Category Archives: Apps

Appy New Year

Yes! There’s an App for that!  This is a phrase we are becoming more familiar with.  My kids seem to know intuitively how to find all these great apps.  I am still relying on the kindness of my friends, associates, and strangers to help me find these spectacular apps.

Over the holidays I heard from a number of moms who had just discovered that the wonderful piece of technology they had just given to their child to listen to music or to read eBooks, also had the ability to surf the internet and download Apps! They didn’t really realize that the gift they had just given their child had so much more functionality than they had planned on.

We have to face it – Apps are part of our world now.

The good news is that we don’t have to figure this all out ourselves OR rely soley on our children as the source of information.  ( I am still reeling from the story I heard from one mom whose darling 9 year old daughter convinced her that it would be ok to go see Hangover II in the theater this last year – that girl has a job waiting for her in some sales department some day.)

As a Wired Mom the only thing to do is to recruit the help of other fabulous, concerned, and in-the-know, people to help us out.  So that is exactly what we’ve done!  This Thursday, January 19th, we will be celebrating the “Appy New Year” with our good friends from Famigo (@Famigo), Ruckus Media (@RuckusMedia), ZiggityZoom.com (@ziggityzoom), Carissa Rogers from GoodnCrazy.com (@CarissaRogers) and our very own @maryheston to talk all about apps. Join this amazing group on Twitter at 9pm EST and follow the hashtag #Appy2012.  Follow us @wiredmom along with the other panelists and join in the fun on Thursday.

Don’t be this guy!  If you have a kid of any age running around the house this is an important twitter party to join.  Bring your questions and suggestions as we spend an hour celebrating this Appy New Year.  Get up to speed on the world of Apps before your kids convince you that the Hangover II app* is family friendly.

You can also get the discussion started early at Wired Moms on Facebook

See you there!  ( IS there an App for that ? )

 

* There’s not really a HOII app that I know of – but we always have to watch out….

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Filed under Apps, Internet Safety, Twitter

Daylight savings: Time to review your Family Terms of Service

Today is daylight savings time and many people take this opportunity to also check the batteries in their smoke detectors or change the air filter in their furnaces.  It might also be a good time to review your Family Terms of Service with your kids.  Each year kids grow and these terms should be updated too.  With the holidays coming up it is a great time to talk about some of these things before kids gleefully unwrap the latest and greatest gadget of the season.

This last week we received a letter from a parent who was preparing to give their 13 year old a new iPod iTouch but they wanted to know about keeping their kids safe.  Having a conversation about your Family Terms of Service now will prevent several confrontations in the future.  It’s a much easier conversation to have than you might imagine.  It is not 100% and doesn’t always work but if you have these terms laid out for your teen before they even turn on a gadget then it will be so much easier to impose the natural consequences if needed than if you never had this conversation at all.

Here is the letter we received:

Hi Mary – I’m getting my 13 year old an ipod touch, but am concerned about internet access. We use NetNanny on his desktop computer, and I see that there is an internet filtered app for the ipod that might do the same thing. What is your Wired Mom take on how to protect our kids here?

Sincerely, Concerned Parent

Hi Concerned Parent,

Thanks for asking! There are two very important things that we recommend here especially with a new teen. This is a pretty big deal getting an iPod Touch (my 15 year old has one and it has been a lifesaver for us on many occassions so I am actually all for the device).

1. The main thing here is to start out with a Family Terms of Service (TOS).

Facebook has a terms of service and most other social networking websites have a TOS. What you do is sit down with your teen and in advance of even turning the machine on decide what your Family Terms of Service are going to be and what the consequences are going to be if those terms are broken.

Some things people include in their TOS are:

  • school work vs. iPod Touch/gadget use. If grades begin to slip are you going to ground your kid from using the iTouch/gadget or not.
  • Using the iTouch when Granny is visiting – human interaction is a requirement for being able to use this gadget.
  • Chores – are they getting their chores done?
  • What sites are ok for them to visit and which ones are not.
  • Include in the family TOS that parents have access to the teen’s passwords for all of their social sites and their iTouch
  • What other activities are important to your family?

This might sound like a lot and big conversation but it is really made much more productive if you get your teenager to talk about the rules and the consequences for breaking the rules. If the teen is included in this conversation 3 things are likely to happen

  • Consequences are much easier to impose.
  • Kids are more likely to take their responsibility more serious.
  • The consequences the kids come up with are often more harsh than the ones the parents might suggest

OK Now there is a second recommendation that is pretty much non-negotiable around here and that is

2. No sleeping with their iTouch

We have a docking station in the living room where everyone can charge their phones and gadgets and they get plugged in at night.

There is no reason for a kid to take the Internet to bed with them. Studies have shown that kids do much better in school when they have a full nights sleep.

So – Short answer is

1. Family TOS
2. No sleeping with the Internet

The main thing is to talk with your kiddo – let them know there was no such thing as the Internet when we were growing up and that social media is really less than 10 years old. So, it’s all new. Everything that happens online happens really quickly and when things get posted they are public and permanent. You are on their side and will Fiercely watch out for them and do everything you can to protect them from getting into something they are not ready for – or something that none of us have even anticipated yet. We are all learning these new rules together. Also, that as your teen grows up and demonstrates more responsibility then the Family Terms of Service will be modified to reflect that.

Good kids can get in big trouble really quickly with this new technology. My son – who is now 20 – has a friend who is one of the goofiest kids you will ever meet. He got a cell phone when he was 14 and girls from another state started sending him topless photos of themselves. I know this because I knew all my sons parents and they knew I check cell phones and so on occassion I would ask the boys what they had on their cell phone photo file and in their text message history. With my kids, the rule has always been that as long as I am paying for the cell phone I have full access to look at anything at any time. Once my boys reached 18 I told them that they could start paying for their own phones and I wouldn’t check them anymore – they both told me that it was ok – I could keep checking.

If your teen gets something sent to them that makes them uncomfortable they should know that they can come to you and talk to you about it and there is not going to be any repercussions – the best thing to do is delete it as quickly as possible and block whoever is sending that inappropriate material.

The big thing for you is to remember to NEVER freak out when your kid does come to you. If you freak out they will not come to you again. Do your very very best to just listen and if you don’t know what to do then take a few minutes – tell him you have to go to the bathroom and will be right back – then go into the bathroom and do a silent scream and come back when you can be cool again.

Another thing we did when our teens started getting handheld gadgets with Internet connection was to start a family tradition of Friday night family movie night and we started having YouTube nights – instead of renting a movie we would have everyone in the family show each other their favorite YouTube video for that week. This can be very enlightening and give you great insight into what your kid is searching up on YouTube but then you also get a chance to show them your favorites.  It is a great non threatening way to check up on their Internet habits while building trust and get into great conversations at the same time – its win win win all the way around.

Good Luck and Happy Parenting!

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Filed under Apps, Internet Safety, Texting, TV, Video Games

Cell Phones, Radio Waves, and our Children’s Brains

Kids today seem to be born with an innate sense of how to use a smart phone and text. You have seen a very small child holding their moms cell phone and playing some game while Mom sits there and has coffee with a friend. Lately, there have been more discussions about whether or not cell phones are safe for our children to use primarily because we don’t know what the waves that connect our cell phones to each other are doing to our children’s developing brains.

My four children all have cell phones. But as I was telling another mom who was concerned about her teenager using a cell phone, I’m not entirely convinced my kids know there is a phone on their cell phone. They use these devices to text, play video games, record video and upload it to the internet, take still pictures and tune their guitar (yes there’s an app for that).

Kids don’t spend as much time with their cell phones held up to their ear. Even still there are things we can do to ensure their cell phone use is as safe as possible.

Recommendations

1)Do not give them a smart phone under the age of 13.

Know your own kid – some kids are ready for the responsibility of a phone earlier than other kids. One gauge our family used was the way they were able to take care of their own bedroom. When they could keep their own room clean then we knew they were ready to take on more responsibility.

If you really want to give your younger kid a phone consider one with limited functions. Look for a phone that only calls Mom, Dad, and an emergency number. The point is that you want to be able to get ahold of them and you want them to be able to call you. That is all that is needed.

2)Encourage Texting

3)Use a headset

4)Set up a docking station in a central room of your house where everyone always charges their cell phones and have your child / teen plug their phone in at night.

Do not let them sleep with their phone.

Do not let them use the “my battery died” excuse for not calling home when they are going to be late.

5)Set limits. Have your kids involved in this conversation and let them know what your concerns might be. Revisit these limits yearly – as your children grow and mature their phone privileges should too.

6)Be a good role model for your kids.

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Filed under Apps, Mobile, Texting

There’s an App for that – but should your child be playing with it?

– by Mary Heston
When was it that the phrase “There’s an app for that” became a common part of our vernacular? Apps have sort of snuck into our lives quietly and unoffensively. Many parents don’t even consider the safety aspect of apps like they would if buying a video game or letting their child go to a website and play a game online. READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE

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Filed under Apps, Internet Safety, Mobile

Do you really want your 4 year old downloading that app?

Apps.  They are a relatively new phenomenon – at least they have finally entered our popular conversation to the point where new apps are being reported on our local news stations.   But not all apps are created equal.

If you have not been shopping for an app lately here is how it works.  You go to the “App Store”.  You can search for apps online but most likely you will be looking for apps on the device that you will be using them on – Your iPad, iPhone, Android Phone, Blackberry, or other digital tablet.  In general, you will open an account with your apps store (iTunes or the Android market) and then you can store your paypal account or credit card for future purchases.  So, it is super easy.  You find an app you like, you click download and in a second or two it is on your device.

Here is where it gets interesting.  It is a pretty well known fact that kids born after 2002 seem to be hardwired with an intuitive sense of how all technological devices work.  That, along with the fact that they are drawn to any device that mom or dad have and you can a few conversations you might not be quite ready to have.

There is one app in particular that seems to catch the eyes of every 4 to 10 year old.  At least that has been my anecdotal experience.  In several separate situations I have been chatting with another parent who handed their iPad over to their young kid while we were talking so that the child could play a preloaded game and we could have a few minutes to talk.

The app store button is the same size as every other button and after just a few taps of the tablet the apps store is open and a series of enticing icons are viewable on the screen.  The app that the most kids have asked their parents for is the Karma Sutra app.  I have not downloaded this app and so cannot speak to the appropriateness or inappropriateness of this app for a 4 year old viewing audience but it does remind us of one thing; watch what apps your kids are downloading.

What are your favorite apps?

Join us on facebook and let us know!

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Filed under Apps, Internet Safety, Mobile, wiredmoms