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TechMama Talks: Work, Family, Education and Mobile Tech

TechMamas talkIt may have been a month since I last posted, but that gave me some time to think. During that time I decided to channel my dear Grandmother in my writing, who as she got older decided to share her authentic voice. Of course, that involved some embarrassing moments such as when she met a new boyfriend of mine for the first time and asked “I look forward to seeing you walk down the isle together”. I joked and said “you mean at the grocery store?”. But my Grandmother must of been reading our body language because we did end up walking down the isle and are a happily married couple running after our adorable but energetic three boys. I feel privileged to have met an amazing community of bloggers online and share my insights on technology. Now I want to go back to sharing my musings on life and important initiatives.

 

Parents and Work: I am excited to see women developing initiatives to empower and promote career advancement for women at work.  But from what I experienced as a parent, the job market is very tricky these days so finding work that offers a salary to cover the costs of childcare and extra incidental costs is a challenge. Many parents also need some sort of offer flexible work environments, which can add to the challenge. The job market has changed, there are new job skills required including technology and social media. In addition, while online networking has created multiple channels for career advancement, choosing the right channels to create real business opportunities is an important consideration.

 

The childcare challenge is not just a mom problem – it is a “parenting” challenge. I started a lively discussion on Facebook about this topic and I was thrilled to see responses of parents that are overcoming all types of challenges to work and also parents making the choice to stay home. I made a comment that we all value time with our children, that their happiness is the most important goal of whatever arrangements are made. I look forward to share stories on my blog of women that have found creative solutions to adapt to the modern workplace. Including women that have taken time off for kids then not only ramped back up to work years later – they BLASTED OFF!

 

Family Technology: We are at a time where you can stream, automate, use voice, consume content and entertainment in many ways and multiple devices. But families are struggling with helping their kids set screen time limits, stay safe online, learn social networking etiquette, decide what devices they really NEED and HOW TO use them. To make matters more complicated, kids now grow up surrounded with technology so it is second nature. For example, I have an Internet connected TV and my kids are the ones that signed up and are power users of Netflix compared to me. I feel so old school watching shows on TV networks. I know how to stream everything on my PC’s but at night I still like to turn on the TV and watch a show. My kids hardly watch traditional TV networks anymore.

 

Luckily because of my business, I also consume information and social network online which allows me to talk my kids’ language. At the same time I realize the online world is a dangerous place for kids that require a new type of education. I have been writing online for years about the concept I describe as “Internet safety is the new sex talk”. I remember years ago when I first said that at a social media conference in New York there was silence (shock) then lots of tweeting to share. Now that mostly all devices have a web browsers, it is hard to lock our kids away from the online world.

 

My perspective is that parents need to first educate themselves, then their kids, then create regular conversations and family rules about Internet Safety (and logical consequences if they are not followed). For example, sitting down with teens “together” to look at the privacy controls for all the platforms they are on and “discuss” which should be set to remain safe. But open conversations are key, and it should include cyber etiquette and consequences for inappropriate cyber etiquette (including going to jail!). In our family discussions, I also share age appropriate news stories as examples.  I want to spend more time covering all the online platforms kid spend time on. Of course, I find new platforms cropping up it seems like every day! Automated internet safety controls such as web filters, monitoring apps and privacy control settings are also an effective supplement, but they won’t keep kids safe everywhere they go because as I said web browsers are everywhere! So parents need to do the balancing act of setting “relevant” automated controls, communication and education. That balance is not easy!

 

No matter what strategy parents have, new challenges come up. Like how I tell a bunch of 10 year olds during baseball practice last year that they “HAVE NO REASON TO BE ON INSTAGRAM.. SERIOUSLY!”. Or how do I tell a lovely teen girl (family friend) that the number of LIKES she receives on her Facebook photo does NOT reflect her TRUE BEAUTY. Or how smartphones have become a tool that can get kids arrested if they take the wrong picture or participate in the wrong social media exchange. Or how dangerous the online world is, so much so that I need to have a SCARED STRAIGHT strategy constantly updating the teens I know of the mistakes I read about hoping that they can learn from them. At the same time, I am regularly amazed at some of the positive ways teens are creating support online. When our beloved hamster died recently my son said he received comfort from a Reddit Hamster sub directory (created to memorialize Hamsters that had passed away).  My son received sympathies from around the world when he posted a picture of our Hamster.

 

Education Tech: One of the challenges of our education system is that while more and more kids relate to visual, interactive and experiential learning, many curriculum’s are still based on inflexible models filled with worksheets. The shining stars are the Teachers and Schools trying to transition to experiential learning. Luckily, now there are so many ways to learn online that I could spend weeks covering all the websites and programs. After speaking at a few education tech events and meeting the edtech company founders, I decided that sharing the exciting opportunities that exist in digital learning is a passion of mine. I want to highlight the education tech innovators on my blog as a way to help support their important contributions they are making to the future of education.

 

Family Schedule Tech:  One of the main reasons I wrote the book “My Parent Plan” was to help families learn project planning skills. After years of professional project planning I know the concepts but at times still struggle with how to balance it all. With three boys now going THREE completely different directions, I decided to dive deeper into tech solutions to help me manage. Or at least keep my head above water..

 

Health Tech: Feeding my family a healthy diet is one of the biggest challenges I have each week. While I like the concept of eating plant based foods I am also balancing understanding what is best for my family that has different nutritional needs. I will be covering some of online websites and apps that can help parents struggling with healthy eating solutions. I will also be covering my comic adventures trying to convince my sons why healthy eating is important. Including how my teen is “dreaming” of going to a local burger restaurant someday again as a reward. And how at times he sneaks out with his friends to get junk food for dinner after looking in the fridge filled with “green” foods.

 

So while I am far away from being a Grandmom myself, I honor her voice by speaking my own. Whats on your mind?

 

 

 

 

New Family Hardware and Games: From SteriShoe to Skylanders SWAP Force

I get emails every day with new technology I would love to share with my readers. But my time is limited. So I decided to ask some of the PR resources that have shared interesting press updates with me for years (and happen to be parents themselves), to share some of their clients’ interesting new products by writing a guest post.

 

This guest post is from Rob Wheat (see bio at end of this post):There’s nothing more frustrating or costs more money than cars and computers. Yet the games or devices we lament purchasing sometimes end up being thrown out the window. Then there are the ones that actually work.  Out of the many consumer electronics companies I’ve been fortunate enough to work with, some have even touched my nine-year-old daughter Violet’s life, like the Nintendo…

 

 

This post will hopefully illuminate some of the “good” hardware and games that are featured for families in 2013, and they collectively are ones I especially feel strongly towards… and not just because they are clients of an 18-year media relations career (full disclosure).

 

 

  • unu (www.facebook.com/unutablet) – this new device, coming out in November, transforms one’s television into a “smart TV” and game console… it also features the evolution of the tablet, which is used to control your online options, a docking station and a game controller for the more than 500,000 entertainment choices presented by Google Play Store.

 

 

  • OUYA (www.ouya.tv) – a brand new video game console, OUYA has more than 450 games with more being added every day. All are free to try, and the OUYA is a fraction of the cost of the next generation systems coming out for Microsoft and Sony this holiday season.

 

 

  • SteriShoe (www.sterishoe.com) – I count this as hardware since you insert the pair of “electric shoe horns” into your shoes for the UV rays to burn out the germs that have collected. Believe it not, there are more germs on our shoes than our hands and feet. I tried it and my worn out sandals felt so much better inside, they also work well for moms who feel like their cars and homes are being held “hostage” by their children’s gym shoes. They fit easily into suitcases, so they’re also good for business travelers.

 

 

  • Skylanders: SWAP Force (www.skylanders.com) – starting off the games list with one of the most anticipated titles of the year – Skylanders SWAP Force, which enables players to “swap” the tops and bottoms of action figures to “bring these characters to life” in the accompanying video game. Skylanders is currently the No. 1 action figure line and video game, and is the original toy that first combined video games with action figures.

 

 

  • JoyTunes (iPad) (www.joytunes.com) – With their two products Piano Mania and the new Piano Dustbuster 2, beginners can learn to play everything from Beethoven to One Direction without ever having touched a piano or keyboard before. Based upon the Guitar Hero-style of having notes cascade across the screen, you learn to play as you follow along with your iPad.

 

 

  • WiShi (www.wishi.me) – A safe social style network where you take photos of your clothes to create “virtual closets” that you can share with friends and family. They can mix and match your style, and create new combinations that make old clothes seem new.

 

 

  • ESRB (www.esrb.org) – The non-profit group that determines the video game ratings has a great free app to help parents find the “right game for the right child”. The app also covers mobile games, as well as the consoles, and features unbiased information on each one.

 

 

  • Fingerprint (www.fingerprintplay.com) games for the iPad – these educational games address the Common Core Elements that students will be tested on starting in 2014-15. Cosmic Reactor, for example, is a fun math game while Lost in the Universe is a digital story book. Fingerprint has almost 40 educational games for children 3-12, with new multiplayer games from TigerFace that enable parents and children to play together. PBS’ Sid the Science Kid is another popular title.

 

 

There’s nothing more important than sharing time together with your children, and today’s hardware and “video games” cater to that.

 

 

Rob Wheat is a consultant for PMK*BNC, Frank PR and Zebra Partners among other companies after having worked as an employee and consultant for Nintendo and Golin-Harris for more than 15 years. Also a freelance sports and feature writer, he lives in Overland Park, KS with his daughter Violet, wife Jenny and dog Lily.

 

 

 

 

 

Disclosure: This is a press update.

 

 

 

Digital Kids EDU SF 2013- Innovations in Education through Digital Media

As a family tech journalist one of the most exciting trends I have seen is the combining of education and technology to inspire new ways of learning. My kids have grown up using technology for communication, entertainment, and yes… learning.  Their assortment of educational tech includes math apps on mobile devices, listening to audiobooks, using assistive tech tools, learning to program online, watching instructional videos and even participating in fun and educational mutli-player games. It’s because of their positive experiences with technology and learning that I am so excited to speak at this month’s  Digital Kids Edu in San Francisco. Here are the details:

 

“At a time when the market for digital learning is exploding, the September 18th Digital Kids Edu  day in San Francisco gives you what you need to know to create and use best-selling digital learning products for kids.

 

District technology directors, curriculum designers, administrators, educators and researchers looking to integrate digital learning tools in the classroom are encouraged to attend.

 

The event also caters to technology professionals, publishers and digital directors along with media executives seeking to educate kids via digital devices are encouraged to attend.

As a courtesy to educators, Digital Kids is offering an exclusive discount code for $100 off registration.

 

Here is information on the panel I am moderating at Digital Kids Edu:

10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. (Sept. 18 2013)
Emerging Platforms & Technologies
As kids continue to immerse themselves in the digital space, new ways to inspire learning are frequently emerging. The digital kids education space offers unique complexities including interactivity, immersion, scalability and intense user involvement that new technologies are now leveraging. This session will examine the new technologies and platforms being used as education tools. Speakers will also discuss the alternatives that are available for the various platforms.
Moderator: Beth Blecherman, Founder/Editor & Chief Technology Mom, TechMamas.com
Srinivas Mandyam, CTO/Founder, Tynker
Nancy MacIntyre, CEO and Co-Founder, Fingerprint
-
Josh Chan, CEO, LightUp

David Baszucki, Co-Creator and CEO, ROBLOX

 

Check out the Digital Kids Edu speaker list to see who will be sharing their edutech insights and the schedule for the panel list. The next day is Digital Kids Summit which also has an exciting list of speakers.

 

You can register here for Digital Kids Summit and Digital Kids Edu (Sept. 18-19): http://digitalkidssummit.com/register/.   Register by September 13 and save $100! Attendees have multiple registration options: registering for Digital Kids Summit, registering for Digital Kids Edu or registering for both events at a discount.  I also want to share my speaker discount, so use this DISCOUNT CODE speakervip to get a 10% discount.

 

 

 

 

Giveaway: Tickets to Maker Faire May 18-19 (Invention + Creativity)

As a technologist that writes about setting rules for technology limits with kids, I am always on the lookout for events and activities that inspire invention and creativity.

 

The Maker Faire is one of those events that will inspire kids and adults to show their creative side. It will be at the San Mateo County Events Center, CA Saturday 10am – 8pm and Sunday 10am – 6pm. Here is a link for more information.

 

 

The Maker Faire About Page explains: “Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors. All of these “makers” come to Maker Faire to show what they have made and to share what they have learned.” It is a fascinating event that we look forward to each year!

 

I was thrilled to receive an email that gave me the opportunity to offer a (flash) GIVEAWAY for three families to win tickets for their family to attend the Maker Faire this weekend. Maximum of 5 tickets per family.

 

Update: Winners of tickets were randomly choosen -Sabz Moscon, Lizz Porter and Sandy Gram.

 

TO ENTER – PLEASE FILL OUT THE RAFFLECOPTER FORM BELOW.   *FLASH CONTEST* Contest ends 5/17 at 8pm winners will be notified by 10pm.

 

I am also excited to see the latest electric car from Toyota (RAV4 EV) will be at the Maker Faire. We hope to convert our cars to electric as we replace them moving forward. Here is the press release information about the new Toyota RAV4 EV:

 

The new Toyota RAV4 EV, the latest electric car from Toyota only sold in California; it’s a family-friendly car that’s piquing the interest of environmentally-conscious Californians. Attendees also have the exclusive opportunity to ask questions directly to people who helped develop the new electric car at Toyota.

 

Some of the activities in Toyota’s area will include:

·         Explore the RAV4 EV and speak with Executive Program Manager Sheldon Brown

·         Participate in the bicycle-powered slot car track (photo below)!

·         “Recharge” at The Maker Lounge with wi-fi and power outlets
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I am receiving complimentary tickets to the event for hosting this giveaway. All opinions are 100% my own.

 

 

 

HP Envy 23 TouchSmart All In One Review & GIVEAWAY

(*See giveaway info on bottom of this post)

UPDATE : CONTEST CLOSED 1/4/2013 Winner is shopgurl Thanks to everyone who entered!

When I was contacted to participate in the #HPFamilyTime campaign I was excited for the opportunity to use the  HP Envy 23 TouchSmart All in One for many reasons. First of all, now that my kids use touch screen tablets, they demand a higher level of interaction that “non touch” computers don’t offer. Second, after covering the Windows 8 launch, I could not wait to try it out at home (other then the many times I played with Windows 8 at the Microsoft store). Third, I had a desk in our family room that I set up with the plan of putting a PC with a big screen that could be used for entertainment and for schoolwork. I already decided that an all in one would be the best form factor because it would be compact enough to move into the living room if one of my kids needed a quiet place to work.  So does the HP Envy Touchsmart All in One fit my needs?

 

 

Yes, not only did it fit in as the perfect family room computer, but the new Windows 8 operating system combined with the beautiful and intuitive touch screen made it also a family favorite. After I set up the security and Microsoft accounts for each user, I installed  Microsoft Office. The only challenge we had is that I had to activate the security software I installed on each account on the computer separately (but it was quick).  Our kids that are not easily impressed by tech were not only impressed – but quickly learned how to use the new Windows 8 interface (using a Touchscreen as well as a keyboard/mouse).

 

 

Here is a video I made of the HP ENVY 23 TouchSmart All In One unboxing. The set up was so easy (unwrap and a “one plug” in!).

 

 

The HP Envy 23 Touchsmart All in One is packed with premium features for great price (currently starting at $1,099! ):

 

  • 3rd  Generation Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-3330S quad-core processor and 6 GB RAM (upgradable to 16GB) means fast processing and multitasking.
  • 1TB hard drive  so it has lots of space for programs, photos and video.
  • 6-in-1 card reader, 2 USB3.0 (fast transfer speed), 4 USB 2.0 (to plug in more accessories) and audio (micrphone and earphones) inputs. HDMI input to connect to TV or external screen.
  • Optional TV to broadcast live TV from your computer.  The full HD display enables viewing of HD content.
  • DVD burner  that can write data to blank DVD – so Grandparents can get a DVD copy of their grandkids on video.
  • HP wireless keyboard and mouse with Win 8 keyboard (with raised keys for easy typing).
  • All in one form factor with edge to edge sleek and modern design  that can be mounted on the wall with just one wire.
  • HP Quick Launch that has a fast boot up.and access to shortcuts.
  • Optional Solid State Drive.
  • HP Connected Photo allows you to sync photos across your PC, smartphone, and tablet.
  • HP TrueVision HD Webcam that works even in low light because of the “adaptive lighting to automatically adjust to changing light”.
  • Beats Audio offers premium sound. Just add some bluetooth speakers to extend the sound even further.
  • HP Connected Music to manage music downloads, streaming services and Internet Radio.
  • Windows 8 operating system (built for touch) perfectly matched with a intuitive touch with 10-point multitouch technology that enables swipe and tap using all 10 fingers.

 

 

More information and configuration options for the HP ENVY 23 TouchSmart AiO is available at the HP Store.
Here is a picture of what the Windows 8 start screen with “tiles” looks like after I installed Microsoft Office. The Microsoft Windows 8 site explained “Each tile on the Start screen is connected to a person, app, website, playlist,  or whatever else is important to you. Tiles light up with the latest info, so you’re instantly up to date. In one glance, you’ll see that photo you were just tagged in, tomorrow’s weather, and messages from your friends“. Next – I can’t wait to configure what Windows 8 apps/live tiles appear on the start screen. There are ones that are pre-configured so I had a great start.
hpenvy23_1

 

 

Searching for apps is easy, I just swipe from right to left and the bar below comes up. What was once “programs” are now apps that I can add as live tiles on my Windows 8 start screen:
hpenvy23_2jpg
I will be looking for family management apps while my kids can’t wait to try the paint apps and the Xbox apps.
hpenvy23_3jpg

 

One of the tiles on the start screen is called “Desktop” which allows me to easily switch to the standard (Windows 7) start screen view.
hpenvy23_4jpg

 

I can search for files the same way I did on Windows 7 if I want, but also switch back to the Windows 8 start screen by swiping on bottom left or right of the screen.
hpenvy23_5

 

My kids enjoy using the bright, crisp and intuitive screen for the HP ENVY 23 TouchSmart AiO:
hpenvy23_6

 

 

They immediately found the Fresh Paint program and with a “touch” started creating a digital art project.
HPenvy23_7

 

 

Of course – a smile face was the first work of art that was created!
hpenvy23_8

 

 

I will be posting next week with my test drive of the other features of the HP ENVY 23 TouchSmart AiO and Windows 8. For now – how about a GIVEAWAY that will enable ONE winner to have one for their own family.  To Enter – use the widget below with all the details!

 

 

***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.

**
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

CBS The Talk – Talks Gadgets (Giveaway)

Contest has ended as of Thurs Sept. 27 10am pst. Winner will be announced Sept. 28 10am.

 

Winner is Lee Reyes-Fournier @coupledumb

 

I always enjoy lively discussions by engaging women, and CBS’s daytime emmy-nominated “The Talk” has just that. On Sept. 14 one of the topics discussed was something near and dear to my heart:  Lifestyle expert Chi-Lan Lieu showed some tech gadgets for families.   TechMamas has the fun task of offering my readers a chance to WIN a prize package with a few of the great gadgets featured in the show.

 

Giveaway: Timing – Giveaway starts Wed. Sept. 19 10:15 am pst and ends Thurs Sept. 27 10am pst. Prizes – One winner will be randomly chosen (by Random.org) to win the following prize package:

 

 

1. D-Link Day/Night Network Cloud Camera

 

2.  VTech InnoTab 2 Learning Tablet & Camera

 

3. Switch& Go Dinos

 

4. SOUL SL100UB Headphones

 

To Enter:
1. Comment on this post with which of these tech gadgets you have been coveting and then what other tech gadgets are you looking to buy. For example, have your kids been coveting a tablet so you have been looking into the VTech InnoTab or your teen coveting cool ear phones? Please put a valid email in the email field of the comment (that is not displayed).

2. Follow CBS The Talk on Twitter

3. Winner will be chosen at the end of the contest, the email provided on the comment will be sent to the prize provider for prize fulfillment.

4. See below for contest rules.

 

Details on The Talk:
CBS’s  Daytime Emmy-nominated talk show THE TALK  (airs Weekdays 2:00–3:00 PM, ET; 1:00–2:00 PM, PT) 

features a panel of well-known news and entertainment personalities discussing  current events, pop culture, contemporary issues, family, celebrity and  the trending topics of the day. The daily one-hour series is co-hosted  by Julie Chen, Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Sheryl Underwood and Aisha Tyler. The hosts swap stories, challenge each other on issues and  engage the studio audience and viewers at home about events in the  headlines and their own homes. Show segments include guest interviews  with entertainers and newsmakers, musical performances, appearances from extraordinary people with stories that engage and inform as well as  how-to demos and real-world advice and tips from the leading experts in  fitness, diet, health, home, relationships, finance and fashion. The  show was developed by Gilbert, who also serves as executive producer.  

 

For More Information on THE TALK go to:    CBS TheTalk.com

 

Rules:

  • TheTalkCBS is the prize provider (and fulfillment).
  • One entry per person
  • Winners are limited by geography to US residents only 21 years of age or older.
  • If a valid email address is not provided in the entry, another winner will be chosen.
  • We are not responsible for any lost packages or incorrect shipping  addresses. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as  awarded. Approximate value of prizes may vary.
  • The random winner will be chosen by Techmamas.com using Random.org, all decisions are final.
  • All Federal, State and Local taxes associated with receipt of prize is the sole responsibility of the winner.
  • By entering any  giveaway on this website you release Techmamas.com from any liability  whatsoever, and waive any and all causes of action.

 

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. It is just fun for me to offer my readers a giveaway!

 

 

 

New Tech Product: Striiv Portable Fitness Device – Rewards Thru Everday Exercise

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.

Press Release:

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

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Klutz Book of Animation Blog Tour (stop #5) And Giveaway!

Winner is Jonathan Ezor!!

My kids and I enjoy Klutz books because they allow us to learn new and child friendly activities in a fun and engaging way.

The Klutz activity books also help me be the “craft/hobby” mom I always wanted to be! How else would I know how to make a solar car?

Because of my prior fun experience with Klutz, I was excited to be asked to host stop #5 (and a giveaway) in the Klutz Book of Animation – 16 stop blog tour. Blog book tours are fun ways to spread the word on interesting books. LittleTechGirl will be hosting the next stop on Monday – check it out to find another fun giveaway & video feature!

GIVEAWAY DETAILS FOR ONE TECHMAMAS READER:

One (1) Winner will receive:
* a copy of The Klutz Book of Animation
* as well as The Klutz Book of Inventions, Dr. Frankensketch’s Monster Drawing Machine, and The Klutz Yo-Yo Book!

Prize Pack valued at: $79.80. Giveaway details are listed at the bottom of this post.

Here is the press information sent to me about the Klutz Book of Animation:

Anybody with a computer, camera, internet connection and a little bit of creativity can create animated films for the masses. The Klutz Book of Animation is a how-to-guide for this art form. Step-by-step instructions show you how to create a variety of different classic stop motion special effects.”

Watch the real videos created here as inspiration to start making your own animation! My kids can’t wait to try making their own animation.

Giveaway details:

To enter to win the prizes listed above, please comment on the post below with what you would do if you won the books? Are you a mom or dad that wants to do projects with their kids? Are you an aunt, uncle, grandmom or grandpop that wants a fun activity to do with the kids are visiting? Are you a big kid that wants to try it for yourself?

RULES:

–Only one comment/entry per person.

–A Valid email address must be entered in the private “email” section of the comment (not in the comment text). If a valid email address is not provided, another winner will be chosen.

–Winner must be located in North America (Canada/US). Shipments can only be made to Canada/US.

–We are not responsible for any lost packages or incorrect shipping addresses. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded. Approximate value of prizes may vary.

–Winner will be choosen via Random.org on Friday Oct 1 by 12pm pst.

Disclosure: TechMamas.com did not receive compensation in any form for this post. Techmamas.com did receive a copy of the Animation book to review.

 

Lifescoop Blog: Kid Desk 2.0 Upgrade – Enter to win $250

The ever so clever Clever Girls Collective invited me (@TechMama) to participate in a back to school challenge on the My Life Scoop blog (powered by Intel). It was great timing because I was in the middle of a challenge of my own: how do I redesign my 11 year old's kid desk to get ready for middle school and to have enough room to hold his technology AND projects?

Take a look at my post on My Life Scoop blog titled "Contest: Kid Desk 2.0 Upgrade – Be In It To Win It": the winning comment/solution will be awarded $250.00 gift card.

I am in need of a kid desk upgrade 2.0 – please share your ideas and enter the contest!

Disclosure: I am being compensated to write the post on My Life Scoop – but am in desperate need of a desk for my tween so I can't wait to read the comments!

 

My Kids Are Awake With Access to Tech, But Pretend Play Is Still King

This morning I opened up the New York Times and read the article by Tamar Lewin called “If Your Kids Are Awake, They’re Probably Online“. Later I saw the New York Times article had made it to Techmeme.

While reading the article I took a moment to look at what my kids were doing. Were my kids using any technology this morning?

So I decided to review the morning’s activities: After my 10 year old and twin 6 year old boys ate breakfast, they went into our living room (affectionately called the “bouncy room” because sofa pillows are used for forts and jumping) for some pretend play before school. They had rolled up paper for swords and were pretending to fend off the “bad guys”. A few nerf guns sneaked their way in, but had no bullets so they ended up being a prop as well. When it is was time to leave, my boys put on their little yellow rain boots and rain jackets and went to school.

All of this “pretend play” happened in our house that is full of technology. We have multiple laptops including my 10 year old that has his own laptop, iPod and Nintendo DSi. My twin 6 year olds have Leapfrog moblie gaming units and their older brother’s hand me down Nintendo DS’s. The TV in our family room may be 10 years old, but it still works great. We have Direct TV DVR’s and a Nintendo Wii. We have multiple Nintendo racing, sports and Mario Bros Wii games with lots of accessories and just recently purchased the Tony Hawk Thride game and accessory board. My 10 year old has a simple cell phone that is “Pay as you Go” with no data plan but ample calling and texting. His friends have the Sony Playstation and they enjoy playing Lego Star Wars. We only have one TV in our family room, but multiple computer screens in our house.

The New York Times article “If Your Kids Are Awake, They’re Probably Online” brought up some very interesting discussion points about how much time kids are spending on technology each day:

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