Archive | August, 2013

Technology & Kids Going Back To School

What do I think is the most important conversation you can have with a child returning to school? Two issues I’m talking about daily with my older children are clean food/nutrition habits and how to manage technology responsibly.

Outside influences are constant and demanding when it comes to our children and technology so I reached out to Jesse Miller of Mediated Reality to ask him for advice and best practices to share with parents with children that live in the age of technology. He speaks in schools across North America educating on the use of technology, social media, cyber bullying, with blunt delivery for pre-teens and teenagers.  Here is Jesse’s advice for what you should know with technology and kids heading back to school.

Over to you Jesse…

The new school year is upon us and new learning and engagement activities are being developed by teachers who are eager to use the technology available inside schools and the tech your kids will most likely be bringing with them in the form of a mobile device or tablet. The excitement and novelty of a new school year is usually overwhelming, but the children with smart phones, tablets and computers are juggling with a number of education concerns especially as it applies to focus, constant communication with friends, and the chronic dialogues about cyber bullying. It’s a lot to maintain while trying to focus on learning.

As a parent, you can use this opportunity at the start of a school year to keep your kids safe and online aware while allowing them the freedom to enjoy technology by introducing the topics of social media use, Internet gaming, texting, and online behavioural expectations by setting the tone in September.

Start by considering how you would control use of the Internet at home.

You’re saying you can’t control the Internet?

Well you are right, and you can’t. The Internet is omnipresent and seems overwhelming to many parents when it comes to the expertise of the kids but you can take steps to monitor how the Internet is accessed in your house.

I never recommend filters or monitoring software unless your child has given you previous reasons to not trust their online activities but by requiring laptops, tablets, and computers to be in open areas of the home, you are preventing your child from isolating themselves when they are online. Explore control of the Internet in a number of ways with the following ideas around communication and expectations of use.

  1. Consider limiting the amount of time to use the Internet for your kids and the parents in the home. Reduce “double screen” time where they watch television and look at their iPod or phone. Consider setting the standard for the family by establishing the tone for when the phones go down, not just for the kids, but for all family members.
  2. How about disabling the WiFi or locking out the router at certain times of the day to restrict Internet access? You don’t know how to? The kid knows more than you? Why not learn how the Internet is coming into your home? Especially after bedtime – many kids find that their mobile device is a chronic distraction at night while sleeping, if you control the Internet as it comes into your home, you have a better sense of when it is usually accessed. Google is your friend on this – there are plenty of YouTube videos available. If your child has a mobile device with Internet access provided by a cellular carrier, set up a home charging area so that all phones sit overnight – this area might need to be in your bedroom if you believe your child will want to bypass the rule and sneak a peek.
  3. Do not hesitate to set rules for mobile devices. Reflect on when you were a child and the fear you had when a friend called past 8PM – your parents were guardians of communications in your childhood home and it was rude to call past a certain hour – let’s not move too far from that value of respect just because your child has their own communication tool. Set the rules as you expect the devices to be used – they will mimic your use.
  4. Is your child texting on their phone or mobile device? Have they downloaded multiple applications to text for free (parents love free) but you don’t know which? Look at the download history and don’t hesitate to ask your child about every application they use. Google that application and look at reviews, news stories and other parents reviews. Encourage your kids to read their most recent text messages out loud to encourage communication based on your expectation of appropriate use. I would highly suggest against snooping through the messages (unless you can defend the reasons to your child) as it is similar to your parents reading your diary or journal as a child – privacy trust is key when it comes to online communication but don’t hesitate to parent that communication based on the values of your home.
  5. Learn about the trends. Kids love photographs these days and send them with the eagerness of a flyer campaign. Set a value to the photos your children are placing online, ask them what the world needs to see before they post and try to encourage a sense of self as it applies to giving pictures away to the Internet – would they post the same photo if it cost $1? If the answer is no, remind them that a photo of your child is priceless to you, no stranger online needs it for likes. The current trend of Instagram or Snapchat encourages kids to post pictures online to share for fun, likes, followers, or the perception that it deletes. Users, including unknown adults, rate, and solicit these pictures and flirtatiously or without mercy comment. This can lead to a number of social media issues including bullying and digital footprint/reputation concerns as your child moves through school.
  6. Pay attention to warning signs! If phones are placed screen side down on a chronic basis and held close to the chest like a poker player with a good hand, you might have an issue around how your child is shielding communications with peers. Maybe your kid is afraid of your response to language or topic but never chastise based on emotion for what you discover. Open dialogues and set expectations of access and use -discipline as needed and always encourage appropriate use.

Going back to school is a busy and exciting time of the year. Parents, teachers and those connected kids are busy Texting, taking “selfies” on Snapchat, filtering on Instagram, posting to Facebook, Tweeting class events on Twitter, and sharing a lot of information. Keep this time safer, secure, and aware by encouraging your kids and yourself to share the minimum amount of personalized information with the online world and communicate as if the world is listening – because with social media in hand, everyone is eager for a good story to post about someone else.

Jesse Miller @mediatedreality
Jesse Miller is a social media safety educator based in Vancouver, BC – information about his work and programs available for schools & parents is available at www.mediatedreality.com

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DIY Personal Care Recipe Round Up

Why do I want to make as many of my personal care products as possible? It saves me time shopping, money, and I know exactly what I’m putting on my hair and skin. DIY personal care recipes help with avoiding fragrance, phthalates, and chemicals that cosmetic companies sneak into ingredients lists by hiding behind the word fragrance so there is never full disclosure. And if we think back 60 years to how our grandparents washed their hair, face, skin, and kept themselves from being stinky without stores to shop at – well, there must be a way to do this effectively with ingredients already in your kitchen.

I have great DIY tips and so do these talented green bloggers and Facebook fans. Below is a great list of personal care DIY recipes that will replace many store bought products in your bathroom. And chances are if you already own a great big bottle of unrefined coconut oil, you can start making them right away! My thanks to everyone that shared their favourite DIY recipes!

DIY Deodorant:

Alicia from The Soft Landing shared her DIY Antibacterial + Cooling deodorant for Men and Women.

  • Mix together equal parts arrowroot powder or cornstarch and baking soda (I usually begin with 1/4 cup of each)
  • Stir in enough coconut oil to moisten the mixture, but not so much that it’s wet (I usually start with 6-8 Tbsp)
  • Add 10-15 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • Add 5-10 drops of patchouli
  • Add 5-10 drops of cedarwood essential oil

Click on the full article link to find out why each of these ingredients is beneficial to fight the bacteria that causes ordor. This article clearly educates how people can remove aluminum toxicity with cool, earthy pits ~ thanks Alicia!

Facial Scrub:

Beth from The EcoSpheric Blog shares her DIY Brown Sugar Facial Scrub Recipe. I can’t wait to try this recipe and will probably omit the essential oil because I love the smell of my raw brown sugar.

  • 1/2 c. coconut oil
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • few drops of the essential oil of your choice (I used Tulsi holy basil from Organic India because it supports the body’s healthy response to inflammation and promotes a healthy, clear complexion.)

brown-sugar-facial-scrub-recipe

Now that we’ve all drooled over how amazing this scrub looks, head on over to the full article link and get the directions and how to use the scrub.

Rachel, from Mommy Greenest shared her 4 ingredient DIY Organic Face Mask. With the added ingredients and instructions, I’m definitely bookmarking this face mask for a weekend treat for my skin. And the ingredient I love the most is raw honey! Here is a teaser from the face mask:

You’ll need

  • Six tablespoons raw organic sugar
  • One free range organic egg white
  • One tablespoon organic honey
  • One packet plain instant organic oatmeal (uncooked)

Sounds amazing right? Click on over to read the full link and instructions here.

Karen from ecokaren shared an Avocado Face Mask recipe which I’m super happy about because making beauty products from food that turn soft quickly (bananas, avocados) is awesome to prevent food waste. You again need a bit of time to create this face mask recipe, but I love Karen’s tip to freeze the extra you’ll have from using an entire avocado which becomes a time saver. Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

Guacamole Face Mask ingredients

  • 1 Ripe Avocado
  • 1 Egg White – room temperature
  • 1 Tsp Lemon Juice

Click over to the recipe’s full link for instructions and tips for freezing and testing. I would also recommend a test first on your arm with using lemon juice to ensure skin isn’t sensitive.

Other Facial Scrubs:

Donna, shared on the Mommy Footprint fan page that she mixes coconut oil with ground himalayan rock salt. She keeps a little pot in the shower, massage it, rinse in the shower, then wipe with a dry towel. Donna no longer needs face cream and her skin texture is improving. Thanks for sharing!

Personally, I’ve been mixing unrefined coconut oil with baking soda to exfoliate and love using this for my daily scrub. I also find my face is perfectly moisturized and I always have these two ingredients on hand so it’s an easy recipe to maintain. I put a glob of coconut oil into a cup then add enough baking soda that there is some grit but be careful to start if you have sensitive skin.

DIY Hair Care:

Sarah from Mindfully Frugal Mom sent us her article for creating a Coconut Oil Hair Mask. This is another DIY recipe that sounds amazing, especially because 2 of the 3 ingredients are coconut oil and a banana. We always have those on hand! Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (use even less if you have fine or short hair)
  • 1 tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 ripe banana

It’s suggested this mask stays in for 30 minutes, so carve out some time when trying this recipe. Click on the full link to read the directions and advice on using Sarah’s coconut oil hair mask.

Other DIY Hair Care Tips:

Corry responded on our Fan Page about a routine she uses for removing hair build up. She puts cider vinegar in a spray bottle and spray it on freshly shampoed hair and wait a few minutes. Then rinse it out. I have also heard of just putting the cider vinegar in a container with water and rinsing the hair with it but that gets quite pricey. This method works well and removes hair product build up.

For years I’ve used coconut oil to smooth or slick my hair at the ends or instead of using gel for smooth ponytails. You just need a dime size amount that you warm up in your palms. Apply to the ends of your dry hair and it can be used for easy styling.

DIY Perfume:

Rachel from Mommy Greenest saves the day with this 1 minute and 3 ingredient DIY perfume recipe. With so many people in the population suffering from scent sensitivities (me, me, me!) it’s a gift to those that surround you to know ditch synthetic perfumes. They can be overpowering to many people and for those that wear them, you might be causing your own body hormone disruption.

Oh, and you can make a gigantic bottle for less than $30! You’ll need:

  1. One clean spray bottle—preferably a dark-colored glass to block UV rays so your perfume stays stable longer.
  2. One big bottle of pure cooking vanilla—organic is best, but either way just make sure there’s no sugar in the mix.
  3. One or more small bottles of essential oil—I love rose geranium, rose and lavender mixed with the vanilla; experiment to find out what you like best.

If you want to make this DIY perfume, click over to the full recipe link and get Rachel’s advice on the best essential oils to use and directions. Awesome stuff Rachel!

DIY in 1 step Recipes:

These are my tips. After reading the amazing guests posts, I’m feeling that my personal care regime needs to step it up a notch. I seem to gravitate to 1 ingredient DIY recipes for personal care. Here are my favourites:

Shaving your legs: Use Dr. Bronners liquid castile soap. It’s organic, fair trade, and you’re probably already using it for 30 other things in your home. It can easily replace shaving cream that actually contains teflon. It’s an easy switch and use coconut oil to moisure body after shaving.

Deodorant: this one always gets a few blinks of dis-belief from people but I love it and it works! Cut a lemon or lime in half and rub under your arm pits. I’ve even used it freshly after shaving and experiences no burning sensation. The juice dries quickly, doesn’t stain my clothing, and is SUPER effective against body odor.

Tooth Whitening: oil pulling. If you haven’t tried swishing with coconut oil, you are missing out! Especially if you are buying toxic, tooth whitening kits that are also really expensive. All you need is unrefined coconut oil and you are set. Full instructions found here.

Eye Makeup Remover: coconut oil again to the rescue. Put coconut oil on a washcloth, paper, or q-tip and rub across your closed eye. The oil will remove all makeup so you can wash your face easily before bed time.

I’ll do a followup post with more DIY recipes for personal care. If you would like your recipe to be included in the next roundup, post it in the comments or on the Mommy Footprint fan page.

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