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Our screen time compromise

Noah tests the Zappicon styling | Diary Zapp | www.diaryzapp.com

There’s ongoing debate within the press about the constant battle for screen time. Let’s be honest, this issue is going to be around for as long as we want it to be. We can solve it – the solution lies within the power and control of every parent – technically speaking anyway, yet the hard part is having the discipline to follow through on our decisions.

Press in the summer also highlighted celebrities resorting to hiring ‘parenting gurus’ to help them wean their children off their screens and tell them which room they can and can’t have screens in.

And yet is all screen time bad?

Schools are avidly handing out iPads to primary pupils as learning devices and studies show in Ireland that iPads have made children in a classroom more engaged – instead of writing in a solitary fashion, they’re creating and sharing their work.

Importantly the study ‘Mobile Devices in Early Learning, carried out over two years and involving 650 pupils in five Belfast primary schools and five nursery schools, found:

  • The introduction of digital technology has had a positive impact on the development of children’s literacy and numeracy skills.
  • That children view learning using handheld devices as play and are more highly motivated, enthused and engaged.

Now I don’t want to lose our children to the screen. We all enjoy active family time. We limit screen time to one hour a day and feel better about them being on a device if they’re learning at the same time as having fun. It’s all about striking a balance. I think the term ‘screen time’ has another application altogether when you’re discussing education.

Ella was struggling with summer learning loss when Noah came up with the idea for DiaryZapp and this was amidst the daily battle for screen time. Any parent knows that to make a child enjoy a potentially dull task, you have to make it playful, for us making a diary digital and fun seemed like the obvious solution to the cries of: ‘but I don’t want to keep a diary this summer it’s boring.’ By matching it perfectly with the tablets that they can crave.

We have spent the last few years creating DiaryZapp in the hope that it will match their enjoyment of digital tablets and solve two of the fears that parents have – maintaining and boosting literacy in their children and imparting wisdom through screen time.

I still believe it’s about managing it in moderation – when we say ‘DiaryZapp is a place to curate your adventures,’ we mean just that – whether it’s eating fish finger sandwiches in a den made out of two chairs and a blanket, or going on a day trip to the zoo, it’s not about doing something active or screen time, it’s about finding the magic in the every day and writing it down as a visual memory.

It’s both. We’re encouraging children to practice their literacy skills with a digital diary. As parents, the only way we know to impart education to our children in a way that they retain it, is to make it fun. I’ve got nothing against screen time as long as the fun is served with a side of education.

Backing up this principle, we were particularly pleased to read what Sarah from Two Teachers One Blog said:

‘DiaryZapp is a fantastic way for a teacher to see the progression of their student’s learning, from the view of their student’s. It also then becomes a digital portfolio of their work to share with their parents. Writing recounts can be a boring process for some student. Using DiaryZapp makes it more engaging and creative.’

Independent teachers also reviewed it and gave it gold stars at the Educational App Store saying:

‘It is obvious from the developer’s website that they are passionate about creating fun experiences for young people and they have clearly created this app from their own experiences as parents. As responsible parents, they want to ensure that they not only fulfil their parental duty but also keep a diary, as their child’s school may have suggested. This is an excellent, interactive diary that encourages young children to keep a written and visual documentation of their lives.’

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