Happy Earth Day! Today, April 22, is Earth Day’s 45th anniversary. For 45 years, people have come together to help our planet by supporting environmental programs, cleaning up their neighborhoods or living a more sustainable lifestyle. This year, I have 5 earth-friendly apps to celebrate Earth Day. Download these apps today to discover how to transform a water bottle into a piece of art, learn more about the environment or make healthier food choices.
If you have a creative kid at home, they may want to try Recycle and Create. This app’s purpose is to encourage people to reuse and recycle materials by making them into decorative and everyday objects. The app is simple. It is full of videos with step-by-step instructions on how to turn plastic water bottles into garden art or transform an old pair of jeans into a bag. Spend this Earth Day changing trash to treasurers.
Not crafty. Test your knowledge of our planet by taking the GeoQuiz challenge. Players can choose from 11 different categories ranging from “Countries and Flags” to “Food.” Each round is 20 questions and the scores are based on the number of correct answers and speed. If you have Trivia Crack addicts in your house, this app is fun alternative for Earth Day.
The object of this family friendly game is to clean up the ocean. Players tilt their device to maneuver through the ocean and suck up trash, oil spills and other hazards while protecting the ecosystem. Each level adds another challenge. Blue Planet is a fun game for even the littlest family members.
WWF Together, from the World Wildlife Fund, is a beautiful app. The pictures are gorgeous and the facts are displayed in unique formats. Unfortunately, not all the animals are available in the free version. Even so, my kids still found lots of places to explore. We did have some trouble downloading it. This app takes up a lot of space so make sure you have enough room on your device.
Food Score is a handy app to take to the grocery store when trying to make healthy choices. The Environmental Working Group has scored tens of thousands of foods based on its ingredients, nutrition and processing concerns. When shopping, you can either type in the name or scan the bar code. Each food item has an easy to read score sheet. The sheet explains why a food item received its final score as well as how it ranks compared to other brands.
When my kids were little, I belonged to a co-op preschool. At the co-op, we had monthly parent education meetings. During these meetings, we shared what was going on with our little ones. I usually left feeling relieved that my child was not the only one who could not write their name and had a few strategies for how to make carrots more interesting.
Often I think back to these meetings, when I give my digital parenting presentations. My favorite part is talking with parents and hearing about what is happening in their house. Most parents are asking the same questions. Is my kid the only one who is on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat? Who are they sharing with on all these sites? Does everyone really have a smartphone? Usually, we discover most of our kids are doing similar things. For better or for worse, we are all in the same boat.
Last week, the Pew Research released Teen, Social Media and Technology Overview which answered some of these same questions. Pew Research asked American teens, ages 13-17, about what technology they used, what social networks they frequented and what they were doing online. As I read through this study, I found it reflected what I am seeing and hearing from parents.
On Pinterest, I have a list of books for parents on managing their family’s technology use. I finally tackled my own stack of books and added many new titles to this board. For families with younger children, I found an excellent book on managing screen time and media. Beside the book recommendation, I have some other interesting links for parents and teens.
According to researchers at Penn State, when it comes to privacy management, adults and teens think very differently. While most adults think first and then ask questions, teens tend to take the risk and then seek help. Unfortunately, the privacy settings on many apps are initially set at the most lenient level. While teens prefer to download and go, making them slow down and change the privacy settings in the beginning can limit problems in the future. This is certainly true with ooVoo.
ooVoo is a messaging app like Kik. It has been around for a while but recently it has been popping on my twitter feed and news alerts. Teens are moving to this app because unlike other services, teens can chat with their Apple friends as easily as their Android buddies or even their laptop friend. While ooVoo is ideal for hosting a study group session, parents and teens should take care. If teens do not lock down their settings, they may see a lot more than a smiling face.
I remember going to the park for the first time with my oldest daughter. I was so excited about our first social outing. I imagined spending most of the afternoon at the park while she played on the slide and made new friends. All of this ended, when she decided to pick up a pile and bark and throw it at another child. How quickly my excitement turned to mortification. Instead of banning the park, we tried it again. On the way to the park, we talked about taking turns on the slide and asking a child to play. For a while, I hovered around ready to step in and help her make the right decisions. Slowly, my hovering transitioned to casually observing her from the park bench. Today, she walks on her own to the local park with friends.
Parents need to approach “the online playground” in the same way. We need to start talking to children about how to behave online from a young age. As soon as they can hold a device, we sit beside them teaching them how the online world works. As they grow, we create age appropriate rules that protect them, while allowing them opportunities to explore. Technology is a powerful tool. If used correctly offers amazing benefits for our kids.
Parents can start by integrating digital parenting into the lessons they are already teaching. Behavior online and behavior offline is the same. For example, rules for communication do not change with 140 characters. Kids should be respectful, kind and thoughtful in all their correspondence. These attributes are even more important in the digital realm. In the absence of tone and expression, kid must be extra careful and thoughtful in their choice of words.