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BEFORE SANTA COMES……. Part II: Game Consoles & Game Ratings

Face it!  Some of us were born TOO SOON!

Kids today have awesome game systems to play.  Many of us, though, grew up feeding quarters into arcade games like PONG, ASTEROIDS, MISSILE COMMAND, and PAC MAN.  Other spent hundreds of hours playing STREET FIGHTER II, MORTAL KOMBAT, MARVEL VS CAPCOM, DONKEY KONG COUNTRY, and others at the arcade or (later) on early consoles.

Well, soon Santa will be delivering hundreds of thousands of shiny new PLAYSTATION 4, XBOX ONE, Nintendo SWITCH consoles, as well as handheld systems!  And this doesn’t include all the games that will be in stockings!

Unfortunately, as with all technologies, game consoles deliver content designed for people of  many ages and beliefs.  This requires parents to determine what is and isn’t appropriate for their family members based upon family beliefs, children’s ages, and children’s maturity levels & behaviors.

So, whether it’s your family’s first console, or 15th, let’s look at Game Ratings before getting the chimney ready for Santa to arrive!

Continue reading BEFORE SANTA COMES……. Part II: Game Consoles & Game Ratings

The Impact of Cell Phones on Life

I came across this video on Facebook this morning and wanted to share it with all of my blog readers.

It is NOT a “bash the Millennials” video.  If anything, it serves as a reproach to the generation that raised them.  Instead it is a discussion of how several factors, including technology (especially cell phones and social media) have impacted the Millennial generation in terms of happiness, relationships, and job satisfaction.

Watch it, now, and then read on.

The impact of technology on mental health is becoming more and more apparent.  Consider the impact that this gentleman was discussing in terms depression and happiness.  Then, look at the new reports that reveal that suicide rates since 1999 have increased by 30% in America.

30%!!!!

Not surprisingly, this time period also saw the rise in personal technology and communications, from the early days of AOL Instant Messenger to today’s numerous social media apps.  In fact, studies are linking the rise in teen depression and suicide to the rise of smart phone use, as discussed here.

One of the most important points that this gentleman makes is that we do not have age limits on technologies that are doing the exact same things to our brains that alcohol, nicotine, and drugs do.

This is why my guidelines for phones and persona tech are:

If children MUST have a phone (and there are valid reasons why they may) then only give them a phone, not a mobile computer.  There are still flip-phones for sale.  If a child does have have a smart phone parents should  disable/delete social media and web access.  No, the child won’t like it, but that’s parenting….

It is crucial to set strong boundaries as to when and where phones/tablets may be used by children and youth!  Consider these rules in the home:

  • For elementary age children, only allow them access to the phone/tablet WHEN THEY NEED IT, such as when they are away from home/family.  This age group should not carry a phone around like a wallet, 24/7.  Nothing should be distracting them from typical non-electronic play and activities (This applies to game systems as well.)
  • For middle school age children, set specific time limits and other controls on the phones, forcing them to have to interact in person, rather than through social media and chat.
  • High school students should have broader time limits, but should still have controls that limit access to social media and inappropriate content.
  • All phones (including Mom’s and Dad’s) should be charged in a central location, not in bedrooms.
  • If you feel that you need a phone in your bedroom for emergencies, get a “regular” phone.  Such service may be part of your cable bundle, anyway.

Sit down to discuss why these rules are important with your spouse/co-parent, and with your children.

We’ll talk more about this  in 2019, but keep this in mind as you plan your Christmas giving to your children.

And remember the Jurassic Park Rule:

“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!”

Check out these other popular posts:

 

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BEFORE SANTA COMES……. Part I: Phones

IT’S ALMOST HERE!!!!!!

CHRISTMAS!!!!!

Time to gird ourselves for the sales!

BUT, it is also a time for parents to consider the TECH-SAFE implications of their purchases and plan accordingly!

Let’s start by taking a look at PHONES!

Continue reading BEFORE SANTA COMES……. Part I: Phones

WHATSAPP & The MOMO Suicide Game: What Parents Need To Know

Over the past couple of weeks there has been increasing coverage in the media concerning a potential new “suicide game” on the Internet:  MOMO.  As with most viral threats online, there are a lot of things being reported, including MOMO popping up in YouTube videos and even in the MINECRAFT Game.  Momo is even being compared to 2017’s BLUE WHALE Suicide Game.

So, let’s look at MOMO and see what Parents Need To Know in order to protect their children! Continue reading WHATSAPP & The MOMO Suicide Game: What Parents Need To Know

SMILE!!! You’re on Candid Camera
2018 Update

A friend of mine “video called” their daughter, who was at college, via the computer recently.  She was surprised when her daughter’s web cam came on without the daughter taking any action!  In fact, her daughter didn’t even appear to be home!

Scary!

Now, consider the 2010 scandal in the Lower Merion School District, near Philadelphia, in which built-in webcams on school-issued laptops could be, and were, remotely activated.  This allowed District personnel to observe students even when they were at home, in the privacy of their own rooms! (Read about that here.)

Scarier!

Finally, there have been stories like this this that tell us that the FBI and NSA (among others) have long had the capability to remotely access phones, webcams, and computers.  It’s a sure bet that more nefarious folk have those capabilities, too

All of this new technology is creating serious privacy concerns!

DISCLAIMER:  I am not one of those who see a conspiracy or BIG BROTHER behind every tree.  But, these situations exists and we need to know what can be done with OUR technologies, on OUR devices, in OUR homes so we can protect ourselves and our families.

Continue reading SMILE!!! You’re on Candid Camera
2018 Update

VPNFilter Update: Worse than originally thought – Update and Reset Now

There has been multiple reporting over the weekend that the VPNFilter Router malware issue is worse than originally thought.  Whereas the original assessment was that VPNFilter enabled the hackers to use infected hardware to launch attacks elsewhere on the Internet, new analyses show that it can also target the end user’s data, even weakening security protocols (such as HTTPS, used when you visit your bank, email, and other “secure” accounts) and sending “payloads” in data streams in your network.  Furthermore, they have seen evidence that the malware can be enhanced through “plug-ins” that can give it additional capabilities.

ALL users of consumer/small-office routers need to perform a firmware update followed immediately by a factory reset.

Here are a couple of the articles that have been released that have more details and instructions.:

The 3rd article lists those routers currently known to be at risk as well as links to various manufacturers’ pages with instructions on how to do the reset.  Make sure that you follow the preparatory steps listed before doing the reset!

This is also a good opportunity to:

  • Change the WIFI Keys to a more secure key (12 characters minimum). (Tell the kids they have to finish chores to get the new key!)  Keep in mind you will have to update the WIFI key on all WIFI devices in the house.
  • Create a new password for the router, itself.

If you change the WIFI keys make sure that you make a list of all devices that use your network such as:

  • WIFI printers
  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Phones
  • Smart TVs
  • Game consoles/systems
  • Streaming TV Boxes (ROKU, Apple TV, etc.)
  • Digital Assistants (Amazon ECHO, Google HOME, etc.)
  • etc.

Due to the danger posed by VPNFilter it is STRONGLY recommended that you perform the firmware update and factory reset as soon as possible.

You may want to share links to this and the previous article with friends and family members.

I will update you as new information is received.

Buddy

 

VPNFilter Malware: What Parents Need To Know

This past weekend the FBI issued a warning about a new malware (MALicious softWARE) called VPNFilter that is infecting routers and which creates the VPNFilter botnet.  Here is a link to the FBI  news release:

https://www.ic3.gov/media/2018/180525.aspx

The FBI’s recommendation was for everyone to “reboot” their routers to temporarily disrupt this threat.  Well, since this started blowing up the Internet last Friday I have been researching it.  Here’s Knights’ Quest’s take on it! Continue reading VPNFilter Malware: What Parents Need To Know

VIRTUAL REALITY (VR): What Parents Need To Know

Virtual Reality, or VR, continues to grow in popularity while the hardware becomes more readily available…and affordable!

Consumer VR comes to the home through a specialized headset (which is connected with a computer, game console, or smart phone) that places the user in a digital world. Professionals are using it in engineering, medicine, and within the educational community.  It has even been found useful for treating people suffering from anxiety and for treating soldiers suffering from PTSD.  Others use VR to visit far places, or attend events, all without leaving home.  Many others are planning on using VR to rid the Universe of the alien monster threat!

So, what’s the big deal?

Well, good 21st Century parents need to carefully look at any new technology to understand the good and the bad that comes with it.

So, let’s look at VR!

Continue reading VIRTUAL REALITY (VR): What Parents Need To Know

BLACK FRIDAY 2017 & CELL PHONES: What Parents Need To Know

HOW did Black Friday get here so fast?  Seems like we were just in Back-To-School Mode!!!

Well, as Santa begins to stock his sleigh, there are some tech matters that parents need to consider, whether it’s what type of phone to get Junior, or if Little Suzie gets the Kindle she wants.

There are many choices with regards to cell phones, including which “family” of phones is best for your child: Android, Apple, Windows.

So, let’s look consideration parents need to know before going into combat….er…shopping on Black Friday!

Continue reading BLACK FRIDAY 2017 & CELL PHONES: What Parents Need To Know

New Promo Video: THE TECH-SAFE HOME!

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