Cartoon Doggyland Characters

Social and Emotional Learning Meets Hip-Hop in Doggyland

Emmy-nominated producer Claude Brooks is no stranger to making music that appeals to kids; as creator of the children’s series Hip Hop Harry, he saw that franchise grow to include a live touring show and popular merchandise. His latest venture builds on that success but is designed to help kids develop new social and emotional learning skills as they sing along. Doggyland — Kids Songs & Nursery Rhymes launched in August on all streaming platforms and introduced a colorful cast of characters led by an adult mentor named Bow Wizzle. In his non-animated form, Bow Wizzle is better known as rapper and entrepreneur Snoop Dogg, who approached Claude with the idea to do something for children. [caption id="attachment_18985" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Snoop Dog[/caption] “We go back almost 20 years,” Claude says of this relationship with Snoop. Claude’s expertise in creating kid-centric entertainment made him the perfect collaborator and the result is a positive show that encourages kids and parents to come together to learn new skills while spreading love and joy. “As a father, grandfather, and longtime youth football coach, it’s always been important to me to build positive and educational environments for all children,” Snoop said. “I’ve always wanted to create a kid-friendly series that lets kids be kids and is truly representative of the culture.” The duo brought in October London, a talented singer and writer, to round out the team. Through music, rap and fun dance movements they teach lessons about things like accepting those who are different, not being a bully, and practicing good manners. There’s even a song called “Affirmations” that is catchy enough for parents to sing in the shower for a positive, uplifting start to the day. “It’s for toddlers all the way up,” Claude says. “I don’t want to put a ceiling on it.” Celebrating a diverse world Doggyland is a world where all the puppies are different types, body shapes and colors. That was intentional, Claude notes: “In doing that, what we’re trying to subliminally put out there is diversity. They sound different, they have different attributes, and they all kind of work together.” They’re presently developing a new character with a disability to start changing the way kids view disabilities. Snoop has a special needs football league and felt strongly about making sure they felt represented in Doggyland. “We have a song about how you can do or be anything you want to be,” Claude says. “We’re putting one of the characters in a wheelchair but they’re playing basketball with everybody else.” He says he hopes that opens up the conversation among children and adults about disabilities and changes the way children view those who are differently abled. “We’re not telling you how to talk about it, but we’re opening up various things in a way where a little conversation could potentially come out of it,” Claude explains. Feel-good learning In addition to social and emotional learning songs, Doggyland also features educational songs, like updated takes on classic learning songs about things like the ABCs, colors and counting. And while the music is primarily hip-hop based, it covers a wide range of sounds. “Within hip-hop, there’s all these different genres,” Claude says. “We’re pop, we even jump into a little bit of reggaeton, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. It covers all types of music.” [caption id="attachment_18986" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Claude Brooks[/caption] The series is accompanied by an album of the same name, which is available on all streaming platforms. Going forward, that sound may expand even more, as several notable names in the music industry have reached out and requested to collaborate on songs. “They’re from all genres of music and it’s some names that will really surprise you,” he says. That makes him feel good about what they’ve created so far and lets him know they’re on the right track: “What that says to me is that if you’re doing music from a good place — and it’s good music — it crosses all kinds of boundaries. If it’s good, it pulls people together. “And if you can jam to something that your child also wants to jam to, what’s better than that?”
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Live Happy's Tips for Digital Wellness

6 Hacks for Better Digital Wellness

So what is "digital wellness?" For me, it’s all about maintaining a “tech-life balance” by understanding how digital technology affects 4 pillars in my life–Focus, Mental Health, Physical Health, and Relationships–and how to balance these using technology while minimizing the negative effects. Here are some of my favorite small hacks that anyone can do to help: 1. Have a phone-free bedroom. Daunting to some, easy for others. One study suggests that doing this can improve happiness, quality of life, sleep, and relationships, and reduce anxiety – in just one week! 2. Put the phone away when engaging in conversation or doing work. One study suggests that the difference in productivity can be as high as 26% when comparing having the phone on the desk to having it in another room while performing a task. 3. Be a role model. Do you get frustrated with your kids always being on their phones? Or colleagues scrolling through meetings? Be the change you want to see! It is a lot easier to help others change by showcasing the desired behavior ourselves. 4. Turn off “Self View” in video meetings. Not your video, so people can still see you, but just so you don’t see yourself! It introduces stress and removes focus from the conversation. 5. Manage notifications. Determine which apps have the right to take your attention. Turn off any non-essential notifications or use functions in the phone to batch them. It has been found that just turning off email notifications can lower your heart rate and stress. 6. Consider your information intake. Staying up-to-date with news and events is important, but think about how often and how much information you consume. Think critically about whether the information actually is essential, adds value to you, changes your decisions, or just makes you feel worse. You can find tons of advice and resources and officially take the Digital Wellness pledge at (May 6).  However, the takeaway here is that you can do any and all of these hacks any day. You don’t need a special day to take stock of your tech-life balance. Taíno Bendz is the founder of Phone Free Day and his own consulting business, and his message on mindful and intentional technology usage has reached and inspired hundreds of thousands of people around the world. He is a public speaker, workshop facilitator, and conducts research on digital technology usage. His latest book, Tech-Life Balance: 101 Ways to Take Control of Your Digital Life and Save Your Sanity is scheduled to be released in October 2022
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Live Happy Don't Let Social Media Harm Your Happiness

Don’t Let Social Media Harm Your Happiness

While creating robust real-life social networks can be a well-being enhancer, a recent study from the University of Pennsylvania suggests our virtual social networks can have the opposite effect. According to researchers at UPenn, through experimental data and self-monitoring, this study is the first to show a causal link that an increase in social media use can decrease well-being. “What we found very clearly was that the folks who were in the group that limited their social media use, showed significant reductions in depression and loneliness,” says psychologist Melissa G. Hunt, Ph.D, associate director of clinical training in the department of psychology at UPenn. “This was actually most true for the folks who were the most depressed at the start of this study.” In the recently released World Happiness Report 2019, by 2018, “95 percent of United States adolescents had access to a smartphone, and 45 percent said they were online ‘almost constantly.’” When there is an increase in digital media, especially for young people, there is a decline in sleep, exercise, social interactions and attending religious services compared to those who do not spend so much time in a virtual reality. Melissa says that when we spend hours on apps, such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, passively scrolling through our feeds and negatively comparing ourselves to “one-sided” views of other people’s lives, we are doing serious harm to our well-being. Melissa also says the fear of missing out (FOMO)—which is witnessing people in your network having a good time without you—also contributes to negative feelings. “So that whole fear of missing out in which people get very anxious about other people having connections, friendships and relationships that they aren’t a part of is another part of the problem,” Melissa says. “When you use too much social media, you feel like your own life doesn’t measure up and you are feeling that you are not always invited to things that everyone else is invited to.” So how can we use social media in way that doesn’t make us sad? Here are three helpful suggestions from Melissa: Seeing is not always believing. Most of what we see on social media is not real. Not to say that it is necessarily staged, but people rarely post negative images of themselves. We are only getting the intended perspective, and we tend to compare ourselves negatively to something this isn’t accurate. “You are looking at someone else’s Instagram feed and its very curated, everyone looks very happy and they are only posting the photos that are actually flattering,” Melissa says. “And so you get a very one-side perspective on other people’s lives. And it’s very easy to conclude that your own life just doesn’t measure up? It is not as fun, not as glamorous, you are not doing as much.” The real thing is always better. Mindlessly scrolling through social feeds not only wastes your time, it further isolates you from the people you are trying to catch up with virtually. Try spending more time reconnecting with people in person. Maybe someone you know needs a real conversation instead of a virtual chat or text. “One of the things to remember about intimacy is that intimacy is fostered by sharing the bad times with people as well as the good times with people,” Melissa says. “And there something about social media that doesn’t encourage that.” Put yourself on restriction. Melissa says quitting social media cold turkey is unrealistic, especially with younger generations who grew up attached to their phones. She recommends about a half hour day. By spending less time FOMO-ing, we’re are more likely to get out in the real world and take part in activities that benefit our well-being, such as taking a walk or volunteering. During their study, researchers noticed that participants, who were all college students, were amazed to realize how much time they were spending on social media before the break and how much better they felt about themselves after the digital reprieve. Melissa says that some even said they were more likely to complete their school work and socialize with their friends in person.
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