Tag Archives: technology

Family Day in Ontario

Tomorrow is Family Day in Ontario; a day for families to slow down, disconnect from our devices and connect with each other. That’s a hard thing to do in this rushed and wired world.

But here are some ideas from Childventures Early Learning Academy on how to incorporate technology into reconnecting with our families this Family Day:

Family Day Ideas

Family Day gives parents a great opportunity to spend valuable quality time with their children.

 Work and Family Balance

Use this opportunity to take a break from work and spend quality time with the family. Take a vacation (with or without pay) and if feasible, go out of town for the weekend. If going away is out of the question, camp in your own backyard. Parents get a chance to step away from their everyday life while it increases a child’s awareness of his/her surroundings and allow them to discover nature. Try to experience outdoor camping activities by making a list together.

 Dressing up

Let children pick out their clothing (with guidance) for the weekend. To make things more exciting, allow children to redesign some old articles of clothing by embellishing them with gems, beads and paint. It’s fun and it encourages creativity and planning. Let your child take the lead with this activity.


Act as tourists in your own city. Find out about local events, and visit some exhibitions and/or historical landmarks. Grow the excitement by allowing children to plan the week. Do online research together and find activities that interest them. Be more active, if weather permits, go rollerblading or hiking. Fitness Fact: Almost 60% of today’s children don’t meet average fitness standards; 40% of five- to eight-year-olds are classified as obese.

Limit Technology Use

Leaving technology behind does not require leaving your home. For a night or two, arrange your own blackout. Make sure you prepare yourself in advance with flashlights and candles, snacks, water bottles, and board games. This will allow families to spend quality time together without electronics.

 In the City

Take children to a clay oven pottery shop where you can make and paint coffee mugs and cereal bowls together. Encourage children to paint something special on their pottery and customize it by writing their name on it. The store will put them in an oven (kiln) and you can pick them up a few days later. This becomes a great keepsake.


Ask children to choose a country and plan the special dinner together. Cooking together can result in many benefits, more than just spending quality time and having fun. When it comes to cooking, the activity can result in developing a child’s social and language skills, teaching them how to work in a team. The physical aspects of cooking can develop both gross and fine motor skills in children. It is also a great opportunity for children to develop their math skills and learn scientific concepts, like the changing states of matter. After cooking the meal, download some music to play during dinner and learn some interesting facts about the country to share at the table.


About CHILDVENTURES EARLY LEARNING ACADEMY—Childventures was founded when Dr. Heidary was unable to find the high level of care he was seeking for his own young child. As a doctor he had read the research showing the importance of the formative early years and he was looking for something better than he found. As busy professionals with full—time careers, he and his wife were seeking a loving place with caring people, qualified educators and caregivers, great programs and curriculums designed to influence neurological development at specific ages, a sequential program of learning at each stage with measurement systems to track progress, a secure, safe, modern environment, beautiful classes and play areas, a fun, child—focused atmosphere that embodies play techniques, a strong nutritional component, teacher—to—child ratios congruent with learning and caring, parental involvement for continued success of the child, modern learning, monitoring and security technology. These are the elements found at Childventures in Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Burlington and Ancaster.


Ho, Ho, No! Why iPads and iPhones Are Not Kids’ Toys

Wanted to share with you something that I feel strongly about. I’m not against all the devices that we can get our hands on nowadays, but I believe they have their place. And I think most people (parents, educators, etc.) are letting these devices into the lives of children without a thought to the harm they can cause. Sometimes, in certain settings, a tablet can be a useful learning tool. But I’ve seen too many kids so tuned into a device that they miss the world around them. Not good. And that’s just from the point of view of what these devices do to our attention span and ability to connect with the world. Never mind the actual, physical harm they might cause.

Call me old fashioned, but I find nothing engaging about reading on an iPad. I’d take a book over an e-reader any day. Especially when reading with my children. It’s like so many people have said about all the plastic toys we have: children don’t connect the same way to plastic toys as they do to wooden toys. And the only toys that have stood the test of time in our house are the wooden puzzles and the wooden blocks. My kids are devastated if I suggest that maybe it’s time to get rid of either. But the plastic stuff comes into the house on one occasion and is tossed by the next occasion, usually without a second thought.


I’d much rather see my kids reading than playing on a device. And that’s why there are no devices for children at my house. I have, on occasion, allowed them to use my phone to play an educational game. But regular use of my phone is strictly forbidden and they know that. I’ve seen people hand their phones to their children the way that not too long ago we flipped the TV on for them…to babysit them. It’s doing more harm than good. I’d much rather talk to my children and teach them about human connection rather than make sure they have all the necessary high technology skills they need to survive in tomorrow’s world. See, the thing is, tomorrow’s world won’t exist unless people continue to connect with other people, and devices, despite being billed as “social media”, don’t do that. Read on for what the Environmental Health Trust has to say on the subject…


Teton Village, WY — (SBWIRE) — 12/03/2013 — Good news for parents: the annual tradition involving a mad rush on one hot toy is over. In its place, parents are scurrying to find the coolest electronic devices. Those clamoring to stuff their kids’ holiday stockings with the latest electronic gadgets would do well to ponder experts’ warnings first, advises Environmental Health Trust (EHT), a group promoting safer phone use.

“We all need to “#PracticeSafeTech,” advises Dr. Devra Davis, President of EHT.”What may be appropriate for adults may not be at all suitable for toddlers with their more rapidly growing brains and bodies.” Would you give your child the keys to the car or a shot of whiskey just because she really wanted it?

Credit: Environmental Health Trust

Credit: Environmental Health Trust

Should you get your young child that chillin’ shiny tablet, or buy your teen her own mobile phone in her favorite color? After all, mobile phone prices have dropped, making them easier to gift. “What harm could it do to youngsters to have such a cool, hot gadget—especially if they can use it to learn to read, see movies, or just play Angry Birds? The answer is: plenty,” advises EHT founder Dr. Davis.

“Every parent needs to read the important messages offered by Raffi, the renowned children’s advocate, in his new book, LIGHTWEB DARKWEB: THREE REASONS TO REFORM SOCIAL MEDIA B4 IT RE-FORMS US,” Dr. Davis advises. “These devices can short circuit childhood and easily become tools for cyber bullying.”

Few people appreciate that all of these wireless electronic devices come with manufacturers’ fine print warnings to not hold them next to an adult body, or that controlled studies show that microwave radiation emitted by mobile phones weakens the brain’s protective barrier and male users produce fewer and more damaged offspring and sperm. The kicker is this: All safety warnings for mobile phones (e.g., “keep 0.98 inches from the body”) were never designed with children in mind, but in order to protect a large adult man with a big head who talks on his phone for less than 30 minutes per day. Even fewer realize that iPads contain 4 or more microwave radiating antennas that are never to be held directly on the body.

According to a published scientific report from EHT, children’s heads absorb twice as much microwave radiation from mobile phones as adults’ heads. Radiation emissions from mobile phones carried in shirts or pants pockets of adults are four to seven times higher than the guidelines set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the U.S. For the smaller bodies of children, of course, radiation exposure levels would be greater both because of relative size and keeping in mind that children are not simply small adults.

The reason for the discrepancy, EHT says, is that the process to determine radiation exposures from mobile phones is modeled on a 6-foot 2-inch tall, 220-pound man, with an 11-pound head. Because this large skull represents only about three percent of the population, the test cannot accurately predict the radiation exposure of the other 97 percent, including children, nor does it even try to estimate exposures from pocket use.

“The standard for mobile devices was developed based on old science, old models and old assumptions about how we use mobile phones, and that’s why standards must change to protect our children and grandchildren,” said Dr. Davis.

Read the Fine Print
EHT urges parents to make sure they read the phone/tablet/device safety manual to find the minimum distance that the device must be kept away whenever it is in use and also when it is in stand-by mode. Keeping it closer than the designated distance can result in a violation of the FCC Exposure Limit. “Whenever you must give your child a device to play with, keep it on airplane mode. It’s important to safeguard your children whenever they use these devices. Aside from radiation exposure, keep in mind that child experts recommend no more than two hours of daily screen time. The goal is to protect our children’s growing brains and bodies from harm,” advises Dr. Davis.

Dr. Davis also calls parents’ attention to another iPad fine print warning that states, “a small percentage of people may be susceptible to blackouts or seizures (even if they have never had one before) when exposed to flashing lights or light patterns such as when playing games or watching videos. Discontinue use of iPad and consult a physician if you experience headaches, blackouts, seizures, convulsion, eye or muscle twitching, loss of awareness, involuntary movement, or disorientation. To reduce risk of headaches, blackouts, seizures and eyestrain, avoid prolonged use, hold iPad some distance from your eyes, use iPad in a well-lit room, and take frequent breaks.”

Consumers can find this and more in the iPad safety pamphlet. “Whoever wrote this probably had in mind the adult who can fork over $400 to $500 for an iPad,” advises Dr. Davis. “Yet nowadays, even babies and toddlers are learning to read from wireless devices and falling asleep to white noise played from phones placed under their pillows. A child’s brain, healthy or otherwise, is cased in a thinner skull; that’s why they absorb more microwave radiation. The brains of children with learning problems, autism or other neurological disorders may be more vulnerable to damage than those of their healthy friends and family members.”

The iPad safety advice doesn’t consider these issues, but does include information about exposure to radiofrequency (RF) energy. The pamphlet notes, “If you are…concerned about exposure to RF energy, you can further limit your exposure by limiting the amount of time using iPad Wi-Fi +3G in wireless mode…and by placing more distance between your body and iPad Wi-Fi +3G.” Children simply cannot keep “more distance” between themselves and these devices; their arms are too short.

Power Down in 2014 – Reduce WiFi Gadget Use in Children
If parents do decide to engage their children with electronic gadgets, the new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urge parents to ban electronic media during mealtimes and after bedtime as part of a comprehensive “family media use plan.” The influential new guidelines recognize the need to protect the young brain from round-the-clock use of digital devices and electronic media, which includes everything from television to texting and other social and anti-social activities.

Under the AAP power down policy: children should limit screen time for entertainment to less than two hours per day; children younger than 2 should have no TV and no Internet exposure. Also, televisions and Internet-accessible devices should be kept out of kids’ bedrooms. According to Dr. Davis, along with gifts, parents should also set family rules covering the use of mobile phones and texting. “Many parents do not realize that tablets, mobile phones, laptops and other wireless gear send and receive microwave radiation, unless they are set on airplane mode or disconnected from the Internet or wifi systems. We protect our children’s brains when they ride in cars or on bikes. We also need to protect their rapidly growing brains from wireless radiation.”

“The best present a parent can give their child is the gift of safety,” says Dr. Davis. “That’s why I’m urging each and every parent on our list to access and share the potentially life-saving tips we offer on cell phone safety.”

About Environmental Health Trust
Environmental Health Trust (EHT) educates individuals, health professionals and communities about controllable environmental health risks and policy changes needed to reduce those risks. A recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore and his team in 2007, EHT President and Founder, Dr. Devra Davis has authored a number of popular books, including WHEN SMOKE RAN LIKE WATER, a National Book Award Finalist, THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE WAR ON CANCER, and DISCONNECT: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What The Industry Is Doing To Hide It, And How To Protect Your Family, which was awarded the Nautilus silver medal award for investigative reporting. The foundation’s website is the go-to place for clear, science-based information to prevent environmentally based disease and promote health, and will have portals for the general public, children, and health professionals. For more information or to get involved in the numerous special projects spearheaded by EHT, please visit http://www.ehtrust.org and find EHT on Facebook

Nurturing the Soul of Your Family

Not very long ago, I was feeling frazzled with what had become my family’s daily routine.

Mornings went something like this: Get up, watch TV, eat breakfast, get dressed, get out the door. There was a fair bit of yelling (mostly me), some whining (mostly the kids), a whole lot of chaos and then, somehow, we’d all end up dropped off at the right spot. No one was particularly happy about the routine. I felt bad every day when I dropped my kids off, and that set the tone for the rest of my day at the office. It often carried over to pick-up and dinner time (and usually bedtime, too).

I was exhausted. My kids were exhausted. My husband was exhausted. But we couldn’t get off this hamster wheel. So when I was Cover of Nurturing the Soul of Your Familycontacted to do a review of the book Nurturing the Soul of Your Family by Renée Peterson Trudeau, I desperately grasped at the rope that was being extended to save my drowning family. Continue reading

The way technology hijacks our brains

I left a note on the counter for my husband last night. I was up late doing stuff (I’m always doing stuff) and he had already gone to bed. I was getting things ready for an event I’m helping with and I couldn’t find our little condiment dishes with tiny spoons.

So, I wrote him a note and left it on the counter (he gets up first in the morning).

hand-written note

When I read the note in the morning, my first instinct was to reply by writing below his comment. And the next thought my brain had was, “He’s probably at work by now, so he should respond fairly quickly.”

It only took my brain another three seconds before realizing that, if I reply to my husband’s comment on this piece of paper, he will not respond until he gets home from work tonight and reads the piece of paper.

I laughed at myself then carried on with the morning routine. What else could I do?

Have you ever caught yourself applying technology habits to old fashion methods?

Canadians too busy to enjoy holidays

MISISSAUGA, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Dec. 18, 2012) – According to a new national survey from HP, Canadians are too busy preparing for the holidays to enjoy doing what they value most at this time of year – spending time with family and friends.

HP Canada and Ipsos Reid surveyed more than 1,000 Canadians and found that: Continue reading

Kids, TV, and Computers

My kids watch TV—dare I say it?—a lot. (Hey, don’t judge. I work from home, and sometimes you just gotta meet that deadline.) I do steer them toward educational programming, though. So, they watch a lot of “viewer participation” shows. You know the ones—Dora standing there on her little path, staring at you, waiting for your answer to her question about where she has to go next to get to whatever her goal is in that episode. (That Dora is very goal oriented. I could take a lesson from her.)

Do my kids participate when they are sitting on the couch watching Dora on our big screen? No.

But stream one of their regular, “viewer participation” shows on my laptop, give them a set of headphones, and they’re screaming out the answers to all of Dora’s questions, literally telling her where to go.

What is it with that? Continue reading

ShesConnected2012 – a truly amazing experience

Friday, October 19, 2012 saw me head into downtown Toronto for what I can only describe as the most empowering, socially connected (digitally and IRL), fun two days of my life.

There was so much to do, so many people to meet in real life, so much to learn. It really was a fantastic experience. A great big THANK YOU goes out to the wonderful women at ShesConnected for inviting me to attend the 2012 ShesConnected conference. Continue reading