I can never get that moment back

I can never get that moment back

I remember a time when it was common to use siblings as messengers. This was nothing new to me. Some older girls at my school would quietly give me little notes, safely secured with sticky tape, to pass on to my brother. As soon as I hit my teenage years, I did the exact same thing and found someone else’s sibling to act as a messenger. Being in a conservative girls school, we would hide the letters in the sleeves of our cardigans in fear of the nuns finding out that we were sending letters to ‘boys’. It was all part of the excitement. I also remember sprinting to the phone, before anyone else in the family answered, just in case a ‘boyfriend’ called. Going out at the weekend meant that we didn’t know whether we would meet our crush. It was hard to forget the butterflies and the excitement that we felt if a person we fancied happened to be at the same venue. Like any teenager, I have no doubt that we acted foolishly and frivolously in the presence of a person that we liked. It was a different time and the passage of time is inevitable. The difference today is that, unlike my teenage years, most teenagers have an internet-enabled phone in their pocket. Our first flirtations may have ranged from a little note or a secret Valentine card. But without access to smartphones or the web, our romantic gestures, however embarrassing, were rarely seen by anyone else.  At most, the notes would be stored in a little shoebox. Unlike physical cards or photos, the Internet never forgets and, once...
Have we forgotten our teenage years? by Mikela Fenech Pace

Have we forgotten our teenage years? by Mikela Fenech Pace

Our instant chats were notes we would exchange at school – I recently found a few and discovered the pains of my teenage years, horrified at how my judgement see-sawed from day to day and what complexes plagued me during my final school years. Not to mention my diary which I have promised my kids I will allow them to read when they are older. The truth is our children are no different to us growing up. The only difference is that their means to communicate has changed. The stuff they write about is the same, their attitudes similar and their craving for being accepted a fact of life. Whilst in many ways easier today, the downside is one very simple notion – What goes online stays online forever. Whilst us parents have the wisdom of knowing this and thus measure our words online, our children are freer and often do not have the capacity to weigh the long-term consequences. Flicking through the notes I used to write to my friends and their responses it would indeed be difficult to imagine them being there online. They represent a girl I was but do not recognise. In many ways I feel quite sad as to the difficulties I must have had dealing with myself, my siblings, my parents and my peers, yet happy to know that it is a phase all children have to go through. We often forget how difficult teenage years are. Inherently they represent the in-between phase between childhood and adulthood. It’s a time for self-discovery and adventure. It is also a rough emotional time and a...
Are Parents the best teachers? by Mikela Fenech Pace

Are Parents the best teachers? by Mikela Fenech Pace

I have no shame in actually admitting that I am a massive phone addict. I love chatting and keeping in contact so naturally social media simply feeds my addiction. So much so that my thumb on my right finger is already showing the signs of mobile distress and often cramps up. My husband has often made the point that I should actually put my phone down and ignore it especially when at home. He would even send me messages on my phone as a joke – a poignant one need I add. Admittedly, I did try a few times, falling back into my usual phone routine shortly after. Until the day I became the butt end of my children’s jokes. ‘Mummy is always on the phone’, ‘Mummy loves her phone’, ‘Ma, get off the phone I am speaking to you’. Children have a great way of hitting where it really does hurt. So my new resolution is to put my phone away when the kids get home and leave it on charge. Check it once when I put them to bed and leave it there till I get to bed. Unlike our children we were not brought up with technology.  We used to sneak around the house and pick up the phone to call our friends hoping our parents wouldn’t pick up and notice. I can still hear my parents’ screams to get off the phone, leave the phone available etc etc. ‘What on earth do you need to speak to a friend you’ve just spent a day at school with?’ my mother would rant. We would spend hours...
Bills you didn’t bank on

Bills you didn’t bank on

“My 8 year-old daughter ran up a bill of £4000” said a father from Bristol after allowing his daughter to use his tablet so that she could play numerous games such as My Horse, My little Pony, Hay Day, Zombies vs Ninja and Smurf’s village. The amount may seem extreme, yet many parents can relate to receiving a credit-card bill that includes unwanted and useless purchases that their children have, often unwittingly, made. In-App purchases themselves are not a bad thing, as long as they’re used responsibly and under the full control of parents. What are in-app purchases? Some games, usually initially free to install, have the option to purchase additional content such as game levels, game accessories, maps, experience points, subscriptions and additional stories. These extras are referred to as In-app purchases (IAPs).  How can I prevent unwanted in-app purchases? Try it yourself: When you are downloading a free game, first try to understand how in-app purchasing is used, and whether you are comfortable with it. Set a password: Android and IOS devices encourage you to enter a password prior to making any purchases on your device. Never tick the ‘Remember Me’ button, as this will override the need to enter a password before buying an app. Set a budget: Talk to your children about in-app purchases, and encourage them to take a responsible attitude towards them. This can also be done in the form an an iTunes or Google Play gift card. Fortunately, you can restrict In-App Purchases on Apple devices and on Android devices. Restrictions stop you from sing specific features and applications, automatically block access...
Selecting appropriate applications 

Selecting appropriate applications 

From a very young age children have access to the use of digital devices. With thousands of apps added each week, it is difficult to keep track of what applications are developed. Growing attention is being paid to the role of digital devices as having a potential for learning and development. Developers have created thousands of educational apps, in fact there are over 650,000 apps available targeted at children. In 2012, findings revealed that 80% of the top selling paid applications in the education category targeted pre-school children. This reveals an abundance of apps for this age range and the equivalence of parents ready to purchase these apps for their children. Selecting appropriate applications can be overwhelming, so I’ve put together some strategies that can help to select appropriate applications for your child. Read reputable reviews: It is important to refer to websites, such ashttp://www.bestkidsapps.com/ that provide a review of applications for children. Such sites also divide applications according to age-range, operating device and category. Installing these recommended apps will put your mind at rest that experts have approved them. Look at the details of the application before installing it: Each app provides information about the developer, the category that the application falls under and the age rating. Using applications that are age-appropriate will be more enjoyable for your child. The following is a list of the most popular categories that are searched for. Educational Literacy Mathematics Stories Creative Puzzles See other applications from the same company: If you find an application that you and your child enjoy look up the name of the company to find out if there are...