this is plano. plano is a parental control app which runs in the background of your child’s smartphone and sends them reminders to take breaks and limit their screen time. If your child follows these reminders, he/she can earn points that can be used to request items and activities like scooters and martial arts classes  in the plano Shop. This can encourage them to engage in more device-free activities even when you’re not around! 

By swapping screen-time with other activities, your child will learn to associate time spent off their phone with the positive outcome of a reward, helping them to develop a healthy and positive relationship with technology. 

3. Don’t forget to talk to your kids

This is something us parents often forget to do. You never know, they might even be on board with the idea! Studies have found that talking to your child is the best way to identify and understand their needs. You can use this to shape the way you regulate their smartphone habits in a more personalized and effective way. Sit down with them and create a schedule for when they can use their smartphones and when they can do other things.

Why is this important?

You may be asking yourself at this point; but surely a few minutes here and there on a smartphone can’t be too bad for my child? That’s certainly how I used to feel. But did you know that smartphones can be just as addictive as smoking? It can affect the same parts of the brain that smoking does. 

Aside from the stats though, I know that as a parent, I personally want my daughters to grow up excited by the real world- not the virtual world on their smartphones. I want them to sing, dance, run around and develop the skills to learn these things- something you can’t always learn on a screen. 

If you are a parent who has just surrendered to your child’s incessant whining for a smartphone, you may be wrestling with how to adequately teach your child to be responsible with their device. And with the App Store/Play Store becoming highly saturated with an ever-expanding eye-popping variety of game apps for kids, unsolicited in-app purchases by your little ones may be one of your primary concerns.

The good news is, there are several easy parenting hacks you can use to avoid the thorny consequences of your child’s smartphone antics.

Hack 1: Adjust your ‘Screen time’ settings

iOS:

  1. Turn on ‘Screen time’ in your settings and follow your phone’s prompts to select either ‘This is my device’ or ‘This is my child’s device.’ (If ‘Screen time’ is already turned on, start with step 3.)
  2. If your child is using your device, select ‘Screen time passcode’ and set up a passcode. To set this up on your child’s device, follow the prompts to set up a ‘Parent passcode’
  3. Select ‘Content & Privacy Restrictions’ and turn it on. Next, select ‘iTunes & App Store Purchases’ and set ‘In-app Purchases’ to ‘Don’t allow.’

Android

  1. Go to ‘User controls’ in your settings
  2. Set up a PIN in ‘Set or change PIN’
  3. Go back to User Settings and toggle ‘Use PIN for purchases

Hack 2: There’s an app for that.

For controls that extend beyond preventing your child from making in-app purchases, a parental control app is a fool-proof means of this. For example, the plano app’s* “Block Apps” and “Block Browser” features effectively help restrict your impressionable little one from having access to certain apps and online pages.

plano’s ‘Block Apps’ parental control feature

Rest assured, these features act as the much-needed extra set of eyes that flip the problem-source into the solution!

*Subject to your device’s technical capabilities

Hack 3: Understand and educate

When it comes to raising children who are growing up on an electronic diet, policing is never the answer. Rather, communication is key especially with regards to setting boundaries and restrictions, especially with regards to your little one’s smartphone behavior.

As parents, it is important we understand the psychology of such games in order to adequately and effectively help your child internalize why they should not purchase that power up or weapon. A lot of these games allow players to be stimulated just enough to get them hooked, before they hit them with the ‘pay to continue.’ Even adults aren’t immune to this form of entrapment, so imagine the compulsion children feel when they use such apps!

Understanding the science behind game formats will help you in having open conversations with your kids about their in-app behavior and can help in the formulation of good device habits moving forward.

At the end of the day, the mystery credit card bills and the frustration that follows it after you realise your own little one is at the root of your burgeoning electronic receipts is never worth it. Fortunately, you have the power to prevent your child from making exorbitant in-app purchases and instilling in them responsible device habits that will last them a lifetime!

Every day, we see our children hunched over their phones for hours. Spending excessive amounts of screen time can affect their posture detrimentally and we need to stop it before it’s too late.

Your mother knew what she was talking about.

“Sit up straight! Don’t slouch! Shoulder’s back!”

How many of us remember our mothers barking at us to correct our posture when we were little? How many of us remember feeling disgruntled as we reluctantly straightened our backs? Some of our mothers may have even had a ruler to measure how straight our backs were. Despite being a full-fledged adult today, I still shudder when I think about that ruler.

As much as we may hate to admit it, she was right. Our mothers knew what they were talking about (as they always do). And like a chip off the old block, we nag at our own children to correct their posture every time they use their phones.

The text neck syndrome

It’s as if their phones possess a magnetic force that pulls their necks and eyes closer to the screens. Known as ‘text neck‘, our children tend to slouch and bend their heads down and forward during prolonged periods of screen time. Tilting it forward for a long period of time can place a lot of strain on your child’s neck – which is a lot of pressure on such a delicate area of your child’s body. Slowly but surely, too much screen time will affect your child’s posture and this could snowball into something far worse. According to Miller and Wong, ‘text neck’ can lead to the “inflammation of the neck ligaments, nerve irritation and increased curvature in the spine.”

Children with text neck have rounded shoulders, tenderness, stiffness, soreness and weakness in their neck, back, and shoulder muscles. And the longer they go on without correcting their posture, the longer these symptoms will persist, and the harder it is to cure.

Already, we adults are beginning to feel the aches and pains of age with lower lumbar pains and stiff backs. We wouldn’t want our children to feel the same at such a tender, young age, would we?

The use of mobile phones have become an important component of the 21st Century. So, before we begin throwing out the phone and eliminating screen time altogether, here are some steps we can take to safeguard our children from text neck:

1. Raise it up

If your child constantly places the phone on his/her lap, it is likely that he/she has to constantly tilt his/her head forward to view the screen. If this goes on for more than a couple of minutes, your child’s prolonged screen time will affect his/her posture.

To prevent this, simply remind your child to raise his/her phone to eye level so that he/she doesn’t need to tilt his/her head forward to see the screen. That way, your child immediately corrects his/her posture and relieve the pressure and strain on his/her neck.

2. Get your head in the game

No, not literally the games that your little one plays on their phone. Rather, if your little one can’t get his head out of that little screen, then you can try to get into his device with plano! The plano app is a parental management app that runs in the background of your child’s phone and encourages responsible device use among children.

If your child is using his/her phone with poor posture, the plano app will prompt your child to correct it with a notification*. Your child will only be allowed to continue using the phone once he/she adjusts his/her posture. Not only that, the app will also remind your child to take a break from his/her phone every 30 minutes to curb excessive screen time.

A head’s up.

Our children’s bodies are constantly developing and every little habit can contribute to their overall health. Screen time not only affects your child’s posture, but it can also lead to the advancement of myopia and screen addiction. Without a doubt, it’s important we nip those bad habits in the bud before they develop into an irreversible consequence.

*subject to your device’s technical capabilities

It is one of the most addictive items in your household and most of us, including our impressionable little ones are hooked. Yes, your smartphone is enslaving by design and the consequences of its excessive use are vast and severe, especially so for our children. These include everything from device dependency, to vision problems like eye strain or even short-sightedness!

Given its addictive nature, it is our parental duty to lay the groundwork for responsible device use for our children, and it is crucial that we do it while they are young. How can we effectively empower our children with the emotional maturity to understand the benefits and pitfalls of their smart devices? We’ve identified 3 steps to ease the process and to help you achieve your parenting goals smoothly!

Step 1: Walk the talk.

As a working parent, you may sometimes be guilty of bringing our work home – that means responding to work pings, from calls to messages and emails during dinner and family time. Even yet, your idea of downtime largely consists of scrolling mindlessly through social media, watching YouTube videos etc.

Unbeknownst to you, however, your little one is constantly watching, their smartphone habits subconsciously being informed by your personal relationship with your phone. Fortunately, you can easily change the outcome of this daunting scenario.

Start by carving out some boundaries on phone use especially during sacred family time, including family meals, outings and gatherings. You can also vary how you enjoy your downtime. There are so many wholesome ways you can give your eyes a well-deserved break from the screen – read that book you have been putting off for ages, get a good workout regime going etc. Your little copycats will come to learn that there is more to life than just wasting it away behind a tiny screen.

Step 2:  Communication is key.

For many of us, trying to delay our children’s phone use and ownership may be an almost instinctive measure we take to prevent any form of tech-addiction from developing. Counter-intuitively however, having the ‘tech talk’ from an early age is one of the best ways you can educate them about healthy smart device use habits.

For starters, have a discussion with your child about their phones; something as simple as what aspects of using their phone they enjoy to more nuanced conversations about how they feel their phone adds value to or has detracted from their mental and physical health. The whole idea behind having such open conversations is to enable your child to gain a strong understanding of their device – with awareness comes the ability to self-regulate and the intrinsic motivation to use their phone responsibly!

Step 3: Fight fire with fire

One of the biggest assets us digital age parents have at our disposal is the technology itself. These days, one such digital resource that many parents swear by is parental control apps. Perhaps the draw of such apps is the promise of safe internet experience, with many parents welcoming the extra set of eyes to monitor their kids’ screen time and online activity.

It’s no longer just about control. Yes, the control aspect that these apps afford us is alluring. Beyond that, however, most apps fail to get to the root of our children’s phone addiction – the lack of education and awareness. This gap is exactly what the plano application hopes to address.

Adopting a more ‘carrot’ than ‘stick’ approach

Unlike the run-of-the-mill parental control apps, plano uses a reward system for kids which enables your child to earn points when they follow good eye care practices while they’re on their phone, effectively modifying their device habits. Using these points, they can request for exclusively discounted* items on the plano Shop, which offers a wide variety of device-free products and fun outdoor activities that you and your child can enjoy!

Raising a child right especially in this digital age is no easy feat. Remember technology should only serve to add value to our little one’s lives. Education and awareness at an early age the key to ensuring that they do not become prisoners to the virtual world that fits in the palm of their tiny hands.

Positive parenting is more than just a smile and a cookie for your little one.

What is positive parenting?

Picture this scenario: It’s a typical Sunday morning. You proceed to wake your little one up but you’re first met with a sleepy tantrum. You finally mange to quell the whining and feed your little one his/her breakfast. Instead of eating his/her breakfast however, he/she starts throwing it on the floor. Apparently breakfast wasn’t your child’s cup of tea that day. Your little one starts screaming that he/she wants chicken nuggets for breakfast, and the screaming starts rising to a crescendo. At wits end, you shout, “Stop it! Now! You’re ruining everything! Why are you crying? No chicken nuggets! Stop being a brat!” It doesn’t help, and your child erupts into a full-fledged meltdown.

Sound familiar?

In some of the most intense moments, we lose our cool and lash out at our child. It’s when we’re out of breath, out of time, and out of solutions do our ugliest sides emerge. More often than not, we feel an acute sense of guilt and regret our actions immediately afterwards.

This is where positive parenting can help. Developed by psychiatrists Adler and Dreikurs, positive parenting is a way of thinking that underscores the importance of mutual respect and positive feedback. It is mainly concerned with improving oneself for the future instead of punishment in the moment.

3 ways you can practice positive parenting at home

1. Exercise kind, but firm discipline

Instead of shouting a hard “stop it!” at your child when he/she is misbehaving, you can tell them firmly, but kindly. Just like how we wouldn’t like someone to shout at us, our children aren’t particularly fond of being shouted at.

The next time your child is having a meltdown, firmly, but gently, tell him/her to calm down and explain the situation. Let him/her know of the consequences and set limits so that your child can anticipate what will happen if he/she doesn’t behave. This allows your child to think through his/her future actions more thoroughly before acting out.

2. Extract yourself from the situation

When the situation goes code red, check yourself before you explode at your child. Breathe out peacefully and give yourself a time-out. Yes, not your child, you. Extracting yourself from the situation gives you time to consolidate your feelings and calm yourself down before you say/do something you might potentially regret.

After you’ve had your share of quiet time, revisit the situation and talk to your child calmly about why his/her behaviour was unacceptable. Let your child know how it made you feel and calmly explain why he/she shouldn’t react in that manner again.

3. Explain how to explain

The art of explanation has taken us adults years to hone, so why not begin teaching it to your child while they’re young? If your child is screaming and throwing a tantrum, chances are they feel frustrated and aren’t able to healthily control their emotions.

Coaxing your child to explain his/her emotions is a healthy way to get them in touch with their feelings. Start with asking the big WHY. Why is he/she feeling that way? Lead them to answer with, “I feel this way because…” Prompting them with questions helps them reign in their feelings and develops their communication skills. This way, your child will help you to understand his triggers and pain points, and you will be able to figure out what to do.

Putting the 2 ‘p’s in ‘supportive’: Positive parenting

Being a supportive parent goes beyond attending every swim meet or football game. While these actions are still important to show your child love and care, positive parenting encompasses firmness, discipline, and negotiation. 

At the end of the day, practicing positive parenting is all about being supportive – supportive of your child’s growth, well-being, and mental health. With patience and effort, we can help our kids grow into their best selves.

Are parent apps bringing out more problems in your child? Here’s how you can use them to achieve a positive outcome.

Think you know all about using parent apps? Think again.

You’ve probably used a few different parent apps, and you’ve probably got a couple favourites you swear by. Parent apps abound in the 21st Century, and for good reason. But are you using them correctly and creating a healthy environment for your child? Or are these parent apps simply restrictions that are indirectly fueling more childhood rebellion?

Here are 3 tips on how you can use parent apps healthily:

1. Remember to explain

“Why, mummy?”

Every child when they first learnt how to speak

Just like how you once explained every little detail to your little one – from learning how to use a spoon to why the colour of the sky is blue – explain in detail why you’re installing a parent app on your child’s phone. The (cop-out) answer many of us parents like to respond with simply goes, “it’s for your own good.” Offering no further explanation leaves our child wondering what the purpose of this app is, and could lead to protestations and tantrums.

So before that happens, try explaining: why is it for your child’s own good? How will it help them? What does it do, exactly?

Let your child know that these parent apps are important to keep his screen time in check. Staying glued to the screen robs your little one of enjoying many other things – like playing outdoors, spending time with his/her siblings, learning a new skill, etc. Moreover, minimising their screen time is important to keep their eyes healthy, and prevent visual conditions like myopia from developing.

The moment we begin to answer these simple questions, we build a bridge of mutual understanding for both your child’s, and your needs and wants.

2. Establish healthy boundaries

As parents, it’s normal for us to be concerned for our child’s safety online. Online dangers permeate cyberspace in the 21st Century – from phishing to cyberbullying to cyber scams. Our inner mama and papa bears emerge when we believe or feel that our child may be in danger.

So, we install all sorts of parent apps and place multiple locks and restrictions on their phone. We keep tabs on their actions and we constantly need to know what websites they’ve visited and who they’re talking to. That’s when the lying and the hiding begins.

Lurking behind your child’s shoulder all the time can cause distress and anxiety in your child. Just imagine having someone watch your every move even when you’re at home. It’s unnerving, isn’t it? That’s how some of our children may feel.

Children living and growing up in the digital age are much smarter and more knowledgeable about technology than we give them credit for. Instead of simply slapping on another block on their phone because they might not know better, talk to them about it first. Set up healthy boundaries about what you will be able to access on their phone and ask them if they’re open to it.

It’s important to find that balance and establish healthy boundaries with your child instead of infringing on their privacy.

3. Choose an app that educates them

There are a variety of parent apps that exist and all of them help protect our children from harm on the internet, and limit their screen time. But what about choosing parent apps that does more than that? What about parent apps that help instill good habits in your little ones? There’s a saying that goes, “a little goes a long way”, and it sure does when you start building the right habits in your little ones.

The plano app is one such app that reminds your child to take eye breaks every 30 minutes, and helps you limit your child’s screen time too. The app not only helps to prevent your child from spending prolonged periods of time on the screen, it also protects your child’s eyes from myopia progression. Research has shown that spending too much time on near work activity like using your phone can contribute to the development of myopia.

If your child consistently follows the prompts from the plano app to take an eye break every 30 minutes, it becomes a habit. And he/she will be taking breaks from their screens on their own in no time!

So instead of simply installing another parent app on your child’s phone that limits screen time, choose an app that helps to teach them the right habits to use their phones responsibly.

All of us parents want the best for our children, so it’s up to us to guide them along the way. When we use parent apps, we should use them to uplift our children and help them, not restrict and control them. The power is in our hands to make the choice, make the changes we need to, and to make it right.

There’s even a list available online to teach our young ones how to disable iPhone Parental Controls.

When the phone becomes the apple of their eye.

Their phones are everywhere they are. Known as the digital generation, children of the 21st Century have grown up surrounded by technology and are constantly connected to the internet. In Singapore alone, the smartphone penetration share has reached 78%. Our children are adopting smartphones more adeptly and quickly than previous generations.

Wi-fi is their oxygen and some may exhibit an obsessive, pressing need to use their phone all the time. In spite of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) screen time recommendations, children and teenagers alike are surpassing the daily screen time limits. According to reports, children are spending up to 23 hours a week on their digital devices.

Just think about it – how many times have you seen your child scroll through social media sites for hours on end? How many hours does your child spend playing games on their phone? How often does your child whip out their phone at the dinner table? And, does he/she use their phones in the bathroom too?

So naturally, we use iPhone parental controls to limit their screen time. After all, it’s for their own good. More often than not, however, our tech-savvy children find a way to circumvent these controls which frustrates us further. We parents have probably thought about what more we could do too.

A new approach.

Before we begin to understand what more we could do to limit our child’s screen time, we must first understand why our children react the way they do.

When our children lose their connectivity, they experience heightened anxiety. Research has shown that at least 50% of teenagers experience nervousness if they don’t check their phones. They then pour their energy into finding loopholes and caveats in these iPhone parental controls to bypass them.

So when we think we’ve got ’em, before you know it, we’ve lost to ’em again. Truth be told, it’s an endless cycle. But here’s what we can do:

1. Listen to their woes

Open up a healthy, serious conversation with your child to find out why your child is constantly finding ways to bypass these iPhone parental controls. There could be more than just childhood rebellion. It could be a result of peer pressure, self-esteem issues, and more. Once you begin listening to them, you can begin tackling the root cause of their phone obsession.

2. Allow your kids to create their own rules

You may be the parent, but your child is still his/her own person. In addition to listening to your child’s woes regarding screen time, guide them to set their own boundaries. Dr Taylor, a psychologist, has reported that when children are given the autonomy to make their own decisions, it teaches them responsibility and accountability. Letting your child set his/her own screen time rules will give them room to take ownership of their device use.

3. Use more carrot and less stick

It’s easy for us to punish our child when they misbehave, or sternly enforce new rules on them. But if doing so proves counterproductive because your child is able to maneuver around the iPhone parental controls that you’ve set, you might want to rethink your approach. Instead of punishing them or trying to take control of their phones, try incentivising them to spend less time on the screens.

The plano App helps to monitor your child’s screen time, while also taking care of their eye health. You can use the app to set no-device time schedules, and block apps*. The app also reminds your child to take a break from their phone every 30 minutes to rest their eyes. If they follow these reminders, your child can earn points that can be used in the plano Shop! With those points, he/she can exchange them to request for a fun toy to play with, or participate in outdoor sports classes like football lessons!

Not only is this a good way to incentivise your child to limit his/her own screen time, it also allows him/her to learn a new sport or pick up a new hobby!