Are Virtual Reality Headsets Safe for Kids?

From the LiveScience post:

Virtual-reality headsets are likely to be at the top of many kids’ wish lists this holiday season, but with many VR devices coming with age restrictions, is the technology safe for youngsters?

The Oculus Rift and Samsung’s Gear VR headsets are recommended for ages 13+, while Sony’s recommendation for its PlayStation VR is ages 12 and up. HTC’s Vive is not designed for children, according to the company, and HTC said young children shouldn’t be allowed to use the headset at all. And Google said its relatively low-tech Cardboard headset should be used by kids only under adult supervision.

Companies have offered little explanation for these age recommendations. So what does the science say? According to Marientina Gotsis, director of the Creative Media & Behavioral Health Center at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, not a lot.

Are Virtual Reality Headsets Safe for Kids?

Loving the Kids Zone

Tablettoddlers has written about this before but we thought it was worth revisiting:  KidsZone on Comcast Xfinity’s X1 Platform is fantastic.  It’s like parental controls on steroids.  When in Kids Zone, my kids can browse all on their own, selecting live programming, free Xfinity On Demand content, movies as well as any saved programming on our DVR — all of which has either been flagged by the network or studio as kids programming, or deemed age-appropriate for kids 12 and under by Common Sense Media.  Also, while in Kids Zone, kids can quickly find recently-watched programming, browse by their favorite network and even sort by their favorite theme such as “superheroes,” “princesses” or “talking animals.” Parents can even filter programming that surfaces within Kids Zone down to specific age-ranges. For example, if I don’t want my six year old to watch shows designed for older kids, I can filter those out, tailoring the Kids Zone content to appropriate fare. They can also set shows to shuffle play.

So glad we made the decision to become connected again with Comcast after several years of cord-cutting.

“The Story We Wish Was Like Annie” Now Available in the Kindle Store

Congratulations to Tablettoddlers’ daughter Hannah Sender on her first published book, “The Story We Wish Was Like Annie.” According to renowned scholar Meaghan Stiman “Hannah Sender captivates her readers with a unique twist on a familiar tale. She tells the story of four orphaned sisters finding love and family through a series of amusing trials and tribulations. Readers can’t help but be drawn into the story by Sender’s engaging and laugh-out-loud funny dialogue. Best of all, she cleverly weaves in the title of the book with her character’s own narrative. This is the sort of wittiness we rarely see from first-time authors. The clear consensus is that “The Story We Wish Was Like Annie” is a must-read in 2016. We all wait in excited anticipation to see what Sender has in store for us in “Perry’s in Paradise.” Here is a link to the ebook, available exclusively in the Amazon Kindle store for $2.99. Enjoy.

Apple Offers Free App to Teach Children Coding

It’s happening, folks.  From the NY Times article:

Apple plans to release a free coding education app on Tuesday that it developed with middle-school students in mind, in the latest salvo among technology companies to gain share in the education market and to nurture early product loyalty among children.

Apple’s app, called Swift Playgrounds, introduces basic computer programming concepts, like sequencing logic, by asking students to use word commands to move cartoon avatars through a fanciful, animated world. Unlike some children’s apps, which employ drag-and-drop blocks to teach coding, the Apple program uses Swift, a professional programming language that the company introduced in 2014.

Maybe It’s Time to Give Pokemon Go a Try

Tablettoddlers initially rolled our eyes at the Pokemon Go craze a few weeks ago and gave it a dismissive shrug.  After reading friend Jason Boog’s post, we may reconsider.  Here’s a sample of what the whip-smart Boog said:

“I loved playing the popular app with my almost 6-year-old daughter. The game turns your real life neighborhood into a digital map filled with creatures to discover. We walked around our neighborhood, photographed digital creatures in the bushes, captured Pokémon and met other kids playing the game. Best of all, we shared my smartphone for a couple hours–a truly rare experience.”

We especially liked his advice on how to supplement the app with a good old-fashioned book:

“Instead of criticizing kids for obsessing over apps like Pokémon Go, we should find books that compliment these digital experiences. I ordered our family a copy of Scholastic’s Pokémon Deluxe Essential Handbook. This colorful reference book gives kids a way to explore the Pokémon universe WITHOUT a device.”

Sounds like there’s no downside to at least giving it a try, considering how Pokemon-crazy Tablettoddlers’ nine and six year old are.  Will report back.


The Merits of Reading Real Books to Your Children

From the NY Times post:

“Reading and being read to open unlimited stories; worlds can be described and created for you, right there on the page, or yes, on the screen, if that is where you do your later reading. But as those early paper books offer you those unlimited stories, the pictures will move if you imagine the movement; the duck will quack if you know how to work your parent. It’s all about pushing the right buttons.”