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Connect with your Kids… Digitally

Make Technology a Force for Good in your Family

Technology as a “force for good” in your family may sound a little (a lot) counter-intuitive at first.  We hear about the downside of technology on a fairly consistent basis these days.  And, whilke it is true that everything with tech is not always “hunky dory”, technology has many amazing things to offer when used responsibly.  With a little research (see Social Media – Be There for Your Child), an open mind, and some perseverance, you and your children can enjoy the upside of healthy technology while avoiding the pitfalls.

The most critical component of your kids’ ability to safely and successfully navigate today’s technology landscape has nothing to do with technology.  In most situations, their success is highly contingent on their relationships with their parents… as in YOU!  Of course, the love and trust between parent and child is the cornerstone of much of a child’s development.  How and when our kids use technology is no different.

Kids need to know that Mom and Dad have expectations with regard to apps, games, social media, messaging, and even television.. do kids watch TV these days.  They need to understand that their use of technology is a privilege and not a right.  Most children do not have the financial means to purchase and maintain their computers, tablets, and phones, not to mention the requisite networking and data plans that make them useful.  As such, we parents need to be direct in explaining that we have every right to impose rules and consequences when our children misuse technology.

More Important than Control… Connection

All the “control efforts’ in the world will not keep a child from “exploring” or making the occasional “error in judgement”.  The stronger our relationships with them and the closer our connections, the less traumatic these missteps will be.  Admittedly, connecting with our kids on their own “digital turf” (i.e. SnapChat, Instagram, etc.) is going to be difficult, if not impossible.  It’s not that they don’t want to connect with us online.  It’s just that they don’t want us imposing on the connections they are building with their peers.  What Families need are solutions (apps) that are custom built for Parents and Kids.

And this raises an interesting question, “what do parents and kids both find important enough to actually get them to use a common app”?  Given all of the obligations and activities we find ourselves trying to manage these days, it turns out that sharing basic information about schedules, assignments, documentation and the like is critically important to every member of the family.  FamPlan brings all of this information together in one place, and brings it to life with a “social feed” that allows family members to discuss this information in context.

And the best part, the kids can now contribute and learn to be responsible for their own schedules and activities.  If you have ever tried to teach the kids to use a calendar, you already know that paper calendars just don’t meet these “Digital Natives'” needs.  They want their information with them and available at all times.  If we are honest with ourselves, we parents do also.  We have these capabilities through our employers, and perhaps even with our spouse.  But, a shared Family solution, designed to engage the kids has been, until now, out of reach.

In summary, be purposeful in your efforts to connect with your children digitally.  The shared experience (aka “Connection”) will provide the opportunity to guide their learning and ensure they have positive experiences with their technology.

Happy Parenting!

This is Part 3 of a 5 Part Series on Kids and Social Media

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Social Media & The Attention Economy

What is the “Attention Economy” you ask.  Great question… scary answer!

Some of the world’s most recognized technology brands, like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter are in a race for our attention.  They no longer have a choice.  These “solutions” are backed by business models that rely on money from advertisers that, quite literally, pay for our attention.  And, since we only have so much time in a day to engage in social media, these tech titans must continually design and deploy increasingly addictive techniques to keep us “hooked” and glued to their app!

As adults, we must learn to treat this phenomenon as we would any addiction.  A little knowledge, recognition that the threat exists, reasonable goals, and “all things in moderation” and we will probably be OK.  But, what does the Attention Economy mean to our children?

Unfortunately, this problem is one that affects both adults and adolescents.  And, the younger (and less mature) among us have little chance of dealing with this problem on their own.  Social Media has conditioned a generation of children to view “Likes”, “Streaks”, and “Shares” as a measure of their self-worth.  This has been so successful that it is now commonly believed that children are less capable of forming real friendships (see TED Harvard Happiness Study), and engaging with those friends in healthy, face-to-face conversations and activities.

To be direct, the Attention Economy is negatively impacting the health of our children… both in the present and well into their futures.

What Can We Do?  Family is the Key!

First, we must all agree that we cannot count on the large technology companies to be part of the solution.

Second, we must all educate ourselves.  Groups like Center for Humane Technology, Siempo, and #UseTech4Good are great places to start.

Third, connect “digitally” with your children.  As counterproductive as this may sound, we have to be engaged with our children where the problem exists.  We recommend you start with FamPlan.

Fourth, go to extremes to create opportunities for Relationships & Experiences.

And finally, share everything you learn with your children.  They will benefit from your efforts more than you can imagine!

This is Part 1 of a 5 Part Series on Kids & Social Media

 

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MyFamilyPlan Named to Startup Grind’s 2018 Global Startup Exhibition

HOUSTON, TX – February 8, 2018 – MyFamilyPlan has been selected to Startup Grind’s 2018 Class of Exhibiting Startups!  Chosen from over 7,000 applicant companies, The Startup Exhibition ultimately recognizes 130 companies handpicked from 115 countries and 400 cities around the world.

MyFamilyPlan CEO and Chief Dad, Will Jackson understands the importance of being included in this elite group of global startups.  “When we attended Startup Grind’s Global Conference in 2017, we became immediately aware that earning a place among the 2018 Exhibitors was a key goal to our growth and company development.  We could not be more proud or more excited to be considered one of the top startups in the world by Startup Grind!”

“Of the 7,000 plus startups that were considered, 130 were selected representing the Startup Grind community across 115 countries. These startups have great teams, traction, technology and massive markets,” says Andersen. “Our biggest goal is for each startup to go back home with a new and improved game plan that would not have happened without the exposure of the exhibition and the mentors/resources that were gained through our network.”

“Being selected to Startup Grind’s elite group of Exhibitors is an incredible accomplishment for us”, states MyFamilyPlan’s Head Coach and Chief Creative Officer, Lance Botkin.  “FamPlan is really taking off with families who are looking for ways to reverse the trend of ‘less-connected’ children.  We look forward to sharing our unique and valuable message with the entire Startup Grind community.”

About MyFamilyPlan

MyFamilyPlan’s flagship solution, FamPlanTM is the world’s most innovative Family Communication Platform.  Our comprehensive, private platform allows each family member to effectively share information and ideas to better champion one another and the family as a whole.  It is our steadfast belief that better communication will lead to deeper family connections, more positive shared experiences, and ultimately healthier and happier families.  Learn more at http://www.myfamilyplan.com/.

Family in a Chaotic World

Healthy and Happy Family is the Goal

As parents, we all share the common desire to raise a Healthy & Happy Family.  In today’s complex and often chaotic world, this can seem easier said than done.  At FamPlan, our singular focus is to provide information and tools to help you reach your goals, and enjoy the Healthy & Happy Family you deserve.

We’re Moms and Dads just like you.  And, if your family is anything like our families, you probably find yourself juggling work and personal efforts on a impressive scale.  “Work – Life Balance” is not a new concept.  “Work” is pretty much a given.  Every family needs a roof over their heads and food on the table.  “Life” has certainly accelerated over the past few generations, perhaps to the point where you have considered scaling back.  There is a third factor – a less obvious factor – that is causing many of our lives to spin out of control!  The problem so many of us are just now coming to grips with is, of course, Technology.

Let’s take a step back and reflect on the concept of “Family” for a moment.  At FamPlan, we define “Family” as “A basic unit in society, traditionally consisting of parents and the children they are raising”.   From our perspective, “raising children” consists of two primary responsibilities.  First, is the sharing of resources.  Food, shelter, money, and the family vehicles obviously come to mind.  But today, we must also add “time” and “attention” to our focus.  Second is our ability to successfully instruct our children with regard to our values, social norms, and expectations.  And, it is the latter that may one day define how our generation is remembered.

Today’s parents and children have more opportunities (and the resulting commitments) than ever before.  In addition to work, school, and church, we all have a multitude of extracurricular activities, ranging from the arts, to sports, to clubs, and much more to choose from.  Of course, all of these opportunities require resources… at a minimum, our most precious resource, Time.  For many of us, balancing our opportunities has become something of an art form.  And if this were not enough, our current generation of families is the first to contend with a new, even more impactful challenge… Technology.

Ours is the first generation of families (both parents and children) to use the Smartphone.  When Steve Jobs and Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, we all envisioned a simpler and smarter future… a future where everything we needed to know was always at our fingertips (quite literally).  For Apple’s part, the smartphone has largely delivered as promised.  The challenge, one that few of us could have conceived of, is how we would come to use these amazing devices.  Apps of all kinds, games, and especially social media have “snuck up” on us, to dramatically change the way we learn and are influenced, and subsequently how we interact with each other… and not always for the better.

Please join us for part two of this series, where we will delve deeper into how technology impacts the family.  For now, know that you, and your family, are not alone.  We all face similar challenges raising our children in today’s chaotic world.  With a little thought and effort we will all be OK!  Until next time…