Posts Tagged ‘ tips ’

3 Tips for Finding Great Apps for Kids

Monday, August 27th, 2012

More often than not, learning with a friend is more fun, especially if it’s through an educational app featuring a beloved character. It’s no surprise that a new study from market research firm NPD Group stated that kids are increasingly adopting tech. One finding indicated that tablet use increased 13% from 2011 to 2012, making it more important to find the apps that will provide quality learning experiences for the youngest ages.

But how do you know what apps are entertaining and educational at the same time?

Luckily apps aren’t a large investment like a monthly subscription to some paid kids’ websites or new gaming system but a dollar or two here and there can add up.

Here are 3 tips for finding great apps.

  • Visit Common Sense Media. Common Sense Media is a wealth of information that provides reviews for movies, video games, websites, TV, books, music, and also apps. It’s an easy to use site that allows parents to do a search and quickly figure out if content is age appropriate for their child. To stay up to date, their emails provide helpful information and food for thought about raising kids in this digital age.
  • Rely on trusted names in education. PBS, Scholastic, and many other companies that are rooted in educating young minds have jumped into the app game. They have developed high quality learning experiences that include interactive games and storybooks that keep kids engaged and tend to be so fun that kids forget that they’re learning!
  • Ask friends and teachers. Your village can be a great source of information. Teachers with children can be a wonderful resource because it’s likely that they’re looking for educational apps for their own children to use at home. A savvy friend who is always knows about products before everyone else probably can provide some suggestions too.

Where do you go to find great apps? Do you have any tips?

Family playing video game on smartphone via Shutterstock

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5 Ways to Empower Children Against Bullying

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Bullying.  It’s a word that makes parents shy away from whether your child is on the giving or receiving end or if the bullying is face to face or occurring in cyberspace.  Despite the prevalence of cyberbullying, bullying has been around forever and causes real feelings to be hurt.  It’s not something to be taken lightly.

If you’re wary about talking to your kids about bullying, kids of all ages can be empowered to speak up for themselves and their friends.  Here’s what you need to know in order to start the conversations in your home and encourage your kids to keep talking about what they’re experiencing regardless of their age to encourage a sense of empowerment.

1.  Know what bullying is.  If you are ashamed to not be current on all the information, StopBullying.gov has information on what bullying is, recognizing the signs, and how to get help.  The National Bullying Prevention Center defines bullying, harassment, and provides 3 steps to take if your child is being targeted through Bullying Info and Facts.

2.  Encourage your kids to talk about bullying.  Many parents don’t talk about it and that makes kids not want to discuss it.  How do you get the ball rolling if you haven’t already?  Ask open ended questions to create conversation.   Let your children know it is something that you are concerned about and they need to tell an adult.  Your kids may not tell you directly but perhaps they will tell another family member, sibling, or peer.

When our son was in preschool and was being called names by his peers, he didn’t come to me or my husband. He confided in his older sister before bed one evening. Being worried, she told me. I was proud that she recognized the importance of the situation and was concerned about her brother’s hurt feelings to tell us so we could have a conversation with the teacher.

3.  Listen. Being able to recognize behaviors as bullying is important but so is listening and following your child’s lead.  Earlier this year our second grade daughter told me that some kindergarten boys were chasing her and calling her names.  We could have easily dismissed this as them having a crush, younger kids being silly, etc. but what seemed to be fun play at recess quickly turned into harassment.  Dinner time conversations centered around talk of the boys behavior but she assured us she could handle this on her own.  She was annoyed but didn’t want to take any more action than telling the teachers on recess duty.

We listened and took cues from her.  She wanted us to have a hands off approach and wanted to handle it on her own.  This was difficult especially since she was upset buta t age 8, we made the conscious decision to let her feel empowered.  Eventually it progressed to the point where she wasn’t enjoying recess at all that was brought to our attention by a fellow parent who called to tell us that her daughter noticed ours was upset.  That was when we knew it was time for us to intervene.

Together we brainstormed about next steps.  She decided it was time to talk to the school administration.  While the matter was taken seriously and handled swiftly, we let her be the guide, practicing life skills like resiliency while listening and intervening when necessary.

4. Reinforce the importance of being a friend.  Getting a phone call about my daughter’s recess harassment from a fellow parent demonstrated how much our community cares and the importance of friends.

Being a good friend is always important but even more so when a child is being bullied.  Encourage your child to help a friend who is being bullied by taking a stand to discourage a culture of bullying by telling bullies their behavior is not ok.

If your child needs a tangible reminder, KidsAgainstBullying.org has a pledge accessible by clicking on the treasure chest on their site.  They also have a downloadable Kids Against Bullying Certificate when they  agree to speak up when seeing others being bullied, reach out to others who are being bullied, and to be a friend whenever they see bullying.

5. Acknowledge that emotional scars that come from bullying are as harmful as the physical ones.  While being punched or kicked leaves bruises and scars that can be seen on the outside, the internal hurt from bullying is also real.

Later this week I’ll be sharing age appropriate bullying and cyberbullying resources for parents of preschoolers, elementary, tweens, and teens.

 

Child sits on stairs holding his head in his hands via Shutterstock

 

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How to Safeguard Online Accounts with Strong Passwords

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

With the prevalence of online accounts that provide convenience and connectivity comes a responsibility to safeguard our accounts to ensure that important personal information stays safe.  However, it can be quite a challenge to remember login credentials for the multitudes of online accounts.  It may be easier to have a single login and password combination but doing makes your account an easy target for hackers looking to harvest data.

How do you safeguard online accounts so personal information stays private? 

Having the same password for multiple accounts, or easy to remember passwords, are often the least secure because smart software programs can figure them out. A recent headline article on Yahoo revealed that the most common password is Password1. A study by antivirus security company, BitDefender, found that more than 250,000 email addresses, usernames and passwords can easily be found online. Randomly checking a sample list consisting of email addresses also revealed that 75% of social networking username and password samples are identical to those used for email accounts.

Unique login credentials for accounts decrease the possibility of hackers infiltrating accounts and stealing important information.  Spammers and those who want to infect your computer with malware love it when we use the same password for multiple accounts. It opens the door to numerous security implications such as personal data theft and hijacking of email and social network accounts.

In order to safeguard your information, here are some tips you can use to create stronger hack-proof passwords: 

  • Go beyond the required password length. The more characters, the less likely is that someone will be able to crack it.
  • When in doubt of your password, click on the retrieve password button on the site you visit to access your account and use the link sent through email to reset it.  Bank accounts will often lock you out with too many failed attempts to log in with an incorrect password.
  • Don’t store your many logins and passwords as a document on your computer in case of theft. If computer is stolen, a thief has access to a treasure trove of information if you keep your password in a Word Document called “passwords.”  If you must write down your passwords, do so in a plain looking address book that won’t draw attention to itself on your desk or in a drawer.  The Internet Password Organizer and ___ can be a convenient place to keep passwords.
  • Set an automatic calendar reminder to change your passwords monthly, or at the very least, every 3 months.
  • Use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. For example, use your pet’s name (Spot) and an important date such as an anniversary (February 26).  Ordinarily the password would be Spot226 but instead, use a combination of capital letters combined with symbols, letters, and numbers to make it much harder to guess.

If you must use the same password, use a different variation of it. Here are some different ways you could modify Spot226:

  • spottwotwosix (spell out all the numbers)
  • sp0ttw0tw0six (substitute zeros for o)
  • $pot2two$ix (use $ instead of the s)
  • sPottWotWosIx (insert capital letters where they are less likely to appear- in this case, the second letter in each word)

What other tips do you have for protecting your accounts to preserve your online identity? Do you have a good way to remember your many passwords? Please share!

Laptop with steel security lock via Shutterstock

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3 Steps to Starting Your Own Blog

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

I’m often asked how I started blogging.  The truth is that I fell into it after volunteering to help a friend with her blog that served as a resource parents in our area.  I was never an intentional blogger but after just celebrating my site’s fourth anniversary, I can’t imagine life without blogging.

If you’ve ever pondered about starting your own blog, it’s time to start!  Your blog can be anything you want it to be— a place to share musings, document milestones, or serve as a resource to others through regular writing, or posts. If you are a frequent reader of blogs and have thought of starting your own, take the leap!

Here’s how to get started:

Find your passion.  Blogs range from intensely personal ones that chronicle journeys in parenting and document life’s milestones to resource blogs and pure review blogs.  Decide which kind you want to be or not.  Your blog is an expression of you.  There’s no reason why you should feel the need to define the content right from the start.  Blogs aren’t static.  Instead, they often evolve with the writer. You shouldn’t feel to be confined to a niche.  The best blogs convey the writer’s passion through honest writing.

Set up an account.  Blogger is a popular blogging platform because it’s free and easy to set up. With a variety of templates to choose from, it’s easy to find a look that’s right for you.  WordPress is another option and many start with their free service.  Take some time to blog and if it’s something you love, then consider taking your blog to the next level by upgrading your WordPress site with additional features or professional blog design.

Write your first post.  Writing the first post is often the most difficult.  I remember the anxiety I had about what I was putting out there for the world to see for the first time but once I clicked publish, I’ve rarely looked back.  The first post always causes writers’ block and questions about whether or not to blog in the first place. Your first post doesn’t have to be a profound life work but should be an expression of you.  Don’t worry, you can always go back and edit or delete it if you don’t like it later!

Have you contemplated starting a blog?  What topics would you write about?  Brainstorm in the comments below or ask me any questions you have about blogging!  I’m happy to help!

 Beautiful woman with thoughtful expression and blog words above her head via Shutterstock.

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Tags: , , | Categories: Tech Savvy Parents

5 Things Parents Can Do to Protect Children on the Internet

Friday, February 10th, 2012

The internet is a treasure trove of information that also can also present real risks for kids of all ages. Rather than going to the extremes of banning the use of digital devices (computers, tablets, phones, etc.) in the home, be practical and exercise good judgment. Take some simple steps in order to protect your family online.

The following five suggestions serve as starting points for every family.

Establish guidelines for the use of digital devices. Guidelines will vary according to age but general ones for all ages include limiting screen time, standards for appropriate online behavior, being careful not to share too much information online, and being sure that other caregivers respect and uphold your family’s rules for using devices when looking after your children.

Locate the computer in the hub of your home. Placing the family computer in a high traffic area allows you to keep an eye on what your child is doing. While teens may value their privacy, a computer in a bedroom means not being able to see what programs they are using, who they are talking to, or what information they may be sharing. Having the computer in a central location also encourages more conversations about what is on the screen rather than isolation.

Have a discussion about the meaning of privacy. Whether online or off, some things need to remain private. Since there is a certain sense of anonymity online, it can be difficult for some to comprehend that the internet is a very public place where the tidbits that are shared remain forever. Status updates, tweets, check-ins, blog posts, and photos create a digital footprint that is forever archived online and can’t be taken back. Trusting children also need to know that it is even more important to only share information with those you know and trust since not everyone appearing to be your friend online really is.

Check settings and security on programs to ensure personal privacy and use filtering software. Even with the computer located in a common area of your home, it is impossible to monitor all activity. Filtering software and parental controls can aid in blocking unwanted or inappropriate content while adjusting settings on internet browsers and social networking tools helps ensure that personal information is only shared with trusted networks.

Create an open dialogue. Talk to your children about internet dangers and be willing to learn about the things your kids are doing online and the common lingo. If you don’t know something, ask them! Allowing your child to act as your teacher can be very empowering. It not only helps create a culture of respect, but demonstrates that the adults in their lives are willing to work with them in order to keep them safe both online and in real life.

What do you do to ensure that your kids stay safe while online?

Image of Kids Using Tablet PC via Shutterstock

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