13 posts categorized "Screen Time"

December 13, 2011

Holiday Gifts=Time to Upgrade Tech: TV's

image from i1137.photobucket.comSpending all year writing about technology leaves me little time to focus on my own household tech. My preference is to have home technology that is not only low maintenance but also high quality. Looking around the house, I realized that the fully functional 12 year-old family TV no longer remotely qualified as “top of the line”. Not to mention the glares my tween son's friends gave me when they came over and realized we have a (shriek and face plant) TV with "tubes" in it.

So this holiday season I joined the world of high definition and purchased a new HDTV. Because our 12 year old TV Sony TV lasted so long and offered us a great viewing experience - I wanted to purchase another Sony television. At the local Sony Style store I reviewed the different models and received great information from the sales team. I also talked to friends of the family who are Home Electronic Concierges (Intuitive Environments). They sent me an article from PC Mag on how to buy an HDTV. If I were not a technology writer, I would have hired them because to help save money and time. But being a tech geek - I wanted to have the full experience of uprgading the TV on my own. I also checked CNET for reviews and Decide.com to get an idea of what price I should looking for.

Continue reading "Holiday Gifts=Time to Upgrade Tech: TV's" »

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" »

September 29, 2009

Disney Extends Their Digital Offerings: Disney Digital Books Launched This Morning

Today I received this press release that announced Disney is going Digital in yet another away with Disney Digital Books. I will be finding out more details and will add them to this post:


"Disney Digital Books (www.disneydigitalbooks.com) officially launched this morning. This vast library is Disney’s first-ever collection of digital children’s books – and the browser-based service is PC- and Mac-compatible, and does not require a download.

The new portal is the brainchild of a team of young, tech-savvy, creative folks at Disney Publishing Worldwide (the world's largest publisher of children's books and magazines), which has been around since 1930.

If you’re interested in learning more, there’s a webcast today at 1:00PM EST (open to the public).  Join here: http://www.videonewswire.com/event.asp?id=62362

Over 500 Disney picture and storybooks will come to life with animated illustrations and authentic character voices.  Classics include more than 60 Winnie the Pooh books and such popular titles as Mickey Mouse, Toy Story, Disney Princess, Cars, and Hannah Montana.

Key features include:

    * An age-appropriate dictionary that lets children click on any word to hear it read aloud;
    * Reading certificates to encourage readers;
    * A “Story-Builder” feature so kids can create their own stories;
    * Books are separated into three reading levels:  (1) for beginner readers and a companion, (2) for independent readers, and (3) for readers ready for chapter books;

Monthly subscriptions are only $8.95 – and annual and gift subscriptions are available as well.  A free trial of the service is available today."

September 20, 2009

TechMama hits the Red carpet for MUST SEE movie: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Cloudy_with_a_chance_of_meatballs When I found out that Sony invited a group of moms to LA to get photo/video tips while using Sony Digital Imaging products, I was very excited to use the Sony cameras and camcorders. I was also told that we were going to the premiere of the new Sony Pictures 3D movie came out THIS WEEKEND: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs"

I enjoyed reading the "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs book to my children when they were younger, and spent the week before the trip asking my sons and their friends what they liked most about the book. They all remembered numerous vivid details in the book, "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. The images of falling food was obviously so rich for these kids’ imaginations. Lucky for them, and for parents who like to sneak in some hidden learning with the nighttime “read me a story” request, there are also weather-related Language Arts and Science lessons tied into the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs book and movie. Scholastic published an interview with the book authors Ron and Judith Barnett.

After seeing the movie "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" at the premiere (See disclosures at bottom of this post) last weekend - I had a MAJOR epiphany. The movie not only has amazing 3D graphics and animation to give viewers a "real taste" (yes, pun fully intended) of what it is like to experience falling hamburgers, a spaghetti tornado, a Jello palace, candy rainbows and other food fun - but it also has positive messages for kids and adults alike and geek surprises along the way. One geek surprise in the film that is also on the Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs website is a poster of Nikola Tesla, who was a real life inventor and electrical/ mechanical engineer. Next time I see the film, I will be looking to find more surprises. The movie is one of those feel good movies where the only violence is against gummie bears, geek (including science and math) is cool for boys and girls, the main characters all struggle then improve communication to their loved ones, selfish is NOT cool and the most important things in life are family/loved ones, as well as embracing your true self

On a personal note, I reached an epiphany with the help of the "story" behind the movie "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" and the interviews with the Directors and cast. My ten year old son is bright and like many of his peers inspired more the technology of movies and movie making than by his 5th grade homework. He can figure out the intricate features of my and my friends’ digital cameras faster than any adult. This inquisitive 10 year likes to spend time explaining to my 6 year old twins - while they are watching shows or films -  what is real versus what is computer generated and how it is done. One of the first things he did when he received his new MACbook was to play with iMovie, create green-screen movies and then attempt to explain the whole process to his family and friends. "Look mom, I figured out how to use the green screen function". To that, I said "Later, I am cooking dinner". One morning while I was asleep my son found my DSLR camera tripod and figured out how to use it for the his digital camera to take videos with the timer function. The first thing he said to me that morning was "the video quality is much better when I use a tripod".

Then, I attended the movie premier and witnessed the main characters of the film "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) and Sam Sparks (Anna Faris) struggle to embrace their true self. Flint's father also struggled to support that journey. Another message in the movie was that math and science, along with other fundamentals, are important to master if you are going to "save the world". This helped me see that I should be more active in supporting my son's interest in the production side of video/films. I decided to hand over one of my camcorders and a memory card to my son so that he could take and manage his own videos. I set aside time this past week to discuss how to edit videos and tied in the less-exciting school work part of his life by explaining that he needs to do his homework if he wants to go to a college and study filmaking. Best of all I explained to my son that if he is going to save the world, I mean master the art of filmaking, that mastering math, science and language arts now in school will help give him the fundamentals he will need for future success. 

I then used Twitter to share my epiphany with the film's directors, Phil Lord responded with:


The Writing/Directing team for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is Phil Lord and Chris Miller. We had the chance to interview both of them during press rounds the day before the premiere. The first thing I learned was not a big surprise: when they were younger, both enjoyed writing plays and creating short films. They met in college and realized they have similar interests. During the interview they were funny, completely engaging and witty as they explained that the movie production was a team effort - with over 500 team members (or "cells" in an organism as they called it). Each day on the set was like a food fight as they had to build each part of how food falls into the overall animation. When asked what hints Phil Lord and Chris Miller would give to kids, a few were "math/science is cool", "school is important", "Be comfortable with who you are", "Embrace your inner wierdo/geek", "Do something original and do it boldly". The last hint "Do something original and do it boldly" is what resonates for me as a way to describe the effort behind creating the movie "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs".



Armed with a Sony A330 DSLR camera that we each had use of for the weekend and my smartphone (for live Twittering) I and the other moms each had our own spot on the red carpet to catch the action. We loaded our pictures to the Flickr group Sony Mom Event 2009.

Continue reading "TechMama hits the Red carpet for MUST SEE movie: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs " »

July 13, 2009

Blossom (Mayim Bialik) is now a Mom and on TNT Saving Grace 7/14

It is always fun when TV shows feature moms that I can relate to. One of my favorite secret obsessions (or not so secret anymore) is TLC's "What Not To Wear". Stacy and Clinton and team do a great job of making over people, many moms I know want to nominate themselves to have a makeover.

If only to have a week of shopping in NYC sans kiddos.

I secretly fantasize about them helping me look create a wardrobe of "Tech Mom" fashions  for computer and social media conferences. Maybe they need a special show just for that!

Mayim Bialik was a child star on Blossom in the early 90's and now is a mom of two and was featured on "What Not To Wear". I think they did a great job of making over Mayim on What Not To Wear and really made me think about my regular mom outift of sweats and make-up free skin. The next day I decided to attempt the 5 minute face - which was not so bad - and put on a summer outfit instead of my sweats. Not so bad. But I do like my mom sweats. Mayim was very honest on the show that she does not have time for herself and did not make the time. I, and many other moms, feel the same way!

Here is Mayim's bio from a press release I received:

"Mayim Bialik captured hearts playing the young Bette Midler in Beaches, but is best known for her lead role as Blossom Russon in the early 90’s NBC sitcom “Blossom.” This Fall, Mayim will join the cast of ABC Family’s “The Secret Life of an American Teenager” in a recurring role as a high school guidance counselor. Mayim can next be seen in an episode of “Saving Grace” on TNT, and recently appeared in an episode of “Bones”. She also appeared in the season premiere of TLC’s “What Not To Wear” where she got a complete make over. Mayim has also had guest roles on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and HBO’s “Fat Actress.”

Mayim attended UCLA where she received an undergraduate degree in Neuroscience, Hebrew and Jewish Studies. She went on to receive her doctorate from UCLA in Neuroscience, focusing on Prader-Willi syndrome.

Mayim lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their two sons. She is very involved in the Jewish community, and lives an eco-friendly lifestyle."

(yes - she is a mom with a degree in Neuroscience!)

I was very excited to see on the same TNT press release that Mayim Bialik will make a guest appearance on the TNT - Saving Grace (another one of my favorite shows) this Tuesday, July 14, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT):

“Mooooooooo” – Tuesday, July 14, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT)

"During a case that puts Grace’s spirituality to the test, the squad investigates the murder of a Hasidic Jew whose body is found near a herd of dead cows.  Meanwhile, Grace tries to connect with Neely, and Ham’s sister-in-law, Amanda, struggles to get over the death of her husband.

Character Description: Esther (Mayim Bialik) - A Hasidic Jewish woman and the daughter of the murder victim in the episode. She strayed from the Jewish community in her early 20's, but then returned to her religious roots after several years. She is married with 7 children (but you don't see them in the episode)."

I will be tuning in, perfect timing for after the kids go to sleep.

TNT - Saving Grace also has a community and a blog to share thoughts and information.

November 03, 2008

Disney Imagination Movers - My Juice Box Heroes

When I received the Imagination Mover's press kit (including the fact sheet and bios for Scott Durbin, Rich Collins, Dave Poche and Scott ‘Smitty’ Smith) in the mail from Disney, I decided to wait until all my kids (6 year old twins boys and a 9 year old boy) were home at the same time to play the music.

Well, they all liked it - and that is not easy!


What's In The Fridge pretty much sums up what it is like having three Hungary boys  - they are always heading to the fridge.  Clean My Room (pick it up, pick it up NOW) is the song I decided to play to remind my boys that their rooms need a'cleanin. I think that will be a more effective way then screaming "clean your room" like I usually do. The medicine song can be used when the kids are sick.

"Mover Music" may be one of my favorites and inspired me to exercise also (I secretly played that over and over again while the kids were at school)!

Best yet, three of the Imagination Movers are Dads themselves from New Orleans with 7 kids between them. The Imagination Mover's released a special single that raised funds for the nonprofit group KIDsmART, which brings visual and performing arts education to public schools throughout New Orleans. 

Imagination Movers has a TV series, MP3/video downloads and a CD titled "Juice Box Heroes".


February 03, 2008

SuperBowl XVII: Is It All About The Game Or The Commercials?

My blog sistahs JB at the Silicon Valley Moms Blog and Sarah and The Goon Squad (DC Metro Moms Blogger) are sports fans. In fact - Sarah also sport blogs at BlogHer and with Chicago Moms Blogger Sara - Self Made Mom and DC Metro Moms Blogger Gunfighter on the sports blog "Draft Day Suit".  For the sake of my boys, I really tried to engage in watching sports on TV. But I realized I would rather watch my kids playing sports then guys on TV. Luckily Dad fills in and tries to engage the boys with learning the details of the game.

Oh, and he won't be watching today's game live -- I don't think he will forgive me for scheduling our twins birthday party this afternoon (no wonder I got such a prime birthday party spot at the gym).... All I can say is that I was saved by TIVO! Luckily "one-third of TiVo households watched the 2007 Super Bowl game in time-shifted mode", and this year it may even be more.

In honor of SuperBowl XLII, here is a link to social networking site for sports fans (BallHype) that has the buzzing Pepsi commercial with Justin Timberlake. Valleywag listed the top ten most memorable tech Superbowl Ads.  Here is another link to my post from last year on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog listing some bad Superbowl commercials from the past - starring Moms (glad I don't have any to add to that list).

UPDATE - My hubby posted with his superbowl ads picks. Well that was because he was at our twins' birthday party with us instead of watching the game. So he made the best of the pre-game. He is a good daddy... My buddy CityMama posted this link in Facebook (T-Moblie Best And Worst Superbowl Commercials).

So - do you like watching the game or the commercials?

December 20, 2007

TechMama's Holiday And Overall Cool Technology Gift Guide For Families

Tm_hgg_turquoisev2 While my other blogger friends were busy putting their holiday guides out before Thanksgiving, I was busy making my garage into a playroom to get ready for the winter. Well, the good news is that our garage is now a playroom - but the bad news is that my holiday guide is out very close to "the" holidays. So I am going to call this the TechMama Holiday/Last Minute Shopping/Overall Cool Technology to Buy Guide. The other good news is that after holiday sales are coming soon...

First I will provide a summary (the lowdown for mom gadgets and more..) and then below I discuss some of my favorite family technology picks. There has been so much debate about kids and technology use, but my final word is wait until your child shows an interest, set up limits on screen time, take time to educate yourself and your child on the technology/ internet safety issues - then HAVE SOME FUN (click here to see my full post on this topic)!

This is a time where elementary school students are social networking online with Webkinz and using technology at school every day, tweens have their own blogs and highschool students are starting to use Facebook.  Just check out this post from Mashable (Oct. 2007) that lists 350+ social networking sites available. While I am against baby computer toys, I do feel that parents need to get on board with technology and become part of the education process (technology safety is the new "birds & bees" talk).  Especially with online privacy.  I don't suggest buying all sorts of gadgets, as I said above - wait until they show an interest and then invest in the right technology. The holidays (and after holiday sales) are the perfect time to buy technology for families.

Here is the summary (or lowdown):

Continue reading "TechMama's Holiday And Overall Cool Technology Gift Guide For Families" »

July 11, 2007

Will Harry Potter Mania Lead to More Reading, Or is Reading Books so Web 1.0?

Harry_potter_2 The new Harry Potter film, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix", hit movie theaters today and everyone seems to be a buzzing with Harry Potter mania. Wendy from the Chicago Moms Blog saw the movie yesterday, for free (I am extremely not jealous)... Catherine, also from the Chicago Moms Blog, posted the "Countdown to Harry" with a nifty counter that keeps track of the time left before the last book (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) comes out. Online sites like MuggleNet.com, the  Warner Bros Studios official website, Harry Potter Quizzes, Trivia  and Scholastic.com's Harry Potter site seem to be a favorite destination for kids lately.

But my question is "Do Harry Potter books really inspire kids to read beyond the books?" The New York Times says the effect is limited ("Potter Magic Has Limited Effect on Youngsters Reading Habits"). My 8 year son (and almost 5 year old twins) really enjoy listening to us read Harry Potter books. While my 8 year old can read Harry Potter himself, he prefers that we read it to him. He seems to be inspired by shorter chapter books that cover his areas of interest, so we still have to enforce our "read every day or no screen time" rule. I assume as he gets older he will want to read more, but the New York Times percentages shows the opposite trend: "...a series of federal tests administered every few years to a sample of students in grades 4, 8 and 12, the percentage of kids who said they read for fun almost every day dropped from 43 percent in fourth grade to 19 percent in eighth grade in 1998, the year “Sorcerer’s Stone” was published in the United States. "

My experience is that I did read more as I grew older.  But I did not grow up at a time where some 8 year olds (one that I won't mention by name - B) say things like this to their friends: "You don't have your own laptop computer?". And with all the new social networking sites for kids, will more time be spent on the computer instead of reading? Is online social networking time a  social outlet for kids that replaces reading?  And to make things more complicated, do audio and ebooks count as reading time? Let's not forget online book club and discussions forums; are they a bad replacement for live book clubs or do they offer a good opportunity for discussion for those who can't make live book clubs? I am overwhelmed by all of these modern parental dilemmas. 

Who knows. For now, I will keep enforcing our read every day rule and hope that my son will soon enjoy reading books made out of paper on his own.

Cross Posted on Silicon Valley Moms Blog

May 21, 2007

Bill Gates Limits Screen Time For His Kids

CNET posted on their News Blog that Bill Gates (and his wife) limited their 10 year old daughter to 45 minutes of screen time for games during the week.  Interesting that he shared his family limits when his company, Microsoft, is all about screen time. It makes me curious what limits other parents in the tech industry use for screen time. One commenter from the CNET post has similar limits on his family but brought up an interesting point "I need to put similar limits on myself".

I posted about my own thoughts on screen time at the Silicon Valley Moms Blog (basically that I use limited TV/screen time as babysitting). As a work at home mom with no full time help, there are times where I am answering email and cooking dinner at the same time. Having my kids relax with their daily screen time (either TV or computer) really helps me. But I do force myself to shut off my computer to spend quiet family time together. So finding the right balance is key. Whatever that is........



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