Best Baby Products and Websites

Best Baby Products and Websites

Family Tech

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

Sure, newborns don’t come with instruction manuals, but there are a number of places online that will attempt to give new parents piece-of-mind when it comes to their little bundles of joy.  These 10 best baby products and websites are all valuable resources for moms and dads looking to give little ones their best start. Want to spoil your family’s newest addition? Stop by to check out all:

American Academy of Pediatrics – With information on breastfeeding, immunizations, allergies and more, the AAP website has a variety of helpful tips and in-depth articles from the collective thoughts of the most trusted source available for parents – pediatricians.

American Baby – From the editors of Parents magazine, American Baby features product reviews and articles on subjects many new moms are concerned about, such as natural childbirth, healthy eating and sleep tips.  There’s also a great online discussion forum filled with other concerned parents just like you.  And, of course, there are always cute baby photo contests going on.

BabyCenter – The BabyCenter website offers easy-to-find sections focused on different phases of the baby’s journey, from tips to getting pregnant to a section dedicated to preschoolers and even big kids. But perhaps the best part of BabyCenter is the weekly e-mail you can sign up for that will send you information about your child’s development in utero and beyond.  It’s a must-get newsletter for any expecting parents, even those who have been through it before.

BabyCorner – With a focus on providing support for pregnant and new moms, BabyCorner offers “birth clubs” in which you can easily connect with parents of kids who were born in the same month as yours in order to discuss issues. 

BabyZone – Offering tips on getting pregnant, being pregnant, life with a baby and beyond, BabyZone has an active community of moms, and great tools for calculating due dates, finding baby names and even assessing various pregnancy symptoms.

HealthyChildren.org – Although it does offer pre-natal tips, HealthyChildren.org focuses on issues of safety, prevention and healthy living that face kids and families of all ages.  Whether you’re looking for timely activities or expert opinions on important topics such as media use, nutrition, immunizations and more, HealthyChildren.org is an extensive resource.

iVillage – On the iVillage Baby section, moms and parents are encouraged to read, share and participate by the use of a rewards program which gives points (and the chance to win) for using the site in various ways.  So if you want a chance to win free stuff while researching ideas for nursery decorating, breastfeeding or even post-baby weight loss, try out iVillage, which also has another of pages focused on issues women care about besides babies.

Lamaze.org – Although best known for their classes on breathing techniques, Lamaze International’s website offers extensive preparation for parents to have a safe and healthy delivery.  It’s an especially great resource for first-time parents, and offers a weekly newsletter and help finding local Lamaze parent classes.

The Bump – From the same folks behind The Knot, a well-known and popular resource for wedding planning, The Bump provides nearly everything a new parent could want, and is designed to be used from the moment you first decide you are ready to get pregnant.   Many pregnant moms enjoy reading the birth stories of others who have recently gone through the experience.

WhatToExpect.com – Based on the essential new-parent book What to Expect When You’re Expecting, the companion website offers a similar educational approach to explain and demystify all aspects of pregnancy and child-rearing.

How to Teach Kids Digital Citizenship

How to Teach Kids Digital Citizenship

Modern Dad

News, reviews & trends for fathers – a contemporary parent’s perspective.

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.

So instead of spending all of our time teaching kids about cyberbullies and online predators, we should 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 some issues, such as drugs or smoking, it’s easy to see the clear goal and message for kids.  Telling kids not do drugs or smoke cigarettes are very tangible, measurable and attainable goals.  But with Digital Citizenship, saying that you need to be good online is a bit more ephemeral.

For those looking for advice on how to teach kids digital citizenship or immediately apply its principles, here are a 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.

Respect Creativity – Even though it’s easy to cut and paste, don’t claim other’s creativity as your own.  Give credit where do if you are borrowing information or spreading someone else’s message.  Don’t plagiarize works or take credit things for which you had no part of it.  Respecting the intellectual property of others is a key tenet of digital citizenship.

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 forever, even if you delete it off your profile.  It’s public because everyone can potentially see it.  And it’s powerful, words and online actions can have a deep and lasting impact, so use them for good.

Make Social Networks Safe for Kids

Make Social Networks Safe for Kids

Family Tech

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

According to Norton Online Safety expert Marian Merritt, more parents are concerned that their kids will give out too much personal information online than are concerned about their kids interacting with inappropriate people or being exposed to indecent information.

And certainly sharing over social networks is one way where kids are prone to overshare.

Although many experts are critical of the way they do it, Facebook has in fact taken many steps to allow users at least some semblance of control over the information that users share online.  In fact, Facebook even adds extra default privacy settings on accounts for kids under the age of 18.

Obviously, the first step in keeping any information private is not to share it in the first place.  But if you’re dealing with a social network, there’s a certain “quid pro quo” expectation that everyone who’s linked together will participate in some sort of exchange of information. 

There are steps for how to make Facebook and other social networks safer for children.

Control The Audience

You may not realize it, but you can control who can see your status updates, photos, check-ins and other information when you post. This is a key feature of Google Plus, but a lesser-known option on sites like Facebook.   There’s an option within every post to allow you to select, and within each network’s Privacy Settings menu, you can set your default settings for each of the different updates to be seen by friends, the public, or only me.   This is the most basic Privacy setting, and one to which most are already attuned to.

Manage Connections

You can control your settings for how you can be found, who is allowed to send you friend requests and who can send you messages.  Decide if you want everyone to do these actions, or just limit them to friends of friends.  In the case of receiving messages, many also limit that to just friends as well. 

Keep Control Away From Others – Facebook and Google Plus allow you to control whether or not others can post on your wall, tag you on photos, or mention you in their post and have it appear on your profile. 

Unless you’re a public figure, it’s usually fine to let others post on your wall, as the friends in your network are not likely to post something inappropriate (after all, you did carefully manage your connections, right?). But if you’re nervous about that happening, simply use privacy settings to not allow others to post on your wall, and the only time anyone might complain about is on your birthday.

To prevent your child from appearing in photos posted by others, make sure to restrict the ability for others to tag them in photos or check-ins.  There’s also an option to allow this, but only after you’ve approved it.

Many social network sites these days use facial recognition software, and you can control whether or not to allow the social network to suggest tagging you if they do upload a picture of you.

Limit Third Party Access to Information

According to the Facebook’s Privacy Settings page, “your name, profile picture, gender, networks, username and user id are always publicly available, including to Apps.”  The reason for this, the company says, is to make this information more social.

Beyond that, you can control how all of your kids’ information is shared with these third parties, which is extremely important because they are separate entities that have different privacy policies than Facebook.  It’s important you regulate what information can be shared, such as your bio, birthday, photos, status updates – pretty much anything you’ve updated on Facebook.  If you don’t want apps and websites to access these, make sure to use privacy settings to disable them.  You can even disable the use of games and apps entirely on social networks, which isn’t a bad idea.  The only drawback then is you can’t use any yourself, but surprisingly that is not that difficult for most.

Blocking Other Users

If someone is harassing you or you don’t want to be connected to them for some other reason, you can block a user, and you will no longer be visible to each other.  By doing this, you break all ties with them, and both users will no longer be able to see each other’s profile or appear in any search results.  This is a little more difficult to do, but can be done via privacy settings or through a link at the bottom of each profile.