Archive for July, 2013

Smart Kids Apps to Prevent Summer Brain Drain & Get Kids Ready to Go Back To School:
Want to prevent summer slide – make sure kids go back to school with their brains brimming with bright ideas? Or maybe you just want to make their screen time is quality time? Here are 10 apps that can be great for young minds:

1. Touch ‘N Sing – Touch and Sing Along Picture Book
This is great example of a healthy first foray into the online world for kids as young two. It features 12 classic children’s songs, each with a different goal; learn letters, body parts, music, interactive play, reading, numbers, elements of science, and life skills to help prepare for the real world. Another stand out feature? It grows along with your child – as they progress through the various levels – the learning possibilities become limitless. The developer’s name, SumahoMAMA, means “cell phones Moms,” in Japanese, where it was created by moms looking for the very best ways to create healthy, safe, and manageable digital introductions to young kids. In additional to the apps content, no advertising is used in this product. That’s a bonus, for sure.
For ages: 2+, Available on iTunes, Free

2. WWF Together:
The World Wildlife Federation App lets kids experience the world’s most amazing and endangered animals through in-depth, interactive stories of giant pandas, tigers, and polar bears.

Ages 4+ Available on iTunes, Free

3. The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore
This is a stunning picture book app that counts on clever interaction to move the story forward. Kids are encouraged to make sounds, tap, tilt, and play.
Ages 6+
Available on iTunes, $4.99

4. Stack the states:
Stack the States is a big favorite for our daily commute in the car. My daughter reads out the questions and we race each other to see who can answer them first. Helps teach state capitals, shapes, geographic locations, flags and more.
Ages 6+ Available on iTunes, Google Play, Free

5. TinyTap
Tiny Tap gets parents more involved with child’s digital play by letting you create your own games with your kids using photos, music, colors, and words. You can make your own game, or pick from one of the many already created.
Ages 4+, Available on iTunes, Free

6. BuzzMath Middle School
If you want to prevent summer slide and make sure kids go back to school with their brains brimming, take a look at this comprehensive math skills and practice tool that offers thousands of quirky and fun exercises. It’s best for grades six through eight. And I highly recommend it for parents as a way to brush-up too!
Ages 10+, Available on iTunes, Google Play, Free

7. Storia
This reading app from Scholastic is a must-have. It’s filled with an entire library of teacher recommended books, plus dozens of fun and engaging games that help build comprehension and reading retention at every age and reading level. It’s so much fun, children will have NO idea how good it is for them as they work on word puzzles, tap their way through image games, and explore the world of their own imagination through great stories.
For ages 6+, Available on Google Play, iTunes, Windows, and Amazon, Free

8. Todo Elementary Math Series
This is a series of 7 multi-level games that are aligned to the Common Core State Standards for Pre-K through 2nd grade. The games help kids with learning differences, which might be struggling with concepts like telling time. It lets kids learn independently and progress at their own pace. The name, “Todo” translates to ,“all” in Spanish, and stands for the fact that this app helps include all children, no matter what their learning style or speed, understand basic counting and calculations, telling time, measuring, and dealing with money.
Ages 5+, Available on iTunes, Free

9. Watt Pad
This app lets young writers post short stories, novels and poems for others to read and critique. The critique is positive, creative, and aimed at helping kids hone their craft – no bullying allowed. The works are often revealed chapter by chapter, so readers are anticipating new developments and often lobbying the writer for plot shifts or new characters. Famous authors also get involved, for a digital writers-group that’s out of this world.
Ages 12+, Available on iTunes, Google Play

10. BrainPOP
BrainPOP features a new animated movie each day (I love the one about the Beatles)that kids watch – then get quizzed on – in a fun and interactive way. Topics cover math, social studies, English, tech, music, health , and more. The videos aren’t sophisticated, but the information is solid and they are captioned so you can read along. This is a great one on a road trip, so everyone in the car can play along.
Ages 8+, Available on iTunes, Google Play

One last note, most apps have in-app upgrades and new games that you can buy. Be sure to turn off in-app purchases, and set up a passcode that your kids can’t guess. Also, be sure to check-in on what they’re playing. For ideas about how much screen time is okay, without creating zoned out zombies, read the latest guidelines and recommendations.

We know there are hundreds more, and new ones being added everyday. What are some of your favorites? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

Posted in Connected Kids, Cyber Safety, Digital Parenting, Girlfriend's Guide, In The Press, TechStyled, Tips & Tricks, Top tech news, Uncategorized, What The Tech

As seen in Jennifer Jolly’s, USA Today TECH Now Report:
Making money online sounds like a dream come true — which is probably why so many spam e-mails and scam websites litter the Internet and our inboxes with promises of easy money. But earning extra cash on the Internet isn’t just a pipe dream. If you use a bit of common sense to dodge the scams, there are lots of legitimate opportunities to make a little extra pocket money, or even fund a dream vacation. Here are some of the bestlegalnew ways to use the Internet to line your wallet.

Crowdfund your way to success
When you hear the word “crowdfunding,” chances are you automatically think about Kickstarter, which lets designers, developers and writers pitch product ideas that anyone can contribute to. But with GoFundMe, you can use the power of crowdfunding to help pay for your next vacation, cover unexpected bills, go to graduate school or just about anything else. Whatever goal you’re trying to reach, write it up on the site and then ask your friends, family and anyone else to chip in to help — you’ll be surprised at how a few dollars from all of your friends can add up!

Answer questions and share your expertise
Who knew that answering questions could earn you cash? Sites like JustAnswer will pay you (as long as you’re qualified) to answer questions submitted by people who need advice they can trust. For instance, if you’re a tech genius, someone might ask you to help them set up their new smartphone. You have a law degree? Maybe someone needs a simple legal question answered. Auto mechanic? Please, tell me how to reset the car’s computer after I change the oil (but first, walk me through how to change the oil). This is a great way to take what you know and turn it into a nice little side business for yourself.

Another service I have put to the test recently is Rewarder. You sign up and see if you can help anyone who has posted a “reward.” Today, someone is offering $100 if you can help them find their poodle. Another person is offering $50 for a travel itinerary to Sydney, Australia. My personal favorite, someone will pay $20 for proposal ideas for his girlfriend. Easy, fun and the “rewards” add up.

Sell your time or services
If you have free time, there are a lot of services that can turn that time into money earned. Fiverr is an online marketplace where you can post anything you’re willing to do: your creativity (and what people are willing to pay for) is all that limits you. Payments, as the name implies, start at $5 but can go higher. I also like online storefront Zaarly — which is kind of a personal concierge service. Using the site requires you to submit an application, but once you’re approved, what you sell is up to you: dog-walking services? Pilates lessons? Homemade birthday cakes? Closet organization? Describe and price your services as you see fit and wait for orders to come in. One bummer, though, is that it’s not available everywhere yet — check the site to see if it’s offered in your area.

The (small) downside to both of these services is that they require you to have some personal marketing skills: To succeed, you need to convince people on Fiverr and Zaarly that your services are worth paying for.
Ibotta lets users get cash rewards for purchases.

Buy things (and save)
Clipping coupons can be a pain, but a new wave of couponing apps is here to help us save money and even get cash rewards — just for doing the shipping! Ibotta works lets you buy products listed in the app, take a photo of your receipt with your smartphone and get cash rewards deposited into your PayPal account. Ibotta also asks you to watch ads, answer poll questions, or do other small tasks to earn your savings. SavingStar is a similar rewards program, but it ties into your grocery or pharmacy’s rewards card to track your purchases, so you don’t have the hassle of scanning receipts — but on the downside, it works only with a select range of stores. Both of these apps are easier than clipping coupons, and the small savings ($0.25 to $1.00 seems the most common) will add up over time.
Antengo connects you with others in your area who want to buy or sell products.

Have a yard sale … from your smartphone
Yard sales are a great way to earn some extra cash, but they can be a hassle to set up and run. So instead, why not take a picture of what you want to sell on your smartphone and offer it up on the online classified service Antengo? It connects you with others in your area who are want to buy your stuff — Antengo will automatically post the photo and your description of the item to users of its app and to sites like Craigslist and Facebook, so your ad gets the widest reach possible. I’m a little addicted to this service. A garage sale has never been so easy.

There are other services, but these are a few newer ones that most people I know aren’t aware of. What others do you know about? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

Posted in Digital Parenting, Girlfriend's Guide, Great Gadgets, In The Press, TechNow, TechStyled, Tips & Tricks, Top tech news