Media can be a really powerful force for learning, but as the makers of a tech toy, we are often battling the misconception that media is meant to replace parents. Kids may seem passive when they’re parked in front of a screen, but a lot is going on inside their brains. That’s one of the reasons we strongly believe that if used mindfully, media can provide connections and opportunities for important discussions within the family. You can help your kid understand what media is telling them, and place it in a framework that makes sense for your family.

Jordan Shapiro, author of The New Childhood: Raising Kids to Thrive in a Connected World, writes, “Modern folks use entertainment in the same way ancient people used religion and Victorian families used dinner. It is a kind of ritual, a way for us to remind ourselves what we believe in—and to expose our children to an established set of values, to reinforce cultural literacy.”

Family time is really important to us at Woobo, just like we know it is for you. We think Woobo can be a way to have fun as a family all while helping your little ones learn and grow. Using Woobo with your kid is a type of what is called “joint media engagement,” where parents and kids enjoy media together and interact with one another about what they’re seeing. (Or, as the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, an independent research and innovation lab, defines it, joint media engagement is “spontaneous and designed experiences of people using media together.”) And media comes in many different formats!

Laura Zimmerman, an education researcher at SRI Education’s Center for Learning and Development, spoke to NPR about engaging with your kids while they use media. “Typically, having another person present during these interactions with touch screens or while viewing television is really beneficial. The parent or teacher can take into consideration what their child knows and build on that—something that’s too complex for an app to be able to do.”

When you read a book with your kid, there is a back and forth. They might ask you what a word means, or you might ask them to point to the dog in the picture. This helps your kid make connections between words and sets them up for learning how to read. Co-viewing similarly helps kids transfer what they’ve learned from the TV to real life; kids whose parents talked to them more when they watched Sesame Street together learned more from the show than kids who watched alone. The discussions help kids make connections to their own lives, which makes it easier for them to learn: “Grover is at the dentist. Do you remember when we went to the dentist and she checked your teeth?”

The opportunities to learn from and use digital screens and toys are no different, but many apps are designed for kids to play by themselves. We wanted to make sure to keep families in mind when engaging with our content so that Woobo can help foster more of these valuable interactions. Drawing from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center’s design principles for joint media engagement, we’re running Fun Family Events for the month of January. So far we’ve featured the Helper Robots Drawing Game and hosted two Family Trivia Nights, and we just announced our new Origami Extravaganza!

Helper Robots Drawing Game

The Cusumano Family show off their helper robot, “Cleaner Upper,” and the robot’s friend “Flashlight.”

Helper Robots Drawing Game ran from January 4th to January 6th. In our first family event of 2019, families came together to design a helper robot to solve a problem one of Woobo’s friends is having. This game is kid-driven, one of our joint media engagement design principles. Kids get to express their creativity as they problem-solve. This self-expression can reflect their interests and allow them to shine!

Family Trivia Night Classic Edition

The Li Family worked together to answer all of Woobo’s tricky questions in this Family Fun Event!

In Family Trivia Night Classic, Woobo revisits some favorite trivia questions in an effort to stump you and your family. This event, which ran from January 11th to January 13th, was a “warm-up” for our third Family Fun Event. Our Family Trivia Night events allow the whole family to join in together, with questions aimed at our littlest fans all the way up to our most grown-up fans! Some of the questions are a little too challenging for kids to answer on their own, so everyone gets a chance to participate and be engaged. This principle is “Multiple Planes of Engagement.” Pixar is famous for this, with something in their movies for everyone to enjoy!

Family Trivia Night Occupations Edition

The Huddleston Family shows they really know how to work it in Family Fun Event 3!

Our third Family Fun Event was another trivia night featuring all new questions! This event ran last week, from January 18th to January 20th and featured questions based on our Occupations Games (you can find these with Lashes in City Calling). At Woobo, we know you never really grow up, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a totally rad job! Embodying the “Previous/Next” design principle, this event builds on what kids already know and are excited about, and helps interest them in new areas! Sparking their curiosity can help them bring their interest to new areas, like looking up more information.

Origami Extravaganza

Our next event is LIVE right now and runs through January 26th. Kids get to practice their fine motor skills in this new Family Fun Event, as the family does origami together. Folded into this activity is another of our joint media engagement design principles, co-creation. By co-creating, families collaborate, which fosters dialog, and create something to share with others. Kids gain valuable skills that will help them in school and the workplace, all while having fun as a family!

Don’t forget to take a picture of your origami sculptures and comment or post with the hashtag #WooboShowAndTell! One family will be selected to win a $25 Amazon gift card and a beautiful Origami pack.

What comes next? You can search high and low for the answer, but you’ll just have to wait and see! Our fifth Family Fun Event starts on February 1st. Can you guess what we have in store for you? Woobo says one lucky family will win a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

By participating in family events such as ours, you can get creative in your use of media with your child and find different ways to incorporate these experiences into your routines. We hope that Woobo can help spark conversations and opportunities to learn together as a family!


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