Friday, January 11, 2013

screen-time approved


as Jes wrote recently, we parents need to take our own screen-time advice and hide the backlit bother away to instead focus on our kids and the real-time we're spending with them -- or, heaven forbid, see our neighbors' actual faces, not just their Facebooks.

the key is to keep them from becoming bothersome addictions and use them for what they are -- tools. everything in moderation (or in the case of screens, minimalism, in my opinion ... says the blogger who just spent a half-hour not-quite-aimlessly perusing her Facebook feed and is still recovering from an all-night "Downton Abbey" marathon).

i do OK putting away the screen, actually, if not the work that goes with it. (my daughter equates me + a computer = "mommy's working," which if she's waiting for the computer often ends in the same refrain: "you have two more things?") i save the useless Facebook meanderings for when the girls are in bed (almost all the time, anyway). and it helps that the only screen i have is a laptop screen. it's about as portable as you can get (Chromebook) but still nothing you'd carry in a hip holster or purse or something (at least, not the kind of purse I carry).

anyway, all of this prompted me to really think about how my young one spends her own screen time. and so i decided to share my favorite screen-time tools for my daughter's "computer time" (i.e., mommy's work-from-home-to-pay-some-bills time), as well as some things my girls and i do to turn a crazy moment into a together time-out with the help of a screen.

here we go...

pbskids.org: my daughter's favorite website. this website dominates 99.9 percent of our kid-involved computer time. (if we include all screen time, then movies on DVD would come in second, but probably a distant second.) it has games, coloring sheets and videos from a wide variety of clean 'n' cute shows we'd actually watch if we had tv. Sweet One's learned new words, facts about dinosaurs, basic math -- and how to spell p-b-s-k-i-d-s-"dot"-o-r-g as she familiarizes herself with the keyboard (first step to ten-finger typing! um, unless that's a skill getting ready to go the way of cursive...). another website we've enjoyed in the past, but is currently languishing in our home (due in part to the disappearance of an awesome audio version of "The Diffendoofer Song," which used to be our primary entry point) is Seussville.


picassohead.com: get a little art lesson by creating your own Picasso-style head (is that an eye or a nose?). i like this because it encourages being a bit more free, creative and off-kilter (good skills for parenting as well as the future artist).

fingerplays: the King County Library System has a wonderful online compendium of fingerplays and rhymes, many with video demonstrations. many of these are popular and traditional, but others i've never heard before. one of our new favorites came in handy for our indoor snow day (sans snow). it's also generally useful when you'd rather bring circle time indoors and bypass the frenetic craziness of public library story time.

and... well, that's it. (unless you count the Disney Princess coloring app on my husband's smartphone, which has saved the day in public places when cranky time is rearing its cute little head.)

i may be the only remaining person on the planet without a smartphone or tablet computer. so... this list is really short. that's a good thing. even if i did have a smartphone or iPad, it still should be short! but, i'm relying on you, dear wired readers, to add to this list with what are undoubtedly culturally updated ideas. what's your favorite app? online game? or are you on screen-time overload?

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