SheHeroes!

June 7, 2011

By Daniel Neal

As a parent, I try to keep on the lookout for new sites for kids that look interesting.  I just came across an excellent one, SheHeroes.  Their short videos on accomplished women role models are very well done.

I wasted no time sending this link to my 12-year-old daughter.  I thought others might like to know about it, too.  Nice work, SheHeroes!

kajeet – the safest cell phone for kids

New Parent Dashboard!

February 2, 2010

by Carol Politi

New Parent DashboardLogin to your kajeet account to see the all new Parent Dashboard!

We have revised the Account Details and Parental Controls pages to make it easier for you to manage your child’s account including monitoring Account Activity, purchasing and changing plans, and controlling the time, features, and spending for each phone on the account.

Please comment here to let us know what you think!

kajeet – the cell phone service made for kids

by Carol Politi

Wow.  Even those of us focused on kids and media were surprised with the recent Kaiser Family Foundation Study on kids and media use.  The study, called “Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds“, indicates that kids spend more than 53 hours a week consuming media (counting a blend of TV, computers, gaming devices, cell phones, etc.).  And that count does not include multitasking – which brings the media use count up to 10 hours and 45 minutes per day.

Much of the increase is driven by the accessibility of media on mobile devices – ipods and cell phones (though the increase in social media use is also a factor).  Note that text messaging is not considered media use in this study – and that “7th-12th graders report spending an average of 1:35 a day sending or receiving texts”!

Clearly, media consumption is a fact of life.  So what’s wrong with this picture?

1.  Kids that are heavy media users report getting lower grades.

2.  Kids that are heavy media users report being less personally content.

What’s the upside here?  One bit of upside is that parents can have an impact!  The study indicates that “When parents set limits, children spend less time with media. Those young people who say their parents have some rules about their media use are exposed to an average of nearly three hours (2:52) less media content per day than those who say they don’t have rules.”

Most parents get cell phones for their kids for safety reasons.  But doing so can put more media – and another device with which to multi-task – in the hands of kids.  kajeet customers can set limits – on both the type of content/service used on the cell phone and the time spent using the cell phone.  This includes limiting access at night, during school, and during home work time.  To set these up simply login at kajeet.com or call kajeet customer care (1-866-452-5338).

Please comment here to let us know what you think of the Kaiser Family Foundation study and how you manage media access and use in your household.  We could all benefit from some good ideas!

kajeet – the cell phone service made for kids

Texting Devices for Teens

September 2, 2009

by Carol Politi

LG RumorThe New York Times recently covered kajeet in an article providing tips for choosing cell phones for teens (“They’re Old Enough to Text. Now What?”).  This was a great profile of kajeet as the only prepaid phone with parental controls and GPS – allowing parents to deliver a safe phone for their kids with the controls they might need to manage its use.

The article profiled the LG Rumor handset at left – a great phone that is loved by kids!   kajeet has phones to fit every budget and parenting style including phones without cameras and basic flip phones that meet the needs of parents interested in an economic safety phone for their child.

Of all the plans profiled, we believe kajeet offers the best value for both tweens & teens.  The $4.99 plan is a basic safetly plan for first time phone users – it includes all service fees plus the first 10 minutes each month (every additional minute is only $.10/minute).  And our $19.99 unlimited texting + 150 minute plan has been tailor-made for kids that are becoming increasingly social and for their parents looking to manage their budget.

We are always interested in your feedback on our handsets and plans and your experiences with our service.  Please comment and let us know what you think.  Thanks!

by Carol Politi

That was the unlikely title of a recent NPR podcast about the benefits of small periods of exercise for both kids and adults. One of the segments discussed how incorporating exercise in the classroom (by having kids stand when they read or do jumping jacks while practicing math) was showing positive benefits – especially for those kids that have difficulty staying on task.

I think most parents are proponents of more movement – both during and outside school hours. However, many parents struggle getting kids to move while they are at home because the kids want to be connected to their friends via apps on their computers. I extended the Club Penguin timer last night because my son had discovered yesterday that he could “find” his friend – and by the time he actually found him there was no time left to play with him. Given that his friend was next door and the two of them must have run about 2 miles in the find process by physically going back and forth between each others computers, extending it was actually upside when it came to inspiring exercise. But when he gets the hang of this is he going to want to stay tethered to the computer for hours?

Does the cell phone inspire kids to get outside by allowing them to be connected while they are mobile? If we enable what many of us consider to be the “optional” apps on our kids phones – Facebook, Twitter, etc – will kids be more comfortable leaving their computer and heading out to skateboard or ride their bike?

As with most things, there is no black and white here. On the plus side, when these apps are a mobile extension of on-line applications many of the safety settings and monitoring tools we have in place will work.  However, much of the safety monitoring I do consists of watching my kid in the kitchen with his computer.  Taking the apps mobile certainly raises the bar a bit. How do you approach monitoring of social applications while your child is mobile? Do you restrict them, have a tool that monitors the applications, or just use your eyes in the kitchen?

The other part of the NPR segment was about the benefits of small periods of exercise at the workplace.  An untethered phone definitely makes this easier – we all might need to start pacing during calls!

6,473 Texts a Month!

February 25, 2009

by Carol Politi

The Washington Post recently wrote a fascinating article discussing kids and texting.  It included some interesting points of view on whether the current texting phenomenon is negatively impacting the social and educational development, and family life, of today’s kids.  There were several reasonable expert sources pointing out the benefits texting can have in keeping kids and families socially connected.

Our experience at kajeet is that while parenting styles differ, virtually all parents believe the social, educational, and family connections their kids make are extremely important.  Some limit texting to accommodate these goals and others enable texting to accommodate them.  Even experts can’t agree on the topic so we should expect to see this kind of variation among parents.

I do think in 20 years we will all think about texting very differently than we do today.  Regardless,  I would also bet that virtually everyone might believe some level of moderation is a good idea.  For example, it would be great if both dinner and a nights sleep could be uninterrupted.

kajeet offers flexible parental controls that help parents set limits when rules alone might not work.  For example, TimeManager will block texts and calls at certain times of the day and night (both sent and received).  WalletManager provides usage limits so parents and kids can set a budget and kids can make choices on how much calling or texting to do – within the budgeted limits.

What’s your view on texting?  Do you see advantages to letting your kids text?  How much is too much?

Smartphones Making Kids Dumb?

February 13, 2009

by Carol Politi

Advertising Age published an article tackling the issue of whether technology is making our kids dumb. There is a real fear that technology of all sorts – phones, social & gaming networks, etc. – will drive a new generation of kids that don’t read, can’t write, and that do not understand how to socially interact with other kids and adults.

Completely avoiding new technology is difficult – the world does move on. And in the case of cell phones, it is often more difficult for parents to deal with the loss of a cell phone than it is for their kids. However, I think we all struggle with how to ensure safe and appropriate limits.

One way to increase safety and set limits is through tools. I just had a discussion today about the fact that you can almost always make any technology safer by going into “settings” on the application. kajeet phones come with tools for parents and kids that are extremely useful in setting limits – and that can help keep kids away from inadvertent trouble (e.g., that phone that rings during school or friends that do think it is OK to call at 3AM).

However, these tools and controls are also useful to help drive a conversation with kids about limits and appropriate use. I think this conversation may be even more important than the controls themselves.

How much should be spent each month? Go to the kajeet WalletManager with your child and discuss budgets and allowances. When should the phone be available for use? Go to TimeManager and discuss the use of the phone during school hours and after certain hours of the night. Not ready for instant or picture messaging on the mobile? Discuss which services are appropriate (and turn off the ones that are not in FeatureManager).

The purchase of a first phone is a milestone in most kid’s lives – and they are at an age where they can collaborate with their parents to set up rules for appropriate use. We may find that most kids, if asked, will set their limits more stringently than their parents.

Let us know how you introduced limits and responsible use with your child’s first phone.

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