Friday, 18 July 2014

Your Children and The Internet - Introducing LearnMeter Plus a Giveaway...

*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.
This is a game of skill and the most creative two answers as deemed by the judge will win.

To Enter:

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.
The winners' details will be forwarded to a third party for prize distribution and may be announced on prize related social media sites.
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Good luck!

 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?
Recent posts on Six Little Hearts you may have missed:
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  1. You always have the best giveaways, Jody. LearnMeter sounds like a brilliant idea. I don't need to worry about the kids and the internet yet, but it's good to know there is helpful programs like this around when they finally start getting online.

  2. My girls are getting a joint birthday gift next week of a tablet pad to share and I am wondering how I am going to keep some control over how they use it. This looks like it is just what I need. The timing couldn't be better!

  3. Never allowed to be on the computer in their rooms even our oldest our 13 year old, and all sites they go to muct be ok'd by myself or dad, and though facebook says my daughter is old enough to have an account, I dont LOL... My youngest is good about sticking to sites like Nick Jr etc

  4. I have access to all the passwords for all their social media accounts and emails, they also get limited to 1hr a time only a few days a week to be online

  5. My kids only get a few hours online at a time and I have all their passwords to their account so I can keep a check on everything

  6. Our children have an Ipad to share, you can lock the Ipad to only contain child friendly content, this way they can never be on or see anything harmful to them on the internet. I also love the way Ipad's have to be loaded with applications so as a parent you get to choose what goes on it.

  7. Internet use only allowed in the lounge room share ware computer so I can see everything!

  8. Dad's a techie so we have timers set when the internet will work - after 2 hours it just turns off and only mum and dads laptops will connect. When they are on the net they sit on the floor in front of us so we can see everything. You can't be too easy going when it comes to the net these days.

  9. Dora loves watching the Sweedish Chef on YouTube... I hate that unrelated videos come up when the clip finishes and can take her to all sorts of videos I'd rather she not watch. While it's not a huge issue yet because I'm usually always close by listening, I know there will be times when the baby is on the move that I won't be so close at hand. Dora's at the age where I can say 'Oh no, the battery has gone flat (and turn it off), when she's spending too much time on it. We have a couple of apps that have timer setting so you can't play after so many minutes. I'm off to learn more about LearnMeter. :)

  10. They have allocated time they're allowed online, and I check the history once they're finished. Their little faces when fronted with their activities say it all, and they never go back if they've been somewhere they shouldn't be.

    Diana O.

  11. What a great idea! We have an iPad each for the twins so this would be ideal to keep an eye on what they're playing with. At the moment we keep the tablets on airplane mode but it won't be long till they figure out how to connect to the internet!

  12. LearnMeter sounds great, we have only just let our kids have access to the internet with their ipods after giving them a long talk on the dangers of what is on the internet. They mainly use youtube to listen to music and I ask them regularly what they is important!

    1. Congratulations Kasey - I will be in touch shortly.

  13. I am going to get the hubby to put on our iPads. I have to say that I'm quite shocking at monitoring and often let them on do educational stuff while I'm doing tea and then see they are watching movies, or playing games and I have no idea how long they've been doing it for! To keep close tabs I just take them off them now!!!

  14. We have parental controls in place-best to be safe!!

  15. I must confess I am pretty lame. I let the kids loose on you tube. My two year old hasn't grasped the use of the laptop, but my four year old is completely computer literate on the PC and laptop. It really surprises me how quickly she picked it up just from watching me!
    I do have an app on my phone that only allows her to use certain games and functions of the phone, which is really useful. we don't have any Apple 'i' anythings. Great prize for those that do :)

  16. I don't think you could ever be called a lousy Mum!! It sounds like a really useful thing to have installed for your children.

  17. Rebecca Bowyer19 July 2014 at 13:49

    My kids are still preschoolers so it's pretty easy - no iPad unless they're sitting right next to me! It's mostly to protect the computer as much as anything else:)

  18. The Children are not allowed anywhere near facebook or other social sites, and we have child protection security

  19. I set parental controls so the internet cannot be accessed without a pin and the kids don't know (and never will)! They are 5 and 7 so if they want any new games or apps they are downloaded by me - 70% are educational so I'm not going to complain. They get 30 minutes each on the ipad once they have completed their homework and chores.

  20. Oh yes - my daughter can use youtube on the ipad and watches all sort of American guff - like Barbie life in the dream house. I really need to get more on to my monitoring!

  21. We have our computer in a room off the main living area and they always go off at 10pm.

  22. The grandkids are allowed so much internet and programs are blocked

  23. I just made a comment but not sure what happened so will rewrite again. We have set boundaries for internet usage in our home. Before the kids used the internet for the first time we had a chat about how the internet is great, but can also be detrimental. If they want to use the internet they come and ask me and I put in the passwords etc. I have set parental controls so that I can monitor what they are doing. If they want to download something, the kids come and as before proceeding. This works well and the kids have great respect for the internet. Another way to monitor usage is with a internet usage chart to show how much we are using the internet per week. The kids always do their chores/homework and then they are allowed to have internet time as a reward. It works really well.

    1. Congratulations Cathy, you're a winner. I will be in touch shortly.

  24. Great blog article. I don't have to worry just now, but will certainly be using some of these tips, particularly time-limits as suggested by Next Parent LearnMeter

  25. Great article, installed software definitely sounds the way to go.
    We've set times for using devices and when they do it is generally within common room areas or within sight.

  26. My little one loves ABC4Kids so I installed its App on the iPad. Currently he only browses this. But I prefer a software to assist me to keep him away from unsafe contents on the internet.

  27. we make a rule that Tablets or computers only get accessed in the living room while an adult is present and im allowed to check when ever I like

  28. Our kids are able to use apps but can't access the Internet. However, we rely on our eyes and the clock to monitor usage, leaving a lot of room for human error! I'm every keen to try LearnMeter.

  29. All internet devices need to be used in plain sight in the lounge or family room in our house. Nothing secret and I've spoken to my 15 year old son about consequences of googling things he wants to know about, and have told him that this is a very good way to see stuff you can't un-see and should never have to see at 15, and that we would much much rathe he ask someone instead (which he seems to be quite comfortable doing)

  30. Parental control software,
    So they are safer there!
    With time limits we impose,
    A guidance is required - so I do a history nose!

  31. Mine are still little so we always use the computer together. It's good to know about products like this for the future though.

  32. I put the ipad on airplane mode when im not with him. He's only 6 so we've not had a need for rules until now but you've planted a seed....

  33. Lucky for me mine is only 3 and at this stage does not need to use it. But she does use applications downloaded for the iPad. Yes, dreading those teenage years.

  34. Is my comment still waiting for moderation? I can't see it!

    1. Great! Guess it fell through the cracks of the Internet.

      My little darling isn't old enough to browse the Internet at all and I won't allow her to browse the Internet unsupervised once she is. Parental control software sure is a great thing to limit access to content a kid shouldn't see, but such software isn't foolproof either and just recently a five year old cracked the parental controls on his dad's Xbox One. Software designed by Microsoft no less. I'm not saying I don't trust parental controls, but trust is good control is better!

      Thanks for the chance!

  35. My son is old in the 1st grade so so far it is easy. I have blocks on the tablet 5th at he uses.

  36. I'm pretty slack on not keeping an eagle eye but I will walk past to see what he's watching every now and then and the sound is up loud enough for me to hear so if any bad language comes on, he either has to turn it off or find another video to watch.

  37. I put restrictions on the ipad and have Parental control software on the computer, this helps me monitor them and keeps them off sites they should not be on.
    Also time limits of no longer then an hour at a time!

  38. At the moment my daughter is still quite young so it's under my supervision only. When she's older I'll be looking at parental control software as well as always having the computers/tablets in the living areas where I can keep an eye on things!

  39. I work as a nanny and we have a slightly old-fashioned method... an hourglass! We turn it upside down while doing outdoor activities, and when all the sand has run down into the bottom the kids are allowed screen-time - they turn it over and use all the sand time they "earned" playing outside to go on the computer, watch tv etc :)

  40. My kids can only use the internet when we are in the same room and they cant have the computer/phone on silent so I can hear if they are watching something inappropriate.

  41. No computers or electronics during the week and if they get ten 'reward' magnets then they get an hours computer time on the weekend - which we monitor by having them in the same room as us. It's easy when they only have an hour!

  42. Our computer is at a desk alongside the kitchen... Nothing escapes my eagle eye!

  43. The computers and games only get used over school holidays and they love playing on it. Sometimes I buy the songs so they can sing and dance to the latest tunes. Then we can all enjoy it.

  44. They're too small to worry about it right now, but am reading other suggestions with interest!

  45. Mine are too little, but once the time comes, password protection!

  46. My kids can only access the internet through our desktop computer which is set up to be child friendly and safe ♥ I have installed excellent parental control and filtering programs that don't allow inappropriate content and enforce time restrictions. The computer can't be accessed after 8:30 pm without a password and adults in the house will access the internet on either an iPad or laptop 'after hours!'

  47. Great Read! Internet has evolved a lot last couple of decades, its important that your kids consume ethical and proper content. There new Parental Control Software available in market which is Designed to keep your Kids Safe online.


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