SnapPower Safe Light and USB Charger by SnapPower – Review

What we love…

super easy to install SnapPower Safe Light allows you to childproof and install night lights throughout your house.  Snap Power Charger is a perfect outlet replacement especially if you have a home office where you might need to charge your electronics without having them downstairs

What we’d love to see…

ability to use in a bathroom or kitchen using GFCI

Summary

Easy to install child proofing solution that has the benefit of pathway lighting and no covers to lose or cords to lose when charging your cell phone. I love how easy it is to access my outlets now and don’t worry my toddler will see me removing one of the plastic outlet covers and try to do so himself potentially resulting in a hazard.  Simple.  Easy.  A must have product in my home.

Our Rating

 

recommended-by-the-imums

 

SnapPower Safe Light by SnapPower is an easy to install wall replacement switch that not only childproofs but adds lights so you don’t need to take up one of the outlets with a nightlight.  As a mom of a toddler, I increasingly found myself telling my son “no” when it came to power outlets.  I remember childproofing with my first involved cumbersome outlet covers or the little white outlet covers you would remove just so you could vacuum and then stick back in.  I knew that there had to be a better solution.  At our house, in addition to needing to childproof, many of our outlets had nightlights plugged into at least one of the outlets.  We have some pretty dark corners, especially at the bottom of the stairs.  Other products in the lineup include switch plate covers for light switches
Installation was a snap – it took me more time to go downstairs and turn off the breaker than it did to install each of the three SnapPower Safe Lights.  You simply switch off the power, remove the outlet cover, and then insert the new outlet cover which has metal prongs on each side.  These prongs go inside the outlet and provide power for the LED guidelight at the bottom of the outlet.  Not only are they childproof, but you gain an outlet back and nighttime lighting.  Each outlet contains a sensor which turns the light on and off based on the light conditions or you can set it to high or low, and it costs mere pennies a day to use.  It’s so much brighter than the previous blue nightlights we were using, but not too bright if my older son gets up during the night to use the bathroom.

We also tested the Snap Power Charger, which allows you to convert your outlet to a USB charger, without losing the outlet.  We have a lot of tech in our house – and sometimes our home charging dock is full – or I might just want to plug in my iPhone if it’s running low on battery.  Installation for this was simple as well – the outlet screw provides the connection to power with the power prongs providing power and you simply snap on the cover.

For purposes of the review – I have used both the SnapPower SafeLight and Snap Power USB Charger for over a month – and I honestly love them.  I love that I don’t need to fiddle with plastic outlet covers if I need to do a quick vacuum of the playroom or worry about coming down the stairs in the dark.  When I use the SnapPower SafeLight I simply insert the plug of whatever item I want to use,slide the outlet covers over and am on my way.  When I am done, I unplug and don’t have to worry any longer about putting something else back into the outlet or fiddling with putting the cover back on.

The SnapPower Guidelight and SnapPower USB Charger work on standard outlets – they do not work with GFCI outlets due to the need for a reset button – so you can’t use them in the kitchen or bathrooms.  I would love to see this in the future although I am sure it will require a redesign of some sort.

Overall, this has been a fantastic solution for night time lighting, childproofing and charging for our family.  I love how easy it is to access my outlets now and don’t worry my toddler will see me removing one of the plastic outlet covers and try to do so himself potentially resulting in a hazard.  Simple.  Easy.  A must have product in my home. Items can be purchased directly from SnapPower or via Amazon.

RRP of SnapPower Safe Light is $17.00 USD for a single or 10 for $140 USD.

RRP of the SnapPower USB charger is $20 USD for a single or a three pack for $54 USD.

 

all>NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.The links in this post may contain affiliate links where The iMums will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our link, this helps to support the costs of running this site and we appreciate your support.

Article: Character and Kids in a Digital Media World

 

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Build Character Strengths with Quality Media

How to support kids’ character and life-skills development through media — and parenting. By Caroline Knorr

How to support kids’ character and life-skills development through media — and parenting.

Every parent wants to raise kids with strong character. Grateful, humble, compassionate, brave: We know these strengths lead to improved well-being, better relationships, and sound communities.

Still, figuring out which characteristics to teach, how to reinforce them, and even whose job it is to do it (parent, teacher, coach?) is a thorny issue. And when kids are spending several hours a day glued to a screen — possibly on a personal device with earbuds in — it can be difficult to find opportunities to reinforce character lessons. Here’s the good news: Media — from video games to TV shows to movies — can help teach character. But it doesn’t just happen. Parents have to make it happen by choosing quality media, focusing on character-building ideas, and talking about the messages.

You’re probably already doing some of this, by watching TV with your kid and asking why a character made certain choices; playing a video game and helping your kid learn to take turns and be a good sport; and discussing responsible online behavior.

You’re on the right track. The days of simply restricting kids’ media use for fear that it hinders character growth are over. With kids using media for everything from playtime to learning to creating to communicating, it’s essential that parents use these opportunities to strengthen kids’ social-emotional development.

Why It Matters

In today’s digital world, many parents worry about the loss of character as more kids spend time alone on a computer or communicating through a screen. But research shows that kids can and do learn from media — what matters is which messages they’re absorbing and how those messages get reinforced.

Whether it’s from a preschool show about sharing or a teen video game about war, lessons about character can positively affect kids’ behavior and self-esteem. Most importantly, parents who are involved in their kids’ media lives — parents who co-view, co-play, and talk about TV shows, movies, books, and games — reinforce their own values as well as the media’s pro-social messages.

Character-Trait and Life-Skills Media Advice by Age

As former FCC commissioner Nicholas Johnson put it, “All television is educational television. The question is, what is it teaching?” You can apply this question to all media. By choosing shows, movies, apps, games, and books geared toward your kid’s age and developmental stage, you can better support character lessons.

Tips for Parents of Little Kids
Tips for Parents of Big Kids
Tips for Parents of Tweens and Teens

Character Traits, Life Skills, and Media Picks That Support Them


Tips for Parents of Little Kids
Watch, play, read, and talk. Simply enjoying a show, a book, or a game together and discussing a character’s behavior and actions helps kids better understand the internal motivation behind character traits. At this age, kids will soak up whatever they see and hear, so look for media with positive role models, messages about sharing and being a good friend, and managing feelings. These tips can help:

Books, TV, Movies

  • Keep things simple. Stories with one main idea that’s supported by the action are most effective for preschoolers. Look for short TV shows that stick to pro-social messages. Little kids often think that it’s the threat of punishment that makes a protagonist behave a certain way. Help them understand that it’s important to do the right thing even when, for example, you won’t get caught.
  • Don’t expect young kids to understand the moral of the story. Folktales and fables are fun, but their messages don’t necessarily get through to preschoolers (especially when the characters aren’t human). No need to push it if the moral is lost on your kid.
  • Look for characters and situations your kid can relate to. Kids who see themselves in a protagonist are more likely to understand and copy their pro-social behavior. A show about the importance of honesty, for example, will go over better if your kid has something in common with the character — say, a new baby sister or a dislike of broccoli.

Interactive, Digital Media

  • Model digital citizenship. Put your phone away when you’re not using it — and explain that you don’t want your phone to get in the way of your time with your kids. When you go online, explain to your kids exactly what you’re doing. Tell them that you’re respectful of people you’re talking to and texting with. (Get more screen-time tips.)
  • Set limits around screen time. Establish rules about when kids can play with your phone to help develop self-control.

Tips for Parents of Big Kids
Help kids translate positive media messages to their own behavior. Co-viewing, co-playing, and modeling good digital citizenship continue to be important. Once kids can read, write, and go online independently, character lessons can extend to how you expect your kids to act in the online world. These tips can help:

Books, Movies, TV

  • Simple is still better. This age group still has some difficulty understanding character lessons in complex stories. They need to see the basic cause-and-effect sequence of how a character’s motives are connected to actions and consequences.
  • Fables can wait. Children are typically unable to extract lessons from fables until fourth grade. Younger children tend to retell specific parts of the story instead of absorbing a more general principle. Enjoy them if you want to — just don’t expect kids to learn the morality message.

Interactive, Digital Media

  • Teach digital citizenship. Explain your rules about responsible online behavior.
  • Choose cooperative games. Find games that depend on players working together to solve a problem.
  • Failing is OK. Look for apps that reward you for trying and trying again.
  • Think outside the box. Introduce games and apps that emphasize creativity and curiosity vs. those that are simply goal-oriented.

Tips for Parents of Tweens and Teens
At this age, kids can make clearer distinctions between right and wrong. As digital savvy increases, tweens and teens appreciate what they have — and the responsibility that they have to make the digital world a positive environment. These tips can help:

Books, Movies, TV

  • Seek out complexity. Tweens are emotionally and mentally mature enough to understand others’ perspectives and to engage in abstract reasoning. At this age, you can discuss how a character acts when he’s conflicted.
  • Stay involved. The ability to summarize the gist or main theme of a story develops late, often not until age 14. Tweens and teens still need parents to guide them through the intended moral takeaway.
  • Don’t be obvious. Tweens and teens often reject moralistic messages to protect their sense of freedom and/or reassert their independence. Offer titles in which there’s a moral dilemma and no clear-cut choice. When older kids interpret books, movies, or shows as agenda-less, absorbing, and relevant, they are most likely to really get the moral lessons they model. Instead of pointing out the lesson, ask them what they think and engage them in critical thinking.

Interactive, Digital Media

  • Discuss online ethics. Talk about the importance of staying true to yourself even in seemingly consequence-free situations. It’s easy to cheat or copy work, for example, but that damages your integrity.
  • Teach kids to be upstanders. Help them develop compassion and empathy by talking about the importance of standing up for people who are victimized online or in person.
  • Talk about anonymity. At this age, kids may not yet understand how their seemingly anonymous behavior can have a real effect on real people. Help them develop a sense of empathy with their online relationships.
  • Stress respectful communication. Kindness is only part of it. Explain how to comment constructively and contribute productively on social media.
  • Help them protect their and others’ privacy. Discuss what should remain private and what’s OK to put out there.
  • Put “likes” in perspective. It’s not necessarily a bad thing when kids compete for followers on Instagram or other social media. But help tweens and teens realize that their self-worth isn’t determined by how many likes they get — and that a little humility is a positive virtue.
  • Remind them of the value of their devices. However it works for you — whether it’s having your kid contribute money or chores or making them pay outright for downloads — it’s important for kids to develop gratitude by understanding that these things are a privilege.
  • Encourage your kid’s school to teach digital literacy. So much of what happens at school is mirrored in the online world. It benefits the entire community when kids learn to be responsible digital citizens.

Character Traits, Life Skills, and Media Picks That Support Them

Common Sense Media worked with researchers and educators to identify and define 11 key characteristics that embody life skills, moral choices, and personal virtues. We then mapped each trait to movies and TV shows so you can easily find shows and use our reviews to start conversations.

Communication
Listening attentively and appreciatively, expressing yourself clearly and sensitively, and honoring differences.
Movies That Promote Communication
TV That Promotes Communication

Compassion
Caring about others and behaving toward others with affection, generosity, and concern.
Movies That Inspire Compassion
TV That Inspires Compassion

Courage
Taking on challenges even when there’s risk. Speaking up for what’s right even if there’s opposition; acting on your convictions.
Movies That Inspire Courage
TV That Inspires Courage

Curiosity
Having a strong desire to learn or know something — a search for information for its own sake. Actively seeking out challenges and new experiences.
Movies That Inspire Curiosity
TV That Inspires Curiosity

Empathy
Understanding the feelings and perspective of another person; putting yourself “in their shoes.”
Movies That Inspire Empathy
TV That Inspires Empathy

Gratitude
Being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen in your life and taking the time to express appreciation and return kindness.
Movies That Inspire Gratitude
TV That Inspires Gratitude

Humility
Not regarding yourself as more special or better than others.
Movies That Promote Humility
TV That Promotes Humility

Integrity
Speaking the truth. Acting in a sincere way. Treating people equally and taking responsibility for your feelings and actions.
Movies That Inspire Integrity
TV That Inspires Integrity

Perseverance
Persisting in a course of action in spite of obstacles. Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
Movies That Promote Perseverance
TV That Promotes Perseverance

Self-Control
Being able to appropriately manage your thoughts, feelings, and impulses. Requires paying attention to your emotions and feelings.
Movies That Promote Self-Control
TV That Promotes Self-Control

Teamwork
Working respectfully and effectively with a group and doing your share.
Movies That Promote Teamwork
TV That Promotes Teamwork

About the Author: Caroline Knorr

As Common Sense Media’s parenting editor, Caroline helps parents make sense of what’s going on in their kids’ media lives. From games to cell phones to movies and more, if you’re wondering “what’s the right age for…?” Caroline can help you make the decision that works best for your family. She has more than 20 years of editorial and creative marketing writing experience and has held senior-level positions at Walmart.com, Walmart stores, Cnet, and Bay Area Parent magazine. She specializes in translating complex information into bite-sized chunks to help families make informed choices about what their kids watch, play, read, and do. And she’s the proud mom of a teenage son whose media passions include Star Wars, StarCraft,graphic novels, and the radio program This American Life.

 

Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsensemedia.org.

Article: Why Kids Should Science More

8 Reasons Why Kids Should Science More 

From a very early age children love to learn new things, and not only do they love to learn, they are experts at it. Children learn by playing, observing, doing, testing ideas and pushing boundaries.

In many ways the way in which children learn is the same way a basic scientific study would be conducted: start with a bit of knowledge, come up with a hypothesis based on that bit of knowledge, test and learn from the outcome (good or bad).

And this is a practice that should be encouraged, nurtured and built upon. Science is not only a great subject because of the things that can eventually be done with it, but because of the life skills that it also teaches along the way.

So what are the life skills that science can teach? Check out the following infographic created by psychology and science website psysci to read about 8 of them:

 

why-kids-should-science-more-min

 

About the author

Marcus has a degree in psychology, a masters degree in health psychology and has worked within the NHS as well as private organisations. Marcus started psysci a psychology and science blog in order to disseminate research into bitesize, meaningful and helpful resources.

Article: YouTube how do you use it with your kids?

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Smosh, Good Mythical Morning, PewDiePie — the names may not mean much to you, but chances are your kids are on a first-name basis. Their funny hosts, off-the-cuff commentary, silly antics, and bewildering (to adults) subject matter put them among the most popular YouTube channels for young teens, garnering millions (and, in the case of game commentary PewDiePiebillions) of views. In fact, according to a recent survey of U.S. teens by Variety, the top five most influential celebrities are YouTube stars. But information about these personalities’ shows — the content, quality, and age-appropriateness, for example — isn’t easy for parents to find.

Until YouTube’s app for kids really catches on with fans, the original YouTube poses a challenge for parents.  Anyone can create YouTube channels, they crop up seemingly out of nowhere, they don’t follow program schedules, and they’re cast out among thousands of other videos. Still, there are clues to figuring out which channels and creators are OK for your kids. YouTube clearly has a huge impact, and you’ll learn a lot about your kids when you really dig into what they’re tuning into. (Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular YouTube stars.)

And it’s worth doing. Kids love discovering new videos on YouTube, and that often means exposure to iffy stuff — even when they’re not seeking it out. With some simple tools, you can help your kids regulate their habits and increase the chances that their experience will be positive. Also, read our detailed review of YouTube.

The Basics

Watch with your kid. Simply ask your kids what they’re watching and join them. In general, kids are tuning into certain channels or following specific YouTube personalities because they’re entertained by them. Many kids naturally want to share the videos they like.

Watch by yourself. If kids don’t want to share, get the name of the channel they’re watching and watch it later. Watch a few videos by the same creator to get a feel for the content.

Be sleuthy. If you’re concerned about the content your kid is watching on YouTube — and you’ve tried talking to her — there are ways of tracking her viewing habits. If she has a YouTube account (which only requires a Gmail address), her YouTube page will display her recently watched videos, recommended videos based on her watch history, and suggestions for channels similar to the ones she’s watched. Even if your kid deletes her “watch history,” the recommendations all will be related to stuff she’s watched.

Subscribe. Encourage your kids to subscribe to their favorite channels rather than hunting around on YouTube for the latest ones from a specific creator. Subscribers are notified when a new video is uploaded, plus all their channels are displayed in My Subscriptions, making it easier, and faster, to go directly to the stuff they like. Consider choosing subscriptions together, and make an event out of watching the newest uploads with your kids.

The Nitty-Gritty

Investigate the creator. The name of each video’s creator appears beneath the video window and usually has a bit of information about the person behind the video and/or the channel itself. Google the creator’s name to find out whether he or she has a Wikipedia page or another Web presence. You might find out that your kid’s favorite YouTube personality has an impressive reach. LGBTQ advocate Tyler Oakley, for example, has a huge fan base that crosses demographics, making him a positive role model for all kinds of kids.

Look at the suggestions. The suggested videos listed on the right-hand side of the page are related in some way to the main video. Evaluate them to see if they seem age-appropriate, and that will provide an indication of the appropriateness of the main video.

Consider the ads. If an ad plays before the video, that’s actually a good sign. To qualify for advertising and earn money (the goal of most YouTube channels), a creator must apply to be a YouTube partner by sending in some sample videos. YouTube rejects videos that don’t meet their terms of service and community guidelines — vulgar or stolen content, in other words. Yes, that means your kid sees more ads, but the trade-off seems worth it (and you can always mute the commercials).

Read the comments. YouTube comments are notorious for being negative, but it’s worth reading them to get a sense of the channels’ demographic and the tone of the discussion. Channel creators can moderate their comments to reduce the amount of negativity. Well-groomed comments are a good sign.

Watch the trailer. Many creators make highlight reels and trailers — basically video ads for the channels themselves (which usually appear first on the channel page). Definitely watch them if they’re available to get an overview of the host and the content.

Finding Good Stuff

Turn on safety mode. Be aware that YouTube is technically only for teens 13 and up, and what the site considers age-appropriate may not match your values. But YouTube offers a filter called Safety Mode that limits the iffy stuff. Simply scroll down to the bottom of any YouTube page. See where it says “Safety”? Click it on. (It will remain on for logged-in users on the same browser.)

Take YouTube’s advice. Most kids find out about new videos either from their friends or by clicking on the related videos (which may or may not be appropriate). But YouTube itself offers several ways to home in on quality content. Visit YouTube Nation for curated content in a variety of categories. Read about YouTube news on the company blog, and find out what’s trending all over the country on the Map and the Dashboard.

Watch later. YouTube gives you the ability to save videos to watch at a later time, which improves the odds that your kids will be exposed to stuff you’ve preapproved. You can create playlists, too, virtually designing a customized programming schedule of content for each of your kids or for different subjects they’re interested in.

About the Author: Caroline Knorr

As Common Sense Media’s parenting editor, Caroline helps parents make sense of what’s going on in their kids’ media lives. From games to cell phones to movies and more, if you’re wondering “what’s the right age for…?” Caroline can help you make the decision that works best for your family. She has more than 20 years of editorial and creative marketing writing experience and has held senior-level positions at Walmart.com, Walmart stores, Cnet, and Bay Area Parent magazine. She specializes in translating complex information into bite-sized chunks to help families make informed choices about what their kids watch, play, read, and do. And she’s the proud mom of a teenage son whose media passions include Star Wars, StarCraft,graphic novels, and the radio program This American Life.

 

 

Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsensemedia.org.

 

Article: Museums: Teaching Your Kids to Love Learning

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Museums: Teaching Your Kids to Love Learning

Kids are curious from an early age, with many children anxious to understand new concepts and figure out the way things work. The whole world is something to be explored with new adventures around every corner. Fostering that love of learning is important for future success in your kids’ educational career.

Children need hands-on, exciting forms of education if they are to maintain their natural desire to learn. So, to start your kids off on the right foot, here are a few reasons you should be taking your kids to museums.

Museums Make Lessons a Reality

You may be able to tell your kids about things like history, science, art, and culture; however, having something explained verbally is a different experience than being able to see and possibly even touch objects related to the topic. Rather than trying to verbally explain the importance of art to your kids, take them to a local art museum. Let your kids see and understand what art is, what goes into making art, and maybe even sign them up for an art workshop. The key is making your lesson exciting and tangible rather than an abstract, verbal concept. A child cannot learn about art without seeing it.

The same can be said for any other topic. No matter how much you tell your child about WWII, nothing brings history to life like seeing the remnants of the past in an exhibit. With museums as part of life lessons, your kids will learn that education is hands-on, fun, and applicable to real life.

Museums Have Modernized for Education

With the increasing research on education and how kids learn best, more and more museums have modernized to maximize educational takeaways for kids. Children learn in different ways; some are better able to understand new ideas and concepts with hands-on experiences. Because of this range of learning styles and abilities, museums cannot rely on one form of passing along information. Instead, they have begun to implement things like hands-on exhibits for kids that learn more in a more tactile or kinesthetic way.

They may offer an app for kids who prefer to “teach” their parents with the extra information available or kids who do better when their lessons are turned into games. Some museums even have virtual tours online for children who may be unable to physically visit the museum. Regardless of your child’s preferences or needs, there will be something for them at your local museum.

Museums Cover Many Different Topics

There are museums for history, art, science, specialty collections, culture, and just about anything else you could imagine. Your kids could be educated through a museum-hopping road trip if you really want to put forth the effort. With this variety, you can teach your kids to appreciate all the different subjects they will be covering throughout their educational career. You can do at-home mini lessons to precede each museum visit, focusing on a different subject each time.

Furthermore, most museums offer some form of kids event or workshop. You can sign your kids up to learn to paint, get up close and personal with fossils, meet a Holocaust survivor, or learn to build a simple machine. Hands-on lessons are crucial for engaging children and cultivating intrigue and curiosity.

Museums are a wonderful way to bring education to life. Younger children respond very well to seeing physical depictions of what they learn, and it can even help them retain more information. By taking your kids to museums, you are helping them maintain the innate love of learning each child is born with and, eventually, giving them a leg up in their formal education.

Image via Pixabay by cece1

 

About the author

Joyce Wilson loved being a teacher, and though she has recently retired, she hasn’t lost that passion. She continues to educate (and help educators) by mentoring teachers in her area. She is also the co-creator of TeacherSpark.org, a resource for teachers to gather fun, engaging lesson ideas and activities.

Article: Screen Time and Kids – Achieving a balance

screen-time

You balance their meals, so why not their media? Learn the secrets to a well-balanced media diet. By Caroline Knorr
Many parents struggle with exactly how much screen time is OK for their kids. Is a half-hour show OK but a full-length movie “bad”? How much gaming should you allow when your kid also uses his computer for homework? Does Wikipedia count as “reading”? And when does a passion for say, video games, become problematic? The truth is, there is no magic formula. And just as every family differs in what they eat, when they eat, and what they like, a healthy media diet is different for every family. The key is making sure that the things that are important to your family are fairly balanced over the long term.

A healthy media diet balances activities (games, social media, TV), time (15 minutes? Three hours?), and choices (YouTube, Minecraft, Star Wars) with offline activities (sports, face-to-face conversations, daydreaming). At some point, kids will be able to manage their own media diets. In the meantime, these tips can help set them up for success.

Find balance. Instead of counting daily screen-time minutes, aim for a balance throughout the week. Get your kids to help plan a week that includes stuff they have to do and stuff they like to do, such as schoolwork, activities, chores, reading, family time, and TV or gaming. Decide on limits and behavior using our Family Media Agreement.

Walk the walk. Put your devices away while driving, at mealtimes, and during important conversations. Kids will learn habits from you.

Talk about it. Ask questions about kids’ favorite games, shows, and characters. Discuss ideas and issues they read about or learn about through a TV show or a game. This is an opportunity for bonding, learning, and sharing your values.

Create tech-free zones.Set rules that fit your family, such as “no devices during dinner,” “no social media during homework,” or “all screens off before bedtime.”

Check ratings. Choose age-appropriate, high-quality media and tech for your kids. Use our reviews to find good stuff.

 

About the Author: Caroline Knorr

As Common Sense Media’s parenting editor, Caroline helps parents make sense of what’s going on in their kids’ media lives. From games to cell phones to movies and more, if you’re wondering “what’s the right age for…?” Caroline can help you make the decision that works best for your family. She has more than 20 years of editorial and creative marketing writing experience and has held senior-level positions at Walmart.com, Walmart stores, Cnet, and Bay Area Parent magazine. She specializes in translating complex information into bite-sized chunks to help families make informed choices about what their kids watch, play, read, and do. And she’s the proud mom of a teenage son whose media passions include Star Wars, StarCraft,graphic novels, and the radio program This American Life.

 

Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsensemedia.org.

Developer Interview with Carrie Ushiba of PawdPet!

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Today’s interview is with Carrie Ushiba of PawdPets.  Please visit their website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

130406067.jpgCarrie, thank you for participating our interview. Please tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Carrie Ushiba, mom and creator of PawdPet, a new tech accessory for kids. My background is in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage Family Child Counseling and worked as a Social Worker for Los Angeles County Department of Children Family Services for many years. My career shifted when I got married and moved to Monterey Peninsula and started working for HSBC in Human Resources. My career has taken me from social work to corporate and I’m now pursuing my dream of becoming an entrepreneur mom!

How did the idea for PawdPet come about?

The inspiration for our product began when we were on a long fight with our daughters and we wanted the trip to be smooth and peaceful. We had loaded a movie for them to watch, but after a while, they got tired of holding it in a good position and became frustrated as young children often do. So then I held it steady for them. But after awhile, I found it tiring and uncomfortable. My daughter has a favorite stuffed animal, her “bun bun” bunny rabbit. I thought, hmmm, maybe that’ll help. Sure enough, bun bun saved the day. We propped the phone onto bun bun’s belly and he held it in a good position and voila, success! The girls were happy and still for the rest of the trip.
I hand-made a version for my children to use, and wherever we went, people would say, “that’s cool… and that’s a brilliant idea” That’s when we thought, “why isn’t there something like this on the market?” – a cuddly stuffed animal that children would love and that could hold, carry, and protect their iPhone, iPod, or tablet. At that point, PawdPet was born!

And how long was the process from the original idea to the release of the first PawdPet?

We kicked it into high gear two years ago after a full year of due diligence of product research and patent process.  We launched our product in October 2015 at the Gearapalooza event in San Francisco with The Bump Club and Beyond hosted by Jaime Grayson aka The BabyGuyNYC.

Did you hire a developer or do it yourself?

We hired an industrial design firm in Oakland to help with our branding and design.

What has been the hardest obstacle you have had to overcome in the development process?

The biggest challenge was communication with factories overseas.  We were dealing with multiple factories to make our PawdPet so communication was critical to ensure all the parts came together to create one complete product.  We had manufacturing set-backs due to lack of communication and misunderstanding.  Today, we have an established relationship with our multiple factories and communication has improved since the beginning.  After initial set-backs, we decided to partner up with a company that assists with on-site quality checks and direct communication with factories to ensure improved communication and manufacturing processes.

Have you had much support during the development process (from family, peers, Apple Inc.)?

Prior to development, we launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to support manufacturing cost.  We successfully raised more than $30k – thanks to our family, friends and new PawdPet fans.  It was through our successful Kickstarter campaign that led us to where we are today.  We are very grateful for the ongoing support and love from our dear family, friends and PawdPet fans all around!

What are your plans for the future? Will you be developing any more PawdPets?

We will continue to promote PawdPet to increase sales.  We are currently working on generation 2.0 of new design and fun animals.  Due to customer’s request, we have started manufacturing a 2-pack of steel plates for additional devices.  We will continue to listen to our customers as we strive to grow and expand our product line.

What sort of feedback has PawdPet been receiving so far?

Because it’s a brand new product and there’s nothing like this out on the market today, at first glance, people think it’s just a stuffed animal.  However, once they realize it’s more than just a stuffed animal, it’s multi-functional, they are intrigued!  Kids love the cuteness of it and parents love the practical and multi-functionalities of PawdPet!

And finally, what advice would you give to anyone considering creating their own app?

I’m a firm believer in – “You don’t know until you try!”  Everything starts with an idea… don’t think too hard about what IF’s… just GO FOR IT!  You don’t want to live wondering or thinking about it – give it a shot and see how far you go.  The most amazing journey is all about the process, not the end result.

Thank you so much for talking with us today and sharing a bit about your company.  We really appreciated the chance to get to know you!

Want a chance to win a PawdPet? Check out our giveaway below!

Giveaway

If you would like to win a PawdPet!, please enter via the widget below. Winners will be emailed and must contact The iMums within 48 hours to claim their prize. This giveaway is open to those in the United States only and you must have a valid physical mailing address. Please ensure you have read and understand our Terms & Conditions. Good luck!

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Developer Interview with Paolo Debellini of Herokins @ The iMums

DrRose Lifestyleshot Mom

Today’s interview is with Paolo Debellini of Herokins.  Please visit their Indiegogo to learn more and be part of the fundraising campaign.

Thank you for participating our interview. Please tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Paolo. I’m originally from Italy. I moved to San Francisco 2 years ago and started Herokins. I have an amazing relationship with my nephews Stefano (8), Anna (6) and Filippo (4). Unfortunately, besides Skype, I can only see them 2-3 times a year. For me, every minute spent with them is golden. That’s why, when I see them picking up ipads or iphones and becoming nervous and robotic I feel very bad. I feel bad because we have such limited time together and technology is disconnecting us. This has to change!! The first objective for me was clear: instead of using another game or toy that replaces the parent or at least disconnects the parent from the child, I wanted to create something that could be enjoyed together as a team. I figured this is the best way to use technology to facilitate family bonding. 

Tell me a bit more about how you decided to create the app and wearable technology?

My source of inspiration for Herokins comes from a very interesting event that happened to me a couple of years ago when I was hiking with my nephews. My nephew, Stefano, was very grumpy because my sister didn’t have time to provide him with the necessary attention. To calm him down, I created a simple story/pretend play: there were villains trying to kidnap us and we needed an alternative route to reach the top of the mountain. With that, his mood flipped 180. He loved it so much, that to this day, we still play the same story, just with different variations. That day opened my eyes, and I asked myself: “is there a way to bring stories into everyday situations? Is there a way for children can really have fun while also learning about the world around them?”. That’s when I created McRed, Dr. Rose, and the world of Herokins. I wanted to create unique superheroes, who despite their superpowers, were imperfect, such that they could be easily relatable. I wanted to create a companion with the “we need to figure this out together”. Bringing the toy to the same level of the child is the foundation of creating an amazing experience and what better way than to create a superhero who is relatable? 

My goal since day one has been very clear: Stories come first; stories are fun, they teach us through inspiration.

water safety mcred1

How will it work?  Tell me more about how parents and kids will work together using the app?

The idea is very simple. We want to strengthen the bond between parents and children. That’s way children are in charge of the Herokin, while parents are in charge of the storytelling and therefore have control over the smartphone. Herokins takes the latest findings in child developmental research and puts them in entertaining 5 to 10 minute StoryQuests.  This experience through the Herokins app and the wearable toy encourages children to learn important life lessons while strengthening the bond between parents and children.  Our StoryQuests take parents and children into the World of Herokins, a fun place where our two superheroes McRed and Dr. Rose live. Herokins is a toy that strongly promotes active play.  A balanced use of technology decreases screen time and increases quality time for parents and children.  The adapting story concept opens up a new, engaging way of teaching and inspiring kids. Stories relate to chores, healthy habits, safety, emotions and much more.

Q: What platforms will it be available on?

It will be available on the iOS, Android and  Kindle Fire devices.

herokinsQ: What has been the hardest obstacle you have had to overcome in the development process?

On paper, the game play is very complex: the stories were happening on the smartphone, while the toy was interacting with the app, while the parent was telling the child to hide behind an imaginary tree. It seemed too confusing for children and parents to operate the program together. But childrens’ imaginations make them unbelievably adept at connecting the dots and creating seamless stories that occur simultaneously on the phone, through the toy, and through human interaction. The feedback so far has been amazing. The concept, however, is still new, and is a bit abstract, making it perplexing to explain thoroughly. 

Q: Can you tell us about the Indiegogo campaign and where we might find this product in the fall?

We chose Indiegogo because we want to create a community of families that can inspire us through their own adventures. That’s why we preferred to get in touch with the end users since day 1 and then build upon it. We will of course try our best to get into bigger retail stores, but we strive for Herokins to be community-driven. We want the community’s voice to be a key part of our identity as we move forward. Rather than product first, then community, we want to have the bottom up approach, similar to our stories.  We create the adventure, and then we examine potential methods of incorporating technology to further the enjoyment of our stories.

Thank you Paolo for talking with us today and sharing a bit about your company.  We really appreciated the chance to get to know you and wish you all the best in your fundraising efforts.  I love the sneak peek I’ve gotten of Herokins as does my seven year old and we can’t wait for it to launch in the market!

Developer Interview with Willow MellBratt of Toca Boca – a play designer of Toca City Life



iPhone Screenshot 2

Today’s interview is with Willow MellBratt, a play designer at Toca Boca.  Please visit their website, Facebook and Twitter pages. Read Fides review of Toca City Life at The iMums!


Willow_Toca_BocaCan you tell us a bit about the creation behind the app?  What gave you the ideas?

We know kids love telling stories. We had a great response from our first role playing app, Toca Town, so based on that we listened to what the kids wanted and decided to focus on a set of storytelling apps that would encompass a kid’s everyday life. Toca Life: City will be the second app in the series.

Can you tell us more about what a play designer does?

Play designers are the guardians of the kids’ perspective. We come up with the concepts for the digital toys Toca Boca makes. We constantly make sure these concepts align with what kids think is fun and playful, so we work closely with kids throughout the process, prototyping and playing. Some concepts even end up being thrown away because kids don’t find them fun.

When designing an app – do you start with pen and ink drawings or right on the computer?

As a play designer, I personally start by mapping my ideas and trying to find lots of inspiration and references. Then I compile all of the inspirational material I’ve gathered and use it to try and visually communicate the vision of the app.

Toca Boca has grown quite a bit since we last chatted with the company – can you tell us a bit about your other brands including Sago Sago?

We acquired Sago Sago in 2013.  They are a small play studio based in Toronto that makes apps for toddlers, so slightly younger kids than Toca Boca. The company shares our same values and design philosophy in terms of open-ended play, designing from the kid’s perspective, and no in-app purchases or third party ads.

Any news you want to share with our audience?

Stay tuned, there are updates to Toca Life: City and more apps to complement the Toca Life series coming soon.

Thank you so much for talking with us today Willow and sharing a bit about your company.  We really appreciated the chance to get to know you!

Toca Life: City
Toca Life: City
by Toca Boca AB

Category: Education, Entertainment
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone4-iPhone4, iPodTouchFourthGen-iPodTouchFourthGen, iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPhone4S-iPhone4S, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPhone5-iPhone5, iPodTouchFifthGen-iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPhone5c-iPhone5c, iPhone5s-iPhone5s, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPhone6-iPhone6, iPhone6Plus-iPhone6Plus, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPodTouchSixthGen-iPodTouchSixthGen, iPhone6s-iPhone6s, iPhone6sPlus-iPhone6sPlus, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPhoneSE-iPhoneSE, iPhone7-iPhone7, iPhone7Plus-iPhone7Plus, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74
Size: 316.74 MB

$2.99USD

Screenshots
(Click to enlarge)
Screenshots for iPad
(Click to enlarge)

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Giveaway

If you would like to win a promo code for this app, please enter via the widget below. Winners will be emailed and must contact The iMums within 48 hours to claim their prize. This giveaway is open to everyone, worldwide, and an iTunes account is required to claim the prize. Please ensure you have read and understand our Terms & Conditions. Good luck!

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Must have baby shower gifts for the Mum and Dad to be courtesy of Kids.Woot!

Munchkin White Hot® Inflatable Duck Safety Baby Bath Tub

Before I had my kids – I never really thought about what was a “practical” gift for a mom-to-be at a baby shower.  I can remember going to the store and buying cute little outfits in the 0-3 month range with lots of pieces and that required dry cleaning!  Wow!  Has life changed.  Now that I have two children of my own, when I buy for a mom to be – I always try to consider the following: Is the item practical meaning will it get used more than once or will it just be put into a drawer, never to be seen again;  does it perform an action – meaning if it’s a bib is it something that is easy to clean up and re-use; does it help the Mum or Dad in everyday actions – for example a bottle rack.  If it fits those categories and it’s on the baby registry into my cart it goes.

I can remember feeling so overwhelmed the first time I tried to online shop for baby gear.  There was an overwhelming amount of gear that was a “must have” in order to bring my newborn home, when in reality all I really need was a safe place for the baby to sleep, diapers, a car seat, bottles, a few burp cloths (for the inevitable spit up), and a car seat.  Those items will get you through the first rocky weeks as a new parent.  Then as your babies get bigger (and sadly they get bigger too fast!) you will need bigger bibs to contain the mess!  Other items include mesh feeders for trying their first solids safely, teethers, video baby monitors, hooded towels and more.  The adorable tub above is by Munchkin and is part of the kids.woot!event too!  The tub is perfect for your kids, because if the bathwater is too hot, it says “hot” and provides an easy surface that is slip resistant because if your kids are anything like mine they like to try to climb out when they are being bathed!

Enter kids.woot!, they have been a huge lifesaver as I try to navigate the world with my two kids.   They are a subsidiary of Amazon which has daily deals on a variety of things including – baby gear such as bibs, plates, baby bath tubs, baby plates and more!  I loved that the site has a link to Amazon which I have shopped on for years (and it even remembers my information from Amazon making it easy to login and order on the fly!) making it super convenient when I have just a few moments to grab the necessary essentials for my baby. I love getting the emails with a daily deal and then deciding if I want to buy or not, all from the convenience of my smartphone which allows me to check out the daily email, decide if I want to buy and with a quick click thanks for my saved information make a purchase and know it will be on my doorstep in a few days.

Grass Countertop Drying Rack

 

I also love buying products that will serve a purpose now – like the Boon Grass and Twig which I can use for drying out sippy cups and their various pieces, bottles and bottle parts and later as my kids get bigger I can use it for delicate items like china or crystal since it is soft and doesn’t take up too much space on my counter-top.  Best of all – Woot is running a bunch of deals this week for Mums to be – meaning you or your family members can stock up on some great deals for the baby or upcoming baby shower.  One of my other favorite parts of the page is where people “discuss the deal” – there are moms out there

kids.woot! is a daily discount site with deals that typically run 24 hours – midnight to midnight with SALES of 20% or more from standard market prices which means you get a better price on the site than from buying it from Amazon or even another retailer – but the goal is to act quick because the deals expire and when the deal is over or the merchandise is gone it’s gone forever – or at least until the next deal.  That means if I see something – even if I don’t need it at the moment like a cute hooded towel, I may grab it just to have one for a birthday present or maybe even to put into my closet as my kids get bigger.

As a mom, you want to get yourself great products for your kids and help others save some money will doing so.  I love that Woot is having an event which will help celebrate babies and help their parents get what they need for those first precious months, because let’s face it going out into the world with a screaming baby or children isn’t always the most fun thing to do.  Having items delivered to your front door, at a good price means that both you and your wallet are happy and there is less stress going on in your everyday life.

Products featured this week will include brands like Munchkin (perfect for those first feedings and organizing your bottles); Bumpkin (perfect for those first solid feedings and clean ups as well as organizing all of your bottle gear) and Trend Lab (towels, teethers and more!)

I know I’ll be buying a few bibs this week via kids.woot!as my son has decided that the sleeves on his current bibs are not long enough and he’s decided to do some artwork decorating on his clothes.  Bumpkin bibs are super easy to clean and when you throw them in the wash they always come out looking brand new no matter how big the mess was when you started!  We have gotten a lot of different food items on them as well as paint, markers and more.  They are truly a multipurpose baby product that keeps on going.  There will be lots of great products on sale this week as part of the baby shower event so stock up while the deals are great!

Happy shopping at kids.woot!!