Preparing Kids For Online Gaming

Preparing Kids For Online Gaming

online safety for kids

It can be very difficult at times to pull your child away from that special video game that they love so much, and this is why it’s so important to prepare your children for the ‘online gaming world.’  A recent study from the Pew Research Center indicates that 59 percent of girls and 84 percent of boys ages 13-17 regularly play video games. Many of these games are played online and may involve multiple players. 

In addition to safety and privacy concerns, parents must ensure that their child’s gaming activities do not become an addiction. When a gaming addiction develops, children may become detached from reality, resulting in negative consequences regarding their ability to socialize and regulate their emotions.  In extreme cases, parents may need to look to a professional for help. However, there are steps you can take to help prevent this. 

Setting healthy boundaries for your kids can help to guard against extreme gaming behavior.  For example, ensure that children have their homework finished before allowing them to engage in gaming.  Also, limit gaming sessions to a set time period of time. When finished playing video games, children should move on to other activities, engaging in active movement and social interaction with others.  

Parents should also know the ratings on games, talk to their children about how they feel when they play, and even play these games along with their children to experience them first-hand. I know I do this quite often with my children, so I can see the kind of activity that is taking place within the game.

online safety for kids

Here are some helpful talking points to help start the conversation with your child about video games and online gaming:

1. Can you show me your favorite game?

It is a good idea to get to know the games yourself and sit down with your child to let them show you how the game is played.  Talk to your child about what they can do in the game they’re playing. What is the overall objective of the game? What do they like most about playing it?  Is there anything about the game that they don’t like?

2. Can you play against other kids?

Some games have optional multi-player modes where your child can play with and against others.  Make sure you’re clear on whether you are happy for your child to play with others. If you are, ask them who they are playing with.  Establish rules around this that you can both agree on. Most games have a rating you can check to see if they are age-appropriate.

3. How much time should you spend playing?

It makes life a lot easier if you bring this subject up early on; it can be tricky to change well-established practices. Talk about why it’s important to have limits.  It’s a good opportunity to talk about the importance of being active, being outdoors, and spending time in the company of other children, and striking that suitable balance is key.

Remember, it can be hard to enforce restrictions.  It can also be difficult to accurately track the amount of time they are spending playing the game.  Some devices allow you to use parental controls to strictly enforce daily or weekly limits. In many cases, the device simply switches off once the allocated time has been exceeded.  While this is handy; it can be very frustrating for a child who is just about to reach a landmark in the game after a great deal of effort. We recommend not relying exclusively on parental controls, but use them to support your usual parenting approaches.

4. Can you chat with the other kids you are playing?

Many games allow players to chat with each other.  Be sure to agree on rules around this, and ask your child about who they think it is okay to talk to online.  Discuss your expectations around the type of language they should not use and how they treat others. Be very clear on the consequences of using bad language, being disrespectful, or not following the other agreed rules.  The threat of withdrawing access to the game can be a good deterrent to bad behavior.

Check if the game gives the option of disabling chat and if there is a safe chat mode. Some games allow limited forms of chatting where gamers can communicate with each other by selecting from a menu of phrases.  

5. What sort of information is NOT okay to share when gaming?

Explain to them the importance of not giving away any personal information online.  In the case of online gaming, it is a good idea not to use real names for game profiles and not to share passwords with friends.

6. What would you do if something inappropriate happens when you are playing a game online?

It’s important that your child is familiar with safety settings, privacy and reporting tools. It is equally important that your child understands they can talk to you if they experience anything inappropriate online.  This is also a good opportunity to encourage your child to play fairly and treat other gamers with respect.

Whether we like it or not, the online gaming world is here to stay so it’s best to be proactive and responsible when navigating this with your children.  As much as we may think some of the games in this ‘virtual world’ are disturbing or are indoctrinating our children with bad behavior, these games are here to stay.  We have to teach our children how to play and use these games responsibly.  

After all, I can still remember when Nintendo & Atari were the ‘new gaming devices.’  There was a time when people thought a game called ‘Donkey Kong’ was violent because they hit each other.  Nowadays kids are seeing things in these newer games that are a lot more disturbing than that, and in ten years those same people will be saying the same thing about the games of today.  

Ultimately, the responsibility lies with us as parents.  We have to teach our kids right from wrong, so when they are out in the ‘real world’ they will know the difference.

 

For more information, check out these resources:

Help Your Kids Be Prepared for Accidents!

At the park or playing ball – your kids can be prepared for the sun AND accidents with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind.  

Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.

Parent Communication: Get Out of Jail Free Card

Parent Communication: Get Out of Jail Free Card

Parent Communication: Get Out of Jail Free Card - PreparaMom

When you were growing up and you did something wrong, did you feel like you could go to your parents and fess up?  Or did you end up hiding your misdeeds from them? 

It was always the latter for me because I was really “scared” of my dad. That’s not to say that I was always up to no good, but like any kid, I had my fair share of doing something I knew I shouldn’t. 

But part of growing up and becoming a parent is trying to do things differently than when you were a kid. That’s why I would never want my kids to feel like they couldn’t come to me for any reason. That’s especially true if they really got themselves into trouble.

We all believe that open communication is key, right? 

As parents, we talk about that all the time, but sometimes it’s easier said than done. Most people claim to want to be able to talk openly, but they just don’t know how. That’s where this “Get Out of Jail Free” card comes into play.

A Communication System For the Family is Born

So, I came across this idea in a Child Behavior class I was taking for my nursing continuing education requirements and I thought it was a really good idea to implement with my own kids. Parent Communication: Get Out of Jail Free Card - PreparaMom

I had my daughter make up a bunch of “Get Out of Jail Free Cards” and put them into a jar. The instructions for this were that if they did something wrong, they could always grab a card to give to us. Then they could tell us what they did without “getting into trouble.”

Opening Communication Does Not Mean Forgive and Forget

Before you start thinking we’re just letting our kids get away with murder, there are a few things you should know about this system. The idea is not that we allow them to get away with things, but that they get used to being able to open up to us for anything. 

It doesn’t mean we will allow them to abuse the system. If they’re repeating the same offense multiple times, then we will have to resort to plan B, which will probably be traditional disciplinary measures.

If we begin this communication process now when they do something minor, then the lines of communication will be open when they get older and get themselves into trouble that can be much greater. 

This Method Has Been Used Before

This is actually very similar to something that started a few years ago with high school proms. Students agreed to let their parents know if they had been drinking so they could get a ride home. The idea wasn’t to condone student drinking. It was to prevent drunk driving. But the kids knew they wouldn’t be yelled at or “in trouble” if they called mom and dad to help them. 

How The Cards Are Working in Our Home

So now, when we get a card, our kids have to tell us what happened, and the kids aren’t busted for it. Then we can discuss their actions and we talk through what they could have done instead. And we leave it at that. This way, our kids feel comfortable talking to us without worrying about getting in trouble and we can hope that this will continue on into their teen years.

Be Prepared for the Unexpected!

Bumps, bruises and owies – oh my! Parenthood is never boring. Be prepared with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind.  Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.

How to Train Your Kids to Do Their Own Laundry

How to Train Your Kids to Do Their Own Laundry

How to Train Your Kids to Do Their Own Laundry - PreparaMom

Part of being a good parent is teaching your kids to be self-sufficient and responsible. And part of that means doing your own laundry. Getting my kids to do their own laundry has been a huge time saver for us! The earlier you can get this routine implemented with your own kids, the easier it will be for you and your family.

Don’t Push Your Kids – But Don’t Wait Too Long Either!

Please remember, every child is different and develops at a different pace. But that being said, overall, kids are more capable of doing things on their own than we give them credit for. (Let’s face it—if they can operate a smart phone or video game system, they can do their own laundry!) 

The problem is that we either subconsciously don’t want them to be independent or we think that it will just be quicker and easier if we do it ourselves instead of taking the time to teach them how to do it.How to Train Your Kids to Do Their Own Laundry - PreparaMom

The Best Way to Teach Laundry Responsibility To Your Kids

The best way to do all of this is to introduce laundry to them in phases. When they’re younger, get them involved in the laundry process with you. Let them see you sorting, washing, drying, folding, and putting the clothes away. Be sure to explain what you’re doing as you go so they can understand it.

Teach Kids in Phases All the Parts of Laundering

As your kids get older, you can let them join you in doing different parts of the laundry. This can include simple tasks like sorting their own clothes out into a pile to fold or have them fold something simple with you like shorts or small towels. 

The idea is that eventually, over time, they will become used to all the different processes and (with a little supervision in the beginning) you can let them do each part of the laundry process on their own.

The phases my kids went through when they were learning to do laundry:

  • Phase 1 — Put their folded clothes away
  • Phase 2 — Fold their own clothes + Phase 1
  • Phase 3 — Take their clothes out of the dryer + Phase 2 + Phase 1
  • Phase 4 — Take their clothes out of the washer and put them in the dryer + Phase 3 + Phase 2 + Phase 1
  • Phase 5 — Put their dirty clothes into the washer + Phased 4 + Phase 3 + Phase 2 + Phase 1
  • Phase 6 — Put detergent and fabric softener in and start the washing machine + Phase 5 + Phase 4 + Phase 3 + Phase 2 + Phase 1

A Little Investment of Time, Pays Off Eventually

I think I started my kids on this process when they were 5 and 7, although I definitely could have involved them in it a lot earlier. Now they are 8 and 10 and they’re doing their entire laundry on their own. (Up until last week, my oldest was taking care of measuring out the detergent. But now, the 8-year-old wants to learn how to pour out the detergent, so he’s getting there!)

It is SOOOOO worth it to take that extra time and effort to train the kids on these processes. I know sometimes it’s much quicker to just do it yourself. But in the long run, your kids will learn how to be more self-sufficient and you won’t regret the decision to teach them when they are young.

Be Prepared All the Time!

At the park or playing ball – be prepared for the sun AND accidents with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind.  Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.

6 Easy Laundry Hacks

6 Easy Laundry Hacks

6 Easy Laundry Hacks - PreparaMom

It may not be the most hated chore in the household (that’s reserved for that pile of dirty dishes in the sink), but laundry can be a pain in the neck.

It’s not the actual washing and drying that’s difficult—it’s the folding and putting away that can drive you crazy, especially if you’re a parent with lots of little ones causing the amount of laundry to multiply exponentially.

If you’re searching for a way to make this a little easier on you, give these laundry hacks a try:

(Please note: we do not make any money off the links below. We’re simply wanting to make your life easier by providing links if you’re interested.)

 

1.     Get a Flip Fold

If you watch The Big Bang Theory, you’ve probably seen Sheldon folding his clothes with one of these. It’s a clothes folder that you place a shirt on and with three quick flips it is folded perfectly and ready to go out on display at a clothes store.

While it’s not ideal for all clothes, this can save time and make your clothes stack up nicer. Plus, kids love it because it looks like fun and they will be more likely to join in and help.

 

2.     Keep All Your Socks Together

If you’ve done laundry for an entire family, then you know about the mystery sock. That’s the one lone sock that turns up at the end of a laundry session that doesn’t have a mate, no matter how hard you look.

Instead of losing a single sock every washing, invest in a mesh laundry bag. This way, you put all of the socks in the bag, wash them in the bag, and they’re all still together when you take them out at the end.

As an added bonus, the bag can double as a travel case for organizing your clothes on vacation!Laundry Hacks for prepared parents

 

3.     Separate Your Clothes by Person

I’m sure you’re used to sorting your laundry by color. But if possible, also sort it according to who they belong to. That way, when you get your clothes out of the dryer, you don’t have to do a massive sorting session to see who they belong to.

If that’s not practical in your household, at least consider washing the kids’ clothes separately from the adult’s. That way, when the clothes are finished, you can have your kids help you put up their clothes, saving you sorting time.

 

4.     Pre-Sorted Hampers

If you have the room, invest in a few different clothes hampers and label them: Colors, Lights, Delicates, etc. Whatever system may work for you and your family’s needs is best. But make sure you put the clothes in the right bin and then just toss them in without having to sort them.

 

5.     Combine Laundry with Something You Like Doing

Laundry isn’t just washing, drying, folding, and putting up. It also involves a tedious task—ironing. But if you find yourself dreading this, then try to liven it up.

Pop on your headphones and listen to an audiobook or an upbeat playlist from Spotify. Whatever you can do to take your mind off the task at hand will help you get through the chore as pain-free as possible.

 

6.     Get Everyone Involved

It may sound goofy but try turning laundry day into a party. Put on some music that everyone will enjoy and dance around a bit as you all put away your own clothes. If you have young kids, you may need to help them a little, but it can still go quicker, or at least it will feel that way.

 

Laundry hacks can help you gain time

Laundry doesn’t have to be the bane of your existence. As with any chore, it’s all about finding the right mindset and a way to get organized and shave off some time here and there.

Stay Prepared for Life’s Accidents

Bumps, bruises and owies – oh my! Parenthood is never boring. Be prepared with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind.  Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.

How to Sneak in Reading Time

How to Sneak in Reading Time

How to Sneak in Reading Time with your Kids

Even before our kids are born, we start imagining just how much they can accomplish and how we want to help them get there. One of the biggest “legs up” you can give your children is with daily reading.

Don’t believe me? A recent educational survey showed that if your child reads 20 minutes a day, they will be exposed to almost 2 million words by sixth grade and will score better than 90% of his or her classmates on standardized tests.

Reading should be organic and fluid, so it’s important to work in every opportunity to get a little reading time in. Here’s how you can do just that:

Tips to Prepare for Reading Time

Reading doesn’t have to be from a book

Many people think 20 minutes of daily reading as plopping your child down with a copy of the Cat in the Hat. But that isn’t the only way to get in reading time.

When you’re riding around town, have your child sound out the words on street signs, banners, and advertisements. This will go slowly at first, so be sure to help them out. But as your child builds fluency, you can go faster expecting them to read more and more as you drive.

Also, don’t underestimate the power of comic books to attract hesitant readers. Educators have recently discovered that graphic novels can be a great way of promoting reading, even in the upper grades.

On a final note, television can be a good way to sneak in reading time. Just turn off the volume and turn on the close captioning and they can read along with the TV show (and some of those cartoon shows are a lot less annoying with the sound off).

Get audiobooks and apps

As an early reader, it’s important for your child to hear stories read aloud as they read along with the book. The most obvious form of this is when you sit down with your child at night to read a bedtime story.

But there are other ways for you to get this time in. Some adults may have fond memories of reading along with storybooks and audio tapes as a child.

Now, you can access many of these from sources like Audible. The energetic narrators will engage your child. For younger children, you can help them with word acquisition and phonics. Apps are available, such as Homer and Reading Magic, which can do just that. Finally, check out your local library and look for audio reading kits and books on CD.

Library play date

Speaking of the library, it’s important that you introduce your child to this wonderful place so it can become a fixture in their lives. Take your child to the library for a play date and let them explore the books. Pick one out they would like to take home for the week.

A good rule of thumb is to let your child pick one for themselves while you pick one for him or her based on your preferences. Be sure to get a book for yourself. Seeing that you value reading in your own life is a great way to encourage reading.

While you’re at the library, check out the schedule of activities and be sure to stop by regularly for story time—another great way to sneak in some reading.

Prepare to enjoy the benefits of your child reading

If reading becomes a chore, then your plan to help your child is going to backfire and they will see reading as work. Take time to subtly work in the reading without them realizing it and you have a chance to give them an advantage in today’s highly competitive world.

Be Prepared for More than Reading

Bumps, bruises and owies – oh my! Parenthood is never boring. Be prepared with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind.  Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.