The holidays are here, and tis the season for non-stop travel for many families, students, and working professionals alike. Just one problem: Rumor has it that it’s flu and cold season as well – if you’re like us, you’re probably busy doing your darnedest to keep from catching anything before having to make a lengthy drive or train ride back home after New Year’s. Happily for everyone busy bounding over the river and through the woods (OK, sprinting between cross-country connecting flights to catch up with grandma or a client) tis year, there’s at least one easy way to keep germs at bay. If you haven’t checked it out, we recently stumbled across Contigo’s new Metra travel mug – an innovative new kind of beverage container – which features special technology (known as AUTOSEAL, or so rumor holds) that’s specially designed to prevent spills, and help keep out dirt and germs with a rotating lid.
Sound counterintuitive? You may be surprised. After doing a little research, our team stumbled across an interesting fact. Apparently, after studying travelers at busy commuter hubs – e.g. subways and airports – it seems that the Metra’s designers discovered that travelers were frequently wiping off their travel mugs’ mouthpieces with their sleeves or napkins. Two key takeaways from this research were: 1. Ewww, gross, that’s a good way to spread germs and 2. Apparently many of us have a problem we didn’t even realize. Being the new travel tech and gear-hounds we are, we were naturally amused to learn this, and a bit concerned, as it always pays to be health-conscious, especially when it comes to tagalongs. The good news: AUTOSEAL Metra’s rotating CleanGuard can help resolve the problem, but in addition, here are some recommendations to be more health-conscious when traveling. In the interest in keeping everyone from having to be quarantined at some point this season (we’re thinking it’s best not to make being bedridden a holiday tradition), you’ll find a few tips that we hope will help keep the sniffles away, and help keep holiday downtime to a minimum.
- Make a point to carry hand sanitizer – now available from most major retailers and drugstores in pocket-sized bottles – and use it to keep your hands clean, or wipe down surfaces you’ll be in contact with, e.g. seat trays on major airlines.
- Don’t wipe your mouth with a coat, sleeve, handkerchief or other item that’s been exposed to the elements, or picked up dirt and debris, as you’ve hopped between cabs or subway cars if it can be avoided. If necessary, keep a pack of tissues handy, or swing by a local fast food vendor to grab a clean napkin or wet paper towel.
- Keep the items your hands come in contact with most during the day – e.g. smartphones, tablet PCs, notebooks, etc. - – sanitized and germ-free. Pro tip: You can do this by regularly wiping them down with an antimicrobial wipe or (depending on compatibility — be sure to check your owner’s manual) wet wipe instead.
- When using the restroom, always use a paper towel to turn on/off the faucet, opening/closing stall doors, and when using the exit door.
- When handling items that may have come into frequent contact with others — e.g. restaurant menus, cash, door handles, light switches, subway passes, etc — be sure to wash your hands afterward.
- If you have to cough or sneeze, be sure to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your upper sleeve so you do not spread germs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Digital citizenship is a concept pioneered by organizations like the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) in which parents, schools and other technology leaders recommend focusing energy on preparing students and kids for a tech-centric society by teaching them about appropriate and positive ways to use technology, as opposed to focusing on the potential negative outcomes of technology. Instead of spending all of our time teaching kids about cyberbullies and online predators under this system, for example, we might rather focus on teaching a curriculum of digital citizenship in which kids learn the right ways to act online and use the Internet for positive causes, such as charity. For those looking for advice on how to teach kids digital citizenship or immediately apply its principles, here are five tips to help the next generation learn to thrive online.
Do Unto Others…
Remember the golden rule, and apply it to your online interactions, especially on social networking sites. Treat others the way you’d like to be treated, with respect, dignity and extra attention to how thoughts and actions will affect others. Putting yourself in other people’s shoes is a great way to make sure you’re practicing positive digital citizenship.
The Grandma Rule
Before any post, message, or share, consider whether or not you’d want your grandma to see it. Because essentially, when you post something to a social network or send it directly to a friend, you’ve lost all control and it’s theoretically possible it could make it into grandma’s hands. So make sure everything you do or think passes the grandma test and it will likely keep kids from sharing or doing activities they otherwise shouldn’t be.
Spread Heart, Not Hurt
With a hat tip to Yahoo! Safely and Common Sense for the perfect turn of a phrase, we love the idea of a simple way for kids to remember to spread and embrace positive messages, and avoid engaging in negative behavior. Spread positive messages and watch your social network connections and online enjoyment grow, and learn how to appropriately deal with any negative behavior you do see online.
Remember the Three Ps of Information – All the information you share is permanent, public and powerful. Information is permanent because once you post it, it can live online forever, even if you delete it off your profile. It’s also public because everyone can potentially see it. And of course it’s powerful, as words and online actions can have a deep and lasting impact, so use them for good.
So what are specific ways we as parents or teachers help our children understand the ins and outs of being a good cybercitizen? Following are actionable activities, exercises, and questions for you to use to help your family understand the concepts. Think of this workbook as a quick how-to guide for your teaching your family about digital citizenship.
There are also a number of resources available for parents and teachers online, such as a free curriculum for elementary, middle and high schools at Common Sense Media that can help teach digital civitzenship. For example:
- The Family Online Safety Institute’s A Platform for Good is designed to highlight Digital Citizenship and encourage it by offering kids rewards. With sections for parents, teachers and teens, it’s a must visit for all families online.
- Connect Safely is the net’s most trusted resource for all things pertaining to online safety, featuring extensive tips, articles and links to other Digital Citizenship resources.
- One of the first sites to focus on the issue was DigitalCitizenship.net, providing an overview of Digital Citizenship, with links to resources and description of the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship. Great for stimulating discussions.