Tip of the Week

Screen time. You’ve heard the phrase before, and if you’re a parent, you’ve probably agonized over creating a screen time policy for your family. You understandably want a policy that reflects your family values, and you also want to consider your child’s wants, needs and expectations.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, a go-to resource for parents on screen time guidelines, has determined that not all screen time is created equal. New research is changing the way parents look at screen time, and challenging parents to examine the quality of the time spent in front of devices. Quality is especially important when your children are seeking screen-based entertainment — games, shows, social media — and this is where family policies get tricky.

How much online entertainment is too much? Can there be too little? The team at Star Stable Online — makers of a popular online, horse adventure game — recommends parents get involved with their children’s online activity, monitor their online behavior, explore their favorite games, shows and activities, and create a family screen policy that is more than just “hours or minutes.”

The conversation around screen time is less about time and more about active digital engagement. If you do not recognize all the activities they’re enjoying online, this is a great opportunity to ask questions and create a dialogue about their digital habits. To help you determine whether your child is enjoying quality screen time, the team at Star Stable Online recommends these questions to get the conversation started:

* Do you interact with other kids online? This question helps you determine if the child is building social skills in a safe, online environment. Parents must determine if the game or online activity promotes positive social and collaborative play.

* Do you solve problems in the game? This question helps you determine how the child interacts with the game and what he/she learns from playing. Determine if your child faces challenges in an environment that is constantly changing and expanding, forcing them to adapt. Find out if they need to use their best reasoning skills to complete challenges independently or as a team.

* What does success look like and how do you feel when you succeed? This line of questioning helps you determine if the game is building your child’s personal character. Does the game include storylines and activities that promote responsibility and respect for others? If your child interacts with other players, ask how that makes him/her feel (happy, motivated, helpful or strong).

* Have you learned new vocabulary while playing the game? This question helps you determine if reading is a big part of the game or if it’s all visuals. Reading is a fundamental life skill and any screen time your child is involved in should provide an element of age-appropriate reading. This will push your child to expand their vocabulary and even help to grow a lifelong love of reading.

* Have you learned anything about money management? While this seems like an odd question, screen time solutions should do more than simply provide children a way to spend money, they should teach kids how to manage money or currency. It’s not a “must” for all screen time choices, but games or activities that provide a weekly allowance certainly help reinforce money management skills (spend, save and budget).

Finding the right screen time solution for your child

The screen time debate is no longer a matter of hours or minutes, but how your kids are investing time interacting with a screen. Ultimately, it’s a balancing act of time and quality that will help your child build a positive digital footprint and smart screen time habits that can serve them their entire life.

— Brandpoint

Family Movie Night

“The Meg”

Rated: PG-13

Length: 113 minutes

Synopsis: A massive creature attacks a deep-sea submersible, leaving it disabled and trapping the crew at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. With time running out, rescue diver Jonas Taylor must save the crew and the ocean itself from an unimaginable threat -- a 75-foot-long prehistoric shark known as the Megalodon.

Book Report

“A Gift from Abuela”

Ages: 4 - 8 years

Pages: 38

Synopsis: The first time Abuela holds Nina, her heart overflows with tenderness. And as Nina grows up, she and Abuela spend plenty of time together. Abuela can’t help thinking how much she’d like to give Nina a very special treat, so she saves a little bit of her money every week — a few pesos here, a few pesos there. When the world turns upside down, Abuela’s dream of a surprise for Nina seems impossible. Luckily, time spent together — and the love Abuela and Nina have for each other — could turn out to be the very best gift of all.

— Candlewick

Did You Know

Vaccines play an important role in keeping you and your family members healthy, and when you make sure everyone receives the recommended vaccines at the right ages, you will be helping to protect them before they are exposed to serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched a new interactive guide (cdc.gov/vaccines/growing) to help navigate the vaccines recommended at each stage of life. This resource teaches families about vaccine-preventable diseases — like flu, whooping cough and HPV cancers — and highlights the recommended timing for key immunizations.

— Brandpoint