How to Teach Your Kids About Tech

28 November, 2012 Life No comments
How to Teach Your Kids About Tech

Teaching a kid how to use technology safely and effectively is kind of like teaching them how to walk to school on their own for the first time: It’s natural, it’s necessary, but gosh, it’s pretty unnerving. Regardless, the Internet and other technology is a huge part of the modern child’s world, just as much as television or automobiles. It’s up to parents to teach their kids how to use technology safely. 

From encouraging the learning process from day one to teaching kids how to properly sort their inbox, here are five tips that’ll help you teach your children the finer points of tech safety. 

Hands off the tech (parents) – Letting your kids experiment with technology is the first step in teaching them how to use it safely. Daniel Donahoo at the GeekDad Community encourages parents to let kids puzzle out tablets, phones, etc, for themselves—no matter how much they may want to intervene. 

“My biggest tip is ‘don’t touch the tech,’” Donahoo writes. “When my children come and say, ‘Dad how do I?’ It may be insert an image, or download a new program, or fix an error…I come and talk to them about it, I ask questions, but I never do it for them…they learn by doing it themselves and finding the answers…the way I had to.” 

Needless to say, you’ll at least want to ensure that all traces of jam and chocolate have been eliminated from your kids’ fingers before they start poking away. 

Kids learn by example, so set a good one – If your kids walk in on you while you’re surfing, shall we say, less than reputable sites, they’re going to believe it’s perfectly okay for them to do the same thing. The shifty content on said sites isn’t the only thing you need to worry about, either: They can also be nests for viruses and malware.   

It’s also important for you to set a good example by not using your cellphone or texting while driving. The last thing you need is a trip to the Emergency Department because Junior thought he’d ape dad and make a call while driving his BMX. 

Start as early as possible – There are apps available for babies and toddlers. That tells you something about how easily kids catch on to new devices. It’s not a bad idea to initiate supervised play on tablets and computers. The earlier a kid manages to find his or her way around tech, the sooner he or she can learn how to use it safely while unsupervised. 

Teach kids how to spot spam and frauds from real email – There are safe, walled email options for very young kids, but they’re eventually going to need to use something more functional. Unfortunately, with email comes spam. Lots of it. It’s important to teach kids how to sort scams from the real deal, especially when a cleverly-disguised notification asks for bank information, credit card information, or passwords to game sites.   

Keep the computer, tablet, etc, in the living room – Parents have strong opinions on whether or not technology like TVs and computers should follow kids into their bedrooms. While the choice is ultimately up to mom and dad, keeping the family unit in a busy area of the house helps parents keep an eye on their kids’ surfing habits until they can be assured that Junior has learned some measure of online safety. 

For more suggestions on helping your kids surf safely, visit: 

Bad Tech Behavior: What You’re Teaching Your Kids at TLC

When Why at How to Teach Your Kids about Social Media at TogetherFamily

Teaching Your Kids to Think Before they Click at ParentFurther

Tame an Overflowing Email Inbox

26 November, 2012 Work No comments
Tame an Overflowing Email Inbox

In the time it takes you to read this sentence, more than 2 million business related e-mails have been sent.  And another million right now.  According to the Radicati Group, 89 billion business emails are sent every day, and that number is expected to continue to increase, reaching nearly 150 billion daily business emails per day in 2016.

While many of those emails are important and essential to daily business, there’s no doubt that many of those do nothing more than clutter inboxes and take up time. And dealing with these missives takes precious time away from other more important tasks, like you know, actually doing your job.

So whether you get stressed about by 267 unread e-mails or only seven, here are 10 ways to deal with an overflowing email inbox that will not only help give you piece of mind, but will hopefully also make you more productive.

Simplify Your Filing – You may think you’re saving time by filing e-mails into hyper-detailed folders, but you may be overdoing it.  Consider creating an “archive” folder for e-mails you need to keep, and broad project or topic descriptions to put in specific e-mails.

Delete When You’re Done – Finished reading an e-mail?  If you have no more use for it, delete it right away.  No reason to let it linger.

Avoid E-mail Limbo – If you’re not going to respond to an e-mail right away, don’t just leave it in your inbox.  Move it to your action item folder so you can deal with it as soon as you’re done completing other tasks.

Search for What You Need – Learn how to use your e-mail’s built-in search functionality to quickly find old e-mails you need.  This can be much quicker than searching specific archive folders for the e-mail, and underscores that hyper-detailed filing may not be the best use of your time.

Check E-mail On Your Terms –  Take charge of your e-mail and determine when you’ll check it, whether it’s every 15 minutes, hour or even twice a day.   As Tim Ferris suggests in his book The Four Hour Workweek, never check your e-mail as the first thing in the morning, and only check in periodically throughout the day.

Turn off E-mail Notifications – There’s no reason to trigger your intrinsic FOMO (fear of missing out) every time you hear the mail alert, so turn off your computer’s sound and pop-up notifications and your smartphone’s vibration notices so you’re not tempted to see what’s there at times when you don’t need to be checking in.

Don’t Use Email as a To-Do List – There are plenty of other ways to assign yourself tasks and to-do lists, don’t leave e-mails unread for the purpose of reminding you to do something.  Come up with another way to add to your task list, otherwise you may soon find yourself with gobs of unread e-mails that you’re not acting upon.

Avoid Sending E-mails If You Can – If you’re having problems with too many e-mails, why continue to add to it.  Find ways to cut down on the e-mails you send and help others avoid the clutter in their inbox.

Focus Your Written Emails – If you do need to put together an e-mail, make it as efficient and easy-to-understand as possible.  Establish a three-sentence rule or use bullet points to clearly and quickly convey your message.

Manage Expectations – Use out-of-office to inform others of your e-mail policies and other ways to reach you if urgent, and don’t get caught up in the trap of feeling the need to respond to everything  immediately.

Kids Tech: Best Gadgets for All Ages

Kids Tech: Best Gadgets for All Ages

Family Tech

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

The family that indulges in tech together, stays together. All right, no guarantees. Still, technology is such an important part of our day-to-day life that it makes a lot of sense for the family to herd together and enjoy what’s on-hand as a group. But electronics are expensive, so you need to narrow down your choices by asking, “What’s the best tech out there for families?” 

It’s kind of a personal question since every family’s needs varies depending on budget, size, and need. Nevertheless, if you have a passel of dependents, there are some basic choices that you should consider making up-front. 

AppleTV/GoogleTV – Streaming technology is hot news, and both AppleTV and GoogleTV are big parts of that news. Both services feed digital video content to your television through a handsome box that takes up very little room in your den. GoogleTV, which is powered by Android, lets you surf freely through the Internet in addition to streaming video content. AppleTV lets you play back media from your iTunes account. Both services have advantages and disadvantages, but are worth considering if you have a video-loving family. 

Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 – The current generation of consoles goes beyond playing video games. You can use the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 to access apps like NetFlix and YouTube, or stream video from your PC to your TV. The PlayStation 3 also has a built-in Blu-ray player, and if your family likes to get up and move, the optional Kinect add-on (Xbox 360) or Move remote accessories (PlayStation 3) is a good exercise option on rainy days. 

HDTV – If you don’t have a high definition TV (HDTV), you’re going to want to pick one up for your family as soon as you possibly can. Granted, those may sound like words out of a fairy tale if you’re on a budget, but remember that the HDTV market is constantly at war. Prices drop all the time, and sales are rampant. Even if you can’t afford a set right away, always keep an eye open. Moreover, take some basic shopping advice with you to the store. 

Multi charging station – So many electronics, so few available plugs. Eliminate the risk of a kid-sized civil war with a multi-charging station so that several electronics can be charged up at one time. The Aviiq Portable Charging Station is a decent affordable option, as is the Joy Factory

Kid-Friendly headphones – Kids don’t like to go anywhere without their music. That’s fine. What’s less fine is that all the thud-thud-thudding might be damaging their sensitive ears. Consider giving them a pair of cool-looking kids’ headphones with self-adjusting volume levels, like the Aerial 7 Arcade Headphones. Your kids may grouse at first, but they’ll thank you some twenty years down the line. Just be patient. 

For more great family tech suggestions, visit: 

The Best Kid-Friendly Gadgets for a Family Vacation at Fox News

Best Gadgets for Kids at Pocket Lint

10 Gadgets for Parents and their Newborns at TLC