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6 Great Apps for the Modern Parent

6 Great Apps for the Modern Parent

Most of us read George Orwell’s 1984 in high school – a time when technology had reached the height that the government had access to its citizens’ every movement and conversation – at home, at work, and on the street. As adults, of course, we find that reprehensible and have genuine fears today about surveillance and over-reach. Not so with our kids, however. It is a dangerous world, emergencies happen, and our ability to protect ourselves and our kids is important. So is ease of finding great stuff to do as a family and providing educational experiences for our kids. Technology brings that to us through some great apps for the modern parent. Here are eight that provide both security and fun.

1. Baby Monitor 3G

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    This is the first HD quality baby monitor from any device on video. It is receiving rave reviews around the world and was named one of the 5 top lifestyle apps in over 100 countries, and currently has over 1/2 million parent users. Here are its most important features:

    • Works with all devices – easy set up
    • Provides live HD video anywhere
    • Baby activity log entries
    • Great reach over WiFi, LTE and 3G
    • Clear sound and picture
    • Adjustable night light
    • Parents can talk to their babies in real time with their own voice
    • Available in 13 different languages for true global reach

    2. Red Rover

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      This app is relatively new, but is a great resource for parents who are traveling with kids or just looking for local attractions and events that are family-oriented. Each event or attraction is accompanied by a photo. Tap on the photo and you will get detailed information about hours, event details, pricing, etc. Users can also buy tickets and locate close-by restaurants, shopping etc. Events and attractions are updated on a daily basis – a huge plus.

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      Users can sign up for the app at Red Rover and then download the app to their iPhones. (Note: also available for Android)

      Currently, the cities are limited to New York, Boston, Atlanta, Hamptons/North Fork, and San Francisco; however, many more are coming soon – Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, and others.

      Best advice? Download the free app and keep it updated as you plan your family trips. This will be a great resource.

      3. Mom Maps

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        Whether you are in your own home town or traveling with your kids, this app will tap you into anything and everything available for your kids by categories. Imagine traveling by car long distances and finding a need to get your kids out of the car for some “runaround” time. Now you can locate parks, indoor playgrounds. Or suppose you are on vacation and it rains all day – finding an indoor play place or activity is the perfect solution.

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        The premium version lets you get reviews and recommendations from other moms and give your own feedback after a visit to a spot. Other features include:

        • Ability to bookmark and save favorites
        • Users can view and upload video
        • GPS with directions
        • Ability to share with friends on social media
        • 28,000 locations in 28 different metro areas with more being added regularly, both in the U.S. and major cities abroad

        It’s free and available for iOS and Android – premium version will give you reviews and feedback.

        4. SurfBalance

        SurfBalance

          Here’s the perfect parental control for helping kids develop smarter web use. This tool will let a parent limit, guide, and verify where their kids go online, through iOS or Android. Here is all that a parent can do:

          • The app provides over 1,000 safe links for kids. Parents can modify as they wish.
          • Surf Balance then tracks kids’ usage and provide reports so they can see how long they have spent on each site and in total during a time period or a day. Parents can set time limits, so kids learn how to “budget” their online time.
          • Parents can block certain sites, and kids will have to ask permission for access. This gives parents time to review those sites and approve of them before giving permission
          • Parents can also request daily or weekly email reports regarding their kids’ usage.
          • Reasonable price – $4.99

          There are certainly many other good apps for web controls, but this one has the added feature of time budgeting – a good skill for kids to learn.

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          5. White Noise Baby

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            Adults use “white noise” machines all of the time to enhance their sleep. Why not for baby too? For both IOS and Android ($0.99), the White Noise Baby app will provide your baby’s favorite white noise for both soothing sounds when s/he is cranky or for when it’s time to sleep.

            Features include the following:

            • Looped sounds – car ride, music, hair dryer, fan, conch shell, train, heartbeat, Doppler ultrasound of the womb and much more.
            • Parents can choose a single sound or a combination to be played sequentially
            • A shut-off timer that gradually fades the sound
            • Timer that can be re-activated if it detects crying, to repeat the soothing sounds again
            • Report log so parents can determine which sounds are the most effective

            6. Smart Ice4 Family

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              This may be one of the most important apps a family can have, especially if there are family members with medical conditions that should be relayed to EMS and hospital personnel when the patient is unable to speak for themselves.

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              Data such as name, age, medical conditions/alerts, insurance, emergency contact information, medical history and more. All messages can be recorded in advance by the user, and they can be accessed by a simple tap.

              Information can be stored for up to 8 family members. Important features include:

              • EMS alert buttons that automatically dial EMS that include location
              • Automated message plays once phone is opened giving EMS personnel instructions on the use of the app
              • A built-in HIPAA statement with email capability – no filling out long forms at the hospital.
              • Insurance information
              • Listing of all medical conditions and current medications
              • Preferred hospital statement
              • More

              Lots of peace-of-mind for $3.99!

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              Last Updated on January 12, 2021

              Signs of Depression in Children (And How to Help Them to Overcome It)

              Signs of Depression in Children (And How to Help Them to Overcome It)

              Children, just like adults, can be depressed. Sometimes seemingly normal children with no major life issues can become depressed. It is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes clinical depression to occur. There are specific signs that you should recognize in your child if they are depressed. Getting them help and treatment is crucial to their mental wellness.

              In this article, we will look into the signs of depression in children and how parents can help them to overcome it.

              Signs of depression in children

              The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder) is the widely accepted instruction guide that professionals utilize for diagnosing mental disorders. The DSM characterizes a Major Depressive Episode as depressed behaviors that consistently last for two weeks or longer. Therefore, if your child has been “down in the dumps”, feeling hopeless or having sadness for more than two weeks, it should be cause for concern and investigated.

              Below are signs of depression according to the DSM manual. The individual must have at least five of these behaviors present for a period of two weeks or longer to be officially diagnosed as having MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). Below is a summary/generalization from the DSM manual:

              • Feelings of deep sadness or depressed mood that last most of the day (for two weeks or more). For children they can present as irritable rather than sad.
              • Diminished interest in activities (again majority of the day or all the time).
              • Significant weight loss (not through dieting), or a decrease in appetite. In children, they fail to make expected weight gains while growing.
              • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia).
              • Either a slowing of psychomotor abilities/actions or an apparent agitation of these psychomotor abilities. This means that they either have moments that lack purpose and seem to be done because of agitation and tension or there is a significant slowness/retardation of their speech and physical actions.
              • Fatigue and loss of energy.
              • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt every day.
              • Difficulty thinking, making decisions, or concentrating every day. This may be reflected in their grades.
              • Preoccupation with death and dying or suicidal thoughts.

              Please note that if your child is suffering from the loss of a loved one and is processing through the stages of grief, it is normal to have these signs of depression. If they seem to be stuck in the depression stage, then it is time to pursue grief counseling to help them along in the grieving process.

              However, if they are not suffering from a bereavement or a medical condition that would cause the above symptoms, then they should be taken to a professional for possible diagnosis and treatment of MDD (Major Depressive Disorder).

              How to help your child with depression

              Depression is not to be taken lightly. Especially if suicidal thoughts are present. The child’s feelings and emotions are real and must be taken seriously. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), suicide is the number two cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10 and 34.[1]

              Professional help is recommended if you believe your child fits the criterion for MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). You can take your child to their paediatrician for an evaluation and referral. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, they may benefit from medication such as anti-depressants.

              Most professionals do not dispense medication as the first remedy for depression. Instead therapy is the first line of defense against depression, with medication being paired with therapy if the therapy is not enough or the symptoms are severe enough.

              Testing

              There are assessment tools that professionals can utilize to help in properly determining whether your child is depressed. The three tools used in assessing depression in children are:

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              • The Children’s Depression Rating Scale (CDRS)
              • Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI)
              • Clinical Global Impression (CGI)

              Taking your child to a professional mental health counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist can help ensure proper testing and assessment occurs.

              Therapy

              There are many types of therapy available today. It is important to find a professional that specializes in childhood depression and the treatment of such.

              Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the leading therapy methods in treating childhood depression. For younger children, play therapy is useful in treating childhood depression as children are often able to better communicate through play than conversation alone.

              What parents can do at home to help their depressed child

              Besides seeking for professional help, there are a couple of things that parents can do at home to help their depressed child:

              1. Talk with your child about their feelings in a compassionate and empathetic manner.

              It can feel high pressure to sit face to face and ask your child about their feelings. However, going on a walk, playing a board game or playing alongside your child (chose whichever is age appropriate for your child) can allow them to relax and open up about their feelings.

              Ask your child open ended questions that require more than a simple yes or no to engage in more meaningful conversations. Never judge while they are being open and honest with you because it will inevitably cause them to shut down and move away from being open with you.

              It is okay to allow for periods of silence during the conversations because sometimes the child is processing their thoughts and emotions during your time together. You don’t have to fill the space and entire time with talking as silence at times is helpful.

              2. Provide activities that help them relax and de-stress.

              For smaller children, there are simple ways to help them relax.

              Provide play opportunities that they find relaxing such as coloring, painting, working with Play-do or clay, or playing with sand and sand toys. Again, find activities that interest your child and are age appropriate are helpful in making them relaxed.

              3. Limit screen time.

              Technology is not helpful in making your child less depressed. It can often be an escape that keeps them from further opening up about their feelings and emotions.

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              Limit time in front of the TV, laptop, smart phone, video games and tablets, etc. Any electronics that seem to prevent your child from face to face interactions should be limited. Ask Dr. Sears cites that researchers have found kids who have higher levels of screen time are at greater risk for anxiety and depression.[2]

              Provide alternate activities to replace the screen time such as hiking, crafting, drawing, constructing, biking and playing outside, etc. Some children may be so dependent on their screen time as their source for entertainment that they may need you to participate in alternate activities alongside them in order to get engaged in the activities.

              You can’t simply tell your child to go outside to play if they are suffering from depression, lack friends and are used to sitting down and playing video games each day after school. Go outside with your child and do a nature hike or take your child to a playground and have fun together to get them engaged in these alternate activities.

              4. Promote outdoor time and physical activities.

              Encourage your children to take part in activities that especially involve nature such as nature hikes. Do these activities with them to help them engage in the activities. Again this is an opportunity for open conversations to occur and quality time to take place.

              5. Help your child when problems and difficult tasks arise.

              Assist them by helping them break down the task into smaller and more manageable parts. Children with depression often have difficulty taking on large problems and tasks and find them overwhelming. Helping them by breaking down the task into smaller and more manageable tasks will assist in helping raise their confidence when the small tasks are mastered.

              Small tasks mastered lead to bigger tasks being mastered over time. It is a process over time, patience and a willingness to work alongside your child. This does not mean doing the task or taking on the problem solely yourself. Many times all the child needs is for you to break down the larger task into smaller more manageable tasks and for you to patiently talk your child through the completion of these smaller tasks.

              6. Help your child reduce life stress.

              When children are depressed, they have greater difficulty handling life activities in general. Cut back on activities that cause stress to increase and look for ways to help reduce stress in your child’s life.

              7. Foster a positive home atmosphere.

              Reduce or eliminate negative attitudes, language and conversations. Also avoid raised voices, passive aggressive behaviors and any form of physical violence in the home.

              Make your home a safe haven for your child instead of an atmosphere that is ever volatile (in words, emotions or physically). Make it a calm environment that makes your child feel safe and secure mentally, emotionally and physically.

              8. Help your child see the positive in life situations.

              Point out the positives in a situation rather than the negatives. Help them see the bright side of any situation.

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              Be a model of seeing the positive in life by speaking words that are uplifting, encouraging and positive. Resist the temptation to voice negative thoughts that come to mind as your child can feed off your emotions and words.

              9. Believe your child when they talk about how they are feeling.

              Listen to them patiently and take their words seriously. Do not discount or minimize their feelings. Express empathy and compassion when they do open up about their feelings. Help them utilize “I feel” statements in expressing their emotions.

              10. Keep watch for suicidal behaviors.

              Such behaviors include your child/teen researching this topic online, them giving away their possessions and a preoccupation with death.

              Seek professional help immediately with the presentation of suicidal behaviors or thoughts. Keep this number on hand and use it when in doubt: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number 1-800-273-8255.

              11. Keep all prescriptions, alcohol, drugs and weapons locked and away from children and teens.

              This is a given for all children, but even more imperative for children who are depressed as they have an increased likelihood to abuse drugs and alcohol. They also have an increased likelihood to attempt suicide. So keep weapons and tools such as ropes and knives that can used for suicide out of the child’s ability to use.

              12. Spend quality one-on-one time with your child.

              Make the time during your day, every day, to spend quality time with your child. You may have limited time and cannot provide an hour or more a day to dedicate to one-on-one time with your child, but you should provide a minimum of 20 minutes a day with your child spending quality one-on-one time together. Try the suggested activities listed in point #3.

              13. Be an encouragement and supporter of your child.

              Show love and not frustration or anger because of the situation and your child’s condition. Help keep your attitude positive so your child can also see the positive.

              Provide daily words of affirmation that are not based on end results (such as a grade or a win) but instead praise the effort they put forth. If you praise the outcome, they will be disappointed when their efforts don’t pan out. If they are praised for their efforts regardless of the outcome, their confidence is built based upon something that they can control (the effort they put into things).

              14. Help your child to live a healthy lifestyle.

              Sleep is a very important factor in your child’s mood. Not getting enough sleep can cause an entire day to be upset. According to Sleep Aid Resource, children between the ages of 3 and 18 need between 8 and 12 hours of sleep each night:[3]

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                Ensure your child is eating a healthy and balanced diet, getting physical activity/exercise daily and plenty of sleep time.

                15. Help your child foster positive relationships and friendships with their peers.

                Set up play dates for your younger child and encourage older children to invite friends over to your home.

                16. Talk about bullying.

                It can be one of the causes of your child’s depression, so discuss their life outside of home and their interactions with their peers. Help them recognize bullying and discuss how to handle bullying properly.

                17. Help your child follow the treatment plan outlined by their doctor, counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist.

                Make sure you know the treatment plan that your child’s health care professional has outlined for child. This may include counseling session recommendations, medications and recommendations to follow through with in the home. Completing the plan will help provide optimal results for your child in the long run. A plan doesn’t work unless it is followed.

                18. Recognize that professional treatment takes time to show results.

                Don’t expect results for the first few weeks. It may take a month or longer, so be patient and understanding with your child.

                Depression in children is curable

                Depression in children can happen for a variety of reasons. It is quite treatable.

                Professional help is recommended if your child can possibly be diagnosed with a depressive episode. There are interventions that can be implemented in a professional setting, at home and at school. The key is having a plan of action to help your child.

                Ignoring the problem or hoping the depression will just go away is not a good plan. Treatment is imperative to curing depression in children.

                The first step is talking to your child’s paediatrician to get the ball rolling. He or she will refer you to specialists in your area that can help your child overcome and conquer their depression one day at a time. With you by their side, each step of the way you will get through it together and it is quite possible for your relationship with your child to be strengthened in the process as well. That can be your silver lining or positive outlook on the situation at hand.

                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1] National Institute of Mental Health: Suicide
                [2] Ask Dr. Sears: It’s a Virtual World: Setting Practical Screen Time Limits
                [3] Sleep Aid Resource: Sleep Chart

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