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You are a busy parent and your kids are starting to use the internet. Digital literacy has become an essential part of a child’s development now more than ever, but what are you going to do to make sure they use the Internet positively and securely?

From filtering tools to important conversations, here’s a checklist to see if you are doing all you can to ensure your child’s screen usage is safe and healthy.

1.  Educate them when they’re little

Don’t wait till they turn into sullen teens intent on keeping their own privacy. Teach your young kids now about a balanced approach towards technology. Keep an open and honest conversation with your child about the positive and negative impact of screen time.

Instil in them good habits for self-control. Like everything else, there will come a time where it will be impossible for you to monitor your child. So before that time comes, you will need to perhaps be less militant and give them the space to learn to make the right decisions.

2. Talk About Stranger Danger

Children need to be instilled with proper internet etiquette and learn to be diligent about what is being posted. They need to understand that anything they post online, will forever be part of their internet footprint. Where possible, try to ensure that your child’s privacy setting is set to the maximum. Once they have reached a certain age, talk to them about the existence of sex offenders and the possibilities of them hiding behind different identities in social networking sites and online games, among others.

They should be confident enough to know to leave the website and inform a trusted adult immediately if they feel uncomfortable, unsafe or worried. Parents who want to find out how to talk to their children about online safety can look at good tips on the NSPCC (UK) and ITU sites.

3. Useful and Age-Appropriate Choices

Don’t let it be a free-for-all surfing experience for your children. Guide them into exploring the side of the internet that is useful and encourages resourcefulness. Show them the very best of the internet, and how to use technology to gather information. Programmes such as Google Classroom provides opportunities for students to communicate and collaborate in ways that were previously undreamt of.

Your child could learn to be resourceful not only through educational materials but through games as well. Kim Komando writes about the hidden benefits of Minecraft, a popular computer game, for USA Today: “One overlooked value of most strategy-based video games is resource management. The player has a finite amount of resources at any given time and needs to decide wisely how to use them most effectively.”

Although your child, even you, may not notice at the time, these skills are essential for later on in life. It is your role as a parent, to ensure that technology is rightly utilised.

Organisations like Common Sense Media lists reviews about age-appropriate apps, games and programmes to guide you in making the best choices for your children.

4.  Technology together, not apart

Get them used to the idea that technology is something for the family to do together too, not just a solitary affair.

Studies have shown that engaging technology together is a wonderful way to bond with the family. Whether it is having a dance-off on your Playstation4 or working together to deliver a variety of dishes with Overcooked, your children would love to see the fun side of you. If you are in for some downtime, perhaps you could stream a movie on Netflix that the whole family can enjoy together?

If bursting the internet quota is a worry, families could opt for a plan like MaxisONE Prime which allows them to rest easy with the magic word – unlimited. Unlimited mobile internet for the whole family (principal and all shared lines), all under one easily manageable package. As the average Malaysian spends a total of RM229 on data, with MaxisONE Prime, they can save up to RM42 per month*.

*depending on size of household

5. Role Models: Parents to promise too

Even as adults, we may have moments of weakness when we spend a little too much time scrolling our Instagram feed. Unfortunately, unless you lock yourself up in the bathroom, you most likely have little pairs of eyes observing you. According to Anya Kamenetz, author of The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life, “Managing your own use is crucial to successfully helping your kids self-manage.” It starts with having a family agreement on what is a reasonable amount of time to be spent on our screens, for everyone. Some families go to the extent of signing a pledge which could be something your family could do too.

6.  Recognise behavioural changes

There are plenty of guidelines out there on how much screen time a child should get. However, we need to recognise that every child is different. As a parent, it is important to watch out for changes in your child’s behaviour. Do they experience bedtime and wake up battles? Do they suffer from mood swings, is there any loss in appetite or any sudden weight gain? These could be signs that they are spending too much time with their devices. Speak to your pediatrician about it if necessary. As a rule of thumb, screen time should not affect sleep, studies, family time and exercise time. You could have the option to control your kids’ internet time by assigning internet quotas such as MaxisONE Prime DataPool.

7.  Tools for filtering and monitoring

You can support your child’s learning with the right content. But with such a wide and scary variety of websites and information out there, how can you be sure your child is surfing safely? Statistics show that a low percentage of parents installed parental control software because 59 per cent of them never heard of such software.

But there are many programmes available that can assist you in monitoring your child’s usage, such as MaxisONE Prime’s KidNanny. The only parental control for cyber safety you’ll need, KidNanny allows you to filter inappropriate websites and ensure that your child can only access family-friendly apps. You can also manage and track screen time and remotely prevent unwanted access to your child’s device.

 

This post is sponsored by Maxis, now with the new MaxisONE Prime, an easily manageable family plan that provides unlimited internet for your home and all your mobile lines. This plan is open to new and existing Maxis customers. Just subscribe to any MaxisONE Plan and any MaxisONE Home Fibre Plan to enjoy all of these MaxisONE Prime benefits:

The first night her newborn twins were home, Mimpikita’s Nurul Zulkifli thought her dreams were over.

Facing breastfeeding difficulties and two screaming babies, the founder and designer of the homegrown fashion label was a bag of intense emotions. It was the busy Raya period for her label, and because the self-professed workaholic had never been away from the office like this, panicked texts had also been coming in all day for her counsel.

“At one point, on that first day, my husband said ‘Nurul, seriously, stop looking at your phone!’ He was screaming at me, and I was crying, and people kept asking ‘Nurul,  what do we do? What do we do with this and that?’” she remembers.

“I was crying and thinking: There goes my dream. Mimpikita is gone. Just like that. On the second day, I put down my phone. I told them that I can’t do anything anymore – it is beyond my control. Here I am in pain, and I’m struggling, I just cannot. I let go.”

Unprepared for baby, let alone twins

The 36-year-old is known for her professionalism and drive when it comes to the modest-wear fashion house she set up with her sisters Amirah and Syahira in 2008.

But when it came to preparation for a baby or two, Nurul said she was extremely unprepared for what was about to happen to her life.

She was an entrepreneur who happily worked 7 days a week and worried about everything being executed well. Although she had been struggling to conceive for 10 years and has been public about her fertility challenges, Nurul said she did not read any baby preparation books or attend any prenatal classes as she was deep in the throes of work.

By her own admission, this was a huge oversight, as she was already “not really into kids.”

“Can you believe it? I did not really help my sister when she had her baby or help to change diapers. I delivered at 37 weeks, three weeks before Raya. So imagine the craziness at work! I had to deliver people’s orders – I was still working up to the night I was admitted into hospital.”

On a scale of 0 to 10 of how prepared she was for a baby, Nurul said she was probably a ‘2’.

“I had the barang (things) but mentally I was not prepared. And then the maid tak sampai (had not come), and I did not book a pantang (confinement) lady! Somehow, I was pretty sure that we could all manage – I had my sisters, I had my mum …”

The day of labour

When the babies came, Nurul and her husband didn’t know what hit them.

“The first day was okay because the babies were inside the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). But I was struggling with breastfeeding. I thought I would have been able to do it easily, so I had not asked anyone or read anything. The nurse asked me to express milk on that first day, and so I thought okay, perhaps I’m just not used to it.

“But on the second day, my babies were screaming! They screamed and screamed, and they were so small, and I was thinking ‘Why can’t I feed you?’ My aunties were telling me how to do it, and everyone was touching my boobs. I was struggling with not one but two babies, and even though they were teaching me how to do tandem feeding, I couldn’t even manage with one!”

Her emotions were overwrought, but Nurul said she did not cry in front of many people.

When she had more privacy, however, the tears did not stop flowing.

“I was crying, crying and crying. My dad said ‘What is wrong with you, you are not like this, you are strong!’

But I said I could not breastfeed and my babies were both screaming. Everything was such a struggle.”

Many, many tears

She had stayed in the hospital post-partum for five days, but when she returned home the breastfeeding difficulties continued and the babies continued to cry non-stop. In her household, nobody knew how to handle anything formula milk or milk bottle-related, so when formula was finally purchased in the end, nobody knew how to give it to the babies.

“On that day, at 8pm, I called the nurses and said ‘Please help me’. My friends also told us to feed the babies with a cup as they did not yet know how to feed from a bottle. I was scared and feeling so guilty about giving them formula.

“It was bulan puasa (fasting month), and my mum and my dad were tired. It was just my parents and my husband and I at home. I remember one night we had not slept at all and the babies were still crying at 4am. I asked my husband to fetch the breastmilk I had pumped, and he dropped the milk! He was screaming and crying and saying sorry!

When she saw her husband crying, Nurul decided she had to control her emotions.

“I just could not cry. And I saw that my mum was tired, so I asked my mum and dad to sleep. I had no milk, so I had to give the babies formula. And at 5am, they finally slept. I remember holding my husband’s hand saying, ‘We did it’. We closed our eyes. And then one of the babies cried again.”

Taking Care of Her Mental Health

Nurul remembers those newborn days as extremely dark. She ended up mixed feeding her babies but received comments from those closest to her that made her feel guilty about not being able to breastfeed them fully.

“But at the time, I was like, ‘Whatever’. I had been crying every day. Crying when I ate. I felt like it was the end – there goes my life, my business. In the mornings I would feel hopeful but come lunch time I would feel down again.

“I thought ‘Do I really love my own kids?’ I still remember thinking and feeling that, and I hate that. Yes, I hated that period.”

It took a lot for Nurul to stand up for herself to overcome these baby blues.

She had been staying in Johor Baru with her mum, and her husband went back to KL to work. “I was crying, and I wanted to go back too. I told my mum I was so depressed, and I just needed to go out.

By the third or fourth week, she had returned to KL and ventured out to her own shop despite her confinement period. This made her feel better.

“I just had to. Some people can (do this). But not me. I remember my mum asking me why my sister could do it all. I told my mum ‘Syahira is Syahira and I’m Nurul. I’m not her.’

It’s not that I’m bad, it’s just that I am not used to this. And to have two babies at one time, it was too overwhelming for me.”

Trial by Fire

Looking back now, how did Nurul cope with all the strain and struggle?

She said she kept reminding herself every day that she would be okay, and that it was a matter of getting used to the routine. After confinement and back in KL, she said she felt much better.

“I think the guilt will never end. But when I’m out, having my coffee, I feel better. And then I can play with them better later. There will always be judgment as well, but I don’t really focus on that.

“Some people say ‘Why do you leave your kids with the maid?’ I think if you feel you are okay to handle your kids on your own, then go ahead. But I cannot. Of course, I have time with my kids, but when I’m working, I need to work.

Finding a Balance

The entrepreneur makes no qualms about the fact that she still has her dreams and that she is still ambitious.

“I want things to go my way and for things to be successful, whether it is my family or business. Whatever it may be, I think we have to find a balance. I always asked God to give me children, and of course, I am a workaholic, but I don’t want my life to be all about this. I love my business but when I go home, I focus on my family.”

As to what she would offer as advice after all she’s been through?

Nurul thinks mothers shouldn’t be scared of telling people when things are not okay.

“I understand that people don’t like to be told the negative or bad side of things. Or that people prefer to keep their problems to themselves. But it’s about sharing. There are always flaws, the struggle is real. Don’t be afraid to say that it isn’t perfect, you aren’t perfect.”

Oh, and one more thing, she grins.

Prepare yourselves for motherhood and the newborn phase properly, expectant mothers!

 

By Laych Koh, Liyana Taff and Murni Roslim

Photo credit: Nurul Zulkifli Instagram

Fans of Ejen Ali would be excited to know that this school holiday, the biggest Ejen Ali Carnival will be happening at Sunway Velocity Mall‘s Main Atrium (GF) from the 20th of March to 2nd of April!

The mall’s Main Atrium will be transformed into the Ejen Ali MATA Academy obstacle course and your little agents will get the chance to embark on many exciting missions.

  • Ejen Ali Obstacle Training Course

Let your kids climb, jump and run to their heart’s content! Download the Sunway Velocity Mobile app and enter the obstacle course free of charge.

  • Appearances by Ejen Ali and Ejen Alicia

Get your camera phones ready for a meet and greet session with the special agents. A photo with Ejen Ali and Ejen Alicia would certainly make a great memento for your little one.

  • Fun workshops

Make learning fun and enrol your kids in any of the workshops organised! Choose from Ejen Ali’s Character Drawing Workshop or IRIS D.I.Y. Workshop. Gymboree Play & Music will also be hosting a Music Workshop and there’s a Kids Sandwich-Making Workshop by O’Briens Irish Sandwich Cafe.

Let your children get creative and participate in the various art activities prepared such as fridge magnet colouring, wood and clay mirror making, D.I.Y. foil art, mini bag painting, spinning top colouring and lots more!

VeloKiddie Club members are also invited to attend an exclusive VeloKiddie Tea Party. You may pick from two sessions right here.

  • Merchandise booth

Prepare for the new school term with exclusive Ejen Ali merchandise like school bags, pencil cases, and water bottles.

  • Be a member

Are you a Sunway Pals member yet? You can enjoy special privileges and redeem points at over 1,000 merchants at Sunway Malls, Sunway Theme Parks, Sunway Medical, Sunway Education, Sunway Property and other Sunway businesses. Sign up during the Ejen Ali Carnival and redeem a limited-edition Ejen Ali badge. You will also automatically earn 200 Pals points.

Your children can also be eligible for plenty of privileges by signing up for Velostudent Club (13 to 25-year-old students) and Velokiddie Club (12-year-olds and under).

Don’t miss out on this exciting carnival this March School Holiday! Best gile!

For more information on Sunway Velocity Mall’s Ejen Ali Carnival, do visit Sunway Velocity Mall’s Facebook page or the page here.

From 28th of March to 28th of April, Sunway Velocity Mall will also be launching its ‘Play 2 Win 2019’ campaign where shoppers are guaranteed to win something! Click here for more info.

This is a sponsored post presented by Sunway Velocity Mall.