It’s summertime and your kids are running free. Luckily, they’re still only a Relay away. But what if you, the parent, don’t want to carry around two devices? When you told us your concerns, we listened. Did you know you can communicate with your Relay right from your smartphone with PTT (push to talk) walkie talkie app functionality via the Relay app? You said you didn’t want to carry around a second device every day—and we agree!
When you update your Relay app to the latest version and open it, Relay chat should be the first thing you see. You can tap and hold the push to talk button and communicate to all Relays in your group. Now, we heard your concerns about Relay messages blaring from your pocket during meetings and at work, so messages will only come through to your smartphone when the Relay app is open. But we wouldn’t leave your Relays with no way to reach you!
When you press and hold the volume button on your Relay, it sends a notification, or channel alert, to your phone telling you which Relay is trying to get in touch with you. Then, you can open the app and start chatting. Now you can keep your pockets light and keep tabs on the little ones during your summer vacation!
Pro Tip: Make sure the media volume on your phone isn’t muted to get the best in-app Relay experience!
Relay is more than a communication solution. It’s more than a walkie talkie and better than a kids phone. And the best way to show that is to see it in action, so we created a video showing how Relay can free our kids from tempting screen time and have fun using their imaginations, connecting with the people around them—even on a gloomy Saturday “spoiled” by clouds and rain.
Many of us on the Relay team are parents who can appreciate Relay firsthand. Seeing your child seize freedom and exercise their independent play muscles is a powerful and joyful experience, especially when you know they’re still only a button-press away.
And that peace of mind goes both ways. When kids can engage with their parents, whether in the next room or a few streets away, it enables connection without sacrificing independence. And it makes it easier to talk. One silly question may not be grounds for a phone call to Mom and Dad, but Relay is easy, casual, and fun—for silly questions and serious ones.
Even during rainy days spent indoors, Relay can enable kids to step away from screen time find joy in connecting with the people around them. When kids are surrounded by screens, apps, smart assistants, and games, they don’t get bored the way they used to—the kind of bored that inspires pretend play, family time, and making their own fun.That makes it hard to pull away and engage with other people, and harder to engage in creative play.
Relay is a different kind of technology. It brings people together without distractions or screens to get in the way. Check out the video below to see how Relay can make play meaningful, in rain or shine.
https://blog.relaypro.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/ok_shelly_tn.jpg300695Victoria Senghttps://blog.relaypro.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/relay_blog.svgVictoria Seng2018-06-26 18:14:572021-04-02 11:24:47Your kid’s smartest assistant: OK Shelly!
In late 2017, we let you in on a secret: Relay, our cell phone alternative for kids, was almost ready. It was new and unknown—there was nothing like it on the market: just trackers, phones, and other screened devices aimed at kids. Though they were for kids, they were still just trackers (which kids don’t want,) and phones (which we don’t want our kids to have yet.) We wanted to make something different. So we made Relay.
We wanted to show everyone what Relay could do for their family, so we created a video that showcases the Relay lifestyle and it’s amazing potential. Our creative team made sure the video showed off all the freedom and fun that Relay can unlock for kids today—and the peace of mind it can provide parents.
“Most of the shoot was outdoors, which is where Relay kids want to be,” our Creative Director Ben told us. Whether biking, playing sports with friends, or playing make-believe, the outdoors represent the freedom that we had as kids, that we wish our kids could have—if only we could be sure they were safe.
Relay enables that safety and peace of mind without being a distraction to play as a smartphone or even a kid’s phone would be. Check out our Introduction to Relay in the video below.
Fun fact: The outdoor scenes in this video were filmed on a horse farm!
We created Relay as solution for parents and kids in the digital age. It offers communication with the people who matter and eliminates all the risks, tradeoffs, and drawbacks of screens. To help us in our goal of keeping kids’ tech and media diet age-appropriate and healthy, we’ve partnered with like-minded organizations such as Common Sense, a nonprofit dedicated to helping parents find smart media choices for kids, teaching digital literacy and citizenship, and standing up for kids’ rights and privacy in the internet age.
Organizations like Common Sense are valuable partners in the journey towards making parents’ lives easier and kids’ lives healthier. Just as valuable are the people who transform our commitment to safety, privacy, and family-friendly values into policy. Today we talk to Pete the crusading lawyer about privacy, family, and lawyering for a good cause.
Lawyers are often stereotyped as stodgy and boring, but your colleagues say you are actually a lot of fun to be around. How does that make you feel?
I’m honored. I’ve always wanted to be the fun “stodgy, boring lawyer,” so this is extremely gratifying.
Relay is a very personal endeavor for the organization. What is your experience with screens, phones and playtime in your own family?
In my house, everyone thinks everyone else has a screen addiction, while at the same time firmly believing their own usage is perfectly reasonable. We’re probably already doomed.
Now onward to the good lawyer stuff! Let’s dig into the state of privacy and data security in today’s society. Why is this a rising issue?
Some of the world’s most successful companies are built to make money off you and your family’s every action, thought and move. If that doesn’t raise interest and concern over privacy, nothing will. If you want nerve-wracking detail, buy lunch for someone you know in the data analytics business and listen to the possibilities.
What was Relay’s approach to dealing with this issue?
We are blazing a path that we hope others follow. We don’t want to know what your family is doing, or saying, or where it’s going. Families shouldn’t have to face unfair ultimatums with technology—they should be able to have the convenience and benefits that tech provides without their every interaction being saved, monetized, and used to sell them things.
What are some of the trade-offs Relay made in order to stay true to our mission of safety and privacy?
Why should retaining less data about our users and choosing not to monetize that information be viewed as a “trade-off”? And yet, that’s exactly how it’s likely to be seen today. Hopefully, as we join with other like-minded companies and organizations, it won’t be viewed the same way in the future.
You’re a worldly lawyer. Is it unusual for a company/product to treat something this carefully?
I’ve been very fortunate to be part of some large companies full of high integrity leadership that cared about the world and wanted to do the right thing. In my experience, the challenge for a company doesn’t come from its intentions as it starts the journey, but from the lack of appreciation of the temptations that evolve later. For example, even if you collect a lot of user information with no desire to ever use it, eventually some very smart people are going to suggest ways you can turn that information into money. If you don’t consider that on Day 1, you can find things look a lot different on Day 3,650.
For fun: who is your favorite TV lawyer?
Oh no—the last thing I want in my life is more law! I always thought it would be fun to be Fox Mulder in the X-Files. Saving the world while having a full head of hair—that’s the stuff balding, corporate lawyer dreams are made of.
https://blog.relaypro.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/privacy-tn-1.jpg300695Victoria Senghttps://blog.relaypro.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/relay_blog.svgVictoria Seng2018-06-20 13:35:512021-04-02 11:24:58Pete talks privacy: How Relay is making a difference by respecting users
If you’re a parent with young children, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the conflicting advice, instructions, and warnings about screen time you find online. There’s a lot of information out there, but who can you trust, especially when it comes to raising your child? To clear things up and set the record straight, we consulted an expert. Dr. Meghan Owenz is a psychologist and professor, a mother of two, and runs the Screen Free Parenting website with her husband. We asked her about her website, her own experience with screen-free parenting, and what she recommends to other parents out there who are wondering if—or how—their family should go screen-free.
Tell us a little bit about Screen Free Parenting and your mission.
I run the Screen Free Parenting website with my husband. We have two young children who are 6- and 3-years-old. We started the site to give parents, grandparents and educators a place to connect with others who believe children do best with limited screen-time. We do two main things on our site on a weekly basis: an article about some recent research related to parenting—especially around screens—and an article with five screen-free things our kids did in the last week. We hope this serves to inspire other parents. I have developed a system of prioritizing children’s activities that encourages parents and caregivers to put more weight on activities tied to positive child development. The SPOIL system highlights social activities, free play, outdoor time, independent work (like chores), and literacy-based activities. We hope families can focus on these fun activities as a way of limiting screen-time battles.
What are some of the negative effects of screens on children that you aim to reverse through Screen Free Parenting?
For young children, there are five main negative associations with excessive recreational screen-time that we highlight. We call them the reasons to SWAAT screen-time:
Sleep: excessive screen time is associated with later bedtimes and less overall sleep
Weight: because of the relationship between excessive screen time and excess weight
Attention: entertainment-based screen-time has been associated with decreased attentional abilities
Aggression: research shows watching aggressive programming (as many children’s shows feature) is associated with real-world aggression
Talking: for young toddlers and infants, excessive screen-time is associated with smaller vocabularies and a slower expansion of vocabulary.
For the research and more information on those reasons, see this article, which is one of the first we ever wrote for our site: Find it here.
If a parent is trying to reduce or eliminate screens in their kids’ lives, where should they start?
We work with a lot of parents who don’t start out screen-free or screen-lite. Rather, they found screen-time spiraled out of control and now they are trying to reel it back in after noticing some negative consequences in their own children. That is not the parent’s fault. That’s the way the technology is made now: it is designed to reel and keep kids in. It’s no wonder they have trouble shifting away from it. There are two approaches that seem to work well:
Going cold turkey for a period of time to see how your child’s behavior changes
Cutting negative content and bad habits, like screen-time before bed, in the morning and in the car.
For four simple ways to select quality shows, see this article. For four key times to eliminate screens, see this article.
How do you recommend responding to the protests of “my friend has/watches XYZ” when parenting screen-free?
If parents believe going screen-lite or screen-free is best for their child, I think it is much easier to deal with those type of complaints. In our house, we really don’t get those complaints yet as our children are quite young. However, I know they are coming as there are certain types of screen-time I will never tolerate (i.e., violence). I would simply explain that our family values certain things more than screen-time or that type of screen-time, therefore we don’t see that. Every family has different values and rules. If the parent is confident in their limit setting, the child will follow. I also recommend parents seek support from one another on these issues. We have created two forums for parents to do just that: A Facebook Closed Community Group and a Forum on our website.
What do kids typically see as the biggest “miss” by not having or using screens regularly?
I don’t see one! If I felt my kids were missing something positive, I would give it to them. As my children get a little older, I’m sure I’ll feel they are missing things (perhaps social interaction) and I’ll give them appropriate screen-time for that purpose. I feel my kids are getting so much more by being screen-free at these ages. They get long interrupted blocks of imaginative play, creativity, good sleep, and the ability to entertain themselves for a start.
What are some of the positive changes you’ve observed in families after seeing screen-time eliminated or reduced?
Families typically report that they see very positive changes in their own children when they reduce or eliminate screen-time. There is usually a period of adjustment where their young child’s behavior is worse (more tantrums, etc.) while they adjust. After that period, parents have reported a calmer, more content child who sleeps easier and becomes incredibly involved in their own play. Watching a child play in their own imaginative way (not by replicating or reprocessing a film) is a beautiful thing that all parents enjoy.
How does a parent’s use of screens and technology affect his or her children?
Greatly! Parents are the model. I follow a lot of rules in my own life around screens that I might not be so particular about if I didn’t have children. I don’t allow phones at the table, don’t use them in my car, and always put my phone down when someone comes to talk to me. These rules are for me, not my children, since they don’t have phones. However, they are the ways I would want my children to treat me, so I provide that same courtesy to them. There is a research study conducted by Dr. Jenny Radesky which observed parents in fast-food restaurants—it found that children really had to amp up their misbehavior to get their parents’ attention when the parents were using digital devices. Another study of infant-parent dads found that infant attention span was affected by their parents looking down at their phone during play time.
What element of screens do you think is the biggest culprit of negative behavior in kids? (TV shows, texting, social media, etc.)
I don’t have a great answer to this question. I take a developmental approach to tech and kids. I think different types of tech affect them differently at different ages. For young children, I am concerned about TV shows and interactive games. For adolescents, I would be most concerned about social media, as research suggests the more time teens spend with screens, the less happy they are. I also think it depends greatly on the kid. As a parent, you need to be a little bit of a scientist with a sample size of one. Watch your child and his or her habits and modify things regularly as you note positive or negative effects.
Is there a recommended or realistic age that screens start becoming a part of a child’s life?
Absolutely! I think it is different for each particular kid and family. I don’t recommend being screen-free with a teenager and the research doesn’t support it either. For us, we have stayed screen-free for the first 5 years. Our daughter, who is six, now uses screens at museums, a little bit at school and with us at home to look up the weather, take pictures or search for music to dance to. We are always modifying our rules based on what we believe is best for our children. To see the general layout of how we plan to allow screen-time as our children age, see this article.
Any other words of wisdom or recommendations for families who want to have a better offline relationship but don’t know how to do it?
I recommend parents do a little experiment and cut screen-time for a weekend. See how the family connects differently and make adjustments from there. This article describes a research study where parents did just that. Here is a success story from a reader who cut back screen-time and saw some great results.
Relay was built with screen-free play for kids in mind. Get yours for $49.99!
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Looking to make a playroom decor statement and give your kid something fun to do on a rainy day? Get crafty with a bucket of chalkboard paint and transform the playroom or bedroom wall into a creative kid’s dream: their very own DIY chalkboard art wall. And as an added bonus, it provides all the vertical storage space you need for art supplies and inspirational materials—it even adds family ambiance to your home decor. You can supply decorations to provide a little bit of inspiration and make space to display finished artwork.
We love this idea because it not only looks amazing and is super simple to set up, but also because it is an amazing unstructured play resource. A great big chalkboard laden with fun arts and crafts supplies inspires kids to get off the iPad, the PS4, and actually create something. It’s big, full of potential for fun activities, and just screams “DRAW ON ME!” Here’s how to turn a wall in your home into a chalkboard craft station.
Painting a kids chalkboard wall
First, find your wall. It can be in your kid’s playroom, their bedroom, or even in a family area. Here’s what you’ll need before diving in.
A tarp or drop cloth
A paint roller and tray
A box of regular chalk
Step 1: Prep the wall
Start with a clean wall. Dirt, grime, and scuffs will make your chalkboard difficult to draw on. Once the wall is clean, run a drop cloth the entire length of the floor. This is especially important if you have carpet. Then, use painter’s tape to block off your baseboards. Taping the cloth to your baseboards will keep any rogue paint splatters from sneaking under your drop cloth. Then block off the ceiling and the ends of the walls with painters tape. You should end up with nice, straight lines.
Step 2: Paint the wall
Now you can start painting. Using a roller and tray, use “W” motions to coat the wall evenly in chalkboard paint. Most brands recommend 2-3 coats of paint, so this might take a while. Make sure to let each coat sit for 12-24 hours before painting over it.
Step 3: Prime the wall
After all the paint is on and all the coats are dry, you’ll need to prime the wall (with chalk, not wall primer!) If you’ve painted a large area of wall, you’ll need 5-6 pieces of regular white chalk. Just cover the entire wall with chalk dust by using the side of the chalk stick. Once the entire wall is covered, wipe it down with a dry paper towel. Think of it as rubbing chalk into the paint. If you skip priming the wall, you’re more likely to see ghosts of drawings past stick around after you try to erase them.
Decoration ideas for your chalkboard wall
So now you’ve got a blank chalkboard. Why stop there? Add utility and interest to your wall by putting in vertical storage and decor. Here’s what you’ll need:
Shelving (we used stick-on shelves)
Stick-on wall hooks
Regular and colorful chalk
Markers and crayons
Any other art supplies you want!
Step 4: Set up your vertical storage
We only put one shelf on our chalkboard wall, but like all DIY projects, there are no rules or “right way” to do things. The more shelves you have, the more books and fun crafty things you can store. Whether you choose stick-on shelves or something more heavy-duty, place your shelves and attach them to the wall.
Shelves can hold books on drawing, origami, and other creative topics. They can hold construction paper, toys, and all sorts of materials. When kids have access to supplies and a huge canvas, they can stretch their creative muscles whenever inspiration strikes. And when they have a wide variety of creative materials and colors to choose from, they can keep trying new things. No two drawings are the same, and every new project will be a new adventure for your child.
When placing your shelf, (or shelves!) think about your child’s height and whether they’ll be able to reach their supplies. Paper, books, and less messy supplies can sit at easy reaching height. Depending on your child’s age and maturity level, you might decide to store paint, glue, and other messy supplies higher up so you can regulate when and where the mess happens. It’s worth keeping in mind that through your kid’s creative use of chairs and other furniture, this may not be a foolproof strategy.
Simple supplies like colorful chalk, crayons, and markers can be stored in the buckets, at easy grab-and-go height. We placed our buckets on wall hooks right below the shelf. The beauty of the buckets is in their portability. Maybe your child wants to draw with crayons in the kitchen, in the backyard. Their supplies are portable and super-easy to clean up and put away.
Step 5: Get decorative!
We segmented our wall into open space and smaller spaces by removing the glass from some thrift store picture frames, then hanging the frames on the wall. That way, the kids can draw big or small. The frames also allow kids to try different artistic ideas in different frames, learn to share their space with a sibling or friend, and even use the frames as part of their imaginative designs. They can draw pictures of themselves, of family, friends, pets, creatures, and all the places—real and imaginary—that they want to go.
The chalkboard doesn’t have to be chalk-only, either. You can tape your kid’s crayon drawings and finger paintings inside the picture frames or hang a length of twine or ribbon across the board to clip drawings, A+ report cards, and childhood photos on display. You can use clothespins to easily hang up your child’s creations.
Not only is this a simple and fun craft project for parents – kids will get years of creativity, fun, and joy from it. We hope your family has a great time with it!
https://blog.relaypro.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/chalkboard-thumbnail.jpg300695Victoria Senghttps://blog.relaypro.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/relay_blog.svgVictoria Seng2018-06-12 16:01:302021-04-02 11:25:09How to create a chalkboard wall for your kid’s room
In an effort to get our kids away from screens and into an unplugged play environment, it can be tempting to think about all the cute DIY projects we see online, the craft ideas, and other “boredom-busting” structured activities available today. But we underestimate our kids’ boundless creativity and innate imagination when we try to create the perfect playtime for them. We also rob them of the opportunity to exercise their imagination muscles by bringing their ideas to life on their own—and letting those ideas evolve day by day, moment by moment.
Take cardboard forts for example: when you look at some of the pristine builds you see online, their purposes are often very clear—it’s a little house, a spaceship, a mini-castle. And many of our kids don’t want to play space captain every single day. When kids build their own forts and have access to all the tools necessary, they have the power to create a chameleon, versatile fort that can be a castle one day, an evil science lab the next, often using common (and cheap!) DIY craft materials that you already have around the house.
Common items like cardboard, tape, and chalk are easy to find and budget-friendly—and tend to be easier for little hands to work with (bonus!) Sure, we caregivers can help along the way by providing supplies and using grown-up scissors and other tools when necessary, but when it comes to unplugged play, amazing things can happen when your child takes the reins.
If you’re wondering what you can do to enable your child to build his or her own playtime, take a look at some of our indoor DIY cardboard fort ideas for inspiration!
DIY cardboard fort must-haves for kids:
How to make a box fort: the building blocks
Big boxes, small boxes, they’re all fair game! Try saving your old shoe boxes, delivery packaging, and—if you can—the big boxes from furniture or appliances. These can either be repurposed by your creative kid or broken down and reshaped to make something brand new. Take our roof for example, where the corrugated texture of the cardboard makes a perfect “tin roof!” And don’t forget other cardboard products like paper towel and toilet paper rolls—they’re perfect for flower gardens, pirate-esque spy glasses, and anything else your kid can dream up.
So what’s keeping all this cardboard together? Tape. Tape creates a sturdy structure and lets your kid explore unique shapes, colors, and ideas while building. Playing with tape also lets kids learn experientially about physics—like when your roof gets too heavy and your kid improvises a cardboard “support pillar” to keep it standing!
So what kind of tape do you need? Duct tape works well for fort-building, but painters tape is a little less sticky, easier for little hands to work with, and good for quickly and easily switching things around for new fort designs and purposes. Your tot can also use colored tape for decoration on their cardboard props and the fort walls!
Craft supplies bring a box fort to life
Markers are the magic wands of fort-building—and they’re easy to clean up in case more than their fort gets marked up in the decoration process! Markers can turn a shoebox into a space-age control panel or a box of baby wipes into the chimney on top of your child’s masterpiece. Washable markers are the ultimate prop-builder—and props are everything when your kid is transforming their fort from secret super-spy HQ to grand castle.
Then there’s chalk. Chalk is one of the easiest no-mess ways for your child to decorate a fort. You can find large, colorful, less breakable sticks perfect for younger kids in most stores for pretty cheap. It might be worthwhile to invest in a can of chalkboard paint for cardboard fort walls—when your kid can go big with decorating his or her fort (and change it up on a whim) they will inevitably create amazing things. In a pinch, colored chalk will work on plain cardboard for easily changeable decor.
There’s a reason the blanket-and-pillow fort has been a staple of childhood play for decades. It’s useful and cozy! Blankets make good doors, makeshift walls, and floors for your kid’s fort. Pillows make great building blocks in a pinch and are the comfiest of captain’s chairs and thrones. Your kid can easily add imaginative details with cardboard and painter’s tape (and can easily remove them before bedtime!)
And if your child is going to spend a lot of time in his or her fort, it might as well be as bright as it is comfortable. String lights can provide endless patterns, orientations, and roles in building and play. In our fort, we have lights wound around a support pillar. But they can go anywhere, ceiling, floor, anywhere in the reach of the electrical outlet. Depending on your child’s age and maturity level, we recommend adult supervision around any electrical components.
There’s no wrong way to build a fort—your kid makes the rules. And when your child is the architect of his or her own play, even something as simple as a cardboard box can become a secret base, a space shuttle—anything a kid could imagine. The process of building something unique can provide infinite entertainment for kids (not to mention a brain-building engineering challenge!) Once built, new props and small additions and adjustments can create an entirely new play experience. And that’s truly magical.
Share your kid’s DIY cardboard fort with us by using the hashtag #PlayRelay on social media for a chance to be featured on our blog—happy building!
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