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
Categories: Mobile Phone, Must Read, Tech Savvy Parents | Tags: antivirus software, eReader, gaming system, iPad, Kindle Fire HD, laptop, online safety, screen time limits, smartphone, tablet
Friday, June 8th, 2012
Father’s Day is next Sunday and if you’re at a loss as to what to get your gadget loving guy, here are 5 suggestions that are cool, yet practical, and are sure to delight Dad on his special day.
Eye-Fi Mobile X2— Go wireless when it comes to photos with the newest Eye-Fi card, the Mobile X2. The Mobile X2 automatically and wirelessly transfers photos directly from your camera to the device of your choice, such as your laptop, smartphone, or tablet. It takes mere minutes to set up Mobile X2 to work with your home wireless connection and upload pictures. The Endless Memory feature is a welcome addition for anyone who loves to take photos but frequently fills up their memory cards. Endless Memory automatically creates space for new images so you never have to see the memory full message or scroll through previous shots, deleting ones as you go in order to create more room.
Dyson DC-41— For a guy who helps out with housework and appreciates innovative engineering and great design, Dyson is the way to go. Despite its intimidating appearance, it’s actually quite light and easy to maneuver. The DC-41 is made of materials that are used for strength and durability while the Ball that is a prominent design feature, makes it easy to maneuver around furniture and corners. Engineer-types will also appreciate that the Ball is also the place where the motor, ducting, valves and the stand are located. Designed for hard wood floors and also carpeted surfaces, the DC-41 has an adjustable head that actually creates a seal to provide the highest suction power through the Radical Root Cyclone™. Long bristles penetrate deep into carpet to remove ground-in dirt and pet hair while shorter bristles sweep the carpet top to remove surface dust. Allergy sufferers who are sensitive to microscopic particles of dust, pollen, and mold will appreciate that the design includes a mesh shroud that helps separate large debris. The inner cyclones generate powerful centrifugal forces to extract and capture particles while purifying the air.
Leather Bluetooth iPad 2 or 3 Case from Hammerhead— Hammerhead cases are made of soft pebbled leather (red or black), feature a Bluetooth keyboard, and come with a stylus. The beauty of the Hammerhead case is the removable keyboard. Most cases with keyboards have fixed keyboards but the Hammerhead keyboard can be removed and reattached thanks to Velcro on the back side, providing the ability to use it inside or outside of the case at a range of 30 feet. Velcro also allows the iPad to be positioned at multiple angles, allowing for the most comfortable viewing of the screen. Pairing the keyboard to your iPad is easy. The lithium ion battery provides 6-8 hours of keyboard usability and recharges via included USB cable.
Sonos Play 3 — The streaming audio player gives you instant access to your digital music library and streaming internet audio settings from anywhere in your house. It plays music from your home PCs and Macs, and also has the ability to stream internet radio and music from many of the popular online music services, including Last.fm, Pandora, Rhapsody, SiriusXM, Spotify, iheartradio, and more. The Play 3 connects to your home internet connection via Ethernet, or an optional wireless bridge. Once you have one Sonos unit in the house, they have the ability to communicate between themselves and form a wireless mesh network, extending their range. If you have multiple units, you can play the same music around your entire home. The Sonos streaming music player provides high quality speakers and a great user interface for listening to your digital music collection or tapping into the Internet’s vast assortment of streaming audio.
BlackBerry PlayBook — Die hard Blackberry users will appreciate the 7” PlayBook running the new 2.0 OS with either 16 GB or 32 GB of storage. The interface allows BlackBerry devices to connect seamlessly thanks to the BlackBerry Bridge. Using your BlackBerry ID, information stored on your smartphone immediately synchs with your PlayBook and vice versa. The design of the tablet is sleek, with more square sides than other tablets on the market, and features a crisp screen, two HD 1080p video cameras (for front and rear facing picture taking capabilities), and 1GB of RAM.
Happy family with big gift box via Shutterstock
Categories: Must Read, Tech Savvy Parents | Tags: BlackBerry, digital camera, Father's Day, gadgets, gifts, iPad case, music, Sonos, streaming audio, tablet