While having children is a blessing, it does come with its own kind of struggles. We want the best for our kids and for them to spend their time in a meaningful way. However, there is currently a pandemic forcing children to stay at home all day. And even outside of this pandemic, it’s very often that kids feel bored around the house as well despite having homework or various toys to play with.
It can seem like a futile and frustrating endeavour to entertain a child through other methods, however, there is a simple solution around that. Through this guide, our goal is to provide you with possible solutions to having your kids have a more meaningful time while at home. This will also help alleviate the stress on you too.
Stay Entertained And Keep Learning With Amazon Kids
Back in September, Amazon announced a name change to two of their popular kids offerings as well as new experiences. These changes are geared towards older kids and introduced various features that are designed to help families stay on track for this school year.
They called it Amazon Kids while their premium was Amazon Kids+ and with it, came a series of features. These features being:
- New Home Screen Experience: A new home screen theme within Amazon Kids that looks and feels more like a grown-up tablet. This is ideal for children aged 8 or more.
- Announcements: If you have an Echo device in your home, bored kids will now be able to use their Fire tablet to broadcast a message in their voice to everyone in the home. This feature needs to be enabled and parental consent is required.
- More Videos and Music: Now bored kids can enjoy hundreds of new video titles hand-selected for kids ages 6 to 12, including gaming playthrough videos and PG and live-action titles. Kids also now have easy access to music stations from iHeartRadio Family.
On top of that, families can use Amazon Devices and Alexa to stay organized further with features such as:
- Coursework Updates Directly from School: Alexa Skills are now available to match the learning platform used by your school system, including Canvas, Infinite Campus, Coursera, ParentSquare and Kickboard. Parents and students 13+ can ask, “Alexa, do I have any homework?” to get all your upcoming due dates.
- Personalized Schedules: With the Alexa Skill School Schedule Blueprint, just fill out an easy-to-use template from the Alexa app or online to build a personalized schedule that Alexa will read aloud each day, like reminders for class and school activities.
- Worksheets On-Demand: With the new Jumpstart Alexa Skill, you can ask Alexa to print math, vocabulary, science and writing worksheets, coloring sheets, and more via your wireless printer for every supplemental at-home learning need.
Beneficial for Kids and Parents
With Amazon’s new platform for kids, these new features can provide a tonne of benefits.
First of all, Amazon Kids is free with Amazon Kids+ being subscription based ($2.99 for Prime members and $4.99 for non-Prime members), making it affordable for parents to get this.
On top of providing educational and entertaining content, each new feature brings benefits to bored kids and parents alike.
The newer home screen makes for easier navigation for parents since the display is not that different from other streaming service menus. So if your child is looking for something in particular, it’ll be easier for you to navigate it.
For the child, it allows them to feel older and can bring a sense of maturity to them while they’re still developing. It can also make things easier for them to navigate since children 12 or older have likely surfed Netflix or other streaming platforms as well and this menu makes it easier for them to navigate through these too.
The new announcement feature can be used in all kinds of different ways. Provided that you have an Alexa Echo, you can use this feature as a way of calling your child and vice versa for anything at all.
An Expanded Library of Content
While the free version does have a good library of music and videos, having an expanded library of content can provide for more hours of entertainment and education.
Beyond that, the music can be good for school work and focus.
Keep Your Child’s Learning on Track
The coursework updates are crucial for a child to ensure not only are they doing their homework in the first place, but also to ensure there aren’t any surprises for what’s due and what isn’t. With this feature, you can ensure that you are up to speed with what needs to be worked on so you can stay prepared.
The worksheets on-demand feature is fantastic as it allows the chance for children to have further study material in certain subjects that they’re struggling with. This allows children to reinforce what they learned in various areas and develop themselves further in that aspect.
Flexible Learning Schedule
Personalized schedules also remove a lot of stress as children are informed of what sort of events or activities are planned for the day. This makes preparation for the day easier for everyone.
How To Tackle the Potential Downsides
While these new features provide a tonne of benefits, there are naturally some downsides to these products you must keep in mind. Some of them being:
- Screen time reduces the quality of family time spent together.
- Prolonged exposure to television can cause overeating and weight gain.
- The fact that television causes children to lead a more sedentary lifestyle overall.
- Technology addiction leading to superficial friendships or children being less social.
- Become addicted to dopamine (a feel good drug that can be induced from activities that one enjoys. Some are good but others are bad such as watching television) and thus reduce productivity.
However, as a parent, you can control these aspects and there are many different ways that you can go about this to mitigate the risks of too much television.
1. See Television As A Band-Aid Fix
The first thing is that a television can never be a parent and shouldn’t be treated as such. Yes, there are great programs on television to teach children, but there are some things that tv shows can’t teach kids all that well. At the end of the day, the relationship that you share with your kid(s) is invaluable.
As such, see these features as an opportunity to keep children entertained for a few hours at a time. Spend time with them and guide them on how to be interacting with programs and devices while also doing other activities too.
2. Place Screen Time Limits To Curb Addiction
While technology is helpful, there are such things as too much of a good thing. As mentioned above, too much television – even if it’s educational – can lead to bad habits of watching too much TV.
One way that you can limit this is by placing hard limits on how much screen time is allowed for children. What this does is that it changes the children’s perception of technology and allows them to develop further.
The reason you want to do this is that as a child develops, the more screen time they have on something, the more they’ll use it as a replacement effect for something else. This is one of the reasons for why those used to being in front of a TV screen all the time associate more with the characters they see on the screen rather than those in their lives. Overall, TV addiction can lead to children being more introverted and struggle in social situations.
By placing hard limits, it prompts children to come up with other ways to entertain themselves and can lead to them having more meaningful times.
3. Prioritize Your Relationship
The last thing that you can do is make an effort to be reaching out to your children. One of the beauties with these features is that you’re able to know what’s generally going on in your child’s life. Even though this pandemic has forced many people to stay indoors, this pandemic will be over soon enough and people will go back to a usual routine.
Use those features to your advantage as a means of encouraging your child to ask questions and to spark conversations. If you know a project is due soon, ask them about their progress and what they’re learning. Get them to explain concepts or things they’re learning. Beyond that, you’d also have access to their watch history for shows. You can easily ask them topics revolving around that too.
By showing interest in your child, they’re more likely to open up to you and make an effort to grow that relationship too.
These new features change the playing field a lot. With a new look, it’s easier for kids and parents alike to navigate the menu. Beyond that, you can ensure your child stays on top of their school work and can give them more studying and learning material. Even the announcement features allow you or your child to call around the house if necessary.
There are a tons of benefits, however you want to make sure you’re using this program to the best of your ability. To do so, it’s a matter of mitigating how much time is spent using this program and putting effort into the bond that you have with your bored kids.
Featured photo credit: stem.T4L via unsplash.com