Aug 28

7 Deadly Sins of Mobile Tech Use

There are so many apps now. Did you know we have over half a million iPad specific apps to choose from? That’s a lot of downloading and trying things out. When I’m working with teachers and parents, I get asked a lot of questions about the actual day to day use of iPad or laptops. Or about what might go wrong with mobile devices…

I reckon most of it is common sense once you start thinking about it, but because most of us didn’t grow up with this much technology, there are some things I see so often that I’m now calling them the  7 Deadly Sins —->

  1. Sitting on floor with a device. This is just bad posture and a bad idea in general. For your kids it means their legs or necks or backs are on a funny angle, and for the device it likely means its sitting on the floor getting hot and potentially over-heating. Keep those devices on laps or at tables – especially when they are younger.

2. Holding the device way too close to their face. Yes they want to zoom in to the cartoon face or that YouTube video but most apps these days are designed to be used on a standard iPad screen – so holding it at a ‘normal’ arms length shouldn’t be a problem. I’m not a optometrist but it can’t be good for their eyes with all that squinting.

3. Sitting in one position for an hour. So I get that our kids (and us) get caught up in our video, or online book or game, but we really have to avoid being so stationary. Move around a bit. Stretch your legs. Go sit at the other end of the couch – try to move every 20-30 mins and you’ll feel better, promise

4. Only ever being a consumer. It’s true that when iPads first came out they really were a consumption device – watch this or read that. But now the range of apps we have means our kids should be creating as well as viewing online. Show them the Explain Everything App or get the Microsoft Windows Live Moviemaker free software. Have the take a camera scavenger hunt outside or make a photocollage (I love PicCollage free app). Get them creating. This helps them understand what goes into that content they are consuming as well as getting them thinking and questioning and moving. PS an online game doesn’t count as they are still following the game developers plans!

5. Giving out your password to kids. Yes you trust them and yes they are responsible but the reality is you are teaching them that passwords and credit card numbers and usernames aren’t actually that private. If you really want to give your older kids access to your iTunes account for example, set them up their own account and buy an iTunes voucher to add credit. Much safer than giving your account details (with your credit card attached) and they will learn how to budget and save money. Please don’t give your password to your kids!!!

6. Charging their devices in private spaces. I really think that our kids don’t need technology in their rooms at night. They can sign off from their friends and leave the phone or tablet or tablet in the kitchen or family room. If it’s in their room I think it’s just too much temptation to check in online….our kids need a good night’s sleep to be ready for school or work or sports – whatever gets them up in the morning. Online bullying requires our kids to be online – and at night in their bedrooms there’s a lot less chance of them coming and asking for help.

7. Not knowing what apps are on the device. So our kids have a range of digital devices, and these all have apps or software on them. Many apps and softwares are now free which makes it very easy for them to download them without us knowing – no money or credit card required. Every week or so, just pick up the device and have a look at what’s installed. Then ask questions about it – what does it do, why do they like it? It’s good for them to know that we are interested in these things that take up so much of their time and attention :0) You might find they have software you aren’t happy with – like maybe Facebook or Instragram if they are under 13, or Snapchat or Q&A sites. You can then chat to them about why they shouldn’t be using them…yet! When they are adults (or just older) they can make their own decisions but for now, it’s our job to help them make good choices online!

So those are my 7 Deadly Sins of mobiles devices – do you agree? Any you’d add? These are just my opinion of course so feel free to share your thoughts below! ;0)

Aug 24

Has chatting with our kids become a lost art?

I was sat in a coffee shop the other day when a dad came in with his little kid. She must have been about 4. THey sat down, he asked for menus and helped her choose her breakfast (pancakes with exxxxtraaaa berries pleeesse).

Then for the next 25mins they just sat and chatted. He told her about his work and the people in his office. She explained at length why her new best friend was Sam not Lizzy. (oh no, Lizzy is meeaaan).

Their breakfast came and was eaten while the convesation continued. That dad spoke to her with such respect and interest in what she was saying that it made me notice them!

He didn’t once touch his phone and she didn’t want to play that game on his iPad. They just chatted.

I’m not sure how much she understood of what he said about his work colleagues’ presentation that was due today, but I am sure she got that she was important and listened to right then and there.

It got me thinking though – how often do we assume kids need ‘entertaining’ with technology? How often might we instead just sit and chat and find out more about their lives and thoughts (and often they are quite hilarious – bonus!)

I’ve done this too – brought along toys and iPads and books to a coffee shop when I’m babysitting little kids or I’m asked to teach a class at the last minute. Perhaps I shouldn’t. They are little for such a short time that I’m going to try and spend more of it actually present with them, rather than the ‘absent-presence’ that technology can create.

I don’t think that the dad I saw will ever know I over-heard him interacting with his daughter so beautifully. He’ll never know that he inspired me to think about how and when I pull out the iPad – but I’ll thank him here anyway. Nice one, mate.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – when do you have the best chats (and insights) with your kids?

Aug 15

Never lose a school notice again!

So it’s a beautiful day here. The conference is amazing and the food is… well, amazing too!
 Tech-TIp time – a quick one today.
Keep loosing those school notices or forms or permission slips?
Once you’ve returned them I find it hard to keep track – what was that I signed. Could have been anything really. Maybe I signed my kid up for the army or the circus. Who knows.
So my tip for today is to get Evernote. Such an amazing tool (it’s my external brain and has been for 6 years).
Get the free app on your computer, iPad, phone or any device really. You save something on your phone, it appears on your computer. So no matter what device you have with you your info is right there.
never lose a school note again
I love it. More than is reasonable probably.
So, how to use Evernote to deal with all that school paperwork your kids bring home? 3 steps…
  • Take those notes form school, gym club, footy club or whatever you need remember.
  • Open up Evernote and choose the ‘Photos’ option
  • Take a quick pic of the info
Evernote will save this and sync it to the cloud. The best bit? The whole thing is searchable. Right down to the text inside images. So take a photo of the parent helper roster and then search for your name and it will find your name inside the photo. So cool.

So it’s a Thursday and darling 8 year old says ‘I think its Italian day tomorrow, I think I need a costume or was it food… mum!!!!!’

No worries. Open up Evernote, type in ‘Italian’ and let Evernote work it’s magic. Up pops the original letter (likely sent a month ago) with all the details.
Relax, all you need is a Mario moustache and a pair of blue overalls and you are set.
How to win at mum-ing? Evernote, all the way. :0)
never lose a school notice again
Give it a go and let me know how you go. If you have any questions about Evernote, leave a comment below and I’ll get right back to you :0) Gotta convert me some folks to the Evernote-way.
Enough with the evangelical nutty-ness. See ya!!
Aug 14

bloggers have conferences? Why yes. Yes they do.

Random post today….enjoy!
So how was your day today? Busy, right?
Well mine was mad too. I’m on a plane to the Gold Coast right now – very excited to get to this year’s ProBlogger event.
By 11am I had packed, picked a parcel (at 6am!) from the post office, driven across Melbourne, met with 2 teachers and a University colleague, had lunch and was beginning to work on my latest scholarship application…. but then I realised that my passport is out of date. I’m lucky that I have 2 passports Australian and UK. So I’d checked the UK one for our trip home for my cousin’s wedding in 6 weeks. But hadn’t checked the Aussie one, it’s expired. Ha. Not good. So spent a good hour finding out how to get a renewal, completed it online, took a quick tram trip to the Post Office in the city, got photos taken, made a post office to lodge my application on Monday and then headed back to my desk… Phew. That was a big day. And it was only 11..
After a few more hours work I submitted my scholarship application and ran for my car to get to the airport. Realised that I hadn’t booked the long term parking – so have to pay full whack. Not good.
Next got stuck in nasty traffic, found a park, shuttle bus to terminal was slowest in the world, bag check was more packed than check in (when did the ‘quick’ check-in online become so sloooowww!) and made it to the gate. SO now I’m on my way.
Anyway, now I really need to switch my brain to Blogging now… wish me luck!
Can’t wait for a bit of sunshine, a hotel room and some learning.I’ll be popping over the next few days to let you know how it’s going, It’s gonna be great!