Technology

The Digital Dilemma: Free ‘Parenting in the Multimedia Age’ Talk in #LdnOnt

Child With Laptop

If you’re like my husband and me, the thought of your child having their own computer, Facebook account, Instagram etc. scares the *#&@ out of you!

For me, I’m in a bit of a denial stage where I have quietly placed the thought in a hidden corner of my brain with a Post-It note that says ‘Address this later’.  But let’s face it; our children are getting older and technology is infiltrating them at younger ages than in the past.

From LeapPads to iPods, portable DVD players to handheld gaming devices; technology is everywhere you turn. Couple that with the fact that parents are busier and busier than in times past, we often turn to the ‘digital babysitter’.

SAVING FOR A COMPUTER

Little S, who turns seven in just a few months, has already started saving for her own laptop. Together my husband and I are praying that it takes her a long time to save; however she is quite determined and has already reached a total of $118 towards her goal.

This opens up the topic of a whole other post (which will come shortly) as we are working diligently with her on the ‘Save, Spend, Give’ approach of learning about finances. So, we are supporting her goal because it’s the right thing to do (in our opinion) but we’ll definitely need some guidance on how to manage and oversee her use of technology.

PARENTING IN THE MULTIMEDIA AGE WITH KATIE COLE

MontessoriLogo

This brings me to this timely opportunity for parents in the London area to attend a guest speaking event sponsored by Montessori Academy of London.

This free event, open to the public will take place at the Wolf Performance Hall at the London Public Library on Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 7:00 PM.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

Katie Cole, Media Specialist and Mom will cover topics including:

  • Is Facebook okay for kids?
  • Is this video game too violent?
  • What qualifies as over sharing?
  • How do I keep my kids safe on social media?
  • How much screen time is okay for my child?
  • What’s cruelty and what’s a crime online?

Katie will also walk us through media management strategies for our family and how to stay on top of what’s trending in technology today.

RESERVE YOUR TICKETS

I have a feeling that this is going to be a ‘sold out’ event so I’ve reserved my free tickets and you can too by visiting montessori.ca/katiecole. From the event page you can access a link to reserve your tickets to this wonderful information session.

Hope to see you there!

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

City Mom

The LG G2: Refreshingly Different!

Lg G2 Review

For the past two weeks I have been learning, playing and having fun with LG’s G2 phone and I can’t wait to share my thoughts about it with you today.

As a long-time and exclusive iPhone user, I must admit that getting to know the LG G2 was a bit overwhelming; for starters, my thumb couldn’t stop searching for the home button on the front of the phone; with the LG G2 there is no button there.

Instead the G2 has a rear key function which means you can control everything with one hand. But more important is that with the key placed at the back of the phone, it allows for optimum screen space which creates a stunning display.

This was the first thing that I noticed when I turned the G2 on…the screen is crystal clear and larger than what I am used to with my iPhone 5. With a 5.2” screen in full HD IPS, it’s more like a tablet screen but still compact enough to feel like a cell phone. For someone who loves to play games and take pictures this was perhaps my favourite feature.

There are so many great features of the LG G2 that I want to share with you, so let’s break it down a bit. I’ve chosen some of the most important features that I look for when considering a phone:

CAMERA

LG G2 Camera

I love the camera that the LG G2 has; like the stunning screen, it takes stunning photos as well. I loved sharing my photos from the G2 on Facebook & Twitter because it’s obvious to look at them that there is a difference between a G2 photo and an iPhone photo.

With the Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS) you get the perfect photo every time. The camera actually helps to stabilize moving objects on the screen.

BATTERY LIFE

If you’re an iPhone user you can share my pain with its short battery life. I can’t seem to make it through an entire day on one full charge. This was another luxury I experienced with the G2; with a 3,000 mAh SiO + Li-lon battery, you don’t have to worry about losing power throughout the day.

SPEED

Another aspect that caught my attention right away was the speed of the phone. Whether I was opening apps or downloading them, I noticed the ease and speed of both. Technically speaking the LG G2 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 2.26 Ghz processor. If that sounds too “techy” for you, you just need to know that it translates to a really fast phone!

FUNCTIONS

Some of my favourite aspects of the LG G2 are just the little things but as everyone knows, it’s the little things that matter.

LGG2_WeatherJPG

  • Knock on: wake the G2 up by knocking the screen twice and put it back to sleep the same way.
  • Weather: the home screen reflects the weather outside. This has been particularly fun with all the rain and snow we’ve been getting. Tap the G2 on and it could be raining on your screen.
  • Do You Know?: Built right on the G2 is this feature that gives you information and tutorials on the features of the phone. This really helped me in getting to know the phone.
  • Guest Mode: you can set up a unique pattern (like a password) and draw it on the screen to instigate ‘guest mode’ which makes some features of your phone private so that when you’re showing photos etc. to others, or letting your kids play with the phone, they don’t get to see your sensitive information.
  • Capture Plus: with capture plus you can get those screen shots you love and need with much more ease…if you want to grab a shot of an entire browser, you can do so with just one shot
  • Carriers: the LG G2 is available on all the major carriers of service including Bell, Rogers, SaskTel, Telus, Videotron and Wind Mobile

WIN AN LG G2

You can have a chance to try the LG G2 for yourself by winning one!

Visit savvymom.ca to enter!

IN CONCLUSION

There are SO many fantastic and refreshing features with the LG G2 that one blog post just can’t do it justice. If you want to learn more, check out the features, videos and more on LG’s website to really appreciate how powerful this phone is.

For me, the biggest question is, when it comes time to renew my contract, will I switch? and I can confidently say that yes I will. For my lifestyle and what I’m looking to get out of a cell phone, the LG G2 has it all and more. To be honest I look forward to making the switch and trying something new and getting out from under the same old.

This post was generously sponsored by LG G2, but the opinions and images are my own. For more information, visit www.lgg2.ca

City Mom

Holiday Gift Guide: The perfect gift for the iPad & Tablet User

PadPillow

Looking for a unique yet practical gift idea for Christmas? I have just the thing for you and the iPad enthusiast in your life!

The PadPillow – a pillow stand for iPad made by IPEVO , allows you to rest iPad on your lap while you use your wireless keyboard to type (as I am doing now while stretched out on my couch!) or, you can use it to support iPad in front of you, hands free, while you lay down to watch a movie, or simply have it on your lap in front of you while you lay in bed.

As it promises on the packaging, it certainly is versatile, soft and comfy!  It even comes with a removable, machine-washable cover made from 100% cotton fabric and comes in a variety of colours.  Not only is it perfect for iPads but it is also compatible with most tablet computers and my husband even used it with his laptop since the bottom of his computer often gets hot on his lap.

If you’re like me, you take your iPad all over the house with you. Unfortunately, before getting to test this product, I was not aware that anything existed to make my iPad experiences more comfortable; I would roll over on my side in bed so that I could be hands free but then I was looking down at it sideways and would often get a sore neck.

I’m still a breastfeeding mama, so I would often like to look on the iPad while my daughter was feeding and it was difficult to do so without having it raised up.  Now, I can prop it up and check emails or surf the net to multitask as a busy mom.  The ability to sit with my iPad on my lap while I watch TV without getting tired fingers and wrists from holding it has definitely made this my new favourite accessory!

Not only did I get to test this amazing PadPillow, but I was lucky enough to be sent the Perch – Desktop Stand for iPads to test as well.  I often use my iPad to look up recipes as I cook in the kitchen but then I’m constantly looking down at the counter to read and that also gives me a sore neck after hours of cooking.

If you need to reposition the iPad while you’re cooking and you have sticky or dirty hands from cutting/peeling, etc., you get your case all dirty as well.  The Perch allows you to securely mount your iPad in place with a heavy-duty holder so your recipes are accessible at eye-level and it tilts and rotates with precision so there’s no need to touch it with gooey fingers.

It has a heavy-gauge steel base which holds it securely on countertops, desktops and tabletops.
The only issue (and it’s very small) is that the Perch doesn’t fit my iPad with it’s protective case on it so I had to remove it in order for the iPad to fit securely inside, but when weighing out the cost/benefit of this, the advantage that the Perch offers far outweighs the alternative.

Ipevo has certainly listened to the complaints of iPad and tablet users and has brought us some extremely innovative and essential products that I am highly recommending you try this holiday season.

iPevo

BUY IT

iPevo has such a wide-range of innovative products like the items I’ve mentioned above to USB Superchargers, to document cameras to other iPad and tablet gear that can all be purchased online.

WIN IT

Today I’m excited to offer a giveaway just for City Mom’s US readers! That’s right; today you can enter to win one PadPillow in charcoal grey and one Perch Desktop Stand (S) in black. Please use the Rafflecopter widget below and good luck! Open to continental US states, Hawaii and Alaska.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Village Mom

Tech Time Out: We Took the Pledge!

Tech Timeout

Back in June I shared with you that my family was about to take the pledge! The pledge I am referring to is the Tech Timeout Challenge by life insurance provider Foresters.

Tech Timeout Challenge (TTO) is an initiative with the goal of promoting families to put their electronic devices down and spend more quality time together. The average American household has 24 electronic devices within their home. This means that often each family member is plugged in at once.

Participating families are encouraged to disconnect from all their electronic devices for one hour a day to help spouses, parents and children build stronger bonds, communicate more personally and get more involved in each other’s lives.

Fast forward three months and our pledge has come to an end and I’m happy to share our experience with you today.

Tech Time Out

MY PREDICTIONS REALIZED

In my first post, I predicted that I would be the one to struggle the most with the pledge; turns out that I was right. As suspected I went into withdrawal without my iPhone even though it was just an hour a day, but as any addict knows, being told you can’t have something makes you want it more.

We found the best way to overcome this challenge was to get out of the house and do something outdoors. During the summer we all belong outside anyway, so I was thankful for the motivation to do so. Sometimes it is too easy to sit behind the computer to work and rely on a movie to entertain the kids.

HOW LONG WE LASTED

As with most new routines, we were really motivated at the start but as time passed it became harder to stay on top of our task. At first we missed a day and then we missed another day and so on and it became real work to carve out that hour each day. It’s not that we didn’t have the hour to spare; it was more that we weren’t so official in saying “now is our tech time out hour.

Consciously I chose not to bring my phone with me when we were going out so that when Little S was playing at the park, I wasn’t inclined to grab it and distract myself. This proved to be priceless as I was able to spend more focused time with her and interact at a greater level.

Overall I am confident in reporting that we made it the whole summer but maybe not totally official. We definitely spent an hour a day without using any technology most days this summer.

OUR FAVOURITE ACTIVITIES

Because we live in a high-rise, it’s not feasible for Little S to run around outside alone like she would if we had a backyard; thus, we are already in the habit of leaving technology behind in favour of the park (except that I used to bring my iPhone with me), walks around downtown and so on.

We enjoyed going for walks to get some fro-yo, window shopping, walking to the grocery store instead of driving and so on. I knew we would not be successful just sitting around the house as technology is everywhere and it’s super tempting!

WHAT I LEARNED

Participating in the TTO confirmed for me that each member of family is very reliant on technology. From Little S’ iPod and LeapPad to my husband and I watching TV and movies, we are constantly using some form of electronic entertainment whether it’s at home or in the car. It was a little disheartening to realize that we needed to force ourselves to do without.

What I have taken away with me at the end of this adventure is that sometimes technology can drive you a little crazy and like everything else in life, moderation is the key. In today’s fast paced world, it might mean taking a pledge like the Tech Time Out to get this much-needed moderation. I’m also happy to pass on this attitude to my daughter so that she can carry this habit forward into her future.

If you haven’t taken the pledge yet, I highly recommend that you do so. You may be surprised by what you learn!

This post was generously sponsored by life insurance provider Foresters, but the opinions and images are my own. For more information, visit www.techtimeout.com.

City Mom

Buying an E-Reader? Read this first!

E-Reader Reviews

I have never used City Mom to warn readers of a product or service that I felt wasn’t up to par. But today that is all changing. Unfortunately, I have experienced a truly disappointing situation with what was once one of my favourite products that I have ever invested in.

It is this disappointment that compels me to share it with the public in hopes that others don’t make the same mistake that I have.

MAKING THE SWITCH

When I first decided to switch from paper-based books to an e-reader, I struggled; I am one who loves the tactile experience of a traditional book. I love turning the pages and the smell of the paper inside. Usually when I finish a book (if it was really good) I’ll sit holding the book for a while and digest the story and the characters. To me, reading is as much a physical activity as it is visual.

In the end I opted for convenience and ease and chose to make an e-reader purchase. That was another tough decision; with all the choices out there, how does one know which one to choose?

DOING THE RESEARCH

Before choosing the right e-reader for my needs, I carefully compared the major devices on the market at the time. I focused on things such as price, size and weight, screen size, library choices and functionality of the e-readers. I was not an iPad owner and I felt the screen on my iPhone was too small for my reading preferences so neither of these media were options for me.

After gathering the information, I happily decided on the Kobo E-Reader by Kobo Inc. which (at the time) was owned by Indigo Books and Music, a Canadian retailer. (Note that today Kobo is owned by Rakuten Inc. a Japanese based company with its headquarters in Toronto, Ontario.)

The fact that I was already a huge fan of Indigo Books and Music played a role in my decision to buy Kobo, after all, Chapters is my “happy place”. I felt peace of mind knowing that I trusted this brand and assumed that their product wouldn’t disappoint.

FAST FORWARD 1.5 YEARS

I have owned my Kobo Touch for almost two years (the one year warranty period is over). In that time (up until a month ago) my e-reader didn’t disappoint. I was happy with my choice and the selection of books available to me through Kobo. That is why before my long-awaited trip to France, I added a few books to my library that I had been dying to read. Finally, after five years of being a mom, I was going to be able to finish a book and maybe even two without any interruption.

With my Kobo tucked securely into its protective case and packed on my person in my carry-on luggage, I made my way to France. When I opened it up and turned it on, ready to escape into the world of fiction, I was greeted with a frozen device. What a disappointment!

I was stuck way over there without many options. I was so sad. Thankfully my sister had lent me her iPad for my trip so that I could stay connected with family at home. I was able to download a book through iBooks and still enjoy some reading while on vacation.

DEALING WITH KOBO INC.

When I returned home I got right to work on finding a solution to my problem. I visited Kobo’s troubleshooting section and followed the instructions listed to reset my device. That didn’t work. I tried to follow the instructions for performing a Factory Reset; however I could not turn my device off so I was unable to perform this function.

I decided to call the Kobo helpdesk for more help and they advised me to charge my device for three to five hours and then perform the steps listed on their site again. I did so and to no avail. My device was still frozen.

frustrated

I called Kobo a second time to tell them the situation and this is when it turned from frustrating to downright annoying. After explaining the steps I had already performed, I was asked by the service rep if I had ever dropped my Kobo. I replied that I had not and that from day one it had been stored in a protective case.

The rep then went on to tell me that because my device had been dropped multiple times, they could not help me.

Wait! What?!

He was either not listening to me or accusing me of lying, either way, I was furious. I made sure not to lose my cool and politely asked him if he had dropped my e-reader because I sure hadn’t. Of course he sidestepped that question because duh…how could he possibly have dropped it? I think I made my point.

When I asked why Kobo wouldn’t stand behind their product he let me know that outside of the one year warranty, they couldn’t do anything and he suggested that I buy a new or refurbished e-Reader from Best Buy of Walmart.

Really? Reinvest in this company that wasn’t offering to help me out? Not likely!

I asked to speak to someone at a higher level because I believed that Kobo would want to stand behind their product that is less than two years old. I was told that my file would be escalated to the ‘executives’ only to receive an email ten minutes later summarizing our interaction with no mention of the escalation request. And now, more than 14 days later, I have not heard from the “executives”.

So let’s summarize this:

  1. I spent $200 on my original Kobo e-reader (including an ARC light for low-light reading) less than two years ago – a substantial investment to me and to most.
  2. At no fault of my own, the product stops working in less than two years of purchase.
  3. Regular intervention techniques for fixes do not work.
  4. I am accused of dropping my device multiple times even after stating I had not.
  5. I am told my issue will be escalated to a higher level – yet no response.
  6. Their solution to the problem is that I reinvest in their company and in their product.

In the end, I gave up. I know what you’re thinking, that’s what they wanted me to do right?

Instead, I decided to do my part in making sure that this does not happen to anyone else and I’m hoping that sharing my experience will help with that.

In general we should demand more for our money and invest in products that will go the distance in both quality and customer support.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles & David Castillo Dominici/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

City Mom

Tech Timeout: I’m Taking the Pledge!

Tech TimeoutIf you know me well, you’ll know that the pledge I am about to take is going to be a stretch for me! It’s going to be something that will challenge me to my very core, but something so worthwhile!

TECH TIMEOUT CHALLENGE BY FORESTERS

Tech Timeout by ForestersTech Timeout Challenge by life insurance provider, Foresters is an initiative with the goal of promoting families to put their electronic devices down and spend more quality time together. It is said that the average American household has 24 electronic devices within their home. This means that often each family member is plugged in at once.

Participating families are encouraged to disconnect from all their electronic devices for one hour a day to help spouses, parents and children build stronger bonds, communicate more personally and get more involved in each other’s lives.

This video really sums it up! 

THE PLEDGE

The Tech Timeout Pledge challenges you and your family to turn off all the technology in your home (yes, even your cell phone), for at least ONE HOUR a day this summer and get to know your family better.

You can download the Tech Timeout™ challenge Pledge form and ask every member of your family to sign it. Then put it up in a place where everyone can see it, so that it becomes a constant reminder of your commitment to family time.

MY PLEDGE

Tech Timeout Pledge

I will be the first to admit that I am way too addicted to my electronics; particularly my iPhone. If you ask my husband, he will tell you that it’s glued to my hand.

But more than that, we all seem to be reliant on some form of electronics.  Whether it’s our TV, smart phones or iPods, there is usually something plugged in at our house. That is why I was eager to participate in this challenge; I know it will be so good for us.

I plan to approach this pledge by scheduling one hour a day from now until September at the same time each weekday and an hour at the same time each weekend. For example, Monday to Friday we will “unplug” from 6 pm to 7 pm and from 9 am to 10 am on weekends.  This way it will become a habit and we’ll be scheduled to unplug which will increase our chances of success!

MAKING THE HOUR COUNT

Look at this hour as an extra hour in the day, because really, that’s what it is. When you’re plugged in time flies at an astronomical rate, but when you take the time to savour the finer things in life, like love, laughter and togetherness, you’re able to slow time down and take it all in.

So what to do with this extra hour? There are so many fun options like playing board games, going for ice cream, going to the park etc. And for more inspiration, check out Tech Timeout’s list of 50 things to do as a family without technology.

MY PREDICTION

In my family, I believe it is going to be me who has the hardest time with this project. Habits are hard to break, and picking up my phone for a quick check on things is definitely ingrained in me. I plan to keep my phone out of reach during this hour so that I am not inclined to grab for it.

Another piece of technology that I predict we will all struggle with is the television. After a long day at work, dinner prep and clean up, it’s all too easy to plop down in front of the TV to unwind. Though I know that we will all enjoy this hour together, at first I think it’s going to seem like work compared the passive-state that watching TV can create.

WILL YOU TAKE THE PLEDGE?

Now that you’ve learned about the Tech Timeout™ Challenge, is this something that you think you can start with your family this summer? Or is this something that you are already doing? What kinds of challenges to do you face or foresee facing?

For more information about the Tech Timeout Challenge by life insurance provider, Foresters visit:

Tech Timeout Challenge: techtimeout.com

Facebookfacebook.com/TechTimeOut

Pinterest: pinterest.com/techtimeout/

This post was generously sponsored by life insurance provider Foresters, but the opinions and images are my own. For more information, visit www.techtimeout.com.

Image courtesy of Ambro/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

City Mom

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