Time for the Kids to Become the Online Teachers

Change has always been the domain of the young. From the end of the Vietnam War to the Arab Spring, it’s not parents who are out there advocating change, it’s the youth. In the online world, it’s time to get kids, especially the web-savvy ones, to take a stronger role in their own safety and etiquette.

I attended the annual meeting for FOSi (Family Online Safety Institute) a few weeks ago and was gratified that instead of the decades of scare tactics about how much trouble kids can find on the internet, there was a commitment to good research and to working hand in hand with kids instead of trying to hand down ultimatums.

What Kids Know That Parents Don’t: For one thing, they know how much of a mess the Internet really is, and how ill-equipped their parents are to serve as guides. The research FOSi commissioned found that while 84% of parents felt they monitored their teen’s online behavior very closely, a much smaller percentage of teens (39%) actually felt as if they were being monitored closely. The same perception gap was reported when 91% of parents felt they knew about their teen’s activities, while teens reported that their parents were not particularly well informed. Parent’s biggest knowledge gaps were in social networking areas, especially with newer sites and topics like Pinterest, Instagram and mobile apps. Parents and teens both claimed to worry about identity theft, invasion of privacy and a blotted school record. Teens expressed concern that parents didn’t fully understand the ferocity of images that are posted without consent, and “regrettable” comments online.

A Platform for Good: Most of the research underscores that kids are a bit more in touch with the realities of connected living, and learning quickly how to show caution when necessary. That’s real evolution. One of the best things to come out of the sessions was the launch of Platform for Good, where parents, teachers and kids can band together to effect positive change in the world using online connections. In a nice sway from the predictable, the project features high school students that appear in small vignettes teaching parents about what goes on that they ought to know about. They use a little charm, a lot of humor and offer up good honest kid advice on subjects as wide ranging as: mobile apps, setting up mobile phone features, reputation, and gaming.

For parents who don’t know a Pintrest from a pint of milk, an hour on this site goes a long way towards a reality check.


Introducing Wellocracy at the 2013 Silvers Summit

Wellocrasy to launch at International CES 2013 Silvers Summit. Check it out: http://chealthblog.connected-health.org/2012/11/25/wellocracy-is-coming-watch-for-it/


Welcome: Yomi Abiola!

Welcome to Yomi Abiola, curator for this year’s FashionWare exhibit and party at International CES 2013. We’ll be celebrating the latest wearable fashions from designers all over the world and we’ll be contributing a portion of the proceeds to Stand Up for Fashion, Yomi’s charity to help solve social issues in the fashion industry. To find out more about how to join our efforts, visit http://fashionwareshow.com.


Tech Help for Aging’s Little Problems

Try as you might to stay looking and feeling your youngest, there’s no denying that eyesight, reflexes, memory, and hearing all reach a peak and then slowly slip.  Irritating? Certainly. But technology is getting better and better about picking up some of the slack. Robin Raskin wrote this piece for Mashable, filled with great ideas on how to hold back the ravages. Check it out here: http://mashable.com/2012/11/13/tech-to-help-with-aging/


Holiday Gifts for Boomers and Seniors

Our good friend, Susan Ayers Walker, who co-founded the Silvers Summit at CES, shares a few of her best gift ideas at one of our favorite sites, Techlicious:  http://www.techlicious.com/guide/holiday-2012-tech-gifts-for-seniors/

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Moms and Kids are Front and Center at the 2013 International CES

Moms and Kids are Front and Center at the 2013 International CES

Nolan Bushnell, David Pogue & Warren Buckleitner among Featured Speakers;

Registration open at cesweb.org  


(New York, NY) October 31, 2012 – Learn what today’s digital kids expect and what their families want to see at the Kids@Play and MommyTech Summits at the 2013 International CES®. These conference sessions bring together industry leaders to examine the epicenter of consumer technology as it shifts to the family consumer, discuss how to reach the coveted $2.1 trillion mommy audience and connect with kids who have grown up in a digital world. Owned and produced by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) ®, the 2013 CES is scheduled January 8-11, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Produced by Living in Digital Times®, the Kids@Play Summit is scheduled for 9 a.m. and the MommyTech Summit is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Wednesday, January 9 in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), 

“This year’s kids are digitally connected, almost at birth. Fifteen new tablet devices made expressly for kids are now on the market,” said Robin Raskin, founder, Living in Digital Times. “We’ll explore some of today’s hottest trends, from the rise in kids’ tablets to apps, books and virtual worlds.  Participating companies include a broad spectrum of influencers, from Lego and Leapfrog to new brands like Wanderful Storybooks and Wizards 101.” 

In the afternoon, MommyTech will heat things up with a discussion about how technology is changing the sex lives of women, the business of blogging and what it means to be a woman in the CE industry. Featured products include a bevy of smart solutions to mom’s most onerous problems, including remote home monitoring, e-wallets, new mobile devices and child monitoring.


Other Session Happenings

Kids@Play: Nolan Bushnell, often referred to as the “father of digital kids,”  creator of Atari and founder of Chuck E. Cheese, will offer a sneak peek at his latest projects and discuss why kids learn best when they’re engaged at 9 a.m. 

MommyTech: Women in CE – Join some of today’s most successful women in a variety of careers from engineering, publishing and finance in a lively discussion about bringing a woman’s touch to the manly world of tech at 4:30 p.m. 

“By the end of the day, attendees will know how to find their inner child as well as think like a mom when it comes to technology purchases,” added Raskin. 

In addition to a full day of sessions, the Kids@Play and MommyTech Exhibitions, located in the Venetian Ballroom, will be open January 8-11, 2013. 

Registered summit guests will be able to join Living in Digital Times for evening festivities including the Kids@Play interactive (KAPi) Awards and a spotlight on wearable high tech fashion.  To register for the 2013 CES, go here: http://registration3.experientevent.com/showCES131/Default.aspx.



High Tech/Low Cost Gifts for the Older Folks in Your Life

Technology can be an older person’s best friend—keeping them connected when it may be difficult to get out, keeping them safe, keeping them entertained, and keeping them physically and mentally engaged.

Here are a couple of ideas that I really like as gifts for an older population.

5star ResponderGreatCall’s 5Star Emergency Response System and Medical Apps – A small clip on device, this personal emergency system lets you help keep your loved ones safe, even when they’re out of their homes, because it relies on the cellular network. Press the button on the device and the service connects you to a GreatCall operator trained to help in emergencies. Enter your doctor’s name, family members and medical advice into the MyGreatCall database and you can rest easier knowing there’s a safety net in place. $49.99 for the 5Star device; $14.99/month for service.

PhotoBucket Storing photos in cloud makes it easy to share your photos with the whole family; it’s a great way to keep close. Photobucket provides tools for easy upload from any device, easy editing tools, and a way to share videos and photos from any device. Free sign-up. Manage remotely to update every occasion. Costs vary by storage space. Another new way to share photos is with cloud based apps that can share photos directly to any device like this one from CloudFrame or Familiar. Both of these can turn any iPad, smartphone or desktop into a photo gallery controlled “by the kids”.

Biscotti™ TV Cam Check in on loved ones from the comfort of your living room using the Biscotti TV Cam. The sleek, small device is easy to use and turns televisions into a giant, high definition video phone, no computer required, $199.

Netflix What I like about NetFlix as a gift for older parents and grandparents is that you can manage it for them. (Just don’t choose the movies that you’d like to see; remember it’s for them.) Your parents (or grandparents) can instantly watch unlimited movies & TV show episodes streaming over the Internet to the TV via most internet connected devices. Or they can just get the DVD or BluRay in the mail. $7.99/month and up depending on service plan.


Lessons from Sandy: High Tech Tools for the Next Disaster

When your home is on the banks of the Hudson River, you take tide charts and barometric readings very seriously. But when the Internet stops working, it’s time to rely on your wits and a few handy gadgets. Robin Raskin, founder of Living in Digital Times, writes about the tools that helped her survive the storm:  http://mashable.com/2012/11/02/lessons-from-sandy/


Boomers Upgrade to Windows 8

Microsoft’s new Windows 8 has been evaluated from many different angles, but what’s the benefit of the upgrade to those of us way-back Windows users? Gary Kaye, who will be hosting a panel at this year’s Silvers Summit, looks at Win8 to see what the Boomers will like. He speaks with Bonnie Kearney, Director of Accessibility & Aging Marketing at Microsoft.


Google Plus Grandma: How Smart Moms Survive In The Information Jungle by Laura Simpson

Laura Simpson is SVP, Global Director of McCann Truth Central at McCann Erickson and the author of this piece which first appeared on Engage: Moms published by Mediapost.

Once upon a time we lived in a world of village parenting where matriarchal knowledge was limited to immediate family and neighbors. We now live in a world of community parenting where the matriarchal knowledge base is limitless and moms are part of multiple online and offline groups. From parenting books and magazines to community forums, TV Shows, celebrities, doctors and Facebook you might say that modern mom has truly inherited the “momopedia…”

The upside to this new information-rich era is that mom has a multitude of ways to answer the age old questions…  “Am I normal?” and “Is my child normal?” For many mothers, the quest for answers begins by simply typing her most pressing query into Google. In our recent “Truth About Moms” research, the mothers in Italy referred to Google as “The Oracle!” 

But this deluge of information has not come without challenges. In fact, over half (58%) agree globally that when it comes to making good parenting decisions, there is too much conflicting information out there. This sentiment is highest in the developing markets: 70% in China, 69% in Brazil and 66% in India.

Moms are responding to this by developing their curation skills and learning how to expertly blend new world and old world sources. They take traditional advice from their mothers or grandmothers and filter it via technology until the best solution is reached. As a Brazilian mother said; “When my first daughter was born I remember that her belly button fell off and I told my grandmother about it. She asked me, ‘Did you bury it?’ I had already thrown it out, so I went to the Internet.” Forty-nine percent of moms chose their mom or other female family member as one of the two best sources for providing advice and info they really trust. This is even higher in the U.S. (61%) and UK (59%).

Mom is becoming adept at using different sources for different solutions. For example, the top-rated source for child-friendly activities is community sites like Café Mom, the top-rated source for recommendations for child friendly products is friends and relatives, and the top-rated source for child education is parenting books and magazines.

Moms also use online communities to find the answers to embarrassing questions or seek information on taboo subjects like post-natal depression. Interestingly, she has the unique opportunity to find her “mom twin” online. In her real life friendship circle she may not know a mother with a child of exactly the same age experiencing the same challenges (a specific allergy, for example), but she can find the woman who reflects her own precise situation online and ask her for advice and tips.

On the flip side, she will also find women online who have a completely different parenting ethos and approach to her own. The problem with so many readily-available facts is that everyone is an expert on parenting and everyone feels qualified to criticize everyone else’s approach to parenting. In our groups we noted a degree of judgment between moms and wondered if this was being exacerbated by the explosion of parenting information sources and online communities. In our quantitative survey we saw that the top sources of debate amongst moms were non-working vs. working mom, what to feed your kids and schooling.

So how does mom survive in this new information jungle?  Smart moms believe that as well as honing your curation skills, you need to look inside and rely on your own mom compass; 73% believe that a good mom always relies on her own instincts. 

Brands that succeed will not only bolster a mom’s confidence but also strengthen her inner compass and avoid adding to the clutter of information. In a world of infinite facts, truths and opinions, brands must recognize that moms are not seeking the right answer; they are simply seeking the answer that’s right for her and her child.

Click here to post your response to the public Engage:Moms blog.

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Laura Simpson is SVP, Global Director of McCann Truth Central at McCann Erickson.