*This is a sponsored post on behalf of Next Parent LearnMeter.
One thing that has always struck me as both odd and amusing on my journey as a Mum of lots of kids is the automatic assumption made by people that I must be a great Mum, based solely on the size of my family.
On many occasions I have been approached by strangers, who after conducting a visible a head-count of my brood, have exclaimed this very notion. I always laugh it off, (usually blush) and regularly reply with a very intoned "Nooooo!"
Believe me when I say I am not being modest. Yes a large number of kids to care for takes an awful lot of work and maybe even attracts a particular personality type but I will also admit readily that the never-ending parameters of that work mean that I miss a lot of the stuff I should be more focussed on and careful with.
Like kids and the internet.
Our main computer sits in a central position in our home and is regularly worshipped by every single family member. Even the baby gets in on the action if a chair is left out invitingly in front of it. (She just loves to whack those keys in the hope that the screen shot changes.)
Recently I decided that there was just too much screen time happening at our house and I had to put my foot down and ban it on weekdays altogether to restore the family communication levels. (You can read more about that here.)
Once Friday afternoon rolls around though, the screen ban officially lifts and the central computer and its relatives, (tablets, iPods and other mobile devices) become a hive of activity once again. The kids battle in both real life to get to it first (the main PC) and in the games they frequently enjoy on all those devices.
I am fairly confident that my kids are internet savvy in terms of basic safety, thanks to regular questioning by ourselves (responsible parents that we are), about their activities online. Their schools too, have contracts in place that even the youngest must sign each year, to begin the long process of educating small people about the breadth and dangers of navigating a very large online world. We have parental controls and virus protections in place at home like all households with children should.
The one thing we don't always have in place however, is a watchful eye on their individual activities on their devices and the time they spend using them.
Thanks to the busyness of multi-motherhood, I fail regularly to keep an eye on the time each individual child sits glued to a screen despite them often being positioned right in front of me. My 12 year old Son in particular, can sit for hour after hour gaming and being the quiet personality he is, it regularly goes unnoticed. I am ashamed to admit that.
My 14 year old Daughter will frequently retreat into her own room with her iPad under the premise of homework and owing to the large and noisy household in which we live, I have to trust that this is exactly what she is doing. Though my Mothering instincts persistently tell me otherwise, I am caught in a quandary.
The younger children often connect to the internet on the TV or borrow my own iPad for gaming. Even the toddler is in on the action. I downloaded several Apps for her specifically when she was a tiny baby to buy myself some freedom before she could crawl. She is gifted in her ability to use Apple devices in particular and it remains a confronting and continued source of amusement to me to witness her play on them.
Can you see how I am not such a great Mother after all?
When one of my kids asks to do something on the internet, I do ask them what they want to do and which website they want to visit. I like to kid myself that I know what they are talking about when I ask if it is a game site or an educational one they wish to visit. I think it lulls that multi-Mum flustered self into a sense of false confidence that I have control over this large family of mine. I know I am locked out of the real knowledge though thanks to my constant workload and lack of time sees to it that I never get around to finding out either.
Real life just gets in the way. (Stuck behind piles of washing, dishes and meal preparation.)
I was recently made aware of LearnMeter and asked to try out their fantastic software which has given me a brand new hold over the screens scattered throughout this home of ours. Next Parent LearnMeter gives its users a quick snapshot of their kids' online learn versus play balance and shows you just how much time they are spending online.
Next Parent LearnMeter is free to download and use and any parent can utilise the software to conveniently and accurately see what each child is up to on those individual computing devices: Is it a game session or is it an educational one? LearnMeter will tell you!
The software is available now and every few weeks a new feature such as content filters, time limits and chat will be released so that the software adopts more of a cybersafety model to help parents manage their kids' more challenging online habits such as screen addictions. The full version will be available in September of this year.
Next Parent LearnMeter is very fast to download and quick to set up. We were all done in 15 minutes and ready to go on two computers and I was able to set up accounts for four of my children to run on our main computer which gave me much needed insights into the exact nature of their hourly undertakings.
From an easy to access and read dashboard, I am now able to view exactly how much of my children's internet activities equate to learning versus gaming and how long they are at either. LearnMeter is currently only available for Windows and there are additional features in the pipeline too such as iOS, Mac and Android software, parental chat features and more.
No more misguided answers to my queries or guess work for this Mum - I can now see the indisputable facts in front of me on my own PC. You can learn more about Next Parent LearnMeter for yourself by visiting their website and download it for free here.
***GIVEAWAY*** ***GIVEAWAY*** ***GIVEAWAY***
Next Parent #LearnMeter have very generously offered a great giveaway to readers of Six Little Hearts: Win one of two iTunes Gift Cards valued at $50 each!
Please share the love! Let your friends know about this new software and giveaway by using the social media tabs below. (Google Plus, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and email.)
Entry is easy. Just follow the prompts using the Rafflecopter App below. (App may take a few seconds to load.) Please note: Four of the entry requirements are mandatory so be sure to follow the simple steps to ensure all of your entries count.
Please play fair as others do take the time to complete their entries.
All winning entries drawn are screened to ensure they conform to these requirements and those that do not will be disqualified.
Follow the Rafflecopter App below to complete your mandatory entry likes, details and answer.
*Important: Please leave your name along with your comment so that I can match your entries!
Entry is open to residents of Australia only.
Chance play no part in this promotion.
This is a game of skill - most creative answer wins.
The winners will be notified via email and given 48 hours to respond.
If no response in this time, a new winner will be drawn.
The total prize pool is $100 consisting of two, $50 gift cards for two individual winners to use at the iTunes store online to the value of $50 each.
Prize is not redeemable for cash.
Winners will be announced here approximately a week from the giveaway's end.
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Judge's decision is final.
Are you just as lame as me when it comes to monitoring your children's internet use?
How do you keep tabs on your child / children?
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