Archive for the ‘ Apps ’ Category

KidZui Provides Safe Browsing Tips Upon Release of New Mobile App

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

As parents, it’s our job to make sure that our kids learn how to be safe at all times whether they’re crossing the street, playing with friends, or online. KidZui, the company that has one of the most popular kid-safe downloadable internet browsers announced the launch of a new mobile app that is designed to keep children safe when accessing content on the go. This new app will be available for iOS download on Apple’s App Store on Thursday, November 14 and will available for Android soon too.

“After months of preparation, planning and research, we are thrilled with the results of the updated version of KidZui and are overjoyed with launch of the first-ever KidZui mobile app,” said Ryan Bettencourt, Vice President of Online for Saban Brands and one of the Founders of Zui.com and KidZui. “It’s important that we continue to keep the Internet safe for children while also making it fun and easy to use. The mobile app extends KidZui’s parameters, providing parents with the same assurances both at home and on the go.”

With safety being at the forefront of parents’ minds when it comes to content and our kids, I talked to Bettancourt about mobile devices, ways to teach our kids about safe searching habits as they grow beyond KidZui, and the things that parents need to be mindful about with safe searching as their kids increase the use of mobile devices to access content.

Tech Savvy Parents (TSP): With mobile devices being much more prevalent in our kids’ lives, this is an exciting announcement. What are some key things that kids need to know about searching in any browser via desktop computers, laptops, and mobile devices?

Ryan Bettancourt (RB): We believe that the big things kids need in searching in a browser is an experience that is built specifically for kids.  Kids generally don’t have the same intent that adults do in searching.  Adults go into a web browser and search engine with specific goals in mind.  Kids don’t do so to the same degree.  Therefore, the browsing and search experience needs to address that.  KidZui was built from the ground up for readers and non-readers alike and with a focus on how kids search and discover things online in a different way.  Frankly, opening a Google prompt that returns a million text results in a nanosecond isn’t important to a kid.  What is important to a kid is that they can discover things they didn’t even know they were interested in and do so in an intuitive and graphical way.

In searching in any browser, kids need to know:

  • How to distinguish ads from non-paid content
  • A general idea of what they are looking for
  • How to conduct a search and use it to also find related content

TSP: KidZui becomes a trusted way to search in households for kids as they get started being online. At some point, families need to transition away from it. How can parents help their children learn to be better searchers since it’s an important skill in today’s digital age?

RB: We have often said that KidZui is web browsing on training wheels.  Just like you use training wheels on a bike to learn balance and how to turn and navigate, you need the same online.  Technology is only going to become more important in the world in the future and empowering kids with skills to use technology for learning, discovering passions and communicating is critical.

Parents can help their kids by sitting with them as they get used to searching and teaching them to understand how to create proper searches.  They can also help kids understand websites and typical website navigational elements so that kids can easily navigate for the information they are seeking.

One important thing parents can do is sit with their kids as they use the internet (on KidZui or elsewhere) to do research on a specific topic.  For example, if a kid has a report due on insects, a parent can work with a child to conduct that research, extrapolate the right information, store information for later, copy and paste, and so on.

Finally, parents can help kids to learn how to store/favorite/bookmark content so that they can get back to their favorite things easily.

TSP: As a technology company that always keeps kids’ safety in mind, what do you see as things that parents need to be mindful of beyond safe search?

RB: At KidZui, our passion has always been to allow kids to safely discover the best things online.  We believe that enabling great “discovery” shouldn’t be sacrificed in an effort to be safe.  They have to be in equal parts.

I think the real thing parents have to understand is that search and communication have radically changed.  Google and Bing aren’t the only way kids are searching these days.  They use YouTube, Facebook (older kids), Instagram (older kids) and others to search.  Those are effectively search engines in themselves.  And, those environments can also quickly lead a child to inappropriate and irrelevant content.  It’s important that parents be active in helping their children learn how to navigate all platforms in an appropriate way.

And of course, within a smartphone or tablet app environment, parents also need to be mindful of how kids are using those apps.

TSP: What’s next for KidZui in this ever-changing world of technology?

RB: We have explored many different opportunities and are currently figuring out where we want to put our energy next.  We certainly need to create an Android tablet version of our KidZui app and figure out what a mobile phone version is like.

Kids using mobile devices via Shutterstock

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Tags: | Categories: Apps, Devices, Online Safety

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5 Things Angry Birds Can Teach Kids About Physics

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

Angry Birds is the number one downloaded app worldwide and while we may think our kids are wasting away precious hours slingshotting birds into caged pigs, there are many scientific concepts that can be learned from the addictive game. National Geographic’s Angry Birds Furious Forces describes the complicated physics at play in the world’s most popular game. With chapters titled mechanics, sound and light, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, and particle physics and beyond, parents who had previously felt guilty about allowing their Angry Birds obsessed kids can rest easier knowing that there’s some serious science behind the game that’s presented in easy to understand language in a format that’s fun for kids and adults alike.

What five basic scientific concepts do kids really learn through their endless hours of playing any version of Angry Birds?

Physics- The book begins with an introduction by Peter Vesterbacka, Chief Marketing Officer of Rovio Entertainment, who writes, “Angry Birds fans come face-to-face with basic principles of physics every time they take aim with the slingshot.”

Motion and trajectory- The act of flinging a bird into the air represents motion while the trajectory is the path that it takes to reach the pigs. The first chapter builds on motion by introducing projectile motion too. Roller coaster enthusiasts will identify with the motion of the cars on favorite rides.

Force- Force is required to pull back and Angry Bird and also bust open the pigs’ crates but there are also other forces that can cause objects to speed up or slow down. Angry Birds Furious Forces also provides additional concrete examples such as baseball and skateboarding to describe forces at work.

Kinetic energy- Kinetic energy is a tricky concept to understand but explaining stored energy in relation to familiar objects such as the rubber band that launches the bird, provides a concrete example that kids can relate to. The book describes kinetic energy at work by describing the behavior of the birds as they reach their targets. “The faster the bird moves, the more energy it has…As the bird gets higher, it slows down, so its kinetic energy decreases.”

Gravity and weight- Real world examples interspersed with those from the game enrich this book even more as it explains gravity as the pull of the Earth but as it relates to weightlessness that astronauts feel in space.

Angry Birds Furious Forces serves as a great introduction to basic physics concepts for young ages because they’re presented in a way that kids can relate to as they play their favorite game. Older students who grapple with the abstract nature of physics will appreciate the way the book uses real world examples to provide concrete examples of more complex topics like relativity, gravitational potential energy, vectors, matter, along with protons, neutrons, and molecules. This book also makes Angry Birds loving parents a little envious that the game didn’t exist when we were kids because we all could have benefitted from this book to help make high school and college physics a little more fun and easy to relate to.

Little boys playing on smartphone via Shutterstock

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4 Classic Stories and Rhymes as Preschool Apps

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

While there’s no substitute for sitting down and reading a book with your child, interactive apps provide them with some hands on learning that reinforce early academic skills. Learning opportunities that take classic stories and favorite rhymes are engaging ways to provide your toddler or preschooler with another way to learn while you’re on the go or suffering through an unbelievably long non-kid friendly wait at the pediatrician’s office.

5 Little Monkeys— One of the most well-known children’s rhymes is now an app available for iPhones, iPads and iPods. The digital version of this favorite helps teaches counting and language through beautiful graphics and sounds. Just like the rhyme, the app features repetition to help develop cognitive skills like memorization, reasoning and comprehension. Preschoolers will love rhyming, singing, and acting along with the monkeys as they also learn musical skills such as pitch control, volume, and voice inflection. 5 Little Monkeys is $2.99 from iTunes for iOS devices.

Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf— Preschoolers who are familiar with the story of the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf will love the interactive version of this story app. Kids can use the microphone to huff and puff just like the wolf, tap on items inside the house to get a better look, or tilt the mobile device to animate the pigs and make them engage in various activities like jumping rope or swinging.  Parents will appreciate that this app supports learners with different levels of reading skills by allowing children to read the story independently or have it read to them. The narrator’s voice can also be changed from male to female to mix it up and provide gender balance for children. This app is $3.99 from iTunes for iOS devices and also available for $2.99 from both the Amazon and nook ($2.99) app stores.

Little Red Riding Hood—  If the predictable tale of Little Red Riding Hood is getting a bit old, let them come up with their own story with a different ending through the Nosy Crow version of the app. Young storytellers get to create their own story by choosing from multiple paths along the way result in a new, fully-animated adventure with different endings every time. There are also nine different games and activities that are embedded in the app to keep interest high throughout the story. Little Red Riding Hood is $5.99 from iTunes for iOS devices.

Pooh’s Birthday Surprise— Winnie the Pooh fans will love joining the delightful inhabitants of the Hundred-Acre Woods in an interactive storybook that focuses on early literacy and pre-math skills. Kids ages 3-5 join Piglet, Owl, Eeyore, and Tigger to plan and celebrate Pooh’s birthday where they work to identify and extend simple patterns, problem solve, develop their vocabulary, and story comprehension skills. Pooh’s Birthday Surprise is $4.99 from iTunes for iOS devices.

Family with touch pad at home via Shutterstock

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3 Easy Ways to Organize School Year Photos and Mementos

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

The start of a new school year is always so exciting and as parents, we take our job of chronicling our child’s year through photos and mementos seriously. But sometimes life gets in the way and it’s easier to say we’re going to do something about the many digital photos, the stacks of artwork, certificates, and precious pieces of academic work than to actually do it. Here are three easy ways you can organize school year photos and mementos with ease as you go so those many precious moments and keepsakes can be cherished for years to come.

Tapsbook for iPad is a free app just launched with rave reviews and as a busy parent of two elementary aged children, I can see why. Tapsbook is a all-in-one app that handles photo viewing, photo management and storytelling that automates the laborious task of sifting through photos from many different sources and pulls them together in one place. Simple gestures can be used to quickly rate my photos and create a yearbook with favorites that can be instantly shared and accessed even offline. Tapsbook is free to download through the iTunes store and users can store up to 500 photos for free. An additional 4GB of storage can be purchased for $2.99/month. In addition to digital photo organization, Tapsbook looks to add a printed photobook service in the next couple months.

School Years by MomAgenda is an easy and effective solution for families that provides single place to keep mementos from your child’s K-12 school career. The spiral bound book features a separate folder for each year in school, has a place to store each year’s report cards, class pictures, art samples, writing samples, and more. Kids enjoy recording special information about their teacher, friends, and favorite after school activities to create a treasured keepsake. Parents love how easy this is to use and what a pleasure it is to open up and read year after year as children grow older.

PicStitch app for iPhone is a simple way to take your many photos from a single event and create beautiful collages. PicStitch features a variety of different layouts, ability to add photos with just a tap and edit them right from the app before publishing to your social networks or saving them to your phone’s album. Parents can quickly share moments with friends and family through their Facebook wall or save them to be printed or incorporated into a Tapsbook album. The free version features 70 different layouts to choose from but the paid version ($1.99) is ad-free and provides 232 layouts, 13 different photo aspect ratios, high resolution export, and more for an investment of less than $2.

Portrait Of Couple Looking At Photo Album via Shutterstock

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3 Foreign Language Learning Apps for Kids

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Teaching kids to be global citizens involves helping them to be conscious of the world around them whether trying new foods, learning about world geography, developing an appreciation of the cultures of different countries, or trying to learn a new language. Parents who aren’t bilingual don’t have to be worried that they can’t help their children learn some new words thanks to the many interactive apps available to teach kids new vocabulary in a fun way. Here are three different apps that are worth taking a look at for ages 3-8 but make language learning enjoyable for the whole family.

Gus on the Go- Gus on the Go provides an opportunity to learn 14 different languages, including Spanish, French and Hebrew, through a language learning adventure that involves discovering new words through engaging vocabulary lessons and reviews through. Available for Android and iOS, Gus on the Go features adorable animations and fun exercises, children the basic concepts of 14 languages with exciting visual and auditory lesson on numbers, colors, shapes through a fun, multi-sensory journey.

Little Pim Spanish, French, and Chinese apps— Little Pim, the company that’s well known for products designed to teach children foreign languages at a young age has developed apps in Spanish, French, and Chinese for iOS devices. Each app introduces 60 vocabulary words and a multitude of phrases through interactive learning. The recently launched Little Pim Spanish Colors features the favorite panda that’s a hallmark of all Little Pim products and stories that kids can read by themselves or with the help of a narrator, fun interactive game play that has kids hunting for balloons while discovering new words, and question and answer feature which helps reinforce vocabulary while teaching basic sentence structure.

Kids Learn Mandarin from FingerPrint— Mandarin is the second most popular language in the world spoken by over 1 billion people and currently considered one of the most important world languages by the U.S. State Department. Kids Learn Mandarin for iOS devices provides 240 Mandarin words through 12 fully interactive lessons that cover numbers, colors, animals, food, sports, transportation and more through 96 mini-games, 12 lively music videos, 12 Chinese character writing lessons all hosted by Pei Pei the Panda. The app is free but lessons are available through in-app purchases. Parents can choose between individual lessons($1.99), a beginner pack of five lessons ($4.99) and the premium pack with all 12 lessons ($7.99).

Close up of male hand writing Chinese and Japanese characters on blackboard via Shutterstock

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