New "Dora the Explorer: Into the City" Show Features a Map App

The show "Dora the Explorer" has been a fan favorite for many children throughout the past decade. Dora has embarked on exciting and exotic adventures with kids everywhere and she has taught them some Spanish along the way. Now, our favorite Latina adventurer is back with a brand new adventure: "Dora the Explorer: Into the City." 

On this show, Dora is older (10-years-old to be exact) and has some brand new pals to join in on her adventures in the city. Dora now uses some high-tech gadgets, including a smartphone, during her adventures. While she used to turn to her trusty map when going out and about, she now relies on a map app to help her with her travels.

Perhaps these new changes to our beloved Dora and the additions of plenty of other shows with tween characters sporting phones are simply a means of keeping up with the times. Although these shows might encourage more kids to ask parents for their first cell phones, the question ultimately becomes: is this a bad thing? Let's take a look at some of the risks and benefits that accompany giving a child their first phone and discuss how you can get the best of both worlds.

First, here are some statistics displaying how many kids and tweens have cell phones currently:

  • About six out of ten parents in the United States have provided their "tweenager (child between the ages of 9 and 12)" with a cell phone.

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3 Must-Have Internet Security Apps For Teens

As parents of a generation of teens and tweens that have easy access to the Internet, it's natural to be concerned about what kind of things they could be getting into online. Internet security should be thought of as being just as important as any other type of security that a parent provides their child.

Here are a few smartphone apps that can help parents in their quest to keep children safe online:

K9 Browser 

This app can be used in place of something like Internet Explorer or Sfari. The purpose of it is to give parents the ability to have the app block out things like adult content. Anything that should not be seen by a teenager's eyes can easily be blocked out by just using this application. Most parents are quite grateful to have a tool established that can help them filter what their child sees online.

Available: iOS and Android

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9 Games and Apps that Encourage Kids to Get Physical

Physical activity for kids is extremely important to overall health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest children (and adults) get at least 60 minutes of exercise each day; but this is easier said than done. The problem is that kids today are not the same as kids were 20 or 30 years ago.

Times Have Changed

Older generations of children spent most of their time outside playing, while kids today, no matter how old they are, have access to smart phones, tablets, video games, computer games, and other electronics. Technology has a widely-known correlation with childhood obesity and this correlation is especially present in the US. Although this concern is not 100% off-base, technology is not completely to blame.

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Apps that Make Summer Car Rides Fun

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?

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?

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

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

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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4 Social Media Posting Tips to Keep You and Your Family Safe

Social media is the easiest way to connect and keep in touch with friends and relatives. It has changed the way we do business and interact in our personal lives. Most people have at least one social media account that they use to regularly “check into” places, like entertainment venues and restaurants, and post photos and status updates. Children use social media as a primary form of communication to keep in touch with their friends in real time.

But can posting to social media and “checking in” to location-aware sites inadvertently be giving away information to people who might have bad intentions, making you or your children easy targets for fraud, crime or predators?

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Keep Kids Physically Active This Summer With ibitz

Yesterday we posted an article about educational, yet fun, apps that can help kids stay mentally active this summer. Of course, it is also crucial for parents to encourage children to continue to be active physically as well as mentally. With the prevalence of technology use among kids and teens, it's a valid concern for parents to worry that kids could waste the summer away sitting on the couch playing video games.

While technology use can contribute to lazy behaviors, it also has great potential to spark physical activity. Introducing: ibitz for kids! GeoPalz' ibitz is a wireless pedometer that incorporates video games into active play. Users are challenged with the task of taking steps to explore the galaxy through a rocket ship. The more they get moving, the more they are able to venture into space.

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9 Educational Apps that Are Actually Fun

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

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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Understanding the Location-Tracking FourSquare App

What is FourSquare? 

FourSquare is a free location-based social networking app for smartphones where people can see what is going on around them and find their friends' locations.

How can the app be used?

Users can “check in” to FourSquare when they go somewhere, and the GPS coordinates are recorded. It is like a game of sorts, with the ability to earn points and badges for checking in. If enough points are earned, a user is crowned the “mayor” of an area – until someone else earns more. Some businesses also offer discounts to FourSquare users for checking in at their location.

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Digital Parenting: Apps That Help with Child Creativity

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

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

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?

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

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

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

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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