with author Friends of Ricki
tech gadgets to beat summer boredom
Tech Mama Beth Blecherman: School's out and outdoor summer fun is in full swing. But you might have already noticed that between all the swimming, bike rides and fun in the sun with friends, kids also need indoor downtime. When my kids ask for their indoor “screen time,” I try to steer them toward family friendly entertainment or educational activities.
Tips to Turn Summer “Screen Time” into Enriching Entertainment for the Whole Family
1. Summer-ccesorize your tech and capture summer memories:
Turn any laptop or tablet into a summer movie night with the 3M Mobile Projector using either a white wall for an indoor screen or a white sheet for an outdoor nighttime party.
Capture and share family summer memories with Sony HD Camcorder with Projector.
Create your own surfing (or skateboarding.... or biking....) movie with the GoPro Hero2 camera that mounts on a surfboard or helmet. If scuba is your summer sport of choice, the Easy Shot Clip HD Diving Kit can be used to capture your own videos while under water. If you need to bring your current tech near a pool or beach, try the vacuum proof technology of Dry Case to make sure your phone doesn’t take a dip in the pool when you do.
2. Edufun-ize with family-friendly websites or video game fun:
• Summer “screen time” can also be learning time with the wide selection of educational and family-friendly websites that also entertain. A tween hooked on YouTube and chocolate may just enjoy knowing that the YouTube education channel has Harvard Science of Cooking videos, including the many faces of chocolate. Educational videos from the Khan Academy include a video on the forming of the Hawaiian islands, a fun pre-travel activity for budding scientists heading to the 50th state this summer.
• Parents looking for more family friendly websites can check CommonSenseMedia.org or family friendly video games listed on the ESRB.org to take on road trips or summer visits. Scholastic not only has family friendly activities but also summer reading ideas including a summer reading Pinterest board. For family friendly apps, Cool Mom Tech’s app category is chock full of recommendations.
3. Mobilize Your Library of Books into a small mobile device:
My tween son has an iPhone for communication and music as well as an iMac for video editing and web surfing. But when it came to reading books, he runs through them so quickly I regularly heard the dreaded excuse “I don’t have any books to read.”
Shopping for and then reading books on his phone was not comfortable, so I eliminated that excuse by buying him an eReader. An eReader offered him the dedicated experience of features all focused on reading. After going to the local technology store, he felt most comfortable with devices that had higher resolution color screens and touch functionality -- tablet features were a secondary consideration. Different tools for different people with different needs.
Re-use: Families owning extra tablets can download Amazon or Barnes & Noble or use the device media libraries to double as eReaders. Scholastic also has a free e-reading app called Storia.
Multi-use: If you were thinking of getting your kid a tablet, consider upgrading in price to a full functional tablet. Realize that increased tablet functionality also increases temptations towards fun apps, web browsing and other features that may distract a child from reading. However,if your child will be using a tablet for school projects– then that investment is worthwhile. For mobile entertainment for younger kids, consider learning systems like the LeapPad that have reading apps and family friendly games.
4. Rockin-cise with your family using an MP3 Player or smartphone:
If your kids are home from school and you are looking for ways to continue jogging with your music playlist, then help your kids create their own exercise playlists and download music to an MP3 player or phone. They can then join you in some summer exercise. Along with the playlist, parents should make sure their kids have safe listening earphones like Ety Kids. Challenge the family to see who has the most steps this summer by using Striiv Smart Pedometer
Re-use: If you have an old, un-used phone, you may be able to download music to it for your kids to use. Or pass your old MP3 player to them and treat yourself to an updated one. That way if your kids lose it (which happens), no worries.
Multi-use: Turn an iPod or smartphone into a exercise tracker with the Nike Plus app. Smashfit.com also shares fitness tips that include using smartphones apps to inform and motivate as well as set up a fitness calendar.
5. Tech-ccesorize toys:
• There are a range of accessories that turn tablets into toy-themed fun. The Disney Pixar Cars 2 AppMATes Double Pack for iPad is great for little Car’s fans while the For summer play. Board games are even more mobile now that many have apps for tablets. Our family is just happy that we can always take Monopoly with us without worrying about losing the pieces.
In the end, the best toy of all is just enjoying the nice summer weather, collecting sticks on hikes and playing with friends. While there are times where tech can solve the summer boredom, low tech outdoor fun is still my top entertainment of the season. Oh, and if you need ideas on those - websites like Education.com outdoor activities have great suggestions.
Beth Blecherman, one of the founding Friends of Ricki, left her position as a Senior Manager at Deloitte for Family Management and decided to engage in social media as her career 2.0. Her personal blog TechMamas.com and social media channels including Twitter, Google+, Facebook and Pinterest are her platforms to discuss family tech.