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Apps that Make Summer Car Rides Fun

By Steven Woda on August 18, 2014 at 3:23 PM

Children naturally have wild imaginations and a thirst for adventure. As the primary authority figure in their lives, it's your job to strike a balance between nurturing and being supportive of their curious minds while also monitoring their behavior and social interactions to keep them out of harm's way. This can be a difficult task, especially during the summertime when your little ones are free from the confines of school walls and homework. 

If your kids have a growing interest in technology, your duty as regulator can be twice as challenging. Digital parenting definitely has its setbacks, but you can easily overcome them and encourage fun activities for your children without worrying about their welfare. As you plan that next summer vacation, take into consideration these kid-tested and parent-approved digital apps that can hold your juvenile's attention while you're on the road. 

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Your Child's First Cell Phone: When is it Time?

By Tim Woda on August 4, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Check out what guest blogger and winner of the Annual Parenting Blog of the Year Contest, Mommy Masters' Ellie Hirsch, has to share about her insight on the topic of kids' first cell phones!

It seems like my seven year old asks me for a cell phone on a daily basis. What does a seven year old need with a cell phone? Who is he planning on calling? Would it come in handy in case of an emergency? Do any of his seven-year-old friends have a phone? Should I consider this crazy idea? I never thought this conversation would come up at such an early age, especially since I did not get a cell phone until I was 22.

My son's response to this fact? "You are old so they didn't have cell phones yet when you were my age". TOUCHÉ.

Whether it's a cell phone baby rattle or simply watching Mama texting on the phone,

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Bible Apps: Does Tech Belong In Church?

By Steven Woda on July 24, 2014 at 12:49 PM

It’s Sunday morning and time for church. Your pastor comes up to preach the Word. He pulls out his tablet and begins reading the scripture. You look around your church and many of the congregants have their mobile devices as well reading along using their Bible app.

Ten (or even just five) years ago this would have appeared odd, but we have now arrived at a new normal. More and more pastors across the country have decided to forego the leather bound Bible that has passed through generations of their family. They have instead chosen to pick up the modern technology of a Bible app on their mobile device. Yes, tech now goes to church.

A Wealth of Information

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Sex Offender Monitoring Apps Every Parent Should Have

By Steven Woda on June 19, 2014 at 4:55 PM

We already know that there are a plethora of online resources available to inform parents about the residence of sex offenders. With the integration of these registeries and apps, parents can stay up-to-date on the sex offender registeries.

Here are some easy-to-use and effective sex offender monitoring apps:

Sex Offender Search AppThis App is great for families looking for a new home. You can use the App to put in the address of a house you're interested in and a map will pop up, showing you if there are any sex offenders in the area. The same goes for your child's school; virtually anywhere in the US

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Calculator or Hidden App? Teens Are Disguising Content With Apps

By Steven Woda on June 6, 2014 at 12:09 PM

In this day and age teenagers are more tech savvy than most adults. They chat on their smartphones with their peers, download all the popular apps and are greatly familiar with their device settings. Another recent thing that a lot of teens do on their smartphones is hide pictures, messages and apps. Find out how teens are doing this and discover what you should be looking for on teens' phones.

Hiding Apps

The most popular way to hide apps or any other content on your phone is by using an app that does that. Both Apple Store and Google Play have a lot of hiding apps for download and the majority of them are free. 

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Tinder: the Newest App Wonder or the Latest Social Danger?

By Steven Woda on June 4, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Technology promises convenience and improved quality of life, but for parents of teenagers technology can also bring a relatively new set of dangers with a mere click of a button. One of the most recent dangers to appear is a social app designed for iPhones and Androids, Tinder.

Launched in the fall of 2012 on a California college campus, Tinder uses Facebook profiles to match potential daters based upon geographic location, common interests, and mutual friends. Users can anonymously choose to like or to pass a match.

If 2 potentially matched users like each other, Tinder opens a chat for them. While this social discovery application was initially used almost exclusively by college-aged individuals for dating, the demographics of Tinder users have undergone some disturbing changes recently.

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Why Yik Yak is the Most Dangerous App You Have Never Heard of

By Tim Woda on May 31, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Mobile smartphones and the internet have changed the way we interact in unprecedented ways. While there is no denying the many benefits of this, the drawbacks are also clear. This has especially become apparent in the world of teenagers and younger children. Cyberbullying is one of the worst culprits, and has spread through the country's cities and schools at an alarming rate.

Social media has taken the age-old problem of bullying and turned it into something even worse than it already was. No child is immune to this problem, and although it seems to be at its most prevalent in high schools, middle-school and even elementary school kids are impacted.

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9 Educational Apps that Are Actually Fun

By Steven Woda on May 23, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Like most parents, you're probably worried about your kids' brains frying over the summer holiday. Research has shown that all kids experience learning losses when they are not engaging in educational activities during summers. With technology being a major pastime of kids, tweens, and teens, it is even more disconcerting to think that they could spend the next few months sitting on the couch consuming mindless screen entertainment.

While technology has many "mindless entertainment" options available for all age ranges, it can just as easily be used educationally. Avoid the pitfalls of summer learning loss by combining technology with learning through encouraging the use of educational apps

The key in finding mentally constructive apps that your kids will actually use is to make sure that they're entertaining. Help your kids foster their interests and expand their knowledge and creativity with these great apps:

  1. Stack the States is a game that makes learning about states fun! Kids can play the

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What Parents Need to Know About the Secret-Sharing App Whisper

By Tim Woda on May 12, 2014 at 12:13 PM

We all know that sharing and social media come hand in hand. People share everything online, whether it is a birth of their child or a new kitchen upgrade. Today, a new trend is gaining popularity quicker than ever in the sharing universe: anonymous secrets-sharing mobile apps.

Apps like Truth and Whisper make it easier than ever to anonymously post secrets online without the fear of being judged or having direct consequences. Users can simply write a secret, pick an image to go with it, and share it for millions to see.

Since its release two years ago, the anonymous, secret-sharing app Whisper has become hugely popular. Today, it reaches 3.5 billion page views per month. Although Whisper’s main demographic is comprised of 18-24-year-olds, there are still a number of teens using the application. Given its steady increase in

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Digital Parenting: Apps That Help with Child Creativity

By Tim Woda on February 22, 2014 at 3:05 PM

In today’s digital world, you want to feel confident your children are still getting a well rounded experience and if you dare say so, a global education or base of understanding. Here are some apps that will foster your child's creativity and make digital parenting easier.

Toontastic                                                   

Editor’s Pick on Common Sense Media rates high in not only creative quality but, also in learning quality. What could epitomize virtual creativity more than musical scores and cartoon character design? The finished project includes multiple scenes to create a cartoon.

Wreck This App      

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Kids Can Use Smartphones Before They Learn To Write Their Names

By Tim Woda on February 20, 2014 at 5:31 PM

Does this surprise you? Read more about these findings involving smartphones and children and technology in this article originally published in the Huffington Post.

Kids around the world may be separated by land and sea, but many seem to have one thing in common: They know a lot about technology.

AVG, a computer security software company, surveyed 6,017 parents from the U.K., U.S., France, Germany, Spain, Czech Republic, Australia, Brazil, Canada and New Zealand to see just how digitally connected kids are. They found that children as young as 2 years old are becoming online natives faster than ever, possibly before they hit basic developmental milestones.

According to the parents polled, a whopping 89 percent of their 6-to-9-year-olds are active online. Internationally, 46 percent of kids spend more time in a virtual world like Webkinz or Club Penguin than any other online activity. Additionally, 65 percent of kids spend more than two hours online each week -- the U.S having the highest percentage of kids, 12 percent, spending more than ten hours per week online.

But here's where the findings get really interesting...

  • 66 percent of kids ages 3-to-5 can play a computer game, but only 58 percent are able to ride a bike.

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Digital Parenting: Making the iPhone a wePhone

By Tim Woda on February 6, 2014 at 1:00 PM

Giving your child their first phone brings with it much of the same responsibility that comes with getting their own set of keys to a car. You would not send your kids out on the road without first ensuring they knew how to operate a car safely nor should you hand over a smart phone without some rules of the road.

We recently discussed the safety and security aspects of Android phones – this post is more specifically focused on iPhones. Set some rules for your kids that range from times of day that are off limits for phone usage, asking permission for app downloads, creating “screen free” hours for the whole family, no phone usage while driving, no phones at the table, etc… Phone privileges should be consistently tied to these rules, if a rule is broken the phone is taken away for a predetermined amount of time. Do remember to model the behavior yourself to show the importance of following the rules. 

For device set up, please consider the following factors:

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Digital Parenting: So You Bought Your Child an Android. What Next?

By Tim Woda on January 23, 2014 at 3:39 PM

This holiday season there were reports that “smart phones” beat out “toys” as the top gift request from the 18 and under set. With a lot of new phone users out there, now is the perfect time to set some basic rules of the road with your child and really get to know how the phones work before they become an inevitable appendage of your child (and don’t worry, iPhone buyers – a post for you is coming soon).

Today’s smart phones are the house phone, record player, maps, books, and libraries of parents’ youths rolled up into one device that lives with your child 24x7. Rather than being overwhelmed by this technology, parents need to get smart about how to harness that same power to make sure kids are using the phones in a responsible way.

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Guest Post: What to do When Your Kids are (Web) Smarter Than You

By Tim Woda on January 21, 2014 at 10:45 AM

My niece has a smartphone.

Up until a year ago, I had a flip phone. And the screen didn’t even work. Once I finally upgraded, my niece had to sit me down and explain all the features of my new phone. Sound familiar to you?

If you’re a parent who still fires up the PC, or thinks they’re tech-savvy because you use a laptop, or even if you navigate well through your apps and smartphone features, beware: Your kids learn faster than you do, especially when it comes to managing their digital footprint on the Internet.

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What I Know One Year After Giving My Teenager an iPhone Contract

By Steven Woda on January 14, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Would you give your child an iPhone for Christmas? What if it came with a strcit contract?  We posted a blog from the Huffington Post earlier this morning about a mom that did just that, and here are her reflections and what she learned one year later. 

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Digital Parenting: Help Your Family Spend Less Time on Their Phone

By Tim Woda on November 29, 2013 at 12:38 PM

The smart phone is a great tool for families. It allows you to remain in constant contact with your kids wherever they are, meaning you never have to worry about where they could be if they are late for dinner – you can simply send them a text, or vice versa. It’s also a great tool for allowing them to keep in better touch with their family, from uncles and aunts to their cousins. Of course, there are drawbacks to smart phones as well.

Kids especially tend to be drawn to the quick fix entertainment that smart phones offer, from access to the Internet to the many games and apps that are available for download. This can lead to your family being glued to their smart phone screens instead of interacting with their family at home.

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Digital Parenting: Best Apps for Homework Help

By Tim Woda on November 15, 2013 at 4:49 PM

In today's world, if it isn't digital, it isn't going to last. We live in a high-tech, fast paced world where everyone is trying to make normal day-to-day tasks more convenient and less stressful. With children as young as six playing with iPhones, iPads and other electronic devices, companies are coming out with new and improved ways to manage your life by utilizing your gadgets!

As a digital parent, don't punish your child for spending too much time on electronic devices -- instead, take advantage of these products by urging connected kids to start using apps that help them with their homework and can increase their grades! App developers have been hard at work over the past decade trying to keep up with the constantly changing technology market. Every day, new applications are released for electronic devices that are designed to simplify your life and help you prioritize what matters. Connected kids who are hooked to their electronics can start to use their devices to help with school and homework- transforming their phone or tablet into a portable tutor and making digtial parenting easier.

Apps designed to help connected kids with their homework are becoming popular across all platforms. These apps are typically subject specific and are a great way for your child to learn outside of the classroom. Admit it parents. Sometimes, we don't have all the answers! With homework help apps, students can take their education more seriously and benefit from a wealth of knowledge- all at their fingertips.

Best Apps for Homework Help

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Top 5 Things to Consider Before Buying Your Child a Cell Phone

By Tim Woda on November 1, 2013 at 12:21 PM

The cell phone debate goes on in millions of homes across the country. When a child is ready for a phone is perhaps the biggest discussion in families about cell phones. With children asking for and receiving phones at younger and younger ages many parents question exactly what they need to do before they give their child a cell phone. Cell phone monitoring, cell phone models and even when your child is ready, should all factor into the decision.

1. 1. The Magic Age of Maturity

Many parents wonder when the right time to give a child a cell phone is. There is no magic age. Your child’s maturity must factor into the decision. There are 12 year old children who are mature enough to handle a cell phone, and there are 15 year old children who are not mature enough to handle a cell phone. Consider your child, their personality, and their responsibility level before unlocking the keys to a cell phone. You may also consider your own lifestyle in this decision. For example if you work and your child is home alone, a cell phone is probably necessary sooner than if you were home to meet your child after school. You must also consider your child’s personal needs as well. While a normal 8 year old may not need a phone, a child with a medical condition may need one earlier.

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Technology Can Be Your Eyes and Ears While the Kids Are Home Alone

By Tim Woda on September 8, 2013 at 10:48 AM

If big brother isn't around, Big Brother can keep an eye on your kids while you're away. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry estimates that thousands of children arrive home from school to an empty house every day. Furthermore, thousands of parents make the decision every week to leave children home alone. Once kids start reaching the tween ages, many parents allow them to stay home alone for a few hours at a time. This can be a bit unsettling—how can parents gain peace of mind while giving kids the independence they crave?

Home Security Systems

Today's home security systems go far beyond entering a code to get in the door. According to www.SecurityCompanies.com, smarthome technology allows homeowners to do everything from controlling the thermostat to accessing live video surveillance via their mobile devices. So if you'd rather not give out the code to younger family members, simply arm and disarm your home security system from your smartphone when you get the call they're at the front door.

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Top 5 Back-To-School Tech Essentials

By Tim Woda on August 22, 2013 at 5:24 PM

Students will head back to school over the next month, which means parents are finishing up all the last minute back-to-school shopping. You've already loaded up on #2 pencils, highlighters in every color of the rainbow, and those classic pink erasers. Now it's time to start thinking about electronics. Students today go to school with much more than a new backpack and smartphone. This year, load them up with a powerful set of digital tools to enhance their educational experience and some digital parenting tools for yourself as well. 

Headphones

Last year, headphones went seriously high-tech with the introduction of the Beats by Dre headphones. These stylish, state of the art headphones were on the wish list of every teenager last Christmas. The headphones continue to prove popular but some other headphone options might work well for students as well. 

Many classrooms use online teaching tools now that require students to wear headsets with USB plugins and microphones for recording. These common headsets get worn by everyone in the school. To protect your students from germs or lice, provide them with their own headset with USB plugin and microphone.

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