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Inoculate Children Against Cyberbullying With New “Off The Grid” Game

By on August 18, 2017 in Central Texas, Featured, Health News Texas with 0 Comments

“The Off The Grid box ensures there is a two-way conversation, because parents and children take turns asking each other questions. Photo: Off the Grid

by Adrienne Lallo/Lallo Communications

If you have kids heading back to school, you’re likely caught up on the shots they need before entering class.

But have you vaccinated your child for an ever-expanding social media and digital environment? Consider providing a booster shot of common sense and support to help youngsters ward off unwanted contacts, including electronic aggression by classmates.

Two Austin working moms, long-time friends Julie Farnie and Kate Scholz,devised a snappily packaged conversation starter game for families. Photo: Off the Grid

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), while our digitally enriched environment gives children the benefits of early learning opportunities and knowledge, evidence suggests a downside. If not appropriately managed, time online can interfere with sleep, attention and learning and expose children to inappropriate or unsafe content. Screen time has also been linked to increased rates of obesity and depression.

Two Austin working moms, long-time friends Julie Farnie and Kate Scholz, alert to the risks associated with digital media, devised a snappily packaged conversation starter game for families.

Off The Grid is literally a box to hold your phones during meals or other “quality time,” and a deck of cards that poses questions in four categories: Social Media Smarts; Phone Etiquette and Boundaries; Online Safety; and Just for Fun. Adults and children take turns asking questions and listening to each other’s answers.

Game Aims to Increase Safety, Improve Health

Several of the questions check in on players’ sense of emotional safety.

Off The Grid is literally a box to hold your phones during meals or other “quality time.” Photo: Off the Grid

Without a formal definition, it is difficult to quantify the amount of cyberbullying among students, according to the National Institutes on Health. The Cyberbullying Research Center defines it as when someone “repeatedly harasses, mistreats, or makes fun of another person online or while using cell phones or other electronic devices.” The center found that one in three students reported experiencing cyberbullying in a 30-day period. The most common form was spreading online rumors (19.4%), followed by mean or hurtful comments (12.8%). 

Parents needn’t wait for signs of bullying to surface. Farnie, of Off The Grid, suggests that prior to the opening of school, parents set aside time to discuss digital habits and give kids strategies for avoiding or deflecting harassment.

“The Off The Grid box ensures there is a two-way conversation, because parents and children take turns asking each other questions,” Farnie said. “It should be fun, and it also should help parents emphasize that they want to always be informed if kids see any information or get any messages that make them sad or scared.”

The Off The Grid box is available online for $25 at www.offthegridbox.com. Look there for a free set of questions specifically about bullying.


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