All us grown-ups around here use Pandora, the online, customized radio station that adapts to your musical tastes. What hadn’t occurred to us, though, was its kid appeal. And the parent appeal of not having to listen to “Baby Beluga” for the 49th time. Turns out the station has kid genre stations, including Toddler Radio (think Sesame Street, Disney, The Wiggles), Lullabye, Radio for Kids and Rockin’ Kids (for the early elementary crowd), and Tween Radio. It’s free – Pandora’s supported by ads, but they’re not too annoying. Call it up on your laptop – there’s an iPhone version too – type the name, i.e., “Toddler Radio,” into the “create a station” box on Pandora and it does the rest.
And, if you’re programming Metallica for your toddlers, we won’t tell.
Teens and privacy? What privacy? According to a new Harris Interactive teen survey released yesterday, teens have few qualms about disclosing their physical location (69% of the teens said they had), or chatting with strangers (28%) and divulging their e-mail address (24%), image (18%) or cell phone number (12%). The survey, which was commissioned by McAfee, studied 955 U.S. teens between ages 13 and 17 – and it’s “a wake-up call,” says Tracy Mooney, McAfee Chief Cyber Security Mom (yes, that’s her official job title).
We’ve talked a lot about the need for parents to talk with their kids about online safety and privacy issues. Consider this yet another reminder…
When it comes to teens and technology, how much is too much? Join Childhood Matters’ Rona Renner, Student Organizational Services director Beth Samuelson, Positive Technology Relationships founder Jason Brand, teachers and teens as they discuss multitasking, cell phones, Facebook and homework at “Helping Teens Learn in an Era of Digital Overload,” a panel discussion and Q&A this Saturday, March 20 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Orinda Academy.
Do you haunt the virtual halls of Facebook? Post your every thought? Or just poke your friends occasionally? The Skinny Scoop, a blog by a pair of Stanford business school grads, surveys moms on all sorts of funny little things, from “What does the Tooth Fairy pay at your house?” to in-law relations. Not sure how scientific anything is, but the Facebook mom stats are particularly entertaining. Moms may fret endlessly about their kids online exposure, but 91% post pics of their little darlings on Facebook. Also, 75% have un-friended someone, and 64% have been unfriended – and 67% think Facebooking a birth announcement, instead of sending out cards, is just fine. And 88% have looked up an old crush. Have you?
Saw a fun post this morning from my buddy Susan Adcox over on About.com – seems grandparents are taking over Facebook. While the number of college and high school kids on Facebook has been dropping this year – by 15-20% in the first six months of 2009 alone – the number of grownups, ages 55 and up, has soared. There were a million grandparents on Facebook last year. Now it’s 6 million. Um, you don’t think there’s a connection, do you?
Care to chat with Wolfgang? The San Francisco Opera has teamed up with SecretBuilders.com, a virtual world for kids with a focus on the creative arts, and the result is pretty cool: a meet-and-greet with a virtual Mozart , audio and video clips from the opera, “The Magic Flute,” and an “Art for Mozart” contest where kids can design their own Papageno posters. And your kids may not care about this part, but us opera-lovers think it’s wildly cool – it’s not just Mozart frolicking about that stage, there’s a David Gockley avatar too. Gockley, the San Francisco Opera’s general director, says he’s looking forward to “rubbing shoulders with Mozart, even if only virtually.”
As for the rest of SecretBuilders, which is aimed at kids 6-14, you can also go on a quest with Galileo, visit Frank ‘n’Stein’s Gallery and nosh at the Macbeth-themed Weird Brew Cafe.
Between their crazy schedules and upside-down circadian rhythms, teens always have been somewhat sleep-deprived. Now technology is making it worse. Teens are not just texting, instant-messaging and surfing Facebook all day; they’re sleeping with their cell phones or laptops, too. Or rather, not sleeping. And doctors and parents, many of them raised in an era when phones were attached to walls, are concerned. The average teen sends 2,899 text messages a month – that’s 97 a day. And, according to a new study conducted in Belgium, some 44% of those kids are waking up in the middle of the night to answer their phone or send a text. We explored the issue in depth in yesterday’s Times and Trib, talked to experts and kids, and pulled up some suggestions for how parents can help their kids – including a very simple and practical suggestion from San Jose psychologist David Marcus on how to help your teen see that life’s better when you’re not exhausted.
I have mixed feelings about TV Turnoff Week – and at first I thought it was just because it’s inadvisable to get between me and my Tivo’d episodes of “Lost.” But I’ve been reading Christy Matte’s blog post on the topic, and she just nails what I was feeling. OK, she says, we spend too much time staring at screens, but “this one week without any connectivity is supposed to make us healthier, smarter and more close to our families. I find the whole thing absurd.” TV Turn Off Week is like a “fad diet” that doesn’t differentiate between good and bad electronic amusements, and doesn’t provide any kind of long lasting effects. Instead, she suggests, “How about encouraging people to spend an hour more family time each week all year long? Or to spend another 45 minutes a week doing something fun outside?”
OK, the Topps baseball card company may not say its latest venture was inspired by Harry Potter, but those of us with a yen for chocolate frogs and the magical trading cards with moving wizard pics, will find the new 3-D baseball card concept a little familiar. But awesome, nonetheless. Topps, purveyor of traditional trading cards (like the one pictured to the left) for a zillion years, is introducing new “augmented reality” baseball cards today. Hold one up to a webcam and a 3-D avatar pops up on your laptop. Rotate the card and the baseball player rotates too. Topps’ chief digital officer Steve Grimes called it “the ‘Beam me up, Scotty’ version of a baseball card,” in his interview with the New York Times. And Louise Curcio, marketing veep at Topps competitor, Upper Deck, says her company is working on virtual cards that “come alive and contain video.”
OK, that’s cool. But we’d rather have one with Dumbledore.
Videotaping a birth is so old school. The hip new thing, apparently, is twittering – tweeting – through labor. Twitter, for those of you who don’t know, is a micro-blogging network where users send out quick little updates, just a few words to subscriber lists. Now, it’s entered the labor and delivery room.
MTV is reporting that Grammy Award-winning soul singer Erykah Badu and her rapper boyfriend, Jay Electronica, twittered every detail of their daughter’s birth on Sunday, from Badu’s first “Morning, I’m in labor” to Electronica’s awestruck “I see the head, full of hair.”
So now we’re curious. Very, very curious. Did you text through labor? Twitter? Set up a web cam?