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How to reduce your child's screen time
Everybody knows what it’s like to be on their phones all day. We have all been asked by Netflix, “Are you still there?” only to begrudgingly note yes, we are...and we have been for the last three hours. Technology has become so convenient and addictive that it’s hard to resist the digital screen. There’s nothing wrong with peppering our days with some screen time. Dr. David Anderson, a clinical psychologist and the senior director of National Programs and Outreach at the Child Mind Institute, said, "[S]mall doses of screen time can be a mental health-positive way of relaxing, reducing stress, and connecting socially to friends and family members.” However, the keywords are “small doses,” and it can be easy to pour too much screen time into our day. As with all things, moderation is key. We can benefit from our screens, but we can also benefit from turning them off. This is particularly important for children as they are still developing physically and mentally. The Seattle Children’s Research Institute noted that children between the ages of 10 and 16 now spend 10.4 of their waking hours with minimal movement. They would rather go online than go outside, which can result in lethargy and health problems. JAMA Pediatrics released a study in 2019 that linked excessive TV and video game consumption to lower academic performance in children between four and eighteen years of age. Because of the constant stimulation from technology, children, like adults, can get easily distracted and lose their ability to focus. To prevent or rectify these problems, how can parents like yourself limit screen time for your child? Fight Apps with Apps What? You should use the screen in order to limit the use of the screen? Yes, you can combat technology with technology! Apps like Offtime show how long you spend on various apps and how many times you unlock your phone. Seeing the stats can be the eye-opener that your child needs, especially if they see that they spent a total of three full days on social media or games! Other apps can encourage taking breaks from your phone. The app Forest displays a growing tree for however long the phone remains unused. Encourage your child to give these apps a try! Set Some Ground Rules You can also set rules for when or how much your child uses their gadgets. Common Sense’s nationwide survey revealed that 68% of teenagers take devices to bed, and a third of that number actually sleep in bed with them. Consider keeping your child's devices out of reach from a certain time before bedtime to after they wake up. The blue light from screens can affect the sleep-wake cycle, so by removing this, they will sleep better and awaken refreshed and prepared for the day ahead. You could also limit TV time, place restrictions on streaming services, or require homework completion before gaming. Eventually, your child might enforce these habits themselves. Make It a Team Effort Get the whole family involved and maybe even make a fun game of it. For example, give a prize to whoever can last the longest without a device. Make this a team effort, so your child doesn’t feel like they’re the only ones struggling to disconnect; rather, you’re all in this together. Whether you make this a family venture or not, you can set an example as a parent. Be present with your child, put aside your devices as often as you can. If your child is having a hard time reducing their screen time, seeing you thrive, and experiencing the benefits secondhand may inspire them to follow suit. Doing this together may create even better results! Create Quality Time and Experiences Try to spend quality time and create memories with your family to replace the instant gratification of technology. A lot of technology usage can derive from feelings of loneliness, but it actually doesn’t help. When you are with your child, give them your full attention. They may feel less of a need for technology and more appreciation for face-to-face connections. Plan family nights so your child will have too much fun playing board games or cooking together to even notice there’s no screen! You can also sign them up for fun activities, like an art class or sports camp, that will spark their imagination, encourage movement, and create special memories. - There’s a lot to be grateful for regarding technology. We can talk to family members in other countries and learn digitally through sites like Skillshare or programs like JEI Remote Learning. But there’s a lot to be grateful for outside of technology, too, so consider reducing your child’s screen time through the tips mentioned above. This is the perfect opportunity to challenge your child to go completely screen-free for as long as they can. With these tips, we hope your child will be able to experience an increase in focus, stronger connections, more exercise, and better sleep. We at JEI Learning Center believe your child can accomplish this and much more, so even if you’re starting late, take the pledge today!
Must-have skill #8: failing successfully
“When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel.” — Eloise Ristad If you never try something because you don’t want to fail, how would you ever get better? How would you learn your weaknesses? How would you eventually succeed? Fear of failure is a debilitating ailment with symptoms including inactivity, anxiety, demotivation, and procrastination. If your child seems steadfast in their aversion to trying out for a sports team, entering competitions, or studying for a test, they may have the dreaded fear of failure. This is unfortunately common due to social conditioning, but the mindset your child should actually adopt is that failure is not bad but the natural step towards success. Luckily, there are ways to remedy this. The first thing a child should learn is that failure is completely okay, even encouraged! It will take hard work. It will take patience. It will take resilience. In the end, failing multiple times does not make them a failure. It only makes them better versions of themselves, and this will always be worth the struggle and discomfort. In order to help your child succeed without fail, here are some suggestions as to how they can learn to fail successfully: Accept failure The deep belief that failure is bad needs to change--and this will be a process. Many times, they may doubt themselves or what they’re doing. Even years later, they may seem to be entirely cured only for this old belief to come creeping back in a moment of weakness. However, with time, they will better internalize this new belief that no matter how hard they try to protect themselves or how hard they work, they will fail sometimes--and there is nothing wrong with that. It is as natural as breathing, learning to walk, and stretching after a good night’s sleep. Fail often “Failure isn’t the opposite of success; it’s part of success.” — Arianna Huffington The more your child fails, the more they will improve. This can be scary for parents and children alike, but to reap the most rewards, children need to start this early and do it often. This will help them get used to it and grow comfortable with the disappointment that follows failure. This will also show all of their weaknesses, which can be painful but essential for growth. They aren’t going to get better immediately after one failure, and some issues persist because they are deep-rooted ones, such as self-doubt and impatience. Let them engage in trial and error as many times as they need to see what works for them and what doesn’t. To help them, shower them with as much love and support during this time as possible. Work hard every time Even though failure is a natural part of growth, your child should not go out there with failure as the goal. No matter what, they should make as much effort as they can each time with the intention of winning—that is where true improvement comes from. The important thing is to be okay with falling short of the goal. Sometimes, children are scared to do their best because that might mean their best was not enough. This is understandable, but the important part is not that “their best was not enough” but that they did their best in that moment. Sometimes, children believe that success comes from pure luck or natural talents rather than hard work. Success might come from a combination of the three, but hard work can never be a missing piece. Look back at what could be improved After failure, it is important to devote time to some retrospection. Some kids may want to jump ahead to the next opportunity or move on from the disappointing results, but they need to take a step back. It's important to let them know that they can’t go onto the next step without looking back and learning from their mistakes. Make sure your child reviews what they can do better next time because the goal is always self-improvement. If they did not do as well as they would have liked in the Math Olympiad, have them look over the questions they got wrong. If they lost a music competition, have them practice their weaker techniques. It could even be their test-taking method: Did they run out of time? What can they do to take full advantage of the given time? Try, try again “90% of all those who fail are not actually defeated. They simply quit.” — John Maxwell Some children might feel defeated after failing, but they should be okay with trusting in this process and trying again to perfect what they couldn’t on the first attempt. If your child was disappointed with their JEI Essay Contest results, for example, they may not want to go for it the next time. They do not want to relive that disappointment. However, it is important that your child gives themselves another chance. Failing a lot, as mentioned before, is important, but so is trying again at whatever they failed. There is no point in doing the retrospection if your child does not implement what they learned on their second, third, or even fourth tries. Practice self-compassion Children can be too hard on themselves, and failure is particularly hard. Even after failing a lot, it always hurts a little to see their best was not good enough, so make sure your child is gentle with themselves. Sometimes, they do not fear criticism from others so much as they fear that they weren’t, aren’t, and never will be good enough. Make sure to foster a positive attitude in your child, reminding them that they should treat themselves like they would their best friends. Guide them toward self-compassion. Encouragement and patience are key, and it helps to get them from parents and teachers, too. It’s okay to have off days, of course, but general pessimism is another big killer of success. Encourage internal competition “Comparison with myself brings improvement, comparison with others brings discontent.” — Betty Jamie Chung Another mindset issue is a child’s tendency to compare themselves with their peers. Make it clear to your child that the only person they are competing with are themselves. If they got an 85 on a test, they should try to beat the 85 instead of feeling sad that a classmate got a 95. This does not help them in any way. Parents and teachers should try to boost this idea of “the only person to best is yourself.” Do not compare them to others or they will adopt that mentality. Only talk about your child’s results, strengths, and weaknesses. Children only fail if they never improve themselves. They have to look within rather than without. — It is hard to avoid the negative stigma placed on failure. For too long, people have made failure out to be this horrific disease that must be avoided at all costs. People are made to feel bad about their failures. Only wins are highlighted in success stories, when actually the shadows of failure bring relief to the light that is success. If you want your child to succeed, it is best to work at undoing any negative beliefs they may have about failure. It will be hard, but their aversion to failing is keeping them from their infinite potential, so try to engage them in this process of failing successfully as best as possible! It is a must-have skill for everyone, children and adults!
Balancing children and working from home with JEI Staff
For the first time ever, due to the novel Coronavirus, everybody is continuing their lives to the best of their abilities within the confines of their home. While this practice of social distancing is undoubtedly a benefit for the entire community, it also comes with its own set of challenges for everyone. Parents are working from home. Children are attending classes online. Cats are meowing their displeasure. Everyone is going a little bit stir-crazy. JEI staff members are no different. Many are also working from home and, as parents themselves, are trying to take care of their children the best they can. To show that we are all in this together and we can make the most of the situation, our staff relayed their current experiences and advice as fellow parents while spending an increased amount of time at home. Oyen, Franchise Business Consultant “We’re adjusting to this new norm. We’re juggling responsibilities with no childcare, taking on home-schooling duties we never anticipated, and trying to follow disease-prevention measures we’re not sure we’re equipped to handle. The dining table is where most of our day is spent now. It is the workplace and school for the family. We try to end our day at 5 pm so my son Dru’s daily school assignments are turned in on time. Any unfinished projects for work will have to wait until my son is in bed. Staying home 24/7 is physically, mentally, and emotionally draining, but fun moments are also amid all this chaos. I think laughter and moments of joy is important to have in this new norm. We find solace in connecting with our friends and relatives virtually during this difficult time. Despite everything, there is still a lot to be thankful for during this very challenging time.” Sunhee, Franchise Operations Manager “My kids are old enough that I don’t have to do too much regarding their schoolwork, but they’re literally in the house all day on their devices, so I have to tell them, ‘Get out of the house and go take a walk.’ They need fresh air to refresh their minds and get away from the digital screen, so I bring them out with me sometimes. It’s spring, so it’s nice outside. My advice for everyone is to get that fresh air. You don’t have to go too far, but walk on your street or down the road. You can also use this time to talk to your kids more and spend time with them. I’ve been watching movies with my son, which has been nice, so set time aside to do family activities like that.” Christine, Franchise Training Manager “I think setting a routine or schedule is super important. Make time to connect to the ‘outside’ world, like through video calls with friends and family. Balance in some quiet time, too, where kids find a quiet activity away from parents (and parents can have some quiet time ‘away’ from the kids), like reading a book, watching a movie, etc. And find family activities, too, like baking or cooking together, playing board games, walking, biking, or scootering. Kids are receptive to adults’ anxiety, so bring as much normal to the kids as possible. [My daughter] Mina asks a lot about what the Coronavirus is, and we do our best to answer without being too alarmist. We also try to limit the amount of news we watch on TV.” Marcus, Director of Franchise Development “It comes down to simple things: structure, schedule, and studying. Keep it simple. What we’re doing is making sure we set a schedule, create a routine, and give options. Every day, [my son] Ryan gets up at a certain time, has breakfast, does his schoolwork, and goes to bed at a certain time. Kids don’t want to be cooped up in the house all day, but with ours, it’s hard to get him to go outside. He wants to stay in and play games when he’s not doing his schoolwork, which is his way of interacting with friends. That part of social interaction is good for him; we just don’t want him to be there all day every day. When we go out sometimes, we take him with us and maintain social distancing. Also, try to make it as fun as possible. You can keep a schedule so your child doesn’t get bored and still learns something, like doing puzzles at night in lieu of only watching movies.” — We at JEI Learning Center understand what all parents and children are going through during these difficult times. It is not easy being parents at this time, but try to have fun, enjoy the little things, bond with family, get creative, pick up hobbies, and continue life as best as possible. As Marcus suggests, you can do activities with your kids that are both fun and educational like the #CriticalThinkingThursday posts on our Instagram! You can also watch movies with your children or spend some time alone in nature to clear your head. We are all in this together, and we wish you the best, which is why we hope that these words of advice will be of some help. To create a structured schedule for your child and continue their education from home, take advantage of JEI Remote Learning. Contact your local center today, so your child can build strong study habits with our State Standard-aligned programs and JEI Self-Learning MethodⓇ!