Archive for the ‘ Apps ’ Category

Surprised by Accidental App Purchases? Experienced Parents Share Tips to Safeguard Your Phone

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Have you ever handed your child your phone only to be surprised by numerous charges for app downloads? You’re not alone. Many parents have experienced similar scenarios.

“My then three-year-old downloaded 23 apps in about three minutes, costing us $43,” reports Jessica Cohen who blogs at Found the Marbles.

Julie Meyers Pron of Julieverse also has first hand experience with pricey purchases conducted through apps. “My daughter purchased a 7 night vacation for two to Costa Rica while we were at a football game one afternoon. Over $5,000 was instantly charged. So sweet of her.”

This is such a common problem that Apple recently settled a class action lawsuit filed by customers whose children accidentally downloaded apps on their iOS devices. The Huffington Post reported affected customers will receive a $5 iTunes credit or an iTunes gift card in the same amount, costing Apple around $100 million.

Many parents have called Apple to share stories of accidental downloads and the company has been understanding, often deleting charges from an individual’s iTunes Store account.

Girlmama’s Melissa Angert shared that her sister let her 4 year old borrow her phone only to find that he bought a ton of apps. “I told her that’s why parents all have passwords on their iTunes!”  Angert reported that her sister was able to get her money refunded but she still felt terrible.

“My son clicked on an ad within one of the educational apps my mom had on her iPad,” said Dresden Shumaker of Creating Motherhood. Since she didn’t have any safeguards up to stop instant downloading Shumaker’s mother contacted Apple. “They essentially said they would refund once.”

Meyers Pron was able to contact Living Social, the company who offered the pricey Costa Rican vacation. She said they while they were wonderful and laughed politely about the purchase before cancelling they sale, they also advised her to “password protect my apps for the future.” While she’s always password protected her iTunes account, she took additional steps to “turn off in app purchases.”

Cohen seconds the recommendation for turning off the in-app purchase options on her kids’ iPad but finds it doesn’t stop the temptation that she finds frustrating. “They constantly get pop-up offers anyway. For my little one those pop-ups are just screaming buy me.”

Shumaker shared that her mother “removed all kid apps with ads and has it set up so that every purchase requires a password” to combat future accidental downloads.

“I worry especially with so many in-App purchases available,” admitted Hillary Chybinski, an online content creator who blogs at My Scraps. “We try to keep the Wi-Fi limited and turn off in-app purchases on the kids’ iPad.”

While it may seem that this is common for iOS devices connected to iTunes, it’s not a platform specific problem.

“My son bought stuff for the Smurfs’ Village game on my Android phone,” Jill Berry of Musings from Me shared. “I had switched phones and hadn’t updated to not allow purchases without a password. I used his money from his grandparents to pay for the $20 purchase.”

Child using a mobile phone via Shutterstock

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4 Apps for Young Animal Lovers

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Whether your child loves the family dog, longs to visit their favorite large feline at the local zoo, or dreams of an African safari, extend their learning using animal themed apps that allow kids to learn facts, play animal related games, or use interactive content to further their knowledge.

Learn trivia about your favorite animals using apps such as National Geographic Weird but True. Kids will enjoy swiping their way through factoids using the National Geographic Weird but True app. If you use the app for an extended period of time, facts do start to repeat themselves but the app satisfies kids with limited attention span through the easy to use format, graphically interesting layout of each different fact, and readability.

Play a game to test your knowledge through some friendly competition. The Animal Planet Trivia Planet app for iOS devices provides 1 or 2 player options as well as 3 varying levels of difficulty that include easy, medium, or hard. Race the clock to answer the questions and the sooner you answer the question correctly, the more points you get. Some questions are true/false but others incorporate video clips for a multimedia experience. It’s an easy to use game where play can be paused at any time.

Download the National Wildlife Foundation’s ad-free apps for iPads for animal adventures with Ranger Rick’s Tree House and Ranger Rick Jr. – Appventures. Both apps teach kids 4-7 and 7-12 about nature through interactive stories, videos, games, jokes, puzzles, pictures and more. Ranger’s Rick Tree House is a magazine-style app that allows kids to enter Ranger Rick’s home rather than turning pages. The virtual tree house is full of rooms from the backyard to the attic packed with activities they can explore.

Family looking at pelicans via Shutterstock 

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Tags: | Categories: Apps, Education, Must Read, Tech Savvy Parents

4 Free iPhone Apps Help Busy Parents

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Technology is a lifesaver for parents looking to streamline management of time and tasks. Juggling work, home, and the kids’ schedules feels like a full time job but these iPhone apps are designed to help busy parents.

KidVuz— How many times are you out shopping for a birthday gift for a tween in your life but have no idea if the item you’re looking at is something they’ll like? KidVuz is a free app that features real reviews by tweens who share their honest thoughts about products, books, movies, and more. The video reviews used to just be available through the KidVuz website but is now a mobile app ensuring that parents everywhere will pick the perfect gift to suit the pickiest tween.

Cozi Cozi is a free tool that organizes your family calendar, to-do lists, reminders, and shopping lists all in one place. Sign up on, then manage your account wherever you go using your iPhone.

Mint— Whether you want to regain control over your household budget or just want to know exactly where all of your money is going, Mint provides up-to-date information about your accounts in real time. Check your budgets and edit info on the app and it updates immedidately. Enter cash or pending transactions in the app right at the time purchase and instantly see your available bank and credit balances.

RingyaThis app allows you to get rid of paper lists and rosters by uploading them to your phone and creating contextualized groups or “rings.”  Create a ring for each after school activity, child’s class, work groups, and personal groups by taking a photo of a contact list or email digital contact lists in PDF or spreadsheet form to The app transforms the lists into a digital “Rings” to provide contextual calling to help eliminate the embarrassing “who is this” when an unfamiliar name or number comes through your phone. Ringya helps provide a context for how I know the individual by displaying “Tim Johnson’s mom from Little League” when a call comes through.

iPhone application icons splashed out on black background via Shutterstock


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Girl Scouts Provide Tech Savvy Ways to Locate Favorite Cookies

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

What are your favorite kinds of Girl Scout cookies? Everyone seems to have an opinion about whether they prefer Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs, classic Trefoils, Do Si Dos, or one of the newer varieties like Savannah Smiles and Thank U Berry Munch but did you know that the $790 million dollar cookie program goes beyond supporting local troops and the experience of selling to teaching life long skills?

Girl Scout Cookie sales have provided leadership skills to over 59 million women across the country and Friday, February 8 is National Girl Scout Cookie Day, a day that honors the many skills that this youth-based program teaches. Girls in kindergarten through high school learn 5 essential skills as they learn to set goals, make decisions, manage money, interact with others, and ethical business practices.

If talking about Girl Scout cookies makes you crave a Samoa or Thin Mint, the tech savvy organization has multiple ways customers can find their favorite cookie by providing information about local cookie sales. Download the free Girl Scout Cookie Finder App for iPhone or Android or visit the Official Girl Scout Cookie Finder to buy  or order cookies from a local Girl Scout.

In honor of today being National Girl Scout Cookie Day, New York City residents who want to get out of the house before the blizzard hits should stop at the pop-up” cookie shops to stock up on favorite treats. Sweetery NYC Food Truck, Zagat’s #1 rated New York City food truck and mobile bakery will be in select areas during the day. Check the route of the Girl Scout Cookie Truck as it makes its way through Manhattan for your cookie fix.

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Apps Inspire Aspiring Digital Chefs

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Budding young chefs who want to cook and bake everything from mud pies in the yard to gourmet dinners in the kitchen will appreciate apps that allow them to use their creativity in developing digital treats on the go.  The following four free apps are not only fun and engaging but are likely to provide inspiration for helping with meal preparation.

Big Fork Little Fork— Developed by Kraft foods, this cooking app gets aspiring young chefs excited about food thanks to games to teach about healthy eating, how-to videos that provide instruction about cooking basics like cracking eggs and measuring ingredients, and a wealth of recipes. The recipes are easy to read, feature beautiful visuals, and great step by step directions.

Pizza Crazy ChefPizza crazy kids can put on their aprons and get baking by taking charge of their pizzas. Make digital dough, whip up a batch of sauce, then choose from over 100 different toppings ranging from classic to crazy that can be added to your heart’s content. Users get to bake their creation, slice it in their pizza shop, box it,a dn send it for deliver or sit back and eat it. Kids can set their virtual table with colorful napkins, drinks and straws. If your pizza is too good not to share, send a photo of it to family and friends directly from the app.

Cake Pop MakerCake pop aficionados get to unleash their creativity in developing the ultimate cake pop with the app from adding the ingredients, stirring the batter, baking them, putting them on sticks, and decorating them with toppings. It’s a great place to try out a new cake pop concept to see digital version of how your cake pop might look with sprinkles, a face, or as cute animals.

Pie Maker— Plentiful options in this app makes it fun to create your own pies. Choose your pie crust and custom fillings, ranging from blueberry to banana cream. Kids can create their own pie party at a custom-set table.

Jolly siblings cooking biscuits in the kitchen via Shutterstock


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Tags: | Categories: Apps