17 May 2018

NI Kids Unplugged

What is NI Kids Unplugged all about?

I have been running this campaign for a number of weeks now and it’s probably time for an introduction!

NI Kids Unplugged is a crusade to equip myself (and others along the way) with the knowledge and skills required to balance my kids screen time usage. Finding the balance is so important, as cutting out screen time completely in today’s increasingly digital and screen-focused world is unrealistic, if not impossible. Yet it seems us parents are underestimating the consequences excessive screen time can have on the emotional well-being and social development of children.

Who am I?

I am a mum of three (one toddler who has an almost daily enthusiasm for the 1982 movie Annie, one at primary school who can navigate his way around an iPad/iPhone with astonishing prowess, and one young adult who has never known life before the internet). So I have varying degrees of balance to achieve.

I live in Belfast, city slicker, but grew up in Tyrone, culchie. My background is in law, which I left shortly after my third child was born, childcare costs are OUT OF CONTROL and flexible working is not that flexible after all! I have a love of books that is bordering on obsessive, only books, no kindles here! Balancing my nerdy side is a partner who works in the tech industry. So our house is equipped with all the gadgets you can imagine, however I have drawn a line at having light bulbs activated by Alexa!

What to Expect from NI Kids Unplugged?

Levels of concern among parents have increased; more are saying they are concerned about their child’s media use across TV, online, mobile phones and gaming. Nevertheless, most parents say that their child has a good balance between screen time and doing other things, which is great. But we need to do more.

So the aim of this campaign is to highlight how much screen time is spent by kids and how to balance screen time with play time and creative time, time spent with friends and time outside. The more options we parents have, the better. The campaign will hopefully assist parents in developing social and emotional skills in their children independent of/in harmony with screens. The focus is to find a balance.

The campaign will provide information on:

  • What’s going on in Belfast and the wider Northern Ireland community for kids which will include after school activities, one off events, museums, the arts, parks, anything that gets kids out and about;
  • What the experts are saying about the effects of excessive screen time has on social and emotional development, play is an important part of healthy emotional development and kids use play to release emotions and work through feelings so the campaign will explore games and play scenarios;
  • Online safety. As a parent, it is our responsibility to keep our kids safe by talking to them about their internet use, teaching them about online dangers, and learning we can about online safety to enable us to make informed decisions.
It’s a journey that, as parents, we are all on. So, come join me on TwitterFacebook and Instagram* and share your experience with me.

*The irony is not lost on me that I am using social media channels to address issues concerning screen time!


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