Posts Tagged ‘ GoGoNews ’

Talking About Current Events When Planning Summer Travel With Kids

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

As summer approaches, many parents are planning trips with their kids to places of historical interest – such as Washington, DC. Guest blogger Golnar Khosrowshahi of GoGoNews shares another way to get your kids psyched about their destination – by talking about current events that they’ve seen in the news. 

Prior to taking a trip, I have always tried to educate my children about our destination. The information I typically provided was the fodder of guidebooks – so if we were on our way to London, they would learn about Buckingham Palace, the Royal Family, the pound sterling, and what a “loo” is. However, planning a recent trip to the nation’s capital has made me rethink our pre-travel prep.

My children made the standard request to do a White House drive by, but they also had a very specific “must do” list – the source of which baffled me. They wanted to visit the Washington Monument specifically to see the progress being made to address the cracks sustained during the minor earthquake along the eastern seaboard last August. They also wondered if the Space shuttle Discovery would be ready to receive visitors. Added to their list was a visit to the ‘Atlas Recycled’ sculpture installed for Earth Day earlier this year. Their list went on and on with each item becoming more and more specific in nature.

The common thread with each and every item on the list was that these were all events that they had learned about through exposure to news. From a guidebook, they would have only learned about the story behind the Washington Monument – but from reading the news, they had their curiosity piqued by a relevant ongoing situation along with the history of the obelisk. Past and current history came together, which makes for a much more interested child!

While I have always underscored the exposure of children to news, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it would be translated into a plan for action. Here was further proof that with news consumption, children were retaining the information only to draw upon it months later in a context relevant to their own life or experience.

We ended up having a wonderful visit to Washington and fulfilled most of the requirements on the kids’ list. One of the most memorable experiences for me was when I showed them the difference between a regular license plate and a diplomatic license plate. My daughter seamlessly informed me that being a diplomat means you can park anywhere and she recently read that diplomats in New York City owed more than $17 million dollars in fines. I am still working on explaining that being a diplomat has meaning other than transcending parking privileges!

Giving current context on events and locations can help children get more involved in their surroundings and help them realize that history is not only something they read about in school or in guidebooks, but that they can also witness it in the making and that it is a really exciting thing. Our pre-travel prep now includes checking the news to come up with additional destinations to add to our “must-see” list. So if we were to go to London tomorrow, not only would I teach them about the aforementioned historical elements of the city, but I would also have them read about the London 2012 Olympic Gamesthe Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concertKate Middleton, Sir Jonathan Ive, and the Bionic woman who completed the London Marathon.
Golnar Khosrowshahi is the founder of GoGoNews, a website that publishes up to the minute, age appropriate current events for children. She has also written for The Huffington Post and been featured in many technology and parenting related columns. You can read featured guest blog posts by her here at Red-Hot Parenting the 2nd and 4th week of every month.

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Stimulating Political Talk With Your Kids

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Kids learn about recent events in school – and sometimes get exposed to, and talk about, political issues. But what about at home? Do you go out of your way to bring the political world into your conversations with your kids? Today Golnar Khosrowshahi of GoGoNews shares her own experiences in talking politics with her kids in this guest post.

Over the course of the past week, the conversation in my household has been focused on the election of François Hollande and the departure of Nicolas Sarkozy. While it would be nice to say that my highly intellectual children initiated these conversations on their own accord, the reality is that I enticed them into talking about the French elections with a description of the swearing in ceremony at the Elysée Palace and images of Hollande’s parade up the picturesque Champs Elysée! Regardless of how I engaged them, the result was a politically charged conversation about the elections, the process, and the topical issues the French people are grappling with today. Our conversation weaved into more general concepts such as the incumbent versus the challenger, campaigns and how scheduling voting day on a Sunday can impact voter turnout. 

My motivation to have these politically charged conversations with my children is just one of many tactics I use to avoid raising children who will end up as entitled adults. I find that one of the biggest challenges parents today face is that we are raising the “me” generation – the generation that is pandered to to such an extent that when adulthood rolls around, they can’t help but have a sense of entitlement.

Last year, I exposed my children to the events leading up to the uprisings in north Africa and the subsequent results. Examples such as these provided a great opening to develop an appreciation and gratitude for the democratic process. It also dispelled the idea that ‘not everyone lives like we do’ and was yet another strike against the foothold of the ‘me generation’!

While our conversation may have been about France last week, it is so easy to find political conversations that are closer to home. Local politics are convenient topics to discuss because it is an accessible way to have a conversation that is relevant to a child and the impact of governance on a local community.  Furthermore, this being a federal election year in the United States provides the perfect platform to have an ongoing discussion throughout the campaign and party nomination process.

My hope is that these political conversations will engage my children to their community moving them from ‘me’ to ‘we’ and forcing them to think about the governance of the world around them on their own terms. I am also hopeful that during their thought process, whether consciously or not, they develop an appreciation for the democratic process and for civic duty.  And who knows, then maybe all of this political talk will foster a sense of leadership?

Golnar Khosrowshahi is the founder of GoGoNews, a website that publishes up to the minute, age appropriate current events for children. She has also written for The Huffington Post and been featured in many technology and parenting related columns. You can read featured guest blog posts by her here at Red-Hot Parenting the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of every month.

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Making Screen Time QUALITY Time

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

As screen time increases for both parents and kids, we often talk about how to reduce it. But is this focus misplaced and unrealistic in today’s society? Today Golnar Khosrowshahi of GoGoNews offers her perspective on how the quality of screen time may be a more forward looking way of approaching the issue. 

The Louvre Museum in Paris recently unveiled Nintendo hand held consoles as their interactive device of choice for visitors to navigate the museum and learn more about selected works of art. While the innovation is fantastic and it delivers substantive nuggets of information to the museum goer, it also partially transforms what was previously an interactive experience with the art and other visitors into an interactive experience between man and machine. In support of the device however, I would argue that providing easier access to better information results in an enlightened individual and altogether, more productive time spent under Pei’s pyramid.

When I was growing up, the popular trend in helicopter parenting was to limit children’s exposure to television. Today’s generation has a more generic limitation in that many parents want to limit ‘screen time’. It is undeniable that children are consuming a variety of content be it video games, television shows or music videos through a variety of screens be it television, smartphones, tablets or computers. However, it cannot all be that bad with the wealth of educational content that is distributed through these very same screens. Should parents be counting and thus limiting those ‘good’ screen hours together with the ‘bad’ screen hours? Many parents’ aversion to long hours spent in front of the screen is prompted by the misconception that these have to be solitary hours. Why not turn this time spent together looking at interesting websites and using the content as a platform for further discussion?

I often question my personal indifference to my children’s time spent between their desktop and tablet computers. Instead of encouraging them to power down, I am exchanging notes with them on the latest and greatest Apps, getting into drawing competitions with them with interactive games such as Draw Something and when not in their company, gifting them books I think they would enjoy to their e-reader accounts. I know, however, that I would start limiting their screen time if all they were doing was watching mindless teeny bopper comedies. But because they are either reading, drawing, or even playing games that hone their fine motor skills, I not only have absolutely no problem with the screen time, in fact I actually encourage it.

I believe that we can all benefit from the ease and access that children have to information in today’s world. For my children, the additional exposure and cross platform access is making them read in great quantity across a variety of subjects. Experiences such as a visit to the museum are of a greater quality because children can learn and understand more than they would have otherwise – all from a screen. So perhaps, our job as parents is not so much to limit screen time, but to ensure screen quality time, and at the end of the day, channel all of these eye opening experiences into dinner table conversations.

Golnar Khosrowshahi is the founder of GoGoNews, a website that publishes up to the minute, age appropriate current events for children. She has also written for The Huffington Post and been featured in many technology and parenting related columns. You can read featured guest blog posts by her here at Red-Hot Parenting the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of every month.

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Should We Use GPS To Monitor Our Kids?

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Technology is continually refining how we parent – and giving us (and our kids) many new options that may, or may not, be a good thing. Today Golnar Khosrowshahi of GoGoNews shares her take on a controversial way the comings and goings of kids in Brazil are being monitored. 

The city of Vitoria da Conquista in Brazil has overhauled its school uniforms to make a new kind of fashion statement. All 43,000 school-aged children in this district aged 4-14 are now stepping out with GPS chips embedded in their school uniforms. When the children cross the threshold onto school grounds, parents receive a text message. Similarly, when the children don’t show up or leave school grounds, parents are again, notified.

Putting aside the many work arounds that kids will inevitably come up with to counteract this new measure, this action begs the question as to why we are relying on something or someone else to parent for us. According to the school district, deploying this initiative was in response to high truancy rates. However, in some other contexts, it could also make sense as related to issues of safety and kidnapping. Take an average school district in North America where parents are not exposed to daily threats on their children’s safety, relying on GPS stirs a debate raising a number of issues:

1)   Are we relying on technology to parent for us? I am relying on the fact that if as parents we do a good enough job instilling the right kinds of values in our children, then we wouldn’t need to stuff their clothes with GPS chips to enforce a desired behavior.

2)   Are our children entitled to their privacy and does questioning our kids foster a relationship of mistrust between caregiver and child? Personally, I believe that respecting our children creates the right environment for them  to, in turn, be respectful of others. That being said, then perhaps questioning their trust is also tantamount to lack of respect. I would think that is precisely the message this innovation is sending to a child – since you are not to be trusted – regardless of your behavior in the past – you will be monitored going forward.

3)   Is this one of those times when, as parents, we look the other way? Isn’t skipping a little school a part of growing up and finding our way, anyway? While we can never advocate truancy on a regular basis to our children, we  can all relate to that special day Ferris Bueller played hooky! Maybe this innovation is giving us a little too much information. Truancy is definitely not a desired behavior to perpetuate but having too much information about what our kids are doing may also inhibit them making some of the necessary mistakes on their own paths to growing up.

Golnar Khosrowshahi is the founder of GoGoNews, a website that publishes up to the minute, age appropriate current events for children. She has also written for The Huffington Post and been featured in many technology and parenting related columns. You can read featured guest blog posts by her here at Red-Hot Parenting the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of every month.

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Introducing GoGoNews On Red-Hot Parenting!

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

We are starting a new feature here at Red-Hot Parenting. Twice a month, we will be thrilled to host guest posts by Golnar Khosrowshahi. Golnar is the founder of GoGoNews, a website that publishes up to the minute, age appropriate current events for children. She has also written for The Huffington Post and been featured in many technology and parenting related columns. The idea is that Golnar will be able to share with us the latest on news about children, as well as innovative ways to talk to your kids about current events. Today she shares how she started GoGoNews – and also started lots of interesting conversations with her own children in the process:

Several years ago, I started a project for my children under duress. I say ‘under duress’ because my children saw a haunting image of a young girl having survived an earthquake in Pakistan on the cover of a newspaper.They related to the picture because she was no different than them – a little girl – and yet her life was a world of difference from that of my daughters’. That little girl was orphaned and homeless and an earthquake survivor. My daughters’ questions about each and every one of those characteristics prompted me to start thinking about how children are exposed to current events, if at all. And so I began publishing a very basic newsletter paraphrasing some interesting news stories for them – mostly to expose them to the world around them – good news and bad. The project grew and today, it is a news website called GoGoNews – a CNN of sorts for the Velcro set.  The site is used by children, parents and educators and in schools as an ESL tool and as part of media literacy programs.

I am neither an educator nor a journalist, and in fact, spend my days running a music publishing company with significant interests in current day pop and hip hop music. However, it is precisely the combination of being in the pop culture business, starting GoGoNews and being a parent engaged in my children’s education that has prompted a wide spectrum of implications in how I think about media, news, music, books, toys, and film that this generation is exposed to.
Over the years, GoGoNews has started conversations in my family that we would not have otherwise had. These conversations range from the silly to the serious. Now, not only is there a community of children engaging with one another based on something they read but also a community of parents voicing opinions about what they believe is engaging and appropriate – both of which are part of a healthy dialogue.

Regardless of the subject matter, the articles created an opportunity for a conversation – probably one of the most underrated interactions we can have with our children today – a simple conversation. With the creation of the website, I know that it is doing the same for other families – sparking a conversation, conveying a new piece of information, inciting a reaction, laying the seeds for forming an opinion, and exposing children to the world in which they are growing up – a connected global environment across culture and ethnicity.

Welcome, Golnar! And please have a look tomorrow at her take on whether technology like GPS should be used to monitor kids. It will be a lively post!

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