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Technology and Gadgets

November 16, 2008

 

Why is it that we say we live in a wireless and cordless society yet we have to have so many chargers and outlets?  Keeping up with the latest in technology and gadget trends is hard in our ever changing/advancing society.  Our kids, though, don't seem to have any trouble staying current, making wish lists and proudly telling us the differences between all of the fun new items on the market.  We received samples from many companies anxious to share their latest in tech and gadget products; click here to read our Technology and Gadget Reviews. 

 

(Product Favorites) LoveLettersCharms.jpgWe have lots of GIFTS TO GIVE AWAY! Enter our CONTEST and you may win a printer, a cell phone, a Leapfrog Tag Learning System or one of the many products we have reviewed!  It is easy... submit a Travel or Recipe review or share your opinions on some of the products we reviewed. We would love to know your favorite places to ski with your kids or your favorite winter recipe.

 

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, some of you may be looking for new recipes to try... the Recipe Club has many delicious, family friendly recipes.  Do you have a family favorite?  Submit it here and you will be entered to win a prize from our product favorites page.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

The ParentClick Team

 


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What Do Wii Think? What Do Wii Think?

My five-year-old recently received a pearly pink Princess phone for her birthday. You know, the pretend kind with the preprogrammed keys that say things like, “Prince Charming isn’t in at the moment, please leave a message!” and “Hi, this is Sleeping Beauty. I’m taking a nap right now, but I’ll call you as soon as I wake up.”

           

After a cursory examination, she promptly passed it to her (extremely stoked) little sister.

           

“Why’d you do that?” I asked her, surprised.

           

“Because that thing’s lame,” she explained. “It doesn’t have a camera or a stylus.”
           

This is the same child who didn’t get a perfect score on a recent vision test because she couldn’t correctly identify the “telephone” icon. Hello? The illustration she was shown featured one of those desk-top rotary models with the heavy, curved hand piece that sits up on two pitchfork-shape prongs. She clearly could see it; she just had no idea what it was. Sure, she might have spotted a picture of a replica “retro” phone in one of my Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware catalogues, but it’s not like she’s ever been in the same room with one or heard it ring. To her, a phone either looks like a skinny silver piece of toast inexplicably fashioned with a miniature keyboard and a nifty photo-viewing screen (my BlackBerry), or a fat, black remote control (the cordless house phone).

           

Raising kids in the techno-age is daunting. I only caved in and sprung for an iPod for myself last year, and already both of my kids are begging for their own. I had no intention of getting them a computer this soon, but on the first day of preschool I watched the other kids line up to show off the mouse-wielding skills they’d picked up over the summer, and realized my 3 year old is already woefully behind the pack. In an economy where some of us are genuinely concerned about paying our mortgages, the last thing I need is two doe-eyed darlings asking Santa for “toys” that cost more than my first car (that I had to push uphill in the snow, both ways… oh forget it, you know the story).

           

We need to ban together, as parents—because if your child gets the latest MP3 player/iPhone/Playstation/Wii Will Rule the World, it’s only a matter of time before I’m gonna hear about it. (Product Favorites) TheParentTrip_Jenna.jpgAt the very least, can we all agree that none of us will get our kids their own cell phone until they are old enough to vote? My theory is that if there’s nobody else to call, they might just give up on the idea.

 

A mother can dream.  

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Jenna McCarthy is the author of The Parent Trip: From High Heels and Parties to Highchairs and Potties. When she’s not txtng her babysitters, she can be found online at www.jennamccarthy.com.

 

Do kids need cell phones? Do kids need cell phones?

When is the right time/age to buy your kids a cell phone?  There are MANY viewpoints on this topic and more recently concerns about the health risks associated with cell phones have arisen.  Our kids beg us on a daily basis (6-10 years old) and tell us how unfair it is that ALL of their friends have one. Yes, there are benefits... You can reach your child anytime. They can call you in an emergency. But can’t they really do that anyway? Most elementary age kids only go between school, sports and home. Are there not phones available at any of those venues? Even on the soccer field, you will find more than a dozen parents with cell phones that could loan one to your child if they needed to reach you. It seems that even if we justify all the reasons, the truth is that most kids are going to use them to call and text friends. It is an added expense and another reason for kids not to talk directly to one another. Our kids had a great time this past couple of weeks testing out cell phones on the market made specifically for children and they were in cell phone heaven. They showed everyone that expressed interest, they attempted to call anyone they could think of, they figured out every little detail and game available on the phone and they loved it! As the mom, I got to hear them bicker over whose turn it was, I spoke to moms who thought I had broken the special pact of no cell phone before Junior High and, once again, I watched them focused on a fun tool that consumed them.

I love cell phones and to be honest I live on mine and use my PDA for everything. The proof is in the 2,000 minutes on my phone bill. I think they are convenient, efficient and when it is not attached to me, I become frantic. I am also OK with my kids having a phone when they are old enough and there truly is a need. I do not think it is fair though to teachers and schools to have to deal with all the issues that arise from kids having cell phones in school... phones ringing during class, phones being stolen and kids texting when they should be listening to their teachers lecture.

For those of you planning to buy a cell phone, we found it is not so much the phone you need to focus on but rather the plans to pay for your minutes. Prepaid plans are a great option to limit the time your child is on the phone. Pay attention to texting! Do you want your child texting?  If so, make sure to purchase this on the plan or you will spend a fortune on individual texts. I watched a parent at the phone store the other day horrified at his son's bill and the store rep explained that these were text messages.

One of the options that impressed us was the GPS option... You can purchase a monthly plan that allows you to know where your child and their phone are at all times. 

 

Still undecided if it is the right time to get your child a cell phone of their own?  Another suggestion is to keep a pay-as-you-go phone in your glove box and just give it to your child as needed. 

 

Many companies are developing phones designed just for kids.  We took a look at kajeet and Firefly's flyPhone and glowPhone.  Each of these phones offer unique features our kids loved! Click for reviews of these products.

 

Whatever you decide, make sure to do your homework, decide on age-appropriate features and parental controls,  and review the usage charges for calls, texts, ringtones, downloads and more; these tips will help you avoid surprises at the end of the month!

Technology & Gadgets Review Technology & Gadgets Review

Speakers, cameras, printers, MP3 players, car chargers and much more can be found in our Technology & Gadgets reviews.  If anyone, young or old, has something electronic on their holiday wish list, you will not want to miss our reviews on some of the latest gadgets.  There is so much on the market...read on for our favorites, but make sure to read all of the reviews to help with your shopping decision-making!

  1. Digital MP3 Player - This Hello Kitty MP3 for kids includes a menu screen with the choice to listen to music or record their own voice(s).  It is easy to load music with the included software and is a good value at $39.99.
  2. Dymo Personal Label Maker - Great for the home or small office, this handheld labeler prints on colored labels and offers different font styles, underlining, bolding, etc.  Check out the new Caption maker for scrapbookers!
  3. Talkabout 2-Way Radios - One great feature of these radios is that they include a hands-free option.  A nice way to keep in touch in town and in the mountains; this product has great range.
  4. Printers - Lexmark & HP both have affordable options with great photo printing capabilities.
  5. Bookshelf Speakers by HiCell Tweeter - The perfect small speaker for a child's room or an office.
  6. Jabra Handsfree Car Speakerphone and Headset - A great option for the car for hands-free calling. Easy to use and the sound quality was fantastic.

We have LOTS of give-aways and we want to hear from you!  Have you used any of the products we have listed in the Product Favorites?  Do you have a 'favorite' that other parents should know about?  Share your opinions on some of the products we reviewed OR Submit a review on our Travel or Recipe pages.  You will be entered to win one of our great prizes!

Email & Online Networking Email & Online Networking

Email is another fun tool for kids and most of the services available are free! One thing to think about when you are setting up an account for your child is whether you want to monitor their emails. You can set-up an account for your child and set it so that a copy of all messages they receive forward to your account.

 

Internet Safety

 

Now we all know that most of our kids are more savvy when it comes to technology than we are. There are so many things on the market these days. The problem is weeding through it all and figuring out what is actually going to be useful. There are a few sites that we explored with some great (and mostly free) tools.

 

Schedules & Meetings

  • MeetingWizard.com Allows you to schedule meetings easily with others.
  • Dial2Do.com is a free service that connects to your cell phone and allows hands-free sending of/responding to emails, sending texts, listening to your calendar, scheduling appointments and more!  If you spend a lot of time in your car, this is a great service.

Social Networks

  • Facebook - Originally created for college students as a way to connect, it is now being used by parents and grandparents as a way to connect with family, friends and colleagues. We have even started a page for ParentClick.com on Facebook. 
  • Twitter - Another way for friends, family and co-workers to stay connected by just sharing what they are doing.
  • Qlubb.com -- A user friendly site where you can organize activities, post messages, share documents and more.  Use it for playgroups, book club, professional group, etc.

Educational Enhancements

  • QwizzysWorld is designed to help reduce quiz studying time, reduce test anxiety and develop critical thinking skills.  There is a monthly fee, but they have a 30-day free trial.
  • ALEKS is an online program for K-12 that offers individualized learning, specifically in math.  Also a monthly fee with a free trial.
  • (Business Logos) AdvantagesLogo130.jpgAdvantages Online Private School for Elementary, Middle School and High School includes individualized education plans for each student with a curriculum aligned to National standards.

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