3 Free Platforms For People Who Love To Read Fiction

Written by Salina Jivani


Ever wish you had a free virtual library right at your fingertips? After the birth of Kindle, this sounded like a dream to me. I’d often find myself lazing in bed on Saturday mornings, sighing wistfully in hope that someday I’d be able to skip the trek to the library and simply whip out my phone and find an arsenal of stories just beckoning to be read.

When Kindle first came out. I was enthralled at the prospect of having literally millions of books just clicks away from my eager eyes, ready to devour them all. But I knew I had to pay for those books and then what if I didn’t like them? So I gave up on the dream of reading for free.

But, hey, what can I say—dreams really do come true! With technology transcending new spaces and bringing everything one step closer and more conveniently to us, the fiction space, too, has benefitted from this evolution. Now writers can read millions of readers—for free. And if you’re an avid reader and want the convenience of reading directly from your tablet, PC or device, there are dozens of platforms out there that cater specifically to you. And the best part is—yes, you guessed it—you can read for free!


Wattpad was the first platforms of its kind I’d ever heard of. Because it’s been around for quite a bit now, the volume of stories in its virtual library has exploded. You can find lots of different kinds of fiction and particularly YA and science/fantasy-type stories. But that’s not to say those are the only kinds of stories this platform houses. On this platform, like the others we’ll discuss, you can choose to read either completed stories or stories in progress, which means you can read each chapter as it becomes available by the author. If you love reading, you’ll for sure find something to your liking on their virtual shelves, so give them a browse.

Fan Fiction

From a simple Google search, this one seems to be pretty popular, and that’s probably because it’s the oldest of the three fiction databases listed here. Fan Fiction opened its virtual doors in 1998 and has been up and running ever since with the number of stories housed at an astounding number of 8 million! If you want to start with a platform that’s got the most stories out there, this one is it. Plus, it’s the perfect platform for bilingual readers because it has stories published in over 30 different languages!


This is the baby of the three, but such a unique and fun platform! Radish has been growing by leaps and bounds ever since it opened its doors—and it’s not hard to figure out why. The neat thing about this fiction platform is its value for its writers, who can choose to list their stories for free, freemium or premium. The latter two options cost Radish coins to readers who want to keep up with the latest chapters of the story. But the success of this model so far is astounding! Radish writers are hand selected and can write by invite only based on their writing skills and aptitude. This coupled with the opportunity to receive pay for their writing means that Radish writers are inclined to churn out their best works, decreasing your chances of picking up a crappy piece of work. Also, for readers who want to earn coins without having to pay for them, Radish provides plenty of opportunities through Twitter and their website for you to claim free coins on a frequent basis, simply by correctly answering a few quiz questions about particular stories on their site.

Remember reading is great for you—better than spending all those hours glued to the TV like a zombie!—so be sure to get a good dose of daily reading into your schedule. And if you missed our earlier post on the benefits of reading, access it here!

3 Popular Places in Atlanta for Adult-Age Halloween Fun

Written by Salina Jivani


I think one of the hardest things about growing up was not being able to dress up and go door to door for Halloween. In fact, October was the one time of year where I tried to ignore my sudden skyscraper height and did everything possible to prolong my trick or treating days just a little bit more, often concealing my maturing features behind scarfs and masks and even paper bags. Of course that only lasted so long after I realized that I was towering above the rest of the crowd of minions and there wasn’t anyone else out there my age anymore.

It was like playing at Chuck E Cheese with a bunch of kindergartners—and pretending to be one.

So finally I gave up and joined the rest of the people my age on the less exciting end of Halloween—answering the door and handing out fistfuls of candy to eager, cherubic little faces. And I lived vicariously through them until I had kids of my own.

But, for you adults who are like me and secretly yearn to relive your trick or treating days just one more time, I’ve got good news. There’s still some excitement waiting out there for you. In fact, Halloween can be just as much fun for us as it is for our tiny counterparts. So, in the spirit of Halloween and all things spooky, here’s a list of places to explore if you’re looking to freak yourself out…or simply indulge in some festivity and fun.


A self-guided haunted experience designed specifically for adults, Netherworld is a haunted house perfect for those who enjoy the thrills and spooks of Halloween. Located conveniently off Dawson Boulevard, this warehouse-turned-haunted-house is home to realistic looking monsters and other bone-chilling replicas of all creatures gory and scary. Since its birth in 1999, Netherworld is now known as one of the best haunted houses in Georgia. The place is usually packed on its days of operation and most tickets are under $30. Here’s a link to their website: http://www.hauntworld.com/haunted_house_in_norcross_georgia_netherworld_haunted_house_tickets

Fright Fest at Six Flags

If you’ve outgrown the thrill of roller coasters, don’t worry. There’s still plenty more fun and excitement awaiting you at Six Flags of Georgia—especially during Halloween time. Fright Fest, the amusement park’s annual Halloween celebration, is popularly known for its jam packed nights of fright, with plenty of haunted houses, scarezones and creatures that prowl around the park giving even the bravest of souls a good chill.

If you’ve got little ones in tow, bring them on along in the earlier part of the day—Fright Fest has special shows and fun for all! The younger audience can enjoy the Bugs Bunny Boom Town show, along with Halloween-themed arts and crafts centers and other appropriately themed rides. Note that only children 12 and older are permitted to wear costumes to the park.

Also, this year patrons of the amusement park can look forward to an all new ride: the Rage of the Gargoyles Virtual Reality Coaster. The coaster boasts gut-clenching twists and turns all while you help the city by donning special gear and destroying gargoyles who threaten to take over.

Adventure for all ages, Fright Fest is one of Georgia’s best one-size-fits-all Halloween hubs.

Little Five Points Parade and Festival

For people who love to mix Halloween spirit with a healthy dose of excitement, and partying, this is the spot for you. The Little Five Points Parade and Festival strikes the perfect balance between adulthood and childhood—allowing adults to enjoy the best of both worlds. Here you can dress up in full-fledged costume and enjoy the Halloween parade, performers, live bands, food, and drinks all in a fun and happening ambience. This parade and festival is definitely one of the cities most throbbing hot spots for Halloween-time fun.

Haven’t seen quite what you’re looking for? No worries! Here’s a list of the town’s best Halloween-based parties, events and local happenings this year: https://www.eventbrite.com/d/ga–atlanta/halloween-party/

Atlanta, Georgia Halloween Party Events | Eventbrite
Lining up plans in Atlanta? Whether you’re a local, new in town, or just passing through, you’ll be sure to find something on Eventbrite that piques your …

And remember, if none of the above fit into your definition of some serious Halloween-time fun, it’s never taboo to host your very own bash. After all, any adult who is a child at heart will eat up any excuse to celebrate the Halloween spirit in full form—costume, candy and all!

VEU Spotlight: Author and Film Producer Sheena Herod

Interview by Abner Jackson III


Sheena Herod, a Jill of many trades, reigns from the city of Memphis, TN. She is the author of two compelling novels and the creator of A thrilling theatrically released film. In a short time, she has had the privilege of working with entertainment leaders such as Tyler Perry (Media Mogul) and Grammy award winning artist, Neyo. With a determined heart and driven spirit, Sheena has launched the 501C3 non-profit organization; Broken Silence. Sheena Herod, an advocate for our youth, is embarking on a systematic journey to increase awareness about the devastating effects of child abuse and molestation.


Tell readers about your Broken Silence Organization and how did you come up with idea to start it?

Broken Silence is a nonprofit organization that brings awareness to sexual child abuse. I started the organization after I filmed my first documentary called What We Hate to Remember. The filmed was based off the awareness that boys are victim as well as girls.

Tell us about two books you written and where they can purchase them at?

The two books I have written are both tied into my nonprofit. The first book was based off my documentary A Boys Silent Cry. It’s a story about a football player that’s getting ready to get married but hasn’t told his finance about his uncle moving in the house after his dad died and was sexual abusing him for years. He went through the changes having people he trusted misuse him, always being sexual abuse as a kid he has fought with his sexuality.

Good Touch Bad Touch is a parenting guide on how to protect your children from sexual abuse as well as educating the child and yourself on what is sexual abuse, who can be sexual abusers and the signs to look for if your child has been sexually abused. The self- help book will also include stories from survivors of sexual child abuse. Different articles of sexual abuse caught in the media of known celebrities and teachers that has been accused.

Do you plan on writing anymore books in the future?

I am merging the awareness of sexual abuse into my films. I am using my films to get the message out there more with my new documentary and a new film from my first book A Boys Silent Cry

Tell readers about your Tapoo Productions Company and are they currently working on any projects now?

Tapoo Productions is my film company. We produced several shows, documentaries, movies. I have a new movie releasing next year called The Killing Secret. It’s a great drama and suspense film. It will have you on the edge of your seats wondering what’s going to happen next. Also my new dance reality show called Tha Dance Basement with Actor/author /choreographer Darrin Henson. It’s like the real World mixed with so you think you can dance urban style.

If you weren’t  writing, or producing what would you be doing ?

If I wasn’t filming or writing I would be a fitness instructor or owning a gym. Fitness and health is very important me. I would also like to start a program to feed the homeless. I always wanted to do more to help people that are not as fortunately as the rest of us.

Where do you see yourself in five years from now?

Where I see myself in five years is making a huge impact in the community. I want to be a household name for producing some of the biggest movies in Hollywood. I see myself doing things bigger than just making films like; building homes for the homeless and film schools to teach young kids the fundamental of the film industry . Let them showcase their talents through acting and film.

How can readers keep in contact with you through social networks?
Facebook: Sheena Herod


IG; @iamsheshe , @tapooproductions


International Motivational Speaker William Hollis joins VEU Magazine as Brand Ambassador

Message From VEU Magazine Editor-In Chief Adrena Martin-Tolbert


International motivational speaker William Hollis has just been appointed as brand ambassador for VEU Magazine. William has traveled the country delivering motivation and telling his story of overcoming homelessness, drugs, broken family ties, and more. The 27 year old has a passion for inspiring not only the youth, but anyone around him that needs to be healed and inspired by his story.

I chose William to represent VEU Magazine, because I thoroughly believe that his vision and passion for motivating those around him is aligned with what we are all about as a company. VEU, which stands for Visionairies and Entrepreneurs United, was created as a  platform  for all of the entrepreneurs and visionaries in the world, and to bring more awareness to them. We also have a goal of providing awareness to various community, health, and positive issues that are not spotlighted on a regular basis.

We want to motivate and inspire our readers, and let them know that they are not alone in whatever struggles they may be going through. I am very pleased to bring William on board and happy to have him apart of the VEU Magazine team to help us fully execute our goals.

William Hollis is an ex-professional football player turned motivational speaker from Pontiac Michigan. His mother was a heroic addict and his father was a gang member. In 2014 he cracked his vertebrae, and shortly after that, he ended up homeless with a newborn daughter. His life took a turn for the better, and at the end of 2015, he was getting featured in various newspapers, and was keynote speaker for several youth empowerment events.

Follow William on his social networks @iamwilliamhollis

Recipe Corner- “Moussaka”

Written by Iris Foss


Moussaka is a traditional Greek dish. Every family surely has their own version. I prefer the healthy version.


Meat sauce

2 pounds ground lamb or beef
1 chopped onion
4 crushed garlic cloves
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 Tbsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup of cooking wine
2 Tbsp or more of lemon juice
Pinch of salt to taste

Bechamel sauce

1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups whole milk
4 egg yolks
3 cups shredded Mozzerella cheese
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

The moussaka

3 large peeled and sliced eggplants
1/2 cup salt
2-3 pealed and sliced potatoes
1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
Olive oil

Prepare the meat sauce

1 Heat and brown the ground meat. Drain all the grease. Add the onions about halfway into the browning process. Sprinkle salt over the meat and onions.

2 Once the meat is browned and the onions have softened, add the garlic, black pepper, oregano and tomato paste. Mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes.

3 Add the red wine and mix well. Bring the sauce to a simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Add the lemon zest and the lemon juice. Mix well and taste. Set the sauce aside.

Prepare the potatoes and eggplants

4 Peel and slice the eggplant and the potatoes into 1/4 inch rounds.

5 Boil the potatoes in salted water for 5-8 minutes – you want them undercooked, but no longer crunchy. Drain and set aside.

6 To cook the eggplant, grill or fry the rounds using Olive oil. Transfer into paper towels and set aside.

Prepare the béchamel

7 Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until pale and smooth, 2 minutes. Still whisking constantly, add the milk and cook until thickened. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Let the sauce cool for 5 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and Mozzerella cheese. W8hisk into the bechamel sauce until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 3-quart baking dish or casserole dish.

To assemble: Put half the eggplant and potato slices in the dish and cover with half the meat sauce. Top the sauce with the remaining eggplant and potato slices, and then the remaining meat sauce. Pour the bechamel over the top of the meat sauce and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese evenly over the top, place the dish on a baking sheet, and bake until browned and bubbly, 45 to 50 minutes. Top with fresh parsley or cilantro, if desired. Let cool for at least 20 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.

3 Smart Ways to Shine Above Your Colleagues

Written by Salina Jivani


We all want to excel at work. After all, with hard work follow perks like pay increases, promotions and recognition. And who in their right mind would say no to any of that?

But let’s be realistic. We live in an extremely competitive environment where people are constantly trying to outdo one another to clamor to the top of the workplace ranks, striving to gain recognition and earn accolades. This isn’t to say that the fierce competition out there makes it impossible for you to be noticed as a respected and esteemed associate. In fact, if you follow three simple rules, you’re almost guaranteed to set yourself apart from the rest of your colleagues and catch the eye of your manager, or possibly other leaders within your company.

From my personal experiences, I can tell you that people who go the extra mile almost always garner the favor and attention of supervisors.

Jessica, a lady I worked with at the onset of my career, was the epitome of a go-getter and the shining star on our team. She’d jump into projects wholeheartedly and with complete commitment. I remember when I first joined the team, I’d always feel most comfortable going to her with questions about my own clients.  She’d patiently walk me through the resolution and even reach out directly to my clients (who everyone dreaded working with) right then and there with a solution—without me ever even asking. Amazing!

But being a Jessica is easy if you set your mind to it. In your own work, think about the daily tasks that are part of your job requirements, then think about how you can go beyond those baseline requirements and adopt a side project that can make life simpler or more streamlined for those around you. For example, you could do something as simple as compiling and distributing a code of commonly used keyboard shortcuts your entire team can benefit from. Or an Excel sheet embedded with formulas your coworkers often use but enter manually in a spreadsheet. Be sure to share these projects with your manager as you complete them and before you share with the team.

Tasks like this demonstrate your willingness to go beyond your job responsibilities while benefiting those around you—resulting in a win-win for everyone.

Associates who go above the norm often benefit from promotions and increased bonuses.

Do what no one else will

There’s always that one task that absolutely no one wants to take on. You know what I’m talking about. The moment your manager makes mention of it, everyone shrinks into their chairs, starts itching their noses or suddenly has a speck of dirt stuck in their eyes. Grab opportunities like this to stand apart from the masses. Be the person who takes on what no one else will. Not only will your superiors appreciate and respect your willingness, but you’ll also quickly become the favorite of coworkers, who will admire your courage.

Have an amazing attitude

Though this is the last item listed, it’s definitely one of the most important. Being motivated and delivering beyond expectations is great, but if you’re a brat to work with, it’s almost a guarantee that you won’t get very far.

We all know that sometimes it can be tough to maintain a great relationship with everyone at work—especially because these are the people you spend the majority of your day with and sooner or later you’re bound to discover each other’s shortcomings or have differences of opinion. But remember, while it’s okay to not always agree, it’s not okay to be disrespectful, loud, rude or obnoxious. Attitude is all about the way you carry yourself, handle conflict and navigate disputes. So when faced with a difficult situation, be sure to remain tactful yet diplomatic, firm but professional, and overall, a positive, fun, and reliable person, and you’ll easily be labeled as someone who’s a pleasure to work with.

Lastly, don’t sweat it. Remain motivated and your natural desire to excel will shine through in your interactions and in the quality of your work, paving the way for unbridled success.

Virtue Studio and Cafe Host 3Day Women’s Conference

Join the network where Creativity Has No Limits!

Atlanta, GA: In order to help you start fall on a high note, Virtue Studio and Cafe announces its 1st annual Women’s in Business Conference. On September 30th – October 2nd join us as we shift from potential to purpose. During this 3 day conference guest will be exposed to workshops, network building sessions, and a panel discussion from successful women in a variety of industries.
Studies have shown that African American women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs. Our goal is to assist you in building the foundation for your endeavors. Some of the workshop and panel topics include:
· Social Entrepreneurism: How to establish a business with a social agenda
· Nurturing business relationships
· My Money, your Money: Maintaining proper business financials
· Enduring the struggle: Thee journey through entrepreneurship
We’re not just about business; we know how to play as well. There will be a networking mixer, games and give-a-ways featuring some amazing items and services from local business owners. Not only do we want to help you succeed, we want to help you build a network of women who will support you throughout your journey.
· Registration is limited to the first 100 ladies
· Early bird registration on sale now for $100/person
· Regular registration starting September 10th is $150/person
· Vendor and Sponsorship opportunities are available
Creative Synergy Inc., the parent company of Virtue Studio and Café is a full service visual communications company dedicated to producing a standard of excellence in the areas of: photography, multimedia production, graphic design, and custom branding and event execution. You can find us online at creativesynergyinc.com . For more information about registering for the conference please contact us at contact@creativesynergyinc.com

Why Being a Workaholic Does More Damage Than Good

Written by Salina Jivani


I’ll admit it. My name is Salina and I’m a workaholic. I can’t sit still long enough to enjoy anything for more than a few minutes without tinkering on my laptop.

One day, I actually forced my laptop under the deep, dark confines of my bed, figuring that if I buried it out of sight, I wouldn’t be tempted to whip it out every ten seconds.

It worked.

In fact, not only did it work, it transformed me.

So today I wanted to reach out to those of you who suffer from the same tendencies. Because while being a hard worker is definitely a virtue, being a workaholic is not. Workaholism (yes, I totally just made up that word) is an addiction that can be as damaging and impactful to your life and health as any other addiction. And here are some reasons why you should sever that addiction before it overpowers your life.

An overworked mind means a burnt out you

In the beginning, working a lot can seem like a great thing. You’re recognized by your manager for your long hours and dedication, you’re seen as a good role model by colleagues and you get so much done all the time that you can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment. Plus, you’re guaranteed the biggest bucket of dollars when it comes time for bonus checks. But those excess hours grueling away will take their toll on you eventually—mentally, physically or both.

I never believed that until it happened to me. For a week during which I was juggling ten projects at work, I felt this uncontrollable sense of dizziness and a tingling sensation in my neck. I paid a visit to the doctor who, after a few quick questions, informed me that I was suffering through an obvious case of exhaustion. I was spending way too many hours in front of the computer (which often spurred the dizziness), working into the wee hours of the morning with minimum breaks in between and sitting in uncomfortable positions, pinching the nerves in my neck. To top it off, I was indoors most of the day laboring away at my computer, which led to a severe vitamin D deficiency.  I was prescribed extra strength vitamin D, which is silly considering that this is one of the easiest vitamins to obtain through pure and natural sunlight! But this was my body’s way of begging for mercy and telling me that enough was enough.

When I put the computer away and used the time to actually take a stroll around the neighborhood, I felt like a completely different person. I had more energy, a more positive attitude and felt more in tune with the people around me. Which brings us to the next point.

Too much can ruin your social life

Like with any other addiction, working too much can put a strain on relationships and damage your social life. When you focus so much attention on any one thing, you’re signaling those around you about what’s important and takes priority in your life. And giving that spotlight to work likely means that you’re alienating or neglecting important people in your life, like your family, friends and significant other. Addictions can often ruin or break up relationships, so if you are starting the feel the strain of your actions on people who are dear to you, it’s time to seriously take a step back before you inadvertently end up severing some important ties.

You’re missing out on life

Life is too short—and tomorrow is never guaranteed. Depressing as that may sound, it’s the truth. By wiling your hours away with work, you’re missing out on the adventures of life. And adventure doesn’t have to mean bungee jumping or rock climbing. Adventure could be as simple as taking your kids to the pool or spending an afternoon on the porch sipping a cool beer with someone you care about. As they say, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Remember, in the end, life is about people’s lasting impressions of you and the lives you touch rather than the hours you spent concealed behind a PC. So go out there and live it to the fullest and make the most of every moment.

Why Bread Is More Dangerous Than it Looks (and how to choose wisely)

Written By Salina Jivani


If you’re like most people, you’ve had a love-hate relationship with carbs at some point. And who can blame you? With all the dieticians out there keen on slinging mud on our hip-clinging friends, like rice, bread, and, yes, donuts, it’s tempting to completely banish these traitors from our lives. But if your worth the grain on your bread, you know that carbs are an essential part of any well balanced diet. And let’s be real: diets that are carb-restricted are doomed for failure at some point, because practically it’s not possible or healthy to go forever without these essential (and oh so yum) foods in our lives.

The trick to eating carbs is to select the healthy ones (yes, wave good bye to bagel’s frosted and sprinkled twin)—which can be especially difficult when it comes to one of America’s most necessary staples, if storms and power outages are anything to go by—bread. And with store-bought breads containing harmful ingredients while deceptively boasting their nutritional superiority over competitors’, it’s easy to see why they have a bad rap. After all, how can you trust a food that’s constantly under so much scrutiny?

But don’t give up hope. There’s a way to make sure you’re including this can-be-healthy food into your daily diets—while benefiting from its merits. To make sure you’re buying the healthiest most natural, nutrient-dense bread, we’ve compiled some important information you should consider the next time you find yourself browsing the bakery aisle.

Ingredients to avoid


Let’s start with the no-nos. You may not give it much thought, but the bread most of us have lurking in our pantries has a ton of very bad, not so great ingredients. A quick skim of your bread packaging may reveal some of these unhealthy items:

  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Sugar
  • Soybean oil, corn oil
  • Corn starch,
  • Soy lecithin
  • Preservatives
  • Food coloring
  • Any terms you cannot pronounce—these typically sound more like names of chemicals that belong in a lab than whole foods you may find in the aisle of a grocery store.

Why are these ingredients bad for you? We’re glad you asked.

Of course, manufactured sugars are an obvious. Nothing good ever comes out of them and they’re certainly not healthy for you. Plus, even fake sugars are known to cause cancers and heart disease while others that operate under a cleverly named alias, like high fructose corn syrup, can cause health risks including weight gain, diabetes, and bad cholesterol.

Genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) like soybean oil, corn oil, corn starch, and soy lecithin can be detrimental to your health because the original forms from which these oils are derived often contain pesticides that are poisonous and can prove toxic when ingested.

Preservatives, which are often present in many breads and are sometimes listed simply as “preservatives” on the ingredients panel, can lead to long-term diseases like ADHD.

Even the simpler, seemingly harmless ingredients like food coloring or artificial flavors can lead to a development of allergies or asthma.

And of course the ingredients you can pronounce are usually the ones you should steer clear of the most, because these are the ones that are lab-manufactured, just like they sound, and can pose a whole slew of health issues including, but not limited to, cancers and tumors. (Think about it—you’re expecting your body to digest lab-devised chemicals. There’s no way that can be healthy!)

What you should look for

Now that you know what to avoid, let’s talk about what you should look for. Put simply, anything that is a real ingredient and is healthy for you gets a green checkmark. Examples include whole wheat, herbs, flaxseed, rice bran, yeast, hemp seeds…you get the drift. If it sounds like a real food your mom would encourage you to eat, it’s probably safe.

Best brands on the shelves

Now that we have all the good and the bad out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff! Even though we’ve made that loaf in your pantry look as threatening as it did when the Atkins diet took the world by storm, let us reassure you that bread is and can still be a healthy carb. And the good news is, you don’t have to don an apron and cover yourself in flour from head-to-toe to avoid the adverse health effects of poorly choiced purchase—there are some great options right there on those super market shelves. That’s right, there’s hope. In fact, here are the brands that are top-rated by many trusted health advocates:

So don’t be afraid of the B word (bread, of course!). Just remember, an educated consumer is the best one

Are Electronics Damaging Your Kids’ Future?

Written by Salina Jivani


I got my first cell phone when I was sixteen. Until then, I wasn’t allowed to have electronics of any kind in my room, including ones most teenagers my age took for granted—like TVs. So you’ll probably laugh when you hear that I optimistically believed my own kids would be thirteen before they ever laid hands on a gadget or gizmo.


Go ahead, laugh it out.


I’ll shamefully admit that my eldest is seven and already has a partially functioning cell phone, meaning she has access to YouTube and the internet—basically the permissions she has on her tablet. Yes, her tablet. Which she got from her grandparents-the very same people who refused to let me see the light of a screen until I was sixteen—when she was only four. Oh the double standards.


And, ok, they started her off with one of those Leap Frog tablets, which are actually educational. Except when she turned five, they upgraded her to a Nabi and at six, to a full-blown tablet. She’s addicted to it, which is horrible, I know. Trust me I was dead set against it, but it’s not like my parents ever listen to anything I say, even if it’s about my own kids!


I’ll admit that as a work at home mom, I’m constantly struggling to find educational games and outdoor activities that can occupy the five hours that span the time my daughters arrive home till the time they’re tuckered out for the night. So when I’m taking an urgent call or working on a tight deadline, the tablet is a God sent.


And yes, on weekdays tablet and TV time is successfully limited to no more than two hours a day—most days. But there are moments when I’m just too darned caught up working or cooking dinner, and I don’t have the time or patience to break up squabbles or worry about spills that are inevitable when I task them to play with their toys or indulge in arts and crafts. But I’ll admit, the screen time bothers me. A lot.


But when my four-year-old reported new learnings and vocabulary from Sid the Science Kid, I began to question whether or not the screen time was truly as damaging as rumored. So I did some of my own digging and found some interesting facts I thought I’d share.


The good

I always like to start with the positives, so here we go. The good news is that educational TV programs and games can actually benefit children. TV channels like PBS, GPB and even certain shows on Nick Jr., can benefit children by teaching them different languages, helping them expand their vocabulary, introducing them to math skills and showing them how to use inference to solve problems.


With babies practically gripping electronics in place of rattles nowadays, it’s no wonder that kids in today’s generation are extremely tech saavy. As a result, the app market has exploded with apps like ABC Mouse and The Alphabet Train that are geared toward toddlers who—surprise, surprise!—have the motor skills to navigate through them with little to no trouble. Not only do these apps help children gain an early understanding of the alphabets, but programs like Baby Can Read also help kids become advanced readers before they even begin elementary school.


The bad

But not all is cherries and roses; of course with the good follows the bad.


Though educational benefits can be reaped from screen time, so can several other less than optimal effects.


For example, based on research conducted by the University of California, kids who were exposed to more screen time had greater difficulty reading people’s emotions based on 50 facial expressions they were shown than those who engaged in outdoor activity and play. It’s proven that kids who spend a vast amount of time in front of gadgets and have limited face-to-face interactions become socially distanced in this way. Of course the problems don’t end there. Ongoing exposure to electronics can cause poor vision, obesity and sleep issues in kids of all ages among many other problems that may be unveiled in the future.


In the end

Technology is an ever growing part of our lives, so to say it should be banned permanently from your child’s life is both farfetched and unrealistic—especially as schools gear to include more technology-driven resources. The best thing to do is to use it, but use it wisely. Make educated choices about what your kids are being exposed to when they are permitted screen time—and also remember to limit the amount of time they are allowed to spend on electronics, no more than two hours a day according to most credible sources.

As a responsible parent, you can encourage your kids to play outdoors, make trips to the library or take them for a surprise visit to the zoo. According to the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood, Kids who don’t depend on electronics for entertainment have fewer psychological issues and live better balanced lives—both emotionally and physically—than those who grow up hooked to electronics. 


So remember, although the TV can be a savior sometimes, its prolonged use and effects are definitely not worth the few hours of peace it provides.