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A granddad’s advice to other grandparents about social media

We spoke recently with Jack Busch, former Executive Director of the Department of Sports and Recreation in WA, and granddad to 5 girls, about how social media helps his family stay connected.

eebudee: Tell us about your role at the Department of Sports and Recreation?

Jack Busch: The department’s role is really about supporting Western Australians to enjoy sport and recreation at whatever level they choose, or whatever level they are capable of. It means the agency has a community driven approach. They work with community service providers to help them do what they do best, whether it’s state, regional or club sporting bodies, local Government authorities, etc.

My role overall was supporting or I guess leading that organisation for 10 years. One of my passions at the time was kids-in-sport, partly because of family connections and coaching kids. We had a kids-in-sport unit, which was one of the leading kids-in-sport units in the country. I was also part of a 5-person team that developed a national kids-in-sport policy. So that was one of my passion areas over those 10 years, and it hasn’t diminished since then.

eebudee: Tell us about your grandkids!

Jack Busch: The first sad point is that our 2 daughters with grandchildren are based elsewhere. We have one daughter and her family in Queensland and one in Tasmania. Our son who’s here [in Perth] is too busy playing footy and owning hotels and doing other things, so he hasn’t got any family yet.

Our daughter in Queensland has 3 girls, who are 15, 12 and 9. The one in Tasmania has 2 girls [5 and 7 this year], so we have our starting 5 women’s basketball team!

eebudee: What’s it like being a granddad in this highly connected digital age? Do you embrace social media to connect with your family?

Jack Busch: We absolutely do. My wife leads the charge on this and is rarely separated from her various appliances. Particularly because they [the grandkids] are inter-state, it becomes more crucial.

We don’t do as much Skype as we would like, only because it is hard to get all the kids in the same place at the same time. We use Viber1, which has been around a few years now. We’ve found it to be a safe and personal way of communicating. Lots of people go on Viber to communicate, and the beauty is it’s free so lots of people do it to avoid costs.

We have one [Viber account] set up as a family, and one of the older girls chose to name our group, ‘Best Family Ever’. We just use that [Viber] all the time, wherever we are. There’s photos, there’s commentary, no matter where people are, even if they’re traveling, we’re linking in and everything, so that’s really our glue.

eebudee: Do you have any tips for grandparents who may be nervous about using social media or communication programs like Viber?

Jack Busch: For me it’s about missing out on something pretty special. That’s probably the biggest message – get over it and go exploring! There are so many options at the moment, so from a grandparent’s point of view it might be as simple as text messaging.

There is nothing quite the same as having somebody on the screen and having some fun together. I know somebody who reads a book to her grandchild in England at the same time each day. Those sorts of things are special, and I think what it does is give us the opportunity as Grandparents to be creative and use the technology to fit the role.

eebudee: You’re a big supporter of eebudee! Was your passion for connecting families what made you want to get involved with eebudee?

Jack Busch: It’s absolutely front and centre. But another part of it was, both of us have always loved being involved with young people, so that’s why, one of my absolute priorities at the Department of Sport and Recreation was young people in sport.

Not because it was about them becoming athletes of high calibre. We had a vision, which was something like, ‘ encouraging kids coming out of school to have the confidence and skills to enjoy a life full of activity’. So when kids came out of school they knew what they wanted to do and had the confidence.

eebudee: Do you think the idea of play has changed since you were a boy?

Jack Busch: As a broad pattern it’s changed dramatically. I was just reading about something in the Weekend Australian that said we were ‘free range kids’. We’d come home from school, grab a bite, grab the bike then make sure we were home for dinner. No one knew where we were or the stuff we got up to. As long you were home in time for dinner you were alright. It was that sort of lifestyle, more active, a lot less supervision.

Today, things happen, but basically it was a safer environment, there were less cars on the road, and less other scary things happening. It was an adventurous but fun way to grow up.

We’re quite delighted that our kids treat their children, as much as possible, the same way. But as much as our girls give the kids plenty of free range where they can, there are just different barriers and parameters.

They’re also dramatically different with their technology. The 4 year olds know how to muck around on mobile phones and iPads, and do things that continue to surprise me. We laugh and say they’re wired differently – they’re fearless, they’re confident and they just work it all out.

eebudee: Do you think it’s important for kids to learn these new technologies?

It’s so important for kids to stay up to date with new technologies. In 10 years time the current technologies will be obsolete, so I think its more about them learning to live with uncertainty and constant change, and to be able to thrive in that.

For more interviews and insights into safe social media, please visit our blog. If you’d like to leave a comment, or want us to address an issue relating to safe social media for kids, please leave a message on our Facebook page or in the comments section below.

Natalie Chalwell from Funky Fitness

Active kids make active minds

We spoke with Natalie Chalwell, founder of Funky Fitness and inventor of the ‘Monkey Mat – Learning Through Movement’, about the importance of physical activity in a child’s life.

As we discovered, where movement exists, brainpower follows!

eebudee: Tell us about Funky Fitness.

Natalie Chalwell: Funky Fitness is a ‘learning through movement’ program, which has products and services for children aged between 2 and 8 years. Essentially, we teach fundamental movement skills through fun, music and dance; all with a sense of humour, as we want to immediately engage the attention of children.

Exercise benefits the brain before it benefits the body, which is why we teach with the brain in mind. To support this idea, we use equipment, which excites and piques the interest of children. Our equipment is bright, colourful and varied, which helps children to willingly learn, participate and develop their motor movement.

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eebudee: What made you want to help kids learn through movement?

Natalie Chalwell: My experience as a child was that learning did not come easy. I would leave school feeling deflated and had poor self esteem. For me, having to sit still while learning was distracting, and because of this fact, the information being poured at me left me feeling bewildered and incapable.

It was only when I began dancing that I learnt to retain information and felt a sense of accomplishment. The practice of sequencing and patterning in dance enabled me to complete and perform tasks. It was as a result of this success that I started wondering if there was a link between learning and movement.

It was from this experience that I decided to work with children in the areas of fundamental movement, physical education and dance. I became qualified to teach dance however I refused to go the traditional route. At the time I was a single mum raising two very sport orientated boys [now adults], and my younger son has an intellectual disability, so I felt the learning had to be accessible too.

SM Sarah

eebudee: Getting kids outside, away from the screen is a challenge for many parents. Do you have any tips for parents who want to encourage their kids into the great outdoors?

Natalie Chalwell: In 2015 I developed a new product called the Monkey Mat LTM [Learning Through Movement] E-Learning program. This product was initially intended to assist teachers in the classroom, because teachers were expressing concern about having little or no time to teach physical education due to a strong emphasis on attaining curriculum outcomes such as literacy and numeracy.

With this in mind I developed a program, which incorporated literacy, numeracy and physical education simultaneously for the classroom, anytime, rain, hail or shine. The advantage is it’s purposeful learning, with a healthy, optimistic attitude to screen time, while managing our physical activity objectives.

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eebudee: Anything else you’d like to share?

Natalie Chalwell: It is my desire that with the digital revolution come new practices for dealing with the challenges we face, for instance, individual learning where boys and girls are treated alike, and are free to pursue equality in careers, namely in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics].

Digital technology affords today’s children opportunities never available in the industrial revolution, and it’s when they are young that they are receptive. As caretakers it’s our chance to empower our children to be insightful safe and savvy with digital technology, which is a means to learn, explore, study, enquire, research, communicate and promote well-being.

We need to equip kids with the know-how to be astute participants in a world, which is instant, accessible and at our fingertips.

Head here to discover more about Natalie’s business, Funky Fitness. You may also like to check out our Facebook page, which has more insights and tips for parents with young children in the digital age.

eebudee is a safe social media app, which teaches kids under 12 how to use social media in a secure and family-friendly environment. To find out more about eebudee, please click here.