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Growing your Instagram some tips and tricks from the experts

When I started out on this blogging journey back in 2015, I had no clue about any of the technology side of blogging, hosting, SEO, domain name were all foreign concepts to me. However knowing I loved to write but wanted an audience to read my writing I made a concentrated effort to further my own knowledge. There is a wealth of information available on line to help upskill in this area. For examples sites like myemma.com provide invaluable sources of information on everything from SEO, to trends in marketing and social media. You could spend days perusing the wealth of information. However key is knowing how to put it into practice.

One of the social media platforms which I admit im still very much behind the curve on is Instagram. I love it to look at and enjoy other peoples content, I do however find growing my own audience hard work.  Blogging is a hobby for me and I don’t want it to become a chore. One article from myemma.com which stood out for me was about Instagram and making it work. Did you know there are 500 million users on Instagram a day!!! That is a pretty mind blowing statistic and in equal measure its a captive audience waiting to be reached. I have been very kindly given permission to reproduce the article in question below however to see it in its home place, please see here.

A Sink or Swim look at Instagram

(credit: myemma.com)

Social media advertising has steadily grown in popularity ever since the opportunity to display promotional material on these platforms became available. It’s been a once you pop, the fun don’t stop type of trend.  But creating these targeted advertisements might be unfamiliar for many digital marketers. There are a number of complexities involved in these platforms, and it can be hard to have insight into your return on investment. That being said, the benefits to advertising on social far outweigh the negatives (as we’re sure you know). And Instagram is no exception to that rule.

500 million users log into Instagram every day. Yes—every day.

This visually-heavy platform is an immediate attention-grabber. And it’s an easy platform for consumers and brands alike to browse through thanks to its aesthetic appeal. These factors alone make it a great platform for advertising—again, not to mention the 500 million daily users.

Instagram advertising is booming, and it’s time to jump on board.

How Instagram marketing works

Instagram launched in 2010, and by 2013, the popular social media platform was acquired by Facebook. Any good social media advertiser understands the staggering benefits of Facebook ads. And that success easily transfers over to this image-focused platform.   From traditional posts to sponsored content, IG Stories and more, there are copious opportunities for marketers to take their brands to the next level through visually stunning advertisements.

And with 200 million users visiting at least one business profile every day, your brand has very tangible potential to make an impact on consumers by promoting products and services through images, videos and even long-form content.

And yes—it sells.

In fact, Instagram mobile ad revenue hit almost 7 billion in 2018. Those numbers will grow through 2019 and beyond.   Much like its parent company Facebook, marketers can create a variety of content and target it accordingly. But there’s one thing that differentiates Instagram from Facebook and other platforms—its sorting algorithm.

How does the Instagram algorithm come into play?

Instagram feeds aren’t the chronologically ordered feeds of social media past. Instead, there’s an algorithm in place that sorts and sifts through posts and accounts. This algorithm is customized to each user, putting content from real people before content from brands.

There are three key indicators that dictate how Instagram organizes a user’s feed:

  • content quality

  • personalization

  • post engagement

Let’s dive a little deeper into each so your marketing team knows what to do when setting out to create Instagram ads.

1. Focus on content quality.

Just like Google and its Facebook counterpart, the Instagram algorithm focuses heavily on content value. It won’t just promote your post because your brand posted it. Instead, the content needs to make an impact. It needs to tell a story. And it needs to drive action.

Your posts have to say something and tell a story in order for Instagram to promote it on a user’s feed.

Some users follow thousands of accounts, with hundreds of businesses included in those numbers. They don’t actually want to see all of that promotional content. Likewise, your brand shouldn’t be posting ads that are too promotional either.

Focus on answering questions or starting conversations. This gets more people—potential customers—involved, and gives your brand a better chance of scoring a top spot.

2. Personalize your Instagram ads to your audience.

This is where Instagram’s nifty native ad functionalities come in. With these Instagram advertising options, you can personalize your content to your specific audience.  And that’s important, considering consumers want more personalization when it comes to their interaction with brands. Only 22% of consumers are happy with the level of personalization they experience from brands.

Be better and give your audience what they want in the form of innovative and personalized messaging, targeting, and imagery.

3. Get your audience engaged.

The last, big-ticket factor in the Instagram marketing and advertising algorithm centers around engagement. The more people engage with your posts organically, the higher they’ll rank on a user’s feed.

Similarly, if you post an ad with high engagement, it’ll be promoted to more people and shared in a way that gets more views, drawing more eyes to your products and offers. Whether you’re using Instagram in the traditional social media marketing way, or you’re using it for paid advertisements, keep these factors in mind when it comes to content creation.

That being said, here are some more tips to develop an Instagram advertising strategy that drives results.

3 tips to boost your Instagram advertising strategy

1. Up your visual design skills.

80% of users follow at least one business account on Instagram. What’s better? 75% of users visit a website to learn more about a product or service they saw on the social media platform.  That means that your brand is already in front of your target audience. Consumers want to follow brands on social media platforms—especially Instagram.  But they’ll continue to follow you to see what visual assets you can bring to the table.

Yes, Instagram is all about the aesthetics. So you need to make sure that while your audience is there and ready to absorb your content, they’ll actually stick around to interact with it. This means you may need to invest heavily in your visual designs, or at least your design skills. Whether you’re promoting images, videos, photography, or graphics, they need to be eye-catching and engaging. There needs to be a very clear design plan in place for your designers, animators, and producers to follow.

It’s your visuals that’ll stop people in their tracks. If your ad is on a user’s feed that knows nothing about your brand, you need to grab their attention with eye-catching images and video. Yet as foundational as that sounds, this takes time, patience, and creativity.

Your first step in creating an Instagram ad is finding the right visual medium to get people interested. One brand doing a great job using eye-catching imagery in their ads—and in their Instagram strategy as a whole—is ONYGO.

The German fashion brand uses high-quality photography, enthusiastic videos, and a clear color palette to entice viewers and lead them on a fantastical journey that takes them to their website. This visual mastery immediately grabs attention and aligns the brand as a fun, flirty, and vivacious leader in millennial fashion.

ONYG) visual mastery
Image Source: Instagram

2. Make use of hashtags.

Hashtags are a very low-maintenance way to instantly boost results: Instagram posts with at least one hashtag see a 12.6% increase in engagement.

Hashtags are a vital tool in the Instagram advertiser’s arsenal. Hashtags target specific groups, conversations, and audiences. There are people who are spending their time searching for these hashtags, or that follow an individual hashtag in their main feed.

Similarly, advertisers can target these hashtags through their ads and posts. Make sure your team is utilizing hashtags in all posts. There’s a sweet spot for every brand, but it’s important that you research and come up with hashtags that makes an impact on your audience.

Another effective way to make a splash with hashtags in your Instagram ads is by creating a branded hashtag. Think about your brand, its name, and its core values. Use this research to come up with a hashtag that can accompany all of your posts and compel audiences to use it in their own posts as well.

This opens up the possibility for conversation, which brings us to the last tip to break through for Instagram advertisers.

3. Start and jump in on conversations.

Fact: 72% of users have bought a product they saw on Instagram. So if you can get your product in front of your audience, there’s almost a 75% chance that they’ll take this information and run with it. They’ll Google your brand or visit your website, and this will lead them to learn more, and then ultimately to purchase.

I’m sure you can attest to this—almost certainly you’ve seen products on Instagram and immediately wanted to buy them.

But in order to sell products, you have to have the right messaging. And in most cases, that messaging involves asking questions, starting conversations, and giving your audience something to talk and think about.

This falls in line with the part of the Instagram algorithm that focuses on engagement. Instagram wants to facilitate relationships and conversations, so use your ads to get inside the heads of your audience and get them interacting.

MeUndies effectively started a conversation with its Instagram ads. This underwear brand used its Instagram presence to eliminate stigma around underwear and make people more open to talking about it—and shopping for it online.

MeUndies instagram ads

Image Source: Instagram

Wrap up 

Whether you’re using Instagram to market more traditionally, or you’re using it for paid advertisements, you need to be aware of the complex algorithm that sorts your content. More than awareness, use our explanations and tips to use it to your advantage!

From here, focus on your visual imagery—whether that’s a photo, an animation, an illustration, or a video. Make sure to use hashtags to engage with more audience and demonstrate that you’re an approachable brand.

Then it’s time to have fun! Engage in conversations, start discussions, and use your content to create a dialogue between you and your audience. This establishes trust and lets your audience know that you’re more than just a corporate entity.

 

There is some really fantastic tips in the article above and certainly lots of food for thought, perhaps 2019 will be the year I double my Instagram following, let hope so.

Features

Spring Fashion – What’s Going to Be Big This Season?

lady on boat

Pic Credit: Pixabay

As the snow and ice grips the country, what better time to look ahead to the warmer, lighter months of spring? It may feel like a long way off, but spring fashion is just around the corner. If you’re hoping to get on trend and rock the latest spring 2019 fashion trends, below you’ll discover what’s set to be big this season.

Celebrate the season with neon colours

There’s a lot of colour trends kicking off the spring 2019 fashion, but neon is one of the major players. This bold trend has been kickstarted by celebrities such as Kim Kardashian in 2018 and it’s set to carry on throughout this year too. Just some of the catwalks neon has been showcased recently include Henry Holland, Naeem Khan and Christian Siriano. Basically, anything which comes in a bright, bold neon colour is what you’ll want to aim for.

This trend is also set to continue throughout the summer too so start stocking up on your neon clothing now to get ahead of the trend.

Leopard prints

Worried you might end up looking like a highlighter pen following the neon trend? Another colour scheme taking over this season is animal prints, or more specifically, leopard prints.

crochet jumper

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Animal print clothing appears to be a hit year after year and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, since 2018, it’s actually increased in popularity by a staggering 50%. All of the leading brands are joining in such as Burberry, Calvin Klein and Gucci. So, you shouldn’t have a problem stocking up your spring leopard print wardrobe.

Crotchet clothing

Now we’ve covered a couple of the colour schemes to focus on, what about the type of clothing you should be investing in? Well, crotchet style clothing is one of the biggest Spring 2019 trends to pay attention to. Creating a soft, chic beach look, crotchet style tops are especially all the rage this season. You could team crotchet clothing with a pair of spring sandals from a company such as DAMART.

Shirts

I suspect as a result of Megan Markles love of the shirt and jeans combo this look will remain a top trend.  For me for many years my all time favourite shirt either for work or more casual wear is Ralph Lauren, there is just something about a crisp white shirt, navy jeans and heels, timeless.

So, there you have it – some of the key spring 2019 fashion trends you’ll want to keep an eye on. Whatever your usual style, you’ll easily find something to match it in the season’s latest fashions. Or, why not try something totally different and go with one of the more unique fashion trends, such as neon?

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Features

The Challenge of Finding Plus-Sized Clothing

mens clothes shop

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Men are starting to spend money on their clothing, and a lot of those men are plus-sized. So why is it so hard to find men’s plus size clothing? Shouldn’t brands have figured out a way to create something these men will proudly wear?

It’s tough to find nice men’s plus size clothing. Mainstream stores never seem to have the right sizes. If you’re anything above a 38-inch waist, forget about finding clothes at places like Eddie Bauer or Gap. It’s just not going to happen.

Looking Good

There’s no reason that big and tall men can’t look good. While it is a challenge to locate men’s plus size clothing, once you do, find clothes that make the man. A nice white button-down shirt and a good looking pair of slacks is a great start for any man’s wardrobe.   Make sure you don’t get pants that are too tight around the waist. The last thing you want is bunching and creasing. This only serves to draw attention. At the same time, you also don’t want bulky draping fabric hanging off your frame. Looking for something that hugs you without making you look like you’re wearing a muumuu.

Take Your Time

The unfortunate reality is that finding men’s plus size clothing isn’t easy. It’s time-consuming and can be frustrating. Remember that you might not find something that works for you at the first store you walk into. Plus size clothing just isn’t that popular. Yet. Take your time, but don’t give up. 

As a matter of fact, you might be better off going online to find what you need. Head to a tailor to get accurate measurements, then browse online until you find something that will make you look good. Since online clothing isn’t limited by physical space, you’re more likely to locate what you want.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Features

2019 – the year we all could swim!

Naturally as 2018 come to a close we began to chat not only about our holiday plans but our 2019 goals for us and the kids. We uniformly agreed the the four of us knowing how to swim confidently was top of the agenda. I can swim, im by no means good at it but I can manage. The boys love the water, but can’t swim properly, now they are only 6 and 3! The Dada Fairy again loves the water but isn’t a swimmer.

child swimming

Pic Credit: Pixabay

I have been on a waiting list for some time to get the boys into lessons and finally last week the email came through and Sundays at 1pm will be “swim time”.  We have various bits of swimwear from our holidays over the years but we do need a full suite of swimwear for all of us.

We are all going to improve our swimming ability this year every one of us!  Encouraging each other will spur us on and help us achieve this. We have Alvor, Portugal  booked for October and the goal will be…..all being competent in the water. We don’t need to be at Olympic standard just able to hold our own.

Legs in pool

Pic Credit: Pixabay

The thought of buying swimwear for myself fills me with such dread. I’m very body conscious in swimwear, I suppose lots of us are. I stumbled on these absolute beauties by Tyr. The brand is of California origin so expect lots of cool prints. My absolute fave is the Tyr Thresher Baja open back knee suit. This is right up my street, covers plenty!! There seems to be a great sale on the these at the moment with 30% off lots of the swimsuits too. There are some stunning swimsuits for only £17.99 too. Bargain!!

My pair are typical little men, the swimwear will have to be loud and adorned with the favourite characters, currently anything Star Wars related. I saw some swim shorts which would be ideal but they were more excited about the Star Wars logo swim hats! I actually find it so funny my aim in the pool is to be as less noticeable as possible however at 6 the louder the better!! I have no problem investing in decent swimwear for the kids. This is the year we will do this. It was mooted in 2018 but with a lot less enthusiasm. We travelled quite a bit in 2018 and the kids saw the benefits of swimming and using all the amenities at their disposal when they travel.

I have vowed to up date this post in January 2020 with our progress so ill re share then.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post however all aspirations and goals are my own!!!
Features

7 top tips to stay strong and healthy through the winter season

Just in time for the season that in it, Wellness consultant Julie Burke reveals her 7 top tips to stay strong and healthy through the winter season.  Sickness is more prevalent in winter, so taking a multi-strain supplement like Bio-Kult can help to keep you healthy and strong this winter,” says Julie Burke.

So what are Julie’s top tips:

 Stay active

It’s easy to let our exercise and fitness routines slip in these cold and dark winter months. You might need to adjust your daily routine with the shift in seasons but don’t let it bring things to a halt. Simple changes like home workouts can be implemented into your exercise routine as a more accessible option. Yoga and Pilates are great for muscle strength and circulatory health, and these workouts range from beginner to expert.

Nourish your body

With Christmas comes even more excuses to eat out. Making the right food choices is important for immunity and overall health. Eat foods that will nourish your body, give you energy, and keep you fuller for longer.

Rest

It’s important to make an effort to get a minimum of 8 hours sleep a night, especially over the winter months when our bodies are subject to colder weather and the possibility of sickness

Keep hydrated

Staying hydrated helps to detoxify our bodies, making us less susceptible to colds and flus. Drinking water not only nourishes our bodies, but also helps combat the beginning of winter bugs.

Take probiotics

A probiotic and a glass of water can work wonders when it comes to prevention of sicknesses. A daily dose of Bio-Kult Advanced multi-strain is a brilliant way to keep on top of your health during winter while staying hydrated too.

 Make time for me time

“Staying strong” applies to mental health as much as it does physical health. I, for one, am the worst patient, so I pay particular attention to keeping my body and mind fit and healthy. In winter, many of us suffer with mental health issues. Knowing this, it’s important to be present and just check in on how you are, with no distractions. It can be a 10-minute yoga flow in the morning, it can be a walk in the park, and it can be a meditation practice. It doesn’t matter what it is, it matters that you make it happen.

Disconnect

We live in a world where we are constantly on our phones and bombarded by information and sensory stimulation. It’s vital that no matter what season it is, we all take time to unplug and disconnect. Try to have at least an hour before bed with no phone or make your sitting room a phone-free zone.

To find out more about the Bio-Kult product range, visit: www.scopehealthcare.ie

Note: This isn’t sponsored in anyway im simply sharing what I think is some great advice.
Features

Friday Night fun with Four Star Pizza

For the last few years we have developed a family tradition where my parents, sister, her husband and ourselves gather in our house to watch the Late Late Toy Show. My youngest hasnt managed to stay awake long enough yet but im sure next year will be a different story. My oldest despite being only 6 managed almost the whole show this year.  You cant not love the Toy Show sure it practically an institution at this stage.  We have plenty happy memories ourselves of it growing up.

The very lovely people at Four Star Pizza in Lucan very kindly sent us some super yummy pizzas and treats to make out night even more enjoyable. My oldest has the oddest eating habits – he hates chocolate, he hates chips and wouldn’t care for soft drinks. I do wonder at times if I did take the wrong child home!!! However he absolutely adores pizza. In fact id say he is in prime position to taste test the Four Star Pizza offerings!!

He loves garlic bread, like to insane proportions and he devoured the one from Four Star Pizza, mega thumbs up. My sisters husband reckoned the pepperoni was super yum and the base got a mega thumbs up. The chief cookies taster aka myself and my little sis devoured and I mean devoured the cookies. I’m drooling just thinking about them. I was really surprised with the variety on offer not only of pizza but sides and sambos too. I even saw some reduced gluten bases.

There was clean plates (boxes) all round that Friday night and myself and my sis had a girly night since and we reordered to hers.  I havent tried the sambos yet but I really want to – the Rajun Cajun looks right up my street!!

Overall its a thumbs up from me and two thumbs up for my 6 year old chief taster.  He officially declared the garlic bread the best of his life, quite the accolade for a 6 year old!!!

 

Note: Four Star Pizza kindly sent us some products to try, I wasnt asked or expected to write this review. All opinions are mine or the boys where appropriate.

 

 

 

Features

The Advantages of Getting Your Kids Playing Sport Early

girl playing football

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Young children are very impressionable and curious, making them more willing to try new things. This impressionable stage is where lots of children develop their passions, their hobbies and their interests which have a huge impact later in life.

At a young age, parents have a certain level of influence over their child, what they do and when they do it. Today we’re going to look at how you can encourage a sporting hobby for your child and why you should keep it in mind for the future.

Physical Skills

Between the ages of one and five, children undergo drastic physical changes whilst they explore and learn more about the world. As a parent, it’s our job to serve as a safe base for this exploration. We are the omnipresent support that our children use when they’re tired of exploring and want to return to familiarity but that doesn’t mean we can’t help our children in other ways.

Sport is obviously quite physically intensive and through developing a hobby for your child, it’s easy for a parent to help their child gain better strength, balance and agility that can be transferred to everyday life. This is especially true for slightly more clumsy children where a safe and constructive environment is essential for them to practice balance and awareness,

Social Skills

Whilst sport for kids is great at developing physical abilities and strength, many people underestimate its power to grow social skills too. Most sporting events for children are held in groups, whether they be training sessions, introductory classes or other activities. This means that your child will likely be part of a team or at least surrounded by other children, forcing them to practice empathy, understanding and team play.

Even though a sports setting is competitive and objective focused, the act of speaking and engaging with other children (and other adults) is hugely beneficial for a young child. In fact, for particularly young children, some parent-child sports sessions can also help with learning speech. There are quite a lot of communication-based advantages to encouraging sports for your child.

Self-Confidence, Ambition and Self-Development

boy playing football

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Sports encourages a desire to improve oneself and to perform better. This ambition for self-development and growth is absolutely invaluable both in education and throughout life. Similarly, if your child is performing well on the sports field, they will receive positive reinforcement from their coach and from you, their parents. This is great for improving self-confidence, further assisting the social skills that we mentioned before.

Good Habits

Being active and staying fit is a big part of any healthy, balanced lifestyle and sport is an easy way of instilling this in your child. If your little one is playing sports throughout their school career, it shows

that they can maintain their passions and talents despite being busy for most of the day, increasing their likelihood to continue playing in their adult life.

As a minimum, being physically fit and athletic breeds a desire to stay in good shape. Therefore, even if your child drops their sport later in life, they’re likely to go to the gym or take up some other physical activity that keeps them healthy. For a more scientific look at habits and how to change them, you can click here.

So How Do We Get Started?

Whilst this whole post has been about the advantages of sport for kids, it hasn’t detailed how to get them started.

For an easy entry point, consider a sports party (click here for more information on these). They’re simple, they’re easy and they will give your child a taste of many different sports, allowing them to pick out a favourite.

For a more structured approach, research at community centres and local clubs, then see which sport fits into your schedule. Most clubs host free taster sessions for young applicants, so bring your child along once and see if they take to it.

That’s all there is to it! Hopefully this will help you locate and encourage your child to get involved in sports young, just be sure not to pressure them into doing something they don’t enjoy.

Note: This is a collaborative post
Features

Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween is an exciting time of year. To help ensure you and your children can enjoy it safely, FBD Insurance has prepared some handy tips for you.

Keep “trick-or-treaters” safe

  • If you let your older children go alone, make sure they stay in groups.
  • Plan your trick-or-treating route before you leave and make sure the kids coming with you know where they’re going.
  • Only visit places in familiar neighbourhoods.
  • Avoid shortcuts and stay in well-lit areas.
  • Only visits houses with lights on and avoid isolated or dark houses.
  • Walk on paths and always follow the safe cross code.
  • Make sure your kids know not to enter a stranger’s home under any circumstances
  • Carry torches or glow sticks.
  • Check all sweets and treats before eating and remember to take home some healthy options like apples and nuts as well.
  • Be fire safe. Avoid bonfires and keep children away from candles, bangers, fireworks, sparklers etc. Call 112 or 999 in an emergency

Get your home trick-or-treater ready

  • Remove items such as toys, bikes, garden hoses and decorations, etc. that could cause trick-or-treaters to slip or trip.
  • Turn on outdoor lights and replace burnt-out bulbs.
  • Sweep wet leaves from your steps, pavements and driveway.
  • Restrain pets so they don’t scare or harm trick-or-treaters.
  • Give trick-or-treaters treats and snacks or they’ll play a trick on you.

 Costume Safety

  • Test your costumes before trick-or-treating. Ensure there’s no risk of tripping in your outfits or having allergic reactions to make-up and fabrics. Check that your child’s costume meets fire safety standards.
  • Add reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Avoid masks or accessories that can obstruct your kid’s vision.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and stay warm.

 Tips for motorists

  • Drive slowly, especially in residential areas that may have trick-or-treaters.
  • Don’t overtake stopped cars that might be dropping off children.
  • Make your vehicle more visible by turning on your lights, even during daylight.
  • Stay alert and don’t get distracted. Keep your eyes and mind on the road.
  • Pay extra attention at junctions, corners and intersections. Children might cross from anywhere and may have costumes making them less visible or obscuring their vision!
  • Be very careful when starting the car, parking, or backing up – make sure there are no children behind or around your car.

 

Have fun and keep safe this Halloween with these tips from FBD Insurance! If your car breaks down, FBD Insurance offers 24-hour roadside and doorstep breakdown assistance coverage. Additionally, if you need help with covering your home, take a look at their home insurance options.

Note: This is a collaborative post
Features

Tips to Prepare Your Kids for the Move

Moving can be one of the most stressful processes in any person’s life, even if it is being done for a positive reason. It can be hard enough for adults who truly understand the ramifications on the move, but it is generally even harder for children. For children, moving away from the familiar surroundings of a tradition home against their will can make them feel powerless and incredibly upset. It is immensely important that the children’s feelings be considered and handled properly so as to avoid any type of lingering feelings of anger and resentment. Here are some tips to make their ransition as easy as possible:

Let them know the move is coming ASAP

While you may need to shield your child from some of the details for a variety of reasons, it is best to be as honest about the process as much as possible when moving to a new home. Sharing the fact that the move is coming with the child may add stress, but it also gives the child the maximum amount of time to come to grips with inevitable. If time allows, you may want to prepare a written timeline for the move and allow the child to make a list of concerns he has so that you can address them and alleviate problems before they arise.

Allow them to be upset  if necessary

The child may go through the usual stages of grief including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance when he is made aware of the news of the move. If the child has trouble making it to the acceptance stage, there is no shame involved in taking him to a professional who has the tools to properly intervene and help. This could be done before the move to help the child cope ahead of time, after the move if the child has trouble dealing with the situation, or both if necessary. Sometimes an outsider’s perspective is the best one to share light on what can be a difficult situation.

Try to permit them the ability to make choices

The choice to move is never within the child’s control, so giving them the task of making certain choices can help them overcome the emotion of complete powerlessness he may otherwise feel. You can let the child choose things like the color of his new bedroom in your New Tradition Home, the location of certain electronic items, or even let the child pick a nickname for your new abode. If you have the ability to spoil your child here – perhaps by promising a new toy, a television set, a computer  – you can do so if you like. However, if money is an issue, try your best to work within an affordable framework as far as what you are willing to allow the child to choose. You want them to see the move as a positive experience and sometimes a new gift, pending their cooperation and understanding, will enhance the experience further.

Don’t just talk about it; write about it

Some children may need to talk to you or – in more extreme cases – speak with a counselor when he finds out a move is coming. However, it may also be beneficial to encourage the child to write his feelings out in a diary or draw a picture if the child is young. Make sure the child knows the diary is completely private and that his thoughts will only be shared with others if he decides he wants that. Being able to freely express himself in long written passages can often make the child feel better about the move and help him deal with any stress he is experiencing.

Assure them the friends they are moving away from will not disappear

If you aren’t moving that far away, this is an easy fix as you will be able to easily assure the child that you will still be able to take him to visit his current friends. If you are moving far away, this may be a little bit more difficult, but with today’s technology, it is easier than ever to stay connected from long distances.

Whereas in the past long distance phone calls were incredibly expensive, today you can talk to anybody anywhere in the country via cellphone and do it at an affordable rate. There is also texting and all kinds of social media apps like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat which can keep kids who move stay connected to their old friends.

Even better, with the advent of video chatting, services like Skype and Tango allow you to see the face of the person you are chatting with during the conversation, making it feel as if that person is in the room with you. That kind of video technology can be especially helpful in keeping your child connected to his existing friends and allowing him to feel like his entire life is not being thrown into a frenzy.

Make them a part of the moving process

There are few things a child likes more than getting to feel like he is an adult doing grownup things, so do your best to include him or her in many of the projects related to the move. Have the child label and help pack boxes, assist with cleanup and organisation in the house, and if old enough, you can even let him help you decide on which moving company you are going to use to carry out the move.  Once you get to the new house, you can have them help you there as well. Allow the child to help you unpack boxes and organise at the new house as though it is a family adventure that you can do together as a bonding exercise. What should be in each room? What colour should the walls and floors be? Should the house have carpeting and wallpaper or would it look better with bare floors and walls?

Obviously, depending on how old the child is, you will not want to leave all of the important decorating and style decisions to his/her judgement, but there is nothing wrong with using her as a sounding board for ideas. By doing that, you will make your child feel included in the moving-in process while allowing a sense of ownership as well.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
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How to Manage Your Children’s Screen Time

David Hevey – Associate Professor, at the School of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin recently researched the health behaviours of 1,280 school children, parents and teachers across Ireland. One of the findings revealed that children were spending more time on their devices than outdoors. Forensic Psychologist Dr Maureen Griffin gives some advice on screen time for children.

How much screen time is too much?

child on ipad

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Many parents are concerned about how much time their children will spend in front of screens. So how much is too much? How can we control it?

The American Paediatric Association (APA, 2016), recommends unplugged playtime for infants and toddlers (i.e. no screens) and a limit of 1-hour high quality programming for 2-5 year olds, with active parental involvement. For children aged 6 and older, they recommend limiting the amount of screen time so as to allow for adequate physical activity, sleep, play etc. As not all screen time is equal, it is important that we pay attention to what our children are doing online; instead of solely focusing on a specific amount of time (e.g. are they passively watching shows; playing interactive games with friends; video chatting with family/friends/strangers; creating videos/music). To support the APA’s new recommendations, they have published an online tool that allows families to create their own personalised Family Media Use Plan. Devising such a plan as a family, can greatly help in getting an appropriate balance between screen time and other activities, especially during the summer months.

The APA also provide a Media Time Calculator which helps families determine the most appropriate amount of screen time for children in different age brackets – from 18 months to 18 years. Each age bracket is set with the recommended amount of time for sleep and physical activity, allowing the user to add time in for additional categories such as school, homework, family time, meals, reading, free time etc. 

How can we control screen time?

As parents, we play a crucial role in setting good examples for our children when it comes to social media usage and screen time. By creating a Family Media Use Plan, we can set clear expectations and boundaries for everyone in the family, unique to the specific requirements of each individual family member.

In addition to modelling good practices and creating a family plan, here are three things to be mindful of:

  1. Maintain good habits

Don’t undo good habits. For instance, letting devices creep into bedrooms while children are off school. The World Health Organisation, Safe Foods, and the National Sleep Foundation, have consistently demonstrated the negative health effects of having technology in bedrooms and/or using technology as a sleep aid (i.e. increased likelihood of developing childhood obesity/diabetes in later life; reduction in the amount of sleep, quality of sleep and day time alertness). Recent research has also indicated that increased night-time mobile phone use is directly associated with increased externalizing behaviour, and decreased self-esteem and coping. Despite this, the vast majority of students I speak with, who have devices in their rooms at night; admit they receive messages after midnight. It is therefore vital that we maintain bedrooms as screen free zones, all year round.

  1. Be with the ones you are with  

Children, and adults alike, often admit that when they visit a friends’ house, one of the first things they do is ask for the WIFI password. While acknowledging all the amazing benefits of technology and the role social media plays in our children’s lives, we need to remind our children to be presentto be with the people they are with.  Although our children are connected 24/7 and in constant contact with their friends, they often maintain such contact in a very disconnected way -without making eye contact, without speaking, without picking up on behavioural cues/emotions.

Talk to your child about the importance of true meaningful connections with friends. Friendship is more than maintaining a streak’ on Snapchat and more than someone who will ‘like’ your pictures. When their friends call over, remind your child to be present. Set aside time to be connected in real life, instead of constantly multitasking with devices. Identify ‘device-free times’ that work for you as a family (e.g. when eating, driving, walking, visiting grandparents)

Some parents control screen time during the school breaks, by changing WIFI passwords on a daily basis and only handing it over when children have earned their screen time by completing tasks in other important areas (e.g. physical activity, chores, reading). The Screen Time App may also be of use to parents who wish to limit the amount of time their children spends online. This App allows you to set time limits for your child’s device from your own phone (or browser); enable restrictions for specific Apps; pause your child’s online activity and assign tasks that must be completed to gain screen time. It also sends parents daily summaries outlining which websites and Apps their child used and for how long.

Some families engage in Tech free days during the week –Tech free Tuesdays or Tech free Thursdays. Others opt for a digital detox –disconnecting to reconnect. If attempting either, make sure to set attractive alternatives to screen time for each family member (e.g.  camps, walking/hiking, art, swimming, reading, joining a new club/sport/class)

  1. Holidays and sharing

If you are going away on holiday, either here in Ireland or abroad, wait until you are home again to share all your adventures. Burglars have been known to use social media to identify empty houses, especially during holiday seasons. Talk to your children about their location settings, which can be enabled/disabled for individual apps they are using. Although children tell me “it’s not safe to share your home address”, a lot admit they have location setting enabled for a chatting App or social networking site. As most of their messages are sent from home, they can be inadvertently sharing their home address.

Also talk to children about what is okay/not okay to share while away on holidays. It is much easier to have a discussion on ‘why NOT to take a picture of mammy/daddy in their bikini/Speedos’ in advance, instead of having to claw back that image when it has been shared online.  

 

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Note: This is a collaborative post