Myopia, device dependency, gaming addiction, cyberbullying and lack of outdoor activity are just some of the serious consequences resulting from the ever-increasing reliance of children on digital technology.
Addressing these problems entails raising awareness about the pitfalls of excessive device use and empowering children with the knowledge on how to develop responsible relationships with technology. The Plano Adventures children’s book series breaks new ground in this global conversation.
Education and awareness through a bestselling children’s book series
One of the biggest challenges of any education and awareness campaign is selecting the medium which is best suited to engage the target audience. At Plano, we figured, what better way to convey our message to children than through the magic of illustrated books!
I wanted to work with people who are experienced in the early chapter book genre and who would be able to deliver information on eye health and responsible screen use in a fun and engaging narrative that all children will enjoy. I assembled a team of award-winning creatives, author Hwee Goh and illustrator David Liew, and together, we successfully produced the five-book series, The Plano Adventures.
Stories from The Plano Adventures series are based on scientific research and were written with the aim of educating and empowering children to take responsibility for their own device use.
The series takes young readers into the world of Professor Plano and his young sidekicks, Zed and Zee. The trio works together to battle it out with the antagonist of the series, Lord Myopic, as he wreaks havoc on the citizens and creatures of magical towns. The series comprises 5 books, each of which is dedicated to one theme relevant to the dangers of devices.
Book 1: Trouble in Murktown
Trouble in Murktown is about myopia and its association with excessive screen time.
The first book introduces young readers to Lord Myopic, who is determined to cover Murktown in a fog and take control of its people using the Bottle-Bottle screens he had invented. Children also get their first look at the hero of the story, Professor Plano, who is on his way to pick up his Clear Vision potion. It is at this moment that he meets the twins, Zed and Zee. The trio soon realises that they hold the key to defeat Lord Myopic.
Book 2: The Ray Keepers
The Ray Keepers highlights the importance of outdoor activities.
In this book, the trio is on their way to meet the Ray Keepers who live at Rainbow’s Edge. They hope that the Ray Keepers can help them find out which Light is good for Clear Vision. However, when they reach Rainbow’s Edge, they come across a flight of sickly dragons who have been using the Bottle-Bottle screens created by Lord Myopic. Together with the Ray Keepers, the trio works against time to save the dragons.
Book 3: The Never-ending Game
The Never-ending Game educates children about the harmful effects of gaming addiction and how to tackle it.
Professor Plano and the twins visit Nettown, a place where every child is hooked on a game invented by Lord Myopic. Fortunately, with the help of the Clear Vision Recipe, Professor Plano figures out how to wean everyone off the addictive game and stop Lord Myopic from becoming more powerful.
Book 4: Attack of the Cybugs
The Attack of the Cybugs deals with cyberbullying.
The book begins with the trio learning about The Wood Wide Web, a town infested with creatures known as cybugs. These creatures bully residents via nasty emails and words, and target children who use the Clear Vision Recipe. The trio quickly realises that Lord Myopic is behind this attack and decide to visit the town to help its residents. Once they arrive at the town, they encourage each resident to stand up for themselves and drive their bullies out using the fourth ingredient of the Clear Vision Recipe, MyPower.
Book 5: Out of Order
Out of order is about device dependency and how children can protect themselves against it.
The final book of the series begins with the trio hot on the trail of Lord Myopic. They have arrived in Lord Myopic’s dreamworld – a town where everything runs on machines. People talk to each other only on their devices and the entire town is run by robots. When the weary robots decide to go on a strike, the residents of the town are at a loss. With the help of the Clear Vision Recipe, the trio works out how to help the residents become less dependent on their devices and the robots.
The Clear Vision Recipe
The underlying call to action in each book in the series is for children to remember and adopt Professor Plano’s Clear Vision Recipe, which is made up of recommendations on healthy device use and eye care habits based on the latest scientific literature. They are:
1. Scoops of good distance: Use smartphones and tablets at a distance of 30cm from your eyes
2. Dashes of eye breaks: Take eye breaks after 30 minutes of using smart devices
3. Heaps of time outdoors: Spend at least two to three hours every day outdoors
4. MyPower: Be responsible for your actions. It is up to you to follow and adopt these recommendations every day.
My team and I thought that the best way to present these recommendations was in the form of a child-friendly recipe. In this way, we empower each of our young readers with the knowledge of how the recommendations work to protect their overall wellbeing.
The Plano Adventures is available in all major bookstores in the United Kingdom, United States, Australia and Singapore. The books are also available for online orders worldwide on Amazon.