Both Cingular and Verizon Wireless have pulled back from the kid-focused cell phone market as of this week. Verizon has completely halted production of the LG Migo VX1000, while Cingular will only sell its Firefly handsets through its online store (The Firefly will continue to be sold in big U.S. retailers like Wal-Mart and Target). Verizon says that it appears the LG VX3450L has taken the Migo's place -- the LG VX3450L is identical to the LG VX3450 but it has support for Chaperone, a Verizon service that lets parents keep close tabs on their kids. It appears … Read more
Everyone loves big, round numbers, so when Download.com Music published its 100,000th song recently, we were quick to break out the champagne. Yeah, we admit it, we're suckers for celebrations. Still, there's no question that's a lot of songs--enough to push any iPod (or any sane music fan, for that matter) past its breaking point.
So with a landmark number like that behind us, we were curious: who was the musician who put us over the edge? None other than LA artist Gray Kid. He has a fresh, catchy sound that mixes space-age effects … Read more
ActiveAllowance is a complex site that helps families with children manage the kids' allowances and chores. After experimenting with it for a few minutes, it made me hope that my 8-month-old son never, ever grows up. Am I really going to have to manage a list of chores, pay for them piecemeal, and then teach my kid to motivate himself, budget his income, and learn about saving, investing, and so on?
I suppose that's part of being a dad. And a site like this could help me and my wife keep our messages consistent. ActiveAllowance tracks lists of chores and goals, and helps a child budget his efforts to finish the tasks that earn him money. It also helps kids allocate their income based on family guidelines (so much for savings, for charity, and so on). Parents can set it up so allowance money is awarded when certain chores are done, or you can decouple allowance from chores if that's the way you parent.
Kids get their own simplified interface when they log in. From there, they can check how they are doing against their goals, and print "checks" to draw from their allowance funds, which they present to the Bank of Their Parents, presumably in exchange for cash or goods.
The site allows for very detailed management of chore lists, payments for them, and budgeting, and I found it frighteningly complex. User feedback on the site's forums tells the story: it takes time for users to get past the learning curve. There are many who seem to be stuck in the support forums. But once the program is grasped, the transparency and communication fostered--and the degree of consideration required before you can fill out the details--helps families communicate more effectively about money, and ActiveAllowance can motivate and teach children in all the right ways.
My take, though, is this: if your sons or daughters can follow all the ins and outs of their detailed chore list and exactly what income they're going to earn from each task--and if they begin to effectively organize their lives around getting what they want--then you might do well to give them your Quicken password and let them run all the household's finances. And maybe if you get to work each day on time, they'll grant you your own allowance.
Vaguely related: Wired's new Geek Dad blog.
Two more pictures after the jump.
I just got this tip from my wife, who got it from a local mothers' group e-mail list: HowsMyNanny.com is a service for the worried parent. Once subscribed (New York only, so far), you get a license plate-like plaque you zip-tie to your kid's stroller. When the help takes the kid out, the plaque serves as a beacon to passers-by: if they see your child's caregiver acting inappropriately (or exemplary), they are encouraged to log on to the HowsMyNanny site when they get to a computer, and report the incident.
It's the "How's my … Read more
MySpace.com may be great to keep in touch with your friends. But when it comes to family, one may want a site that is more secure and a little less slimy. A closed-networking site, Famster, which came out of public beta last month, hopes to become your family's virtual home on the Internet. Although there are a vast number of things to highlight on the site, the five following features are the cream of the crop:
1. Photo and video uploads: What would a family site be without a visual media exchange? On Famster, you can upload an … Read more
"Do as I say, not as I do," probably summarizes the financial advice of many parents. Intuit, by contrast, aims for its new, Web-based Quicken Kids & Money to teach young children fiscal discipline while demanding attention from parents in the process. This $99 yearly subscription includes browser-based interfaces for parents and their 5- to 8-year-olds. The time seems ripe for an interactive service like this, given advertisers' colossal efforts to capture the hearts and minds of children along with the wallets of their parents.
Designed for integration into household habits rather than as a babysitting tool, Quicken … Read more
As I suspected, there were interesting Web 2.0 finds in the audience at the Stirr event. Many of these online products are still being built, but they're interesting to experiment with:
Allth.at: Lets you set up custom, persistent searches. In other words, you can tell it which sites to search (Google, eBay, Technorati, etc.), and which sites to exclude. You can also have the system alert you when there are new results in your searches. Somewhat redundant for those of us who use RSS agents (like Google's) to track keywords on the Web, but has the … Read more
Sometimes, when parental fogyism gets the better of us, we just have to ask why. Why, for example, would you want to encourage a child to learn text messaging before they need to? Won't they be retreating to their secluded corners with device in hand soon enough?
Mattel apparently wants to accelerate adolescent isolation by introducing the $65 "IM-Me," kind of a training-wheels version of a texting phone or SMS device that we spotted on Gadgets Weblog. About the only good thing we can see is that it doesn't require a two-year contract, working instead only … Read more
Kids these days don't know how good they've got it. When I was a kid, you were lucky to get one megapixel in your camera, and that megapixel would be written to a single 3.5-inch floppy disk. We didn't have MP3 players or pocket camcorders or any of those fancy things. The only moving pictures we had were on our CRT monitors. And don't get me started on the regular ritual of taking the mouse ball out of your beige mouse and picking lint out of the rollers.
Today, kids have their Facebooks and Myspaces … Read more
This one isn't exactly rocket science, but it looks like it could blossom into a useful service: Parentography. This is a user-generated directory of things to do with kids. It reminds me of Chowhound (now a CNET property), a restaurant reviews site written by foodies for foodies. This is pretty much the same thing but for parents (sadly, few venues are good bets for parents who are also foodies).
Parentography has reviews of museums, parks, restaurants, and other venues that its members recommend (or don't) for families with kids in tow. It also has a section for "… Read more