One of the biggest challenges virtually all parents face today is managing their children’s technology consumption. Technology has become our saving grace and nemesis—at the same time. Here are some tips and suggestions I’ve put together:
- Watch out for in-app purchases: It’s very easy for kids to rack up in-app purchases—without realizing the charges are real versus “money” earned in certain games. These unexpected costs can be managed through the device’s settings.
- Play before they do: It’s easy to rely on a rating for determining app and game appropriateness for our kids. But, ratings are only a guideline. It’s always a good idea to spend some time playing with an app or game before letting your child download it.
- Download before you go: Most TV providers offer customers a free app that lets them take their shows on the go. Downloading On Demand or DVR-recorded content to a mobile device helps control how much video is consumed without racking up data charges.
- Look for WiFi: Beyond free WiFi at obvious places, some internet providers, such as Xfinity, offer free hotspots in many popular places.
- Use technology to set parameters: There are a number of apps and devices (some free, some available for purchase) to help parents monitor and control WiFi access and usage. Comcast’s service, xFi, which is FREE to our customers, lets parents schedule WiFi access times for individual devices, such as pausing access during bedtime.
- Take back dinner time: Similarly, the xFi app gives customers the ability to pause all devices in the house so families can engage with each other over dinner.
- Get creative with other ways to keep kids busy during travel: There’s nothing wrong with some good, old-fashioned road trip games. We might be surprised how much our kids enjoy the License Plate Game or 20 Questions – especially when parents join in.
Tablettoddlers plans on watching the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony with the kids tonight at 8:00 pm EST. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking full advantage of all Comcast Xfinity has to offer in ways of watching both online and off. They’ve made it easy to personalize our viewing experience on X1 and the streaming app. We’re fans of using the voice remote for EVERYTHING. For the Olympics, just say “Olympics Home” to get started. Ridiculously easy.
There are 50 virtual channels on X1 including dedicated ones to hockey and curling. For quick updates, just press the “C” button, or as my kids call it, the “sports” button, or say “sports app” on the voice remote and you can get updated on specific competitions, athletes, country medal counts and sport specific video clips to binge.
Instant On Demand ensures you won’t miss a moment of primetime action. Just select or say “restart” and you’re all set. Otherwise, all competitions are available next day On Demand in high def or 4K.
Recently, Comcast took a survey showing parents across the country are almost unanimous in their belief that disconnecting from devices during mealtime improves family bonding (98 percent), with nearly half (42 percent) not able to remember the last time their family had a device-free meal and some going so far as to disconnect their modems to stop their children’s Wi-Fi usage.
If this hits too close to home, check out the xFi app from Comcast. The xFi experience can be controlled via a mobile app (iOS and Android), website, and on the TV with the X1 voice remote. Chances are you have it as xFi is now available to more than 10 million Xfinity Internet customers with a compatible Xfinity Wi-Fi device, and comes at no extra cost.
Considering my Comcast XFinity Triple Play bill (TV, internet, phone) is approaching $250 per month, I think it might be time to consider alternatives.
The Aereo TV service is now available in Boston, home of Tablettoddlers. In case you’re unfamiliar, Aereo lets you access local over-the-air channels (all the major broadcast networks and 20 other channels) in HD with the ability to record live TV via DVR on the iPad or iPhone.
So at Tablettoddlers headquarters, we’d have Aereo at $8 or $12 per month depending on DVR capacity (20 vs. 60 hours), Amazon Instant Video ($8 per month), Netflix ($10 per month), and Hulu Plus ($8 per month). That’s approximately $40-45 per month factoring in the one-time charge of purchasing a $99 Apple TV.
On the flip side, we’d be losing access to some of the kids’ favorite video apps like Disney Junior and the Xfinity Player. And Tablettoddlers mom & dad would lose HBO, ESPN, etc. Plus, we’d still have to pay for Comcast Xfinity Blast high-speed internet, which is about $80 per month.
For the first time, a parent who is a Comcast customer can download (not just stream) a movie or TV program and keep it on their mobile device for up to two weeks. Previously, you would have to be on a Wi-Fi connection and stream it when you wanted to watch it. Now, the Xfinity TV Player app makes it a lot easier.
In other words, !SERENITY NOW! for long car rides and airplane travel. Thank you, Xfininty!
Toys R Us is getting into the video streaming business, launching toysrusmovies.com, a digital service for users to stream and download movies and TV shows geared toward children.
The movies are priced at $2.00 for a 24-hour rental and TV shows are $1.99 apiece.
Curious to see if this will catch on as I know my kids are already loyal to Netflix and Comcast’s Xfinity. What do you think?