Archive for April, 2013

Screen-Free Week: Opinions Vary on the Unplugged Week

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Screen Free WeekScreen-Free Week spans from yesterday, April 29th, through Sunday, May 5th. Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC), the organizers of Screen-Free Week, encourage parents and educators to spend a week away from entertainment-delivering screens like televisions, tablets, and smart phones. They hope that children and parents will spend their newly free time enjoying the outdoors, engaging in physical activity, and spending quality time together. Parents and educators are also encouraged to start discussions with their children about the healthy use of technology, along with the benefits of extended screen-free time.

Though the goal of the week is simple, reception has been mixed. While many appreciate the idea of screen week, others find its focus on absolute avoidance of screens misguided. What do you think? Is it important to power down screen-based media for a week, or do those who do so miss the point? Here are some blog posts to get you thinking

Amy Kraft, blogger and game developer, offers her critique “Screen-Free Week, the Wrong Conversation” on Geek Mom:

“When some parents think of TVs, computers, iPads, etc. they picture mindless games that suck the attention of their child. The CCFC reinforces this brain-rotting view of screen-based media, but it’s to the detriment of children as future members of our creative, technology-based society.

Meanwhile, Simple Kids blogger Kara Floeck expects to participate in the week, and offers resources for other parents who will in her post “Screen-Free Week 2013.” She offers this perspective on the event:

I think the point of this week is about being more mindful of the screen time and making an effort to avoid the commercialism directed toward our kids through TV shows and ads.  If the take away for you is simply to be more aware of what screen time your family has, I think that is a pretty good thing.

In further search of middle ground, Amy Jussel of Shaping Youth emphasizes that we can capture the ethos of Screen-Free Week without quitting Instagram cold turkey for a week:

It’s not a simple either/or issue of polarity but one of media management and mindfulness, just like digital habits themselves. Personally, I unplug periodically, as you can see by my history of related links at the end, because I strongly feel the more digitally inclined we are, the more breaks we need to counterbalance the ‘always on’ dynamic of instant access and signal to noise mindfulness.

No matter how you feel about Screen-Free Week, conversations about the type and content of the media your family consumes should happen often. Our Media Management Tips provide a framework for those discussions. How will your family engage, if at all, in Screen-Free Week?

Time Shift Your TV – Bindi’s Bootcamp

Monday, April 29th, 2013
Bindi Irwin

Bindi Irwin

Think Amazing Race and Survivor on a trip to the zoo. Bindi’s Bootcamp makes its U.S. debut this week on Starz cable channel, Wednesday, May 1 at 6 p.m. ET/PT. 

Bindi Irwin, daughter of wildlife conservationist Steve Irwin, is putting a new twist on a children’s game show in this lively reality show competition.

We all first got to know Bindi as the little girl mourning her father’s death, when he was killed by a stingray barb in 2006 while snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. Now, at age 14, the confident teen is carrying on his conservation message in whatever way she can. In 2008, she won a Daytime Emmy for Bindi: The Jungle Girl, a song-and-dance show that focused on animals. In 2010, she starred in her first movie, Free Willy: Escape from Pirate’s Cove. Last month, she starred in Return to Nim’s Island on Hallmark Channel. Every project she tackles is aimed at educating families about wildlife preservation and at instilling a love and respect of animals of any kind.

As host of Bindi’s Bootcamp, set in the Australia Zoo, Bindi presides over three teams of two kids each as they compete in wildlife themed challenges designed to test their knowledge and their stamina. Each episode opens with a dramatic race through the Australia Zoo, followed by a mental challenge and then an obstacle course.  Teams compete in these daring, messy, and exciting challenges, while encountering the zoo’s indigenous animals.

Bindi’s a natural on camera and she’s fearless when it comes to creatures. Watch, learn and laugh along with the young “wildlife warriors” as they compete to win a chance to take a trip with Bindi on an Irwin family conservation project.

Candy Land, Then and Now

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Candy Land has been a staple of the game closet since Milton Bradley first published it in 1949. The game, which very well might be the first one that you, your child, and your parents played, looks a lot different now than it did back then, even if its rules haven’t changed much.

Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter, traced the design of the Candy Land board from its original design in 1949 through its present look. In the original Candy Land, two children wind their way through a course dotted with a peppermint stick forest and ice cream floats:

Candyland, 1949

Candyland, 1949

Over time, more character illustrations have been added to the board, including Princess Frostine (demoted from Queen Frostine in 2002) and Lolly (once known as Princess Lolly). The newest World of Sweets version of Candy Land gives those now familiar characters makeovers:

Candyland, 2010. Images by Rachel Marie Stone, 2012

Considering how much has changed since 1949, it is not surprising that Candy Land’s board has, too. While parents may welcome the diverse group of children at the board game’s starting point these days, they may be taken aback by the mature look of characters like Princess Frostine.

Of course, Candy Land is hardly the only iconic childhood favorite to have been remade in recent years. The Disney princesses, Strawberry Shortcake, and Rainbow Brite all have new looks. You can explore these changes on your own using the Strong Museum of Play’s online archives. For a quick nostalgia trip, search for pictures of the games and toys you loved as a child in the Strong archives, and then compare those versions to the ones your children play with now.

Correction: Candy Land 2010 images are originally from Rachel Marie Stone.

Time Shift Your TV – Swing into Spring

Monday, April 22nd, 2013
Curious George

Curious George

Sunshine. Warm weather. The great outdoors. After a week of endlessly upsetting images on TV, it’s time to lighten the spirit.

This week’s recommendation is for the little kids in the house — and for kids of any age who love the classic little monkey, Curious George.

PBS Kids debuts a new one-hour special Curious George Swings into Spring, airing Monday, April 22 (and repeating throughout the week.) on PBS.

The storyline involves the usual antics of the imaginative, happy, trouble-prone primate. This time, he’s very excited it is spring. The Man in the Yellow Hat takes him to the park to explore, and later George and Hundley the dog head to the country for more springtime adventures, which include taking an unintentional hot air balloon ride. That’s a big oops. But all ends well with a daring rooftop rescue by The Man in the Yellow Hat.

Does everyone have spring fever in your house? Maybe this special episode will help inspire you to set up a family garden, plant some plants, take a hike around your local park to explore what’s blooming, or just go out and play. It’s a chance for you to focus as much as you want on the Earth, weather, climate and our surroundings.

As always, use the media as a springboard to help enhance your life and your community.

The Next Big Thing

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Source: Sociamedia Today

Teens are well known for following fads and trends, yet there are a few constants throughout the ages.  If something becomes too popular, it suddenly isn’t cool anymore. Similarly, if your parents approve or join in, that’s definitely uncool. According to SocialMedia Today, that is exactly the problem for teens and Facebook. Too many of their moms have joined and well, where’s the fun in that?

For parents, it’s hard to keep up with what the kids are into these days (let alone all of the different passwords to remember). According the teen code of cool, just by trying to find the latest app your kids are into will immediately render it “over.”

Remember MySpace? Invoke it now and you may as well be talking about writing on stone tablets.  Facebook was designed with college kids in mind, but soon high schoolers joined, then the twenty-somethings and even tweens. Now everyone and their grandmother is on Facebook and the teens are moving out. How do you keep up with new social media trends? What apps do your kids use? How soon will it be before face-to-face conversation becomes the next big, really cool thing?