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Managing children's computer time

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Ask any parent and they are likely to tell you how much time their children spend on touchscreen devices at home. According to Nielsen's quarterly Connected Devices Report, 78% of parents allow their children to play with tablets at home, with 54% letting their children use tablets for educational purposes. 

Technology can be an important tool for learning, communication and fun _ if used correctly. Here are 10 tips to help you tap technology to enhance your child's learning and increase family bonding.

1. Pick a product with an ergonomic design

One size does not fit all, especially when it comes to tablets. Designed with a unique cylindrical handle, the Lenovo Yoga Tablet is a nimble device that anyone can hold comfortably with one hand in Hold mode _ similar to how you would hold a magazine while reading. Holding the tablet in this manner reduces the strain on your wrist. For times when you just want to type directly on the tablet, play games or surf the internet, you can lay the Yoga Tablet down in Tilt mode for greater comfort.

2. Protect your hardware

A broken tablet or smartphone is as useful as an expensive paperweight. Find a case made from resilient material like rubber or hard shell polymer that can withstand accidental drops. If your child is using a laptop, consider a hard case, as well a keyboard cover, to protect against drops and spills.

3. Safeguard your software

If your child is using a multimode PC, which can be used as a laptop or tablet and runs on Windows 8, be sure to install appropriate anti-virus and anti-malware software. This helps guard against malicious attacks from third party software or apps.

4. Secure your devices with passwords

Android tablets come with easy-to-use settings that allow users to disable purchases that could be made inside games. Set up a password or PIN to limit or restrict in-app purchases, or even the ability to install apps. This helps avoid potential bill shocks and also ensures software is not installed without your consent. Also take time to talk with your children so they know you're a part of their online world.

5. Bond over technology

Keep those social skills intact while still staying tech savvy! Have a little friendly competition with the family with a game of Monopoly or table hockey, thanks to interpersonal PCs like the Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC and Lenovo Flex 20, which support multi-touch capabilities and can lie flat on any surface, allowing two or more people to use the screen at the same time.

6. Protect your child from inappropriate content

As a parent, you never want your child to accidentally stumble upon harmful or disturbing content. Set up parental controls to keep your children safe on the internet. There are also a variety of free apps and software for Android devices and Windows PCs that you can use to protect your child from unsavoury content.

7. Set house rules

Designate areas at home, such as the dining area and bedroom, where devices are not allowed. These reserve technology-free zones for meals and family conversation, and also ensure that the devices are not used by your children without parental supervision. That means no unsupervised bedtime e-book reading too.

8. Keep the brightness right

The recommended screen brightness should follow the brightness of your surroundings. For a gauge, look at the white background on your screen _ if it looks like a light source, it's probably too bright. Conversely, if it looks dull or grey, then it might be too dark. Adjust the screen brightness of your computer, tablet or smartphone's display settings to reduce eye strain.

9. Take breaks

Remember to rest your eyes. Computer vision syndrome (CVS) can affect up to 90% of people who spend more than two or more consecutive hours a day looking at a screen _ whether it's a computer, tablet or smartphone. To address this, integrate good habits into your child's usage behaviour by following a simple 20-20-20 rule, which involves looking away from the screen every 20 minutes for 20 seconds, and focusing on a point 20 feet away.

10. Remember you're the parent

In a recent survey, 41% of parents were reported to use tablets to pacify their children in restaurants. While different people have their own approach to parenting, it's important to remember that technology should not be seen as a parenting solution, but a tool to help you teach and engage your child on a different level.

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