Messenger Kids

Messenger kids

Good news for parents! Messenger Kids is now in the Philippines. Facebook recently announced it and I got to join the media briefing conducted by Facebook.

What is Messenger Kids?

Messenger Kids is an app designed for kids ages 6 to 12. They can talk to their friends, play games and learn! Check out Zeeka’s explanation for your kids.

What I like about Messenger Kids is that the parents have control over the people that their kids can talk to. They can also monitor the conversations. when you download the app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store today. This is a separate app from what we are using. You can download it from the device or gadget that your kids will use. It will need your authentication so it should be you who will download.

As you can see in the video above, Zeeka really loves it. It’s important for kids to also have study-life balance. Since they are away from their friends, this allows them to still connect with them.

For years, Facebook has been working with Youth Advisors, a team of experts in online safety, child development, and media, to help shape
the Messenger Kids app. Facebook also continues to consult child safety advocates and educators to ensure that the Messenger Kids app balances parental control with features that help kids learn how to connect responsibly online.


“Through our work with the Stairway Foundation, the Child Rights Network, and other safety partners in the Philippines, we learned that many Filipino parents are looking for ways to help their children stay in touch with friends and family during this challenging time, in a fun and parent-supervised environment. We hope that Messenger Kids will help them to continue to find ways to have fun, create, and engage with friends and family,” said Amber Hawkes, APAC Head of Safety, Facebook. 

“In a pandemic, children are not able to explore and socialize with friends the way they used to. Experiencing change and restrictions in both learning and play is especially challenging for children. We are glad to see that Messenger Kids has been designed with built-in parental controls and safety in mind, and also fun features that are age-appropriate and encouraging children to stay connected even as they are staying physically apart. We shall continue working with Facebook to help make the platform safe for children,” said Ace Diloy of the Stairway Foundation.

What I like about Messenger Kids

What i’ve noticed that with the other games, there are a lot of ads that are clickable. I just worry that Zeeka might be unintentionally sharing information onlne. Although my daughter is “tech-savvy-er” than other kids her age, I still worry since kids are still kids. I love that in messenger, there are no ads and no in-app purchases. Messenger Kids is also designed to be compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA).
 
What I’d like to see more of

I’d love to see more role playing games that help teach them how to be creative. Although the game where you take care of the pet is a role playing game, Facebook might want to consider introducing a world of it’s own (like Minecraft and Animal Crossing) within the app.

Have you tried Messenger Kids for your children? Did they like it? Did you like it? Comment on the comment section below.

To learn more about Messenger Kids, here are some resources:

Singlife and GCash launched NO-FUSS Protection

Just last week, a colleague of mine mentioned that his mom had dengue. It must be so stressful to find out that you’re sick (of something else in a time like this) while COVID still looms around. This year, it was reported that we had 50,000+ cases with 173 deaths. Read that from this article: Dengue in the Philippines: ‘It is still very much around’ in the time of COVID-19

To lessen the worry and the stress plus the hassle that all of these bring, I wanted to share with you what I learned from attending the launch of the Singlife and GCash partnership.

Who is Singlife?

Singlife Philippines is not like any other insurance company. They pride themselves in making insurance totally digital. They use technology to make getting an insurance policy more convenient and affordable. They are on a mission to help every Filipino fix their finances.

Who is GCASH?

GCash is a mobile wallet in the Philippines with more than 25M users, over 73,000 partner merchants, and thousands of cash in / cash out partner institutions. Its mission is to provide Finance for All through #GcashEveryday. Recently, GCash has made their move towards offering users a suite of financial services such as savings, on-demand credit, and investments. You can read more about these services in my blog:

Go Invest with GInvest

How GCredit Works

Singlife and GCASH Partnership: CASH FOR DENGUE COSTS

Singlife and GCash will launch their first product: Cash for Dengue Costs, a comprehensive yet affordable protection product that provides a multi-level benefit against medical costs due to mild to severe cases of Dengue. This is the first time that I’ve heard of an insurance product like this, and it actually makes sense (looking at the statistics that I shared above).

Rien Hermans, President & CEO of Singlife Philippines, mentioned that No-Fuss Protection for him is basically easy and delivers on your goal. He says they believe that direct contact with customers is important and this is the foundation of developing their product.

This product is very flexible with customizable coverage levels, payment terms, and the option to cover an individual or the whole family.

As an introductory offer, Singlife will extend the cover by adding a free COVID-19 rider – providing customers the same cash benefit for COVID-19 protection as the product’s Dengue cover.

Cash for Dengue Costs will be made available to a limited group of GCash users this September. It will then be made available to all verified GCash users via the GCash Insurance Marketplace later this year as its showcase offering, along with other Singlife protection products.

How do you apply for Singlife protection products?

The application process for Singlife protection products takes less than 5 minutes. Customers can pay, view, manage, and file claims on their Singlife policies directly in the GCash app. This is made possible by fully digital processes that ensure a seamless, paperless experience allowing policies to be issued in real-time.

I’m so excited to have access to this and I’ll let you know right away and share my review once I have tried it.

I love what Martha Sazon, President & CEO of Mynt, which operates GCash said, “Insurance is giving people the chance to bounce back from life’s uncertainties.” So just tap for no-fuss, affordable protection! 🙂

Feel free to let me know as soon as you have tried this product! Your feedback will be beneficial to all my readers!

Summer Online Activity for Kids – Learn Filipino

For those looking for an “online” activity for their children where they don’t need to leave the house, I want to share with you this online Filipino class by The Learning Library.

This summer, they launched their course called Wika’y Galing! Online.  It’s the very first online program for children learning to speak Filipino as a second language. 

When Zeeka was 2, she was really good at speaking Filipino. For some reason though (and I heard a lot of kids are in a similar situation), they forget how to speak Filipino and would rather speak in English. I guess it’s because a lot of the content that we see online are in English. I also think that we haven’t really exposed her enough also to Filipino content.

This summer, I decided to enroll her to this online class of The Learning Library. She had her assessment already. She knew how to read and say Filipino words like our body parts, but when it came to words like Maaliwalas or Maaraw, etc., she had to practice more.

This course was created by The Learning Library in cooperation with Adarna. Once your child is enrolled, s/he will have access to over 100 Adarna books. Also, the course will have a teacher that your child will interact with. You will need to choose a schedule so that you’ll have a teacher who can guide your child.

For more information, you can visit www.wikaygaling.com 🙂

Happy learning!

Creative Writing for Kids: 5 Surefire Ways To Boost Skills

Creative writing is an important skill for our kids. 

In this age of smartphones and handheld devices, creativity and writing remain as top requirements to ensure our kid’s future.

I should know. In my years as an entrepreneur, it took creativity to resolve issues I’ve encountered.

It also takes creativity to get people to be interested in you and your product.

That’s why I also try as much to increase my daughter’s creative writing skills.

Creative Writing Benefits for Kids

Our kid’s generation may be tech-savvy, but science backs up the fact that the act of writing is more beneficial for the brain.

Writing on pen and paper can keep our brains sharp and can also influence us into more positive thoughts. Hand movements during writing activate a huge part of the brain responsible for healing trauma, language, and working memory.

Here are other benefits of handwriting and creative writing for our kids. 

1. It helps manage stress. 

Stress is a natural occurrence in everyday life. Children, for example, go through the pressures of school, their homes, and relationships with their peers. 

Writing poems, short stories, or creating cartoons can unload a lot of stress for kids.

It also helps release unwanted tension and encourages them to divert their attention to something more productive and creative.

2. It encourages deep thinking

I love it when Zeeka does her drawings and shows them to me. Watching her draw and create a story out of it is such a great joy for me.

Every story she tells lets me take a peek into what’s going on inside her head. And I’m really glad to hear how much her stories are growing.

Check out our drawing time here: 

Now that she’s six years old, her stories are becoming more complex.

Her characters are becoming more intricate. And I’m really glad I’m getting to witness her progress.

3. It increases comprehension and learning 

Creative writing also helps kids do better in Math and Sciences.

Studies show that writing helps the brain create the same patterns one needs to learn Math and Science.

One needs sharp observation and documentation skills when it comes to learning Sciences and figuring out equations.

Both can be improved through systematic approaches and observations which can also be developed through creative writing.

4. It helps them process big emotions. 

Children go through a lot of stress even as kids.

Every now and then Zeeka tells me she feels sad or angry, even frustrated when she doesn’t get what she wants.

Sometimes she tells me she’s lonely without her friends.

Even if it doesn’t sound as serious to us, it’s a big deal for them.

That’s why it’s also important for them to learn how to recognize, process, and handle their emotions.

Creative writing helps them write down what they feel through stories, characters, and situations. 

Child psychologists have used similar techniques in therapy to help children open up and share details about them or their trauma.

Doing so helps kids focus on their strengths and the good side of things rather than dwell on their negative emotions or trauma.

5. It increases focus 

Children are naturally curious. And it’s perfectly normal for them to have concentration issues because of how they’re exploring the world. 

They get bored easily when things aren’t fun and they shift their attention somewhere else. 

While creative writing may not be a part of your kid’s priorities yet, there are some exercises that can prepare them for writing. 

These include doodling and drawing.

Drawing helps them visualize their materials better. This is a great exercise in developing characters and settings.

Harvard Health Blog also confirms the health benefits of doodling, especially for kids.

Doodling, it turned out, is like our brain’s last attempt at staying focused and awake.

It also eases psychological distress and activates the brain’s “time travel machine”.

Doodling puts us in a relaxed state where our minds attempt to find lost pieces, make sense of the present, and help us visualize our future. 

Gamifying Creative Writing for Kids

Gamification has been a huge buzz word not only in the tech industry but also in other areas like education.

Educators from all around the globe have turned to apps and games to help students maximize learning and make it fun.

But did you know that board games also help in boosting creativity for kids of all ages?

Yep, you got that right. Board games. And I must admit, I’m a board game fanatic.

In fact, we hold regular board game sessions at home with friends and family. 

Here’s what it usually looks like at game nights… 

What I love most about it is the challenge of quick thinking, and the strategies it takes to win. 

I’ve been reading a lot about how old school role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons help improve children’s creativity through storytelling. 

Even the world’s greatest writers and novelists acknowledge the impact that Dungeons and Dragons have on their writing skills. 

Goerge R.R. Martin, Dan Harmon, and even Stephen Colbert admit that a huge part of their creativity stems from playing the game in their youth.

The game can last from three hours or three years.

How is it played?

A ‘dungeon master’ gets to run game and create critical situations where the players respond with their own narrative.

Players can also choose the characters they portray. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the characters respond to crises according to their powers. 

Check out this fun tutorial from The Try Guys:

So how exactly does playing board games like D&D help in boosting creativity, especially with kids? 

For one, it’s an endless story with unlimited possibilities. Children get to come up with their own stories and characters. 

It also develops quick wit and enhances situational awareness. 

Playing the game encourages teamwork and promotes complex problem-solving skills.

So how does it make your kid become a better writer? 

Studies show that the highly social and collaborative nature of role-playing games has a huge effect on learning. It helps improve crucial soft skills, like listening intently and responding to the challenges set by the game master.[1]

It also taps into the player’s abilities like decision making, invention, calculations, negotiation, active spatial visualization, and storytelling.

UEC Philippines: A Unique Way to Teach Creative Writing

One of the reasons why I like UEC Philippines is because they make writing fun. 

Unlike traditional schools, Unique English Classroom provides kids with a chance to run wild with their imagination.

Children learn the basics of reading to the intricacies of storytelling, reading, and writing through four progressive programs. 

UEC also focuses on the more important aspect of communication: reading comprehension and confidence in communication. 

Headed by Catherine Khoo, children under the Unique English Classroom program get to explore the English language through practical application. 

They also use different ways to fire up your kid’s imagination and improve their storytelling and creative writing skills.

Younger kids learn reading and writing through storytelling activities.

Later on, they progress to drawings and illustrations to tell their stories. 

They also do comic books with their own stories.

They even play Dungeons & Dragons and learn how to develop their own world and characters. Dungeons & Dragons will be available in all UEC Centers this coming summer. This activity is for kids ages 9 to 16 yo. I told Zeeka about it and she said she can’t wait to be 9 years old! haha!

Check out the kids of UEC San Mateo as they play it here: https://www.facebook.com/UniqueEnglishClassroom/videos/1486421058176426/

Help your future writer excel in creative writing. Learn more about UEC Philippines today. 

For inquiries, check out their website here: https://uecyoungauthors.com.ph/

WarnerMedia and TotallyAwesome Work Together!

Have you ever heard of TotallyAwesome? It’s the leading kids digital media company in the Asia-Pacific region, reaching over 170 million kids monthly across desktop, mobile and online video. The company operates a kid-safe and compliant content and advertising platform, so you need not worry about what ads your children are seeing. TotallyAwesome makes sure brand engagement with the youth market is safe, effective and entertaining.

Recently, TotallyAwesome has announced a collaboration with WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks in the Philippines.

This is great news for advertisers who care about bringing safe content to children. This collaboration between the two companies give access to both companies’ advertising platforms through a unified kids-safe advertising proposition. They give kids’ brands a platform where they can talk to kids safely.

In the Philippines, WarnerMedia sees that there is an increasing number of children creating and consuming content online. Warner Media commits to providing kids-safe content through its own platforms, as well as through this collaboration.

Awantika Sood, WarnerMedia’s Kids and Entertainment ad-sales lead in Southeast Asia, added, “As children consume more and more digital content, the need to present an omni-channel, brand-safe solution to our advertising partners is very important to us. Adding to WarnerMedia’s own capabilities, our collaboration with TotallyAwesome platforms is a strategic move as it provides advertisers in the Philippines a one-stop shop to reach kids in quality and safe environments across linear, digital and social platforms. We look forward to a fantastic collaboration with TotallyAwesome.”

For brands who need more information on how to connect with TotallyAwesome, you can email them here: pr@totallyawesome.tv