While the majority of our learning takes place off-line, we do take advantage of the many apps available that can enhance my children’s learning experiences. It can be a challenge to ensure they don’t spend too much time in front of a screen though.
In this video, I share the five principles we employ to use mobile devices safely. Plus I share the ten apps we use every week in our homeschool and a few tips on getting the most out of the apps.
Five Principles To Teach Children To Use Apps Safely
Teach your child good technology habits.
Can we learn how to establish good technology habits and regain lost hours every day? You bet! In this video, I shared the three questions I ask myself and teach my children to ask themselves so we can live a balanced life and use technology wisely.
The most effective way to teach your child good technology habits is to model them yourself. I find it helps me be more compassionate as I train them how to use technology. I am facing the same temptations so I understand the difficulty of putting down my mobile device or shutting off my computer.
I think it is also important for them to see me struggle with this. Companies have researched how to draw us in and keep us using their app. We are struggling against well-researched principles focused on creating an addiction to the software and apps more and more. It is vital our children develop and maintain good technology habits in order to take advantage of the benefits they offer yet to use them wisely.
As I struggle to maintain a healthy balance of technology and off-line activities, my children see me using various strategies and habits. And sometimes they see me fail. When I’ve been on my phone too much, I can ask for their forgiveness that I have been more interested in what was going on elsewhere than in their life.
This transparency allows us to have important conversations that will influence their own view of technology and mobile devices.
Setup parental controls and screen time restrictions.
Do you have parental controls enabled on your child’s mobile devices and computers? In this video, I talked about why I no longer restrict my children’s screen time. Basically, it boils down to wanting to help them develop good technology habits now while I can monitor and guide the habit formation. I want them to learn how to restrict themselves instead of me enforcing strict time limits.
As they are learning and developing these habits, parental controls and screen time restrictions play a key role in providing structure and accountability. These tutorials were helpful in setting up parental controls and screen time restrictions:
- How to setup screen time and content restrictions on iOS (This is helpful for your device too!)
- How to set up parental controls on iOS
- How to set up parental controls on Android
- How to set up parental controls on Amazon Kindle Fire HD
- How to setup YouTube strict search
- Use the Covenant Eyes browser
Turn on Do Not Disturb during school hours.
Have you noticed that we have become a society that wants an immediate response? If someone does not text or call back immediately, I find myself getting impatient and frustrated. And if they haven’t responded by the end of the day, I start to wonder if something is wrong.
We have been trained to listen for notifications of all sorts—texts, calls, emails, social media, apps. This is a new phenomenon. I remember a time in the past when I intentionally allowed phone calls to roll to my answering machine so I could call someone back at my convenience. I’ve gone back to the good ‘ole days and turned off all notifications except phone calls and texts. (And there are days I mute a text conversation if a group gets chatty.)
Even with notifications turned off, phone calls and texts still come through so we turn on the Do Not Disturb feature during school hours. We need to focus our efforts on the task at hand of learning and not get distracted. This applies to me as well as my children.
Dock devices in a common area at night.
My children are not allowed to keep mobile devices or computers that can connect to the Internet in their room at night. We dock them in a basket in the kitchen (phones) or on my desk (computer). It is their responsibility to plug them up and put them in the basket each night. If they forget and their phone does not make it to the basket, they lose the privilege of using it the next day. This has only happened a couple of times for each girl. Now they are very diligent to make sure their phone is docked at night.
I have begun doing this as well. I no longer plug my phone up beside my bed. My phone is docked in the other room too. I discovered that I am much less likely to check it first thing in the morning when I don’t have it within easy reach. It feels good to start my day without technology!
Ensure you use off-line learning methods.
Technology and apps can be very useful. And some children learn very well with an online program. But it is important to have a balance and ensure you are using off-line learning methods as well.
We enjoy reading living books and playing games to enhance learning. And don’t forget to include writing with pencil and paper. My children are allowed to prepare many of their narrations on the computer, but I also find ways for them to narrate the old fashioned way as well.
The apps we use in our homeschool.
- Covenant Eyes browser (iOS | Android | Kindle Fire)
- Scripture Typer (iOS | Android | Kindle Fire)
- YouVersion (iOS | Android | Kindle Fire)
- Libby (iOS | Android | OverDrive for Kindle Fire)
- Hoopla (iOS | Android | Kindle Fire)
- Audible (iOS | Android | Kindle Fire)
- Kindle (iOS | Android | Kindle Fire)
- Seterra (iOS | Android)
- Stack the States (iOS | Android | Kindle Fire)
- Stack the States 2 (iOS | Android | Kindle Fire)
- Stack the Countries (iOS | Android | Kindle Fire)
- YouTube (iOS | Android | Kindle Fire)
- Mango Languages (iOS | Android | Kindle Fire)