Who knew that every kid in the state of Oregon would be doing school from home right now!? Amidst the toilet paper shortage and stay-at-home orders, our kids are spending hours on a computer doing school from home. While this is a necessity due to the current pandemic, it sure does pose some interesting challenges. My hope is that you will walk away after reading this with a few tools in your belt to help protect your kids and equip them to succeed at this new school from home thing.
Let’s take a look at a few options out there to help protect our kids online:
Click here to find out more about Bark!
Bark is a company that has made its main purpose of existing to help parents watch over their kid’s technology interaction while not constantly pestering or intruding on their kids’ privacy. Here is a quote from their home page:
“As a busy parent, reading every text message, post, and email just isn’t realistic.
Instead, Bark was created by parents, for parents to offer a better, easier, and more effective way to keep children safe online.”
Their service does cost $14 a month, but I believe it is well worth it. I was able to do a personal trial of their software where I was both the child and the parent. Wow was I surprised by how much they can catch! I was by no means engaging in anything unwholesome, but I do work with many parents and volunteers who confide in me.
Their software doesn’t leave the parent alone in guiding their kids through the things they are exposed to online and with friends. It suggests articles written by professionals in fields that address the exact thing the parent receives notices about.
If your child has access to a smart phone, a laptop, a tablet, or any other messaging and online enabled device, I encourage you to look into this software.
Apple Screen Time and Google Family Link
If your child has access to a tablet, smartphone, or laptop, developers have done a really good job of creating some local settings to help protect your kids.
As a parent you can manage things such as:
- How much time your child is on the device.
- Whether they can install apps, which apps they can install, and whether they can delete them.
- Whether they can browse the internet, which specific sites they can visit, and what level of age maturity they can access online.
- Whether they can listen to explicit music or see explicit books.
- And much more.
Now that we’ve talked over some ways to protect our kids, let’s discuss a few ways to equip them for success.
Interval Timer Apps
We’ve all heard the saying, “Work hard so that you can play hard.” I think this definitely applies to our kids. They are used to having a rigid schedule of working hard in the classroom and then getting to play hard at recess and lunchtime. I encourage you to help them have sessions of focused work time and breaks full of fun. I have had success in using a few different interval timer apps to help with this. You can set specific timers to go off after both sessions. If all fails, a good old timer works too! Knowing they will get a break to play after the current work session can be a great motivator to many kids.
Invest in them
I would argue that the most effective way to help your child succeed during this unique time is to spend time with them. Our kids CRAVE our attention. They may not always show it on the outside, but they really do! Remember that out of all the influencers in your child’s life, you are the biggest. My challenge to you is to find a way each day to go out of your way and spend time with them. It can be a few minutes or a few hours. Either way, when you spend time with them, give them your full attention. Affirm them, listen to them, let them show you their doodles, play Minecraft with them. Whatever you choose to do, be yourself and be present. When you do this, your kids will be fueled to succeed.
Happy Valley Children's Pastor