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Category: Improve Your World

Smart Tech in a Home with Kids

Smart Home Technology Families Kids

Smart technology is becoming the norm rather than the exception, with more and more gadgets helping make our homes more efficient. This technology can help make our lives more convenient, and our kids’ educational experience more enriched.

Smart tech can add an extra measure of safety in our homes, but parents also need to be aware of potential security risks. Here’s an overview of things to consider when adopting smart tech into your home.

1. Teaching smart online behavior is key.

As smart devices are becoming more integrating into your child’s life for entertainment, education and daily living, it’s important to teach them about safe online behavior. Older kids who are on social media should know why privacy settings are important. They should be selective about accepting friend requests and ensure location services are disabled. They also should understand the perennial nature of posting, and how nothing on social media is ever really gone.

Ensure your pre-teens and teens understand the nature of cyberbullying. This includes understanding that photos and situations that are funny to them now, might lose their humor down the line because they can hurt people’s feelings. These posts might come back to haunt them later when they want to join a club, get an after-school job or apply to college.

They also should understand that posting about an event or activity on social media can cause resentment by those who have been deliberately left out, helping them to think critically about what they wish to share publicly.

2. Smart sensors in the home make sense.

A smart home can incorporate many different types of smart sensors. Some are particularly useful for keeping kids safe, especially for curious toddlers who haven’t yet learned about boundaries. Sensors installed in doorways can create greater peace of mind for parents of small explorers. For example, they can send a signal to your phone when a child exits a threshold, or if an intruder enters one.

Sensors can connect to a video camera so you can check your phone to see what’s happening. Doorbell cameras are particularly useful for when your kids get older and start inviting the neighborhood over when you’re not home.

Motion sensors can be set up around danger areas, such as swimming pools or driveways, to provide a notification to you when a child has entered the area unsupervised. Window sensors can not only help save energy but can create an extra measure of safety by notifying you when one is left open or opens unexpectedly, ensuring there are no unexpected escapes or entries.

While every home should be equipped with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, smart versions of these devices can also monitor your home’s air quality, checking for pollen and other particles that can be troublesome for young lungs.

3. Smart light bulbs can improve school performance.

Smart tech in your home can include smart light bulbs, which can help your kids get better grades in school. How? For one, some smart bulbs can adjust their blue light emissions from day to evening, helping your kids be more energized in the mornings and move more easily toward sleep at night.

Blue light, which comes to us naturally through sunlight, can interfere with the sleep hormone melatonin when we get too much blue light artificially. Better sleep equals better performance at school and on tests.

4. Smart devices can protect infant safety.

Parents of newborns already know the important benefit of baby monitors in keeping an ear on activity in the other room. The frightening worry posed by SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, has led developers of baby monitors to evolve the product. Some connect to your smartphone or can be sent to a mobile speaker.

Other smart items like onesies, mattresses or socks can measure and monitor your baby’s vital information like heart rate, breathing, movement, pulse oximetry and body position. You will be able to hear sounding alarms or receive notifications to your phone when there’s a problem.

5. Internet-connected smart toys need vetting.

Smart toys with an Internet connection—which can include robot dogs, dinosaurs, cars and other items—should be carefully vetted before purchase or forgone altogether. Many of these toys have cameras and microphones and can gather data during play as well as share your child’s location.

While these toys can provide educational opportunities, the Federal Trade Commission urges parents to carefully collect information on the toy before purchasing. That includes researching what kind of information the toy will collect about your child, learning of there are security issues or safety recalls, and knowing whether there have been security complaints.

Know the features of the toy and when it will be listening in, and whether you have the option to control the information. Smart toys, just like any other smart item in your home, pose a risk of being hacked or their data used in ways you didn’t expect.

Bottom line: Smart technology has great potential to improve safety and enhance kids’ lives when approached carefully and sensibly. Talking with your children and teaching them about the proper use of smart technology will help ensure the best experience for everyone.

By Hilary Thompson

Smart technology is becoming the norm rather than the exception, with more and more gadgets helping make our homes more efficient. This technology can help make our lives more convenient, and our kids’ educational experience more enriched.

Smart tech can add an extra measure of safety in our homes, but parents also need to be aware of potential security risks. Here’s an overview of things to consider when adopting smart tech into your home.

1. Teaching smart online behavior is key.

As smart devices are becoming more integrating into your child’s life for entertainment, education and daily living, it’s important to teach them about safe online behavior. Older kids who are on social media should know why privacy settings are important. They should be selective about accepting friend requests and ensure location services are disabled. They also should understand the perennial nature of posting, and how nothing on social media is ever really gone.

Ensure your pre-teens and teens understand the nature of cyberbullying. This includes understanding that photos and situations that are funny to them now, might lose their humor down the line because they can hurt people’s feelings. These posts might come back to haunt them later when they want to join a club, get an after-school job or apply to college.

They also should understand that posting about an event or activity on social media can cause resentment by those who have been deliberately left out, helping them to think critically about what they wish to share publicly.

2. Smart sensors in the home make sense.

A smart home can incorporate many different types of smart sensors. Some are particularly useful for keeping kids safe, especially for curious toddlers who haven’t yet learned about boundaries. Sensors installed in doorways can create greater peace of mind for parents of small explorers. For example, they can send a signal to your phone when a child exits a threshold, or if an intruder enters one.

Sensors can connect to a video camera so you can check your phone to see what’s happening. Doorbell cameras are particularly useful for when your kids get older and start inviting the neighborhood over when you’re not home.

Motion sensors can be set up around danger areas, such as swimming pools or driveways, to provide a notification to you when a child has entered the area unsupervised. Window sensors can not only help save energy but can create an extra measure of safety by notifying you when one is left open or opens unexpectedly, ensuring there are no unexpected escapes or entries.

While every home should be equipped with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, smart versions of these devices can also monitor your home’s air quality, checking for pollen and other particles that can be troublesome for young lungs.

3. Smart light bulbs can improve school performance.

Smart tech in your home can include smart light bulbs, which can help your kids get better grades in school. How? For one, some smart bulbs can adjust their blue light emissions from day to evening, helping your kids be more energized in the mornings and move more easily toward sleep at night.

Blue light, which comes to us naturally through sunlight, can interfere with the sleep hormone melatonin when we get too much blue light artificially. Better sleep equals better performance at school and on tests.

4. Smart devices can protect infant safety.

Parents of newborns already know the important benefit of baby monitors in keeping an ear on activity in the other room. The frightening worry posed by SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, has led developers of baby monitors to evolve the product. Some connect to your smartphone or can be sent to a mobile speaker.

Other smart items like onesies, mattresses or socks can measure and monitor your baby’s vital information like heart rate, breathing, movement, pulse oximetry and body position. You will be able to hear sounding alarms or receive notifications to your phone when there’s a problem.

5. Internet-connected smart toys need vetting.

Smart toys with an Internet connection—which can include robot dogs, dinosaurs, cars and other items—should be carefully vetted before purchase or forgone altogether. Many of these toys have cameras and microphones and can gather data during play as well as share your child’s location.

While these toys can provide educational opportunities, the Federal Trade Commission urges parents to carefully collect information on the toy before purchasing. That includes researching what kind of information the toy will collect about your child, learning of there are security issues or safety recalls, and knowing whether there have been security complaints.

Know the features of the toy and when it will be listening in, and whether you have the option to control the information. Smart toys, just like any other smart item in your home, pose a risk of being hacked or their data used in ways you didn’t expect.

Bottom line: Smart technology has great potential to improve safety and enhance kids’ lives when approached carefully and sensibly. Talking with your children and teaching them about the proper use of smart technology will help ensure the best experience for everyone.

By Hilary Thompson

Using the Internet for Learning

Tips for Learning on the Internet

The days of relying on the rows and rows of public library books for school projects are long gone. Nowadays, the internet is a one-stop shop for gaining any and all resources necessary for learning. While it’s amazing that knowledge is so readily available at our fingertips, it’s increasingly important to differentiate valuable learning resources from spam and other junk.

Whether you’re a student or a parent, here are tips to help you embark on this journey to find the perfect resource.  

What Types of Resources Are Out There?

Whether you’re looking for some extracurricular activities to sharpen your skills in a certain subject or a fully inclusive tutoring service, the internet has it all. The key to finding the perfect online program is understanding the area(s) that you wish to improve. Are you at risk of being held back a year or do you just want to get a jump on highschool algebra? For help with a single subject or opportunities for extra learning, check out your school’s and/or school district’s resources. Often times schools will have a webpage for these types of learning activities. For example, one school in Indiana offers resources on learning to read and learning important math skills.

If you are in need of a full tutoring service, the search process can become a little more complex. Refining your search to be as specific as possible can make a huge difference. Instead of searching “online tutoring services” and getting a massive list of just about every tutoring service on the planet, try searching “5th grade math online tutoring services.” This list should be full of relevant sources. Picking the perfect one will then come down to a little extra research on the specific service. Make sure to look into customer reviews, as well as prices and scheduling, in order to find the service that fits your needs. Your search will come back with big names that you may recognize, such as Sylvan and Chegg. It may also come back with local tutoring services. Be certain to check the local programs as well—local teachers often teach these programs and can relate them to specific school requirements.

How Do You Discover Your Learning Needs?

Picking whether you want an organized tutoring service or just some additional activities is a conversation that needs to happen between child, parent, and teacher. This is a critical point for students to communicate their needs. Even if you sign your child up for the best tutoring service, they might not show the improvement you hope for if they don’t want to be there and participate. Maybe it would be better to provide them with fun activities that could capture their imagination while teaching them valuable lessons. This will encourage kids to embrace lifelong learning. Whichever route you choose, just be sure that everyone is on the same page. Communication is so important in this step, for both parents and students.  

Where to Start Searching?

When you first begin looking for information online, the results can be daunting. A simple google search comes back with billions of results in fractions of a second. If you’ve ever searched for something as broad as “learning resources,” then you know how difficult it can be to find what you’re actually searching for. By utilizing Google’s advanced search queries, you can get rid of the non credible sites with one easy trick. Add site:.edu or site:.gov to your search query and you should end up with only credible sites, such as “5th grade math resources site:.edu”. These .edu and .gov sites are normally some of the most reliable resources on the web, but make sure to double-check the content and sources on the site just to be sure.

A caveat to this strategy is if you are looking for full-service tutoring, then you may want to include .com and .org websites, as these are often private companies that specialize in tutoring. Just be sure to check the website for credibility before you give them any personal information.

If you’re looking for a fun activity on searching for credible sources, you can find lesson plans online to help teach your students.

Picking the Perfect Program and Beyond

Once you’ve discovered the programs or resources that you want to use, set up guidelines for using the new learning program. These guidelines should include expectations on how the student will utilize the program, how they will communicate their learning to their parents or teachers, and how they will stay safe while using the internet. Since the student in this scenario will be spending more time online, it’s crucial to set up a plan for cybersecurity. Spam and other non credible websites could lead to viruses and false learning. Follow these simple online safety practices and you’re sure to maximize learning while minimizing risk. Stay up-to-date with your child’s learning and always encourage clear paths of communication. This simple step will help the student feel like they have a support system and make you both feel more secure in the digital world.

Author Bio

Chandler Clayton is a freelance writer, specializing in education and safety. He draws upon his years of teaching environmental education to empower learning in children and adults of all backgrounds. He has been featured on sites such as SafeWise and Newsday.


Are you doing research on a report or paper? Find out how Simple Wikipedia can help.

The days of relying on the rows and rows of public library books for school projects are long gone. Nowadays, the internet is a one-stop shop for gaining any and all resources necessary for learning. While it’s amazing that knowledge is so readily available at our fingertips, it’s increasingly important to differentiate valuable learning resources from spam and other junk.

Whether you’re a student or a parent, here are tips to help you embark on this journey to find the perfect resource.  

What Types of Resources Are Out There?

Whether you’re looking for some extracurricular activities to sharpen your skills in a certain subject or a fully inclusive tutoring service, the internet has it all. The key to finding the perfect online program is understanding the area(s) that you wish to improve. Are you at risk of being held back a year or do you just want to get a jump on highschool algebra? For help with a single subject or opportunities for extra learning, check out your school’s and/or school district’s resources. Often times schools will have a webpage for these types of learning activities. For example, one school in Indiana offers resources on learning to read and learning important math skills.

If you are in need of a full tutoring service, the search process can become a little more complex. Refining your search to be as specific as possible can make a huge difference. Instead of searching “online tutoring services” and getting a massive list of just about every tutoring service on the planet, try searching “5th grade math online tutoring services.” This list should be full of relevant sources. Picking the perfect one will then come down to a little extra research on the specific service. Make sure to look into customer reviews, as well as prices and scheduling, in order to find the service that fits your needs. Your search will come back with big names that you may recognize, such as Sylvan and Chegg. It may also come back with local tutoring services. Be certain to check the local programs as well—local teachers often teach these programs and can relate them to specific school requirements.

How Do You Discover Your Learning Needs?

Picking whether you want an organized tutoring service or just some additional activities is a conversation that needs to happen between child, parent, and teacher. This is a critical point for students to communicate their needs. Even if you sign your child up for the best tutoring service, they might not show the improvement you hope for if they don’t want to be there and participate. Maybe it would be better to provide them with fun activities that could capture their imagination while teaching them valuable lessons. This will encourage kids to embrace lifelong learning. Whichever route you choose, just be sure that everyone is on the same page. Communication is so important in this step, for both parents and students.  

Where to Start Searching?

When you first begin looking for information online, the results can be daunting. A simple google search comes back with billions of results in fractions of a second. If you’ve ever searched for something as broad as “learning resources,” then you know how difficult it can be to find what you’re actually searching for. By utilizing Google’s advanced search queries, you can get rid of the non credible sites with one easy trick. Add site:.edu or site:.gov to your search query and you should end up with only credible sites, such as “5th grade math resources site:.edu”. These .edu and .gov sites are normally some of the most reliable resources on the web, but make sure to double-check the content and sources on the site just to be sure.

A caveat to this strategy is if you are looking for full-service tutoring, then you may want to include .com and .org websites, as these are often private companies that specialize in tutoring. Just be sure to check the website for credibility before you give them any personal information.

If you’re looking for a fun activity on searching for credible sources, you can find lesson plans online to help teach your students.

Picking the Perfect Program and Beyond

Once you’ve discovered the programs or resources that you want to use, set up guidelines for using the new learning program. These guidelines should include expectations on how the student will utilize the program, how they will communicate their learning to their parents or teachers, and how they will stay safe while using the internet. Since the student in this scenario will be spending more time online, it’s crucial to set up a plan for cybersecurity. Spam and other non credible websites could lead to viruses and false learning. Follow these simple online safety practices and you’re sure to maximize learning while minimizing risk. Stay up-to-date with your child’s learning and always encourage clear paths of communication. This simple step will help the student feel like they have a support system and make you both feel more secure in the digital world.

Author Bio

Chandler Clayton is a freelance writer, specializing in education and safety. He draws upon his years of teaching environmental education to empower learning in children and adults of all backgrounds. He has been featured on sites such as SafeWise and Newsday.


Are you doing research on a report or paper? Find out how Simple Wikipedia can help.

5 New School Year Resolutions

Everyone makes promises to themselves at New Year. They “resolve” to be nicer, eat better, work harder and not spend so much time on social media. New School Year Resolutions make more sense. January 1 is just a day, but when you start school, you start a new life.

Your school days this year are totally different than last school year. You will learn new things. You will meet new people. And you are a new person. As you go back to school you are older and know more than you did when you started school last year. To see how much of a difference a school year can make, look at the pictures on your phone or your social media pages. How are you different? Has your music changed? The movies you like? What about your friends? Have they changed?

Ask yourself these questions. Then think about the new school year. You will be different when it is over. Make a resolution that lets you decide how different you could be! Think about these resolutions:

1. Resolve to Spend More Time In Real Life.

Too many kids—and adults—spend big parts of their days online. The Internet is fun and can bring people together but having fun and hanging out with people in real time is better. You can see them, touch them, share real life. Also, people tend to be nicer when they look into each other’s eyes.

2. Resolve to Work Towards My Goals.

You want to be an astronaut? Then pay extra attention in science class. Want to be a pop star? Be sure to practice your guitar or piano. Are you going to be a police officer? Maybe ask a teacher to bring an officer to school so that you can ask questions.

3. Resolve to Never Post On Social Media When I Get Mad.

As we learned in a previous article, Anger Management for Kids, posting when mad can make you just as bad as the people who made you mad. If you need help learning how to control your anger, re-read the post. It could save you from getting into a lot of trouble.

4. Resolve to Be More Grown-Up.

All kids want to be respected and treated like a grown-up. Think about how to earn that respect and treatment. Maybe pick a chore and always do it, like taking out the garbage or vacuuming the living room. Always do what you say you are going to do. Be respectful and get respect back. Even if you know adults that act like children, you can be better than that.

5. Resolve to Be a Kid.

Yes, you are growing up and starting a whole new year of school, but you are still a kid. Enjoy it. Play basketball. Make a backyard fort. Hang out with your friends and make new ones. Wear silly tee-shirts. Play hide and seek in the park. You want to be grown-up and you will. When you are an adult you will not be able to do many of the fun things you do as a kid. Do them now.

Everyone makes promises to themselves at New Year. They “resolve” to be nicer, eat better, work harder and not spend so much time on social media. New School Year Resolutions make more sense. January 1 is just a day, but when you start school, you start a new life.

Your school days this year are totally different than last school year. You will learn new things. You will meet new people. And you are a new person. As you go back to school you are older and know more than you did when you started school last year. To see how much of a difference a school year can make, look at the pictures on your phone or your social media pages. How are you different? Has your music changed? The movies you like? What about your friends? Have they changed?

Ask yourself these questions. Then think about the new school year. You will be different when it is over. Make a resolution that lets you decide how different you could be! Think about these resolutions:

1. Resolve to Spend More Time In Real Life.

Too many kids—and adults—spend big parts of their days online. The Internet is fun and can bring people together but having fun and hanging out with people in real time is better. You can see them, touch them, share real life. Also, people tend to be nicer when they look into each other’s eyes.

2. Resolve to Work Towards My Goals.

You want to be an astronaut? Then pay extra attention in science class. Want to be a pop star? Be sure to practice your guitar or piano. Are you going to be a police officer? Maybe ask a teacher to bring an officer to school so that you can ask questions.

3. Resolve to Never Post On Social Media When I Get Mad.

As we learned in a previous article, Anger Management for Kids, posting when mad can make you just as bad as the people who made you mad. If you need help learning how to control your anger, re-read the post. It could save you from getting into a lot of trouble.

4. Resolve to Be More Grown-Up.

All kids want to be respected and treated like a grown-up. Think about how to earn that respect and treatment. Maybe pick a chore and always do it, like taking out the garbage or vacuuming the living room. Always do what you say you are going to do. Be respectful and get respect back. Even if you know adults that act like children, you can be better than that.

5. Resolve to Be a Kid.

Yes, you are growing up and starting a whole new year of school, but you are still a kid. Enjoy it. Play basketball. Make a backyard fort. Hang out with your friends and make new ones. Wear silly tee-shirts. Play hide and seek in the park. You want to be grown-up and you will. When you are an adult you will not be able to do many of the fun things you do as a kid. Do them now.

A Letter from Your Computer

Kids Computer Safety

Dear Human. Thank you for taking the time to listen to me. After all, we spend a lot of time together. Together, we explore the big, wide world. We play, we learn and we visit with friends. But I need to be honest with you. There are some things you do that make me feel bad.

I don’t like it when you click on bad and ugly pictures.

They make me uncomfortable and sometimes when you look at ugly pictures, I get hurt. The people who post that gross stuff also stick viruses in the picture. By clicking on those pictures, you can accidentally download a virus which could make me sick.

If I get infected, I’d have to go to the computer doctor to get fixed. While I’m being repaired, you won’t have me to play with. I’d miss you. Please, watch out for gross pictures and websites with creepy names.

I know you want to watch that new movie that just came out, but think before you click. Streaming and downloading sites are filled with all sorts of malware. When you steam a movie or download that show, you could also be downloading spyware or phishing software.

Some stranger far away can then look inside of me and take your pictures and emails and videos. Then can even break me so bad that I can’t play with you anymore. Please, take care of me. Don’t stream or download unless your parents have a subscription with a business they can trust.

Also, I don’t like it when you use me to hurt others.

It might seem like fun to you or a way to show friends how clever you are, but those mean words sting. I’m your friend, not some goon you use to push people around. Please, be nice when you use me. Be polite. Remember, computers are supposed to better the life of humans, not bully people around.

I’m your friend. I’m your study buddy. I’m on your gaming team. I’m the tool that can take you all the way around the world while you sit safe in your home. Let’s share the world together. Think before you click.

Yours truly,
Your Computer.

P.S.  My friends—your cell phone and play station—wanted me to remind you that they feel the same way that I do.

Dear Human. Thank you for taking the time to listen to me. After all, we spend a lot of time together. Together, we explore the big, wide world. We play, we learn and we visit with friends. But I need to be honest with you. There are some things you do that make me feel bad.

I don’t like it when you click on bad and ugly pictures.

They make me uncomfortable and sometimes when you look at ugly pictures, I get hurt. The people who post that gross stuff also stick viruses in the picture. By clicking on those pictures, you can accidentally download a virus which could make me sick.

If I get infected, I’d have to go to the computer doctor to get fixed. While I’m being repaired, you won’t have me to play with. I’d miss you. Please, watch out for gross pictures and websites with creepy names.

I know you want to watch that new movie that just came out, but think before you click. Streaming and downloading sites are filled with all sorts of malware. When you steam a movie or download that show, you could also be downloading spyware or phishing software.

Some stranger far away can then look inside of me and take your pictures and emails and videos. Then can even break me so bad that I can’t play with you anymore. Please, take care of me. Don’t stream or download unless your parents have a subscription with a business they can trust.

Also, I don’t like it when you use me to hurt others.

It might seem like fun to you or a way to show friends how clever you are, but those mean words sting. I’m your friend, not some goon you use to push people around. Please, be nice when you use me. Be polite. Remember, computers are supposed to better the life of humans, not bully people around.

I’m your friend. I’m your study buddy. I’m on your gaming team. I’m the tool that can take you all the way around the world while you sit safe in your home. Let’s share the world together. Think before you click.

Yours truly,
Your Computer.

P.S.  My friends—your cell phone and play station—wanted me to remind you that they feel the same way that I do.