Archive for the ‘ Mobile Phone ’ 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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Preparing New Electronic Devices for Kids

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

Chances are if your family unwrapped a new device over the holidays, you’ve already spent some time setting it up before relinquishing control but is that gadget really child-friendly? Chances are that just taking the new gaming system, tablet, e-Reader, smartphone, or laptop out of the box and charging it isn’t quite enough. Once the conversation about screen time and when it is and isn’t ok to be playing on these new devices has occurred with your kids, parents should run down this checklist to ensure that the new technology that has come into their homes over the holidays is ready.

New laptop? Your child probably knows to not share their passwords, click on suspicious content, or use the camera to chat with strangers but it never hurts to remind them while also installing antivirus protection and internet security tools. Antivirus and internet security software works to scan the computer to prevent harmful viruses that often work to harvest personal data. Both types of software can be downloaded online for free from companies such as AVG who provide protection for PCs. If you purchase software, please be aware that software licenses expire after their term and need to be renewed to continue your protection.

New Xbox, WiiU, PlayStation Vita, PS3, or other gaming system? It’s going to be hard to wrestle away the controllers to check parental controls while your kids are awake but it’s a necessary step. Often times the default settings of gaming systems are overly general. It’s worth logging in and creating a parent account. Xbox allows parents to set up different profiles for kids where games are restricted based on Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) game ratings. It’s also important to know who your child is playing games with. Since many gaming systems allow for players to connect across the internet, they could be playing their favorite game with their friends or complete strangers. Have some conversations about safe gaming and if you need tips, the Get Game Smart website provides useful information for families.

New iPad?  The wealth of educational apps available for an iPad makes it a highly coveted and engaging device for kids of all ages but be sure to purchase a sturdy case that will protect it on all sides. The magnetic covers available through Apple are slim and convenient but parents should look for a case that fully wraps the edges from bumps, nicks, and scratches. Take some time to look at the iPad settings to determine what features you want disabled when your kids are playing apps. There has been a lot of chatter about the kinds of information app manufacturers may be collecting about kids as they use apps so be sure to go into each app and manually set restrictions if needed so you’re not providing too much information about your family unknowingly.

New smartphone? Talk to your kids about who is going to pay for text and data overages for their new cell phone. A new smartphone is exciting and chances are that one of the first things a new user will do is text or share the news of their device via social networks with friends. Unless you’ve gotten your child the pricey unlimited data plan, it’s important to have a conversation about exactly how many texts can be sent and how often they should be using the data plan to access online content with their phone. Understanding data plans is tricky especially since no one really thinks about how many megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB) of data are being used to send or read email, stream music, view websites, post photos to social networks, or watch video content online. The Citizen’s Utility Board provides this handy Guide to Cell Phone Data Plans and breaks down what a megabyte and gigabyte are along with how much data is needed. My advice is to start conservatively when it comes to a data plan. It’s often easier to upgrade rather than downgrade your plan.

New Kindle Fire? These robust digital products are so much more than eReaders. Since Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD are highly functional tablets that can also be used to read books, enable Kindle Free Time. Kindle Free Time grants unlimited reading but restricts daily screen time, prevents kids from accessing certain categories such as videos and games, disable web browsing, and the ability to purchase content. It’s also reassuring to look over at a child with their Kindle and know that the Free Time feature is working when the background of the screen is blue, rather than the usual black.

Vector black electronic devices icons set on gray via Shutterstock

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Tech Accessories to Pair with 6 of the Hottest Digital Devices

Monday, December 17th, 2012

If you’re getting calls from anxious friends and relatives asking for gift suggestions as Christmas shipping deadlines loom, accessories for the devices your children own or are about to get are wonderful choices. Often times it’s hard to know what accessories are best for brand new devices but here are my suggestions of tried and true favorites that I’ve matched up for easy shopping.

Getting an iPhone? You need a great case that can handle everything that life throws at it. My pick is from LifeProof. LifeProof’s cases fully encase your iPhone 4, 4s, or 5 and protect it from water with a slim, functional design, that still allows users to press on the screen as if it the phone was caseless. The two piece case has a front and a back that snaps together and keeps water out of the charging and headphone ports thanks to rubber gaskets. The case doesn’t get in the way of taking great photos whether you’re above or under water.

Getting a Nintendo DS or 3DS? You need headphones that will still be cool yet protect young ears against hearing loss. I like iFrogz Animatone Headphones for toddlers and preschoolers and the Earbuds for older kids. The headphones provide the perfect fit for smaller heads and older kids will like the cool styling of any of the three Earbud designs.

Getting an iPad? You need a case that will protect the edges. The new cases from Apple that are magnetic are certainly stylish but they don’t protect the glass around the edges from bumps and dings that come with regular use. Since an iPad is a pricey investment, get it a good case that will protect all sides. If your iPad will be used by preschoolers and toddlers, you need the Speck iGuy which will protect it on all sides and whose fun arms make it easy to hang on to. Another favorite is the Speck MagFolio because it’s slim, durable and wraps around all sides. If you’re looking for one with a keyboard, my hands down favorite is the ZaggKeys ProPlus. It’s a sophisticated choice that fits right on top of the iPad screen thanks to magnets and features a backlit keyboard.

Getting a computer the whole family can use? Get it a spillproof keyboard. The Logitech Washable Keyboard is a durable full size keyboard that can be fully submersed in water for a cleaning when it gets dusty, grubby, or spilled on.

Getting an eReader or tablet? From Kindle Fires, Nooks, and the more tablet-like Kindle HD, these devices need durable cases that are lightweight yet will protect them. I like the neoprene cases from Built. Whether you choose envelope style designs in a variety of fun prints or slim sleeves, rest assured that a Built case will last for the life of your device, and possibly longer. For kids who are using their eReaders and tablets for reading eBooks and eTextbooks and are taking notes for class as they read, the Papier de Maison cases are an affordable and attractive choice thanks to beautiful prints and a place for a notepad and pen.

Getting overwhelmed with the sheer number of devices and cords the children in your family own? Get organized by gifting items that will help kids keep track of their stuff and teach responsibility at the same time. Built’s Cargo Travel Organizer provides a place to keep chargers, accessories, and any adapters. I also like Kangaroom’s Personal Media Pouch because of the 6 pockets that keep everything nicely organized thanks to and are just the right size for an MP3 player, USB Flash Drive, compact video camera, and all their associated chargers. Both are zippered organizers with lots of pockets that can hold plenty of gear.

Photos courtesy of the aforementioned companies

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Windows 8 Provides Visual Experience Across Microsoft Devices

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

With the trend towards more visual technology tools, especially following the explosion of social media platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram, PC users are embracing Windows 8. The look of Windows 8 can be found across Microsoft devices from the Xbox, PCs, new Surface tablet, Ultrabooks, laptops, all in one PCs, and even Windows Phone 8.

Windows 8 is a customizable interface that draws heavily on a visual experience to put the things that you use most often front and center through a dynamic environment. Get real time updates from Facebook, the day’s weather, and more without having to open the application. The interface requires just a click or a tap if you want to dive in for more information or interaction with those in your social networks.

Windows users will appreciate a similar experience, look, and feel across devices, extending even to their Windows Phone 8 devices. Windows Phone 8 comes with a unique feature for parents called Kid’s Corner. Kid’s Corner allows parents to have control over the content that kids can access via their phones.

Called a “phone-within-a-phone,” children can only use the apps and games that parents select for them when using Kid’s Corner. This new feature helps keep kids away from parent accounts and information that may not be designed for young eyes and minds by providing peace of mind that your kids are using age appropriate content that you select for them. Phones such as the Windows Phone 8X by HTC, Nokia Lumia 920, and other Windows 8 phones that will be released this month come standard with Kid’s Corner.

Windows Store has lots of kid-friendly apps, but before handing your phone over to your child with a bunch of new apps, be sure to test them out yourself first. Look for engaging apps that help reinforce your child’s knowledge and that are easy to navigate. While you’re shopping in the Windows Store, be sure to download the new Parents Pregnancy & Baby Guide, a helpful resource for all parents by Parents Magazine!

Image via Microsoft.

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Tags: | Categories: Mobile Phone, Tech Savvy Parents

3 Hands Free Ways to Carry Your Smartphone

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

As parents, our hands are always full and we’re always juggling our phones between having a child’s hand in ours, carrying groceries, pushing a stroller, or holding the leash of the family dog while we hope to not drop and damage our mobile phone. Hands-free cell phone options allow us to keep our phones as close by as we need them but don’t require us to hold them at all times.

Here are 3 solutions that allow your hands to be free but keep your mobile device close by:

PortaPocket

PortaPocket— The versatile PortaPocket is for hands-free carrying of your cell phone but can be easily adapted to fit other essentials for covert carrying. PortaPocket comes with a strap to attach a carrying pouch that can fit cell phones, IDs, cash, cards, keys, cameras, GPS units, fitbits, vital medical devices like inhalers, insulin pumps, EpiPens, and even passports under your clothes. The parts are detachable and interchangeable so it can transform to meet your needs while being attached to different parts of your body. Since PortaPocket can go from thigh, calf, ankle, arm, and waist, it’s great for working out, going out, and traveling.

NXE Armband

NXE Armband— After testing a number of different cases to hold a phone during a run, the NXE Armband is my favorite because it attaches securely to my upper arm and won’t move during a workout. It secures a mobile device yet allows for access to the touch screen and headphone jack as needed. Wicking fabric keeps moisture away and allows it to dry quickly between uses.

Storm iPhone Wallet

Storm iPhone Wallet by T8 Cases— Doubling as a phone case and a wallet, the Storm iPhone Wallet is constructed out of gorgeous vegetable-tanned Italian leather and can clip into the matching lanyard to be worn around the neck. The protective leather makes for an attractive case for daily use and the exterior pockets help keep essential credit cards and ID with you at all times.

Woman holding baby whilst on mobile phone via Shutterstock. Product images courtesy of the companies.

 

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Tags: | Categories: Mobile Phone, Tech Savvy Parents