This post is brought to you by Energizer®. All opinions are my own.
I know as a mom, I tend to always dwell on the bad of a ton of screen time – especially video games. Everything in moderation, right? But there’s some good news. Maybe those video games your kids play for hours on end, actually aren’t all that bad. We did some research and found several benefits and things kids can learn from playing video games.
What Kids Can Learn From Playing Video Games
Parents, video games aren’t entirely bad! Rather than dwelling on the negative, let’s look at the positive. Here are 5 things your kids can learn from playing video games.
Problem-Solving Skills and Creativity
Each of our 4 kids loves playing Minecraft. Minecraft helps build problem-solving skills and creativity. As they build worlds, creativity is a must. As they overcome various obstacles thru-out the game, their developing brains are learning how to problem solve.
Video games and socialization can be a tricky subject so want to start this out with that it is always important to know who your child is playing video games online with. That said, our older kids regularly play video games online with friends from school. When the kids have sleepovers, most of the time the kids are spending time socializing around the television.
The Portal video game is a family favorite. It encourages critical thinking as game players are required to put objects in the right place and get through multiple portals in a short amount of time.
Videos games encourage reading and reading comprehension. We have seen this first hand with our 6-year-old. He is a hard-core Zelda fan and I credit the game for his interest in learning to read. Initially, we could not get him interested in learning to read. He started playing Zelda and suddenly he needed to know how to read in order to play certain parts of the game. While we helped him, over the last year – he has taken on trying to read and understand the words himself.
With our 7-year-old, we use Minecraft books for his 20-minutes of nightly reading, required by his school. Not directly a video game, but definitely inspired by one!
Sports and Music
I credit the Nintendo WII for teaching my kids about sports. My husband and I aren’t sports people, but several years ago when we purchased a WII – you would think we had a family of athletes. It was WII Tennis every single night.
Rock Band introduced our kids to various instruments. It also taught us that not all of our kids should sing. Hey, just being honest. Our third child discovered a love for the drums while playing Rock Band. He has taken that passion offline and now plays real drums.
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Reviewing Video Games Before Kids Play
It’s always important to know what your kids are playing. Make sure that the games are age appropriate. I strongly recommend playing the game before your child does to make sure the content is appropriate for your child. Thankfully my husband is a gamer (never thought I would say that!) He reviews all games before the kids are given the okay to play.
Additional Video Game Benefit – Stress Relief
An additional benefit that we found for kids playing video games is stress-relief. We have experienced this first hand with our 7th grader. It’s been a very stressful year. Middle school is hard. New processes, lots of homework and pressure to do good has our kid stressed. Video games help take his mind off of having to perform in athletics and academically. Again, all things in moderation – but stress relief is definitely a benefit for our kid.
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Minecraft Books – How We Got Our Minecraft Obsessed Child to Read
Getting Your Child to Read Minecraft Books
Do you have problems getting your Minecraft child to read? We say Minecraft child because OMG these kids live and breathe Minecraft.
Here’s the deal. Over the summer, we had hit our limit on screen time. The weather is hot, we want the kids to play or do SOMETHING besides sit in front of the screens and play Minecraft. We headed to the local bookstore to let the kids choose a book to read. Talk about epic fail. The younger boys threw a fit. They didn’t want to read, they hated books. They didn’t want anything to do with it. That was until our older son showed them a book.
That’s right, we were able to encourage our kids to read with a Minecraft book. Would we love our kids to be reading the classics? Sure! Is it going to happen? Most likely not until they are forced to in school.
We purchased our 7-year-old son a Minecraft Guide Book. He loves to read it and then when he does have screen time, he uses it to figure things out. This is a great way to encourage learning thru Minecraft. If the kids are going to sit playing Minecraft for hours on end, it’s great to know that the game and book are encouraging him to read, learn and to figure things out. You know, so his mind doesn’t become total mush!
If you are having a problem peeling your child away from Minecraft – try out the Minecraft books. They are nothing amazing as far as writing goes, but you know what? Our kids love it. When we are having a no screen time day, or at night before bed – they are reading their Minecraft books. If they can’t play Minecraft, what’s the second best thing? Reading about Minecraft!
Best Minecraft Books for Young Readers
Here are several Minecraft books for young readers. Our youngest son is not a great reader (yet.) He is still young, but he seriously tries to read these books which is huge! Especially since the books we have are not picture books.
BONUS: These make GREAT birthday gifts!
Minecraft: Handbook Ultimate Secrets Handbook: The Ultimate Minecraft Secret Book. Minecraft Game Tips & Tricks, Hints and Secrets. (Minecraft Books)Minecraft: Guide to CreativeUltimate Minecraft Secrets: An Unofficial Guide to Minecraft Tips, Tricks and Hints You May Not KnowMinecraft: The Island: A NovelMinecraft: Redstone Handbook (Updated Edition): An Official Mojang BookDiary of a Minecraft Zombie Book 1: A Scare of A Dare (Volume 1)Diary of a Farting Creeper: Book 1: Why Does the Creeper Fart When He Should Explode? (Volume 1)Minecraft: Guide to ExplorationMinecraft: Guide to the Nether & the EndDiary of a Minecraft Zombie Book 2: Bullies and Buddies (Volume 2)Minecraft: The Complete Handbook CollectionMinecraft: Construction Handbook (Updated Edition): An Official Mojang BookThe Gameknight999 Box Set: Six Unofficial Minecrafter’s Adventures!The Quest: The Untold Story of Steve, Book One (The Unofficial Minecraft Adventure Short Stories): The Tale of a Hero (Volume 1)Minecraft: Combat Handbook (Updated Edition): An Official Mojang BookMinecraft: Exploded Builds: Medieval Fortress: An Official Mojang BookThe Curse of Herobrine: The Ultimate Minecraft Comic Book Volume 1Minecraft: Guide to RedstoneDiary of a Minecraft Zombie Book 3: When Nature Calls (Volume 3)The Friendly Creeper Diaries (Book 1): The Creeper Village (An Unofficial Minecraft Book for Kids Ages 9 – 12 (Preteen) (Volume 1)Diary of a Minecraft Zombie Book 6: Zombie Goes To Camp (An Unofficial Minecraft Book)The Quest for the Diamond Sword: An Unofficial Gamer’s Adventure, Book OneDiary of a Minecraft Wimpy Zombie Book 1: First Day of Middle School (An Unofficial Minecraft Book) (Volume 1)Stinky Steve: Book One – A Minecraft Mishap (Volume 1)Diary of a Minecraft Zombie Book 5: School Daze (Volume 5)The Unofficial Gamer’s Adventure Series Box Set: Six Thrilling Stories for MinecraftersDiary of a Minecraft Creeper Book 1 – Creeper LifeDiary of a Minecraft Steve the Warrior Book 2: (books for kids) (Minecraft Steve the Warrior Collection)Diary of a Minecraft Zombie Book 7: Zombie Family Reunion (An Unofficial Minecraft Book)The Carnival of Doom (Book 1): The Angry Ghost (An Unofficial Minecraft Book for Kids Ages 9 -12)Diary of a Minecraft Zombie Book 11: Insides Out (An Unofficial Minecraft Book)Minecraft: Diary of a Minecraft Ender Dragon: Legendary Minecraft Diary. An Unnoficial Minecraft Book for Kids Age 6 12 (Minecraft Diary of a Wimpy, Books For Kids Ages 4-6, 6-8, 9-12)Diary of a Minecraft Zombie Book 8: Back To Scare School (An Unofficial Minecraft Book)Minecraft: Creative Handbook: The Ultimate Minecraft Building Book. Best Minecraft Construction, Structures and Creations. (Minecraft Books)Diary of a Minecraft Zombie Villager Book 1: Basement Blast (An Unofficial Minecraft Diary Book) (Volume 1)The Villager Detective Diaries (Book 1): Missing Chickens An Unofficial Minecraft Diary Book for Kids Ages 9 – 12 (Preteen) (Volume 1)Diary of a Minecraft Zombie Book 9: Zombie’s Birthday Apocalypse (An Unofficial Minecraft Book)Steve’s New Neighbors (Book 1): Steveville (An Unofficial Minecraft Book for Kids Ages 9 – 12 (Preteen) (Volume 1)The Valiant Wolf’s Diaries (Book 4): Night Monsters (An Unofficial Minecraft Book for Kids Ages 9 – 12 (Preteen) (Diary of a Valiant Wolf) (Volume 4)Diary of a Minecraft Zombie Book 10 – One Bad Apple (An Unofficial Minecraft Book)
Have your kids read any Minecraft books? What are their favorites? Leave a comment below.
Toca Boca Hair Salon 3 app is one of the top apps on the Apple app store. We decided to give this hair salon app for kids a play to see what all the fuss is about.
Toca Boca Hair Salon 3 App Review
We have some more app reviews coming up and decided the best way to handle the kid apps is to let our kids play them, we’ll review and give our review from a parenting perspective. I know what it’s like when your kid is screaming and all you want them to do is sit in the doctor’s office and play on the iPad for 10 minutes so that you can talk to the doctor. Been there done that. Let’s review the Toca Boca Hair Salon 3 app.
First things first: Toca Boca Hair Salon 3 app is $2.99. Is it worth it? I thought so, keep reading to learn more about what we loved and what are scared of!
What’s This Hair Salon App All About?
The Toca Hair Salon 3 app let’s your kid become a hair stylist. I should say this app isn’t just for kids. I did get lost for uhm, more time that I care to admit playing around with all the features and making awesome hair creations. Here is what Toca Boca says about this app:
Welcome to Toca Hair Salon 3! Our most popular app series returns, better than ever! What do you feel like creating today — something quirky, pretty or edgy? Choose your character from dozens of looks that you can customize — characters have randomized styles and personalities, which creates endless play opportunities! Grab your tools and get styling!
What Can You Do in This App?
This app allows kids to play hair salon. Choose a hair client from an array of option. You can cut, add hair, shave, add facial hair, color hair, add accessories, take photos, shampoo, blow dry, towel dry and more!
What I do love about this app, it shows an array of people and hair types. From straight hair to kinky hair, this hair app shows them all.
Toca Boca Hair Salon 3 App Features
Toca Boca Hair Salon 3 app is the THIRD app in the Toca Boca hair salon series. That’s right, there is a version 1 and version 2. Here are some updates and why you might want to consider downloading this app for your child.
- All-new characters with dozens of starter styles
- Straight, wavy, curly and now kinky hair!
- All the tools you need to create the style you want!
- New braiding tool!
- Every character can grow a beard to style
- More advanced hair color tool: Dip-dye and fade hair in any colors you want!
- Change clothes on characters!
- Dozens of new accessories: hats, glasses, jewelry and more
- Change backdrops in the photo booth!
- Snap a picture in the app and share with your friends!
- Gender-neutral aesthetic: Unlike most hairstyling apps, all kids are welcome to play!
- No time limit or high scores — play for as long as you like!
- No third-party advertising
About Toca Boca
I see the Toca Boca brand quite a bit on my kids’ devices. I really like what they stay for, this is how they describe their company:
Toca Boca is an award winning game studio that makes digital toys for kids. We think playing and having fun is the best way to learn about the world. Therefore we make digital toys and games that help stimulate the imagination, and that you can play together with your kids. Best of all – we do it in a safe way without third-party advertising or in-app purchases.
Parent’s Review of Toca Hair Salon 3 App
So what does this parent thing of Toca Hair Salon 3 app? I think it’s adorable. My ONE and only worry about this app is that my curious boys will have so much fun playing this on the iPad that they too will want to cut their own hair (or each others!) or give each other a shave in real life. It’s been a while since we’ve had a kid give themselves a hair cut, I really don’t want to have to go thru that again.
If you are looking for an educational app – this isn’t it. Hair Salon 3 app isn’t an educational app in the traditional aspect.
Other than that – LOVED IT.
- Kid Friendly
- Parent Friendly
- Fun and Entertaining
- Kept Kids Entertained
Download the App
General Screen Time Talk
I have no problem with giving kids screens, but like all things we make sure there is balance in our kids’ lives. Interested in learning more about our rules? One thing we stick to is the No Screens in the Bedroom rule and Screen Free Sunday.
If you downloaded the Toca Hair Salon 3 app, leave a comment. I would love to know what you think!
Technology tickets and screen time. Let’s discuss.
Recently I attended the Activision Games for Girls Summit and a topic several of the moms were discussing was in regards to whether or not to limit your child’s screen time.
Screen Time and the Kids
In our house, screen time is defined by any electronics for our kids. These can include: TV, computer, iPod, Wii, xBox 360 or iPad.
Personally in our family, we have a liberal policy. A few rules we try (hey, we aren’t perfect) to enforce are:
- No screen time an hour before bed. (Also read: No Screens in the Bedroom!)
(This is the rule that most likely is to be broken)
- Homework MUST be complete before any screen time.
- If anyone is giving attitude or fighting occurs, no one gets screen time.
- If friends are over, screen time is limited.
- We really try to encourage educational games.
There have been times where we have thrown are hands in the air, like many parents as to how to control technology with our kids.
Recently, I was introduced to the idea of technology tickets. These are tickets that are given to your child at the beginning of the week. A set number is given to each child and each ticket represents an allotted amount of time with technology.
Mom and Dad can have extra technology tickets to hand out as rewards.
Once a technology ticket is used, that’s it for that ticket until the next week.
Of course rules would need to be put in place per household, such as no using after 7 or only using up to 3 tickets in a row. Depending on each child and each parent a variety of rules could be set.
I love this idea – especially for parents looking for a solution to allowing kids screen time but without being overly strict.
Moms Who Use Technology Tickets
Here are several blogs talking about using technology tickets, see how they do it!
Technology Tickets – was originally published on December 14, 2011
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How Do You Handle Screen Time with Your Kids? Have you used technology tickets? Leave a comment and tell us!
Screen Free Sundays are a nearly weekly occurrence. I’ll admit, some Sundays, I just flat out forget until 5:00 pm hits and I am screaming NO ELECTRONICS! Then there are the days when we are in the car, and let’s face it – screens and cars are a God-send for parents. Then there are days like yesterday. I actually remembered to remind my kids that it was Screen Free Sunday.
Screen Free Sundays
I write about technology, I love technology, we have made our house a fairly smart house full of tech. All that said, I’ve learned that there are limits, there must be – especially with kids. Taking this ONE day a week to exhale, to pause from screens and to let the kids be KIDS has been a game changer.
Lessons Learned from Kids With No Screens
Here are 5 things we’ve learned by taking away our kids’ screens for just one day a week.
1. Your Kids WILL Calm Down
The initial shock of no electronics is well, melt-down inducing. Yes, the kids throw a massive fit when they hear that there are no electronics for the day. Good news, THEY WILL GET OVER IT.
Our third child went and gathered all of the electronics (and a computer cord) – to ensure that he isn’t the only child who didn’t have a screen. If he wasn’t going to have his iPad, NO ONE was going to have their electronics.
Yesterday, the Texas weather was actually glorious. We threw them outside, they ran, swam, swinged, played and required aloe vera due to a slight sunburn.
2. Meet Your Siblings
Our bedroom has a window to the backyard. Sunday requires rest, and as I laid in bed reading – I could hear the boys outside. They were hatching a plan to make a parkour course. They conspired to remove a swing, move a bench and get from one side of the swing set to the other. They were TALKING. With screens, the only talking that our kids do to each other is yelling when someone does something in someone’s Minecraft world that they aren’t suppose to. (How is Minecraft STILL a thing! These boys STILL adore that game!)
3. Remember THOSE Toys
After coming in from a long day of play, Izaiah went and grabbed his LEGO box. LEGOs, remember those things? Later in the day he wanted to play outside with Playdoh. We have a playroom full of toys, but the toys that get played with the most? ELECTRONICS.
4. RELEASE The Energy and Sleep Well, Boys
With 3 growing boys, the energy in this house is intense. From the non-stop action of actual play, and not sitting on a couch with a computer or iPad – these boys are TIRED come sundown. Showers are most definitely required on Screen Free Sundays. Bedtimes are firm on Sunday night, because hello Monday morning – but these boys, have NO problems sleeping after a full days play.
5. Kids Need to Be Kids
I had a great night out with a childhood friend this past weekend. I’ve been a computer nerd since my parent’s first got a computer when I was around 11 or 12 years old. We both now have kids and the topic of our childhood came up. “Remember when we just use to run and play.” “Oh, but Molly you were always on the computer.” HA. I was.
Kids need to be kids. Yes, that does mean that they will have electronics. They will spend a large amount of time behind a screen. It is 2017. Our world is more screen-focused than ever. One day, just ONE day a week – we are saying no to the new norm of screens. We are making them play, talk and interact with their siblings and enjoying life without a focus on technology.
I want my kids to know the world. They will know and own technology. Screens are a requirement to function. You can’t not know how to use a computer these days. But Screen Free Sundays, they are my favorite.
How Often Do Your Kids Go Screen Free?
No Screens Sunday – our family is all about technology. The older kids have iPhones, the younger kids have tablets. We all have computers. There’s the gaming consoles and the tvs. Our lives are inundated with screens, but I am hoping to change that just a little to bring the kids back down to Earth and away from the virtual world that we all can get sucked into so quickly.
No Screens Sunday
Today after church, our afternoon plans were cancelled leaving us a full-day of NOTHING. Saturday, we had a color guard performance, a vehicle that had to be taken into the dealership, a Christmas party, life group and the usual weekly errands. So a day off, that just sounded wonderful.
We got home from church and I watched the kids run upstairs to jump on their devices. It hit me. This doesn’t have to be like this. I turned off the downstairs TV, yelled at the kids to come downstairs, used Circle to turn off the internet and declared Sunday as No Screens Sunday for the kids. I didn’t declare this for myself or husband but we did minimize our phone use.
No Screens for a Day
Today was fabulous. Once the kids got over the initial “WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO NOW?” fit – things went pretty fantastic. We got laundry done, 6 people – this is massive in our house. Our clothes were ready for the week. My husband and I cooked meals together while the kids bounced outside. The kids did their reading and homework for school (thankfully none of it required a computer!) We did a few family projects, including putting up patio lights and putting together an outdoor heater. The kids went to bed exhausted.
Our first No Screens Sunday overall, was great – not perfect though. I did catch the teen a on her phone several times and then while getting the littles for bed, I came downstairs to find the older kids watching re-runs on Netflix. Scrolled thru Insta to find my teen had posted stories (does she not think I don’t look at her stuff? I made sure to like and COMMENT on every post she posted today, ha.) But, that said, all-in-all the kids had a LOT less screen time than they typically would have had. There wasn’t all the pestering to get off the tablet or phone when doing chores. The kids were outside playing, it was cold – but they PLAYED.
While I know that with the world we live in, I don’t want to block my kids from all things screens – but today was a great example on how you can successfully limit screen time and create some order.
No Screens Sunday will definitely be something we do moving forward. Who knows, maybe I’ll even jump into the no screens Sunday game…. maybe.
Ready to jump into the No Screens Sunday game, tag me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and let me know! #NoScreensSunday
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How do you limit your child’s screen time?