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Mar 31 2014

Free Stuff Alert: The Bronfman Haggadah App & iPad Mini

By at 1:57 pm

Win The Bronfman Haggadah App & an iPad Mini

This is not your Bubbe’s haggadah.

This Passover (April 14), technology is your friend. The Bronfman Haggadah is now available as a truly unique app, allowing users to interact with this book through sound, animation, and video, all on a mobile device.  Watch behind the scenes videos, hear the words of the haggadah read aloud, and see the artwork come to life.

Some features of the The Bronfman Haggadah app:

1. Users have the option of hearing the text of the haggadah read aloud with page-synced narration, or to turn off the sound for a do-it-yourself Passover seder. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 20 2014

Girl With Cancer Virtually Celebrates Purim With Help From Her Rabbi, A Robot & Google Glass

By at 2:58 pm

google-glass

What do Google Glass, a robot, and Purim have in common with one another?

Normally nothing, but this year, they came together in order to create a vibrant and engaging project that enabled a little girl from White Plains, NY to be a part of the communal celebrations.

Hebrew Institute of White Plains is home to around 300 families with many children. Purim is a time that the community comes together and celebrates. We host a carnival, a children’s megillah reading, a beautiful night time megillah reading where adults and children pack our main sanctuary to the brim all decked out in costumes.

Unfortunately this year, one of the children in our community was unable to attend as she is undergoing treatment for cancer. She is a bubbly, bright, fun and outgoing child, who unfortunately has been unable to join us at Sabbath services, and was unable to join us for Purim celebrations. Her family would like to remain anonymous during this trying time, so for continuity of this article she will be called Amy. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 25 2014

I Won’t Let My Fear of Travel Hamper My Son’s Curiosity About the World

By at 12:26 pm

road-trip

Growing up, my parents liked to take Sunday drives around the scenic parts of Connecticut: to watch changing leaves, visit aging relatives, drive over covered bridges. During one of these outings, I fell asleep in the car and when I woke up, I asked my parents if we were in Texas.

Their shock and horror likely prompted them to make the generous offer, some years later, to send me abroad my junior year of college: a last-ditch effort to provide me with some geographical context. I declined, citing a commitment to my position in student government. Obviously the Brandeis Student Senate would suffer mightily in my absence. I stuck with that story, even in my own mind, for a long time.

All that year, I received postcards from friends in Israel, London, Spain, Australia. They told tales of impromptu weekend trips to Florence, milking cows on a kibbutz in southern Israel, and late-night rendezvouses with strangers encountered in youth hostels. What could possibly make me choose “Robert’s Rules of Order” over these exotic adventures? Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 23 2014

Talking with Randi Zuckerberg About Parenting, Technology & Kids Who Use iPads

By at 5:01 pm

randi zuckerberg interview on kveller.com

We recently had the total pleasure of Skyping with mom of one, Randi Zuckerberg. If the last name looks familiar, yes–she’s the sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and the former Director of Market Development and Spokeswoman for Facebook. Now, she’s the founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media and the author of two new books: Dot Complicated: Untangling Our Wired Lives and Dot, a picture book for kids about a young girl who’s both tech-savvy and interactive with the actual world around her (imagine that!). We talked to her about the various ways technology influences modern day parenting.

In what ways have you found technology makes parenting easier or harder?

In some ways, I think definitely both. You have so many other ways you can interact with your children; you can expose them to apps that encourage learning and creativity. I think it’s easier for kids to learn art, music, and reading then ever before. But in other ways, sometimes you have to pry the devices out of their cold hands, and I think that can be very difficult to remind children to develop human-to-human personal interaction skills–like reminding them to go outside and use their creativity in other ways as well.

And you have one son, correct?

I do, I have one son. I have actually found that technology has been tremendous in our family for fostering a love of Judaism and Jewish education because there are so many great apps. I actually helped advise on a Rosh Hashanah app, where you blow into the iPhone like a shofar. Apps like that have been so fantastic. On Pandora we use the Hanukkah and Shabbat stations. So I feel tech has helped bring Judaism in our life much more, but on the other hand I have to make sure I’m not using it as a babysitter. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 28 2013

Are Smart Phones Really Poisoning My Baby’s Brain?

By at 2:25 pm

apps

I am a card carrying member of Generation Y. Having grown up on the internet, rocked to tunes on my iPod, and texted all through high school, I am more than amply tech-savvy and embrace all things digital. I never shuddered at the thought of snuggling up in bed with an e-reader, and am perfectly comfortable depositing my checks via my smart phone. Now that I think of it, most of the transactions I make are via the World Wide Web; heck I just did my Menorah shopping online (who knew, right?).

As such, I am an app person. I’ve got an app for everything from breastfeeding to business and beyond. So, when my little guy began grabbing and biting my phone, I downloaded some baby apps for him, too.

I do not delude myself into thinking these apps are educational. They are, however, entertaining. Very entertaining. And God knows, every mom needs an entertaining trick up her sleeve if she is to survive seeing her children into adulthood.

That brings me to this Sunday. Aforementioned little guy was under the weather long enough to warrant a visit to the pediatrician. While I love my doctor, the waiting time in his office is notoriously long and offers very little in the way of distraction. So it was armed with a diaper bag full of goodies that I lugged my cranky babes down to the office. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 23 2013

Interviews with Interesting Jews: Doctor G on Screen Time for Kids

By at 10:10 am

little girl on computerI held off on any screen time for my firstborn until after he was 2 years old. Not because of the American Academy of Pediatric recommendations or because I think TV is evil, but because I wanted to be the one influencing his newly developing mind. I wanted control over what concepts he was taking in and be present to talk about it when he had questions. All of this was relatively easy with one TV in our house that was never turned on while he was awake.

And then I was pregnant and dry heaving my breakfast into a trashcan and needed a break.

I actually had to teach my son how to watch TV by reading him Curious George books and then showing him that the same monkey was inside the television. It took a few times, but eventually he learned to love the show and I learned to love the 30 minutes I could hang my head over the toilet alone without anyone saying, “Mama is making that noise again.” Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 1 2013

From the Department of Rude: A Memo on Smart Phone Use at Shul

By at 9:46 am

I have a hard time staying away from my iPhone. Too often my phone is on the table during lunch with a friend. I’m drawn to it while standing in line or whenever there’s two minutes to spare. Trust me, I’m not proud of my attachment to the thing. In my defense, I at least draw the line at using my phone inside the walls of a synagogue.

It seems that not using cell phones in shul was once standard practice among all synagogue goers from the most frequent to the occasional bar mitzvah attendees. I’m afraid those days are long gone. At a family “Tot Shabbat” service I recently attended at our Conservative synagogue (where the laws of Shabbat are technically observed) I noticed several parents and kids playing around with phones. During the dinner that followed, I saw some of the younger tots distracted with iPads.

It was disheartening. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 28 2013

News Roundup: Bluetooth Onesies & Birth Control Sabatoge

By at 2:25 pm

All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.

- This short video provides a succinct roundup of some of the most intense baby-monitoring technology out there, from apps and cameras to bluetooth onesies and motorized strollers. Spoiler alert: most of it probably isn’t worth buying. (BBC News)

- Dads get credit for being great parents when they’re really just doing the basics–further proof that expectations for dads are appallingly low. (The Atlantic)

- Stay-at-home-dads are using tech and DIY skills to bring a sense of masculinity, the way that women in the workplace have brought listening and empathy to office culture. Um, okay. (Wall Street Journal)

- OB/GYNs are being trained to look for signs that a male partner is intimidating a female partner into getting pregnant when she doesn’t want to be, and/or sabotaging birth control efforts–a surprisingly prevalent problem. (NPR)

Jan 16 2013

Let Your Kids Know They’re Not the Center of the Universe

By at 11:58 am

“My son David? He only likes WHITE PIZZA,” the mother said, highlighting the words with the tips of her fingers. “You know, the kind with NO SAUCE.”

These are the words of a mother of a child, David [name changed], with whom my son, now in second grade, went to nursery school. David’s mom said them to the teacher–and about 20 sets of parents in the room–at Back to School night at the nursery school, at the point at which the teacher asked, “Are there any questions?”

You may have noticed that David’s mom’s question wasn’t actually a question. It was more of a proclamation, made in response to the teacher’s having mentioned that the kids would celebrate Shabbat with pizza brought in for the class. It was a proclamation that David had very definite tastes–and that those tastes shouldn’t be challenged. It was a Marie Antoinette-like statement for our age: instead of “Let Them Eat Cake,” it was “Let Them Eat White Pizza (Because That’s What David Likes!).” Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 8 2012

My 4-Year-Old Knows All About My iPad

By at 2:57 pm

While I somehow managed to keep her in the dark for nearly a year, my 4-year-old found out about my iPad.

Like all responsible parents, we aim to keep our child as unplugged as possible, and while we do sit her in front of the TV on occasion (every morning is an occasion), we limit her to PBS programming, and this makes us totally virtuous. In the end, though, I freaking love my iPad and I don’t want her Cheez-it fingers all over the screen. Read the rest of this entry →

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