A Tech Gift Mom Does Not Want for Mothers Day

May 03

Hey Dads! Kids! Great news! You still have time to order the perfect Mother’s Day gift.  According to its website, shipments are guaranteed to arrive by Mother’s Day if you order the iRobot Roomba by noon tomorrow, May 4. The Roomba is the ever helpful vacuum cleaning robot, but once you adopt one yourself, you can call it whatever you want… like Guiseppe or Lois Lane.

I’m sure she’d appreciate a vacuum as much as she would a marble glazed crock pot or $50 certificate for dry cleaning. All very practical gifts that would make her day as special as the day before.

Warning: Should a mother receive this on Mother’s Day, her reaction may be similar to the cat seen in the video below.

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iPad Security Breach: My Bad

Apr 29

I turned on the new family iPad yesterday and tapped on the App Store to find a Facebook app for iPad. I was welcomed by an app that provides all there is to know about sex. Now, this post could easily turn into an analysis about the need for an app on sexual positions and preferences (honey, the screen saver turned on before I got to finish reading how to…)

It is, however, about the fact that my young boys are the most prevalent users of this device.

With very little sleuthing, I learned that my 7-year-old had searched for kids’ games and it just popped up. Enough said. I remembered that I forgot to set up security for the kids’ new entertainment unit. Bad Mama.

A quick tour of the iPad settings and I was able to select filters appropriate to my kids’ ages. Impressively, the settings could be applied to safari and the app store. I could now explain to you how to do it, but seriously… If you can’t figure it out yourself, you have no business buying your kids these newfangled, button pushing, picture moving gadgets. Figure it out, folks.

It took me less than 3 minutes and will offer hours and hours of peace-of-mind (not that they play thaaaaat much…. But if they did). I’m just sayin’.

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Mobile Tech Offers Opportunities for Kids and Parents

Apr 14

Week two as an iPhone user and I’m finally getting it. I’m understanding the power of having a computer at my finger tips. And, it has nothing to do with Angry Birds.

My favorite aspect of adding smartphone tech to my daily life is the ability to read anything anywhere any time. Forget lugging a newspaper (not that it’s all that heavy) out the door to prevent boredom at the doctor’s office. I simply open one of my newspaper apps and start reading.  If I read something particularly interesting, I can share it on facebook and twitter in an instant.

Today, I’ve made another realization – I can write a blog post while, well, I’m getting my hair done.
At this very moment, a hairdresser is wrapping my chemical-painted hair with strips of tin foil. People magazine is great, but this is way more productive.

My point is that the effect of technology on our kids and family is not all doom and gloom despite all our anxieties. The opportunities to glean knowledge and experience new creative outlets is greater than ever. As parents we need to broaden our own experiences online so that we can role model and teach our kids that the internet offers so much more than fart apps, posting photos, and making (or unmaking) “friends”.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with a little Angry Bird time, too.

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My Kids Take a Pass on the New 3DS Nintendo

Apr 11

My 6-year-old son, who lost his DS Nintendo about six months ago, is celebrating his birthday this week. For a short while I pondered getting him the new 3DS Nintendo as a gift.  It’s new, it’s fun, it’ll keep him busy on long car trips.  But after some research, I realized it’s also not really for kids.

Here’s the scoop on why:

  1. Price.  The new 3DS has a hefty $250 price tag.  The same cost as a brand new iPod Touch (which, by the way, is what my son would prefer).  While there abounds plenty of parents sucker enough to spend that kind of dime on their kids, most of us understand that a kid who loses his boots in the middle of winter cannot possibly keep track of a gadget the size of a chocolate bar.
  2. Age.  When the new hand-held device finally arrived, Nintendo offered a stern warning to parents against allowing kids six years and under from playing their newest version.  Apparently, it may cause developmental vision problems.  My son is turning 7, so he’s good?  Hmmm, not a chance I’m willing to take.
  3. Technical challenges.  To properly view the 3D graphics, the device must be held 30 cm from the eyes.  No, not there.  There… Wait, no… down a bit… up a bit.  Now there!  (Get the point?)
  4. Free trial?  While other video game platforms are available to try at most electronics and toy stores, the 3DS Nintendo remains hidden from view.  I asked at EB Games and Toys R Us for a chance to see what this new technology was like.  They didn’t even have one out of a box to show me.  For that price, I think most parents would like to try before they buy.
  5. Headaches.  The latest news on the 3DS is that it causes headaches among users if used for even a short period of time.  Enough said.
  6. Lame-o factor.  Remember the first time you saw a 3D film?  How about the most recent time?  Not so impressive, right?  The more kids view 3D graphics, the less they’ll be impressed with boring old regular flat screens.  (Remember how cool you thought the special effects were in Clash of the Titans – the original film?)  I’m not sure I want to hear my kids tell me how lame every show is after playing 3DS for two weeks.  I would prefer to keep 3D as something special, rather than every day.

I’m sure the 3DS Nintendo is really cool, at least for a while.  But this is one high-tech gadget that my kids will do without.

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Playmobil iStore Set

Apr 05

What if your kids could have their own miniature Apple store? No more REAL lineups in malls, or bobbing over heads to view an iPad screen. One they could manipulate in the comfort of their own basement playroom. Do you think they’d actually want it?

Mine would. When I showed my boys this video, they were in awe of this new, cutting edge Playmobil set. My six-year-old immediately announced, “I want it.” Would yours?

Too bad it’s fake. But I bet you almost believed it…

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A Digital Treat for Mama

Apr 04

The iPhone 4 entered my life today. After months of deliberating whether I should or shouldn’t join the ranks of iPhone users, I caved. Strangely though, I wasn’t all that excited about it. The flurry of anticipation came from my three boys who couldn’t wait to cover it with their sticky fingerprints.

Me? Not so much. I bought it partly out of curiosity and partly out of my need to stay on top of today’s digital lifestyle. How can I possibly be a real Tweeter if I’m not doing it mobile. Really, now.

I picked the iPhone up from Purolator around noon on Friday. And left it. In its box. Unwrapped. The entire weekend.

This drove my boys cra-a-a-a-azy. When can we play the games? When will you open it? Can we get our own apps? Hey – who’s this phone for? (That one’s my question)

The fact was, I felt a bit apprehensive about the whole thing. How long would it take me to figure out how to text, make a call, use one of those things called apps. When my current phone was so, uh, easy.
First thing this Monday morning, my boys begged me to activate my iPhone before they got home from school. Dutifully, I complied. Although I was miffed to spend close to an hour setting it up, I quickly realized that this little digital baby was going to keep mama some good company. And that’s not because I sent a text to the fella moving my grandma’s furniture that went: “Hi darling” (haven’t figured out how to turn off auto correct, yet).

My kids, however, will be battling for the mobile entertainment unit, so competition to keep my own paws on it will be stiff. So far, all is good – I’ve beat off any whiff of downloading Angry Birds Rio for the time being. And, that fart app they’ve asked to download? Won’t be happening anytime soon.

For now, they’re surprisingly happy to be playing with my old cell phone, an LG Rumour complete with a Qwerty keyboard and screen. But it’s no iPhone and the cheap thrills that come with sending fake texts and alternating ringtones won’t hold them for long.

Unfortunately.

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