Due to the impact of the pandemic, most children are at home this summer and socially distanced from the world, and, as a result, parents are being more considerate when it comes to their entertainment and educational needs.
HCM City has extended its social distancing period due to the latest COVID-19 outbreak until further notice.
|Parents can teach them learning English via smart devices. Photo Hoàng Như
The summer break thus has become more "quiet" for children as they have been affected by physical distancing, quarantines and nationwide school closures. Family trips and outings have had to be postponed.
Ngọc Anh, 38, resident of Bình Thạnh District, told Việt Nam News that she had no choice but to allow her daughter to use a smart tablet more frequently.
“It is inconvenient now to call for a helper, so my husband and I have decided to do everything ourselves. We initially thought that working from home would make it easier to look after our kids. However, busy work schedules have gotten the best of us,” she said.
“We tried rotating our free time with our daughter, but both of us knew we needed to spend more quality time with her,” she added.
YouTube Kids is among the best options for most parents. It is a separate, children-friendly version of the Internet’s leading destination for video. Parental control embedded in the YouTube Kids mobile app or website makes it safer for kids under 13 years old.
“In addition to selecting age-appropriate programmes, I can set the timer for my son to play on the app, and that is the best feature,” Thanh Tùng, 42, a resident of District 2, said.
His son plays YouTube videos via the TV, rather than on other smart devices, and turns up the volume so that all family members can see what he is watching.
Tùng’s son, like many kids in HCM City, is restricted to a maximum amount of one hour of YouTube Kids, often after lunch or dinner, per day.
The YouTube Kids app offers a variety of programmes with catchy music, engaging content and knowledge necessary to children’s development in the new era. Nonetheless, most videos that kids watch are primarily entertainment, not educational content, and many parents have voiced their concern about YouTube Kids' safety.
“I sometimes have caught my children watching with fascination a YouTuber doing dangerous acts. Since most kids are not fully aware of the consequences if they did the same act, I began to worry and started learning about online videos my children liked,” Hoàng Thái, 35, said.
|Parents need to control and supervise their kids watching YouTubers who perform dangerous acts.VNS Photo Hoàng Như
"It takes both children’s discipline and parents’ knowledge about the platform to make YouTube Kids, or similar sites, a safer place," Thái added.
Most parents would like their kids to read books or participate in meaningful activities such as playing an instrument, learning how to draw, and learning a foreign language. However, as parents lack the time, and YouTube actually offers quality lessons, it is crucial to make the best out of the platform.
|Children now study at home due to COVID 19. VNS Photo Ly Ly Cao
“Instead of blocking all 'bad' contents, I strategically choose some controversial videos and spend time to point out the good and bad in each content for my kids. After patiently using this method several times and explaining how fun it is to pursue a passion, in this case, learning English, my children now have a better understanding of what they should watch,” Thái said.
“Of course, I do control some aspects of the site they are using but I am glad my children are enjoying learning English through songs. I hope to see more educational yet fun content from YouTube Kids' content creators in the future. The selection is huge, but not many are of high quality,” he added.
Understanding the nature of online platforms such as YouTube and having clear, supportive communication with kids is very essential, especially during the pandemic when many children are at home.
Earlier this month, the Government launched a national programme to protect children online in an attempt to make the internet a healthy and safe place for children to learn, socialise and express themselves.
The programme provides children with age-appropriate knowledge and skills to help them identify bad content and protect themselves when online.
It also helps to maintain a healthy network environment, develop an ecosystem of Vietnamese applications for children to learn, socialise and express themselves in a safe and creative way.
In addition, network operators and digital platform providers such as Google, Facebook, and Zalo apply artificial intelligence technology and big data analysis to filter videos and clips with malicious content.
Some children and young people may be feeling more isolated, anxious, bored and uncertain during this time.
According to psychologists, children who have to stay at home all day can become easily irritated and restrained. If they use technology devices for a long time, it can easily lead to dependence, negatively affecting their physical, psychological and comprehensive development.
In order to provide children with more relaxing activities at home while reducing the use of smartphones, housework chores have become an option.
|Parents can teach their children how to do household chores and pursue new hobbies to help reduce the time spent on their smartphones. VNS Photo Ly Ly Cao
Thanh Diệu, 46, told Việt Nam News that schools and extracurricular classes were closed due to the pandemic, and her children are now staying at home and playing video games on smartphones and watching TV.
|Extracurricular classes are not being held this summer due to COVID-19. VNS Photo Hoàng Như
"A day in my children's lives consists of activities such as watching TV, reading comics and playing video games. After a week of repeated content, they get bored and start seeking new things. That is when I teach them how to do chores and plant trees. These activities interestingly offer a platform for my family to connect and I am grateful for that," Diệu said.
"I teach my daughter to take care of monstera, cactus and succulent, among other plants in our humble backyard. It only takes less than 30 minutes, and this has become a daily leisure we look forward to every day."
Diệu's daughter, Minh Như, said: “I feel a little bit sad that I have to spend most of my summer at home. I miss the last summer when I got to travel to Đà Lạt. Now my mom has helped me build a dream garden of my own."
Diệu's son needs more time to adapt to the new lifestyle but she is glad that he no longer watches TV all day.
"Both of them are now more willing to help me with house chores and pursue new hobbies," Diệu added.
Thanh Trúc, 42, who lives in Tân Phú District, has "taken advantage of" her son's passion for spaghetti and all things cheesy and set up cooking sessions with her child, with recipes from the Internet.
“Cooking with my son or watching cooking videos on YouTube with him is a great way to control my son’s personal screen time on the smartphone and video games,” Trúc said, adding that spending quality time with her son is healthy for their relationship.
"I have the chance to experience different aspects of the life of a 12-year-old that I never got to do when I sent him to daytime school!" she added.
Being creative is another skill that most parents need to pick up during the pandemic. The journey to understand children and what they really need might be challenging, but patience is the key to make days at home memorable.
"Parents should not think of it as a duty to make their children occupied, but rather as a precious opportunity to get close and connect with their young family members," Trúc said. VNS