Social distancing remains present in our new normal. As we head into the holiday season, let’s strike a balance between safely revisiting older favorite customs and finding new family traditions this Halloween.
Written by Sarah Antrim
Halloween means a lot of things: carving pumpkins, decorating the house, dressing up. But for kids, Halloween means one thing — CANDY.
Trick-or-treating is clearly the highlight of this holiday for most kids, I know it was for me when I was that age! To make the most of the holiday, here’s a few tips to keep in mind when getting ready to head out for treats:
1. Let the kids pick their costumes.
As adorable as a family with coordinating costumes can be, the kids usually don’t get quite as excited if they can’t pick their own costumes. This is the one chance of the year that kids get the freedom to be whoever and whatever they want! As a compromise, you could consider having the kids dress up with the family for pictures then change into their desired costume before trick-or-treating. And heck, if you’ve still got a little one toddling around, go ahead and milk that for all it’s worth!
2. Research neighborhoods and events ahead of time.
Since Halloween falls on a weekday this year, many towns have events planned for the weekend or days prior to the actual holiday. Contact your village hall and local businesses to see what sort of special events they have planned. Get some mileage out of that costume and make sure the kids get their candy fix!
3. Prepare for tired legs.
Bring a wagon, toddler carrier, or be prepared to be put on piggy back duty; especially if you have a kids of different ages. Be a good sport–Halloween is supposed to be fun, kids are supposed to wear themselves out!
4. Remember that it’s about the journey, not the destination.
Nothing can ever be perfect–they may not get their favorite candy bar, the weather might be yucky, the doorbells might not be answered–and that’s okay. Play games along the way, like who can guess what the next piece of candy is coming next, to make the experience more fun for everyone.
5. Hold off on the sugar overdose.
It’s tempting to tear into that sack of goodies as soon as it starts to pile up, but try to get them to hold off for a bit. Sugar highs are followed by crashes which will not make the night enjoyable for anyone. Making sure everyone has a hearty meal or big snack before hitting the pavement can help curb the urge to indulge. Just remember to be reasonable, having a few pieces throughout the night won’t hurt anyone!
Remember to keep it light-hearted and fun. Kids don’t want the perfect holiday, they just want a real one. So relax, have fun, and stay safe!
Manage back-to-school exhaustion and pandemic anxiety with grace.
Here are simple techniques to help us all get back on track using meditation from our friends at LoveHero.
Is it possible that we’ve all forgotten how tiring the first week of school or just visiting the office after being away for so long, really is? The 18-month long new normal’s transition back to the old and connecting with classmates and co-workers in real life has been much harder than expected for some of us. You are not alone.
1. Start with movement
For most young kids, attempting to sit in meditation without any exercise first will be a challenge. Kids understand energy. And, energy can be used as a vehicle to meditate. Start with 5-10 minutes of energetic exercises such as jumping jacks, scissor jumps or running in-place.
2. Use positive language
While exercising, maintain a positive attitude that will get kids thinking about their ability to monitor their emotions and tune into positive feelings. Affirmations such as “I am positive!” work great for this.
3. Use breathing to channel the energy
The next step is to start slowing down the intensity of the exercises and to start replacing them with breathing. Breathe with your belly holding the breath longer and making the inhales and exhales deeper each time.
4. Sit down, breathe and focus on the heart
The other thing that kids understand well is positive emotions. In a sitting position do a few more rounds of breathing, but this time, with the hands on the heart, imagine this energy you’ve built up turning into rays of green light that are shooting from the heart.
5. Become a hero
What good is love if you don’t share it? Kids love being heroes. Use the light shooting from your heart to send love to someone or something that might need it. It can be a group of people (frontline healthcare workers), a person you love, a pet or a plant. Become a hero using your heart to uplift others.
6. Sit in stillness
Finally, sit in silence and stillness for 30 seconds or longer if you can. It helps to play soothing music at this point. Each child is different, so start small and build your way up.
Prepping for back-to-school means juggling after-school activities and loads more stuff. These 5 organization hacks will keep your family organized and ready for anything.
By Jillian Chamberlain
Where are my shin guards? Did you sign that permission slip? I can’t find my sheet music! When you’re trying to get kids out the door and to their after school activities, time is at a premium. Taking a few minutes now to modify your organization process can help streamline things when you’re in a rush. Here are some of our favorite ideas from parents and caregivers who’ve been there, organized that.
1. “Stuff Station” — The One Place to Keep Everything
There’s so much to keep track of during back-to-school season, it gets overwhelming. When school is back in session, so are all of those music lessons, soccer practices, and martial arts classes. As parents of active children, you are guaranteed to be dealing with more STUFF. How do you keep it all straight and teach your children to be responsible for their things on any given day? Keep it all in one place, and color-code it! Your kids’ activity station can come in many different shapes and forms, but here is one ‘stuff station’ idea we thought was appealing to the eye and highly functional. Check out this and more organization hacks from IAmNotTheBabysitter.com
2. There’s a Bag for That
Once you create a ‘stuff station’ for homework, permission slips and projects are sure to add a hook for an after-school activity drawstring bag. If you have a child with a lot of various interests, consider making an individual drawstring bag that is designated as the one place to keep any and all equipment for each sport or lesson. On Mondays and Wednesdays, your child knows to grab the yellow drawstring bag with their shin guards and cleats for soccer. On Thursday the red bag is ready at the door for martial arts. Momtastic.com has a great DIY tutorial for customizable drawstring bags. So simple!
3. Car Homework Station
Homework happens. If there’s one thing to dread with the start of the new school year, it’s the renewed battle over nightly homework assignments. Convincing kids to sit down and do their work is one of the hardest parts of a parent’s job. One way to get them excited about homework is a comfortable and creative space dedicated to them…even if that is in the car. Consider creating a homework station in the car so that your little ones can knock out some homework while you’re on the road.
4. After-School Snacks on the Go
Kids start school relatively early in the morning each day. That means a big gap between lunchtime and after-school snack time. Kids need to refuel, and every parent knows how difficult it can be dealing with cranky, “hangry” youngsters. StuffedSuitcase.com has made it easy to steer clear of junk foods and other unhealthy quick fixes by gathering some easy-to-assemble snacks to keep ready in the car. After-school snacks can be healthy, fun and mobile!
5. Organize Your After-School Schedule, Too!
ActivityHero can help you find local activities that work with your child’s calendar — and nurture his or her interests! Whether your child likes to dance, sports, outdoor recreation, music, or computers, ActivityHero makes browsing and registering easy.
Getting organized is about clearing the space and time for your family members to meet their needs and find focus, in whatever way works for you!
Summer can be hectic and hard to plan. If you need to fill a day or just an hour, here are some activities with open registration! All of these activities are available to sign up for just a single day or take on the go to fill any free time in your schedule.
Live Online Activities
Sign up for a weeklong camp or just join the class for a day. These activities run throughout the summer and are the perfect options to sign up for only one day at a time. Try out a class before committing to a week of camp, or schedule one day of camp to fill your time at the last minute.
Get creative with coding! In this 5 day camp, students will learn to code their own games and build a website. Even if you’re not free for the whole week, you can sign up for just a single day! Join the class to work on the topic of the day.
Calling all storybook lovers! Join us for an interactive storytime offering a variety of diverse characters and zany adventures.
In this interactive 25 minute class, students will start the session by playing Drama Games that boost self-confidence and build public speaking skills. Following our games, kids are encouraged to share what they see in the story as well as act out different parts of the book. Every storybook adventure ends with a short Fairytale Dance Party!
Creative kids love Cosmo’s Art Camp! From Art Projects to Slime Making to Fashion Design , we’ll lead you through the steps to create something new each day. At Camp Cosmo, you’ll get to do the kind of art you love, while you make new artistic friends from across the country. (Parents, you’ll be happy to know that at Camp Cosmo, kids also get a fun exercise challenge every day.)
Join for a full week or any day throughout the week to create wonderful art pieces together.
There are many time slots available for this class! Choose the schedule that best fits you.
In this class, learn the basics of how to use the Scratch coding interface, enjoy programs built by other students, and work together to build a fun game of your own (for many this is the very first program they have ever built.
Your child will not learn from a machine or video, but will interact with an experienced CS teacher in a small class. Try these free intro classes if you have the time!
The Art in Science is a unique program developed by a scientist and artist to enrich children’s learning of various scientific concepts. In this program, kids learn science topics with fun and artistic hands-on activities.
In Science of Our Earth, we will learn about our home planet: deep down erupting volcanos up to the atmosphere and everything in between. Interesting, meaningful (and sometimes yummy) hands-on activities will complete every lesson.
For children who are brand new to the art, this is a fun exploratory class perfect for those who are curious and show a keen interest in the visual arts. In a full class course, students will work first on preliminary drawing exercises before moving on to painting. Learn color mixing & painting applications and pick up fun tips the professionals use.
This class is suitable for complete beginners or for those who have taken a few classes and want more. Try just a single day of class and discover what you can do with art!
Chef Meenu has been teaching cooking and baking classes to children and adults for over a decade! From pizza and pasta to chocolate and banana bread, you can learn to do it all.
With eight weeks of virtual summer cooking and baking camps and single day summer weekend classes, you can be sure to find a day to join her classes.
Summer camps are an hour in duration, with one sweet or savory recipe using Zoom. The children will be cooking as Chef Meenu guides them, observes, and answers questions.
The on-demand activities can be done at any point of the day! Once you register, you can watch a video or use print outs to do activities from anywhere. These are perfect for families who are on the go and need an activity that they can do any time, any day.
Learn how to draw a red panda up close with step-by-step video guidance! This 60 minute video is sure to engage your kids at any point in the day! The class will begin with basic shape recognition during the sketching phase and will then move on to coloring and basic shading techniques.
Take the role of a scientist by conducting research to solve a problem! It can be as simple or as complex as you want. In this video activity, learn to set up experiments to answer the questions you’re curious about.
Look At The Stars offers more on-demand activities to fill your time, including Constellations, Building a Star Finder, Survival on the Moon, and more.
Learn how to draw your own fashion figures while learning about history, designers, and fashion trends! Use videos and printables whenever you want with these on-demand activities. Sketch a basic fashion figure or learn to draw facial details in engaging videos.
Dive into Earth’s oceans to explore one of the most fascinating creatures who has been here for over 650 million years! These beautiful invertebrates come in varying shapes, sizes and colors while some even have the ability to glow in the dark. Follow along with this on-demand video to learn about jellyfish and create art!
Create a craft from Biome Blitz: Oceans Club, where we learn about the Ocean’s Zones and the type of animals that live in each of these zones. Create a submarine porthole, where you’ll be able to see your crafted jellyfish drifting along with the ocean’s current.
Itching to get out and active this summer? In-person camps are back and ready for a summer of outdoors and indoors activities. Camps all over the LA area will open with small group sizes for week-long morning or afternoon camps. Here are some kid-approved favorites!
(Ages 7 – 18) Script School educates students in skills needed to write and develop professional written material, through one-to-one mentorship or group sessions with other like-minded individuals, arming them with the tools needed to take their stories to the next level.
This 6-hour, one day activity gives students the chance to learn the basics of screenplay writing. Work through narratives, genres, storytelling, characters and plot points, giving each writer the chance to develop their ideas and write a first draft of their screenplay!
(Ages 5 – 13) Girls-only leadership and soccer summer camps are an opportunity for girls of all playing levels! Refine and develop new soccer skills, make friends, and gain exposure to new experiences including dance, artistic expression, and leadership training. Practice soccer in a safe and empowering environment this summer.
(Ages 6 – 12) Have a blast with Stop Motion Animation using clay, Legos, whiteboards, cutouts and more! Storyboard ideas, develop plots, and create unique characters as you bring inanimate objects to life! Create a stop motion video and collaborate to tell stories. Each student receives a copy of the collaborative class work at the end of the session.
(Gr K – Gr 1) Stay active this summer with soccer, basketball, swimming, tennis, yoga, and more! Spartan Allstars introduces campers to a broad range of sports and activities, teaches children the value of cooperative team sports and sportsmanship, and encourages individual excellence in an atmosphere of healthy competition. Expert staff modify activities to enhance the individual skill level of both the novice and experienced campers. Special activities are speckled throughout camp to add variety and lasting memories.
(Gr 2 – Gr 5) Get the creativity and improvisation skills flowing in KidzToPros popular performing arts camp: Improv Comedy!Campers will practice thinking on their feet, creating artful characters, and telling amazing stories. KidzToPros offers two weeklong Improv Comedy camps: Character Development Camp and Scene Work Camp. Cooperate with scene partners and tell stories through performances.
(Ages 6-12) Experience a new way of learning through Virtual Reality! Students will build in 3D with kid-friendly creation tools, add interactions with block based coding, and then see their creations come to life in amazing Virtual Reality! With VR, teachers and students are no longer limited by the space of the classroom. Students’ creativity and imagination will be inspired as they explore history, science, the arts, and technology!
(Ages 5-11) Join the DS Jedi Training Academy! Build your own Millennium Starship ready to complete galactic challenges, learn about stars and planets and earn a light-powered science saber. Use Jedi gloves, experiment with your own programmable Bot and explore science sensors! Launch sky-high flying rockets towards Mars to assist Perseverance Rover in it’s 2021 mission. Imagine, invent and use your ‘Ingenuity’ to explore our universe and beyond!
Your summer 2021 Destination Science in person camp experience will have all of the science fun and social friendship your kids have come to expect from summers past, within the guidelines of our COVID-19 safety plan.
(Ages 3-10) Enjoy these in-person, socially-distanced one-week long musical theatre camps where your child will sing, dance, and learn their own lines. Included is a virtual performance for family and friends at the end of the camp.
Camp themes include The Little Mermaid, Shrek the Musical, Alice in Wonderland, Oliver, and more!
(Ages 7-12) Come on back to the studio with anin-person robotics building summer camp. Build robots using LEGO EV3 to compete in our Robotics Olympics. Program your bot to play soccer, solve mazes, climb over hurdles, use sensors to automatically act, amongst other things. As a special bonus, there will be a day-long drone event where your child will learn to program and fly drones in different “Olympic” competitions! Then compete in games against other campers, robot against robot! Which bot will win the gold?
(Ages 7-14) Come join in the fun and enjoy delicious desserts and baked goods loved by us all. Learn to create breads, tarts, cookies, cakes, soufflés, and more! Chef Eric and his team will guide your kids through baking all the pastries they can imagine. This camp is the perfect hands-on and interactive baking camp for kids.
(Ages 7-14) At Code Ninjas Los Alamitos, kids will gain an understanding of digital modeling processes and storytelling as they build scenes in their own Minecraft® world. They will also be introduced to video recording, editing, and mixing audio as they produce their final stories as short movies. Using Minecraft® as a creative medium, ninjas will have fun expressing themselves and sharing their stories with friends.
(Ages 9-14) Students learn AP computer science as they dig deep into Minecraft’s source code and program their own modification (mod) using the Java programming language. Students will create powerful teleporting swords, humorous blocks, cool mobs, bows that shoot arrows that summon ender dragons, entire worlds, and other insane items, all through the power of Java programming!
Perfect for both the beginning coder and the intermediate Java modding aficionado, Code Rev’s modding classes differentiate instruction based on your student’s level of familiarity and provide a mind-blowing curriculum perfect for even the experienced modder.
(Ages 4-12) Got Game provides a day camp experience unlike any other by allowing each camper to personally customize their day based on their interests! Activity rotations consist of a variety of options ranging from sports, games, and creative activities such as arts and sciences, theatre, and more!
We have created many “camp-favorites” over the years that our campers love, and we purposefully develop our curriculum with different sets of options and activities, creating randomness to each week – that keeps our campers super engaged! Whether you sign up for one week or all summer long, each week is a new experience!
(Ages 5-10) Ensure your young soccer star enjoys active fun in the fresh air all summer long with our Fun in the Sun Camp. Join in on outdoor soccer fun through skill-building games and activities.
Our In-Person soccer camps follow all local and CDC guidelines for safe play. Safety is paramount to our team, and we take our responsibility as your child’s holiday and summer activity provider seriously. Please note that all locations where classes will be held are approved under local guidelines, and each facility or field specifically approved by our executive team to ensure high health standards are met and upheld.
(Ages 5-13) The Upstanders Evolution Anti-Bullying Camp teaches kids to be their own superheroes! It is an immersive socially aware empowerment program that boosts kids’ self esteem by helping them to discover their inner strengths through a wide variety of different activities.
Whether it’s team games, meditation, arts & crafts, or self-defense, kids will learn respect for personal space and self-empowerment.
Prepare kids for the conflicts that may arise with peers or schoolmates. Bystanders empowered by empathy, self-esteem, resilience, and self-defense make the most effective & most efficient Upstanders!
Curated by ActivityHero families in your community, here are the most popular go-to online and in-person programs in support of your child’s learning (and your sanity) while school’s out. It’s also just a great opportunity to open their minds to new interests and build skills outside of the traditional classroom walls.
Top 5 In-Person Camps
Learn about horses. From grooming and feeding to bathing and even horse first aid! You’ll find out interesting facts about the history, evolution and anatomy of the horse while picking up some horse lingo, caring for and riding the horse you’ll have throughout the session at Horse Camp.
Imagine a camp that gets away from the brick and mortar limits and gives your child a
world of possibilities. Coyote Kids Adventure Camp encourages outdoor and nature play. With incredibly small ratios and the best caregivers, they treat campers more like family than just standard childcare.
Get ready to discover the magical high desert landscape of Sedona and a Secret Mountain Wilderness Adventure! Spend your nights backpacking in stunning red rock canyons, kayak the Verde River, hike to incredible caves, and cool off in spring fed swimming holes.
All Day Soccer Play
This full-day program is filled with developmental practices, games, competitions and challenges. Challenger Sports’ soccer camp is more advanced and geared toward players looking for a more competitive training environment.
The Hiller Aviation Museum hosts a collection of some 50 different historic aircraft.
Public and private museum admission, and programs for BSA Scouts and Girl Scouts, are offered periodically throughout the year.
Top 5 Online Programs
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Albert Einstein’s words are the backbone of every
Camp Cosmo class, whether its focus is academic, artistic, physical, or social. This program is designed to inspire critical thinking, creative thought and social connections through play.
Choreography by Rae was founded as a way to help people of all ages amplify their voice through movement. Their motto is anyone can dance, even if you have two left feet. This supportive and inclusive environment provides students with an opportunity to develop a foundation in: Acting, Art History, Culture, Dance (Ballet, Hip Hop, Latin, Jazz), Storytelling, Singing, and more!
Computer Kids Club is a computer science & academic program of typing, coding, design, math and engineering. Your child will be engaged in activities all while learning the importance of the computer and how it will help them through their school years ahead and eventually in a computer science related field.
The LA School of Music offers fun and engaging music lessons and classes on piano, voice, and guitar to name a few. All music teachers are professionals with at least a Bachelor of Music. Most have a Master of Music degree. This is a special group of teachers who have been vetted through a competitive interview process for expertise, as well as creativity and fun personality.
Young Art believes in passion, creativity, and the power of education. Their team is committed to inspiring the next generation of young inventors, artists, designers, and entrepreneurs to be bold innovators by providing creative and enriching experiences through hands-on learning. Families are able to select from a variety of classes with modalities including clay sculpture, digital animation, acrylic painting and pencil sketching.
Summer planning during a pandemic has incorporated many more considerations than in years past. As parents and their kids start to determine what to do when school is out in the next few months, here are some key factors ActivityHero has observed in our community of 4 million+ families that may help others start thinking about their plans now.
Parents want their kids outside. Many continue to struggle with balancing the “new normal” distance learning paired with increased screen time. Outdoor Activities and Non-Contact Sports have much more interest this year, contributing to most of the search inquiries happening on our platform. Horseback Riding and Biking classes, in particular, have been enrolled to capacity with long waitlists. Outdoor Petting Zoos and Outdoor Science Camps also support socially distant learning and have large upticks in popularity too.
Many camps are held at public schools or temporary spaces and these locations are taking longer to confirm this year. You may see a “TBD address” more frequently, which means that the camp is still working on confirming the exact location.
Camps have adjusted many of their programs to support the families in their communities and their staff to follow public health guidelines You may even notice that many have dedicated pages on their websites addressing all the efforts to be taken to best ensure everyone’s safety. Face masks and daily screenings are regularly appearing as requirements with frequent hand washing and sanitizing reminders too
04. Average Session Prices Increased 108%
Average camp session purchase prices have increased from $425 to $888 this year due to longer sessions that have become more common in some areas such as the San Francisco Bay Area. Camp sessions are required to be 3 weeks this summer to support more stable cohorts for COVID-safety. As a result, registrations for 3-week camps have increased by 5,000%, compared to last year.
On the plus side, attending a camp for multiple weeks helps kids make more friends and be more comfortable.
It also gives them more time to master new skills such as art or coding.
Some camps have the same prices per week in 2021, including:
Many providers learned from their experiences last year to better apply more manageable and flexible policies this year. Some camps offer credit toward another registration and don’t offer cash refunds. There’s a wide variation of what’s available.
06. More Options for Deposits or Payment Plans
After last year’s unprecedented cancellation of camp, many have adjusted payment policies this year. More flexibility is now being offered as alternatives to only requiring full upfront payments. Families may only have to pay a small deposit to hold their spots.
This year, 28% of registrations are using a payment plan.
07. Fewer Add-on Options
Extended care availability may also be limited for the same reasons. Based on ActivityHero’s community, we see a 25% reduction of this offering compared to last year.
Some camps offering extended care in 2021, include:
ActivityHero is the leading online marketplace for kids camps, activities, and after-school classes. Families book activities with one easy registration. Activity providers can claim and customize their listing and use online tools to get new customers.
Extra curricular activities open kids’ minds to new interests. They help build skills outside of the classroom. They provide a productive break from study. And they open new social opportunities to grow a community. Here are editor’s picks for interesting new classes to try:
The many cognitive benefits of learning languages are undeniable. People who speak more than one language have improved memory, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, enhanced concentration, ability to multitask, and better listening skills.*
Learn Spanish through theatre games and music! We naturally learn language through trial and error and through play. In Theatre Games in Spanish, students learn to communicate in Spanish by playing games and having fun. We strive to joyfully instill a love of language through embodied learning and play.
In this fun and musical class, learners explore German greetings, keywords, introduction vocabulary and pronunciation – through music! Learning a language is fun and easy with Ms. Kelsey – let’s sing, dance and color!
Ms. Kelsey is a professional opera singer and language teacher, and she started Musical Learning in 2016. She has taught German, French, English and ‘Musical Science’ for the past 10 years both online and in person.
Ages 3 – 7
$100/ 8 session series that meets twice a week starting Feb 22
In the first 4 weeks of the session, students learn about the electromagnetic nature of matter and energy, including: Magnetism, Magnetic Induction Electricity, Photons, Solar Energy. In the second half of the session, students are introduced to atoms, subatomic particles and the Periodic Table of Elements (Hydrogen to Xenon). They learn how atoms form molecules, and also learn about the structure of the Periodic Table. Class content is taught through engaging visual aids, physical demonstrations and thought-provoking discussion.
With An Emphasis on the Homeric epics of The Iliad and the Odyssey, the Milesian School of Thought yielding Thales, Pre-Socratics highlighting Democritus and the Socratic Period illustrative of Socrates Philosophy in the Context of Innovation Ranging from The Theory of Everything to Einstein’s Unified Theory and Quantum Realms.
Digivations Institute has NASA award-winning curriculum and is an ActivityHero Best of 2020.
Join us online for S.T.E.A.M powered fun where you will explore the curious worlds of science, technology, engineering, art and math. Conduct experiments, create art, build, take things apart and enjoy learning how art, science, engineering and technology are connected.
This is a great introductory trial for parents thinking about homeschooling their kids.
In this curriculum which follows the Common Core State Standards, we dive into EVERYTHING your child should learn in First Grade WOW! See below for a snapshot of some of the covered content. In previous classes on different platforms– parents would RAVE how their child would not be able to read at all prior to Mrs. Hendricks Academy and by the end of the curriculum- they were reading whole sentences, creative writing on their own and excelling.
Each week we will have a different princess joining the class. After the princess arrives the children will perform their dance while the princess sings, Then they will sit with their favorite toy while the princess reads a fun book! After story time the children will have a chance to each personally interact with the princess! It’s not everyday your child will get to have a virtual Disneyland experience!
We bet your child loves going to amusement parks to experience the variety of fast, dropping, and spinning rides, but have they ever thought about the science that goes into building those rides and the people who are responsible for designing them? In Snapology’s Amusement Park Engineering class, students will become engineers building their own amusement park rides like roller coasters, Ferris wheel , Bumper Car and other awesome rides!!
Snapology of Los Gatos serves Almaden, Camden, Los Gatos, Saratoga and Cupertino.
Has social media been sneaking into your brain? Many teens are spending hours scrolling through perfectly filtered photos, obsessing over likes and shares, or encountering virtual bullies. Teens are going down a “rabbit hole” online, experiencing the tricks software developers use to keep people on Instagram, Snapchat, video games and other media.
How can we build healthier relationships with technology?Max Stossel, Head of Education for The Center for Humane Technology, illustrated some of the specific ways technology is designed to be addictive & distracting, provided tools to help combat these designs, and showcased a much needed discussion among peers about the impact of phones & social media on our lives during ActivityHero’s free event, The Teens Guide to the Social Dilemma.
Transcribed from The Teens Guide to the Social Dilemma
Q1: What is the recommended time per day to spend on social media? How do we strengthen the emotional awareness of teens, should we slowly reduce screen-time or just stop?
There is no golden rule for the amount of time. I think it’s far more helpful to look at in terms of life. What role is social media serving for us? Is it entertainment? Are we aware of these mental health challenges? Are we doing other things? Are we doing the things we need to do with our lives? Some people do report saying “I have this one hour a day when I’m not going to just go on in a mindless moment. From 7 to 8 [o’clock], that’s going to be my social media time because I like social media.” Some people like doing it this way.
Especially for younger kids, these mental health challenges are real. To me, it’s just not worth the cost in the younger, middle school-age years. I don’t believe it’s worthwhile. And in terms of developing that emotional resilience, parents know better than me. I believe, especially in schools, looking into those curriculums and focusing on those topics is going to be practical. In this next generation, we’re going to need to know ourselves and our emotions to thrive in the digital world.
Q2: Is there an age where you think it’s ok for kids to be on social media?
I’m one person, with one person’s opinion, but I have spoken to a lot of parents. I have spoken to a lot of parents who have been very glad they have delayed. I have not spoken to parents who believe they wished they gave it earlier. For me, I would wait until at least high school. Our adult brains are hardly capable and it’s doing a number on our mental health.
It doesn’t mean don’t talk about it, or don’t have the conversations about it until high school if you’re on it, like sharing, and using it in your life. I could not build a better self comparison machine than social media.
To be honest, the idea that porn won’t seep in is not honest. People believe, it’s not my kid, but it’s a box with the entire internet on it. Everything that comes with the entire internet is involved with that box. We want the golden bullet – we want to have the good and not the bad. I think a more honest approach is recognizing this is really a lot and we haven’t as a society figured out good guard rails for ways of doing this thing yet. Let’s approach it honestly as a result.
Q3: Can you please discuss the YouTube rabbit hole and how does affect my brain?
YouTube is deciding with it’s algorithm, based on all your information, to figure out what’s the perfect piece of content that will get you watching. It doesn’t particularly care what is good for you, will make you smile, what will make you care, make you any of these things. What it cares about is you watching. Oftentimes that’s just like the most out-there extreme radical idea. And then we start believing what’s out there, not true things, and it messes with our sense making of the world. YouTube DF is a powerful tool so you can just turn off the recommended videos. So you can go to that one video that you meant to watch, and watch it, and then go about doing your best. And we might find now and then, as the slot machine, “I found something I really like!”, but if we turn off the recommendations we will be much happier.
Q4: I recently started my own YouTube channel, how does it affect me? I mostly post my own content.
I am an artist and a filmmaker; I use social media. I use it to promote. At your age, you can probably relate to this – you post something and then how does it feel? You are asking yourself “are people liking this?” “are people engaging with it?” I think one of the hardest things to do as someone creating content on YouTube, is to actually stick to doing to what you want to do. Not let “how many views did this get” drive what you’re making, everything you’re doing, because then you’re not really doing it because you want to do it.
We start [creating content] because I love XYZ and that’s why I’m going to make videos about it – I love it. But, then we start to get more into “this one I liked it, but it didn’t do as well, maybe I shouldn’t do it” like that and then the outside world starts to govern what you’re creating, what you’re making. And you start to care so much more about what everybody else thinks. That’s what to look out for. and it’s hard. It’s hard so get together with some friends and be like “hey we’re going to support each other”. Let’s make sure that we are actually doing this because we want to do it. If we [create content] for getting the likes then it becomes so addictive, literally addictive.
I have YouTube videos with millions of views and it’s endless. If you want to have one you want 5 and 10 there’s no number that is satisfying. It’s an endless treadmill. I want more more more more more and it never ends. So you can beat it by just posting what you actually want to post. Try and do what you actually want to share and not think about how good it does. Doing this is easier said than done.
Q5: What is the right age for kids to start gaming (i.e. Roblox)? Parent says “I’m very confused when my child says he plays for achievements.”
I mean I think that’s a similar example to what I was explaining with Halo. I just needed to get to the next level, I needed to accomplish it! Especially for young boys. Life is confusing for teenage boys and in Halo I know that “I do this one thing that is really hard, and then I get to the next level.” In life everything is scary and hard. Life doesn’t have an experience bar in that way.
What age is right? I think some games can be really educational. Games are obviously really really fun. My best advice would be – I would not compromise on the “just one more game because I’m going to lose.” The systems are designed so that you lose. When it’s dinner, it’s dinner like in the real world. Real world takes precedence over the video game world. And to recognize we are going to set limits because we know how easy it is to fall into the radicals of these games. Set and stick to those limits, make it an open conversation. Kids should have a voice in this. They should say what’s working and not working. It should be not a dictatorship, but a conversation.
Q6: How can you tell a teen is addicted to social? “My teen is says he’s not addicted to social, but he plays Discord and Roblox. I have noticed after he spends hours playing, his personality changes. He does not want to accept he is addicted.”
I am not a mental health counselor. There are many resources on our website that might be helpful. But your child has to be ready and willing and admitting that there’s a problem for any of this stuff to work. So having these conversations – talking about some of these resources, asking those questions, like “notice how it’s making you feel?” Also, they are probably afraid you’re going to take it away from them. This is a real problem that tends to exist.
Opening the conversation is the way to start. Some of these games are really disturbing because there aren’t actually enhancing something on a human level.
Are we learning something from it? Or is this just engaging? We have not approached this well as a society. Social media just happens to be a strong pull. It’s a journey. Hug your kids and tell them you love them. It’s not a solution but I have seen in my work it has been very helpful.
Q7: How can I monitor what they’re doing on their phone without infringing on their privacy ?
That question makes me laugh. Monitoring what they are doing on their phones, is infringing on their privacy. We want the best for them. This is a good example of creating trust and opening conversation.
You can try, you can put all of the monitoring software on there. But they will be able to get around all that software. Conversation can be one of the best. And for me, delay is the answer. Try to delay until high school to start introducing this stuff into lives. For me the mental health risks are not worth it.
Q8: Whenever I play video games and I am done, I always feel like there is nothing else to do and I feel bored. Then I want to play it again.
Try creating your own game, find new things. There are skills in life – video editing, photography, etc that you can choose to try rather than playing Fortnite. Find a replacement hobby, but have the expectation that nothing will hit you as hard as Fortnite.
Are you searching for a fun and creative gift for a kid in your life? Our Gift Guide goes beyond gift cards and gaming systems to give you ideas on kids activities that can still be gift-wrapped!
Whether you are shopping for your child, a niece/nephew or family friend – we’ve rounded up our top gifts for 2020. Can’t decide? Gift an ActivityHero gift card for in-person camps, online classes, or on-demand activities!
Jump into a fun musical experience in our 6-week group piano class and receive your very own Mini-CASIO Keyboard! Students join our inspiring teachers LIVE in Online Classrooms where they learn to read music, play fun songs, and express their creativity.
Perfect for your kids who love to explore their creative side through a variety of art mediums. Inspiring instructor-led classes and access to video library for on-demand content at anytime. Learners will choose from a range of lessons including sketching, painting, sculpture, crafts, culinary and digital art.
The Sony KOOV™ Camp Program is designed to be used in a variety of learning environments – whether it’s an existing robotics/coding camp, international competition or at home for enrichment activities involving design. The KOOV Kits provide kids a learning tool that is out-of-the-box ready and includes curriculum for repeated and continued growth.
Bring joy and creativity to your child, as they sew their way to confidence! This beginning sewing kit is a perfect holiday gift that will engage for days to come. And paired with our step-by-step video, children will have fun making 3 different sewing projects all by themselves!
The Ship & Make Kit from Broadway Clay includes air dry clay, a ceramic tile, tools, acrylic paints, and a pottery badge! The 30-minute YouTube instructional video will allow children/tweens to follow along and pause when they need more time. This video was recorded to meet the requirements for the Girl Scout Pottery Badge, but fun for all to participate!
Kids will learn about concept the of sound, how sound travels, use equipment to measure sound, using tuning forks, make their own musical instrument. This sound kit comes with activities the whole family can do together, make a real musical instrument and do other fun activities involved.
Turn up the volume and rock out in our 6-week group guitar class with your very own 34″ Student Size Guitar! Students join our inspiring teachers LIVE in Online Classrooms where they learn new songs, develop new skills, and express their creativity.
Fungineering keeps little ones busy learning through the holidays while having fun playing with stories and worlds that they build! With our Supply Set, children spend hours building real-world models that move – cars, merry-go-rounds, hand mixers, fire trucks and more, all on their own, or alongside our step-by-step Online or On-Demand classes.
Our Soccer Stars @HOME Virtual Classes will take soccer training to the next level. Through our digital classroom, children can see their teammates and work directly with their coach. Wrap up a soccer ball or training cones with the gift of these virtual classes for the perfect gift for your next little Messi or Morgan.
This Little Medical School toy kit offers aspiring sports surgeons a wide variety of hands-on and educational activities. Children will learn about the bones in the hand using the hand decal and stickers, make their own skeleton with our bone stickers, learn how to care for a sprain and strain with our bandage, make a ball and socket joint and hinge joint and finish by completing Tommy John surgery on our surgery board.
When your favorite song comes on the radio do you sit quietly or do you dance around and play the air drum solo? In Acoustical Engineering with Makey Makey, we will create our own interpretations of common musical instruments like bongo, piano, guitar, and create our very own dancing program. Great Christmas gift for 7yr – 11yrs old.
Give the gift of creativity! Who doesn’t remember helping decorate the tree when they were growing up? Each ornament has a special meaning attached to it, especially the handmade ones. Students will learn how to make precious Clay Ornaments. Imagine their sense of pride when giving their loved ones a treasure that they made themselves.
The perfect gift for every child – from the Minecraft obsessed to the young artist or future chef! ActivityHero has all kinds of activities for kids, including in-person camps, online classes, and printable DIY activities on-demand.
Does your child love drawing? Include an ActivityHero gift card with art supplies to take an online art class!
Get ready for Thanksgiving Week with these hands-on kids’ activities inspired by Pumpkin Spice and Thanksgiving turkeys.
Enjoy the smell of Pumpkin Spice and try one of these Thanksgiving project ideas with your kids. For a longer activity, find a 1/2 day or full day Thanksgiving camp or workshop.
What makes pumpkin spice smell so good? Betty Crocker‘s homemade recipe is combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. Mix the spices together in a small bowl and let your senses take it all in.
Kids love making and playing with slime and this recipe for pumpkin slime adds a Thanksgiving spin to it. Growing a Jeweled Rose has a simple recipe to make pumpkin slime that adds pumpkin spice to the glue and borax slime concoction.
Pumpkin pie spice play dough
Younger kids will enjoy this simple, homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Play Dough from Left Brain Craft Brain. With just a few ingredients from your kitchen, you can make this pumpkin spice scented play dough with your kids.
Sit still. Pay attention… These seem like easy concepts, but these days while kids are attending school or an online class from their bedroom or kitchen table, it’s especially hard for kids to focus and listen to a teacher who is online.
ActivityHero sought out the guidance of Chaia May, an early childhood educator and writer. Her daughter was also struggling with ADHD and was “intensely fidgety and anxious” as a child. Chaia gives us five easy ways to use sensory integration to help kids overcome wiggles and wandering thoughts.
Fiddle Away! Choose your “Tactile”
Give kids something in their hands to fiddle or squeeze. Very interestingly, pressure to the fingertips can help a child focus (imagine prayer beads) and also facilitates speech in speech-delayed children. Let them choose amongst things such as a double-balloon filled with cornstarch or a stress ball.
Push with your legs!
Tie an elastic band around the four legs of their chair. As the child pushes against it with his or her feet, they work their ligaments and muscles. It also gives kids who like to rock in their chairs an alternative so that they don’t fall over!
Sit on a bouncy chair
We have the fewest nerve endings on our bottoms, so we are most passive when sitting.
Use the bouncy ball chairs and build up their core muscles. If their core is strong, it helps their back and their shoulders. Supporting their weight helps keep their whole body strong and more alert. Also, a little bouncing break adds to vestibular stimulation.
Pedaling for mind power!
Get one of the mini-bicycles that you can peddle that fit under your table or take breaks every half hour or so and do the “bicycle” on the floor. Or use training wheels to prop up a kids bike like this clever mom on Facebook.
The magic of the bicycle is that when you are using opposing arms and legs, the mind cannot wander.
5. Carry a load and feed the muscles and mind!
Give children a load of books to carry or a few chairs to push in between classes. While they push, they are working their ligaments and large muscles. It organizes and calms the whole body and makes them stronger as well.
These tips utilize sensory integration to help the brain stay alert, calm down, re-focus on one particular thing or cancel out extraneous information.
Did you know there are three more senses in addition to the five senses we learned about in school? The first is tactile. It describes whatever sensory information is carried through our skin. Children can be either especially sensitive to touch (hypersensory) or not feel it at all (hyposensory.) Input into the tactile system can calm or stimulate as needed.
The second is proprioceptive. This describes what signals we get from receiving input into our ligaments and muscles (elbows, knees, for example.) Pushing into them can help children (particularly those who are lightweight and don’t get that input when they walk) regulate their nervous system and not bump into things or avoid things as they seek sensory input or avoid it, accordingly.
The third is vestibular. This is what we feel when we fight or resist gravity in any way: spin, twist, lean over, or rock. Children who love to spin, climb, or rock are self-stimulating to help organize their nervous system. Just leaning over can be enough to recalibrate and re-focus.
Whether you love a leisurely ride or a real off-road adventure, find a type of biking that appeals to your family. Here are 6 practical tips to get kids started with family-friendly biking.
By the ActivityHero Team with Guest Amanda Wilks
Kids are often tempted to spend hours of their unstructured play time glued to electronic devices. Instead, why not encourage them to go out for a ride? With many benefits for the body and mind, biking is a healthy outdoor activity that can be done at almost any age. Looking to try it out? Here’s expert advice on sizing, types, gear, classes, and specialized activities like mountain biking.
1. Get Fitted
The most important step is to measure your child’s Inseam. A bicycle inseam (or leg length) is not the same as a clothing inseam.
To measure, grab a book and a tape measurer. The child should stand with her back against a wall, spreading her feet about 6 inches apart, either barefoot or in socks. Place a book between her legs, close to the crotch to mimic the bike seat.
Measure from the top of the book (that is, the spine) down to the floor. Choosing a slightly larger bike is fine in order to leave a little room to grow into. Avoid choosing a size which is too far off the mark for your child, which would impede his ability to learn correct riding habits and even expose him to greater danger.
2. Choose the Right Bike
Depending on your interests, there are three main styles of bike: road, mountain, and “hybrid” (a blend between the two), depending on your interests.
If you’re interested in mountain biking, according to MountainBikeReviewed, you can easily find and buy sturdy bikes for less than $300, like the Mongoose Statis Comp, the Villano Blackjack 2.0 or the Schwinn High Timber. Other great mountain bike brands which are geared towards kids are Spawn, Cleary, Early Rider, Pello and Stampede. Many mountain bikes are, contrary to opinion, quite cost-effective.
For road bikes, your local bike shop should have recommendations. Online retailers like Amazon will often have many customer reviews posted. There are also online outfits like BikeExchange if you prefer doing research online.
No matter what style you go with, when the child stands over the bike, there should be a 1-2 “ space between the crotch and the top bar of the bike. Also, “a beginner should be able to plant both feet flat on the ground when getting off the bike, which ensures safety and helps with confidence,” recommends Nick Pavlakis of Pedalheads, a learn-to-ride bike camp based in Seattle, Portland, Denver and Chicago.
Ideally, the right bike choice should be made based on the wheel size, not the frame size. Use the chart below:
Wheel Size 12″ —> Age 2 -3 —> Height 2’10 – 3’4
Wheel Size 14″ —> Age 3 -4 —> Height 3’1 – 3’7
Wheel Size 16″ —> Age 4-5 —> Height 3’7 – 4’0
Wheel Size 20’ —> Age 5-8 —> Height 4’0 – 4’5
Wheel Size 24′ —> Age 8-11 —> Height 4’5 – 4’9
Wheel Size 26′ —> Age 11+ —> Height 4’9
These are rough approximations and, since every child is unique, you should use these numbers only as a guide.
3. Get Essential Gear
A good helmet which protects the brain is the single most important safety feature you must have. Make sure it fits, covers the entirety of the forehead and is properly ventilated. According to Pavlakis of Pedalheads, “research shows that up to 90% of fatal bicycle crashes result from head trauma,” so using a properly fitted and certified helmet will protect the head and brain from damage, which might save your child’s life. Note that helmets are mandatory for children under the age of 16 in most areas. “Check that there is no more than a two-finger gap between your eyebrows and the front part of the helmet,” advises Pavlakis.
Layer up with season-appropriate clothing. In summer, light clothing with good arm and leg coverage will protect from sun, and in cooler temperatures, don’t forget gloves, warm socks, and a wind-proof shell.
For urban and suburban biking, invest in a solid bicycle lock.
If you want to take the whole family along but have younger children who aren’t yet able to pedal on their own steam, the most common options are: Trailers (a wheeled carriage which attaches in back of a bicycle), Pedal-less Bikes (also called Balance Bikes, where kids push off the ground to move forward), and Trail-a-Bikes (a seat plus single-wheel that attaches to a bicycle, allowing pedaling without steering capabilities).
4. Find Classes or Camps
Classes and camps will generally cover the four basic rules of bike riding:
Riding in a straight line without deviating from it;
Looking back without losing balance or swerving;
Stopping the bike using the brakes, taking into account the surroundings;
Good speed control and adapting it in accordance with the terrain.
After mastering these basics, group classes are a great way for kids to learn important skills like giving hand signals, negotiating hilly terrain, understanding road signs and dangers, following traffic flow, and practicing proper spacing between riders.
As a side note, older kids will benefit from learning some everyday maintenance routines, like checking the bike tire’s air pressure, putting the chain back together, and testing the brakes, often covered in more advanced classes or camps.
More inclined to teach on your own? Here’s a helpful guide. Remember to read up on safety do’s and don’ts. If you get to the stage where a child is nearly ready to remove the training wheels, Pavlakis advises parents to take their time: “Don’t rush the process. Taking the training wheels off too early can become a negative experience for the child and may lead to resistance in learning.”
5. Mountain Biking
Mountain biking is a sport that is growing rapidly in popularity by offering excitement, challenge, and unique outdoor settings. To get kids started with mountain biking, you should remember that at the outset, your child might not have the physical endurance or the attention span needed to finish a certain route. Try increasing trip difficulty and length gradually to make the learning process smoother.
First, make sure your child is very capable and comfortable traversing flat, easy terrain. Then transition to doubletrack dirt trails with varying degrees of difficulty and topography. Plan ahead to reduce the chance of accidents. Initially choose short, fun routes that you know well and that you feel your kid can completewith relative ease. Have fun increasing the level of difficulty over time!
6. Find Focus, Stay Safe
Pavlakis recommends that beginning bikers “maintain focus and awareness at all times,” of the conditions on their road or trail to reinforce safe habits. Biking is a perfect way to leave behind the distractedness of everyday life and be more fully engaged in the present. Have fun!
On a roll? Check updated schedules and reviews of popular biking camps and classes in your area on ActivityHero.
About the author
Amanda Wilks is a writer, veteran MTB rider and sports advocate. Her passion for mountain biking dates back to her childhood, when she would join her dad every weekend for a quick ride uphill. She is now addicted to the sport and she never misses a trail. Learn more about Amanda on Twitter.
If you have children in either the Atlanta Public Schools, DeKalb County School District, Decatur School District, or the Fulton County School District, then this is the resource for you. Here we have the 2021-2022 school calendars for all of the districts for you to see exactly when your kid is out of school so you can sign them up for their favorite activities.
A resource for family-focused entertainment and positivity during COVID-19. The blog, created by two Bay Area teens, is 100% free and all donations benefit the non-profit, Frontline Foods.
Two Bay Area high-schoolers, Katherine Kudriavtsev and Sarah Emberling, cooped up at home and stuck in quarantine, decided to use their time for something other than scrolling through TikTok. That’s how QuaranTEEN was born, a nonprofit creative entertainment platform for teenagers and parents to utilize during the quarantine. QuaranTEEN was created for the purpose of sharing people’s stories, spreading positivity, and providing a way for people to stay in touch and connected despite the shelter-in-place.
“COVID-19 is not only a pandemic, but also a psychological pandemic. Lots of people are feeling stressed, scared, lonely, or hopeless, because of the health or economic problems caused by COVID. We created QuaranTEEN to combat these feelings of negativity. We wanted to find a way to give everyone a creative outlet and safe space to cope with their feelings,” Founder Katherine Kudriavtsev states.
QuaranTEEN is a website that contains many fun and interactive features such as a teen blog, a community forum, entertainment quizzes, as well as a pen-pal exchange.
“Being stuck at home for months has been really hard: I think most, if not all, teenagers miss being able to go out with their friends and meet new people. We wanted to include a Pen Pal project on QuaranTEEN to give teens a way to make new friends from their very own couch, a way to continue to socialize but still adhere to quarantine and social distancing laws,” says founder Katherine Kudriavtsev.
Outside of being a platform for teens, QuaranTEEN also aims to provide relief for working parents by producing multilingual reading videos to entertain younger children, as well as a separate blog page dedicated to helping parents share tips and advice regarding childcare. There have been over 20 reading videos featured on QuaranTEEN’s “Kids and Parents” page, in English, French, and Russian, providing entertainment to children of all languages and cultures.
“As much as everyone loves children, there are times when you just need a break, parents included! Our reading videos were made just for that! A quick, fun, and educational way to entertain your child to give you your well deserved break,” says Founder Sarah Emberling.
The Kids/Parent Page and the Teen Blog Page also give teens an interactive opportunity to volunteer as blog writers or readers for the site.
Founders Katherine Kudriavtsev and Sarah Emberling add on, “We have already received numerous amounts of teen volunteers: readers and blog writers from all over the world, reaching as far as from the Americas, to Europe, to Asia, but we are always looking for more people to become content creators on our site and expand our team! We welcome anyone who’s interested, passionate about writing, having their voice heard, or simply wants to do their part in helping people during this difficult time, to apply and join our QuaranTEAM.”
Our volunteers share their personal reasons for joining the team, “QuaranTEEN reminds us that there is more to this pandemic than just statistics and death counts. At its heart, the thing that is going to get us through this is people. Not statistics. Not feel-good advertisements. Not corporations. People. By writing for QuaranTEEN, I hope to be able to be that reminder. A reminder that behind all the sorrow and death, people are still there, ready to reach out and offer their support,” says Talia Ostacher, blog writer for QuaranTEEN and incoming senior at Henry M. Gunn High School.
Fellow blog writer Julianna Chang agrees, “During this time, it’s essential that teens have a creative outlet to post, share their feelings, and interact with other teens. I often find myself bored and wanting to do something useful, but I can’t seem to find the right place to go and spend my time.”
“I think it’s a great opportunity overall to help others during this time in a unique way,” Los Gatos student Priyanka Pulikeshi says.
Reader and Blog Writer, Clementine Devaux of Menlo Park High School states, “I really love the website and how there is so much to offer: quizzes, blogs, and more! It’s really fun to be apart of this, so I can help as many people as I can during quarantine, whether it be giving people ideas for things to do to cure their boredom or donating.”
Although QuaranTEEN is 100% free for use, QuaranTEEN accepts donations through their GoFundMe. All donation proceeds go directly to supporting Frontline Foods, a non-profit organization aiming to aiding local small businesses/restaurants that have been hit hard by shelter-in-place measures, as well as feeding front line healthcare workers. QuaranTEEN’s mission is to raise as much money for Frontline Foods as possible, to help support local Bay Area businesses, as well as feeding the essential heroes who continue to work in this time. The recently published QuaranTEEN has already raised $300 for Frontline Foods, and is aiming to get to $1,000 by the end of the month.
“Frontline Foods is an amazing non-profit organization. It helps keep small businesses from being economically destroyed and shut down by the pandemic, and it helps feed and boost the morale of essential workers, all at once! If you’ve enjoyed using QuaranTEEN, like our initiative and site, or have the means donate, it would mean so much to us if you could help us reach our goal of $1,000 for Frontline Foods by donating to QuaranTEEN’s Go Fund Me!” Founders Katherine Kudriavtsev and Sarah Emberling say.