Wearable Technology for Kids Coming From LeapFrog

This article was originally published by CNN and is written by Doug Gross.

The wearable technology movement is in full effect, and exercise-based activity trackers lead the way. Now, it's becoming child's play.

Leapfrog, the maker of education-oriented tablets and apps for children, has unveiled LeapBand, a wearable activity tracker designed with kids in mind.

Selling for $40 and designed for children ages 4-7, the LeapBand "encourages active play and healthy habits" with 50 different games and other challenges. It will be available in August, the company said in a written release.

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Kids' TV Time Doesn't Have to be Mindless

Watching TV doesn't have to be mind-numbing! Make the most of TV time with your kids. This article was originally published on Common Sense Media by Sierra Filucci.

I admit I've thrown on a TV show and plopped my kid in front of the screen when I needed to get dinner on the table. And I've eked out one more hour of sleep on a Saturday morning by turning on PBS and putting out a few bowls of dry cereal.

But on the occasions when I've sat down and watched my kids' shows with them, I've been amazed by how informative and rewarding the experience was.

Take Phineas and Ferb, for example. I never realized how clever it was until I took the time to watch a whole episode with my 5-year-old. And I found so many things to talk about with him afterward. How did the boys solve the problem? (By working together.) Why was Candace so mean to her brothers? (Because she was embarrassed.) Do you think you'd do that kind of thing without asking Mom or Dad first? (No way!)

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Famous Movies About Teenage Bullying

Teenage bullying has become a hot button topic. It comes in physical and psychological forms, with an individual or group of individuals deciding to assault another. The reason usually has something to do with the victim being different in their eyes. This is an unfortunate attitude. With the advent of the Internet, cyberbullying has brought bullying to the forefront and has made bullying both easier and more invasive.

As always, movies will shed a light on the darker aspects of our society from a number of angles. It can be enlightening if we pay attention to the message as much as the storyline. Here are five movies about teenage bullying.

Heathers (1988)

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5 Reasons to Buy Your Child a Cell Phone Right Now

In today’s world, having a cell phone is not just a convenience for adults.  Parents of pre-teen and teenage children should consider buying cell phones for their kids. Far from being something to make the kids happy, those cell phones can also be a powerful tool for effective parenting.  Consider these five examples of how a cell phone for your child will provide protection and also help you keep up with what your kid is doing.

Getting a Ride Home

While you don’t like to think about it, kids can find themselves in all sorts of situations, some of them not of their own doing.  Perhaps your child was out with friends when some activities got underway that he or she did not want to be involved with.  The trouble is that your child needs a ride home.  If you have provided the child with a cell phone, all that it will take is a quick call to you or another trusted adult, and someone will be on the way to retrieve your child in no time.

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How Mobile Phones Are Changing the Way Our Teens Learn

These days, it seems like everyone has a high tech, feature-rich mobile phone. No matter where you go, chances are you will see someone with their eyes on their smartphone. Some people claim that the prolific use of mobile phones shortens attention spans and decreases learning ability. Others say that having such a wealth of interactive, up-to-the-minute information at their fingertips allows teens to learn more efficiently. Though the dangers of mobile phone use by teens have been noted, it is clear that they are here to stay. So, what should you know about how mobile phones are changing the way that teens learn, for both better and worse?

Interactivity

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How Is Technology Affecting Your Family?

Read this great article by Jan Cloninger and Rosemary Strembicki from "A place to turn." It was original posted on The Huffington Post.

My son is entering his last year of graduate school. When he was a freshman in college, Facebook was brand new. You could only get an account if you had a college address as a way to connect to others in your classes and campus. 

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Digital Parenting Opinion: Let Kids Run Wild Online

This piece entitled "Let Kids Run Wild Online", written by Danah Boyd, was published in Time recently. While I disagree with a few things mentioned in this piece,  the overall message is something that uKnowKids has been preaching for quite sometime: you have to communicate, trust and interact with your child to keep them safe online. 

The following excerpt is something I have a problem with though, and it is mainly just one word. "As teens have moved online, parents have projected their fears onto the Internet, imagining all the potential dangers that youth might face–from violent strangers to cruel peers to pictures or words that could haunt them on Google for the rest of their lives." The reality is this: cyberbullying, sexting and online predators are not imagined things. They are real, bona fide digital dangers. I know because my son was targeted by one of those child predators.  

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Is Technology Sapping Children’s Creativity?

Yesterday we posted about the possible effect technology has on childrens' attention spans. Find out what Nancy Carlsson-Paige, author of "Taking Back Childhood", has to say about the effect technology may have on kids' creativity. This article was originally published on The Washington Post by Valerie Strauss.

My 4-year-old grandson Jake who lives in Guatemala recently called my husband in his office on Skype. No one seems to know how Jake managed to get onto the computer and make the call. And, as I sat talking to a friend, her 3-year old somehow found her iPhone and found his way to a video of Cat in the Hat.

A 13-month old uses a iPad. It wasn’t long ago that we were talking about how much TV kids should watch. And now here we are in the midst of a technology revolution that is happening so fast we can barely keep up with the number of devices and the options for screen time available to kids — on computers, tablets, cell phones, iPhones, flip down car monitors, interactive “app” toys, and on and on.

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Kids, Tech and Those Shrinking Attention Spans

This article was originally published in the Huffington Post by Diana Graber, co-founder of Cyberwise.

Whenever I find myself at the front of a 7th grade classroom, I keep the title of this book in mind: Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire. This mantra serves to remind me that, short of actually lighting my hair on fire, a burning enthusiasm for the information I'm there to share is what's required to capture and hold the attention of this generation. After all, these kids have been raised in a world where access to information is instantaneous, and often entertaining, thanks to mobile technology.

We hear it all the time -- increased exposure to technology is rewiring our kids' brains, making it tougher to reach and teach them. A Pew Internet survey of nearly 2,500 teachers finds that 87% believe new technologies are creating an "easily distracted generation with short attention spans" and 64% say today's digital technologies "do more to distract students than to help them academically."

But before you wring your hands in despair or, more likely, get distracted away from this story by your own task switching tendencies, read on! These same teachers also say that the Internet and digital search tools have had a "mostly positive" impact on their students' research habits. In another study by Common Sense Media, teachers say that when it comes to finding information and multitasking, "students' use of entertainment media has helped rather than hurt them." That's because technology not only helps students find information more quickly and efficiently, it also improves their ability to switch between tasks more quickly.

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Parental Controls are Vital to your Child's Safety

Parental controls are a vital part of today’s technology for parents.  From smart phones to computers there is a lot of content out there which makes a lot of anxiety for parents. Compared to their tech-savvy children parents often worry they cannot keep up with their use of technology. The reality is that you do not need to be a complete computer genius to regulate your child's technology usage. Below are some tips to do this:

  • Talk to your children about what you think is acceptable. What sites you want them to stay away from and who they are allowed to text. Give them boundaries and let them know if they break those, that there will be punishment for their actions.

  • Monitor what websites they go to.  Pay attention to where they go online and be sure to check their browser history.

  • Make sure your children are instructed to never give out vital information about you or other family members.  This includes names, addresses and phone numbers.

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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: 7 Surprisingly Inspiring Kids' Tech Trends for 2014

This article was originally posted on the Huffington Post by Caroline Knorr, Common Sense Media parenting editor.

From the iPotty to The Smurfs 2, 2013 gave us some real stinkers. And attention-grabbing stories about cyberbullying and sexting seemed to dominate the news.

But for a lot of parents, the negative headlines don't track with their families' experience of technology. Many folks are seeing their kids learn, grow and benefit from innovations in the tech world.

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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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Digital Parenting: Should Kids Have Set Rules When Using Technology?

Digital parenting continues to become more complicated all the time as technology become integrated into everyone's lives. Despite some parents finding it a challenge, are they really using technology as a babysitter for their kids? Live Science recently analyzed this idea and found that not all parents are relying on smartphones and the Internet to keep their kids occupied. In some cases, parents use that technology as a way toward reward or punishment for their kids.That Live Science piece also brought up an important point: Digital parenting has become more challenging due to a lack of social rules when it comes to using the technology. Is it possible that a universal set of rules can be set in households so kids use digital technology in responsible ways?

In many cases, kids go on social media on their own while parents are at work and do things under their own accord. If a set of social rules are set early, it's possible those habits could be readjusted.

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

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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How to Talk to Your Kids about Protecting Themselves Online

The Internet has changed the world in ways we couldn’t have even seen coming. Young people today find themselves n a world where they are constantly online. With cell phones, Wi-Fi hotspots, and tablets have made it so being online 24/7 is becoming the normal way doing things, thus digital parenting is ever important. According to research thirty seven percent of Americans aged twelve to seventeen access the Internet on a smartphone. Because of the Internets increasing prevalence in our society its more important then every to know how to talk to your connected kids.

During the course of digital parenting, it’s hard for children to understand you’re only concerned for their wellbeing. Most advice you offer seems like it’s completely ignored or seen as a challenge. There are ways to talk to your children so they understand your concern and don’t see it as an attack. Remember that your own teenage years likely saw you become stubborn as you tried to learn how to make your own choices. Technology may have connected kids but it didn’t change what being a kid is. While the experience of growing up may be the same the connected world your kids find themselves in creates new challenges.

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Check Out This Awesome Video for a Little Joy in the Face of Bullies

With all of the tragic news surrounding the tragic suicide of Rebecca Ann Sedwick attributed to cyberbullies, we thought you might need a little joy in your life.

Watch this uplifting video about a brother who wants nothing more but to see the bullies stop messing with his sister. 

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How to Know and What to Do When Your Child is Being Cyberbullied

This article originally appeared on FoxBusiness.com, writen by Kate Rogers.

Teasing used to be limited to school recess on the playground, but now it has evolved into a malicious trend among youths on the internet.

As technology advances and more children are using it, they are increasingly exposed to cyberbullies on social networking sites like Facebook (FB) and Twitter, and texting and apps on phones and tablets. And the consequences can be devastating. For some children being targeted, like 12-year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick in Miami, they see no other way out of this cruel cyber world, than to take their own lives.

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

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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Fun and Interesting Ways To Teach Your Child About Internet Safety

The internet has afforded children, some as young as preschool-aged, new and exciting ways to learn and to discover. It has also shown itself to be a platform through which online predators can slink undetected. The internet can be as dangerous as it is useful. For this reason, many parents enforce strict guidelines in terms of search time, websites and appropriate chat rooms.

This may not be the best approach. Restriction ultimately leads to rebellion. The objective here is to make internet safety training as interactive as possible, so that your child understands the risks associated with irresponsible behavior, has fun while learning, and makes the decision to reinforce those caveats in themselves while surfing with limited supervision.

Here are some fun ways to teach your children internet safety.

Games

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