Making the Most of Technology

So now that I’ve given my two cents about “un-plugging” ourselves and our children from technology I want to explore the flip-side of the coin. Technology can also be a wonderful educational tool and it’d be unwise of us not to take full advantage of it. Our children are in the age that they can’t afford to be left behind on the technology front because it will ultimately be part of their world even if it’s not part of their profession in one degree or another. Leave your child with any technology for a fraction of the time you’d spend with it and you’ll notice that they’re a lot more tech savvy than you are – unless you’re an IT specialist.

My kids are 3 and 5 and they had mastered the iTouch at the age of 1… recently I found my son reorganizing our iPad so that all “his” games were grouped together for his own convenience. I didn’t have to teach them any of these things, it was all through self discovery and some times I just sit back and watch… usually learning a thing or two. I want to emphasize that even our tech savvy kids need to be unplugged every once in a while because they need to think outside the box and it’s healthy for them to unplug, but when allowing them to explore technology make sure that you’re also on deck.

On the topic of iPhone, iTouch, iPad, etc. let me point out that there are apps that are fun and a waste of time and then there are apps that are more educational and you get more out of for your kids. If you’re a pro in that area, then you might not need any expert advice, but if you’re like me you take all the advice you can get. I personally like advice, reviews, opinions, etc. because in the end of the day I can choose to do with it as I please, discard them or take them. So here are two great sites with tips, tricks and app reviews for parents: The iPhone Mom and iGame Mom.

I usually keep an eye out for freebies (which usually are only for a limited time), granted there are some great apps that are super inexpensive, but my favorite price is free. So how do you know when the freebies are out there? Follow their blog or sign-up for their newsletter and you’ll automatically get updates sent to your e-mail.

Here are two that really caught my attention just this week:   If you have older children, the NOVA Elements is an app that teaches the periodic table in a fun and interactive way … yes, for FREE!

If you have youngsters, as myself, the Bug Games by Busy Bee Studios is a 4-in-1 educational game that is FREE for this weekend only so jump on it!

Now moving onto video games. Kids love video games and I know my hubby does too, he’s a Madden player. I won’t lie, I enjoy Mario Brother’s and Rock Band once in a blue moon, and I’ve been called the Tetris queen 😉 But I can’t stand all those really violent games, but I won’t pass judgment. I’m sure they can be fun and exciting if that’s your cup of tea and perhaps you can even learn some strategic something or another from it?! However when it comes to kids, perhaps they shouldn’t be watching you play it because kids are imitators and unless they’re old enough to understand and you’re going to sit them down and explain it to them, they may not connect the dots correctly – but that’s only my opinion. Regardless, endless hours spent in front of the television whether it’s watching television or playing video games still isn’t good. So there are always better choices you can make.

When deciding what to watch on television, ask… what are they learning from this? When playing video games, ask… what are they learning from this? There are shows like Team Umizoomi that are educational and interactive, asking your kids to get out of their seats and do the wiggles… so that’s a plus. If you’d like your kids to watch something that teaches them some great morals, you should explore the Veggie Tales for some solid and fun learning.

There are also games that are educational and very interactive. The Wii was one of the first to get you moving and now the Xbox360 has the Kinect which is just awesome! I honestly have had my muscles hurting from doing the Dance Central2  (my favorite… great for any party and we even have the kids join in!). The kid’s favorites includes the Kinect Adventures, Kinect Sports and the Kinect Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure usually has my son sweating bullets. I honestly don’t feel guilty having the kids play these games especially when it’s down pouring outside or when it’s winter because they’re getting good exercise and they’re having fun, but it’s not like I’m going to allow them to play them when it’s a perfectly beautiful day and they can be running outside instead.

Just to clarify, I haven’t been asked to sponsor anyone, and I’m not making a dime out of anything… but just trying to share with family and friends some of what I’d like to call valuable common sense. Why? Because ultimately our kids are going to grow-up together, however far, they will be a part of the same world and I’d like to have all of them contributing in a positive way rather than what, unfortunately, we have to turn the television on to these days. So I hope that as responsible parents, we can all continue to encourage one another to put a little more effort on making the most of technology in a positive way so that our kids can grow to be of an asset to our society. Hope all of you have a fun filled and safe weekend!

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