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Shuddle Rideshare Service For Families (Discount Code!)

Disclosure: Sponsored post. See below for special Shuddle discount code for Techmamas readers!

 

Shuddle

One of the biggest challenges for families is the minute by minute, ever-changing scheduling of driving kids to and from school, after school activities and everything in between. With a mix of minimum days, school holidays, after school activities, homework, sick days, sports and medical appointments, no two days are the same. Assembling a weekly transportation schedule is like putting together one of those 1,000 piece puzzles, and while I’m a master project planner (My Parent Plan), scheduling can be a challenge.

 

I decided several years ago to work out of the home for several reasons, including the flexibility to drive my kids around. Now that my three boys are getting older and I can keep track of their location by calling their phones, I feel the time is right to go back to working outside the home.  As I am planning this transition I realize the biggest challenge is transportation for my tween sons (twins). Several of my friends confirmed that they, too, have the same problem.

 

Shuddle

Photo credit: Shuddle

 

When Shuddle contacted me to work together on a (disclosure) sponsored post, I said, “How did you know that I have been looking into transportation options?”  The fact they contacted me happened to be a coincidence because I had independently planned to try their service. Shuddle is a rideshare service designed specifically to transport busy families with drivers that have caregiver experience. They undergo an extensive verification process (national criminal background checks, motor vehicle records check, employer reference checks,  in-person training and vehicle inspection), plus live monitoring and support for every ride.  I started my transportation hunt by looking into hiring a driver on my own, but the verification process was complicated and some information was hard to find. Shuddle’s verification process is a huge benefit.

 

The steps to start using Shuddle and scheduling a ride are straightforward.  The flexibility of having  until midnight to book a ride for the next day is helpful.  One key requirement is that riders must have a mobile phone in order for drivers to reach them. Even if your kids don’t currently have phones, there are a great selection of budget basic prepaid phones that have the ability to call and text. All of my kids started out with those types of phones anyway. Shuddle currently operates in the San Francisco Bay Area (Marin, Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, Burlingame, San Jose, Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Mountain View).

 

Shuddle Mobile App

Photo credit: Shuddle

 

Shuddle has an iOS and an Android app to enable managing and scheduling rides easily on the go.

 

As much as the transportation features offer great value, I also appreciate the flexible employment opportunities Shuddle is providing to women. Here are some of the interesting facts about  Shuddle:

  • “Shuddle has given thousands of rides and has a community of more than 200 female drivers, 80% of which are mothers themselves.
  • In contrast to other companies garnering praise for having 30% of their workforce composed of women (Lyft), Shuddle’s  community of all women drivers is unprecedented.
  • Shuddle is one of the only companies in which women are at the forefront of the ride sharing economy and is proud to be presenting an economic opportunity for them.
  • To make money with other rideshares, you really need to drive Friday and Saturday nights, and so there are understandably concerns about safety. That isn’t the case with Shuddle and whose value proposition speaks strongly  to women.
  • Shuddle rides can be scheduled by midnight the day before, giving drivers the opportunity to know who they are driving before they get in their car.
  • There are no late-night rides or rides with potentially threatening customers, etc.

 

***********DISCOUNT OFFER TO TECHMAMAS READERS***************************

 

If you would like to try Shuddle, use the code TECHMAMAS to have one free ride up to $20 in value

 

To sign up, CLICK HERE to load either the Shuddle iOS or Android Shuddle app.

 

To learn more about Shuddle (such as passenger requirements, driver screening and the ride experience), visit: http://shuddle.us.

 

 

Disclosure: Sponsored post. My words are my own.

 

 

 

 

Tips: Find Family Friendly Videos For #Kids With YouTube Kids #App

YouTube Kids LogoBecause kids have access to browsers on many devices they can roam the internet which can result in kids seeing inappropriate content. The best defense for parents is to make sure they educate their kids on internet safety and have regular safety talks -so communication between kids and their parents is key. Along with that, introducing family friendly apps can also help kids stay within the boundaries of family friendly content. I am excited to announce that YouTube has created the YouTube kids app as a step to help families provide a safer place for kids to view videos online.  While I could not attend the press event in New York, I will be meeting with YouTube to get a demo soon. Event though the ideal age for this app is only 2-8, this is a great step in the right direction for family friendly apps in general.  National Geographic Kids shared “We are so excited to be a part of the new YouTube Kids app launch with National Geographic Kids original and curated video content,” says Michelle Sullivan, VP Digital. “We want kids of all ages–and their grownups– to enjoy our playlists and spark their curiosity to go out in the world and learn more.

 

For now I wanted to share the information from the YouTube kids press release so parents can test it out for themselves:

 

The YouTube Kids app is available now on iOS and Android:

LINK FOR YOUTUBE KIDS iOS APP on the Apple Store 

LINK FOR YOUTUBE KIDS ANDROID APP on Google Play

 

 

YouTube Kids Screenshot

Photo Credit: YouTube

 

 

 

FAQ’S FROM YOUTUBE KIDS PRESS RELEASE:

Parental Controls: 
Timer: Let the app be the bad guy with a built-in timer that lets you limit kids’ screen time. The app alerts your child when the session is over, so you don’t have to. (You’re welcome. 😉
Sound settings: Sometimes you need a little peace and quiet! You have an option to turn off background music and sound effects, so your kids can keep watching while you catch a breather.
Search settings: If you’d rather limit your children to just the pre-selected videos available on the home screen, you can turn off search.
Product feedback: Our goal is to improve YouTube Kids all the time, so we’ve included a space for you to give us your feedback.
What age group is this app appropriate for?
Right now, YouTube Kids delivers enriching and entertaining, early literacy content, ideal for kids 2-8.

Which devices are supported?
Launching in Google Play and the App Store, YouTube Kids is a fun and interactive place designed for families to explore and enjoy a vast selection of videos on tablet or smartphone.  You can use YouTube Kids on your smartphone or tablet with:

  • iOS 7 or above
  • Android 4.1 or above

Can I log in to the app with my YouTube account?
No, we currently only support a logged out experience.

When will YouTube Kids be available in other countries and languages?
YouTube Kids is currently available to users in the United States, but we’re working to expand to other countries.

What kind of content is available in the app?
The app is a kid-appropriate experience built around the breadth and depth of content that kids love. With a vast selection of videos, across a variety of topics, the choices match a child’s endless curiosity and interests, offering something for every kid; find how-to build a volcano, countless train videos, sing-along versions of favorite songs, crafting projects, match tutorials, answers to questions (what if we lived on the moon?), and much more.  You’ll also find popular programming like National Geographic Kids, Sesame Street, DreamWorks Animation and Thomas & Friends, online hits like Mother Goose Club, Super Simple Songs and TuTiTu, plus kid-friendly content from filmmakers, teachers and creators all around the world.

Are you COPPA compliant?
Yes. YouTube Kids is a signed-out app experience, so it does not collect, use or disclose information connected to a Google account, including the user’s name, address, contact or other personal information.

Here is a YouTube video demo of the new YouTube Kids app:

NEW SHOWS ON YOUTUBE KIDS (from press release):

  • The Furchester Hotel is a series for 3 to 6-year-olds set in an ‘almost’ world-class hotel run by a close-knit family of cheerfully incompetent monsters. The series, which is designed to encourage creative problem-solving, introduces brand new characters and also welcomes the beloved Elmo and Cookie Monster from Sesame Street.*
  • New digital videos for Thomas & Friends features Thomas the Tank Engine™ as fans have never seen him before, having adventures off the Island of Sodor in fascinating destinations like London, Paris, and New York City, and coming to life in children’s playrooms.
  • Explore the amazing technology that surrounds our everyday lives, in this exciting new original series called uTech, presented by Reading Rainbow and YouTube. In the first episode, join host LeVar Burton as he takes a look at some of the places you may have not realized we encounter technology (from the moment we wake up to an alarm clock, until we go to bed at night and brush our teeth).
  • National Geographic Kids playlists are an exciting and educational way to explore the very best of YouTube. Hosted by kids for kids, these curated playlists on awesome animals, cool science, natural phenomenons, and more are perfect for curious kids who want to explore, laugh, and learn.
  • Two new shows from Hank and John Green, the Vlogbrothers:  SciShow Kids will tap into kids’ curiosity and answer their many “why” questions with animated explanations, live-hosted experiments and field trips. And Crash Course Kids will empower both educators and students with customized elementary school lessons, hosted by some of your favorite YouTube stars 
  • WONDER QUEST: Set in the world of Minecraft, one of the most popular kid’s video games today, and starring Joseph Garrett, better known to millions of fans as Stampylonghead, “Wonder Quest” brings audiences family-friendly adventure with an educational twist. Will Stampy accept the quest from a friendly wizard? Will Stampy and his friends save the town of Wonderberg from a fate of really bad jokes? A fun way for kids to explore, Stampy invites friends to build an online world that encourages wonder — all based on Core Curriculum and Next Generation Science Standards. 
  • A new series from Outfit7, Talking Tom and Friends will chronicle the adventures, hijinks, and inventions of Talking Tom and the gang as they shoot their own reality television show.

 

I can’t wait to try out the new YouTube kids app with my kids. How about you?

 

 

 

 

Movie Preview: 2015 Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2015 Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Slate

2015 Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Slate

 

The hardest part about preparing to write this post was watching the previews because I CAN’T WAIT until the new Disney movies come out for 2015. Disney movies are a family staple that people of all ages can enjoy together. Especially during holiday time, our family enjoys re-watching our favorite Disney movies just released and the classics. What I find interesting is that I enjoyed Disney movies as a kid, but as an adult when I watch them I see new perspectives and details. Listed below is information from the press updated on the Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Coming slated for 2015. Which movies are you most excited to see?

 

Action – Adventure & Science Fiction:
 
December 18, 2015 – Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Lucasfilm)  #StarWars  #TheForceAwakens
 
I have to admit that The Force Awakens is the film my whole family keeps saying “Is it December 18, 2015 yet??? My boys have the same connection to Star Wars that I had watching the first movies come out. I love to see them role play with light sabers and of course we can’t get enough of the Star Tours ride at Disneyland. Just looking at the picture below makes me remember riding in that galaxy during the ride..
 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Lucasfilm)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Lucasfilm) © Disney. All rights reserved.

 

Here is information from the press release on the cast: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens ( Episode VII ) cast including Actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will join the original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in the new film. Star Wars: Episode VII is being directed by J.J. Abrams from a screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and Abrams. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing, and John Williams returns as the composer.

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Lucasfilm) © Disney. All rights reserved.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Lucasfilm) © Disney. All rights reserved.

 

This is Daisey Ridley as Rey as seen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser.   Or as I would like to think of as my alter ego to being a mom driving a mini van around!
 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Lucasfilm) © Disney. All rights reserved.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Lucasfilm) © Disney. All rights reserved.

 

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Official Teaser:
 

 

 

May 1, 2015 – Avengers: Age of Ultron (Marvel) #Avengers #AgeOfUltron

 

Along with Star Wars, Marvel comics have given my kids the most content for years of pretend pay. One of our favorite series is the Avengers. A new Avengers movie is coming out 2015 is called  Avengers: Age of Ultron. Beyond our love of the Avengers story line, the great cast is making this movie another of my must see for 2015.

 

 

 Marvel's Avengers: Age Of Ultron © Marvel 2015 All Rights Reserved.

Marvel’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron © Marvel 2015 All Rights Reserved.

 

Marvel’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron..L to R: Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle), Dr. Cho (Claudia Kim), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson)..

 

 

 

 
 

July 17, 2015 – Ant–Man (Marvel)  #AntMan

 

Another Disney movie coming out in 2015 is MARVEL’S ANT-MAN – Shot on location in San Francisco, Paul Rudd stars as Scott Lang AKA Ant-Man. Marvel Studio’s Ant-Man, scheduled for release in the U.S. on July 17th, 2015.
 

Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..MARVEL'S ANT-MAN  © Marvel 2014 All Rights Reserved.

Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..MARVEL’S ANT-MAN © Marvel 2014 All Rights Reserved.

 
 
 

May 22, 2015 – Tomorrowland (Walt Disney Studios) #Tomorrowland
 
Disney’s is taking the thrill and adventures of walking into Tomorrowland at Disney Parks to a new level. The movie TOMORROWLAND will feature a screenplay by “Lost” writer & co-creator Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird, story by Damon Lindelof & Brad Bird & Jeff Jensen and staring Britt Robertson as Casey will be coming out May 22, 2015. Here is more information from the Disney Movie Tomorrowland website“From Disney comes two-time Oscar® winner Brad Bird’s riveting, mystery adventure “Tomorrowland,” starring Academy Award® winner George Clooney. Bound by a shared destiny, former boy-genius Frank (Clooney), jaded by disillusionment, and Casey (Britt Robertson), a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity, embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space known only as “Tomorrowland.” What they must do there changes the world—and them—forever.”
 

Disney's TOMORROWLAND Casey (Britt Robertson)   ©Disney 2015

Disney’s TOMORROWLAND Casey (Britt Robertson) ©Disney 2015

 

Here is the Tomorrowland trailer.. And yes, that is is GEORGE CLOONEY’S voice.
 

 

 

FAMILY FUN:
 
Strange Magic   (Touchstone Pictures / Lucasfilm) #StrangeMagic is now released so you can go see it at the Theatres! Lucasfilm shared the plot as “Strange Magic,” a new animated film, is a madcap fairy tale musical inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Popular songs from the past six decades help tell the tale of a colorful cast of goblins, elves, fairies and imps, and their hilarious misadventures sparked by the battle over a powerful potion.”

 

 

Strange Magic  ©2014 Lucasfilm, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Strange Magic ©2014 Lucasfilm, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

 

The press release also shared that “Bog King (voice of Alan Cumming), Griselda (voice of Maya Rudolph) and Marianne (voice of Evan Rachel Wood) are part of a colorful cast of goblins, elves, fairies and imps in “Strange Magic,“… Lucasfilm Animation Singapore and Industrial Light & Magic, which created the CGI animation for 2011’s Academy Award-winning film Rango, bring to life the fanciful forest turned upside down with world-class animation and visual effects. The Strange Magic movie story is by George Lucas and directed by Gary Rydstrom (Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation, Lifted).”

 

 



 
 

 

February 20, 2015 – McFarland, USA (Walt Disney Studios) #McFarlandUSA
 
McFARLAND, USA is one of the most inspiring movies of those coming out 2015 and is also tops on my must see list. Here is background on the movie from the McFarland USA Disney Movie website:Inspired by the 1987 true story, “McFarland, USA” follows novice runners from McFarland, an economically challenged town in California’s farm-rich Central Valley, as they give their all to build a cross-country team under the direction of Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner), a newcomer to their predominantly Latino high school. Coach White and the McFarland students have a lot to learn about each other but when White starts to realize the boys’ exceptional running ability, things begin to change…. With grit and determination, the unlikely band of runners eventually overcomes the odds to forge not only a championship cross-country team but an enduring legacy as well. Along the way, Coach White realizes that his family finally found a place to call home and both he and his team achieve their own kind of American dream.

 

McFARLAND, USA ©Disney 2015 All Rights Reserved.

McFARLAND, USA ©Disney 2015 All Rights Reserved.

 

McFARLAND, USA – L to R: “Damacio Diaz (Jamie Michael Aguero), Jose Cardenas (Johnny Ortiz), Danny Diaz (Ramiro Rodriguez), Victor Puentes (Sergio Avelar), Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner), David Diaz (Rafael Martinez), Thomas Valles (Carlos Pratts) and Johnny Sameniego (Hector Duran)…Ph: Ron Phillips..

 

 

 

 
 
 

March 13, 2015 – Cinderella (Walt Disney Studios) #Cinderella

 

Lily James is Cinderella in Disney’s live-action feature inspired by the classic fairy tale, CINDERELLA, which brings to life the timeless images in Disney’s 1950 animated masterpiece as fully-realized characters in a visually-dazzlling spectacle for a whole new generation.

 

CINDERELLA  2014 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

CINDERELLA 2014 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

Cinderella (Walt Disney Studios) Trailer:

 

 
 
 

April 17, 2015 – Monkey Kingdom (Disneynature) #MonkeyKingdom
 
The  Disneynature Monkey Kingdom website explains the plotline as “Life is an adventure for Maya, the clever and resourceful blonde-bobbed monkey in “Monkey Kingdom,” Disneynature’s new feature film set among ancient ruins in the storied jungles of South Asia. Maya’s world is forever changed when she welcomes her son, Kip, into her complicated extended family…When their longtime home at Castle Rock is taken over by powerful neighboring monkeys, Maya’s whole family is forced to relocate, where she uses her street smarts and ingenuity to lead them to untapped resources amidst strange new creatures and unsettling surroundings. Ultimately, they will all have to work together to reclaim Castle Rock, where Maya can hopefully realize her dreams for her son’s future.

 

Disneynature's Monkey Kingdom ©Disneynature 2015 All Rights Reserved.

Disneynature’s Monkey Kingdom ©Disneynature 2015 All Rights Reserved.

 

Disneynature’s Monkey Kingdom Trailer:
 

 

 

 
 
June 19, 2015 – Inside Out (Disney / Pixar) #InsideOut
 
Here is the storyline from the press release “Disney’s Pixar’s “Inside Out” takes us to the most extraordinary location yet – inside the mind of Riley. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions – Anger (voiced by Lewis Black), Disgust (voiced by Mindy Kaling), Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Fear (voiced by Bill Hader) and Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. Directed by Pete Docter and produced by Jonas Rivera, “Inside Out” is in theaters June 19, 2015.

 

 ©2014 Disney?Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

©2014 Disney?Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

 
 
 
Inside Out (Disney / Pixar) Trailer:

 

 

November 25, 2015 – The Good Dinosaur (Disney / Pixar) #TheGoodDinosaur
 
Storyline from the press release: “The Good Dinosaur” asks the generations-old question: What if the asteroid that forever changed life on Earth missed the planet completely and giant dinosaurs never became extinct? In theaters November 25, 2015, the film is a humorous and exciting original story about Arlo, a lively Apatosaurus with a big heart. After a traumatic event unsettles Arlo’s family, he sets out on a remarkable journey, gaining an unlikely companion along the way – a human boy. “The Good Dinosaur” is an extraordinary journey of self-discovery full of thrilling adventure, hilarious characters and poignant heart. Directed by Peter Sohn (“Partly Cloudy”) and produced by Denise Ream (“Cars 2″, “The Good Dinosaur” opens in theaters Nov. 25, 2015.

 

The Good Dinosaur ©2014 Disney Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

The Good Dinosaur ©2014 Disney Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

OTHER DISNEY MOVIES COMING OUT:

 

October 9, 2015 –  The Jungle Book (Walt Disney Studios) #TheJungleBook

 

Disney's The Jungle Book Conceptual Artwork ©Disney 2015 All Rights Reserved.

Disney’s The Jungle Book Conceptual Artwork ©Disney 2015 All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Unamed Spy Thriller:  I love spy thrillers and anything made by Steven Spielberg and that has Tom Hanks acting in it. So whatever this spythriller is named – I will be there to watch it when it comes out! Here are the details from the press release: ” Tom Hanks (left) stars in Steven Spielberg’s (right) Untitled Cold War spy thriller, which is the true story of James Donovan, an attorney who finds himself thrust into the center of the Cold War when the CIA sends him on the near-impossible mission to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot.”

 

 

Unamed Spy Thriller: ©DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.  All Rights Reserved.

Unamed Spy Thriller: ©DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

 

What Walt Disney Studios movies are you most looking forward to watching?

 

 
Disclosure: This is a press post
 
 

 

Screen Smart Parenting

Screen-Smart ParentingOne of the top questions I get from readers is how to control their kid’s screen time. Now that kids have access not only to computers but also smartphones, tablets and other devices it is even more challenging to set up a system to help them be safe and limit the time they spend using devices.  I have explained in many of my posts that I believe helping your kids control their screen time and understanding internet safety starts with age appropriate and regular family communication on those topics.

 

 

Jodi Gold MD is a child and adolescent psychiatrist that has a unique perspective, especially when it comes to family communication! When I found out that she just wrote a book called SCREEN-SMART PARENTING: Screen-Smart Parenting: How to Find Balance and Benefit in Your Child’s Use of Social Media, Apps, and Digital Devices (Guilford Press, November 1, 2014, paperback) that had research and practical strategies, I wanted to find out more.

 

 

 

Screen Smart Parenting Jodi Gold MD1.       What motivated you to write SCREEN-SMART PARENTING?

 

Jodi Gold, MD: “I am a child and adolescent psychiatrist.  Every day, I went to work and listened to my patients.  A theme began to emerge.   This one got dumped on text and that one was playing too much World of Warcraft.  Parents were worried that their kids were distracted during homework and increasingly concerned about how their children presented themselves online.  Then I went to pick up my younger children (aged 5, 7, 9) at school and this mom was concerned about too much TV and that one was upset that her 4 year old could navigate an iPhone. I realized that if I listened carefully, I couldn’t make it through the day professionally or personally without confronting the realities of our changing digital landscape.  I wasn’t startled that technology was ubiquitous or that current parents are the last generation of digital immigrants.   I was surprised at the fear and ignorance. Parents, teachers and families were constantly fearful and distrustful.  I went looking for answers on how to embrace technology and use it for good, but found little guidance.

 

At the same time, I had been presenting nationally about treatments for ADHD.  A senior editor from Guilford Publishers approached me about writing a book for parents about ADHD.  I really felt like there were many good books about ADHD already on the market.  I was convinced that the Guilford editors would think that I was scattered and crazy but I told them that I really wanted to write a handbook for raising kids in the changing digital world.  I wanted to reach both physicians and parents.  I had begun to talk about the digital world with my patients and their families within a developmental framework.  We spoke about when children should be reading, making friends and going out alone.  Theses are all normal parts of growing up.  I realized that reading an e-book, getting a phone and creating a social media profile were also part of growing up but we didn’t have any graphs, charts or handbooks.  I wanted to write a book that looked at the existing research and offered concrete recommendations based on an understanding of research and child development.  Guilford didn’t think that I was crazy and they agreed to publish it before I wrote the first page.”

 

 

2.    Tell us about how you brought your background in as a doctor to helping explain these issues?

 

 

Jodi Gold, MD: “Both the Academy of Pediatrics and the Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry have begun to weigh in on parenting in the digital age.  It is critical that physicians make this a priority for research and policy.  I believe that we should be adding “digital milestones” to our list of developmental milestones and challenges.  I hope that Screen Smart Parenting will deepen the dialogue on raising digital citizens in both the medical and parental world.

 

In medicine, we base our decisions and approaches on double blind longitudinal studies.  When they are not available, we do our best find evidence based research.  The goal is to use sound research to support our medical treatments and decisions.  In pediatrics, we view everything on a developmental framework.  Children are not little adults.  We need to understand children and adolescents from a developmental lens.  We misperceive and mistreat children if we apply adult rules to them.  In psychiatry, we use what is called the bio-psycho-social model.   This means that we try to understand children and adults in a multi-faceted way that encompasses genetics, psychology and the realities of family and home life.  In psychology, we understand human behavior so we can develop incentives and plans that help children internalize healthy behaviors.  We need to use this knowledge as we build behavior plans and create consequences around digital devices.    I used these basic principles from research, medicine and psychology to write Screen Smart Parenting.  I believe that it is one of the first books on this topic written within a medical model from the standpoint of a practicing clinician.”

 

3.   What is screen smart parenting and what areas does your book discuss?

 

Jodi Gold, MD: “Screen Smart Parents are parents who are thoughtful and communicative about managing digital technology.  They want to cultivate online resilience which scientists increasingly feel is linked to happiness and success in life.  They want to instill in their children the tenets of digital citizenship.  Eventually, screen smart parents will have the experience of being digital natives and citizens.  Right now, most of us are digital immigrants with newly stamped passports and limited command of the digital language.  Screen Smart parents do not need a Ph.D. in computer science but they need to check their fear and be willing to learn from and with their children.

 

In Screen Smart Parenting, I ask parents to figure out their parenting style, understand the digital landscape and develop a family technology plan.  In order to parent your children through the digital landscape, you need to understand your family culture and your own relationship with technology. It’s important to understand the developmental evolution of the use of digital technology: what happens at what age. It’s also essential to get a feel for how digital technology is actually used today by children and adolescents.  In the book, I write about how technology does affect your child’s development.  I also introduce the hot topics that monopolize our conversations from the iBlankie to the proverbial 5 minutes of Facebook fame.  In the second part of the book, I write about different age groups, each of which explains how digital technology intersects with what your child needs to achieve during those years and how you can promote technology as a tool to support, not hinder, healthy development. In the third section, I take a more sophisticated look at children who need more attention and parental involvement and may exhibit red flags for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and depression. These “orchid” children may need extra care and modified digital parameters.  In the conclusion, I used my experience with behavioral interventions and plans, to give parents the tools to build a realistic and effective family technology plan.  I offer age-appropriate templates and suggestions on how to trouble shoot.  The goal is to build a family plan that includes your children’s voice in finding balance and using technology as a tool.”

 

 

4. What’s the right age for a phone/smartphone/social media access?

 

Jodi Gold, MD: “This is a personal family decision but I can give you some guidelines as a mother, physician and expert in this field.  Your child will eventually own a smartphone so the question is not “if” but when.  You should give your child a phone when he/she truly “needs” one.  Most kids get their phones and smartphones between the ages of 11 and 14 years of age.  Here is a list of reasons for why you might choose to give your child a phone prior to the age of 11.

  • Parents are divorced and the child would like to have more control over his or her communication with the non-custodial parent, and/or there is shuttling back and forth.  A phone may help with the transition between two households
  • A child is taking long bus rides and needs to communicate with parents for some reason
  • The child has a chronic medical condition and needs a phone in case there is an urgent need to reach parents and caregivers
  • The child has a psychiatric or medical condition that causes her to miss a lot of school.  A phone may help to keep in touch with friends and teachers

It is likely that this decision will be somewhat driven by community/peer pressure.  It is important for parents to be thoughtful about when and how they introduce a phone.  A phone should be introduced in a developmental way (especially if you are giving a child a phone at a younger age).

*I can talk more about social media but similar rules apply.  However, there is some social media that is targeted for young children.  I encourage interested children to start with child-friendly sites before they move onto Twitter and Instagram.”

 

 

For more information, check out her website Screen Smart Parenting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Boys Wear- Sports and Smiles

Disclosure: I am a member of the Invisalign Teen Mom Advisory Board

 

What Boys WearWhen it comes to fashion for tween and teen boys, it seems to be a carefully crafted mix of the styles trends based on what heir friends and online role models are wearing. Here are the top trends, in my experience, that have influenced my boys when it comes to what they wear. Because I have three boys, I can only comment on what they wear. What trends do you see with your kids? I would especially enjoy hearing from parents of girls on trends that influence their fashion choices.

 

 

Trend 1: Sports

Sports are one of the top trends I see when it comes to tween and teen fashion. Because many boys (and girls!)  go right to sports activities after school, some wear clothes to school that can be used for both.  For example, I see many middle school boys wear sports shirts and shorts. At least the trend of slipping on sport shirts and shorts makes it easy for my boys to get dressed in the morning. I live in California so the weather is somewhat mild during the year, meaning that some boys I know wear shorts all year long! The only pants my boys will swap out their shorts for in Winter is jeans. Even my son’s friends who wear uniforms to private school during the day slip into sports active wear after school and on weekends.

 

Trend 2: What Other Kids Wear

After the first few weeks of Middle School my twin boys started asking for bright colored socks. I did not know what they were talking about until I noticed that the other boys at school were wearing brightly colored sport socks in all different types of colors. While some school fashion trends are not “appropriate” for school, brightly colored sports socks seem to be upbeat. When I asked some of my fashion forward adult male friends about sock “trends”, they said that brightly colors are always a hot trend.

 

Trend 3: The Online World

While I follow online fashion websites, I have noticed that my teen is influenced by some of the fashions he sees on his favorite YouTube shows. Luckily, they all dress low key with jeans and sometimes they even wear shirts with collars!

 

baseball  smileAs a parent I want my boys to feel good about themselves not matter what they wear, but I have explained that beyond clothes one of the most important things to wear is a “big smile” on their face. Smiling is a great way to not only connect with current friends but also meet new ones. I tell my younger twin boys that smiles are not only for posing for your sports photo’s, they are to be shared with your friends and family in real life as well!

 

 

 

Luckily my oldest teen son is working on his smile with proper dental health and Invisalign.  Fellow blogger Beccarama just posted her thoughts on “Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” and information about the Invisalign Countdown to Confidence Sweepstakes ending November 13.

 

 

 

Disclosure: I am a member of the Invisalign Teen Mom Advisory Board. My son has received complimentary treatment from Align, but all opinions expressed are my own. Here is information on the Invisalign smile assessment, treatment process and how to find a Doctor.

 

 

 

 

How To Choose Apps For Kids: Mom With Apps

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Moms With Apps and The Motherhood.

 

Mom With AppsAs a mom of three boys I know how much kids love apps. As a parent, the process of finding the information I need about the apps was not only confusing but also incomplete because the current app stores don’t provide everything I am looking for. I have seen different figures on the number of apps out (and they change by the minute), but current numbers are around ONE MILLION APPS!  Most of all, getting the complete information I needed to make sure the app was safe for my kids has been challenging.

 

Enter Moms With Appsa first-of-its-kind destination that gives parents the power to choose the best apps for their kids“. I was more then thrilled to receive a press outreach email about getting more involved with Moms with Apps. Their website has been one of the sources that did provide the information needed to make decisions about kid’s apps. Now they are expanding the features on their website, and it could not have come at a better time (maybe they heard my S.O.S. pleas every time I search for apps online)!

 

Moms with Apps currently has 285 developers in its community and 885 apps in the discovery center. The website is also founded by parents who “who love using technology with their own kids, Moms With Apps only features developers who have committed to high standards for protecting kids’ privacy and building great family-friendly apps”.  The new Moms With Apps features will enable me to quickly find out what is inside each app which will make the decision process so much easier. Most of the apps they cover are from independent developers and you can edit your search terms for iPhone, iPad, iPod, Kindle Fire, Android Phone or Tablet or Windows Phone.  Moms With Apps is even looking into adding more features like the ability to rate apps.

 

Here is more information from the press release that explains the three things the Mom With Apps website offers:

 

 

1. Helps you find the rights apps for your children. All of these apps are meet a set of design and development guidelines, including the following:

 

Mom With Apps checklist

 

 

2. Know what’s inside the app before downloading!

 

Mom With Apps whats in app

 

Mom With Apps whats in app

 

 

 

Search for apps based on these specific requirements: 

 

Mom With Apps - app requirements

Mom With Apps - app requirements

 

 

3. Meet the developers behind the app. Find out what inspires them and share your feedback about their app with them! If you love a developer’s app, you can search for more by them under the developer’s page:

 

Mom With Apps - meet the developer

 

 

 

How are you been choosing kid’s apps? What information are you looking for about the kid’s app that help your decision process?

 

For more information, please visit momswithapps.com, Twitter @momswithapps and on Facebook at Facebook.com/momswithapps. Here is the Moms With Apps press release.

 

 

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Moms With Apps and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

High Tech Inspiration For Families: Chore-inator

Chore apps for kids: Chore-inatorBack to School is a time our family sets up school year routines and strategies. One of the routines that has been hardest for our family is a chore schedule for our kids. I set up our family schedule online and we are starting to set up a study routine. With a busy school day and after school activities there “seems” to be no time for our kids to do chores. But in reality, there is time but we have no way to organize when and how we fit in chores to our schedule.

 

When I received a press email about a new app called “Chore-inator” (Chore-inator.com), I was interested to check it out to help put structure into our family chore process. The Founders of Chore-inator, Diane and Kevin Hamilton of Binaryformations.com, have their own personal story on why they created the app. So I thought I would start by finding out about why they created Chore-inator, then trying for myself.

 

Chore-inator app

 

When I read the press release about the Chore-inator, I was happy to see that the app not only lists out chores but also a payout which I think is important for my boys.  In our family, earning screen time seems to always be a good inspiration to get things done.  For example, our current “payout” is our boys earn their screen time. We also offer our kids special family events when they do extra work. But we have never been able to organize or “automate” the chores to make sure it gets in our weekly schedule.

 

We asked the Founders of Chore-inator, Diane and Kevin Hamilton of Binaryformations, to share their story on why they created the app and more details about the app. Diane Hamilton responded with the information below.

 

The Chore-inator Story:
Our immediate family consists of Kevin, myself, and our six-year-old son Adam.

 

Chore-inator Founders

Chore-inator Founders

 

We are what the software industry calls indies. We are independent app developers. Our company, Binary Formations, is a small company building apps from ideas that come from challenges within our own family. Home Inventory, a Mac App for cataloging your household for insurance purposes or just to get organized and get rid of clutter, is our most popular thus far, plus we have handful of not so popular apps. This keeps us pretty darn busy and we are grateful to be doing something that we love and can share with others who may be facing similar challenges.

 

It may be surprising that we in no way started off with the intention of creating Chore-inator. Why add yet one more chore tracking app to the pile that already exist? Seriously, we know exactly how difficult it is to compete in a store with more than a million other titles, especially in an area where there are other well-established apps.

 

Our intention was to find something that would help not only get and keep our son, Adam, excited and motivated to do his chores but also to get and keep my husband, Kevin, and I consistent and accountable for chore management. And quite frankly we needed a better way to limit the amount of T.V., computer, and iPad time Adam was getting. None of us were very good at any of this, at all!

 

We tried a variety of approaches, from the good old-fashioned chore chart to trying a few of the apps, but nothing was working for us. They were either too complicated to setup, too complicated for Adam to use before he could read, or too simple and cutesy that Adam quickly out grew it. Also, we are data privacy freaks, so a solution that requires signing into a website and sharing and/or tracking of data is unacceptable. And finally, like many others, we are on a tight budget and are unwilling to pay a subscription fee to manage chores, which is often required for a web solution.

 

Chore-inator app to help keep track of kids chores

 

It was at that point that we decided to do what we do best – build an app to help us. So we put some of our other app ideas on hold and got to work. We had three primary goals when designing Chore-inator:


1. It needed to be so easy to use that you knew intuitively what to do when you picked it up whether you were a toddler who couldn’t read but had 1 or 2 basic chores to do, a teen who just wanted to get in and out so mom and dad would quit nagging, or a busy parent who needed to get it all set up very quickly.
2. It needed to be engaging enough to not only get kids of all ages engaged and motivated to do their chores but to keep them engaged and motivated without being too cutesy that tweens and younger teens were turned off. It needed to be flexible enough to grow with our family.
3. It needed to be extremely quick and easy for parents to get a status of all the family’s chore activity for the day, all in one easily understandable view.

 

We didn’t want an app that was just the electronic version of a traditional chore chart. We wanted an app that really focused on streamlining the process of managing the household chores, an app that exploited the latest and greatest technology and design available to create a workflow that was pleasing to the task at hand and would keep us all accountable without being an extra burden.

 

Like every other parent out there, we are busy too and want to spend as little time necessary on managing the household while at the same time teaching Adam discipline and motivation for a job well done when contributing to the household.

 

Chore-inator launched at Macworld back in March. What started as a family discussion soon won “Best in Show” in addition to being twice named “Best New App” and top banner feature in the Productivity section of the App Store. The experience, as well as the media attention, was confirmation that we were on the right path so we went right back to work when we got home to finish Chore-inator 2.0, which was a top banner feature in the Productivity section of the App Store once again.

 

Chore-inator has been such a big help in our own family. From a parent’s perspective, it has really helped keep Kevin and I consistent with both making sure Adam is doing his chores but also that rewards, such as iPad time or special treats, are limited and tied to positive behaviors. And there is never any doubt whether or not allowance has been paid. Adam recently spent a few days at his Grandparents. He would not let us leave until we looked to make sure there were no rewards or allowance outstanding!

 

From Adam’s perspective, he loves to take pictures of his completed chores to show us. It makes him feel good to be contributing to the household by being responsible for completing a few age appropriate chores and he is learning the value of saving, whether it is saving allowance or saving stars to redeem rewards.

 


How do you setup a chore schedule (and “payout”) in your house?

 

 

Disclosure: Press post

 

For more information check out their website: Chore-inator.com, twitter @Chore-inator and Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/binaryformations and on iTunes: Chore-inator  iOS app.  .

 

 

 

 

Give gift of Time and Organization with OneNote for Mother’s Day!

Disclosure: Sponsored Post

 

Mother's Day Gift Time

On Mother’s Day, the gift options for that special Mom in your life are endless. One of my favorites is the gift of time with my family, friends and myself. Both organization and automation are essential to freeing-up that valuable time and Microsoft OneNote really helps.

 

New updates to OneNote are pretty exciting and I shared several in my last blog post. It’s available across my wide variety of family devices, and the perfect way to help get better control of my time. Better yet, my family helps by organizing their lists as well on OneNote so we ALL have more time!

 

Here are some of the ways you can give the gift of time and organization to your Mom (or if you are a Mom, suggest to your family!)

 

CREATE/UPDATE FAMILY PHOTO ALBUMS: Scan and organize old family photos into a OneNote notebook to create family albums. OneNote’s integration with apps like Office Lens (for Windows Phone) and Genius Scan (for iPhone, iPad and Android) give you a OneNote scanner in your pocket, so getting your family photos into OneNote is a snap!

 

ORGANIZE WEEKLY RECIPES: Have the whole family find recipes they want to “help” cook for dinner and scan those or save the online links into a OneNote Notebook. Then save in a “special occasion” notebook some fun recipes to cook for Mother’s day or other events. You can even download this customizable OneNote recipe book!

 

MOTHER’S DAY CARD: Have your family create their own pictures as well as find special memento’s or photos to scan for a Mother’s Day OneNote Notebook.

 

GROCERY LIST: Have the family help create a weekly Grocery list on OneNote that can be shared across devices so the family can all help with shopping! Even kids can read OneNote shopping lists on their parents’ phone to help find items at the store!

 

WEEKLY SCHEDULE: Have the family create a weekly schedule in OneNote that can even include screen shots of school lunch schedules, after school activities, scanned calendars and online links. A family that plans together has MORE TIME together! The schedule can also include TODO’s for the week so no one will forget to practice guitar, baseball, tennis or coding (hint hint to my kids!)

 

VACATION LIST: Create the family vacation “wish list”: A OneNote Notebook with vacation idea pictures, links and information so the family can plan special places to visit. After you’ve decided on your destination, download this OneNote travel planning template. Once all your research and planning details are in this OneNote, it’s easy to recall a particular detail at any given moment. You can even use Instant Search in the bar on the top right to recall anything you’ve ever put in OneNote.

 

GIFTS: Have the family create a OneNote notebook recording the gifts everyone wants for special occasions. Add a section detailing ways to earn rewards by completing homework and household chores. For example, if my kids want toys outside of holiday’s or birthdays, they need to create a plan to earn them!

 

ENTERTAINING: Our family realized that we have not been entertaining family and friends as much as we would like so we decided to create a OneNote Notebook with a list of who we want to invite over and meal ideas.

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored series. I am an Office Champion and have received sponsorship and products. All of my words are my own.

 

 

 

Carpool Management Tip: Get Help with Boost by Mercedes-Benz (Giveaway)

Disclosure:  This is a press post. One ride credit was provided to me for review purposes but I also paid for another ride. All of my opinions are my own.

Too busy motherOn TechMamas.com l write about innovative services, apps and websites for parents on TechMamas.com. But just recently as I ramped up my own work,  I realized as a parent with tweens and teens that the main help I needed was driving my kids to and from school/activities after school. I have carpools, but that does not always work because kids go to different activities afterschool. I tried to fit in work during school hours but it seemed like my kids were either always waiting for me to finish something so I could drive them, or waiting to get picked up at times when I was running late from a meeting. Yes, driving my kids around was the one challenge getting in the way of me ramping up my work. So I set off to find a service, website or app that can help me find a solution to my carpool challenges. As would have it, I was lucky enough to see an email from the folks at Boost by Mercedes-Benz on their new innovative transportation service for kids.

 

Boost by Mercedes-Benz

Photo Credit: Boost by Mercedes-Benz

 

Here is the information from Boost by Mercedes-Benz on the story behind their innovative transportation service. The current zip codes covered are in California – Palo Alto (94301, 94302, 94303, 94304, 94305, 94306), Los Altos – 94022, Menlo Park – 94025 and Mountain View – 94043:

 

Story behind Boost By Benz:

Busy schedules and the stress of scheduling for today’s youths seem to be part of the daily family life. Boost by Mercedes-Benz was developed to address that challenge. Boost by Mercedes-Benz (www.boostbybenz.com) is a proof-of-concept business launched by the Business Innovation Team at Mercedes-Benz Research & Development in Sunnyvale. This youth transportation service is designed to transport children safely and reliably to and from the educational and recreational activities that fill their day.

 

 

Knowing how important it is for children to balance school and extracurricular activities, it can be very tough for parents to get their kids from place to place – safely and on time. The goal at Boost is to make parents’ lives easier, while enabling children to participate in more activities. In addition, Boost hopes to minimize the number of vehicles on the road (and in the school driveway) by providing a safe, reliable youth transportation alternative for parents.

One of the goals in Business Innovation is to change the way people think about transportation and with Boost; the team has already seen this shift taking place.

 

 

Technology story behind Boost by Benz:

 

Innovative technology is the backbone of Boost by Mercedes-Benz. We built a seamless system that handles route planning, notifications and updates to allow our Boost Dispatcher, Driver and Concierge to focus on what’s most important, your children.

 

 

We kept a parent’s busy schedule in mind when we built our scheduling and notification system. A simple, three-step process guides you through the one-time, online account setup. Once your family’s info is in our system, simply schedule a ride online by selecting riders, pick-up and drop-off locations, and ideal pick-up and drop-off times. Confirm your child’s ride and you’ll get an email confirmation with the ride reservation details.

 

 

The rest is even easier. We’ve built custom tablet apps for our Boost Team to allow you complete transparency throughout your child’s ride. You’ll be notified via SMS or through our iPhone app 24 hours before the ride notifying you of our arrival time. Then, the day of your child’s ride, we’ll notify you that we’re on our way to pick up your child. When we arrive, we check them in via our technology and you’ll be notified that they’re aboard Boost. If so inclined, you can log in to your account while they’re aboard Boost to get a birds-eye view of their ride. Lastly, we’ll notify you to let you know they’ve safely arrived at their destination.

By blending the ease of technology with the best in transportation, you’ll rest easy knowing your kiddos are safely bound to their next adventure.

 


Overview of Business Innovation:

Business Innovation initiated in 2007 is Daimler’s ‘think tank’ for innovative solutions beyond the core business of car manufacturing. The team deals with future trends and technological, social and cultural developments to create profitable business models. Tested and evaluated on a pilot basis, success stories like car2go and Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy started here as proof- of-concept projects and have subsequently become prosperous businesses. Business Innovation teams are also located at the headquarters in Stuttgart, in Beijing, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires and Sunnyvale, CA. Business Innovation at Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America, Inc. started in 2012.

 

 

Boost by Mercedes-Benz

Photo Credit: Boost by Mercedes-Benz

 

 

Details:

To sign up visit https://boostbybenz.com/. The hours currently are Monday through Friday from 12noon to 7:00pm.  The trips are scheduled online but there is also an Boost by Mercedes-Benz iPhone app and they send texts (I have an Android phone so I used the text option). Pricing will depend on the package you get, but for me it was cheaper then hiring a sitter for their minimum amount of hours per day. Instead I was just paying per ride which worked for my kids schedules.  In the van there is a driver (of course) and a Concierge that is in charge of watching over the kids and walking them to their destination from the car.

 

Boost by Mercedes Benz

Photo Credit: Boost by Mercedes Benz

 

 

Above is one of the press photos of the Concierge that rides with the driver. I used Boost to take my boys to an exercise class. The Concierge greeted me for pickup and then at drop-off walked my boys into the facility and to the class instructor per my instructions. The driver waits with the other kids in the van while the Concierge delivers the child being dropped off. In my experience, both the driver and the Concierge were very friendly and my kids enjoyed using the service (which is the most important thing!).

 

 

Now I just need to figure out my schedule in a way that I can plan the rides in advance.  Boost By Benz usually recommends scheduling rides at least 1-2 weeks prior but some time frames may be open if you need to schedule closer to the date needed. Boost also requires 48 hour cancellation to receive a 100% refund.  They will also be running over the summer! In fact, there is a special promo going on now dedicated to summer booking. Parents can use the discount code “SUMMER15” when they register and checkout on boostbybenz.com to receive 15% off rides (expires on April 30th).

 

 

I am thrilled to know that transportation services like Boost by Benz exist to help busy working parents manage carpooling challenges!

 

GIVEAWAY:

 

Please share your family carpooling challenges in the comments and we will randomly choose one comment to win ONE RIDE CREDIT received when they sign up for Boost by Benz.

 

1. One Blog Post comment per person. One Blog Post comment is equal to one entry (so only one entry per person)  2. Winners are limited by zip codes valid to Boost by Benz stated above and to US residents only 21 years of age or older. 3. If a valid email address is not provided in the entry, another winner will be chosen. 4. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded. 5. Approximate value of prizes may vary. 6. All decisions are final 7. By entering any giveaway on this website you release Techmamas.com from any liability whatsoever, and waive any and all causes of action. 7. Contest ends May 6 2014 -10am pst. Winner will be announced by May 7 2014.

 

 

 

Disclosure:  This is a press post. One ride credit was provided to me for review purposes but I also paid for another ride. All of my opinions are my own.

 

 

 

TechMama Talks: Work, Family, Education and Mobile Tech

TechMamas talkIt may have been a month since I last posted, but that gave me some time to think. During that time I decided to channel my dear Grandmother in my writing, who as she got older decided to share her authentic voice. Of course, that involved some embarrassing moments such as when she met a new boyfriend of mine for the first time and asked “I look forward to seeing you walk down the isle together”. I joked and said “you mean at the grocery store?”. But my Grandmother must of been reading our body language because we did end up walking down the isle and are a happily married couple running after our adorable but energetic three boys. I feel privileged to have met an amazing community of bloggers online and share my insights on technology. Now I want to go back to sharing my musings on life and important initiatives.

 

Parents and Work: I am excited to see women developing initiatives to empower and promote career advancement for women at work.  But from what I experienced as a parent, the job market is very tricky these days so finding work that offers a salary to cover the costs of childcare and extra incidental costs is a challenge. Many parents also need some sort of offer flexible work environments, which can add to the challenge. The job market has changed, there are new job skills required including technology and social media. In addition, while online networking has created multiple channels for career advancement, choosing the right channels to create real business opportunities is an important consideration.

 

The childcare challenge is not just a mom problem – it is a “parenting” challenge. I started a lively discussion on Facebook about this topic and I was thrilled to see responses of parents that are overcoming all types of challenges to work and also parents making the choice to stay home. I made a comment that we all value time with our children, that their happiness is the most important goal of whatever arrangements are made. I look forward to share stories on my blog of women that have found creative solutions to adapt to the modern workplace. Including women that have taken time off for kids then not only ramped back up to work years later – they BLASTED OFF!

 

Family Technology: We are at a time where you can stream, automate, use voice, consume content and entertainment in many ways and multiple devices. But families are struggling with helping their kids set screen time limits, stay safe online, learn social networking etiquette, decide what devices they really NEED and HOW TO use them. To make matters more complicated, kids now grow up surrounded with technology so it is second nature. For example, I have an Internet connected TV and my kids are the ones that signed up and are power users of Netflix compared to me. I feel so old school watching shows on TV networks. I know how to stream everything on my PC’s but at night I still like to turn on the TV and watch a show. My kids hardly watch traditional TV networks anymore.

 

Luckily because of my business, I also consume information and social network online which allows me to talk my kids’ language. At the same time I realize the online world is a dangerous place for kids that require a new type of education. I have been writing online for years about the concept I describe as “Internet safety is the new sex talk”. I remember years ago when I first said that at a social media conference in New York there was silence (shock) then lots of tweeting to share. Now that mostly all devices have a web browsers, it is hard to lock our kids away from the online world.

 

My perspective is that parents need to first educate themselves, then their kids, then create regular conversations and family rules about Internet Safety (and logical consequences if they are not followed). For example, sitting down with teens “together” to look at the privacy controls for all the platforms they are on and “discuss” which should be set to remain safe. But open conversations are key, and it should include cyber etiquette and consequences for inappropriate cyber etiquette (including going to jail!). In our family discussions, I also share age appropriate news stories as examples.  I want to spend more time covering all the online platforms kid spend time on. Of course, I find new platforms cropping up it seems like every day! Automated internet safety controls such as web filters, monitoring apps and privacy control settings are also an effective supplement, but they won’t keep kids safe everywhere they go because as I said web browsers are everywhere! So parents need to do the balancing act of setting “relevant” automated controls, communication and education. That balance is not easy!

 

No matter what strategy parents have, new challenges come up. Like how I tell a bunch of 10 year olds during baseball practice last year that they “HAVE NO REASON TO BE ON INSTAGRAM.. SERIOUSLY!”. Or how do I tell a lovely teen girl (family friend) that the number of LIKES she receives on her Facebook photo does NOT reflect her TRUE BEAUTY. Or how smartphones have become a tool that can get kids arrested if they take the wrong picture or participate in the wrong social media exchange. Or how dangerous the online world is, so much so that I need to have a SCARED STRAIGHT strategy constantly updating the teens I know of the mistakes I read about hoping that they can learn from them. At the same time, I am regularly amazed at some of the positive ways teens are creating support online. When our beloved hamster died recently my son said he received comfort from a Reddit Hamster sub directory (created to memorialize Hamsters that had passed away).  My son received sympathies from around the world when he posted a picture of our Hamster.

 

Education Tech: One of the challenges of our education system is that while more and more kids relate to visual, interactive and experiential learning, many curriculum’s are still based on inflexible models filled with worksheets. The shining stars are the Teachers and Schools trying to transition to experiential learning. Luckily, now there are so many ways to learn online that I could spend weeks covering all the websites and programs. After speaking at a few education tech events and meeting the edtech company founders, I decided that sharing the exciting opportunities that exist in digital learning is a passion of mine. I want to highlight the education tech innovators on my blog as a way to help support their important contributions they are making to the future of education.

 

Family Schedule Tech:  One of the main reasons I wrote the book “My Parent Plan” was to help families learn project planning skills. After years of professional project planning I know the concepts but at times still struggle with how to balance it all. With three boys now going THREE completely different directions, I decided to dive deeper into tech solutions to help me manage. Or at least keep my head above water..

 

Health Tech: Feeding my family a healthy diet is one of the biggest challenges I have each week. While I like the concept of eating plant based foods I am also balancing understanding what is best for my family that has different nutritional needs. I will be covering some of online websites and apps that can help parents struggling with healthy eating solutions. I will also be covering my comic adventures trying to convince my sons why healthy eating is important. Including how my teen is “dreaming” of going to a local burger restaurant someday again as a reward. And how at times he sneaks out with his friends to get junk food for dinner after looking in the fridge filled with “green” foods.

 

So while I am far away from being a Grandmom myself, I honor her voice by speaking my own. Whats on your mind?