Category : Kids & Tech

kid with ipadLast week a new product prompted us to pose a question to you on Facebook: “Do we have to have an iPad strapped to everything, even a stroller?”

I want to take it a little bit farther.

How much is too much when it comes to kids and digital devices?

Many of us have allowed or encouraged the use of digital devices by our children, and not just for educational purposes. Raise your hands if your kids are under 5 and even have their own tablets or phones or other touch-screen gadgets that they play with when you need them to can it.

Listen, I didn’t want to do this, but I am going to use the “Back in my day…” argument because it’s a good place to start.

My kids aren’t babies anymore, but I remember all too well the incessant whining and attention-grabbing they would turn on just when I needed to have an adult conversation, or eat a meal at a table, or stand in line in an orderly fashion at Target. Back then I didn’t have a touch-screen cell phone, so I had to resort to more primitive methods of distracting the children so we could get through something. And every time I found an easier way, I used it.

Moms today get easier and easier tools dangled in front of them all the time. When you are sleep-deprived and on your last nerve, you’re sure as hell going to stick that phone or tablet in the baby’s hands so you can finish the phone call or read the label on a package of gluten-free cookies.

Ten years ago it was Baby Einstein. Now it’s Dumb Ways To Die. I mean, moms hear “you’re letting your child [insert guilty parenting cheat here] too much!” all the time, right? What difference does it make if it’s the TV or the tablet?

Mobility. You can pop a phone into a baby’s hands as soon as she is able to grasp objects with them. You can use it in the car, at the store, wherever, not just limited to home.

So beware. Children’s affinity for a digital device starts early, and you might find yourself relying on the electronic babysitter too often. The kids get older, develop the ability to talk, and with it, the ability to whine for the little screen. They see you using it all the time: while you’re making them dinner, as you’re talking a walk, and even when you’re retiring to your bedroom for the night.

So maybe you want to go easy on starting them off with a phone/tablet addiction too young. Be mindful of how much your children see you using one, and try to rely on it less for “babysitting.”

Here’s what some of our Savvy Sassy Facebook friends had to say:

Watch and rollWe asked: Do we have to have an iPad strapped to everything, even a stroller?

Laura Fransen That is ridiculous. Kids need to be unplugged and taught to enjoy life without electronic distractions.

Franki Arnold No. Absolutely not. Let your baby enjoy their surroundings — the grocery store, the park, wherever you are — they don’t have to be glued to a screen from the get go. It’s not healthy.

Valerya Rose Baker My kids don’t use my iPad. They play games on their LeapPads sometimes, and my oldest is starting to play the Wii U. But phones and iPads are off limits for them. Also, I agree with the other two ladies, when the kids are outside, they enjoy it by actually experiencing it. They don’t “endure” it because they have entertainment on a screen.

Carrie Ross  I think technology is wonderful. I know I couldn’t live without it. It’s an extremely useful tool for SO many things in life… Including learning. However, NO. Absolutely NOT. We don’t need iPads and tablets attached to everything. UNPLUG! You can’t experience life staring at a screen. It’s a wonderful thing to see my little one experiencing things in a store. Colors, people, noises, etc. I can’t wait for all this snow to be gone so I can get my little one outside to experience grass, trees, the squirrels, birds, dirt even! REAL life things.

Katie Young Lehuta Watching the world around around them is educational – we are gonna end up raising a generation of idiots that don’t know what to do with themselves.

Erin Stern Why even have a stroller where your child can face you if you aren’t going to engage with them?

Deanna Doherty Desarro No. In a stroller while outside for a walk is too much. I have let my kids use my phone while in a stroller at the store so I can actually shop without a bunch of whining.

Sherri Kuhn Seriously, this bugs me to no end! Saw a mom on a beautiful trail with so much to look at and an iPad in her 2-year-old’s lap.

The Beverly Hills Mom The ONLY reason I can see to have it would be in an airport or something where you’re held captive.

Like us on Facebook to see other comments or continue the discussion right here. What’s your family technology policy?

Send in your problem for Sassy to solve, whether it’s a parenting question, relationship dilemma, or a snafu with social etiquette and it may get answered in a future column. Sassy is here to help! Submit your question for Ask Sassy here! (Or just email me, darling. We can keep it between us. [email protected]) You can also follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook page, where I share pro tips on life every week.

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By Portia Stewart

We have thousands of photos of our kids, but rarely do we get a chance to organize them into scrapbooks and photo albums. From documenting milestones to the everyday moments, online photo journals are the new scrapbooks. Online photo journal apps are your private diary telling the story of your child’s everyday moments in photos, videos and notes. These apps allow you to share your kid’s moments with your own private social network – this means close family members like grandmas, grandpas, aunts and uncles. Here is a list of the best online photo journals for families.

Tiny Beans

Tiny Beans Daily Photo Journal


Tiny Beans is a website and iPhone app that captures your child’s memories one day at a time. Photos and videos are easily uploaded and shown on a calendar. Invite grandparents or other close family members and they will receive email notifications when you’ve uploaded a new moment. If you are an avid Instagram user, this app may be for you. You can upload a photo on Instagram and hashtag it #tinybeanskids and it will automatically be uploaded to your personal Tinybeans Journal. Tiny Beans is a free app available online and on iTunes. The apps for iPad and Android will released soon


Kidmondo is a comprehensive website that documents in-depth information about your child. In addition to sharing your child’s photos and videos, Kidmondo also keeps your child’s growth charts, dental records, monitors your child’s food intake, and keeps track of medical and health records. Information on doctor’s visits, medical treatments, and immunizations are all in one place. Another great plus is that you can easily order a beautifully printed book version of your online photo journal. Sign up is free!



Tweekaboo makes it easy to share everyday photos and notes with your private social network. Grandma and grandpa can even comment on the photos. For the big milestones, you have the option to share with your extended social network on Facebook and Twitter as well. You can even order prints directly from Tweekaboo. Tweekaboo is free and available on iTunes for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.



Animoto makes it simple to create beautiful HD videos to share with family and friends. This program is fully connected to all your photo-sharing and social media accounts. Grab images from Facebook, Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa, SmugMug, or Instagram. Choose from 50 beautiful video designs, animate with typography and add music from over 1,000 soundtracks. You can post your video on Facebook and tag family members. You can also post to Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and 44WordPress. There are several pricing plans for Animoto. Animoto Lite comes free of cost and allows for 30 seconds of video time. Animoto Plus allows users 10 minutes of video time and costs $5 a month. The app is available for iPhone and Android users.

How are you recording all of your family’s special moments? 


DSCN6557Portia is owner and writer of Sugar Tot, a mom blog specializing in toddler tech and creative play. She is a mommy to a nonstop, sugar-filled two-year old, Baby D.  She is constantly seeking the latest tech toys and creative adventures to do with her little crazy person. No stranger to exploring awesome cities, Portia is a San Francisco native turned Orange County transplant. You’ll find her discovering kid-friendly places all over Southern California on her blog. Her background is in 
public relations and marketing. You can find her on TwitterFacebook & Pinterest.



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Limiting Kids Screen Time

By Portia Stewart

We’re modern moms with tech-savvy kids, no shame in that! The biggest challenge is getting our kids away from the tablet or mobile screen when time is up. There are a myriad of great apps, games and videos that provide education and entertainment to kids. However, as parents it’s our responsibility to set limitations to screen time. Here are some tips to getting your kids to unplug.

Create a screen time rewards system.

Keep a “rewards chart” and add a sticker if your child earns screen time by doing something good around the house. Ex: if you pick up your toys, you get rewarded with 30 minutes of screen time; or in the case of my two- year old who has decided that “peas are yuckkkyy,” if you eat all the peas on your plate you get 15 minutes of screen time. Make sure to set a maximum amount of time earned each day. I suggest 2 hours of maximum screen time per day.

Keep a secret bag of tricks.

When your child is whining for her favorite app, try to divert her attention to other activities. Play outside or keep a few coloring books, flashcards and crafts on hand so that she can move her focus on to something new. Many times kids get bored, and playing on the tablet is the easiest form of entertainment for them. Keeping your secret stash well encourage them to use their imagination and learn new things.

Set Parent Control Settings.

Many newer tablets have Parent Control Settings which allow parents to set time limits on how long their child can spend on the tablet each day. When time is up the child receives a “Time’s Up” message and is automatically kicked out of the app they were in.

If your tablet or mobile phone doesn’t come equipped with these settings, there are some great apps that work the same way. The Screen Time Parental Control App for Android products even keeps a daily total of how much time was spent on each app per day.

Screen Time App for Android

Screen Time Parental Control for Android products

Kaboom-App Timer for Apple products

Out of sight, out of mind.

Keep the tablet or mobile phone in a place where your child cannot see or access it. Seeing it in a common area may trigger the whining and crying. It’s just like dangling a piece of candy in front of a child. If it’s there, he wants it. Just keep it in a safe place.

Keep a routine.

You can only play on the tablet for 1 hour per day. After dinner, when homework is done, no exceptions. Make a schedule of their day and keep it on the refrigerator as a reminder.

When it comes to tech for kids, it’s all about setting limits and finding balance.
How do you set screen time limits in your home?

DSCN6557Portia is owner and writer of Sugar Tot, a mom blog specializing in toddler tech and creative play. She is a mommy to a nonstop, sugar-filled two-year old, Baby D.  She is constantly seeking the latest tech toys and creative adventures to do with her  little crazy person. No stranger to exploring awesome cities, Portia is a San Francisco native turned Orange County transplant. You’ll find her discovering kid-friendly places all over Southern California on her blog. Her background is in
public relations and marketing. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook & Pinterest.


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Now that our kids are fully immersed into technology, I’m happy to report there’s a company that realized the need for headphones that fit their little heads. iHome has teamed up with Disney to bring us the cutest accessories. Not just kids headphones though, there are earphones, alarm clocks and speakers too. The whole line is designed with your child’s favorite Disney character, and they can use them with an iPod/iPhone/iPad.

Minnie Mouse speakers Collage

The Minnie Speakers are just so cute, and my daughter loves Minnie Mouse so I had to get them for her. My kids use my iPad Mini to watch Netflix and the speakers would be perfect because they are portable, and easy to use. I don’t worry about them ruining them or breaking them because they were made with kids in mind.

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 10.52.50 AM

My daughter loves the speakers, and the boys love that they can hear the movie/show without having to have the iPad’s volume on high. The speakers even expand so that the sound’s base can be adjusted. The speakers are rechargeable, so you can move around with your speakers and not have to be stuck to a plug. It’s super lightweight, which makes it a great traveling companion too.

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 11.22.00 AM

Next, I want to get a pair of the Minnie Mouse headphones. They are so cute, and I could easily share them with my daughter.

Which accessory would your child love to have?

Disclaimer: I was sent the Minnie Mouse speakers for this review. The opinion above is my own own.

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