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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 →

Jun 12 2012

Is On Demand TV Making My Daughter More Demanding?

By at 4:22 pm

on demand remote “I want to watch Blue’s Clues,” my daughter announced in the middle of an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba!

“OK, honey, I’ll record it for you and we can watch it some other time,” I told her.

“What? I want to watch it now,” Ellie said.

And that’s when it hit me. Her technologically advanced world is one in which she thinks all TV is on demand. After all, she watches pretty much two shows–Gabba and Sesame Street–both of which I TiVo so they are always at her beckon call. Why wouldn’t she expect the same for Blue’s Clues? Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 9 2012

Eating off the Floor, iPod for Toddler, & Other Rules of the Laid Back Mama

By at 4:21 pm

aiven using ipod touchMy husband and I are not very disciplined, regimented, or structured parents. A Tiger Mom I most definitely am not. I think that childhood should be reserved for blissful innocence and unadulterated freedom. We are free spirits and Aiven has already shown early signs of being fiercely independent. When Aiven goes to school, he will get his first taste of law and order, but until then, we want to make his childhood carefree and give him as much space as possible to be himself. I’ve thought about how our parenting style is more relaxed than most, and I think we distinguish ourselves in seven key areas:

1. Germs

When we were in Europe this summer, Aiven enjoyed dropping most of his food on the ground, especially at outdoor cafes. He would marinate it in whatever dirt was there and then gleefully pop it back into his mouth. It was as if he was declaring, “All food tastes better with that special spice called STREET DIRT.” Sure it grossed me out at times, but he was eating so nicely and making this Jewish mother kvell!

2. Bumps, Bruises, and Boo Boos

We let Aiven fall. We don’t jump to catch him when we see him stumble. Everyone else gasps and dives to save him. He slams into furniture, walls, and people, yet he almost always picks right back up regardless of the damage. Sometimes I’m embarrassed to go out because he looks so banged up, but if I stop him from walking into the table, how is he going to learn to duck? I figure that if I don’t make a big deal of his tumbles, neither will he.

3. Scheduling

We don’t do schedules well. Bath time is when he gets really dirty, not an assigned time every night. He’s had three baths in one day and one bath every three days. He eats when he wants (which is all the time) and not at three designated hours. Reading time? Play time? He lets us know what he wants by gesticulating and putting stuff into our hands, and he excels at letting us know when he wants it by screaming. Read the rest of this entry →

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