Tag Archives: child

Is Your Cell Phone Hurting Your Children?

Is your reliance on technology hurting your children? A new study shows that perhaps parents are too plugged in. The story cites a young mother who was ignoring her toddler in a busy shopping mall while she had her head buried in her cell phone’s screen. It goes on to discuss the negative impact that constant device usage can have on a child’s psyche and upbringing.

The study talks about the negative effects that a parent’s desire to always stay connected can have on children, yes. But it doesn’t touch on the dangers that could happen. It only takes a split second for someone to grab a child in a public place. Toddlers and babies are kidnapped in an instant while their parent or guardian looks away at an item on a store shelf. It isn’t inconceivable that the same thing could happen while mom is busy checking her Twitter stream or dad is reading the latest email from work. Children can be hit by a car, drown in a pool or run off without supervision in the blink of an eye. If a parent is engrossed in their phone for a few moments, bad things could potentially happen.

I’m not saying that you can never use your devices around your children. I’m saying that you need to stop tuning everything else out while you check up on things. I’m just as guilty as the next person of this infraction. I am quite good at tuning out the world around me whenever I feel I need to. Parents build up this ability as their children get older. It’s almost a survival instinct. You have to be able to filter out noise and distractions to get things done, right? But what if something tragic happens while you’re tuned out?

Photo credit to The Chef Alliance.

How To Introduce a Child to Social Media

Kids want to grow up a whole lot faster than we feel is good for them. You remember what it’s like, I’m sure: you just know that you’re way more mature than your parents give you credit for. They don’t understand what it’s like. They are too old to truly “get” you. I hear from kids in our community on a regular basis, and many of them say these things. They ask me questions about how they can break into the tech scene and start to “get noticed” online for their efforts. I tend to point them towards places such as Twitter and YouTube. But what happens if the kid in question is truly still a kid? If they’re under the age of 13, they are automatically discluded from sites such as Facebook and many other popular social networking sites.

On Tuesday, the answer for these kids will go out of the beta phase, and be available to the public. Togetherville is aimed at kids aged 10 – 13 and the grownups in their lives. Founder Mandeep Singh Dhillon called Togetherville “the first platform that really integrates young children’s ability to use the Web with their grownups close by.” Anonymity is not allowed on the site. Kids sign up as themselves, without even an avatar to use. Parents control every aspect of the experience, right down to who is allowed to be a child’s friend. The site encourages parents “to create neighborhoods of the real people in their child’s life to be around their kid as they grow up online.”

The free site will let kids play games and watch videos. They can also create and share artwork. The chat feature doesn’t work the same as a normal one would. Kids cannot type something into the chat box. They have to instead choose one of the prescreened “quips” that the staff has come up with. This will reduce the risk of a kid accidentally revealing personal information. Videos that are available have also been screened before being added to the site, and deemed appropriate for the age group.

Another unique feature is that “parents must be Facebook members to sign up their children for the service. Parents sign in with their Facebook user name and password. Children’s information is never sent to Facebook so the only way information about a child can get onto Facebook is if the parent or another adult enters it–just as is the case with offline activities. Parents can also chose to allow adult or teenage Facebook friends to interact with their child but all of the interaction takes place on Togetherville, not on Facebook.”

Let’s face it: today’s kids are the first generation of a world that is revolving more and more around social and digital media. Togetherville is an excellent – and safe – way for adults to introduce the young people in their lives to social media. This site can help give you the tools you need to help your child become adept in the world of social networking.

Truck Stuck – A Story Before Bed

My nephew Zander lives down in Texas. I don’t get to spend time with him nearly as often as I wish I could. Just like any other toddler, he loves a good bedtime story. Since I cannot be with him each night in person, I decided to record myself reading a story. I went on the hunt for something that would work, and came across A Story Before Bed.

Choose one of the books in the library on the site, and record yourself reading it by using your webcam. It won’t cost you anything to get started. If you are happy with your recording and want to share it with a special child in your life, simply pay a flat $6.99 fee. After the fee has been paid, you can email the link to your story to the kids, and they can then watch it as many times as they like. This works great for parents who are traveling or in the military, grandparents who don’t live nearby, and even crazy uncles who live where it rains way too much at times.

As I said, I recorded a story for Zander, by reading the book “Truck Stuck”. I had a lot of fun doing this, and I’ve already been told my efforts were a hit. My assistant Kat has a granddaughter who is about to turn three. Kat showed the video to Jenna, who was enthralled by it. She made her Nanna replay the book four times in a row. I sincerely hope that Zander loves it as much as Jenna does.

I know I’m not the only one out there who has a special child in their life that you cannot be physically near. Why not record a bedtime story for them to enjoy? You’ll be creating memories that they can carry with them throughout their lifetime.

Starfall for Beginning Readers

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During Gnomedex, we held an open mic period where attendees could come onto the stage and pass along resources that the rest of us might not know about. Now, I know that this particular video will not interest many of our younger followers. However, it is a FANTASTIC resource for those of you with young children in your lives! If you don’t have kids of your own, forward this on to someone who does. I promise that they’ll thank you for it.

Starfall can help a child learn to read, or improve upon the skills they’ve already gained, by using phonics. There are several different stages on the site, including ones for children just learning their ABCs all the way up to activities for kids who can already read basic words and sentences.

This is an excellent way to boost your child’s skills in a fun environment.

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What Toy Would You Want for Christmas?

I admitted in a video earlier today that I still enjoy playing with LEGO Bricks. I also apparently still like the Lite Brite!

There’s nothing wrong with occasionally letting your inner child come out to play when you’re a grown-up. I personally think it can help keep you sane and stress-free if you let your hair down once in awhile, and take the time to remember what it’s like to play. What do you do during occasions like these? Do you indulge yourself with crayons? Do you prefer to duke it out with action figures?

What toys do your inner child still love to play with?

Now that Cyber Monday is here, our download center team is working hard to come up with new and amazing programs for you to grab at deep discounts. Be sure to check every day to see what they have found for you!

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Should Parents Share a Kid’s Life Online?

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I was a baby once, a looong time ago. Some may argue I still act like one at times. However, I’m not dwelling on that point right now! I want to focus on an email from my friend Jim. He asks how will all of the content posted online of kids by their parents affect their future? Face it, parents post a lot of things about their children online in order to share with the World their child’s great looks, the A they received on that term paper, and even their latest Crayola masterpiece. What impact could this possibly have on the kids as they themselves grow into adulthood? Jim wonders how they may feel about having their privacy invaded so to speak? He also asked if I had kids of my own how I would handle things. Would I put my kids on my show, or keep them private.

This is certainly a more interesting topic for adults who have kids of their own – but it is good to get kids’ opinions, as well. We have a great mixture of both in our live community, which is a great way to get many different perspectives. The question that was asked though, is what would I do?

The answer is that I’d enjoy sharing that part of my life. Diaper changes on a live stream would be fun. Sure, the kid may grow up hating the fact that I streamed that particular event – but hey – everyone poops!

I think sharing your child’s life is ok to a point. It’s tricky, and I realize that even though I say I’d share a lot… the truth is I have no idea what I’d do if and when the situation arises. Privacy is paramount. I believe that being open is important to a child as they are growing up. Too many people are hindered because they aren’t happy about who they are. They aren’t proud of who they are, and have very little sense of self. Sharing your life (especially the happy moments) could prove to be quite beneficial to one’s self-esteem.

That being said, there are a lot of idiots online, kids and adults alike. You’ll learn to develop a really thick skin. People will form opinions where they are unwarranted. It’ll happen whether you feel it should or not. Getting used to behavior like this will help you sooner, rather than later. It can help overcome shyness, and gain you some recognition from people who believe in you and the things you do. You have a greater chance of being yourself and understanding yourself if you are open about yourself. Sharing bits of your life online can help facilitate that.

I also believe there is some amount of responsibility on the side of the adult to educate the child about proper social responsibilities. I encounter kids all the time in what I do. We have everything from teenagers up to people of retirement age in our chat room. Giving a child the ability to decide once they understand what is going on is important. Not putting your child into a potentially embarrassing situation later in life is important, as well. Let them have a say as to what they would or would not like posted publicly… and respect their wishes.

Sharing affinities and making connections, even at a young age, is a great thing. Opening your World to people you would otherwise never have met is an excellent way to broaden your horizon. Keep in mind you should never post something that will come back to bite you (or your child) in the future. What you post will live there forever. Even if you delete something… it’s still lingering somewhere… either through a re-post, an archive, or whatever!

Bottom line: it’s good to share your child’s life online, as long as you are cognizant of what can be said about the material to your child in the future. Be honest with your child about what you post, and where. Listen to them when they are old enough to understand, and let them choose whether or not you post things.

Editor’s Update:

A few weeks after this was posted, I came across an article online by Ari Herzog. He had read this post, and contacted a friend of his about this type of situation to see her thoughts on the subject. Elizabeth has chronicled her daughter’s life online since the day the child was born. It’s interesting to see the “other side” of things from her perspective.

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Are Computers for Kids?

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Eric emailed to ask me what age I feel is good for a child to have their first computer, or access to one. He feels that it depends on the child in particular, and their level of responsibility. Personally, I feel there’s much more to it than that.

I personally believe that the younger the better when it comes to exposing kids to computers and technology. If you supervise and guide them, it can be an amazing learning experience, and not just about how to use a computer. Using a computer requires logic, and logic is a skill that the child will carry with them throughout their life. Video games are a great learning tool, and way to pass the time. However, I strongly feel they should be supportive of the child’s computing experience, not the sum total of what they do.

I want to share with you a couple of emails I received after I posted the One Laptop per Child Video.

Hey Chris, I’m Krrose27 on the irc.
I’m 16 and got my first pc at age 5 which was given to me and my sister from our grandparents. For many years I did gaming. I then setup a geocities website and started web design about age 8 or 9. I now have taught myself php/mysql and run a test server out of my room and own two other webservers. I took up Java programming about 2 years ago. I now am taking pc support at my high school which is pretty much kids who work with the schools network specialist and help him with the school computers. I recently built my first pc and love everything.

I got a 2 year old at the house who has received his mother’s old laptop and he has a blasty blast on it. He frequents noggin.com – a website associated with the cable channel noggin. He definitely watches what I do on the computers and attempts to mimic it. He is already learning how to point and click. He is learning…..

I was watching when you recorded the video about children and technology. I being 16, have grown up with technology all around me. My schools have always had computers, and my family got our first computer when Windows 98 came out. All I really did was use the internet, but I was amazed by how information could be sent across the world in seconds. I have explored technology, mostly computers, as best I could. Since my mom is now single, and not very tech savy, I am self taught mostly. Most of what I know is from exploring my family’s old emachine ( As I said, my moms not very tech savy) Anyway, I found an interest in animation and started using Flash. After that, I started exploring website creation and other aspects of computers. Since computers are my future (I plan on being an animator, 3d design or something like that) I spend a decent amount of time on my computer. My mom is single, so we still used our emachine from 2002 ( about 215 mb ram, 20 gb hd) which limited me in what I could do. My mom bought my a used Gateway (which is amazing compared to our old one) laptop, and now I am able to watch your feed! This new laptop has really set me free and is allowing me to get closer to my dream career. I think that a computer for a teen who is interested in technology is an investment in their future. Anyway, I got to go to bed, its getting late.


They are definitely for kids (defined as below the age of 18). I have been a webmaster since I was 15. My website is now ranked 20k on alexa which is pretty good.

Anyway. I have been with computers since I was born. My dad owned this thing called a “spectrum”. Later we got an actual PC running DOS. and later we got some sort of windows. My dad tought me lots of stuff on how to use the computer for various things and I really enjoyed that. I also just sat there looking what he did and learned a lot from that. All in all I think that everybody should be introduced to the computer as soon as they can. Maybe just looking at it at the beginning but later act on their own. I believe everyone is going to use computers in 20 years (when the very old geezers are dead and we rule).


Hello, Chris!

When i was about 3-4 and mom had an old 95 laptop given to her and dad showed me how to use ms-paint, ever sense then i have loved computers i already had a thing for tech but i was hooked (probably the reason i loved tech was mom and dad would get a lot of tech related movies)

then dad was walking into the house with a box, it had a desktop in it! it had windows Me on it, so then we would get on the Internet i would go to places like “nick.com” or ” cartoonnetwork.com” and still i used ms paint,

Then a few years later… we went to a gas station and i saw a older HP tower (it had Win 98 on it) and i asked “what are you going to do with it?” and he said “throw it out, it broken” or something like that, and i got it… dad and i got the keyboard off the Me machine and put than on the 98 (wile mom was not using it) it ran a def rag and then it worked! it did not have Internet though, still good for me so then i played with it finding the windows lay-out and what not so then i got a keyboard and mouse of me own (before i started playing with it)

a few years later I had a guy give me another Win 98 machine it had all the stuff for it then last year a Friend gave me an IBM x20 it was a good little laptop i left it on my bed left for a few hours and came back turned it on and the screen was cracked 🙁 then i still used it until the power pack started to fry (and made a creepy sound) and so i took the screen out and (knowing of the price) i was going to fix it but about “$564” for new stuff seems a little high so… then a few mouths ago i was trying to get the old ones to work… them we got a Friend to take some old computer parts and build me a computer here i am 11 years old with an 600 Mhz i know its not much but is better than nothing so i am very into tech now an when dads computer breaks i am his first resort and i hope to get another laptop soon. (this person might give me another on! (better than the last)) and i can even build a computer i have not build one yet but have completely dissembled it and put it back to gather again and i know HTML pretty good so i want to start making homebrew for the PSP and the start making apps for the computer then when i get experienced enough in programming i will try to make an OS i have good plans for one.


Just wanted to spread my story which was when i was five years old i got a Thinkpad 701C which had 32MB of Ram and Windows 95, it never had a taste of the internet for its entire life but it lasted 7 years due to that fact, i’d say just because i had the experience of that laptop is the reason why i know how to use techonlogy so well because this might sound nerdy but like when some kids were out playing football and stuff i was inside just tinkering. And boy did i get scared when the stupid thinkpad errors in teal come up that just read Error #4324 and it’s just like the battery is low if you find the manual.Later I got. 2000: Think 600 128MB Ram. 2003: Compaq 1800T 320MB Ram. 2007: HP dv6000 2048MB Ram (with idiotic vista taken off but still in virtual machine)


Hey Chris,
I just watched your video on the right age to be brought into computing. I am twelve years old and got my first computer at eleven. Now my Dad has always been an enthusiast like yourself (he is a database designer). I have been using computers since I first started mixing words to create sentences (about three years old). I did not play games heavily, but rather used the computer as a tool, not a life waster. I think computers have benefited my life heavily and using them at a young age (as young as possible) definitely helped me. There are people at my school who are just bad kids, and not being educated well made them be that way. I have always thought education was crucial to the way my life is and computers helped with that. I think you are a genius in asking the community this question and it hit me as you did so. I am one of the more educated kids in my grade (not trying to be conceited) and know computing to a higher level than anyone in my school (including the IT department, I outdo them). Once again, I’m not trying to impress you or anything, but rather tell you how computers can benefit a child’s life and make them more successful. I am a Mac, Windows, and Linux user (primarily Mac and Linux, but I do heavily use Windows for many things). One more thing, I would like to ask you how computers have benefited your life and how you can project those benefits to children.

Thanks in advance,

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One Laptop Per Child vs Asus Eee Notebook PC

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SWAT sometimes hangs out on Ventrilo with us, and even occasionally streams for me when I’m gone. He was wondering if he should go with the One Laptop Per Child(OLPC) program and help another child as well, or spend the same money and get better components for his daughter by buying the Asus Eeee.

I just spoke with my friend David from EyeJot the other day about this same thing. In the terms of price and what you get, the Asus would be a better deal. But for the same price, you get a tad bit “lesser” laptop for your child… AND get one sent on your behalf to a needy child in a third world country. We talk all the time about how technology changes lives. We talk about the ways computers enhance our daily life, give us opportunities, and broaden our horizons. How could you not want to give those same opportunities to another child… and not have to pay anything extra?

One learning child. One connected child. One laptop at a time.

The mission of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is to empower the children of developing countries to learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child. In order to accomplish our goal, we need people who believe in what we’re doing and want to help make education for the world’s children a priority, not a privilege. Between November 12 and November 26, OLPC is offering a Give One Get One program in the United States and Canada. During this time, you can donate the revolutionary XO laptop to a child in a developing nation, and also receive one for the child in your life in recognition of your contribution.

The laptop through the OLPC program is a solid laptop. It’s good, and will work wonderfully for your child. Many years and an infinite amount of sweat equity went into the creation of the XO laptop. Designed collaboratively by experts from academia and industry, the XO is the product of the very best thinking about technology and learning. It was designed with the real world in mind, considering everything from extreme environmental conditions such as high heat and humidity, to technological issues such as local-language support. As a result, the XO laptop is extremely durable, brilliantly functional, energy-efficient, responsive, and fun.

If you’re planning to buy a laptop for your young child, or any young child… this is the one you should buy. It’s an excellent machine, and you’ll be giving the gift of opening the future to a child who otherwise may not ever have that chance.

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