Digital Parenting

There were an estimated 20,000 new gadgets on display at CES 2017 in Las Vegas. Some are the very devices we’ll fork over fistfuls when they hit store shelves later this year. Others provide an exciting glimpse of wildly futuristic new concepts to come.

And then, there’s the rest of it.

Here are some of the oddest and awesom-est gadgets I went hands-on with this year.


Toyota Yui Concept

Remember Nightrider’s Kitt car? That’s what it was like taking Toyota’s crazy new Concept-i Yui car for a virtual spin. Hands-down the coolest experience of the show for me, this ultra-futuristic auto read my emotions through camera sensors, monitored everything around us, and slammed on the breaks long before I even realized that a woman stepped off the curb in front of us. It even said “Hello!” to passersby or “Watch out!” to people tailing a little too close. When we hit an open stretch of highway, the seat reclined and small rollers built-in to the backrest gave me a massage. Toyota says Yui is what driving will be like in 2030, but I’m hoping it’s even sooner than that. A car that pampers you? Yes please!

Kino-Mo Hypervsn

Kino-mo had me hooked at first glance with its floating 3D “holographic” Pikachu. This London-based company drew some of the biggest crowds in the Eureka Park startup area, and for good reason: The incredibly colorful and realistic looking displays of everything from fast food to famous entrepreneur Mark Cuban made us all believe that holograms are finally here! While not technically an actual hologram, these 3D visuals float and move in mid-air just like the real thing, using a patented combo of high speed fans, magnets, LED’s and projectors. They’re used in advertising for now, so we can only hope to have them in our homes soon too.

Parihug Plushies

I miss my family like crazy whenever I’m away from home like I was all week for CES, and that’s where a little stuffed animal called Pari comes in. No matter where you happen to be in the world, give your Pari a squeeze and it sends a “hug” to a connected companion plushie for your loved one to receive. The hugs range from mild short vibrations to longer, stronger, more intense haptic feedback “embraces.” No two human hugs are the same, and neither are hugs from Parihug — they vary in intensity and duration just like the real deal. I’ll stick with a Facetime call for now, but Parihug is undeniably adorable.

Aluma Connect

On a more serious note, smartphones are safety gadgets for millions of us every day, but in a personal emergency they’re not always as helpful as they could be. Aluma Connect showcased a credit card-sized security device that attaches to the back of your phone and sync with a special app, creating a super-powered safety net. There’s a silent alarm button built in that sends notifications to your friends and family as well as an audible siren to deter attackers. The battery provides a full year of protection on a single charge. You can sign up on the company’s website for an alert when the price and launch date are revealed. I’m ordering one for myself, my daughter, and my mom right away!

In&motion Wearable Airbags

When In&motion strapped its wearable airbag vest on me I didn’t know what to expect. Then, with a tap of a smartphone, it instantly inflated with giant whoosh and great big bang. It scared the bejeezus out of me — and everyone on the showroom floor. But if I was taking a tumble down a snowy ski hill or getting bucked off an angry horse, it’s the exact right thing to protect my torso and keep my upper body intact! In&motion makes these for motorcyclists, horseback riders, and extreme sports enthusiasts, and it’s sending its first 500 vests to eager testers soon — for free.

Wair pollution scarf

Fashion statement or funky air filter, aw hell, why not make a gadget that’s both? That’s exactly what French company Wair did with a high-tech scarf that aims to protect you from air pollution. On a clear day, just wrap the silky accessory around your neck and shoulders and look all spiffy as you go about your business. The scarf constantly measures the quality of ambient air and sends an alert to your smartphone when it’s time to cover up. If that happens, you just pull the scarf over your nose and mouth, and let the built-in fan and air-filtration system do its thing. As weird as this sounds, I could actually see using it in big cities around the world — especially if I commite by bike.

Spartan undies

Yes, “booth babes” are still a thing. But the scantily-clad models in their skivvies at Spartan Underwear’s corner of CES looked a whole lot different than the rest of the show…because they were dudes. The guys were showing off undies that protect “down undy” from the radiation created by smartphones and wifi antennas. Spartan says its boxer-briefs have silver fibers weaved into the cotton that block nearly 100% of wireless radiation from being absorbed. Since science still hasn’t decided if those waves are harmful or not, keeping them away from the baby-making body parts could very well be a “better safe than sorry” move. Guys can pick up Spartan boxers right now, starting at $45.


Spinali Smart Shorts

The “booth babes” at fashion company Spinali’s CES showcase weren’t just there as eye candy either, they were wearing smart Daisy-Duke’that actually vibrate to give you directions. The weird wearable syncs with your phone and nudges one side of your waist or the other to tell you where and when to turn. It’s a bizarre way to find your way around a city, especially if you have your phone with you anyway. Spinali doesn’t have a launch date yet, but it’s already got full-length smart jeans for sale, so it probably won’t be long before the short-shorts also hit the shelves too.

Smartcane by Dring

Seniors have been forgotten by the “smart” tech revolution for way too long, and now they’re getting some attention with the Smartcane. But before you roll your eyes, don’t worry: this cane doesn’t play Spotify or flash like a disco ball, it’s actually a really helpful tool for caregivers to monitor the activity of their elderly clients, and it can even send alerts to family or friends if it falls over, which could signal potential problems. There’s no release date or price yet, but you can sign up for updates on the company’s website.

Roli Blocks

Every year I look at my bucket list and see “learn to play an instrument,” and every year I forget to find the time. Roli’s Blocks are the first gadget I’ve seen that lets you play music even if you have no idea how. It’s a mini modular music studio that gives beginners a huge jump start so that you can playing right away. Just connect the Roli Blocks to your iPhone via Bluetooth and customize the LED lighted touchpads with whatever combinations of sounds you want. When I tapped a few times, actual music came out — and it didn’t sound like a dying chicken. I was in awe. You can buy Roli Blocks now online or in Apple Stores, starting at $179.95.



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

The old days where gadgets were only on a couple of your holiday wish lists is long gone. This year, everyone and their grandma — no, seriously, even grandma — has something techy and gadget-ish in mind. Here are 12 ideas to get you started (or maybe even finished) with something perfect for every member of your family.


LeapFrog LeapStart: The LeapFrog LeapStart checks off all the boxes when it comes to giving young ones a gift that’s as engaging and fun — as it is educational. The new LeapStart is a high-tech, skill-based, super fun learning system where kids solve fun puzzles and play interactive games. You slide the activity books into the battery-powered LeapStart folder and your kids command the easy-to-grasp stylus while they fall in love with the cute characters and rewarding problem solving. Each activity book is packed with more than 30 different challenges and games, so it’s downright impossible for them to get bored. LeapStart comes in two versions, one for kids 2-4 ($29.99) and one for ages 5-7 ($29.99). Extra activity books are $9.99.

Skylanders Imaginators

I’ve recommended Skylanders games in the past for their lighthearted action and hilarious stories, but this year the developers at Activision really went all-out: Now your kids can actually create Skylanders characters of their very own, and play with them in the game! In the new game, Skylanders Imaginators ($59.99), kids create a custom Skylander that gets stored on a special “Creation Crystal,” so they can even take their character to friends houses and play in their games, too. It’s a super cool idea that draws on your child’s creativity and really makes them feel like they’re in the game. Ages 10 and up.

Anki Cozmo

I just can’t get enough of this adorable little robot, and if it can enamor me, you and your kids are going to absolutely fall in love. Cozmo ($179.99) is smaller than a baseball but has more personality than any toy you’ve ever seen before. He’s just a little robot, but he’s packed with smarts and can recognize faces, scurry around your tabletop, and play games with everyone in your home. Your kids will use his cute little “Power Cubes” to construct puzzles and challenges for him, and when he looks up at you and says your name, you’ll just plain melt. Ages 8 and up.


 Lenovo Yoga Book

It’s a laptop, it’s a tablet, it’s — okay, it’s not a superhero, but the Lenovo Yoga Book ($499) will definitely make your teen feel like one. This thing does it all: It’s a canvas for digital art, an internet-browsing rockstar, and an all-in-one media center. Your kid will go from jotting down notes with the stylus and typing school papers to playing games and using apps on the gorgeous 10-inch HD display. They’ll do all of that on the same machine, without ending up with a dead battery. It’s so cool, you might find yourself “borrowing” it while they’re at class.

 Galaxy Gear VR

Let me guess: Your teenager wants a new phone for Christmas, and also a VR headset. Of course they do! But before you torch your credit card just to see them smile, believe it or not, you can actually get them both without breaking the bank. The Galaxy Gear VR ($99) is an impressive virtual reality device that uses any newer Galaxy phone (starting with the S6 and newer) as its display. You just snap the phone into place and boot up some jaw-dropping VR apps, then when you’re done, the phone goes back to being a Snapchat and messaging machine. You can pick one up for a fraction of the cost of a full-on VR headset like the Oculus Rift, and your gotta-have-it teen will be so into the games and apps they won’t even know the difference.


 Honeywell Lyric T5 Wi-Fi Thermostat

If you didn’t think a thermostat could be cool, I don’t blame you. I kind of felt the same way before I saw Honeywell’s Lyric T5 Wi-Fi thermostat ($149.99). This super easy-to-use smart home accessory makes setting temperatures and schedules a breeze, and you can add geo-fences to customize how it heats or cools your home. It can even adapt itself based on your schedule, and save you big bucks when it knows you’re out of the house. It’s like have a little energy-saving assistant who tends to your temps, and it looks so, so cool.

Amazon Echo Dot

Add the power of AI to any room in your house with the Echo Dot ($49.99). The smaller, more affordable version of Amazon’s original Alexa assistant packs the same power, so you can search the web with your voice, play songs, audiobooks, and podcasts just by asking, and even order Domino’s pizza using Amazon’s quirky virtual gal.


Another gadget pulled from my favorite reviews from 2016, Navdy ($799.00) is a futuristic heads-up-display that pops into a mount on your dashboard, plugs into your car’s OBD port, syncs with your smartphone and projects messages, maps and apps right into your line of sight. All your important alerts appear to float above the road as you’re driving, so you never have to look down to catch a text or check your GPS. Super smart, and super safe!

Nikon D3400

The Nikon D3400 ($499.95) is an easy-to-use entry level DSLR camera, ideal for someone ready to step up their photography from their smartphone. Compact, lightweight and packed with powerful imaging technology, the D3400 offers a Guide Mode, which provides step-by-step assistance in capturing the perfect shot. Another consumer-friendly feature is Nikon SnapBridge — an app makes it easy to share amazing images instantly.

HP Sprocket

 How many times have you heard “Be sure to send me that photo!” at your holiday parties? Nobody ever remembers! HP’s Sprocket photo printer ($129.99) is like a photo sharing dream come true. No more jotting down email addresses and sending messy files, just print your photos right from your smartphone, with no ink and no headache. It connects via Bluetooth and it’s so small it can just hang out in your pocket or bag. It’s a must-have for every family photo buff.



 Your best furry friend will absolutely eat this one up. Furbo ($249.00) is a treat-shooting dog camera that lets you give your pooch a tasty snack even when you’re not at home. With the Furbo app you can see live video of pup and then just swipe the touchscreen to shoot a treat. You can keep an eye on your pet from anywhere, and you know they’ll love it too.



And finally, give yourself the gift of some peace of mind — and have an expert set up your family’s gadgets so you don’t have to. Enjoy is a service that sends professional tech experts to your home to help you set up new gadgets and answer any questions that might pop up. Products run the gamut, and include top name brand sound systems, cameras, computers, electric skateboards, smart phones and more, and it’ll save you some serious headache.

Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy Award-winning consumer tech contributor and host of USA TODAY’s digital video show TECH NOW. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferJolly.

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

It’s almost Halloween, and you have yet to pull together: A costume, plans, or even a shred of decent decor. In short, you’re losing at Halloween. Again. But if you can find five minutes to spare, you can get the magic of modern technology to do all the hard work for you.

Here are the top ten ways tech can help you not suck at Halloween this year.

10. Pinterest Halloween Hacker: Toss out that old sheet with two holes for eyes and play your hand at awesome instead. Open the app, pick a card and let the site randomly combine two words to upgrade “all the Halloween.” I scored “killer” + “cupcakes,” for a recipe both Martha Stewart and Morticia Addams would love.

Story from Nest

Step inside a burning building in virtual reality.

9. Trumpkins: All the rage in passionate pumpkin carving this year, thanks to social media, where you can download directions for how to turn a big orange squash into a big orange presidential candidate. “Howl-Ary” Clinton pumpkin carving is a thing too, though not trending quite as high in overall Halloween hilarity.

8. KegWorks Pumpkin Tap Kit: If you can’t carve it, you might as drink it. This tap kit turns a plain old pumpkin into a super cool temporary keg, and it actually works! Just gut the pumpkin, securely install the tap hardware, and fill it with your favorite brew.

7. Zombie Booth 2: Because who doesn’t love a good sequel?!  This awesome app transforms that sweet selfie of yours into the animated undead. You can even choose from more than 200,000 ghastly variations and add a whole host of effects like growling and even snapping at your finger. Don’t like the gore? I used a combination of the Perfect 365 app’s Skeletal setting with the PicsArt app Flare filter to create a much more pleasant Day of the Dead face.

6. Frightgeist Costume Generator: No costume? No problem. Google’s got you with its online costume customizer. You can pick from one of the most popular costumes, nationally or locally, like Harley Quinn, Joker, or Super Hero. You can also use the sites’ costume wizard to find you something totally new.

5. AtmosFX Digital Decorations: These downloadable animations that you can play on your TV, computer, or projector are a real treat for last minute mood-makers. Just download them and then play the looping scenes to scare the pants off everyone who dares to doubt your mad Halloween skills.

4. VFX Attack Puppet: Made by a real special effects studio, Sally and many others, are life-sized zombie puppets that literally hang on to your body, like something out of The Walking Dead. Your arm controls Sally’s head movements, so you can make her “attack” you whenever you want. It’s insanely creepy, and also insanely expensive, but it’s a truly genius way to win Halloween too.

3. Spooky Spotify: Don’t even try to do the DJ-dash this late in the game. Libratone, a company that makes high-end portable audio products, put together the ultimate Halloween playlist and it’s now available for everyone on Spotify. It’s an epic mix, with 31 songs including favorites like Thriller, This Is Halloween, and Monster Mash.

2. #FakeHalloweenFacts: When you need a break from trying to save your own Halloween, perusing this trending Twitter # makes it all better. My favorites so far? “Candy corn is made from recycled baby teeth,” and “dressing up as a clown is a good idea this year.”

1. Dressing the Pet: When all else fails, putting a cute costume on your pet is sure-fire way to score major Halloween points. There’s no shortage of inspiration or adoration for the perfectly costumed cat, dog, horse, or even parrot.

What are your plans this Halloween? Be sure to share in the comments section below. Happy Halloween!

This post was originally published in USA Today.

Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy Award-winning consumer tech contributor and host of USA TODAY’s digital video show TECH NOW. E-mail her at Follow her on Twitter @JenniferJolly.

Posted in Digital Parenting, Girlfriend's Guide, In The Press, TechNow, Tips & Tricks, Top tech news, Uncategorized, What The Tech

The new High School year started today for my teenage daughter, while our neighbor’s college-bound co-ed doesn’t have to hit the books until just after Labor Day. And the Elementary school year is already well underway for my friends’ kids in Chicago.

You know what all this means, right? Parents are trying to figure out what new tech gadgets our kids really need—or in other words, what’s required versus desired—as kids everywhere gear up to go back to school.

WHAT THEY’LL NEED: Laptop/Tablet Hybrids

The main question most parents ask me is whether their kids need a tablet or a laptop. Why worry about one or the other when you can both — without breaking the bank. Lenovo’s Ideapad Miix 310 ($299) is an impressive cross between a laptop and a tablet, for a fraction of the cost of a full-fledged notebook.
With a 10-inch touchscreen display, dual cameras, and the full Windows 10 Home experience built in, it’s got solid tech chops. It’s a hybrid in the truest sense of the word. Students can use the main unit independently of the included detachable keyboard, making it a great on-the-go companion in a pinch and a serious laptop too. Couple all that with battery life that can rock 10 hours of video playback without needing to be refueled and you’ve got a computer with brains and brawn, at a budget price.

The Miix 310 is a fantastic little machine, but for high school seniors and college kids, a little more power never hurts. Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 ($749) fits the bill as both a full-fledged portable computer and a handy tablet for on-the-go note-taking. With a big 128GB SSD and 4GB of RAM in its standard configuration, it’ll fly through any task your student can throw at it now, and for many years to come.
The 12.3-inch touchscreen is crisp and responsive, and with the built-in stand, included Surface Pen, and optional Type Cover keyboard, it pulls double duty better than any computer before it. It’s great for messaging, web surfing with Microsoft’s new Edge browser, and word processing during the school day. Then, once all the papers and presentations have been conquered, it seamlessly transitions to a high-powered media center, running Netflix and streaming music with ease. It really is the most capable all-in-one laptop replacement around, and it’s more affordable than it’s ever been.

WHAT THEY’LL NEED: Sensible Smartphones
My daughter had an inexpensive, basic cell phone until halfway through her Freshman year of high school. I guess that makes me the mean Mom because on average, children are getting their first smartphones around age 10, according to the research firm Influence Central. With the insane number of high-priced smartphones floating, it might feel impossible to find something “cool” that doesn’t also happen to cost $500 or more.
One option I recently discovered is Sony’s Xperia XA ($279). I’m a big fan of its wallet-friendly price tag, not to mention its sleek, no-nonsense aesthetic, with a borderless 5-inch HD touchscreen that oozes awesomeness.

Inside, Sony packed a 64-bit, eight-core processor, high-powered 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, 8-megapixel selfie camera on the front, and microSD storage support for up to 200GB worth of apps, videos, songs, and selfies. It comes in four colors, and it runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, with support for all the latest and greatest games (like Pokemon Go!). Two-day battery life will keep your student in-touch even if they forget to do their nightly charging routine.

WHAT THEY’LL NEED: Portable Printer
I keep reading news stories that say students don’t need printers anymore because cloud sharing and USB thumb drives have made them obsolete. That’s malarky. My daughter still has to turn in printed papers and projects nearly every single day. For an inexpensive answer to all kinds of printer-needs, take a look at the HP DeskJet 3700 ($69.99). HP calls it the “world’s smallest all-in-one printer,” and at the size of a shoebox, it is a nice size for a dorm room or desk. It’s also wireless, comes in different colors and lets you print, scan, and copy. HP’s instant ink feature delivers refills to your door step or dorm room too.

WHAT THEY’LL WANT: Backup Storage and Power
There’s nothing worse than having a high-tech gadget fail you simply because you ran out of juice or fell victim to any number of common data bugs. Wattzup has a huge lineup of adorable battery packs ($39.99) that look amazing and perform even better. They come in cute shapes, like emoji’s, ice cream cones and pizza slices, and pack a big 2,600mAh charge to refuel whatever gadget has run low. When it comes to peace of mind for data, you can’t go wrong with Seagate’s Expansion drives (starting at $49.99). They’re compact and durable but can store huge amounts of data — enough to completely backup a computer in the event of total hardware failure. It’s super portable and with the latest USB 3.0 technology, it’s also blazingly fast.

With professors and teachers barking at them all day, you can bet that a nice pair of headphones will be right at the top of your kids’ back to school wish list. Monster’s Ghostbuster-themed on-ear headphones ($119.95) are eye-catching and built to last, and who doesn’t love that classic Ghostbusters logo? And if earbuds are more what they’re after, Skullcandy’s Smokin’ Buds (starting at $47.99) are built to last, and come in a bunch of different colors and styles — even wireless. The best part is that Skullcandy is right in the middle of its back to school sale, which means up to 20% off your order.

WHAT THEY’LL WANT: Smart Waterbottles
Moving from high-quality headphones to high-tech hydration, Gululu ($99) is part water bottle, part virtual pet. The bottle actually reminds your kids to get their recommended daily water intake by turning it into a fun, simple game. Every time your child takes a sip, the colorful virtual character displayed on the built-in display grows, kind of like those Tamagochi pets that everyone was addicted to years ago. For older kids, the Hydra Smartbottle ($59) is like the Swiss Army knife of water bottles. It’s a 20-ounce water bottle that charges gadgets – can fully recharge an iPhone about 2-and-a-half times, Bluetooth speaker and there’s also multicolor LEDs that turn it into a safety lantern or to add color-changing strobe lights for those impromptu dorm room dance-off’s.
There’s more students will want and need, and this is just the beginning out of our back to school gadget news. Next up, how to tech-out dorms on a dime.

Posted in Connected Kids, Digital Parenting, Girlfriend's Guide, Great Gadgets, In The Press, TechNow, Top tech news

If there’s one universal truth when it comes to gift-giving, it’s this: Dads are the hardest people on the planet to shop for. They usually just buy whatever they want, when they want it, leaving precious little to surprise them with. But as good as they are lavishing themselves with tech toys, there are undoubtedly a few that they haven’t even considered, and that’s where I come in.

Here are the drop-dead awesome 2016 Father’s Day gifts that your pops never even knew he wanted.


LG’s 55-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart TV (55UH7700)

LG’s 55-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart TV

Big screens and dads go together like peanut butter and jelly, but if your pa is still stuck in the 1080p era, it’s time to give him an upgrade he’ll truly appreciate. LG’s 55-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart TV (55UH7700) ($849) is an absurdly gorgeous piece of living room eye candy. It plays all the latest, sharpest 4K content with ease and has a built-in 4K upscaling feature to make standard HD content as detailed as possible. Deep blacks, eye-popping clarity, and a super-thin bezel will make it the jewel of his man cave, and at a price that won’t break your bank account. But if you do want to go even bigger, LG also has a premium line of OLED TVs offering what’s been hailed as “the best TV picture quality ever,” starting at $2,000.


Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

For the gadget hound, Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 ($899) is a huge score. It’s a do-everything device that pulls double duty as both a desktop-class notebook and a fully capable tablet, with gaming, social media, and streaming sports capabilities that will likely put his current PC to shame. The Surface Pen is a serious convenience bonus, and if dad likes jotting down notes with one hand rather than hunting-and-pecking on his keyboard, it’s a perfect match.


Parrot Bebop Drone 2 w/Skycontroller

Parrot Bebop Drone 2 w/Skycontroller

I’ve yet to meet a dad — or anyone, for that matter — who isn’t mesmerized by the sight of a drone taking to the skies. Luckily, one of the first and best drone brands, Parrot, is rolling out some pretty big discounts that last through Father’s Day. If the sky’s the limit, go for the top-of-the-line Bebop 2 ($699.99), which features a front-mounted 1080p camera and the Skycontroller tablet, for up to 25 minutes of flight time and a top speed of nearly 40 miles per hour. For aerial fun on a budget, the Airborne Cargo drone ($69.99) weighs less than two ounces but is impressively stable and speedy, with a built-in camera for grabbing some in-air snapshots.


Sony’s Extra Bass Bluetooth Headphones

Sony’s Extra Bass Bluetooth Headphones

Whether your dad likes to rock out to the latest Top 40 tracks or wants to revisit his youth and crank up some Def Leppard or Metallica, Sony’s Extra Bass Bluetooth Headphones ($128) are going to put him in music heaven. These high-end earphones connect to a smartphone or laptop in seconds with zero wires, and can keep the tunes flowing for up to 30 hours without needing a recharge. Big, beefy 30mm drivers in each earpiece provide deep, booming bass, and still keep the highs clear, for the perfect listening experience.


Mevo Live Streaming Video Camera

Mevo Live Streaming Video Camera

Remember the school play, where dad sat with his massive camcorder and recorded your totally-awesome-for-a-6th-grader performance? Today, giant video recording rigs are a thing of the past; all dad needs to capture a fantastic family moment is a Mevo ($299). This tiny — and I mean seriously small — gadget packs a powerful 4K camera with a 12.4-megapixel sensor and built-in microphone. That means ultra-sharp video with crisp audio to match, and with expandable memory and a smartphone companion app to tweak the myriad of settings, it puts even the best iPhone camera to shame. Pre-order it now to save $100 and the company says Dad will have it in hand later this summer.


iBobber Bluetooth Fishfinder

iBobber Bluetooth Fishfinder

One way to really blow dad’s mind on Father’s Day is to combine two things he loves: gadgets and fishing. The iBobber ($89.99) — I know, cliche name, but stick with me — is a high-tech marriage that combines sonar fish-finding technology with an easy-to-use smartphone app. The result is a super accurate underwater mapper that floats on the surface and paints a picture of what lies below. It can draw the contour of the terrain below and identify any fish that happen to be waiting for a well-placed lure. The app, which is available on both iOS and Android, can communicate with the device up to 100 feet away via Bluetooth, which means no fish will be safe from Dad’s watchful eye.




Want to gift your father something that could quite literally save his life? If he spends lots of time on the beach, the Sharkbanz band ($65.00) will give both of you some peace of mind when he’s out conquering the waves. This sleek little wearable straps to dad’s ankle or wrist when he’s out swimming, surfing, or snorkeling, and emits magnetic waves to deter underwater predators. The patented technology requires no battery or charging, and has a whole lot of proven research to back it up. It’s like a big “this isn’t food” sign for sharks, and dad will appreciate your thoughtfulness.


Bluesmart Black Edition

Bluesmart Black Edition

I’ve been a huge fan of the Bluesmart luggage line for a long time, and with the launch of the new Bluesmart Black Edition ($549), it’s a great time to invite dad to join the smart luggage revolution. The Bluesmart suitcase is much more feature-packed than your average carry-on; the case has built-in location tracking via a global SIM card, a backup battery pack to charge your gadgets on the go, and even a remote locking feature that auto-secures itself if you leave it anywhere. On top of that, it acts as its own digital scale, so you always know exactly how much it weighs, which will help your dad avoid weight fees and other airport hassles.


IfOnly - Bucketlist Experience Gifts

IfOnly – Bucketlist Experience Gifts

Speaking of travel, if you’d rather give dad an experience, rather than a thing, If/Only should be the first place you look. If/Only is kind of like Etsy, but for local attractions and lessons. In San Francisco someone will teach your father how to feed actual sharks at the aquarium; in New York, an award-winning bartender will help make dad’s home bar a thing of beauty; and in Boston, dad’s beard will get royal treatment as he crafts his own custom shave oil with shaving experts. No matter where you live, there’s bound to be an awesome experience for dad hiding nearby.



If you absolutely are out of ideas, you can always just let someone else pick dad’s gift for him, and then take all the credit yourself with a Man Crate (starting at $19.99). Man Crates are pre-selected collections of awesome gifts organized by your dad’s specific interests. Whether he loves golf, fishing, camping, grilling, drinking, or any of the dozens of other Man Crate options, the box he’ll receive will be absolutely packed with the best products. You can even send him an entire box full of bacon jerky, if that’s his thing. The Dive Bar Shirt Club ($22 per month) is a similar option and a great Father’s Day go-to, sending out monthly t-shirt packages from bars in the United States.

Happy Father’s Day!

Posted in Connected Kids, Digital Parenting, Girlfriend's Guide, Great Gadgets, In The Press, TechNow, Top tech news, Uncategorized

Jennifer Jolly reviews the best of the best Mother's Day gadget gifts of 2016

(As seen in USA Today) Columnist Jennifer Jolly reviews the best of the best Mother’s Day gadget gifts of 2016

Mother’s Day is coming up fast and that special gift that makes her feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Well it isn’t just going to make, or buy, itself. Here are 10 of this year’s most-wanted mom gadgets sure to show her how much you appreciate her, all year long.

Make Mom’s Life Easier

No idea what she really wants? Hmm… As a busy mom myself — most days what I really need —  is a clone. Sure, that’s still just sci-fantasy for now, but Amazon’s Echo($180) can feel pretty darn close at times. Echo is a hands-free speaker and personal assistant designed around your voice. Just say the word “Alexa,” the device wake-up word, and then ask a question, play music, have Alexa read the news, set timers and alarms, recite your calendar, and even to control lights around your home. And you can do all this from across the room, without lifting a finger.

Preserve Those Family Memories


Tweed Wolf: Gorgeous custom photo books with someone else taking care of the customizing. (Photo: Tweed Wolf)

If your mom is anything like me, she takes a lot of photos — then leaves them on her phone or piled up in boxes collecting dust. Buy a Tweed Wolf gift card for mom, and let its “do-everything-for-you” ($295) photo album service come to the rescue. Just sign up, upload all your photos and Tweed Wolf designers do the rest. They go through every image, select the best ones, edit everything so it prints perfectly and then send you a link to an online proof. You can ask for any edits, and once you approve, Tweed Wolf prints, binds, and ships your high-quality, hardcover album.

Replace Her Clunky Laptop

Now, time to bring moms digital life up to date. I admit it’s a splurge, but Mom will definitely appreciate the stylish new HP Spectre laptop ($1170). Despite its thin profile — it’s only as thick as a AAA battery — and striking black and copper design, the Spectre isn’t just eye-candy. This laptop is powerful enough to run any apps with top-tier Intel Core i5 and i7 processors and has nine and a half hours of battery life to keep going all day.

Upgrade Her Smartphone

We modern moms are always on the go, and need a speedy smartphone with all-day battery life to keep up with our busy lives. Enter the recently announced HTC 10($700), the newest Android smartphone hitting the market (available for pre-order now, ships in May). It has a vibrant 5″ display, great 12MP camera for catching all those family photos, and a super impressive two days of battery life.

Help Her Capture It All

A smartphone is fantastic for digital photos, but there’s still a certain nostalgic joy to having printed pictures. You can print out your photos at home, of course, but the Polaroid Snap camera ($100) makes getting prints fast and simple by instantly printing 2×3, full-color images to share or scrapbook. (Be sure to order the Zinc paper along with it, it does not come it!)

Let Her Know the Whole Family’s Thinking about Her

Flatterbox ($50 and up) is a new twist on the classic card — instead of sending a flurry of cards from across the country, Flatterbox lets you invite family members to submit thoughts, wishes, and anything else through its website. When the whole family’s chimed in, the company prints the sentiments on brightly colored cards and packages them in a gift box. It’s a great way to tell Mom everyone cares.

Stay Fit and Stylish

The new Fitbit Alta ($130) combines the basic features of a fitness tracker and a smartwatch, tracking activity as well as showing simple smartphone notifications. The sleek Alta won’t scream “gadget” when on Mom’s wrist: there isn’t a single button and interchangeable wristbands come in rubber, leather and stainless steel for a variety of looks.

Give the Latest High Tech Bling

Even though the Alta is a fairly sleek way to stay on top of smartphone notifications, it’s still a noticeable wrist-worn gadget and may not suit her style — but that doesn’t mean staying out of touch. Ringly ($260) is one of my favorite wearables because it doesn’t look like a wearable at all. This chunky ring vibrates and subtly lights up to let you know about smartphone notifications, and it’s likely no one else will even notice. The latest design features an emerald in an 18k gold-plated setting, but there are plenty of styles and colors to suit her taste.

Relax without Leaving the House

InstaShiatsu+ Neck and Back Massager with Heat: gets in there and works the knots out! (Photo: TruMedic)

InstaShiatsu+ Neck and Back Massager with Heat: gets in there and works the knots out! (Photo: TruMedic)

Being a mom is a high-stress, full-time job and taking the afternoon off to hit the spa isn’t always — or even usually — an option. Thank goodness truMedic’s InstaShiatsu heated massager ($140) can give a great massage from anywhere. This cordless “kneading” massager actually gets in and works the knots out of my tired muscles. Ahhh-mazing!

Combine All Her Must-Have Gadgets

I love iHome’s high-tech take on a good ole vanity mirror ($150), which we moms know is a must. This 9″ distortion-free mirror has 7x magnification plus a built-in Bluetooth speaker and speakerphone. Now Mom can easily listen to music, take calls and even charge her phone all while getting ready to go in the morning.

Okay, hopefully this gives you a great place to start and lots of ideas to make her day magical. What’s your favorite Mother’s Day gift – that you’ve either given or received? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below. Happy Mother’s Day!

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

There are certain things you just have to do every year: Get your teeth cleaned. Change the oil in your car. Put fresh batteries in your smoke detectors. Run a security check-up on your Facebook account.

Wait, what?

That’s right, as your online life evolves, your cyber security risks grow too. But there are tools right at your fingertips that can help maintain some semblance of privacy — if you know where to find them.

Privacy Checkup

There are now 1.49 billion monthly active users on Facebook, with the average person in America spending nearly 30 hours a month hanging out on this particular site. If you haven’t gone through Facebook’s Privacy Checkup lately (or ever), this is a must-do now.

Click on the little lock symbol at the upper right hand corner of your Facebook feed. Privacy Checkup should be at the top of the drop down menu, with a little blue dinosaur right next to it. When you click on that, it walks you through the top three tools to manage who sees what via your posts, apps, and profile.

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Posts: Manage What You Share

Starting with your posts, take control of everything you share when you post. You can set this to public, only friends, specific groups, or tailor it for each post if you want to get that specific.

This is important when you want to share certain photos, videos, or updates with some people, but not others. For example, I let the whole world see what I’m up to for work, but keep photos of my family more private, posting those just to closer friends. Those beer-bong championships in college? Keep that between you and your buddies, rather than something a potential boss stumbles across in a quick Google search.

Apps: Don’t Let Them Run Rampant

When you’re finished there, the Privacy Checkup tool leads you to into the apps section where you can see every app you’ve linked to your Facebook account, and manage what information you share with each app. This is huge.

More than 80% of the top 100 grossing Android and iOS apps now let you login with your Facebook account. This includes the biggies like Spotify, Pinterest, Airbnb, Etsy, Nike+ Running, and more.

Using your Facebook account to log in or sign up for new apps can save a ton of time and it’s often the most secure way to go since Facebook’s sky-high usage and engagement means much tighter and better security safeguards compared to the little guys.  But the caveat for that convenience and added caution used to mean sharing a collection of your personal information with those other apps, and even allowing them to post to your feed on your behalf. That’s no longer the case.

You can now edit who sees each app you use, what information you share with that app, if any at all, whether you want an app like Candy Crush to let the world know you’re playing it right now, and delete the apps you no longer use. When I did this recently, my apps were a hot mess. Some don’t even exist anymore. It’s good to let that old app baggage go.

Profile: Don’t Be An Easy Target

Next comes your profile. This is where to take even more caution of what you’re sharing with the general public. If someone Google’s your name, anywhere in the world, do you really want your phone number popping up? I don’t. Take a second to review some of the info on your profile and who you’re sharing it with. You can get really specific here, sharing your profile information with specific people such as your boss or parents, but not some ex-boyfriend who creeps you out.

One of the easiest ways for someone to hack your online life is by finding out your obvious data, such as your address, email, birthdate, and all that stuff we typically don’t share with strangers worldwide. This should not be information you’re just offering up to anyone.

Security Checkup

The Privacy Checkup tool has been out for a full year now, and just a few weeks ago, Facebook followed up with another new tool they’re calling the Security Checkup. It also calls-out the most important security features on your Facebook account and let’s you manage them quickly and easily in one place.

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Logging Out: You Don’t Need to Be in Five Places at Once

This checkup starts with figuring out where — and on exactly what devices —  you’re currently logged into your Facebook account. For example, I know I’m logged in to Facebook on my laptop, iPhone, and iPad. But when I ran the Security Checkup, I also saw that I was still logged in from my parents computer, another tablet and an older phone that I’ve since given to other people in my family. You don’t want to stay logged-in to a device that’s not in your control, so this is an easy fix. Just checking the box next to each location you want to leave and click “Log Out of All.” No matter where in the world those computers are, everyone but you will lose access to your account in a moment flat.

Login Alerts: Be the First in the Know

Now that you’ve cleaned up where you’re logged in, the next step with Security Checkup is to opt in to Login Alerts. This is where you turn on the automated notifications from Facebook that tell you when someone’s trying to get into your account from a new device or location. If it’s you, you just ignore it, but if it’s not you, and someone’s trying to hack your account, you can shut it down instantly. Follow the prompts for “manage your alerts,” to choose how you’d like Facebook to get in touch. This can be email (the default method), or by text message if you’d added a contact number to your account. Once you turn alerts on, you’ll be able to save a list of trusted browsers and recognized devices. That way, Facebook won’t pester you if you use them again in the future.

Password: Keep It Secret, Keep It Safe

Last stop on your security tour involves your password — which should be the first word you think of when you hear someone use “internet” and “security” in the same sentence. Your password’s “strength,” or how difficult it is for a human or computer to guess it, is more important than how often you change it.

To beef up your password, make sure you’re using something unique, not the same password for every app, email, bank account, and place that you visit online. Don’t use “password,” “123456,” or something easy to guess such as your pet’s name or street you live on — especially if that information is easy to find on your public profile or posts. If you’re having remembering twenty different passwords, make sure to try out services such as 1Password, RoboForm or DashLane. Also, it’s not hot to share your password with friends or significant others. Like your social security number or the memory of what you did that one night in Vegas, there are some things that you and only you should know.
With those two checkups, you are a whole lot more locked down that you were before, and you probably learned a little something along the way. It’s great to do this annually, and since October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, this is a good as a time as any to pencil it in. Remember, it’s fun to share things about yourself online with friends and family, and with just a little bit of effort, privacy and security with social media doesn’t have to be an oxymoron. Don’t be scared. Be smart.


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

Some of the best gadgets for back-to-school and beyond these days come with some surprising hidden talents. Here are a few of my top picks for new round of superhero tech tools that can totally the save the day (or at least a little time, money, or sanity).

443246-lenovo-yoga-13Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro comes with built-in pico projector.

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro ($449) is a solid slate for all things coed connected. Powered by Intel’s Atom processor, it’s a sleek, versatile mid-price digital hub for web browsing, streaming video, online research, digital textbooks, and all the music your son or daughter could ever need. Powered by Intel’s Atom processor, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is astonishingly light, won’t break the seams on a backpack, and the battery lasts a whopping 15 hours before needing a recharge. What’s really cool though, is that it’s the first tablet to come with a built-in pico projector. With one touch of a button, it transforms into a projector, casting a giant 4.5 foot image, picture, presentation, or video on any wall or ceiling. Pretty darn cool.

91JOSYFKAEL._SL1500_iHome Kineta K2 Bluetooth Alarm Clock has a removable battery charger.

Being late for class is a total motivation killer, not to mention it probably won’t make an instructor very happy either. The iHome iKN105 Bluetooth stereo alarm clock ($99) is the perfect bedside companion for a college or high school student who has been up all night …ermstudying. It syncs with smartphones via Bluetooth, so it can blast some tunes with no cords required, and it has a whole bunch of built-in alarm tones so there’s no chance of accidental, grade-killing snooze button slamming. But that’s not what makes this a superhero tech tool. This alarm clock has a convenient removable gadget charger. Pop it out in the morning, tuck it in a backpack, purse, or pocket, and it can give mobile devices a quick boost of energy in a pinch. Now your kids have no more excuses not to call you back right away.

SanDisk-Wireless-Connect-Stick-with-bags-and-headphonesThe SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick lets you backup and share files wirelessly.

Flash drives are already super convenient, but SanDisk found a way to make them even more of a painless accessory by eliminating the need to actually plug them in for file storage. The SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick (starts at $29) has its’ own Wi-Fi built in so students can access it wirelessly from across the room, like when it’s inside a backpack or desk drawer. It lets you double, triple or quadruple the storage of your smartphone, tablet or laptop — even if it doesn’t have a USB port — and lets up to 8 people stream/share at once. This little gadget might not actually save your life, but it sure feels like it can when your laptop crashes and you just happened to have everything backed-up on this little lipstick-sized drive.

feature-hero-v2Amazon Fire TV Stick works with web authentication.

Another tiny gadget loaded with magic is the Amazon Fire TV Stick ($39). It’s the only streaming media device that can connect to a College or University WiFi that requires web authentication — which is just about all of them these days. The Fire TV Stick lets students can watch all their favorite movies, TV shows, games, and more without any hassle of paying cable fees.

hyperxcloudii12 The HyperX Cloud II Gaming Headset has surround sound.

Not to go all geek here, but holy headphones batman! The HyperX Cloud II Gaming Headset ($99) has 7.1 virtual surround sound—so it’s like having seven positional speakers around your head—like you’re in a movie theater. They are amazing for gaming, listening to music, or for dealing with paper-thin dorm room walls. They are super lightweight and comfortable to wear for hours.


The Rocketbook One ($19) is like no other notebook you’ve ever seen. It’s cloud-connected and works hand-in-hand with the Rocketbook app on your kids’ smartphone to digitize everything written within it, keeping notes safe and shareable across multiple platforms. A seven category system archives everything organized, and the app lets you recall notes in an instant. Oh, and if you really want to take your students’ note taking to the next level, pick up on of the classic Rocketbook notebooks ($39) that are endlessly reusable thanks to heat-sensitive ink that disappears after a short jump in the microwave. It’s like magic.

modal-welcome_tcm_245_1682809HP Instant Ink can save you 50%-70% on ink costs.

It’s 11PM, a paper is due on the teacher’s desk by 9AM, and the only thing standing between your student and an A+ is a printer with an ink cartridge as dry as the Sahara desert. Running to the 24-hour department store is going to leave you with an absurd bill, but you have no other choice — or do you? HP make several printers, like the HP Envy 4520 and the Officejet 4630, that know when they’re running low and can order your ink refills all by themselves. HP’s Instant Ink subscription costs as little as $2.99 per month, which covers the cost of the ink plus shipping and handling. That can save you as much as 50%-70% of the cost of a normal year’s worth of ink, plus you’ll never run dry again.

What are some of the hidden talents you’ve discovered in your favorite gadgets? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

Posted in Connected Kids, Digital Parenting, Great Gadgets, In The Press, TechNow, Top tech news

Most moms I know deserve a medal. But this Mother’s Day, anything totally awesome will do just fine. A homemade card. You cleaning the bathroom. A gorgeous gadget that will keep her connected with you. Here’s a veritable bouquet of the best fresh tech gifts for all kinds of moms.




Here’s a way to let your mom wake up to fresh flowers every day of the year. The limited edition Soundfreaq Sound Rise Flower Freaq ($80) is a super modern wireless speaker, high-tech alarm clock and USB charging station bathed in a beautiful bouquet of wildflowers. Super Mom of seven — Cortney Novogratz — designed this with her business partner husband, Robert, specifically for Mother’s Day. The whole package says fun, hip, artsy and super cool. Anything that can help her manage her brood with such style, gets a huge thumbs-up from me!


Moms are often the “Chief Memory Officers” of the family. These days that means a little less scrapbooking and a little more iPhone Camera Roll organization. You can gift Mom peace of mind with this modern 1TB Vivint Space Monkey Drive ($150 for the drive plus $50 subscription). It automatically backs up photos the second she takes them on the hard drive and to the cloud. When she needs to make more space on her phone, two taps makes sure they’re safely stored, then deletes them off her phone. She can back up more than 300,000 photos and access them right from the Space Money App any time she wants to take a trip down Memory Lane.

While Space Monkey works its magic at home, the teeny-tiny 128GB Sandisk iXpand Flash Drive ($149) is small enough to slip into a purse or pocket and still hold all the photos, videos and documents near and dear to Mom’s heart. It plugs directly into an iPhone or iPad and can automatically back up an epic amount of information: 3 million documents, 50,000 photos, 18,000 videos or two years’ worth of music (played 24/7 for all 730 days). The real beauty of this device for busy moms: no more running out of space on her smartphone and missing the moment her child scores a goal. (Not that I would know about that personally or anything … cough … cough.)

Even with all these great gadgets to secure, store and save our most prized memories, there are days when we have to print out a photo right away. The new Polaroid Zip Instant Mobile Printer ($130) makes that a snap. The palm-sized printer uses Bluetoothto connect with your mobile device and prints out your favorite photos in less than a minute. It’s just like an old Polaroid, but it works with a smartphone! You don’t even have to wave the 2 x 3 print in the wind to get the picture to appear or worry about smudging it because it uses Zink zero-ink printing. There’s also peel-off backing on the prints, so you can turn them into stickers. I am in love with this gadget!


Since I’m completely stuck on photos this year, let me add one more — the first Wi-Fi digital photo frame designed with complete non-techies in mind. (Hint: This is what I’m getting my own mom and mother-in-law!) With the Pigeon Frame ($119 ), you can send photos and videos straight to the digital display from an app on your smartphone. The magnetic frame displays the pictures from you, your kids or your siblings and has speakers to play video. Once it’s hooked up to Wi-Fi, you or your mom won’t have to be friends on Facebook to share photos anymore. My own daughter is very happy about that.



The Misfit Shine got a glam upgrade with the Misfit Swarovski Shine ($149, preorder). The activity tracker snaps right into the reversible crystal pendant or pairs with a bracelet. Nothing about it looks too fitness-y or techy, so it’s perfect for ladies who are not afraid of some glam. The Shine pairs with the Misfit app to log your sleep, food, weight and physical activity. Oh, and it’s solar powered, so she won’t have to worry about charging it. This is hands-down my No. 1 pick this year.

If Mom wants to track her notifications more than her fitness, Ringly ($195) is another great way to go. This statement bauble blinks and vibrates discreetly in unique ways for each different kind of notification. It looks like a stylish ring, but it’s actually a classy way for Mom to know what’s happening without staring at her phone.


A lot of moms tell me what they want most is a little help around the house this Mother’s Day. If you live in a major city such as San Francisco or Chicago, start-up Homejoy will help you book a certified cleaning pro in a few clicks, for as low as $25 per hour. Just tell them how many bedrooms and bathrooms, and someone can do it while you take Mom out to brunch. If Homejoy doesn’t service her city, check outAmazon Home Services. It recently teamed up with TaskRabbit and other professionals to offer everything from in-home deep cleaning to DIY furniture assembly and everything in between.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Posted in Digital Parenting, Girlfriend's Guide, Great Gadgets, TechNow

For parents, Spring Break is just a dry run for summer. Do you have enough activities to keep the kids occupied — in a guilt-free way — or will you have to end up at the public pool every single day? Will you be able to run errands without going absolutely nuts? If you load up your smartphone or tablet with these apps, you may just spare yourself some tantrums … from yourself and your kid.

For Ages 0-2

If you’re a parent of a newborn, you may think that putting your kid in front of an iPad is Bad Parenting 101, but with simple apps built just for little babes you can give them a few minutes of the same kind of stimulation they get from other toys — without having to bring a suitcase full of of them wherever you go.

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1. Baby’s Musical Hands: Did all of that Baby Bach pay off? Is your baby showing signs of being the next musical prodigy? Do you want them to? Baby’s Musical Hands doesn’t require that your baby be a prodigy, but it may stimulate them right to the preschool spotlight. Your little one just taps on colored squares in three colors. Each color makes a different instrument sound and as your baby taps, not only do they play a symphony (probably one only a mother could love), but they leave trails of stars on the screen so it’s still fun when muted. The app is available on Android and iOS.

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2. Baby Bubbles: There’s a line in the movie Knocked Up that rings true for any parent, “I wish I loved anything as much as my kids love bubbles.” Paul Rudd was spot on, which is what makes this app so brilliant. Bubbles come up from the bottom of the screen, and your baby pops them with a pleasant satisfaction of a “pop” noise. It’s kind of like Fruit Ninja without the sense of urgency or samurai swords. The app is available on on iOS for free.

For ages 2-5

There called the Terrible Twos for a reason. While your kid is enduring misunderstood years of toddler-hood, there will be moments when you want to entertain them with something that’s not TV. These apps will help them get interactive.

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3. Vine Kids: There’s something that’s already so infantile about Vine. Super short videos. Easy laughs. But having your kids play with Vine is putting them within swipe’s reach of seeing something very NSFW. Vine’s solution is Vine Kids. Every video is kid-friendly cartoon or video and kids can swipe left or right to see new Vines. When they tap on the screen, they’ll hear fun noises. The app is available on iOS.

A screenshot for Disney Color And Play.

4. Disney Color and Play: Back in my day, the only way to bring our coloring book drawings to life was to make them into paper dolls. Are paper dolls still a thing? Anyway, this app from Disney works with pages from the Disney Color and Play Coloring Book. After they color a character in the book, they hover the app over their picture and watch the character come to life on screen. The app features characters from Sofia the First, Big Hero 6, Doc McStuffins and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. It’s available on iOS.

Ages 5-7

Too old for alphabet apps, but too young for Words With Friends? Here are some more options that will occupy your kid’s mind while also dropping some knowledge.

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5. Toca Nature: I’m not sure why more adult games don’t look like this. Compared to Farmville, this is a digital masterpiece. In this fanciful pastel-colored forest, your kids build and explore with no points to be won. They can plant things and watch them grow while they create new climates for new creatures. The best part is that it’s so zen, your kids won’t get too hyped up or frustrated. The app is available on iOS for $3.

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6. YouTube Kids: Children’s videos on YouTube is where the real viral action is at because kids will watch the same video over and over and over again. YouTube tapped into the kids market with their new kids app that features a collection of videos for little ones. From Sesame Street and Yo Gabba Gabba to puppet videos and train videos, your kids can surf through a simple interface with large icons and you can chill out knowing that all of the videos are okay for kids. The app is available on iOS andAndroid for free.

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7. Brainzy Math and Reading Program: If you want to keep your kids learning outside the classroom, this is one of the funnest ways to do it. The program comes with 300 games and 50 songs and stories made by the people at The games are silly enough to be fun, with the learning parts snuck in there. You can even check out your what your kid’s been up to on the Progress Dashboard. The app is availablevia any Chrome, Firefox or Safari browser for $4/month.

For Ages 7-10

These may be the final, precious years before your little ones becomes a Vine star or an Instagram master. Here are the apps that will keep them young.

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8. Masterpiece for Osmo: This app/gadget will make your coloring book collection look like old news. Just snap the Osmo device onto your iPad and download the app, then your kids can take photos of people or objects and the app will change the picture into lines so it’s easy for them to trace. They trace the image on paper and as they draw, the image is filled in on screen. They can color, print and send their own artwork by themselves and before you know it, you’re raising the next Van Gogh. The app is available on iOS for free, the Osmo gadget package is $79.

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9. Epic! If you can’t dish out money for all of the magazine subscriptions and books that your kids wants, this digital library is a great solution. From National Geographic Kids to Batman Vs Catwoman, they can flip through thousands of ebooks and earn badges the more that they read. If your kids are a little younger, you can choose from the read-to-me selection of narrated books instead. Your kids can rate their favorites and the app will make selections of what to read next. The app is available on iOS for free orright in your browser.

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10. Dumb Ways to Die: This is one for the older kids, but this game is really clever, funny and has a really eye-catching design. It’s your simple task-based game taking your kid on new challenges to avoid uncertain cartoonish death. It’s a fun, light-hearted alternative to super graphic shoot-em-ups for your more mature kids. It’s available for free on iTunes and Android.

Full Disclosure:

***Disney has sponsored a small portion of production fees for video appearing on this blog site.***

SPONSORED POST GUIDELINES: Articles that are denoted “sponsored by” an advertiser cover topics that serve the goals of the advertiser, *but are not dictated, reviewed, or edited* by said advertiser. The editorial content therein is developed independently and does not contain opinion or marketing content from the advertiser.

Posted in Connected Kids, Digital Parenting, Girlfriend's Guide, Great Gadgets, In The Press, Sponsored