Family Cloud Computing Tips: 5 Ways to Get Connected

Family Cloud Computing Tips: 5 Ways to Get Connected

Family Tech

Technology for parents & kids: Hints, tips, online safety strategies & more.

Adapt to survive and thrive! That’s the motto of today’s tech-centric world, and families can heed that advice by taking advantage of the latest digital solutions available. After all, technology hasn’t just transformed the way we communicate, educate and entertain ourselves. It’s also opened up a world of connectivity and convenience for today’s family.

Luckily for those managing a modern household (wait: when did the four year-old learn to use our smartphone?), balancing both real and digital life doesn’t have to be difficult either. All you have to do is tap into the power of the cloud – a.k.a. online services and solutions – to stay on top of your day and everyone’s schedule.

Case in point: A variety of new high-tech tools make it easy to connect the pixilated dots by putting everything you need, from photos to calendars and phone numbers, in one place and synchronizing data across all of your family’s devices. Using these cloud services – accessible from virtually any Internet-connected gadget – you can easily login and share contacts and calendars with loved ones, or access songs, snapshots or videos nearly anytime, anywhere. But the beauty here isn’t just the ability to keep everyone on the same page, or easily share all your favorite stuff with friends and family. It’s that you can use cloud services in unexpected ways to keep in touch with loved ones, and keep up with life’s thrilling twists and turns. In essence, wherever you travel, your family travels with you – and so does all of your favorite stuff.

What makes these online software applications so handy, especially for those of us on the go, isn’t just their versatility. (You can securely store and pull down everything from chart-topping tunes to book reports to home videos from Internet-connected devices on-demand.) It’s the fact that as a parent, you can also backup everything in one secure spot where it’s easy to grab and share, and  manage and monitor family life online.

For example, Snap One provides a handy method for sharing contacts and calendars or storing all of the stuff that matters most to you online, so you can easily grab it as needed or get it back if lost. The cloud service’s apps also provide a helpful way to stay on top of kids’ comings and goings, protect your family’s privacy, and enjoy greater peace of mind.

Looking to provide your family with a convenient way to stay organized, safe, and stay up to date? Maybe it’s time you put your head in the cloud. Here are a few handy tips that can help you start putting the best that this technology has to offer to work for you and your children- and putting your increasingly hectic schedule back together.

Store More

Want to put all of your favorite files at your fingertips wherever you travel, so no one “accidentally” leaves homework lying around, misplaces the babysitter’s phone number, or forgets to bring grandma those photos she keeps asking for? Cloud storage solutions (which can archive data online so it’s accessible anytime, anywhere) make it easy to take contacts, calendars and files wherever you go. Back-up your data to the cloud and not only are secure copies readily available to be enjoyed and shared with friends and family on-demand, they’re also available to berestored in minutes if data should ever get corrupted, or should you ever lose your smartphone or tablet. Inside tip: setting devices to automatically back-up information, especially at times when you’re not using them (e.g. overnight), can help ensure that your data is always up-to-date, and that it’s always nestled safely in the cloud. Oh, and if you’re headed somewhere sunny this Spring? For fun, try setting up your devices to send vacation snapshots up to an online private area that you can share with friends and family, so they can keep up with all your travels.

Get it Together

The average high-tech household owns nearlya dozen different devices – and we’re all using an increasing variety of mobile and desktop solutions to connect. To stay organized and on top of your digital life, consider using a cloud solution, which can unite your family’s favorite files and information in one handy spot. (And that are easily visited whether you’re using a tablet, PC, Mac, iPhone, or Android or Windows Phone device.) That way, you can synchronize contacts, calendars and files across a full range of gadgets, and provide your family with access to all of your favorite photos, songs and videos in one convenient online hub.

A great way to start Spring-cleaning this season: Organize documents, photos, phone numbers and more online, then watch as clutter quickly clears across your family’s full range of devices. If you’re a parent, you’ll especially want to consider personal clouds, e.g. those Snap One provides, designed specifically for families.

To get more from solutions like these, try using them not just to manage your family’s data, but also track kids’ real-world comings and goings, and/or browsing habits.

Connect Safely

As increasingly mobile and connected as today’s kids are, many parents are looking to technology to provide greater peace of mind. Be sure to take advantage of the parental controls built into Internet-connected devices and operating systemsto keep tabs on kids’ online activity, filter out inappropriate content, and block unwanted calls. Naturally, you’ll also find them built into many popular cloud applications as well. These tools can help you keep track of where kids are at in real-life, and where they’re hanging out online, without having to helicopter over them.

Using the parental controls built into family-oriented cloud solutions like Snap Secure (which offers many handy safeguards) doesn’t just provide the ability to monitor call and text history, track Internet browsing and block specific phone numbers either. It also allows you to pinpoint your children’s location at any given moment, receive alerts when kids step out of preset safety zones, and setup quick response calls in case there’s an emergency. Spring break is a fun time, but if you’re a parent, it pays to make sure your kids are enjoying they’re time in Orlando as agreed, not Cancun.

Disinfect Yourself

Viruses and malware are among today’s fastest-growing online threats on mobile and desktop devices and are a huge concern for Android users in particular. Actively guard against them by being careful about what you click on, which sites you browse, and not opening attachments from unknown or unexpected sources. Worried that a pesky infection may be going around? Be sure to setup automatic antivirus software scans – and to keep your software safeguards up to date on the latest updates (i.e. defenses). Cloud solutions such as SnapSecure, which employs the #1 ranked Bitdefender antivirus solution, help provide a further line of defense, letting you remotely schedule virus scans from your smartphone, or even wipe data from lost devices.

Of course, it’s also important to keep your personal information private. Always be careful of what you share with others online, and don’t assume privacy settings are set by default. The nice part about personal clouds, which we discussed earlier: you can quickly and easily set them up to provide access to those you trust – and prevent access by those you don’t.

Rock On

To get the most from the cloud, don’t forget to enjoy the freedom (and fun) it brings. Clearly, online apps can help us be safer and more productive, but did you know that these solutions can also entertain (and soothe the savage toddler) as well? Just one example: Using streaming media solutions such as Snap Play, which let you store and access your music library or enjoy custom playlists from virtually anywhere, it’s easy to bring the party with you wherever you go. (You can even listen to all your iTunes music on an Android device.) Put your favorite albums and songs in the cloud, and not only can you save storage space on your computer or smartphone,you can beam your favorite tunes down on-demand, and enjoy them whenever, wherever, no matter if you’re at a picnic or out for a afternoon jog. Plus, there’s always the added bonus of being able to pull up a movie for Mom and Dad as needed – or a cartoon, if a little peace and quiet is even more needed instead.

As you can see, cloud services provide a great complement to the technology and devices you already know and love. So why worry about whose turn it is to pick up the kids (you did remember to get them from school today, right?), when you can put all your family’s calendars, contacts and most important files just a click or tap away?

Get the whole family connected on a cloud solution to stay connected, organized and safe!

Back to School Gadgets and Tech

Back to School Gadgets and Tech

While it’s hard to believe just how fast summer has flown by, the new school season is finally here and in full swing for students of all ages. With millions of teens, tweens, and school-aged kids returning or preparing to head back to classrooms nationwide, now’s the perfect time to consider giving your family’s learning experience a 21st century upgrade. Offering a more engaging and interactive approach to lectures, lessons and guided instruction, technology provides a great hands-on complement to traditional teaching methods, helping kids get more out of every learning exercise. Here, we’ve teamed up with some top tech companies to highlight a number of great gadgets that can enhance education both inside and out of the classroom.

Right off the bat, one tip to keep in mind when shopping for a new computer, laptop or tablet is to start by picking an operating system that offers students lots of learning tools. With Windows 8 devices, for example, you get support for programs like Office 365 University, multitasking tools like Snap, study apps like Flashcards Pro, and free online backup and sharing with SkyDrive. There’s a wide range of Windows 8 devices for every need and budget as well: The OS is available on desktop, portable and tablet PCs alike. Right now, Microsoft is currently running a “Chip-In” program where friends and family can contribute money towards the purchase of a Windows 8 PC as well: Microsoft will actually chip in a 10% discount with free shipping and no tax – a great deal, especially if you’re on a budget.

One of many great laptops that runs the operating system and comes highly recommended for college and high school students is the HP Pavilion 11 TouchSmart Notebook, which is powered by the latest AMD A-series dual-core processor. In plain English, that means that students can enjoy a super-powerful, touchscreen laptop that’s well-suited to education or entertainment purposes. Lightweight and portable, the system also happens to be surprisingly affordable, clocking in at under $400. One feature you’ll especially enjoy about the HP TouchSmart notebook is that it can also resume from sleep mode in seconds for fast access to email, social media, music and more, given built-in AMD Start Now Technology. A fun and user-friendly study tool, it’s also an unexpectedly cost-conscious solution as well.

If your student is one of many who uses their iPhone to access educational apps and study, organize and learn, then you also know that battery life can be a concern as well. Thankfully, Duracell’s Powermat iPhone 5 solutions offer a way to more than double your iPhone 5’s battery life so you’re never caught without power. Its handy AccessCase protects your device, while snap-on, snap-off battery attachments let you pack as much power as you need and a portable TravelMat allows for easy to-go wireless charging. The company also just came out with its new wireless backup battery line called Go Power which works with both micro and regular USB port devices – i.e. many popular mobile gadgets. It offers three backup battery power options, so no matter how long students are away from power sources, they can keep their devices from dying.

If you’re looking for more awesome educational apps and gadgets, you might also check out the following solutions, just a few of many high-tech learning tools now available to students.

Apps

  • Evernote – Clips and stores text, photos, web pages and more so you never lose track of your thoughts.
  • PBS Parents Play and Learn – Offers fun games and activities that teach kids about math, reading and more.
  • Graphing Calculator – Saves you from buying a standalone scientific calculator.
  • Learn With Homer – Introduces children to the magic of reading.
  • Studious – Helps with planning and organizing homework assignments.

Gadgets

  • Kindle Paperwhite – The popular eBook reader offers on-demand access to thousands of textbooks, books, and periodicals.
  • Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case – Protects your tablet PC while adding a travel-friendly physical keyboard, great for typing longer documents.
  • Microsoft Surface Pro – Provides a powerful and versatile hands-on portable computing experience, marrying the best features of tablet PCs and traditional laptops.
  • Parrot Zik Headphones – In addition to awesome audio quality, these critically-acclaimed cans also offer noise-canceling capabilities, handy when studying in shared spaces or during late-night cram sessions.

From massively online open courses to learning apps, it’s clear that technology is quickly reshaping the face of education. The good news for kids, parents and teachers alike: You can’t find a better tool to instantly grab and engage students.

Technology and Gadgets Every Child Should Own

Technology and Gadgets Every Child Should Own

Family Tech

Technology for parents & kids: Hints, tips, online safety strategies & more.

While technology may not have been an integral part of your childhood, it’s part of the very fabric of growing up these days.  In fact, some gadgets are so ingrained in our lives that they’re now the de facto gifts for certain birthdays, holidays and bar mitzvahs. Here’s a look at the essential technology and gadgets every child should own.

Home Computer – Every house should have at least one computer, and most now have at least two.  Teachers have come to expect computers and internet access at home for all children, assigning homework and class project for kids. Note though that kids don’t necessarily need their own computers.  In fact, experts still recommend that kids’ computer usage be kept on systems that are housed in common areas of the house, even if they’re on laptops.  There’s nothing kids should be doing on computers that needs to be kept private from the rest of the family.

Tablet PC or Touch Device – With computers now a given, the focus now turns to tablets and other touch devices as to whether they are “must-owns” or “nice-to-haves.”  Most educational school computer programs work on tablets, and they’re extremely portable and convenient to take on family trips or outings, whether it’s vacation or a local restaurant.

At the very least, we think kids need access to their family’s tablet device, and it’s up to parents to decide whether they need one for themselves.  Kids will want to use them to play games, so make sure that you’ve locked down the ability to purchase apps and regulate connections.

eBooks Readers – While there’s still something satisfying about physical books, kids can access literal libraries of information from their fingertips with eBook readers, and it’s the same content you remember from growing up.  There are even library subscriptions which allow kids to check out books on their eReaders.  Most parents would greatly prefer their kids read book instead of goof off playing games or chatting, so why not get them a device that lets them enjoy books the way they want.

Portable Hard Drive – With so much schoolwork being done on computers, it’s important to save it and back it up, so a portable hard drive will help kids keep all their files, even if they’re working on many different computers.  It’s also a good way to make sure that data stays safe and secure even if a computer gets lost or stolen.

USB Drive – While portable hard drives are big and bulky, USB drives are simple and compact way for kids to share and transport information.  Consider a keychain USB device so it’s always with them, and they can use it for important documents, personalized information or even sharing pictures.  USB Flash drives make it simple to switch data from computer to computer.

Smart Phone – We saved the best and most controversial for last.  Although kids around the age of 13 don’t necessarily need full function smart phones, as they get older and progress through high school, the functionality of the device will become extremely useful for them.  Realistically, kids don’t need all the bells and whistles smartphones offer, parents who trust their kids to use these devices properly will rest easier knowing they have map functionality and Internet access at their fingertips. To be clear, we don’t recommend this for young teens, but as kids get ready for college, smart phones certainly make a lot of sense.