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Beta Launch of Kazaana – Family Friendly Social Platform (was PixyKids)

As my 9 year olds become more interested in sharing media with family and friends, I have started to look into family friendly social platforms that are appropriate for 9 year olds. Just recently I received a brief demo of the family centric social platform called Kazaana (was called PixyKids). I appreciated the beautiful graphics and the ability for everyone to create their own space – and then share with family and friends. But most of all, I appreciated that the parental controls would allow me to approve every friend (or family) that my 9 year olds would invite into their space. Now that the Beta is live I can’t wait to take a test drive with my 9 year olds to learn more about Kazaana.

 

Below is the press release I received with more info:

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Join us at #PixyKids Twitter Party Thursday 4/26 to talk kids, tech and social media

Join Sarah Auerswald of Sarah & Sons / MomsLA and me (Beth Blecherman of TechMamas.com) as we discuss kids’ online habits with PixyKids, the soon to launch interactive and engaging social media platform where kids 6-12 can create, share, learn, and have fun through their personalized digital space. We’ll be on Twitter Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 10am PST with Hashtag #PixyKids – and we’ll also be live at the Digital Kids conference taking place in Pasadena.

We’ll be joined by expert panelists Ciaran Blumenfeld of Momfluential.net, Katie Dillon of LaJollaMom.com, Heidi Leder of Coast2CoastMom.com, Janis Elpas of MommyBlogExpert.com.

 

RSVP by clicking HERE – to sign up at the PixyKids blog for a chance to win one of our prizes! For more details, here is the post on the PixyKids blog.

PRIZES: One Amazon Kindle Fire and 2 $50.00 Amazon gift cards.

 

You must RSVP here to be eligible to win, so be sure to click over!

 

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

 

 

 

39 Clues: 10 Stop Blog Tour and Giveaway – STOP 1 IS LIVE!

 **WINNER OF GIVEAWAY: alanamorales**

I always enjoy when I get to blog about something that is already popular in my house. A few weeks ago, I took my son to the bookstore to see if Book 10 of the 39 Clues series was out yet. He had already read all the other books in the series. The good news is he goes through books quickly. The bad news I am constantly looking for new series for my son to read. I was excited when my son started reading 39 Clues because it was published by Scholastic.  I did not see Book 10 at the bookstore so I checked online for the release date (August 31, 2010).

39 Clues is an adventure series published by Scholastic for children ages 8-12 that spans 10 books. The book series also has a website http://www.the39clues.com/  that allows kids to use cards (they get with each book) to find clues through online missions.

The day after  a trip to our local bookstore with my son, I received an email about the 39 Clues Blog Tour, asking if I wanted to join in the fun.  Of course I said YES! The Blog Tour is a 39 Day Countdown to book  #10 and I am the first stop (see a full listing of Blog Tour stops below).

My stop is for 39 Clues Book 1. Here is an exclusive video from Book #1 Author, Rick Riordan:

Sadly, my son will still have to wait for Book 10 to come out. But – the good news is that I am doing a giveaway to my readers to share the adventure love:

GIVEA WAY: One winner will receive the (one) complete 39 Clues book series (PLUS book #1 will be autograp hed by Rick Riordan).

HOW TO ENTER:

 

 

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Parents Magazine Lists the Parents Power Moms

I have been reading Parents magazine for some time, it is a great resource parents of babies, toddlers and even big kids. So I was thrilled when I found out they included me (TechMamas.com) on their list of Parents Power Moms along with DesignMom.com, CityMama.com, CoolMomPicks.com, AlphaMom.com, TheMotherhood.com, MomItForward.com, Dooce.com and CutieBootyCakes.com Click HERE to see the article on their website. The print article will be available in their February issue. The Parents’ Goodyblog.com has blogging tips, including information about social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

 

Disney Extends Their Digital Offerings: Disney Digital Books Launched This Morning

Today I received this press release that announced Disney is going Digital in yet another away with Disney Digital Books. I will be finding out more details and will add them to this post:

“Disney Digital Books (www.disneydigitalbooks.com) officially launched this morning. This vast library is Disney’s first-ever collection of digital children’s books – and the browser-based service is PC- and Mac-compatible, and does not require a download.

The new portal is the brainchild of a team of young, tech-savvy, creative folks at Disney Publishing Worldwide (the world’s largest publisher of children’s books and magazines), which has been around since 1930.

If you’re interested in learning more, there’s a webcast today at 1:00PM EST (open to the public).  Join here: http://www.videonewswire.com/event.asp?id=62362

Over 500 Disney picture and storybooks will come to life with animated illustrations and authentic character voices.  Classics include more than 60 Winnie the Pooh books and such popular titles as Mickey Mouse, Toy Story, Disney Princess, Cars, and Hannah Montana.

Key features include:

* An age-appropriate dictionary that lets children click on any word to hear it read aloud;
* Reading certificates to encourage readers;
* A “Story-Builder” feature so kids can create their own stories;
* Books are separated into three reading levels:  (1) for beginner readers and a companion, (2) for independent readers, and (3) for readers ready for chapter books;

Monthly subscriptions are only $8.95 – and annual and gift subscriptions are available as well.  A free trial of the service is available today.”

 

Disney Imagination Movers – My Juice Box Heroes

When I received the Imagination Mover’s press kit (including the fact sheet and bios for Scott Durbin, Rich Collins, Dave Poche and Scott ‘Smitty’ Smith) in the mail from Disney, I decided to wait until all my kids (6 year old twins boys and a 9 year old boy) were home at the same time to play the music.

Well, they all liked it – and that is not easy!

Prmovers31_3

What’s In The Fridge pretty much sums up what it is like having three Hungary boys  – they are always heading to the fridge.  Clean My Room (pick it up, pick it up NOW) is the song I decided to play to remind my boys that their rooms need a’cleanin. I think that will be a more effective way then screaming "clean your room" like I usually do. The medicine song can be used when the kids are sick.

"Mover Music" may be one of my favorites and inspired me to exercise also (I secretly played that over and over again while the kids were at school)!

Best yet, three of the Imagination Movers are Dads themselves from New Orleans with 7 kids between them. The Imagination Mover’s released a special single that raised funds for the nonprofit group KIDsmART, which brings visual and performing arts education to public schools throughout New Orleans. 

Imagination Movers has a TV series, MP3/video downloads and a CD titled "Juice Box Heroes".

 

 

Are Kids Search Engine Savvy?

I just saw a link on Techmeme from the Ars Technica blog titled "The Google generation not so hot at Googling, after all" discussing a UK report on the information skills for kids born since 1993. That post highlighted the following findings from the report:

  • "Prefer interactive systems to passive ones"
  • "Are competent with technology, but not expert searchers"
  • "They like to cut-and-paste" (plagiarism is a serious issue)
  • "They prefer visual information over text"
  • "They multitask all the time"
  • "Teachers, relatives, and textbooks are consistently valued above the Internet"

While I do agree with some of the points above, what is all this fuss about kids not being expert searches? So I decided to put my 9 year old to the test…

I asked him to pretend he was doing a report on a specific type of lizard, where would he search online?

He went to Google then typed "lizard". Next he looked at the links – the first was Wikipedia and he went past it to the link called "Kids Konnect – Lizards".  He asked me what type of lizard and I said a "horned lizard". Then he choose the section on "horned lizards" which had a page full of information. From the url, it seemed to have come from the University of Texas. But that made me wonder, forget about being a good searcher – how do we know if the websites have correct information? From my unscientific test of one, it seems my 9 year was fine at using a search engine – but the information at the other end that seems to be the issue (instead of the information skills of children)…

So I decided to perform the same test on the Scholastic Children’s Encyclopedia to see if just using a text book can be quicker then some online searches… We tried to search for "Lizard" under "L", but it was not there. So we went to the index and found "Lizard" under "R" for "reptile". In the reptile section, there was great information on lizards – but nothing on "horned" lizards. I know that this encyclopedia is focused for children of a specific age – and is only one book. Maybe a set of encyclopedias would of had that information…. But – it was still faster to use a search engine and my son did just fine..

There are some websites that offer a safer or more direct experience for children to use a search engine:

  • Glubble states they offer "trusted surfing for children under 12 years of age enables
    families to be sure they only see the best of the web they choose to
    allow".
  • Kid Konnect states that they are a "safe internet gateway for kids".
  • I found a website that has links to "Kids Tools" including an online version of the Merriam Webster Dictionary!
  • Google has a directory for kids and teens that has relevent links to resources for kids.
  • I found another website called "Ivy Search Engine Resources" that has links to kid related search engine sites.
  • Yahoo Kids is a great gateway for kids to not only perform searches but find links to jokes, movies, music and make ecards.

And it was in the Yahoo Kids site that we had the best search engine result. When we typed "horned lizard" in the search bar of the Yahoo Kids site, it had many relevant link results. One was a dictionary, that when clicked through provided us with one paragraph with all the info we needed on the horned lizard… All of this is something my son did while on the site.

So, in the end it seems kids can be expert searchers if they start at the right website. Maybe alittle help from mom and dad to get them there is not a bad idea…

UPDATE: Kid Safe Search Sites is another online sites for kids.

 

LinkLove: Tech Dads Inspired by Space

Here are some fun links to tech dads inspired by space: