Aug 28

7 Deadly Sins of Mobile Tech Use

There are so many apps now. Did you know we have over half a million iPad specific apps to choose from? That’s a lot of downloading and trying things out. When I’m working with teachers and parents, I get asked a lot of questions about the actual day to day use of iPad or laptops. Or about what might go wrong with mobile devices…

I reckon most of it is common sense once you start thinking about it, but because most of us didn’t grow up with this much technology, there are some things I see so often that I’m now calling them the  7 Deadly Sins —->

  1. Sitting on floor with a device. This is just bad posture and a bad idea in general. For your kids it means their legs or necks or backs are on a funny angle, and for the device it likely means its sitting on the floor getting hot and potentially over-heating. Keep those devices on laps or at tables – especially when they are younger.

2. Holding the device way too close to their face. Yes they want to zoom in to the cartoon face or that YouTube video but most apps these days are designed to be used on a standard iPad screen – so holding it at a ‘normal’ arms length shouldn’t be a problem. I’m not a optometrist but it can’t be good for their eyes with all that squinting.

3. Sitting in one position for an hour. So I get that our kids (and us) get caught up in our video, or online book or game, but we really have to avoid being so stationary. Move around a bit. Stretch your legs. Go sit at the other end of the couch – try to move every 20-30 mins and you’ll feel better, promise

4. Only ever being a consumer. It’s true that when iPads first came out they really were a consumption device – watch this or read that. But now the range of apps we have means our kids should be creating as well as viewing online. Show them the Explain Everything App or get the Microsoft Windows Live Moviemaker free software. Have the take a camera scavenger hunt outside or make a photocollage (I love PicCollage free app). Get them creating. This helps them understand what goes into that content they are consuming as well as getting them thinking and questioning and moving. PS an online game doesn’t count as they are still following the game developers plans!

5. Giving out your password to kids. Yes you trust them and yes they are responsible but the reality is you are teaching them that passwords and credit card numbers and usernames aren’t actually that private. If you really want to give your older kids access to your iTunes account for example, set them up their own account and buy an iTunes voucher to add credit. Much safer than giving your account details (with your credit card attached) and they will learn how to budget and save money. Please don’t give your password to your kids!!!

6. Charging their devices in private spaces. I really think that our kids don’t need technology in their rooms at night. They can sign off from their friends and leave the phone or tablet or tablet in the kitchen or family room. If it’s in their room I think it’s just too much temptation to check in online….our kids need a good night’s sleep to be ready for school or work or sports – whatever gets them up in the morning. Online bullying requires our kids to be online – and at night in their bedrooms there’s a lot less chance of them coming and asking for help.

7. Not knowing what apps are on the device. So our kids have a range of digital devices, and these all have apps or software on them. Many apps and softwares are now free which makes it very easy for them to download them without us knowing – no money or credit card required. Every week or so, just pick up the device and have a look at what’s installed. Then ask questions about it – what does it do, why do they like it? It’s good for them to know that we are interested in these things that take up so much of their time and attention :0) You might find they have software you aren’t happy with – like maybe Facebook or Instragram if they are under 13, or Snapchat or Q&A sites. You can then chat to them about why they shouldn’t be using them…yet! When they are adults (or just older) they can make their own decisions but for now, it’s our job to help them make good choices online!

So those are my 7 Deadly Sins of mobiles devices – do you agree? Any you’d add? These are just my opinion of course so feel free to share your thoughts below! ;0)

Jun 16

Checklist for using iPads at home with kids

School Holidays are approaching here in Australia and I’ve had a few parents comment that they are thinking of using the end of the financial year as an excuse to buy their kids an iPad (just in time for those holidays too!). If you’ve been around here for a while you’ll know htat I don’t think technology should replace good old-fashioned outdoor fun – but when it’s as cold and rainy as Melbourne’s been this week, then I’m all for some good indoor amusements!

If you are thinking of buying an iPad (or any mobile device really), here’s a quick checklist of things to think about!

iPads at home

 

 

 

 

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Jun 09

If I had a thousand dollars….

If you had $1000 to spend, what would you buy technology-wise? iPads, laptops, tablets, TVs, watches? While we might not have that much ready cash all the time, even when you do need to buy a new tech, it can be  hard to know what might be most useful for you and your daily online life. To help you out I’ve rounded up my Top Four Tech buys for the first half of  2015!

Surface Pro 3

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (128 GB, Intel Core i5)

I think I’d have to go look at the new Surface Pro 3. It’s a Windows tablet that runs full software – so everything from the Evernote app to Adobe In-Design can be used. I’ve had a play with a couple of them and I’ve seen them used by kids. It’s got a bigger screen size that makes it easier for little kids to use. Surface Pro 3 comes with a stylus that works just like a pen, AND you can lean your hand on the screen like real paper without ‘drawing’ all over your page. The Stylus is, I think, the biggest selling point of the Surface Pro 3. It feels, looks and acts just like a pen or pencil, but all your drawings and doodles are digitised, searchable and share-able instantly. I want one!

surface pro 3

iPad Air

The iPad is lighter, faster and prettier than previous iPads! I love the image clarity, the fact it doesn’t weigh my handbag down and that it has even more storage space now. Many of us have iPads at home these days. If you are looking to upgrade, my best recommendation is the Air. The camera quality alone is worth the cash.

apple air 2

 

iPad Watch

Oh how I covet thee! A friend let me play on her Apple Watch and I love it. Yes, it might slightly unnecessary and yes, you still need to carry your phone around with you. But it is sooo pretty, does all sorts of cool stuff including health and fitness monitoring, instant email access and phone calls (great for in the car apparently) and is a *real* gadget! I’m hoping Santa is kind to me this Christmas.

apple watch

Internet TV

An internet connected TV is like a computer and traditional TV in one. Watch your fave shows but then rent movies, watch YouTube or access services like Netflix or Presto. Internet streamed TV is slowly taking over the world and hopefully we won’t have to watch boring old advertising or one show at a time for much longer! There are lots and lots of brands now offering Internet TVs. Samsung and Panasonic seem to be the leaders at the moment but as it takes off expect more companies to come on board.

Internet-TV

For the first 6 months of the year that’s not a bad spread of technology toys! I wonder what the next 6 months will bring!

 

 

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May 06

My latest project…Super Simple Cyber-Safety ebook

How is your week going? I’m very excited today becasue I’ve got some great news! I have finished my free ebook for parents and it will be ready to be delivered to your inbox in the next week or so.

To received the free ebook you need to be subscribed to my newsletter – you can do that here.  If you are already subscribed you don’t need to do anything! Just wait for the goodies to drop into your inbox!

The ebook:

Super Simple Cyber-Safety ebook is your parent’s guide to cyber-safety at home. From tips on storing technology to ways to ask your kids about what they are doing online, this ebook will set you and your family on the road to safe and effective online learning for your kids.

Technology is great, but it’s what we do with it that makes it useful! This ebook is for all parents and you don’t need lots of tech-know skills to implement these 10 easy ways to keep your kids safe online.

Aimed at parents of kids in Primary and early Secondary school, you’ll find 10 tips to safely use technology at home.

So keep your eyes open! And sign up now to receive this great resource hot off the press!

 

 

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Apr 08

Questions you should ask – iPads at home

Hope you are enjoying the Easter break. A few more days before school goes back – yay!

Today, I’m asking you to think about how your kids are using iPads at home. How are they used and what are they actually doing with them at home?

So many schools have gone down the path of buying or suggesting that parents buy iPads for their kids at school, this means more and more kids are using iPads at home too.

There are lots of reasons to LOVE having iPads in the classroom: ease of use, personalised learning through different apps, easy to carry, easy to use outside the traditional classroom, more readily available information and access to online courses, classrooms and experts…

iPads (and other tablets too) have really changed what our kids can do online.

But as with anything new, we have to make sure that our kids are safe – that’s part of our jobs of course! When we give our kids an iPad, they have access to the Internet, and the world! That’s great and really exciting, but as parents we have to make sure we see the big picture and that includes safety and age-appropriate choices :0) .

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you hand over that computer to your kids!

  • How will I store and charge the iPad?
  • Who is in charge of that?
  • How will I balance online and offline time?
  • What amount of online time is right for our family?
  • Where will I allow the iPad to be used?
    • How will I make sure this happens/
  • How will I decide what apps they can buy/use?
  • Who will be allowed to install apps?
  • Who is in charge of the iPad?
  • Who can access the iPad?
  • What will I do when something goes wrong?
    • Where can I go for help? (Pro tip: try here)

If you are able to ask yourself these questions BEFORE the iPad is in your kids’ hands, then you have a better chance of the iPad being a useful tool and a fun toy, without it becoming a bit of obsession!

If you have iPads at home already, maybe these questions will help you in managing the way it’s used – or at least to think about what our kids are actually doing on the iPad and whether we need to rethink the how, where and when that they are using it :0)

It’s not hard to manage iPads at home – but it does take a bit of thinking! Good luck and let us know how you go :0)

How do you decide who accesses what at your house?
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Jan 30

Tech-Tip Friday

It’s Friday again and this week’s quick tip is in video (or you can read below if you prefer). It’s only 1 minute long and it’s a tip that’s timely for the new school year – buying a good case to protect your kids expensive technology!

There are main 5 things to consider when buying at a case or bag for your kids tech-know tools:

1. Fits inside their school bag – if at all possible it should fit inside your kids existing school bag. This means it’s less obvious that they are carrying expensive (sealable) technology AND it’s better for your kids’ backs if the weight is carried on two shoulders in a proper school bag. This is particularly important if you kids ride or cycle to school.

2. Carries peripherals – what else do they need to carry? Many schools ask kids NOT to bring power chargers to school but they might need to carry an external mouse (some kids just prefer it) or a usb, microphone or headphones. You bag or case should fit all these ‘extras’ without compressing on the laptop or iPad and potentially breaking the screen or otherwise damaging it

3. Strap – if possible, look for a case with a strap or at least good handles. This means that when they take their laptop to classes or specialist lessons, they can carry their technology securely around the school.

4. The brand doesn’t matter – as long as it fits their technology. Too small and something is going to break, too big and/or bulky and they likely won’t use it.

5. make sure they use it – this one’s tricky! Make sure your kids use the case, particularly on the way to and from school. It won’t protect your investment if the case or bag is left as school or at home!

 

I usually recommend having a look for a case at Big W, KMart or Officeworks. That last one has the best range but is sometimes a little more expensive. For kids tech I don’t usually buy from the big tech shops – such as Dick Smith or JB HiFI – they sell higher-end bags that cost a fortune and won’t really offer much more for your kids at this stage!

Do you have any tips or experiences to share? Let us know below – we’d love to hear from you ;0)

Dec 15

What would YOU like for Christmas this year? 5 great tech-know gift ideas

Gifts for YOU this year

I think I’ve finished my Christmas shopping. Hallelujah. I can’t stand the crowds of people rushing round like the world ends at midnight on Christmas Eve. Just breathe people. The shops open again at 8am (or earlier) on Boxing Day. Anyway – having done all my gift shopping for other people, I’ve managed to find a couple of things that I’d love too!  I thought I’d share them in case you’re looking for a gift for someone else or for yourself.

Feel free to email this to the right person. Maybe husband or partner or mum or dad… A little hint goes a long way to receiving a gift you’ll love this year! And the best bit – you can buy all these online right now. Christmas, sorted.

Tech gifts for women this Christmas

This was me. As I left the shops. Running.

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Ok, so I’ll start with the most expensive. Can you guess …

Yep. The good old iPhone 6 Plus. My lovely hubby, Mr Tech-Know, has a mate who gets all the gadgets first. A quick chat with him and I’m sold. It’s pretty, it’s big enough to actually read on, and might even replace my iPad 2.  We’ll see about that but this would be a lovely surprise in my Christmas stocking.

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Next something a bit less pricey. Only $10 to turn my new (or old!) iPhone into a better camera.

This one’s fun! These little lenses attach to your phone and let you change the lens perspective. I’d love the fish eye one. Great for wide angle shots on your phone.

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On the tablet and phone theme, I need a new cover for my iPad 2. It’s seen better days and I use it all day long so I’d like one that looks pretty too.

This one folds, stands up and flips around – and is cute too. At $10 it won’t break the bank and would make me happy when I look at it :0)

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Number 4 – this one’s a bit random! There’s this website that has fab courses to learn…stuff. Bill Gates loves this site and I do too! Great info in video format that’s presented by experts for people who don’t know much about this stuff!  It’s $149 to sign up to watch the videos and take the course.

gifts for women | tech |learning | online courses

Big History | Online Course | The Big Bang, Life on Earth and the Rise of Humanity

It’s a bit geeky. Ok. A lot. But wouldn’t it be cool to have these vids to watch on the treadmill every morning.  Yes. Yes it would.  :0) Get in my stocking!!!

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Finally, is a gadget that I think would be cool, and useful. But mostly cool. I love Evernote. As anyone who knows me will tell you, my memory is pretty shocking but I look like I remember stuff cos it’s all in Evernote. On my phone, laptop, iPad or desktop. I just search it up and I can tell you how old that second cousin’s son turns this year or the name of the woman I met at that conference. Looks good, but it’s totally in the software.

tech gifts | christmas | women | gadgets

Jot stylus | designed for use on Ipad with Penultimate app & Evernote

I also love to write on paper. I have tried a lot of apps and many are great but the hand writing bit never quite works for me. See, I can’t write on lines. I have to mind map everything – no, really. Everything. Drives my Supervisors crazy. It’s just how my brain works and it makes complex stuff make sense – to me at least. I’ve written about mind mapping with kids here, if you want to know more :0)

So maybe this cool stylus would finally help me go paperless. Maybe…

So that’s my wish list. Greedy? Perhaps. But it’s just a wish list! I’ve bought myself a couple of smaller gifts so I know what I’m getting (does anyone else do that?). But it’s nice to have a little dream list, right?

Let me know what’s on your wish list this Christmas!

 

Dec 04

10 Tech-Know Gifts for Christmas – Bluetooth Speaker

Tech-Know gift ideas for your family this Christmas.
Some are big, and some are little. All will be appreciated by your tech-know loved ones!

Welcome to our Tech-Know Christmas! For the next ten days I’ll be sharing some great gift ideas for your family and friends. Especially those tricky tweens and teens who really seem to have everything they need, right?

On the Ninth day of Christmas… Bluetooth Speaker

wireless speaker bluetooth christmas giftsAmazonBasics Portable Bluetooth Speaker – Black

Why?

Instant party! Use this speaker to play music or audiobooks or even podcasts from your mobile device. The one below has a good range meaning you can take the speaker with you around the house or in the garden and has an 8 hour battery. Make sure you check the wireless range and the battery life when you choose one :0) Some are a bit more flimsy – cheap plastic! So make sure it looks like it will last your kids playtime (especially carrying it around).

Who for?

Children with a bluetooth device! Smartphones, or the newer iPod Touch or a tablet.

Cost?

The one below is about $60 and has 3 speakers and a microphone. So you can also use it as a speaker for your phone. Good for those calls to Grandma on Christmas day!

**I’m an Amazon affiliate. That means that if you click on a link and end up buying something, I get a (very) small kickback. Go here for more info on my disclosure policy.

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Dec 03

10 Tech-Know Gifts for Christmas – Laptop holder

Tech-Know gift ideas for your family this Christmas.
Some are big, and some are little. All will be appreciated by your tech-know loved ones!

On the Eighth day of Christmas... Laptop lap holder

laptop lap tray stand

Why?

These trays are laptop accessories that you sit on your lap to hold your laptop. The idea is it stops it getting  too hot on your lap and potentially hurting you or overheating the computer. The vents on laptops are often on the underside so when we sit with the computer on our laps they can overheat. Not always but sometimes – and especially as the laptop gets older!

Do your kids have a laptop or netbook program at school where they bring the computer home? This is a also great idea for when they insist on playing games with it on their laps. While still not ‘perfect’ it does raise it up slightly (depending on the model you buy) so it makes their posture a little better at least.

Who for?

Kids with laptops.  Older kids especially who might be spending more time online, hunched over the screen. Especially if they are sitting ‘awkwardly’ on their bed or the couch.

These are good for anyone who uses their laptop on their laps really – makes you sit up straighter  :0)

Cost?

They range in price but an average one, like the one below is around $20 – $30.

You can also get super fancy ones that come with a built in fan. You plug in a usb from the laptop tray into the laptop itself and your laptop powers the fan, keeping you (and your laptop) nice and cool! Those ones cost a bit more (maybe up around $50 for a great one) – you could look at something like this one.

**I’m an Amazon affiliate. That means that if you click on a link and end up buying something, I get a (very) small kickback. Go here for more info on my disclosure policy.

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Dec 02

10 Tech-Know Gifts for Christmas – Remote control helicopter

Tech-Know gift ideas for your family this Christmas.
Some are big, and some are little. All will be appreciated by your tech-know loved ones!

On the Seventh day of Christmas... Remote control helicopter

Why? 

Don’t ask why – it’s a helicopter that you can fly, for goodness sakes. Reason in itself!

I’ve had kids from ages 8 to 18 playing with these and they all love them. They are not hard to fly once they learn how (and there’s some cool science in there too!). Some come with remote controls and some can be controlled by your mobile device, so an app on your smartphone or tablet. Be sure to check how it works  before you buy – especially if you’re not keen on your kids using/demanding your iPhone at every hour of the day to fly their helicopter!

These remote control toys are relatively inexpensive and I don’t think they are built to last forever. As with many toys the novelty wears off eventually anyway I guess!

Who for?

Ages 8 to….well, maybe your other half ‘needs’ one of these toys in their stocking too! Or maybe you do :0)

Cost?

For a basic one, like the one below, you’re looking at around $17. But you can spend many hundreds of dollars – it’s up to you :0) I would caution against spending big bucks if it’s for a younger kid. Attention span + possible helicopter crashes, mean you likely won’t want to invest a ton of money here!

**I’m an Amazon affiliate. That means that if you click on a link and end up buying something, I get a (very) small kickback. Go here for more info on my disclosure policy.

 

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