Posts Tagged ‘ smartphone ’

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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7 Gadgets for a Beach Vacation

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Summer is well underway and if you have plans for a family trip to the beach, arm yourself with products that will protect your gadgets from occasional splashes, dunks, and grains of sand.  Here are 7 items that will allow you to truly relax since they keep sand and water away from sensitive electronics.

Casio EX-G1 Waterproof Camera

Capture summer memories without worrying about water damage to your camera. The Casio EX-G1 takes photos and videos and is a camera our family put through the waterproof test when it fell in the Caribbean and sank 15 feet.  Thanks to the bright red color and the free diving skills of someone we were on the boat with, our camera and pictures were saved!

Beach Sounds Portable Speaker

A lazy day on the beach becomes even better when you can plug in this darling retro looking speaker that is water and sand resistant.  The design also allows you to plug in your smartphone or MP3 player and tuck inside the speaker so it is also protected from the elements.

MasterLock SafeSpace

This durable portable safe is large enough to hold valuables such as a small digital camera, cash, credit cards, passports, and car keys in a cushy foam lined interior but the beauty of it is the embedded cable. The cable can be used as a handle for carrying but also as a way to lock the safe to stationary objects or wrap around the SafeSpace for an added level of security.  Since SafeSpace is water resistant, it can handle getting splashed while at the beach or poolside.

Nicole Kelner Designs Tech Smart Purses

Reading poolside is a favorite way to pass the time during vacation but wet fingers and the occasional splash aren’t great for your eReaders or smartphone. Nicole Kelner makes customized smartphone wallets, purses, and wristlets along with cases for your Kindle that allow you to view the screen through the SmartPocket and then store essentials in the separate pocket. Nook and Sony eReader owners can contact Nicole to make a custom SmartPouch for any device.

Samsung Rugby Smart

The Samsung Rugby Smart is an Android phone featuring a built in waterproof case that not only seals the headphone jack and charging port but also locks the battery in place. The tough Gorilla Glass touchscreen resists damage due to scratches, drops, and bumps. It’s the perfect phone for anyone spending time at the beach or trying to keep up with email while poolside for hours at a time during swim practice and meets.

Otterbox Defender Case

Protect your gadgets with Otterbox’s Defender series.  Made for a variety of smartphones, tablets, and iPad models, it’s your best to protect your devices from any potential bumps and bruises from traveling.  Multi-layer technology and high quality materials such as a high-impact inner polycarbonate shell with a built-in foam interior absorbs shock while protecting the back from scratches.  A built in screen protector prevents the screen from being scratched while the textured exterior of the cases in this line makes them easier to grip.

Scanpod iPad 2 Waterproof Floating Case

Swim team parents, boaters, and beach lovers will rejoice over the fact that they can take their iPad with them without the worry that it will fall to the depths of the ocean or pool.  The Scanpod iPad2 Waterproof Floating Case leaves the functionality of your iPad in tact but is waterproof, shockproof, features an anti-slip seal on the back, and will float back up when dropped in water.

 Young couple in the masks via Shutterstock

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