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Oversharing and the Crossfire of Tech TMI

6 Apr

Time columnist Bonnie Roachman recently called out blogger Kate Tietje for publicly posting about how she loves one of her children over the other. Tietje’s post (and Roachman’s reaction) is a fantastic example of the Pandora’s box of issues parents open when they “overshare” using technology.

I’m all about self expression. But as a parent learning to embrace technology, there’s a fine line between self-expression and TMI in the tech sphere. (“Too much information” for those new the world of text abbreviations.) Personal blogging, as I’ve discussed in previous posts, can be a powerful way to communicate, but it has its downside, as Tietje has likely learned, since her post has been shut down to comments and she has since published a post in her defense.

Earlier on my Techno(t)parent journey, I posted some “common sense” tips for parents to share with their kids regarding technology usage.  Now that I’m knee-deep into my blogging experiment, I think I can safely recap some of my Techno(t)parent learnings to help other parents so they’re not inadvertently caught in any Tietje-type tech crossfire:

1) When you post personal information on your blog, it will live on *forever* in cyberspace – definitely long enough for you kids/spouse/family to read it.  As I’ve said before, tech is a great forum, but don’t share anything via technology that you wouldn’t want to read on the front page of your local newspaper or might cause your family grief ten years from now.

2)  When you use tech tools, you’re no longer anyonymous.  If you write, post, text or otherwise publicly share something polarizing behind the safety of the “tech curtain”, rest assured, people will share their own opinions on your post – for good or bad.  It’s hard to play the “victim card” or back pedal in the tech arena, so think twice before you post, and always be prepared for a public reaction.

3)  When you publicly post pictures of yourself, your kids or other family members, you become a public figure.  For better or worse, like reality TV stars, your life becomes public when you put yourself in the spotlight.  Be prepared for in-person praise and criticism, especially if your followers know what you look like, the town you live in or the stores you patronize.  (See #2)  Your job or career path may also be impacted by what you post, so tread carefully.

3) Use technology for good. Educate, inform, and share funny stories, insights, tips and lessons learned. Provide value.  Ask questions.  Save the negative rants, guilty admissions or hurtful comments for your diary, vs. a public blog post, Tweet, or text you might regret later.  (See #1)

4) Model well. Demonstrate safe digital behavior and good digital maners.  Don’t text while driving, don’t take photos of people without their knowledge, or talk on the phone at the checkout counter.  Be the responsible, smart, tech-savvy person you want your kids to be.

5) Be a parent first.  There are millions of  great ways to use technology to help you parent, complete tasks, simplify chores and projects and gain knowledge.  But monitor the time suck.  You can spend hours interacting with others via technology at the expense of connecting with your own family,  so use your tech time wisely.   Set your limits, and then have fun.

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“Friday” Cheers for Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon

3 Apr

So, last week I did a post asking why the big fuss over Rebecca Black’s “Friday” song.  The poor girl was lambasted in both traditional and social media channels, (even though she didn’t even write the song.)  I asked if any parents would allow their kids to go through a similar process…

Kudos to Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon for using the crazy media coverage of “Friday” for good, turning the song into an online donation platform to raise nearly $86,000 for Donors Choose, an organization that supports classrooms in need. (If they reached a donation goal of $26,000, Colbert pledged he’d sing a rendition of “Friday” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.) Here’s the video:

(So the Youtube version of the video got the NBC smackdown. Watch it here instead). Apologies for the commercial lead in…

Cheers for these guys turning a negative into positive using traditional, social and digital media chanels! A good lesson for parents and kids alike.

Are We Entering an Age of Idiots?

2 Apr

I am AB-so-LUTE-ly bummed after reading  news about “Snooki” earning more than Toni Morrison for a speaking engagement at Rutgers University and realizing it was NOT an April Fool’s joke.  The fact that Snooki received ANY money at ALL for a university appearance – yet alone $32,000 – (nevermind a book deal) is upsetting.  But the fact that the University paid less for a Nobel Prize-winning commencement speaker is shameful.

While I don’t often comment on celebs on this blog, I do comment on tech’s ability to take information – for good or bad – far and wide.  I also comment on the values we teach our kids based on our media selection.

The fact that a pre-med student who was interviewed about the topic found the whole thing okay is just sad.  And it certainly doesn’t give Rutgers any ammo against the “Jersey Turnpike” jokes.  Especially when the University’s response is,  “Well, the students wanted it and we don’t censor”.  Lame.   

Are we fist-pumping our way to an idiocracy?

I’m sure Snooki is comedy. And I’m all for free speech and entertainment diversity and college humor.  But if the RU Programming Association couldn’t find a better speaker for $32,000 than Snooki, I hope the students at least got plenty of  gym, laundry and tanning tips for the money.

Bravo for Google Recipe Search

28 Mar

Kudos for Google’s new recipe search option

This new feature can help busy parents scrape up quick dinners or make a full-fledged feast.  The recipe search feature offers an ability to search by cooking ingredients, cook time or calories, which gives home cooks tons of options – whether you’re time pressed, calorie conscious or just combing the pantry because you don’t have time to make a grocery dash before dinner.

Here’s a video that illustrates the tool, or just visit the site and play around like I did.   (I entered a random ingredient list of spinach, red peppers, eggs and pasta and a requirement for 15 minutes, and the tool delivered a soup recipe in less than a second.) Pretty impressive!
 

While you can’t necessarily vouch for the recipe taste, and many require additional ingredients (my soup above also required parmesan and chicken stock) it certainly gives you some great ideas and gets you in the ballpark.  And if you put in more “traditional” combinations of ingredients, (e.g. “chicken” + “rice” ) you get millions of results.  All for free (vs. being a subscriber to a cooking magazine.)  My type of info!

 Bon appetite, y’all!

Groceries Gone Digital

27 Mar

A few weeks ago, I tried the Peapod grocery service by Stop & Shop.  While it went well, it was a challenge to schedule the drop off window for a time I could guarantee to be home.  (Weekends are tough, since they’re “errand” time and I hate to be locked at home waiting for groceries for four hours.)  But I did appreciate the convenience of online lists and ordering.

This week while grocery shopping, I found a flyer in one of my Stop & Shop grocery bags that introduce the free Stop & Shop app for iPhone and Android.  The app allows you to view the S&S circular on your mobile phone, access your account and find the nearest store.  It also offers Peapod as a mobile service – which is what I’d most be interested in.  Might be a good way to place my grocery order while I’m waiting at the pediatrician’s office or running errands.

While I have a Blackberry, I’m considering purchasing an iPhone, and this is one app I’d definitely download.  Busy mommies take note!

Parenting Tips: Kids and Recent News Coverage

25 Mar

Looks like I’m not the only one concerned about how recent news and media is affecting our kids.  Kudos to the Today Show for offering parents some quick tips from Dr. Michelle Borba on how to “calm kids’ jitters in a scary world” this morning.

My favorite piece of advice: 

Monitoring  what your child watches is always a good idea. But especially be aware of television that shows graphic images of tragedy. When in doubt, turn the television off. Studies show that even though kids may not have personally witnessed a tragedy, they can still be traumatized from viewing troubling news images.  A child’s age dictates what they can absorb.

Another interesting tidbit:  A study of over 600 middle-school students found that “late-breaking news without an adult there to comfort or explain” produced anxiety.  

So even older kids – who can more maturely process the content – are feeling it.

A smart way to counteract the bad news?  Find some good news to balance it out.  Highlight some of the good things people are doing (support, relief efforts, stories of survival, etc.)  Or, just go for a walk and connect with your child.

Great segment and solid tips for tech-savvy and techno(t) parents alike.  Thanks Today and Dr. Borba!

 

Free Lecture for CT Parents at Darien Library

23 Mar

For Fairfield County, CT parents who might be interested, Warren Buckleitner will be speaking at Darien Library on Thursday, March 24 about parenting with technology.

Buckleitner is an educational psychologist, editor of Children’s Technology Review and a blogger for the NYT. His discussion is titled “Raising a 21st Century Problem Solver: A Recipe for Modern Parents.”  Sounds perfect for this techno(t) parent!  Sign me up.

Thanks for sharing, KS!

“Friday”: What’s the Big Deal??

22 Mar

I’m baffled by the crazy media coverage of thirteen-year-old Rebecca Black’s “Friday” video. It’s as if she’s the first person ever to record a less-than-etherial pop song and post it online:

Just not sure what all the fuss is about. It’s a “tweener” pop song. Is it supposed to make sense? Because I remember a few Tears for Fears ditties that didn’t quite make sense in my day… And they probably cost way more than $2,000 to produce.

Personally, I think the criticism is a little harsh…

Please, enlighten me as to why 1) people are being so mean about this song and 2) why it’s considered “news” and being covered on NBC, ABC, CNN and other major media outlets?

And as a parent, would you encourage your child to post a music video to the Internet, knowing it might draw similar criticism?

Anxiety and the Techno(t)parent

18 Mar

I’ve been feeling particularly – and inexplicably – anxious recently.  Me thinks the world might be “too much with me” – courtesy of technology.  And I’m wondering if our kids might be feeling the same.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m glad to be aware and informed about the world around me.  And I certainly don’t believe “ignorance is bliss”.  Technology has given us access to real-time news and information at mind-blowing speed, and we are informed  like never before with regards to global events.  We’re using digital tools to fuel humanitarian aid, lend support and connect with people and news far and wide.

But lately, the global news hasn’t been very good.  And from the nightmare still unfolding in Japan to unrest in the Middle East, to local tragedy, my heart has been aching at every turn.  If our kids are watching the news on TV or seeing these sad images online, I’ll bet some are also feeling the world’s grief – even if they’re not talking about it.

One important lesson I’ve learned through this Techno(t)parent experiment is “balance”.  And all the experts I’ve talked to have said media consumption should be done in moderation.  A self-professed news-addict, I’ve been deeply immersed in recent world events, and I’m wondering if that might be causing the anxiety.  It might just be time to bury my head in the sand a bit and “unplug.”

So this week, I’m limiting my screen time and focusing on the things I can control – working a good, honest day, getting home to my family, cooking a nourishing meal with love, and cherishing every second I have with the special people in my life.

Because sometimes, counting your blessings (without a calculator app) is important.

Technology for Kids… And Babies?

16 Mar

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of Jeana Lee Tahnk’s Screen Play blog.   She recently posted a roundup of sites designed specifically for babies.  As a somewhat tech-cautious parent, I didn’t know how quickly I’d embrace sites designed specifically for babies, especially the BabyFirstTV site, which touts itself as “The First Site for Little Ones”. I decided to check BabyFirstTV out for myself.

This comprehensive site  is geared towards babies 18 months and older, offering both free and subscription-only games and lessons that introduce numbers, art, music, and language.  While some of the navigation was awkward, the content was age-appropriate and mostly educational, and there were no ads.  What I especially like is that the programming seems to have been developed with the support of an advisory board of credible experts.  (This info was hidden in the FAQ links, so I’m not sure how active this advisory board is… But it’s nice to see there’s some content oversight.)  The site also has a place for parents with questions, and offers videos in other languages for parents wanting to expose their kids to French or Spanish.

I’m happily surprised to say I’d be okay with my child interacting with this site occasionally.  My only concern is that it’s very easy for kids to “shop” online, and with a single click, they’re able to add a costly gift set to their parents’ shopping cart.   (Not sure how easy it is to actually “purchase,” but it’s a little worrisome.)  Other than that, this site seems like a fun, interactive way to engage babies at an early age.

What do you think?  How early should babies be interacting with technology?  Are sites like these of interest to you?  Or should parents wait until children are older to introduce their babies to websites?