Wednesday 22 March 2017

10 reasons why we allow screen time

The man and I are big users of our handheld phones, anyone else is. Largely because we work with it! Emails, messages, social media, apps, directory, photo editing etc. falls conveniently into one common device today. I'm wowed and in awed of how fast we have progress, and how human's lives get smarter each day.

In short, I am spurred to spill my thoughts on this article I read (10 reasons why handheld devices should be banned for children under 12). While we are always taught to discern the writing of an article, this doesn't quite make sense to me. In sum, the writer is all against children below 12 using handheld devices.

Why am I concern? Because my older kids, 6 and 8 are allowed on my handheld devices! The key point is, limited screen time. While some parents are TOTALLY against it, I give my take on why we do have screen time on our laptop and devices. CONTROLLED.

1. Digital news. News is now presented in digital technology. We do not subscribe to the physical copy of newspaper anymore. We moved to getting the digital copy and read it off the tablet or laptop. I show the kids relevant and interesting articles from whatever device I'm using.

2. Apps. We have apps that read stories, create fun photos/videos, directories, dictionaries and many others. Choosing a valuable app is yet another story. Games, yes, we have. And our kids are allowed to game with us, with controlled usage. I have to mention, playing certain games are actually good for that reaction time and finger motor skill. I don't think we are the only family who plays Pokemon with our kids.

3. e-learning. Having the daughter hopped into primary school last year, my mind grew even more open with her handling our laptop and tablet. There are IT lessons in school that teaches much on IT and internet safety, as well as homework that requires the use of software and online research.

4. We teach them to research using online search engines. We've come to a point where Dad and Mum are beyond their convenient encyclopedia. And Yes, we do have a concern of Internet safety. We rely much on Kiddle and the purchase of Norton to keep them safe. The latter shows us what the kids did online if we happen to not be around. Though I highly avoid leaving them alone with the devices.


Norton Family Software

5. I often show articles of what I, as a Mum is unable to convince, but the Internet is. Which means, it's another opportunity for us to learn how to discern fake and genuine news, facts and opinions, sources and credibility. Along the years, kids may trust us, family for news, but they will still prefer scooping it from social media or other online sources. Teach them to discern.

6. Learning. Js very much love to draw. We use videos for tutorials. The World of YouTube videos is endless! From tutorials to a bunch of trashy stuff, you can find them all. A better platform for them to surf and give parents that peace of mind would be YouTube Kids. Launched in Singapore last November, this apps throws out only family friendly videos and is almost safe for child's usage.

YouTube Kids

You have no idea how frustrated I have been with YouTube and their load of crappy suggested videos one after another. Explicit, inappropriate and trashy I would say. Glad YouTube kids was introduced!

7. All genre of content and media can be played on any device, TV, phone, tablet or laptop. Sometimes, it seems more acceptable for kids to be on the TV or laptop, but not handheld devices. Yes, in that sense the former has larger fonts and images, which are less taxing on those eyes. If not, it boils down to how each device is used and what content they are ingesting.

8. I am very assured that screening will never replace my role of active parenting. We would always choose to play and communicate the human way.

9. Demonstrate good habits as adults. There are various ways to adopt, we avoid using and walking with our handheld devices, we try to remember putting screens away when communicating, we prioritise tasks and we don't get addicted to gaming.

10. Reality. The thing about parenting today with digital technology is that we don't have our own experience to go back to and look at. We have progressed. Rapidly.

The critical question is not how to totally ban or avoid, but what to screen, how much to screen and how to interpret media. For as long as we can guide them. 

Internet is a Big World out there, media and online safety begins at home and in school. Always:
1. Be present to know what they are doing
2. Limit time

The only time we are unable to limit now, is e-learning from school. School's expectations, no? Sometimes, the assignments can be so time consuming that all you need to remember is resting that mind and eyes.

When do you start?
Introduction of devices is a gradual process. Some may start real young (recommended age is above 2 years old) and some would delay it as much as possible. I think if kids are already making good sense of the surroundings, getting inquisitive and reading almost well, why not use devices and technology to explore the bigger world?

We know it's highly damaging when a child games all day long, or watch a meaningless cartoon or drama for hours. Develop good screening habits from young. Let them know that there is a limit to it, and they can't abscond with it.

While there are meaningless videos, there are also educational videos like documentaries.

Screen time can be of quality and should be limited. The full liberty should only be given when a child knows exactly how to priortise work, rest and play appropriately. And importantly, deal with Internet and social media safely.

Common sense screening is for everyone. It has not made my children abandon reading physical books, throw extreme tantrums for taking the screen away, feel lost without an alternative to screening or result in lesser family bonding moments.

It helps widen their perspectives and not suppress their curiosity.

Open mindedness
While we do not use these devices to pacify or induce our kids to stay seated or finish their meals, I am not adverse with parents doing so. We do not fight the same battle. I use it desperately on shopping trips during vacations, when the kids get restless. When Mum shops, anything that works, is in.

Perhaps, the next time we see a family with their kid's eyes fixed on that screen, we should be slow to react, clam to process and avoid judgement. It does not instantly interpret as a less loving parent. There's always a story to every behind the scene.

The world is evolving, quoting Jazz, "Humans may extinct when robots take over!" Children of today will have to be comfortable and smart with technology of various forms. Board games may get digital, textbooks may all fall into a single device (Yay to lighter school bags!), as well as many other smart possibilities out there! It really is almost impossible to go back to the simple days of playing 5 stones or catching longkang fish. Children are our future, so is technology.

The debate never ends, but this is the digital story of our family. 

Thursday 16 March 2017

The Wonderful World of Disney 2017 [Review]

We had a dazzling and magical night with The Wonderful World of Disney on Ice! It was their opening night yesterday.

Last year (read for tips and reasons to watch), it was more skewed towards the little fans of Disney princesses. This year, with some same same and different characters, we are seeing more boys! Together with an audience of squealing and joyful kids, we travelled on an exciting adventure with various characters.

The opening drew its curtains for Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy! Who were the show hosts, and brought us through the stories of that night.

First off, we roared with Simba and his pals on the Prideland, swaying and singing to the songs, Hakuna Matata and Can you feel the love tonight. Oh yes! we felt the love that night.

Then, we cringed on the sight of apples when we met Snow white and her seven dwarf friends. Gave only a sigh of relieved upon a kissed that awakened her from her spell.

More than just one princess, we twirled along and met princess Jasmine from Aladdin. Allowed our imagination to soar as we saw how an old lamp can be a treasure in disguise. "If we had that lamp, we will wish for food!" So says our boy. And nah, I didn't starve him. I was just unwilling to get him popcorn and cotton candy.

We made a splash and went underwater to catch Ariel and Sebastian from Little Mermaid dancing up a storm. For that moment, we thought we had our hands replaced with fins as we clapped along.

We let our hair down together with Rapunzel from Tangled, sang along to I see the light as we admired floating lanterns gleaming over our heads. Somehow, frying pan from my kitchen doesn't feel the same to me anymore.

And Wow! We had a quick preview of all the princesses before the interval. Cinderella, Belle and Mulan and Tiana (as many as I can remember) joined in!

After an interval, we moved on to grab our hats, stomped our boots as Buzz Lightyear, Woody and Jessie sang and danced to their Yeee-Hah! The kids were swept off their seats to join in a great time of singing and dancing that was led by the stars.

The captivation didn't end, we continued to glide, dived deep into the ocean and went swimming to help find Dory's long lost parents. It was such a bliss swimming with our favourite fishes, Dory and Nemo. All we did was to just keep swimming!

Finale is often referred as the best for the last. It has to be Elsa and Anna from Frozen! Witnessed once again their sisterly love, and how it thawed a frozen heart which melted us all!

So these were the dreams we followed in sequence. Compared to last year, there is the inclusion of Lion King, Toy story and Finding Dory characters. And of course, some other princesses have to make way for them. It seems like a better lined up this way, just so non-princess fans have a big share of joy too.

It was a dreamy and beautiful night for us. We sang to the tunes of our favourite songs and watched with amazement how the performers brought so much life to the characters. Did you know each cast member wears 4 to 5 costumes for the show?!! That's so much of a changing parade behind the curtains.

Every piece of costume is classy and every move with it sparkles!

Every scene, story, and character resonated so much with the kids and us, the parents. Bringing these on ice looked like a complex process with much coordination. From costumes to choreography, it's more than just ordinary to bring this on stage with skates. Figure skating, we call it, brings on a whole new definition.

While kids may look much on the costumes and the brought out character, they probably do not know the perseverance and hard work behind each cast. It isn't like in a musical where walking on feet is much easier than on skates. So yes, it deserves awesome applause, and even more generous applause when we see performers fall and recover again. Not all the time, but it does happens. 

Just last month, Jare and I had the privilege to get on an Ice skating Materclass with their casts (who played Simba, Elsa, Jasmine and Aladdin), picked up some skating tips and were extremely wow-ed by their swift and precised stunts. Most of the skaters picked up skating before the age of 12. There's hope in every child!

That's Michael Helgren, who played Simba, imparting some tiny bit of skating skill to Jare. Michael picked up skating when he was 12.

So yeap, there is a high possibility that your kids will ask for a trip to the skating rink after the show. It made skating looked all simple and effortless. Oh well, wait till we put on those skates on the rink and we will go, "How did these people do it?!!" 

It's better off by sitting back, relax and enjoy the show.

We are so Thankful to be at the show. My favourite character of the night will have to be Elsa. I must be insane to not get sick of Let it go. Most memorably, the role was very well played - graceful, elegant and polished! 

The Wonderful World of Disney on Ice will skate on from now till 19 March 2017, for 10 performances. Get your tickets soon, if you have not. It is a World Class show that is bound to create family memories of a lifetime!

While exiting the stadium, I overheard some adult conversations that went, "I enjoyed it more than my kids!" I can testify that.

Tickets can be purchased here

Child below 2 enters free. Just remember to bring baby's milk. Juboy enjoyed the first part of the show very well, after which he decided to fuss a little on us. 

Nonetheless, we survived throughout, with milk.

Other tips:
  • No re-entry once you entered
  • Show starts On Time
  • Show is about 2 hours with 15 minutes interval
  • Front seats are definitely the better seats. If budget fits.
Disney On Ice, Social Media:
Twitter: @DisneyOnIce
Instagram: @DisneyOnIce

Have a magical time!

Disclaimer: We were given a set of tickets of the purpose of this review. All photos and opinions are solely ours.

Wednesday 8 March 2017

Art Day Out [Gillman Barracks]

We had never thought of stepping foot into Gillman Barracks till we came across Playeum some years ago.

Gillman Barracks was a former military barracks back in 1936. In 2012, the Gillman Barracks visual arts cluster was launched. It has a vision of being Asia’s destination for the presentation and discussion of international and Southeast Asian art.

It is now home to leading international and home-grown galleries, national research centre NTU Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) Singapore, and art organisations - Art Outreach and Playeum’s Children’s Centre for Creativity. The art businesses and organisations are complemented by design retailer Supermama, and an array of cafes, bars and restaurants.

A place for art lovers, art collectors, and those curious about art. The cluster is a focal point of Singapore’s arts landscape, and anchors the development of visual art in the region and beyond.

Last weekend, we hopped on a journey on Lock Route to its public art showcase. Lock Route features 16 arresting outdoor artworks by 15 world-renowned and emerging international and Singapore artists. The artworks consist of site specific installations, sculptures and murals, and visitors are invited to traverse the grounds and experience a closer encounter with art in the open.

Title of Art: Proud Mary Keep On Rolling

Title of Art: Constellation of One

Title of Art: Kampung Singa

Covering all 16 artworks by foot may be highly challenging, especially with little ones in tow. A good suggestion may be driving from point to point. Some of the installations may be interactive while some provokes the simplicity state of mind, to think out of the ordinary. 

While there are a couple of food and dessert choices within Gillman, we will have to say Timbre is probably the best option for having kids along.  Timbre @ Gillman is a live music venue that showcases a roster of home-grown music arts. Its expansive alfresco setting is also great for big group gatherings. We met our friends for dinner and it fits 12 of us comfortably well.

Every weekend, Timbre transforms into a family favourite with its super social BBQ programme (4pm to 8pm), offering complimentary thematic activities for the kids and an extensive BBQ and beer menu. For the weekends in March, it's the Prince and Princess Edition! There are kids' fun activities with bouncy castles, bubbles, face painting and hands on tiara/crown making activities. These will definitely keep the kids occupied for a long long while.

Bouncy Castles

Photo booth with props and costumes

Colouring and Tatoo corner

You will have to get your child try out the skill of their face painting artist, she does really wonderful drawings!

Together with the live band, we had a very fun-filled evening with food and music. The band had promised to master more Prince and Princess (Disney) theme songs. I do hope they are working to please more kids in the coming weeks. Though the music can get a little too loud for proper conversations, it's a great place to chill. I had my birthday dinner there, and Mummy Susan dedicated a birthday song to me. Touched to the max! Thank you!

So yeap, you can do song dedications or even get the band to help you on a song. We spotted a large group of 'choir' singing to their friend with the band's music accompaniment.

So yeap, there's something for everyone even if art isn't on mind.

Timbre @ Gillman
9A Lock Road, Gillman Barracks
Singapore 108926
Opening hours
Monday to Thursday, 4pm to 11pm
Friday, 6pm to 1am
Saturday, 4pm to 12am
Sunday, 12pm to 9pm

Art Day Out! x Singapore Design Week 2017
The best time to visit Gillman would probably be this coming Saturday, 11 March, with its daytime open house Art Day Out! This is in conjunction with Singapore Design Week 2017.

What can you expect? Highlights include first Singapore + Wallpaper Handmade   Classics exhibition: MultipliCITY, deisgn workshops and public presentations held at the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore alongside various other LOCK ROUTE fringe activities and performances. 

In addition, visitors can look forward to precinct-wide art acitivies and programmes, inclding dining offers, children's programme at Playeum, free drop-in family-friendly activities by Art Outreach and guided docent tours by Friends of the Museum. 

Date: 11 March 2017 (Saturday)
Time: 2 to 7pm
Venue:Gillman Barracks, 9 Lock Road Singapore 108937

Playeuem Children's Centre for Creativity
Date: 11 March 2017 (Saturday)
Time: 10am to 6pm
Venue: Block 47 Malan Road, #01-23, Gillman Barracks
Entrance: Child $22 (Free for 1 accompanying adult. Additional adult at $10)

Only on Art Day Out (11 March), the Children's Centre for Creativity's exhibition A World Full of Stories will feature 20% discount across all  tickets category. Discounted entry applies from 2pm onward. Regular admission rates will apply from 10am to 2pm. 

FREE art activities such as The Amazing Shapes Trail and a specially designed 'Art Jam' session (Make your puppet Move!) will also be conducted at the block 47 plaza, outside Playeum, from 2 to 6pm.

It will be a Saturday filled with family Arts and Fun! Do remember to bring some mosquito patches or repellent. For being so close to nature, mozzies may be lurking around for some feasting. 

Disclaimer: We were invited to a short programme session at Playeum, toured on Lock Route and treated at Timbre. All photos and opinions are solely ours.