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October 21, 2014 / JaymeJ

Managing media use @ home


illustration by Jennifer Miller

An ever present challenge for parenting in a “connected world” is managing media use by our children.Parents often wonder:

  • How much screen time is too much?
  • What’s more important – what kids watch or how much they watch?
  • Which apps and websites are appropriate for my child?
  • What happens if I make the wrong decision?
The most important thing for parents to realize is there is no one-size-fits-all, magic bullet, “right answer”  — each family, and even each child, is different. What works for another family may not work for yours. What worked for your oldest child might not be the best choice for your youngest. That said, here are some tips and resources to help parents make educated decisions about their child(ren)’s media use.
Screen Time
A recent NPR post “Kids and Screen Time: What does the research say?” summarizes a study by UCLA on the affects of screen time on socio-emotional skills. Researchers found that increased exposure to screen time lead to a reduced ability to read facial expressions and emotions. The latest American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation suggests that entertainment “screen time” should be limited to two hours a day for children ages 3-18. And, for 2-year-olds and younger, none at all.When enjoying movies or television shows, it is also important to consider not only how much they watch but what is being watched. Content is important – what values are being conveyed? I’d also add the importance of how media is consumed. Parent/child interaction around screen time increases the value. Watching together allows for important conversations and teachable moments inspired by themes and topics contained in programs.Jennifer Miller, an expert on social and emotional learning, advocates for families to have a media plan. In her blog post “Smart Home Media Use: Limiting screen time,” she suggests that families hold a family meeting solely about media use and provides excellent suggestions and talking points for such a meeting:

Sample Family Meeting Agenda from Jennifer Miller

  1. Define media (the variety of screens that exist in the house) and the fact that you want to focus the discussion on this topic.
  2. What are some of our best experiences with media? What types and why do we love it? What are some frustrations or challenges with media?
  3. Share and know the facts. Please see the list below for facts you can share. Be sure you clarify and ask questions about the facts to model that kind of questioning for your children.
  4. Add your own family’s facts! Do include time constraints – fitting in homework, snack time and dinner after school, soccer practice, free chance to play and also, time to connect as a family. What lost opportunities are there when screen time is unlimited? How do we want to connect as a family each day? Is it at a mealtime? Get clear on where this fits first.
  5. Now, considering the facts, you might ask the following questions:
    A. How do we need to limit screen time in our house?
    B. How much time should we allot?
    C. When should it be used?
    D. Where should it be used?
    E. How should it be used?
  6. Finally each person in the family can give one hope or dream for how media will positively contribute to their lives in the future.

After your family media meeting, put your plan into writing with a Family Media Agreement. Here are a few samples:

Selecting Content
PictureThere are a number of resources parents can use when determining if an app, website, TV show, movie, or book is appropriate for their child. Common Sense Media’s ratings are a perfect starting point. Using the Common Sense website or by downloading the free Common Sense Kids Media App, parents can read Common Sense Media’s rating (which seem to be fairly conservative), ratings by parents, ratings by children, as well as see a quick graph of “What parents need to know” for each title (see sample at left). Additionally, reading the iTunes or Google Play reviews for particular apps is always informative. When looking at app reviews, pay attention to see if the app offers “in app purchases.” Common Sense Media, the iTunes Store, and Google Play all specify if in app purchases are available.For older children, have them do the research before asking for something new. Children in 4th grade and up can be taught to check the Kids Media app, read reviews, decide if it would be a good fit for them – then they can ask you for permission. Another good idea is for you to have children write down their request on a “wish list.” Then later, at your convenience, you can take your time, read reviews, and make a decision that best fits your family.
It is OK to Change Your Mind!
Parents often ask, “What if I Make the Wrong Choice?” Saying, “Yes” does not cement your decision in stone. If you have allowed your child to download an app or to start watching a movie, and something doesn’t feel right, it is okay to change your mind. If content or player interaction raises a red flag for you, or if your child’s behavior changes or becomes obsessive, reassess your decision. It is okay to say, “I made a mistake,” stop allowing the app/website/game, and revisit your decision later. Media use is an ongoing conversation. As children get older, their maturity can and will change…and your decisions may change, too. It is all part of the parenting process.
October 21, 2014 / JaymeJ

Global Cardboard Challenge 2014

Low-tech Technology Class – 3rd Graders and the Global Cardboard Challenge

Think. Create. Innovate.


This year our third grade students participated in the annual Global Cardboard Challenge, inspired by the documentary Caine’s Arcade. Coinciding perfectly with our school-wide theme Think, Create, Innovate, our technology team has been busy transforming our traditional lab into an innovation studio and maker space. The Global Cardboard Challenge was our first “maker” project and the kids could not be more excited about it! We started by watching Caine’s Arcade 2 for some inspiration. Students then decided if they wanted to work with a partner or independently and sketched their design ideas on a brainstorming sheet. We spent 4 weeks building, tinkering, sawing and gluing. The final results are creative and most importantly the students have been saying things like, “I want to come to technology everyday!” We love the enthusiasm and will be inviting teachers to bring their students to check out all of the 3rd grader’s…

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September 23, 2014 / JaymeJ

Discovering my limits

Lit review fun aka how I spend every spare moment #dissertation #EdD

Lit review fun aka how I spend every spare moment #dissertation #EdD

I am the type of person that thinks they can do it all. Juggling multiple roles is a self-perceived strength. This month, though, I have discovered my limits. The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was my Literature Review. Slowly I realized that something had to give. With great reluctance, I sent two emails this week – resigning from roles in both the GEG SoCal and ISTE Ed Tech Coaches Network leadership teams. Hopefully, since I left on good terms and recommended two amazing colleagues to step in, I will be welcomed back in 2016 – after I have defended my dissertation. I’m human. I have limits. That’s sometimes hard to admit.

Now back to reading…There’s still that literature review to complete.

May 7, 2014 / JaymeJ

Adding text to images within Google Docs

Have you ever wondered,“How do I add text over an image in Google Docs?” Here’s the solution.

May 6, 2014 / JaymeJ

Creating QR codes to share videos

I create and use QR codes regularly for my professional presentations. I sing the praises of using QR codes to my teachers. Uploading videos to YouTube or creating websites then making QR codes to enable sharing those resources is something I don’t even think twice about doing.

A challenge arose this week, when I wanted to have my elementary aged students upload videos and create QR codes for sharing with others. Because students are under 13, we do not allow them to upload to YouTube. It would take me far too long to upload a hundred or so student videos. The challenge was set: How can elementary age students upload and share videos, independently, while still following our school’s Responsible Use Policy and COPPA guidelines?

After reaching out to my PLN, then testing, tweaking, and streamlining the process – here is my solution.

Step by step directions for uploading a video and creating a QR code for sharing with others.

May 5, 2014 / JaymeJ

Screen free week: Untether yourself from technology

Reposted from Village School’s Tech Bytes


This week is International Screen Free Week, a time when parents and children are encouraged to step away from devices and use their free time for some offline fun! Of course, this does not include using technology for work and school assignments. You have to keep doing those, but you can cut back on checking social media or playing Candy Crush!
Before you step away from your computer to go outside and play with your kids, here are some resources to help you be a bit more mindful with your technology use.
In an interview, Rachel Macy Stafford (the blogger behind Hands Free Mama) shares some tips for carving out quality time with your children. Even though her blog title says “Mama,” this advice is perfect for Papa’s, too!

  • Establish distraction free time every day. In Stafford’s home, weekdays from 3-7:30 are device free and weekends are as unplugged as possible.
  • Create one daily ritual. Set aside a time, every day, that is just for you and your child.
  • Say proper goodbyes. Take 60 seconds to say goodbye and show your love.
  • Turn off notifications.  Silencing alerts untethers us from our always-on technology and our compulsive desire to respond like Pavlov’s dog to each chime, ding, or buzz.

Additional reading:

May 5, 2014 / JaymeJ

Powerful Password Tips for Parents

Last week, I attended the Safe, Smart, Social Summit that focused on safe social media use for teens and tweens. The first panel – comprised of IT experts from Symantec, Sony, DirectTV, and Sprint – spoke about internet security and the importance of protecting data. Inspired by the information shared, I’ve curated a concise collection of password resources for parents at my school. Here are links to two recent posts – great reading for parents and non-parents alike!

Part 1: Password Tips for Parents

Part 2: Powerful Passwords