Thursday, December 17: A Special WWEmoms Twitter Event

A Special WWEmoms Twitter Event

#WWEmoms

When: TODAY, Thursday, December 17, 2015
7:00 – 8:00 pm ET
4:00 – 5:00 pm PT

Join @WWEmoms and friends TODAY at 7 pm ET (4 pm PT) as we look forward to WWE Week on USA Network!
USA Network and WWE kick off the holiday season with an action-packed WWE Week! The week begins THIS SUNDAY with Santa’s Little Helper, starring The Miz and Paige, followed by the Slammy Awards on Monday Night RAW, a live SmackDown on Tuesday, and a two-hour WWE Tribute to the Troops special on Wednesday
RSVP and attend the party for a chance to win a Roku Streaming Stick or one of 5 DVDs of Santa’s Little Helper!

(Click here to learn more about our Twitter chats. You must RSVP and attend the party to be eligible for a prize.)

To RSVP:
  1. Email RSVP@TheOnlineMom.com (subject line: WWEmoms) and include your Twitter ID
  2. Spread the word and RT this link on your Twitter feed:  http://ow.ly/VJkJD
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#WWEmoms) today between 7 – 8 pm ET
  4. Tell your Twitter followers!
PRIZE WINNERS will be announced during the Party!

(The Online Mom LLC receives a fee for participating in certain promotional programs for WWE.)

Apps to Connect You to a Good Cause

By Tracey Dowdy

The proliferation of social media and the ease of “Liking” or “Sharing” a post to spread awareness have led to a new term being added to our vocabulary – “slacktivism.” Also referred to as “armchair activism,” slacktivism refers to signing an online petition or joining an online group as a means to ease your conscience, rather than actually making an effort to to make a real difference.

That’s a pretty harsh view to take and implies we’re too lazy or self-absorbed to make a meaningful effort. In reality, based on data from philanthropy research organization Giving USA, Americans donated an estimated $358 billion to charities in 2014. We clearly do want to help, but perhaps aren’t always sure how.

These apps can help guide us, as they’re a legitimate means to do good, not just a path to instant conscience-easing gratification.

Share the Meal

share-the-meal-1Pairing the concept of crowdfunding with smartphone users who outnumber the hungry 20 to 1 globally, The United Nations World Food Programme Share the Meal allows users to donate as little as fifty cents a day to fight hunger. It’s as simple as a single tap on your screen.

Platform: iOS, Android, Amazon


Charity Miles

charity-milesOnce you download the app, Charity Miles tracks your movements. Each running-mile is worth 25 cents, each biked-mile earns10 cents. Users can select where the money is donated with a list of 30 charities to choose from including World Wildlife Fund and Habitat for Humanity. Note, Charity Miles keeps 50% of donations made to cover the shortfall when there are more individuals participating than corporate donations had been committed.

Platform: iOS, Android


One Today

one-todayOne Today was developed by Google and introduces you to a new charity every day by telling you the details for each charity, what they do, what your donation will fund, and providing you with an impact report. When you see a charity you like, simply tap the give button to donate $1. If you want to give more, the app connects you with the charity’s website.

Platform: iOS, Android


Donate a Photo

donate-a-photoIf ever there was a charity designed for our selfie and photo sharing era, it’s Donate a Photo. Simply download the app, choose a charity you want to help, choose a photo from your camera roll or take one through the app, share the photo via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and Johnson & Johnson will give $1 to your chosen cause. J&J curates a list of causes and once the charity’s goal is met, they’re replaced with a new cause. Images will never be used for commercial purposes and can be kept to a private list of viewers. Users can post one photo per day.

Platform: iOS, Android)


TangoTab

TangoTabTangoTab connects you with great deals at local restaurants. Simply check in when you arrive and the restaurant will pay a small fee to TangoTab. That money is then donated to a local food charity like a shelter or food bank to feed the hungry and homeless. Their tag is “When you eat, they eat.” The charity is currently available in limited cities but if you provide your email address, they’ll contact you when it comes to your city.

Platform: iOS, Android

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Monday, December 14: Surviving the Holidays!

Verizon FiOS
 A Surviving the Holidays Twitter Event!

#LifeOnFiOS

When: TODAY, Monday, December 14, 2015
8:00 – 9:00 pm ET
5:00 – 6:00 pm PT
Join @mistygirlph and the #LifeOnFiOS team at 8 pm ET TODAY, as we look at ways to survive the Holidays!
‘Tis the season of goodwill but making it through the seemingly endless Holiday season can also be a challenge. Join @mistygirlph and our FiOS teams at 8 pm ET TODAY as we look forward to this special time of year and share a few tips on how to make sure your festive spirit survives!
RSVP and attend the chat for a chance to win one of two Motorola Power Pack portable chargers or an all-new Verizon Ellipsis 8 tablet!

(Click here  to learn more about our Twitter chats. You must RSVP and attend the party to be eligible for a prize.)

To RSVP:
  1. Email RSVP@theonlinemom.com (subject line: LifeOnFiOS) indicating your Twitter ID.
  2. Spread the word and RT this link on your Twitter feed: http://ow.ly/VFu12
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#LifeOnFiOS) today between 8:00 – 9:00 pm ET.
  4. Tell your Twitter followers!
PRIZE WINNERS will be announced during the Party!

(The Online Mom LLC receives a fee for participating in certain promotional programs for Verizon.)

Monday, December 14: Surviving the Holidays

SURVIVING THE HOLIDAYS!

#FiOSNY

When: TODAY, Monday, December 14, 2015
8:00 – 9:00 pm ET
5:00 – 6:00 pm PT
‘Tis the season of goodwill but making it through the seemingly endless Holiday season can also be a challenge. Join @mistygirlph and the FiOSNY team at 8 pm ET TODAY as we look forward to this special time of year and share a few tips on how to make sure your festive spirit survives!
RSVP and attend the chat for a chance to win one of two Motorola Power Pack portable chargers or a Verizon Ellipsis 8 tablet!

(Click here  to learn more about our Twitter chats. You must RSVP and attend the party to be eligible for a prize.)

To RSVP:
  1. Email RSVP@theonlinemom.com (subject line: FiOSNY) indicating your Twitter ID.
  2. Spread the word and RT this link on your Twitter feed: http://ow.ly/VFmFe   
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#FiOSNY) today between 8:00 – 9:00 pm ET.
  4. Tell your Twitter followers!
PRIZE WINNERS will be announced during the Party!

(The Online Mom LLC receives a fee for participating in certain promotional programs for Verizon.)

Getting Your Kids Involved in the Presidential Campaign

By Tracey Dowdy

Kids and presidential politics may seem to go together like peanut butter and sand, but if we want to raise our kids to be informed and educated global citizens, it’s important to start early, especially as civics education in the classroom is declining.

Two researchers from Baylor University’s School of Education, Brooke Blevins, Ph.D. and Karon LeCompte, Ph.D., see the need for more involvement and recently offered parents some simple tips on how to explain the presidential election process to kids.

Obviously each of us have our own biases and beliefs when it comes to politics, but there are ways to teach our kids about the election process that are engaging and that can lay the groundwork for their future interest and involvement in the political process.

Use political campaigns and presidential debates to spark dialogue.

I talk a lot about teaching our kids to be critical thinkers. Instead of tuning out when a campaign commercial comes on, watch it together and then talk about what you just saw. Ask open ended questions like: What did the candidate say about themselves? What did he or she say about the other party or candidate? Do you agree with the message? Why? Why not? Do you find the candidate trustworthy?

Try online video games.

Blevins and LeCompte recommend parents and kids take advantage of iCivics, a free web-based resource founded and led by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor that encourages younger individuals to become educated and informed citizens. Along with lesson plans for teachers and other digital resources, kids can play engaging video games like “Executive Command,” where they get to be president for a day, or “Crisis of Nations,” where they take the lead and work to solve international problems.

In “Cast Your Vote” kids can ask the candidates questions, rate responses and ultimately vote for the candidate of their choice. “Win the White House” has kids manage their own presidential campaign. They must raise their own campaign funds, poll voters, run a media campaign, and make personal appearances. They even have to keep an eye on the electoral map and manage the popular vote.

Turn civics education into civic engagement—let students put into action what they learned.

Take all that information and skills they learned with iCivics and the probing questions you’ve asked when watching those campaign commercials and put them into action. They can help distribute campaign materials or posters or spread the word via their social media accounts.

Even better, take that new-found activism and encourage them to make an immediate difference in their community by helping with recycling, cleaning up a local park or volunteering at a local shelter. Obviously the age of the child will determine what that social activism will look like, but even our youngest can stand up to a social injustice like bullying.

Plug into already established enrichment programs.

You don’t need to re-invent the wheel. There are many community and school-based initiatives with a mandate of connecting kids with civic minded role models and programs. Check out your city or state’s website or talk to your child’s school to see what programs and resources are available.

If there aren’t programs that meet your needs, consider getting involved yourself. Think what an example that is to your child. Remember – the family that campaigns together changes the world together!

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Apps to Help You Stick to Your Budget

By Tracey Dowdy

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – unless you’re the one trying to manage the family budget. Keeping on track while taking advantage of all the Holiday sales can be a challenge, but all is not lost – the following apps can help you both create and stick to your budget.

Paid Apps

GoodBudget

goodbudgetAt $4.99 a month – not a one-time purchase price – GoodBudget is definitely one of the costlier options on this list but there is a “free forever” option that lets you manage up to 20 categories of expenses which is more than sufficient for the average household. Simply divide your money into customizable categories – e.g. gas, groceries, entertainment – and set the amount you can spend. Track transactions manually or import them as CSV files from your bank. The calculator-style interface and a home page that shows the total budget amount, total income and funds still available – plus cloud syncability – make it a very user-friendly option.

Platform: iOS, Android
Cost: $4.99/month


My Budget Book

my-budget-book-1My Budget Book is one of the less expensive paid options. The home screen displays your spending goals vs. your actual spending and an easy to read bar graph measures your cash flow. The budget tab, which allows users to create categories, import transactions as CSV files and set reminders, is updated monthly and, because there is no personal or banking information, the app is relatively secure.

Platform: iOS, Android
Cost: $3.49


Pocket Expense Personal Finance

pocket-expensePocket Expense Personal Finance features a home screen with an overview of how much money is available as well as a list of your recent transactions. Users input budget information into pre-set categories, set up reminders, and can check at a glance how much money is left in their budget. The one downside of the app is that all transactions must be entered manually as the app lacks the capability to import CSV or OFX files. If you’re not detail oriented or don’t have the time or patience to keep up, this may not be the best option.

Platform: iOS, Android
Cost: $4.99

Free Apps

Mint

mintMint consistently ranks at the top of Top Budgeting App lists because it offers all the tools you need to manage income, spending, saving, and sticking to your budget. It tracks all transactions in real time, including cash purchases if you manually input the transaction. It even syncs bank accounts and mutual funds to your 401(k) or IRA. In Overview, users can see account totals, monthly budget, credit score, and alerts any time you go over budget. Mint also breaks down your spending by category, analyzes your spending habits, and offers money-saving tips based on your spending history.

Platform: iOSAndroidWindows


 

Mvelopes

mvelopesMvelopes is like having a financial planner in the palm of your hand. Answer a few financial questions and sync with your bank account and Mvelopes will track every debit and credit transaction. Similar to GoodBudget, the app works with virtual envelopes, but users must first define income and create a budget to help set reasonable spending goals.

Platform: iOSAndroid


BillGuard

billguardBillGuard organizes all your transactions on your credit cards, debit cards and bank accounts into your Smart Inbox. The app offers fraud alerts, notifications on any new purchases, and one touch refund requests if you discover incorrect charges listed in the News Center. The app uses Tinder-like swiping to track each transaction. Swipe right if you actually made it, and the charge stays on your list. If you didn’t make the transaction, swipe left and a screen with the following options appears: Help Me Recognize, Report/Contact Merchant, or Follow Up Later. A red dot stays on your Home Screen until you address the issue.

Platform: iOSAndroid

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

How Social Media Is Shaping Our News

By Tracey Dowdy

We live in an era when an increasingly large part of the population gets their news via social media. According to a 2014 study by Pew Research, 30 percent of adults look to Facebook as their source for news, while another 10 percent each look to Twitter or YouTube. These numbers are constantly evolving and it’s safe to say they spike during events such as the presidential debates.

As a teen I remember being bored senseless when the news came on, and though my parents would encourage me to pay attention to make me aware of current events, I really couldn’t wait until we could change the channel and watch pretty much anything else.  Part of it was my age and lack of interest in anything that didn’t directly impact my life, and part of it was the delivery – a stern faced, stiff, older man with a clipped and formal delivery. There was a definite disconnect.

Today, as a result of the ubiquity of social media, that same information often comes to us from peers, celebrities, and other pop culture sources. Instead of a disconnect, there’s a feeling of immediacy that makes the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe or the bombing of a MSF hospital in Kunduz seem much closer to home.

Not only are younger people becoming greater consumers of news and current events through social media, they’re also becoming participants by posting their own photos or videos of those current events. Police used videos posted on Facebook to identify Stanley Cup rioters in Vancouver and when you consider the impact user generated content had on events like the Darren Wilson verdict or the Arab Spring, the influence of social media is more than obvious.

It’s no surprise that individuals who most closely follow news and current events are also the most engaged in political and social causes. Increased awareness is certainly a positive thing but there’s a danger that not all the information that goes viral is accurate. When Malaysian Airlines flight 370 went missing there were countless false reports and news updates shared via social media, including one stating the plane had landed safely in Nanning, China. I’ve lost track of the number of reports of Betty White’s passing away and I frequently see “R.I.P. Rue McClanahan,” who in reality died back in 2010. Even big name media outlets like CNN and Fox News sometimes get it wrong and, if nothing else, the Brian Williams debacle taught us to fact check and then fact check again.

It all comes down to critical thinking skills and reminding our kids to check their sources. In fact that’s good advice for all of us. I myself have been guilty of sharing inaccurate news, because I blindly trusted the source who initially shared it. It only takes a moment to fact check and make sure the information is correct but it can take a long time to un-do the damage from a false report. Sometimes the desire to be first overrides the need to be right and we as consumers are the ones who pay for that.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.