Who you gonna call in a parenting jam? ELMO!
If your kid won’t take orders from you, maybe they’ll listen to Elmo.
That’s the rationale behind Sesame Street’s new app, which is racking up parents’ seals of approval. Since it launched this winter, the endearing monster has made over 30 million simulated phone calls to parents in need.
Here’s how Elmo Calls works: you “call” Elmo and arrange for him to video or audio call your kid. From there, he’ll enforce bedtime, teeth brushing, bath time and a slew of other daily tasks in his own high pitched, fun-loving way. When business is over, kids can schedule a play date with the furry monster to watch him sing the ABCs.
Your kid getting a personal call—from a Sesame Street star no less—can cajole them into getting those pesky quotidien tasks done without a fight. Especially when he cheers them on the whole time. Um, where’s ours? Read more...
Make getting your kid back into the grind more fun than ever
September can be crazy hectic — sale frenzies, nervous kids, and (brace yourself) impending frost. Ugh. We said it. So we rounded up some apps to make the transition from summer days to the school grind a little easier for everyone involved. You might not be able to avoid hitting an insane mall for notebooks and backpacks (get a load of these 8 awesome backpack styles before you go), but you are only a simple download away from a world of next-level educational apps.
The best way to memorize timetables and learn new words? Flashcards! This app lets you use images from your iPhone camera to create your own personalized flashcards so you can study with your kid anywhere you go. You can store up to 20,000. They’ll be a quizmaster in no time flat. Read more...
6 apps for keeping your summer memories
The epic fort made in the backyard, the song sang in the car on the way to the cottage, the crazy s’more concoction invented by the campfire – make sure none of that goes undocumented. Equip yourself with the right tools so you can simply bust out your iPhone and snap, record, or post right in the moment.
ADD YOUR OWN PUNCHLINE WITH… Halftone
Turn your photos into vintage comics! Choose from 25 different paper styles, captions with distinctive pulpy font, speech bubbles, graphic stamps (BAM! PLAP! ARGG!) Then you can share on facebook, email tweet, or print out postcards and make a family comic flipbook.
Available for iPhone and iPad. $.99
KEEP THOSE QUOTES WITH… Posterity: The Family Quote Book
6 awesome apps to ramp up your outdoor family fun
As much as we want our kids to have lo-fi, unplugged fun this summer, there’s no denying that you can amplify your summer activities with some well-curated apps.
Ditch the field guide (heavy), the maps (impossible to fold), the bulky binoculars (unstylish). All you need to crush your summer bucket list is your smart phone or iPad. These apps offer some cool opportunities for fun family frolics in the sunshine or low key night time stargazing.
Go get ‘em!
ibird Backyard Plus
Bird watch like an expert explorer! You can identify 283 species of birds, take awesome pictures, and attract feathered friends your way by playing bird songs. Now there’s no need to take time to thumb through an oversized manual to find a bird.
Available for: iPad, iPhone, Android Read more...
It’s hard enough for a grown-up to limit time on an iPad. So how is iPad addiction affecting our kids?
If you’ve ever needed a moment to yourself and handed your kid an iPad, you know how they can go from scattered to rapt in about 10 seconds. Turn on some Angry Birds, some Toki Doki or even a Dr. Seuss app-book, and there’s a feeling that they’re learning something while you take a breather. Win-win, right?
Well, maybe not. Despite the iPad’s stellar reputation as a kids’ toy (Mike Elgan deemed it the Toy of the Year way back in 2010), the jury is still out on its actual effect on kids. In a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, Ben Worthen discusses the implications of iPad usage on the newest generation. Read more...
Our six favourite kid-friendly iPad apps for solo and family play
Toca Tea Party
It doesn’t matter if you spill at this tea party. Set up your “table” with your choice of tablecloth, tea cups and saucers and an assortment of petit fours and tea sandwiches. Don’t forget to stick up that pinkie!
For iPad. $1.99. Ages 3+
The premise of this app is super-simple, but also super-smart. Your kid draws a picture on the iPad, and as they doodle a microphone records their (generally hilarious) play-by-play. You can upload their artistic voice-over video to YouTube to share with your buds, too.
For iPad and iPhone. $1.99. Ages 3+
Teach your small the ins and outs of getting clean, from bathing to laundry to washing their hands to (yup) going poop. This uber-cute app makes freshening up look adorable. (We can’t get enough of that smiling toilet paper roll.) Read more...
Slate’s Katie Roiphe talks to the controversial danah boyd about kids online
We all know there’s a lot of wild and crazy stuff on the internet, stuff that we don’t want our kids to see, but that’s no reason to hover over our kids’ shoulders as they go about their business online, says Microsoft researcher danah boyd. (Yes, it’s danah boyd, not Danah Boyd, and it looks awfully foreign, especially at the start of a sentence.)
Slate’s Katie Roiphe met with boyd and afterwards, decided she didn’t need to worry about what her 9-year-old was doing online. (When she snuck a peek anyway, her daughter was simply looking up Harry Potter characters.)
Roiphe writes: Read more...
Social Media with training wheels
Looking to raise a future YouTube sensation, but don’t want to expose your kid to the wild world of YouTube commenters? That’s why we have sites like KidzVuz. If we know anything about the internet, it’s that it’s a good place to share your opinions, which is what KidzVuz does; it’s all kids making video reviews and posting them to the site.
Kids only sign up with a user name, not their real names, and parents have to approve their account. All comments are monitored and there isn’t any private messaging. The Wall Street Journal spoke to one of the KidzVuz co-founders, who says their aim is to teach kids how to create content at an early age. Read more...
New niche home design is flexible, intuitive and totally automatic
What do you look for in a solid family home? backyard? Good water pressure? A new generation of home builders are taking these necessities to the next level. Enter the smart home, where curtains are motorized, walls change colour on command and digital appliances let you know if the milk is low. Of course, you can control it all with your iPad.
A handful of niche developers in England are now offering these luxuries to a new era of families – hi tech, cutting edge, design-forward families. Modern designed townhouses and full-sized houses are aimed at young couples, starting at £535 000 ($853, 400 CAN).
Sure, homes all over the world are already well-equipped with automated garage doors and timed coffee machines, but the smart home is essentially a robot — it can sense and process data and act accordingly. Designers are capitalizing on this new human-aware intelligence (or ambient intelligence or ambient computing) with the goal of making home life not only maximally comfortable and secure, but also environmentally sustainable. Read more...
How kids consume media today
The current issue of Ad Week is devoted to kids. It covers things like how kids influence the buying decisions of the family, how companies are doubling their efforts to stay hip and relevant with the kids and of course, how kids are participating in and consuming media.
Among its findings were that most kids are using smartphones, even if for just a few minutes a day. (Do you ever just hand your toddler your iPhone set to a photo album or something?) Also, kids with college-educated parents watch less TV. Read more...
Hasbro and Mattel jump on the app train
Recall the days when there was a staunch divide between classic toys and digital devices?
In a classic “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” quandary, major toy makers are now adapting many enduring childhood favourite games for the digital age. Mattel is introducing a line of games called Apptivity for their classic brands including Hot Wheels, Fisher Price and Barbie. Following suit, Hasbro has released zAPPed editions of The Game of Life and Scrabble.
In a recent article by The New York Times, Mattel senior vice president for marketing Chuck Scothon said, “We know kids are going to play with technology, with iPhones and iPads and Android devices, our job is not necessarily to avoid that, but if you can fix it, feature it.” Read more...
Our parenting expert tells you what you need to know
There were some great discussions at our Social Media Week panel that featured Alyson Schafer, teacher Royan Lee and blogger Brad Moon. Our panelists didn’t always agree on everything, but brought different experiences with teaching kids how to work in the digital space.
Schafer thinks that of all the topics discussed at the panel, the most important were:
1. Deciding when and how to get your kid on Facebook
2. What the deal with gaming, is it good for your kid? Harmful to your kid?
3. And with everything going increasingly mobile, how do parents control what their kids consume media-wise?
What Schafer, Lee and Moon came up with was:
1. Re: Facebook — If you’re nervous about your kid getting on the social network, start off slow with a family profile. With your family profile, friend only aunts, uncles and cousins. Read more...