• Edric and Joy Mendoza: Screen Time Isn't Bad if It Serves a Purpose
    IMAGE @joytmendoza/Instagram
  • At the launch of the Philippine Homeschool Conference, happening on October 7, SmartParenting.com.ph got a chance to chat with Edric Mendoza, whom you may know as the lead anchor of On the Money on ANC. He also happens to be the president of the Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands (HAPI).

    Edric and his wife, Joy, are homeschooling parents, and they use screens as part of their children’s education. They shared tips below that even non-homeschooling moms and dads will find useful especially when it comes to the use of gadgets and screen time rules. 

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    1. Give them other things to do.
    One of the best ways to keep a child off gadgets is to provide him with more productive activities. Joy says screens take a backseat when it comes to the kids’ day-to-day activities and responsibilities, which include personal reading time, getting outdoor exercise, taking care of pets and practicing musical instruments.

    “Probably in a day, they don't go for more than an hour [of screen time]. There are days when they don't have screen time,” Joy says. “It depends on whether I think they're able to focus and be productive with all the other responsibilities they have to get done. If they're getting those things done, then I don't mind letting them use devices.” 

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    2. Be smart about the apps your child is allowed to use
    “I don't think screen time is bad as long as it's purposeful. I think the danger in unmonitored screen time is you don't know what your child is doing on his device,” says Joy. The Mendoza kids, who range from preschooler to teen, need approval from mom and dad on the apps they use.

    “It's not that we want to control them, but they just decided on their own that they like it to be that way,” Joy adds. 

    The couple spoke to their kids, Elijah (the panganay), EdanTitusTiana, and Catalina (the bunso), about how to be smart technology users. “We told our kids, ‘This is the guideline. You need to go on wisdom, stature, favor with God and favor with man.’ That's a Bible verse that we use. ‘You assess. If you're gonna get an app, ask yourself, ‘Is this going to help me grow in those four areas? Is this a good app?’”

    The discussion will help guide kids to decide for themselves whether an app or a YouTube video is good for them or not. “We need to train them first,” adds Joy. “We need to teach them values.” 

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    3. Use technology as a tool to help your child grow.
    Gadgets have a bad reputation for making it too easy for kids to spend hours in front of screens. There are good sides and bad sides to technology, says Joy. The key is to use technology for good. 

    One of the benefits of technology is it allows for personalized learning. There's a big chance there’s an app or site out there for your child’s specific interest, whether that's bugs or storytelling. 

    Technology is a useful tool for homeschool parents, Joy said. “I think a lot of parents feel like, ‘How can I teach my child when I’m not an expert in every subject area?’ It's a valid concern. The truth is we aren't experts in every subject area, so we have to be very resourceful. We are in the day and age where we have the Internet -- some online programs or apps can supplement our instruction. Utilizing those is important. It allows our children to have an education that’s not limited by our capacity.” 

    Their son Elijah, for example, has an interest in areas of math that are hard for Joy to teach so online programs can be a big help. “My other son, his idea of screen time is learning different languages, so that's what he does. So, it's not just playing games. Technology allows our children to have an education that’s not limited by our capacity,” she says.

    The Mendoza household's favorite fun and educational sites and apps:
    KhanAcademy.org - free educational site for kids to learn math, science, computer programming, history, and more
    Toca Labs - an interactive, beautifully-designed science app for kids 
    Stack the Countries - educational geography app for kids

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