“My Parent Plan” is available on Amazon (CLICK HERE to buy).
About “My Parent Plan”:
“Implementing a family plan is a very interesting premise, and Beth’s book provides a very excellent way to do it.” Guy Kawasaki, author of ...
At the recent launch of Office 365 Home Premium in New York City’s Bryant Park, I had the opportunity to experience the new features of Office while talking to some very exciting people (keep reading to find out who!). The Microsoft ...
This has been a busy time for the Women’s Movement. Today happens to be International Women’s Day 2013 which has “thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements“. The d ...
**I have doing research on educational environments for my own kids and found out about Six Seconds.org. Their about page explained “Through 15 years of global experience and extensive research, we’ve found that the scientifically-bas ...
As a busy mom I rely on tools to help me balance family projects with my family life. One of the tools I have been using for years is Microsoft Office. I was excited to not only go to NYC for Adventures with the Microsoft Office 3 ...
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for a campaign with AT&T.
For today’s teens, texting is their natural and persistent form of communication. I realized just how deeply integrated texting is to my older son’s communicat ...
Guest Post: If you are a parent and are thinking of starting a company, I have good news – you already have the world’s best entrepreneurial experience: you are running a family without any previous experience or a manual! Do you remember t ...
(See Disclosures at bottom of post)
When it comes to managing family health, being proactive and aggressive goes a long way. I frequently point out to my boys and my husband the importance of exercise, eating right and gettin ...
When people recently asked me why I am not going to a yearly social media conference (going on this week – that I had been going to for years), I could only share what was really going on: this week I am going to a memorial service f ...
Public WiFi is like good piece of cake. It’s hard to resist but has inherent danger (to your privacy, not your diet). As someone with computer security experience I am concerned that many public WiFi spots have inadequate security, making t ...
Distracted driving is a serious problem. In my last post about the topic I discussed the AT&T “It Can Wait” website that has important information for families. The AT&T It Can wait website shows “Texting and Driving Crash – It Can Wait” and other videos that anyone with a phone and a car should watch (parents and teens included!):
I was thrilled to see my pledge retweeted by others – so by making a pledge you can inspire others to make their pledge not to text while driving.
AT&T also has a DriveMode™ (Android and BlackBerry) app that has auto on/off to help increase safety on the road.
The DriveMode app “curbs the urge to text and drive by allowing you to temporarily limit the features of your mobile device so you stay focused on the road. You can set-up auto-replies to texts, emails and wireless phone calls to let people know you’re on the road and will get back to them. AT&T DriveMode is free to AT&T customers.”
UPDATE: Jeannine S is our Winner (and she has been contacted). Thanks to all that entered!!
To help move this important issue forward, I am excited to host a “It Can Wait” (ICW) giveaway where ONE winner will get the following prize (fulfilled by AT&T): One Samsung Galaxy S III
One ICW t-shirt
One ICW branded phone case (to fit the GSIII)
Two ICW decals (for your car)
Two ICW thumbbands
How do you enter? It is 2 easy steps:
1. Fill out the Rafflecopter entry below
2. Take the pledge at ItCanWait.com and comment that you took it . a Rafflecopter giveaway
In the video below I discussed some of the Windows 8 apps I was able to use because of the HP Envy 23 TouchSmart’s high resolution screen, 10 point touch, Beats Audio speakers and processing power that makes those Angry Birds fly. Or at least I would like to think that it is my Angry Birds skill that makes them fly!
My next fun projects to test out will be the camera app to make videos, photo apps to edit photos and using the Skype app with the HP TrueVision HD Webcam to video chat with the grandparents. I was having so much fun I forgot about loading my social networking apps to take advantage of the people hub and calender apps.
Have you tried Windows 8 apps on a touchscreen yet? If so – which ones do you like? I am looking for new apps to play with on my HP Envy 23 Touchsmart All in One!
***Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a program on behalf of HP and received an ENVY 23 TouchSmart AiO as a thank you for participation. All my words are my own.
When I accepted a consulting project with Nukotoys on the Parents@Play board, I did not realize that it would make me feel like a kid again. My favorite games as a child were strategy games. Now as an parent looking for apps for my 9 year old twin boys (and their tween brother), I jump at the chance to find apps that entertain and have the strategy that engaged me as a kid.
Enter the Nukotoys Monsterology Game (for 7 years old +) based off the of the Ology World book series that includes Dragonology, Egyptology, Wizardology, Pirateology. My 9 year old twins happen to have many of those books and are fascinated by the myth meets multi-sensory experience that is a chess meets mythical characters game. The Nukotoys Monsterology game is an app that brings the book to life with fantastic graphics, an original musical score, pop-up elements, 3-D mythical monster characters and storylines wrapped up in a strategy game that big and little kids alike will be engaged with. The newest twist are Nukotoys Monsterology trading cards that when swiped using the app (currently for iPad/iPod but more versions to come) – the Monsters jump into the game.
When it comes to who has influence over my kids, sports idols rate very high. We are a SF Giants fan family – and my twins were lucky enough to play in 2 years of Little League where there team was called the “Giants”. So of course the SF Giants have a huge impact on my sons. Their dedication, hard work and teamwork are something I remind my sons to model in their own life. The ESRB is an organization that not only assigns content ratings for computer and video games, but also helps parents understand the content each game. When I was invited to press event with the Giants and ESRB about a new PSA (public service announcement) campaign educating parents about the video game rating system – that was a “home run” event for me not only as press but as a parent. Of course, I had to bring my boys with me (it was my own unofficial bring your kids to work day!)..
The PSAs,” which feature the players explaining the ESRB rating system and encouraging parents to use it when buying games for their families, will begin running on television and radio stations throughout Northern California as well as on the video display boards in AT&T Park during Giants home games.” The representatives at the event were Buster Posey – San Francisco Giants catcher, Ryan Vogelsong – San Francisco Giants pitcher joined Patricia Vance – President ESRB, Michael Gallagher – President and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association, Jack Tretton, president and CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment, Laurent deToc – Executive Director for North America, UbiSoft, other ESRB and Giants representatives and Families from Junior Giants.
Patricia Vance welcomed everyone to press event with Buster Posey, Ryan Vogelsong and reps from Sony Computer Entertainment, UbiSoft, Entertainment Software Association and ESRB representatives:
Buster Posey shared information about the Giants/ESRB public service announcement:
Ryan Vogelsong also shared information about the Giants/ESRB public service announcement::
The PSA was shown, one of the scenes shows the ESRB mobile app – which I use all the time to help me with finding out ratings information on the go:
The PSA also had Buster Posey and Ryan interacting with the kids with an age appropriate, which is positive reinforcement for kids to play games appropriate for their age:
After seeing them play the baseball video game on the public service announcement, my twin sons of course had to check out the new MLB® 12: The Show™ for PlayStation®3 (PS3™) game that was set up at the event. That is – after checking out the ESRB rating:
My teen knows that he can play games with the ESRB rating “T” for Teen or below. My 9 year old can play the games rated “E” for everyone. They were both holding pictures of the games as examples, showing off the ESRB ratings on the bottom left:
Then we had the opportunity to head out to AT&T stadium area, one of our favorite places to be because it is where the SF Giants play!:
They gave the press more opportunities to see the games and rating examples:
Then the local mom bloggers got together for a picture: Left to right – Adel Vardell (HappaMama), Beth Blecherman (thats me – TechMama!), Kimberly Kauer Postlewaite (Silicon Valley Mamas), Lia Frietas (Mama’s Starting Over), Patricia Vance (ESRB), Ana Picazo (Finding BonggaMom), Perrin Kaplan (Zebra Partners). On bottom row: Kari Dahlen (The Karianna Spectrum). Taking the picture: Michele Spring Fajeau (Zebra Partners).
My sons were beyond excited when Buster Posey (San Francisco Giants catcher) not only shook their hand but posed for a picture!
Just to “knock it out of the park”, Ryan Vogelsong (San Francisco Giants pitcher) also gave my super SF Giants fans a handshake and a picture:
The official press release is below. My boys never knew that computer and video game ratings could be so much fun!
Disclosure: This was a press event. All of my words are my own.
Camera used: Pictures taken with Sony Cybershot WX9
Part of the excitement of our family adventures to Disneyland is going online to plan our trip. Our kids love helping to collaborate so we can fit in all of their favorite Disney experiences in the trip. The Disneyland mobile apps are also helpful for us to get information on the go.
When I received this press release about a new Disney Parks app for the iPad, I was excited for a new mobile opportunity to experience and get information about Disneyland. Disney Explorer is a free app for the iPad that offers a mobile experience of the sights and sounds of Disneyland. The app offers the ability to “tap beautiful images, animation and interactive touch points that represent experiences inside Disneyland park, Disney California Adventure park, Downtown Disney District and all three hotels of the Disneyland Resort. ” I can’t wait to try it – but showing it to my boys will make it harder for us to wait until our next trip to Disneyland.
Discover the Sights and Sounds of Disneyland Resort with ‘Disneyland Explorer’ – a Disney Parks App for iPad
Our family loves our Kinect for XBox 360 as family entertainment with a gesture tech slant. We always enjoy trying out the new activities and games that come out for the Kinect, especially ones for all ages. I just received a press release today of a new activity for the Kinect called Double Fine Happy Action Theater. The 18 new family friendly “arcade” like experiences include jumping in a ball house, hot lava, build an ice cave out of your furniture and wait out a blizzard, become a giant monster and stomp buildings and more. Up to six players at once can play with the experiences that ” intuitively respond to their body movements and react in interesting and unexpected ways”. I can’t wait to try them out.
PRESS RELEASE/FACT SHEET: Double Fine Happy Action Theater Fact Sheet – January 2012 Continue reading →
When Clever Girls Collective/Ubisoft asked if I was interested in trying out Rocksmith with my tween son and his rocker friends (who are in a band), I jumped at the chance. Rocksmith is the first video game where you can connect real electric guitars with a standard 1/4” input jack with a Microsoft Xbox 360 or Sony PlayStation 3 entertainment system. There is also a Rocksmith bundle that includes a guitar.
The game has a helpful tuning process and difficulty settings that automatically adapt to your experience level. Experts can play songs from memory, experiened guitar players can play from notes on the screen and a beginner like me can follow easy color-coded strings on the screen.
Feel like a real rockstar with different backgrounds including a concert theme.
There are also mini-games and what the Rocksmith website explains as the ability to: “Turn your console into an amplifier and play with loads of in-game effects pedals, amplifiers, and cabinets. String pedals together with nearly infinite combinations and tweak your sound until you’re satisfied.”
Some of the tracks include David Bowie – Rebel Rebel, Eric Clapton – Run Back To Your Side, Lenny Kravitz – Are You Gonna Go My Way, Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama, Radiohead – High And Dry, The Cure – Boys Don’t Cry and The Rolling Stones – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.
Here are some details from the press release:
SAN FRANCISCO – October 18, 2011 – Today, Ubisoft® announces that Rocksmith™ is now available at retail throughout North America. The standard edition of the game, available for $79.99, will include the Rocksmith Real Tone Cable™, a unique 1/4” to USB cable that is the first of its kind, developed exclusively for Rocksmith. This revolutionary cable turns the guitar’s signal from analog to digital, allowing it to be recognized and played through video game consoles for the first time. The guitar bundle will provide a quality entry-level option for people that have always wanted to play but don’t own a guitar. The bundle, available for $199.99, includes an Epiphone Les Paul Jr guitar, along with the Rocksmith Real Tone Cable. Rocksmith is rated “T” for Teen.
But what did my tween son’s friends – who happen to play in a band – think about Rocksmith?
Not only did they say Rocksmith was enthusiastically “awesome” – but they also had been waiting for the game and were so excited it finally launched. Here are some of their comments after playing the game at our Rocksmith party:
The game is not only fun but also teaches you how to play notes & chords by showing you where to press and even how to hold the guitar pick.
Let’s you choose whether you play chords or notes.
Really enjoyed the freestyle mode.
Unlike other games, you can play actual notes.
As you learn, the game gives you more notes to play.
Yeah! I finally get to play Rocksmith!
As a mom, it was exciting to watch video game play that had learning involved and was very “cool” (hard to find that combo). Rocksmith is the type of game that either one, two or big groups of kids at a party can take turns playing and is also fun to watch and listen to for the partygoers not playing the game.
At the same time, it is a welcome addition to our family video game library, whether for my tween son to play during his allowed “screen” time or for the family to play together. Rocksmith was also a great fit for my 8 year old twins who are taking guitar lessons. The teen rating was not an issue for our family because it was mainly related to lyrics in the songs (which I have been listening to for years so why can’t my kids!).
Disclosure: Thank you to Ubisoft for sponsoring this blog post. Please click here to learn more about Ubisoft. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions are my own.
For parents, the job of helping kids navigate the decision process around whether or not a video game is appropriate is not easy. Online reviews indicate the “maturity” level of a game, while a kid’s peers provide a rating of “cool” or “not cool”, and balancing the two is tricky. As a technology blogger and a mom with a tween boy & twin boys in elementary school, one of my “go-to” resources to learn about video games is the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) rating and website. They are the wonderful people who create the rating that shows up on video game packaging (i.e. E for Everyone, EC for early childhood, E10+ for children above 10 years of age, T for teen, M for mature).
Patricia Vance has an impressive background. She was appointed to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Online Safety and Technology Working Group (OSTWG) and testified before both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on behalf of the ESRB.
Here are some details from the Entertainment Software Rating Board website: “The ESRB ratings are designed to provide concise and impartial information about the content in computer and video games so consumers, especially parents, can make an informed purchase decision. ESRB ratings have two equal parts: rating symbols suggest age appropriateness for the game and content descriptors indicate elements in a game that may have triggered a particular rating and/or may be of interest or concern.”
Vance highlighted that the ESRB was created with parents in mind and funded by the Industry. The ESRB team starts the game rating process by reviewing an extensive questionnaire and DVD created by the video game company. They then meet to discuss a rating. Game Raters follow-up by playing many of the games after they are released, checking for full disclosure of the content during the rating process. As a parent, I am so thankful to have a team putting that much work into understanding and documenting video game rating information.
To make the video game decision process even easier, the ESRB has a mobile app for the iPhone, Android and Windows Phones. This allows parents to review the ESRB rating information even while at the store. So if your child says “Halo Reach has no violence” – you can say “the ratings seem to disagree – and here is why!“.
Here is a video demo of the ESRB mobile apps:
Parents, children and anyone looking at buying a video game should all use the vast resources available on the ESRB website and mobile apps. I know I can not make any video game purchasing decisions without it…
Yesterday I had the opportunity to talk with the team and see a demo over at Striiv, a new Silicon Valley Start-Up that developed a portable fitness device for the “rest of us” (Please check out my post at Cool Mom Tech for more details).
What does “rest of us” mean?
There are already great devices for runners but how about the “rest of us” that count running in and out of the grocery store or up and down the steps to their office as their only exercise? Striiv is a device small enough to hang on your keychain but is filled with big features that everyone can use to fit in more exercise into their daily routine.
The device follows your movement (including steps, cadence and more) assigning points to track personal goals, unlock rewards, progess steps in a gaming environment and best yet contribute to charity in what is considered a “walk-a-thon” in your pocket. Future features inlcude big plans for social.
The age range is from kids to adults, so the whole family can use the device. I will be testing a Striiv device very soon and can’t wait to share more details. For now, here is the press release for today’s announcement.
INTRODUCING STRIIV: A SLEEK PORTABLE DEVICE THAT MAKES FITNESS FUN; LAUNCHING THIS FALL Silicon Valley Start-Up Unveils Product that Motivates and Rewards Exercise through Games, Challenges and Donations
I assigned TechBoy (my tween son) the job of taking the Nintendo DSi
XL on a test run. He has a way with words(short and to the point) so I
asked him for a sentence that I could use on my blog.
TechBoy’s Take: “Have you ever herd about the DSi XL? Its
the latest Nintendo system since the DSi. What I like about the DSi XL
is it has a larger screen, when you go back to using the regular
DSI it fells like playing on a cell phone.”
He enjoys playing on the larger screen, using the photo/sound
manipulation tools and the camera. Overall – there is not going back for
TechBoy – he now only uses the Nintendo DSi XL. But that is good news
for his 7yr old brother – who was the lucky one to get his Nintendo DSi.
And TechBoy’s brother is very happy to finally have the DSi – so all is
good in the TechFamily house!
Nintendo DSi XL™
Nintendo DSi XL™ features
listed from the press release:
4.2-inch screens – 93
percent larger then the Nintendo DS™ Lite system screens (improved wider
Colors are Burgundy and Bronze, including a matt finish
Photo-and sound-manipulation tools
Parental controls that let adults manage the digital content their
children can access
release states: “With a broadband Internet
connection, you can also upload photos directly to Facebook to share
with friends or access downloadable Nintendo DSiWare™ games via the
Nintendo DSi Shop.” Two free applications: the Nintendo DSi Browser and
Studio™ are also included.
The release date was March 28 and the suggested retail price is
I was provided with a Nintendo DSi XL for long term review use.
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Beth Blecherman a.k.a “TechMama”
TECH BLOGGER: Shares straight talk on parenting meets technology across many social media platforms including blog TechMamas.com and Twitter @TechMama. She is well know for past articles in Mashable, Laptop Magazine and Cool Mom Tech. She currently contributes to Dot Complicated.
INFLUENCER & SPOKESPERSON: TechMamas.com media coverage includes Time.com, Forbes.com, PCMag, Parents.com, WorkingMother and more. Beth has represented many top brands as a Spokesperson online and on TV.
SPEAKER: Her speaking opportunities include SXSW, Web 2.0, BlogHer, 500 Startups MamaBear Tech Conference, Draper University and UC Berkeley Extension.
TECH CONSULTANT: Testing and focus groups for family tech products, websites and apps.
PAST: Senior Manager of Business Process Integrity at Deloitte, Co-Founder of hyper-local national mom blog network called Silicon Valley Moms Group - sold to Technorati.