56 posts categorized "Family Management"

January 20, 2010

My Kids Are Awake With Access to Tech, But Pretend Play Is Still King

Kids-technologyThis morning I opened up the New York Times and read the article by Tamar Lewin called "If Your Kids Are Awake, They're Probably Online". Later I saw the New York Times article had made it to Techmeme.

While reading the article I took a moment to look at what my kids were doing. Were my kids using any technology this morning?

So I decided to review the morning's activities: After my 10 year old and twin 6 year old boyBoys-pillow-fights ate breakfast, they went into our living room (affectionately called the "bouncy room" because sofa pillows are used for forts and jumping) for some pretend play before school. They had rolled up paper for swords and were pretending to fend off the "bad guys". A few nerf guns sneaked their way in, but had no bullets so they ended up being a prop as well. When it is was time to leave, my boys put on their little yellow rain boots and rain jackets and went to school.

All of this "pretend play" happened in our house that is full of technology. We have multiple laptops including my 10 year old that has his own laptop, iPod and Nintendo DSi. My twin 6 year olds have Leapfrog moblie gaming units and their older brother's hand me down Nintendo DS's. The TV in our family room may be 10 years old, but it still works great. We have Direct TV DVR's and a Nintendo Wii. We have multiple Nintendo racing, sports and Mario Bros Wii games with lots of accessories and just recently purchased the Tony Hawk Thride game and accessory board. My 10 year old has a simple cell phone that is "Pay as you Go" with no data plan but ample calling and texting. His friends have the Sony Playstation and they enjoy playing Lego Star Wars. We only have one TV in our family room, but multiple computer screens in our house.

The New York Times article "If Your Kids Are Awake, They're Probably Online" brought up some very interesting discussion points about how much time kids are spending on technology each day:

Continue reading "My Kids Are Awake With Access to Tech, But Pretend Play Is Still King" »

October 12, 2009

10 Great iPhone Apps for Moms & Dads

Iphone TechMamas.com guest post by Sarah Granger who is my go-to/power user iPhone App mom. 

Other than the obvious apps that come with the iPhone that save us in daily life like SMS, e-mail, Calendar, Maps, Weather, iPhoto, etc., here are ten great iPhone applications to download from the App Store that have good uses for moms (and dads).

1. ICE - In Case of Emergency - important app for emergency contact info including doctors, allergies, medications, etc. for you and your kids.

2. WebMD Mobile - Allows for quick lookup of symptoms and helps to determine when children need to go to the doctor or the emergency room.

3. LocalPicks - Great ideas for restaurants when your kids are about to have a meltdown - you can find out what's close, fast.

4. Light - Turn your iPhone into a light in the dark when kids are scared or if you need to find something, like car keys.  

5. Scribble Lite - A fun program for the preschool and Kinder set, they can paint and draw from your iPhone.

6. Bubbles - For the little ones, this is a great way to pass the time - you or they make bubbles and pop them.

7. Facebook - Stay in touch with mom friends or cyberstalk your kids and their friends; also good for comic relief when you need a break.

8. Pandora - Builds custom radio stations for you based on your preferences: drown out the kids or make them think you're cool.

9. iChalky - Hours of silly fun, stretching a little faux chalk-like hangman type character (and don't forget to try inserting your kids' faces).

10. SitOrSquat - Last, but certainly not least, this helps locate nearby restrooms and identifies whether they are clean, safe, etc.


Sarah Granger, tech mom of one, has written for the Silicon Valley Moms Blog, Bay Area Parent, Playborhood, techPresident and Digital Landing.

September 07, 2009

Web Management Tools For Students, Teachers and Parents

It is that time of year when I ponder what is the best system to manage my family's schedule and as a room parent - how to manage the class information. So I took my quest online. Here is what I found so far....

Mashable had some great posts on web tools for students and teachers, so I started by reading those posts.


Mashable - Back to School: 15 Essential Web Tools for Students 

(Evernote, Notely, Grademate, Backpack, StudRails, Diigo, Delicious, Mindmeister, Google Docs, Etherpad, SlideRocket, Wikidot, Citeme, EasyBib and Zotero) CLICK here to read the student post.


Mashable - Back to School: 10 Terrific Web Apps for Teachers

(SchoolRack, SchoolTool, Curriki, Edmodo, Shmoop, Footnote, ClassMarker, Bookgoo, DOC cop and TeacherTube) CLICK HERE to read the Teacher post.

I know teachers who create their class sites using Dreamweaver, blogs or TeacherWeb.


Here are some web tools for parents who have kids in elementary school/highschool. I hope to add more to the list:

1. Google Calender/Docs: Many parents are using Google Calender to manage their calenders and Google Docs to keep shared documents in the "cloud" online.

2. Smartphones - Many parents manage their calenders using their smartphones and corresponding calendering systems. Smartphone calenders can also sync with outlook, iCal and Google Calender - which makes it easy to share info with other family members, use desktop management or online tools.

3. Cozi.com has an online family organizer system that includes online calender, shopping list, todo lists and family journal.

Continue reading "Web Management Tools For Students, Teachers and Parents " »

May 10, 2009

Outside Activites Are Good For TechMamas

Living the "online" life of a blogger has many advantages, but one of the BIG disadvantages is more time on computer = less time being active (the dreaded "blogger ten").  I am on the hunt to start exercising again, my first step was purchasing a new pair of running shoes. The next step was finding more outside activities I can do with my kids away from the computer. Combing time with kids and exercising is the best of both worlds.

Today we participated in an activity I had on my list: Kayaking. My 6 year old twins are old enough to help with the rowing - and my husband and I each take one with us on a two person kayak. While we are kayaking my older son enjoys Windsurfing.

I even left my BlackBerry in the car during the Kayaking <gulp>. Sad but true, it was hard for me unplug.

I am looking for other outside family activities other then bike rides, scootering and hiking - which we do already. We also do this game called "wrestling on the grass", which comes naturally for my house-of-3-boys. But mama prefers not to wrestle.

Any other ideas for outside family activities?

That is all for now, back outside to spend time with the kiddies...


May 07, 2009

Guest Post by AT&T Mom Brandy Perez: Best Smartphones For Moms

I have been on the search to find out more information about the smartphone selections useful to moms. AT&T contacted me and I am happy to have received ideas from Brandy Perez, who is not only a 10-year AT&T employee but most importantly a MOM!!


GUEST POST BY AT&T mom Brandy Perez

Best Smartphones for Mom

There are so many smartphones out there to choose from. How do I know which one is right for me (or for my mom)?

Some of my friends and family have asked me this question before, especially lately since Mother’s Day is almost here. The answer really depends on what features are most important to you. For example, I’ve chosen the iPhone 3G as my personal device and the BlackBerry Bold is my work-provided device because email-on-the-go is my number one reason for why I depend on a smartphone. These devices allow me to stay connected with work as well as with my personal email. I rely on email to stay connected to my children’s school and sports activities. I rarely need to log on to a computer for my personal email because I can send email and open attachments right from my smartphone. I have access to the information I need and respond appropriately right from my device without using a computer. For example, my son plays sports, and if a practice time or location changes, or gets completely canceled, I’m alerted right away via email. There’s nothing worse than rushing from work to get your son to practice only to find out practice time was changed or canceled completely. Before I had a smartphone, that situation happened to me one too many times.

Continue reading "Guest Post by AT&T Mom Brandy Perez: Best Smartphones For Moms" »

April 27, 2009

Free Online Safety Service From Norton Makes It Easier To Keep Kids Safe Online

**Guest post by Marian Merritt - Symantec's Internet Safety Advocate

I have three kids who love the Internet in all its forms. The oldest is just 15 and the youngest is 7. Like a bunch of bumper cars, their online activities occasionally dent the family rules for being safe online. Sometimes they forget what we’ve discussed or they are into things I never dreamed would capture their interest. It feels like I’m always a step behind knowing what they are going to download or visit and then protecting them from the mistakes they might make.

The youngest one doesn’t understand why I’m concerned about her using search engines when she was taught how to use Google and Yahoo at school. (How do I know the “safe search” settings haven’t been tweaked?) The middle child, 13 years old, wants to game online and has no problem downloading cheat codes or visiting sites with gaming tips. He rolls his eyes when I lecture about visiting these “who knows who runs them” sites and downloading files. And of course, my oldest is into all the normal teen stuff: social networks, chatting, Skyping with her friends,and YouTube. So I admit it, I need some help here.

Norton has just launched a great and easy to use service that should make my life a lot easier. It’s called OnlineFamily.Norton and is a simple way to give me the insight I need into my children’s online activities but without the usual associated headaches of traditional web filtering or parental control software. And, during the introductory period (through next January 1st) the service (a $60 value) is entirely free!!

Continue reading "Free Online Safety Service From Norton Makes It Easier To Keep Kids Safe Online " »

April 22, 2009

AdBusters Digital Detox Week - Can Anyone Really Unplug?

Digital detox week I sometimes wonder if I could completely unplug for a week. Just last week we were without power for one night and that was overwhelming enough. Although I did enjoy a quiet night with my family and the smell of candles lit throughout the house. I work hard to unplug when my kids are around, but I have to admit that they have all said at one time or another "Mom - when are you getting off the computer".

So instead of unplugging this week, I have made a promise to unplug for exercise each day - and at night when my kids are home from activities. I enjoy "pre" bedtime - it is a nightly ritual where we get to read or just spend time together.

But the question is, can anyone really unplug for a WHOLE WEEK? AdBusters had a listing of articles that showed the downside of the online life. One of the links was to a New York Times article titled "8 Hours a Day Spent on Screens, Study Finds ".

February 03, 2009

Paper Vs. Smartphone? Paper Reigns

 I have written posts, articles and given lots of advice on how to sync calenders to your computer and smartphone. I have all the equipment, cables and more to make it happen. But there is a secret I must admit - I STILL USER PAPER.. Infact, my todo list for today is on (yikes) PAPER.

Why would a Techmama end up in this situation?

Syncing my BlackBerry to my PC Outlook schedule is all dependent on a cable. I happen to have lost that cable (or my sons used it for some type of experiment/art project). I then happened to get really busy and had no time to buy a new sync cable. Which then lead to my BlackBerry calender being out of sync with my PC Outlook calender. This lead to (another yikes) me to use paper in the interim.

Until I can "wirelessly" sync my smartphone to my PC outlook calender - I will need to now and then rely on good old paper. I was thrilled to see an article in the Google Blog from Techmeme titled "Tasks: Paper vs. iPhone" and the term "paper reigns".

If you ask the general mom population what they use for todo's and calenders I would say that many would say they still use paper. There are many moms who are early adopters on online calendering systems - and there are great online alternatives available.

The iPhone users I talk to say they enjoy the iPhone calender system, which has seamless syncing. But they have not found a comfortable solution for todo lists on the iPhone. BlackBerry and select Window's based smartphone users are happy with the calender and the ability to create todo lists, but are not as happy with the syncing process. There is "middleware" that enable wireless syncing, but who wants to buy something called middleware? Some carriers offer wireless syncing options, but that may be hard to keep track of.

So for now, many moms are walking around either going full on paper for their calendering system or using a hybrid approach. I know that keeping track of my family calender from PC to smartphone would be so much easier if it was all "wireless".

October 30, 2008

The "One" Gadget For Families?

Sara Silver from the Wall Street Journal blogged about some shedding their gadgets and turning to iPhones. The article quoted Mark Donovan, senior analyst at comScore:

"We see that lower-income consumers are increasingly turning to mobile devices to access the Internet, to listen to music and for email," said Mark Donovan, senior analyst at comScore. "

The interesting thing about this is that the article also mentioned that wireless ventures are losing DSL subscribers.

What does all of this mean?

I think it means families are looking to use "one gadget" as their dashboard to save money and help keep streamline family processes.

In reality, I see that one gadget being two, a wireless phone and a computer. The wireless phone will provide internet and phone access on the go, while the "dashboard" of every home will be the family PC. I see the family of the future having less paper on the fridge, family schedules, notes and reference information will be on a nice big screen computer. I see that screen being the only thing that the family sees, the computer itself will either be built into the screen or put under a counter. Maybe the screen will be a touch screen so even the little ones can use it to enter in their playdate schedule, or answer some of their questions by looking on safe online websites. School age kids will do their homework online and send it to their teacher before the night end. All family music will be loaded on some iTunes-like application that can transferred easily to MP3's or smartphones.  Better yet, that one screen will also be used for family entertainment. The only other gadgets needed will be a gaming console, MP3 player, wireless printer, a wireless router (along some sort of modem) and a DVR. Or maybe families will be using VoIP?

That may be more then two - but the "main" gadgets are still the smartphone and the PC.

In my house, a touch screen would need to be able to withstand varying degrees of sticky hands and wrestling boys knocking against it.

This techmama would always need her own laptop no matter what the rest of the family is using! My two devices would be a (MP3, GPS and all other three letter acronoym filled) smartphone and a small/slim laptop that I can carry in my purse. And my laptop can use my smartphone wireless access. I would take this computer to business and school meetings, sending notes out to others at the meeting instead of re-typing when I go home. All of this would make my life more efficient so I would have more time to spend with my family... That is in the home of the future.

Oh, and in the future some gadget will be created that sends laundry from the washer, to the dryer then folds it.

OK, that last one may just be a dream....

September 18, 2008

Which Family Calendar Solution Do You Use?

I just posted at the Silicon Valley Moms Blog with my calendar anxiety - a journey to find the right calendar solution for my family. So I am sending the question across my online social networks: "What calendar solution do you use for your family".



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