Beth Blecherman is the founder of TechMamas, a community that engages its followers in discussions on technology, social media, and consumer electronics. Follow her @TechMama and on YouTube at TechMamas.
It was one of those defining moments as a parent where I was pushed to the limit and came back smiling. One of my sons was tired after a long day at school and didn’t want to do his homework, even though an important assignment was due the next day. I started out with a hug and positive reinforcement, suggesting a skateboarding break to gather his thoughts and get a second wind. Nice try, but no dice. Next, I reminded him that he earned his cell phone privileges by completing his homework. This discussion of reward and tech consequences also fell on deaf ears. Nothing was working, and I was about to lose my cool. As a last resort, I tried humor. Not juvenile “pencil up the nose” humor, but something high tech. It was at that moment that I started down the path to find tech solutions for using humor to inspire my kids to do their homework. Here are some of my favorites:
Use Funny YouTube Videos:
What I did to defuse the standoff between my son and me was use a video he had showed me a few weeks earlier. It was a song by Korean rap star Psy called ”Gangham Style.” Just as my son thought I was going to yell at him, I quickly whipped out my smartphone (a mom’s best friend) and brought up the Psy Gangham Style video. The great thing about that video beyond the catchy tune is that it’s a satire of that music genre. My son and his friends always laughed while watching the video. He was so shocked that his mom was holding up the Gangham style video and playing the music loudly that he started walking away. I followed him, increasing the volume until we both started laughing so hard we were tearing up. Tense situation abated, and my son finally said “OK, I’ll do my homework”. Which is good because the next step of my strategy was to threaten him with a TechMama Gangham style dance. I am not the only mom that knows the Gangham Style dance moves.
Use Therapeutic Humor:
I also looked into other uses of humor and learning and found information online about Mary Kay Morrison, an independent consultant who works in the field of humor studies and brain health. Her website Quest For Humor helped me find ways to offer humor homework breaks including telling jokes or riddles and silly jump breaks on a yoga ball for movement. She also recommended others sites such as Funny Literacy by Steve Wilson, Jokes and Riddles for Children and Giggle Poetry. But it was the video from Therapist Kimberley Clayton Blaine that helped me realize that “children learn best when the experience is positive, that laughter relieves stress and loosens muscles.”
Use Funny Apps:
Instead of nagging, I tried to shake it up when I needed to “remind” my kids to do their homework. For maximum giggles, I picked one of the funny designs from the Mouth Off app and put that over my mouth as I said “homework time.”
Use Tech To Read Humorous Books:
My 4th grade twins need to read each night as part of their homework. For fun we like to read books that use humor such as Tom Angleberger’s The Strange Case of The Origami Yoda. One of my twin fourth graders likes to read paper books. But I found the other would rather either read the book on the family tablet or listen to the audio book version while building Legos. I chose to do what works for each child.
While one of my favorite things to do is read with my kids, it’s difficult to consistently find the time. So I am also investigating the new Immersive Reading feature of the Kindle Fire HD that offers the combination of an e-Book, professional narration and real world highlighting. Any Whispersync for Voice-ready Kindle book and any Whispersync for Voice-ready Audible book can be used for Immersion Reading on the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, Kindle Fire HD. This would allow me to do homework with one of my sons while the other can get a good Halloween laugh while using Immersive Reading to enjoy Barbara Robinson’s Best Halloween Ever.
Show Age Appropriate Funny Posts Or Photos Online As Laugh Break:
When I have writer’s block, I like to visit my favorite funny sites including The Bloggess or get a laugh at Shttymom.com. While it is hard to find age appropriate humor sites for kids on the web, there are young bloggers such as Ruby Karp of Hello Giggles who are fun to follow. I find that using Bing or Google’s Safe Search features help find age appropriate humor sites on the web. I also make time to watch any online humor I find before I show it to my kids to make sure it’s family friendly. When all else fails, there is always Cheezburger.com’s cat pictures. The kids enjoy seeing that even cats don’t like math homework.
What age appropriate humor websites, apps or technology do you recommend? I am always looking for new laughs for my family!
Image courtesy of iStock Photo, NickS
This post is part of a series on the digital dilemmas of raising digital kids. We’d like to hear some of the parenting issues technology has raised for you. Please let us know in the comments, or on our Mashable Lifestyle Facebook page. You can also follow and tweet us @mashlifestyle.