4 Kids’ TV Shows That Are Worth a Second Look

By Tracey Dowdy      

Ever find Robbie Rotten from Lazy Town headlining your nightmares? Ever roll your eyes so hard at Ruby lecturing Max again that you’re sure you’ve detached your own retina? (By the way, where are their parents?) Or maybe you’ve wondered what contest in hell inspired the creation of Caillou? Yeah, me neither. (Ahem.)

If you’ve had all you can take of the usual kid-show fare, here are a few options that won’t leave you wishing you could reach through the TV and hand Chilly from Doc McStuffins a cup of tea and the name of a good therapist.

Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom

At first look, Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom is just a typical cartoon with elves and fairies, but after a few minutes you’ll see there’s plenty of subtle humor for you too. Class war, politics, environmental issues – it’s all here. But don’t worry, while you’re giggling at a joke about the role of the royal family in modern Britain, your kids will be entranced by the stories presented in clever 2D animation, all while learning about friendship, compassion, forgiveness, and hard work. (Nickelodeon)

Dinosaur Train

If Barney ruined dinosaurs for you, it’s time to give them a second chance with Dinosaur Train. Follow Buddy, a preschool-aged Tyrannosaurus Rex, and his adoptive Pteranodon family as they time-travel by steam train through pre-historic eras teaching kids about the different dinosaurs that roamed the planet. Some episodes feature a guest appearance by real-life paleontologist Scott Sampson, who presents facts about natural history, natural science and paleontology. Best of all, it’s made by The Jim Henson Company, so what’s not to love? (PBS)

The New Adventures of Figaro Pho

Figaro Pho (as in phobia) is the story of “a warm-hearted, adorable, quirky and mischievous character … who just happens to be afflicted with every phobia imaginable.” But, instead of being crippled by his fears, Figaro uses his imagination to come up with creative inventions to battle and overcome those phobias, always with a little help from his trusty best friend Rivet, a robotic dog. It’s funny, a little weird, occasionally gross, and both you and your kids will love it. (ABC)

Phineas & Ferb

Phineas & Ferb may seem like an odd choice for a list like this but hear me out. Phineas and Ferb are stepbrothers and they actually get along. Not only do they like each other, they look out for their sister Candace and have genuine affection for their parents. Each episode centers around a wacky plan on how they’ll spend their summer vacation and, when it inevitably goes awry, they tell their disbelieving parents the whole truth. Each episode also involves a secondary plotline with their pet platypus Perry foiling the dastardly schemes of Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz – how do you not love a guy named Doofenshmirtz? (Disney)

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.

Tuesday, September 27: A Special WWEmoms Twitter Event

A Special WWEmoms Twitter Event

#WWEmoms

When: TODAY, Tuesday, September 27, 2016
7:00 – 8:00 pm ET
4:00 – 5:00 pm PT

Join @WWEmoms and friends at 7 pm ET (4 pm PT) on Tuesday, September 27 as we look forward to the premiere of Total Bellas!
Wednesday, October 5 marks the premiere of Total Bellas, the spin-off of the mega-hit series “Total Divas,” on E! Join us as we preview a show that promises to give viewers an exclusive and intimate look at the VIP lives of WWE Superstars Nikki and Brie Bella!
RSVP and attend the Twitter event for a chance to win one of the following great prizes:
JBL Flip3 Portable Bluetooth Speaker
WWE Gift Backpack

(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://bit.ly/2cbmQns
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#WWEmoms) on Tuesday, September 27 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.)

Snapchat Tips for Parents

By Tracey Dowdy

Teens and Snapchat go together like peanut butter and jelly, chips and salsa, bacon and eggs, wine and cheese, mmmm, cheese…. wait, where was I going with this? Oh yes, teens and Snapchat.

With roughly 110 million daily users, Snapchat has surpassed even Twitter’s popularity, particularly with teens.

So what is it? Simply put, Snapchat is a free video and photo sharing app. Users can choose to send a private chat that disappears after one viewing or post a series of photos to create a Snapchat story. Teens love it because it gives them the ability to capture a moment in time, whether it’s silly, hilarious or awkward. Because snaps only last up to 10 seconds, there’s more freedom than with other forms of social media like Facebook and Instagram.

However, it’s not quite as user-friendly as Twitter or Facebook and the challenges inadvertently filter out the less tech savvy, like parents. Since adults are all over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Snapchat is a place for our kids to virtually hang out without us and, just as with any other online activity, that is a plus or a minus depending on what your kids are up to.

Snapchat knows the risks involved and addresses them in their Terms of Use. They outline who can use Snapchat, what rights you have and what rights you grant them. There’s content and privacy guidelines mapped out as well as restrictions for copyrighted images, plus much more. There’s a fair amount of information and some is standard across social media platforms but it’s definitely worth the time to read through.

For example, users allow Snapchat access to their address book. It’s not uncommon for apps to request access to your private information but keep in mind that not everything you share is yours – you’re also sharing your friends’ information.

Snapchat also has the right to access your photos and videos. By agreeing to these “Terms of Use” users consent to “grant Snapchat and our business partners the unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual right and license to use your name, likeness, and voice solely in Live, Local, or other crowd-sourced content that you appear in, create, upload, post, or send.”

It’s also important to note that users are legally responsible for what happens while they’re logged on. That means underage teens exchanging nude pics are risking charges ranging from misdemeanors to felonies and potentially being registered as sex offenders. Twenty states have laws specifically related to sexting. Teens need to remember that those kind of photos might not be as temporary or as private as they think.

Back in 2015, 18-year-old high school student Brandon Berlin was arrested for uploading nude and semi-nude photos of underage girls to Dropbox and sharing the images with friends. Most of the photos had been sent via Snapchat by the victims to their boyfriends who then forwarded them to Berlin. “This has to be a teachable moment for us with our kids. They have to understand that once you share something, even with just one person, once you share something online, electronically, you can’t get it back and you lose complete control over where it goes.” – Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman

Berlin’s senior quote in the yearbook? “I prolly had your pics.”

I must reiterate sexting isn’t the only or even the primary use of Snapchat. The intimacy that allows some to sext is valued by others for the simple reason there’s a lot less pressure. In the words of teenager Andrew Watts, “Snapchat has a lot less social pressure attached to it… If I don’t get any likes on my Instagram photo or Facebook post within fifteen minutes you can sure bet I’ll delete it.”

Snapchat’s popularity with teens is easily linked to the cliché “A picture is worth a thousand words.” It’s easy to misinterpret the meaning behind a text, but a picture and caption or a 10 second video makes your meaning clear.

For more insight and tips on helping your kids understand the risks, Verizon has a great article by Larry Magid, “What Parents Need to Know about Snapchat”.

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.

Thursday, September 15: Looking Forward to Fall TV

LOOKING FORWARD TO FALL TV

#FiOSNY

When:  Thursday, September 15, 2016
9:00 – 10:00 pm ET
6:00 – 7:00 pm PT
Join host Adam Cohen (@dadarocks) and the #FiOSNY team on Twitter at 9 pm ET on Thursday, September 15 as we Look Forward to Fall TV!
With over 50 shows returning and 35 new shows making their debut, this year’s Fall TV schedule promises to be the best and brightest in years. Join us as we preview some of our favorite picks, and explore how the rapidly evolving options for content delivery have FiOS customers sitting pretty!
RSVP and attend the chat for a chance to win a Motorola Powerpack charger or a Kindle Fire HD 10 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://bit.ly/2ciLNyv
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#FiOSNY) on Thursday, September 15 between 9:00 – 10:00 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.)

Celebrating the Positive Side of Social Media

By Tracey Dowdy

It’s not uncommon to get sucked into the vortex of Twitter and Facebook feeds, Instagram snaps and Pinterest boards and find yourself unhappy with everything from your hairstyle and gym habits to your throw pillows and non-Bento boxed school lunches.

Social media gets a bad rap and we like to blame it for society’s ills. There are those who abuse the platform – examples of online bullying, trolling, and body shaming are frequently in the news – but there’s even more examples of social media being used for good.

Back in 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge was all over social media. Everyone from Oprah and Bill Gates to people like me took part and as a result over $100 million dollars was raised for research into ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. But the story doesn’t end there. Just this year the ALS association announced a breakthrough made possible by the money raised by the Ice Bucket Challenge: the discovery of a gene partly responsible for the disease.

That’s far from the only example. Photographer James Rudland created the Sleeping Bag Appeal and collected hundreds of sleeping bags for homeless people in a matter of days. Movember, created by two Australian friends and used as a vehicle to raise money for prostate cancer, has generated donations of over $556 million, with funding going to 832 men’s health programs internationally.

Social media is a powerful means of communication when tragedy or natural disasters occur. Facebook has added Safety Check to its platform so users can instantly let friends and family know they’re safe; and first responders, governments, Red Cross and other non-governmental organizations frequently utilize social media to keep us up-to-date and informed during disasters.

Social media is indispensable when news stories like the Paris bombings or Louisiana floods occur. Always, always, always be careful of charitable links set up through social media, as there are those that use tragedy as a means to personal gain, but organizations like the Red Cross and World Wildlife Fund use their Facebook pages to link families and those in need to critical resources.

Sites like Facebook and Instagram are invaluable to families and individuals going through difficult times. They provide the opportunity to share the burden and allow friends and family to show support and offer hope. With his wife Joey’s encouragement, Rory Feek blogged about their journey as Joey battled cancer. Their story was both heartbreaking and inspirational, giving hope and encouragement to others facing similar struggles.

The impact of social media is undeniable. The power is unquestionable. The key is to use that power for positive change on both a local and global level.

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.

Friday, September 9: Celebrating the iPhone!

MOBILE LIVING TWITTER PARTY

#VZWBuzz

When: TODAY, Friday, September 9, 2016
3:00 – 4:00 pm ET
12:00 – 1:00 pm PT

‘Celebrating the iPhone!’

Join @TheTechDad and the VZWBuzz team at 3 pm ET (12 noon PT) on Friday, September 9 as we celebrate the iPhone!
Since its launch in 2007, Apple’s iconic smartphone has led the way in revolutionizing all aspects of mobile communication. Join us as we look back at some of the major milestones in the history of the iPhone, and explore the groundbreaking features of the brand new iPhone 7!

(Click here to learn more about our Twitter chats.)

To RSVP:
  1. Email RSVP@theonlinemom.com (subject line: VZWBuzz) and include your Twitter ID.
  2. Spread the word and RT this link on your Twitter feed: http://bit.ly/2clcLDt
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#VZWBuzz) on Friday, September 9 between 3 – 4 pm ET
  4. Tell your Twitter followers!

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

Thursday, September 8: Favorite TV Shows Past & Present

FAVORITE TV SHOWS PAST & PRESENT

#FiOSPhilly

When: TODAY, Thursday, September 8, 2016
8:00 – 9:00 pm ET
5:00 – 6:00 pm PT
Join Lindsay (@SeeMomClick) and the #FiOSPhilly team at 8 pm ET on Thursday, September 8, as we chat about our Favorite TV Shows Past & Present!
What shows do you remember from your childhood? What shows are you watching now? And what shows are you looking forward to in the upcoming Fall releases? Join us as we celebrate our favorite TV entertainment!
RSVP and attend the chat for a chance to win a Motorola Powerpack portable battery charger or a Kindle Fire HD 10 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: FiOSPhilly) indicating your Twitter ID.
  2. Spread the word and RT this link on your Twitter feed: http://bit.ly/2bXJ90K
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#FiOSPhilly) on Thursday, September 8 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.)

Tips and Tricks for New iPad Users

By Tracey Dowdy

The iPad has been around for several years and like most devices, each generation adds new features and shortcuts.

Whether you’ve just purchased your iPad or you haven’t explored much, these hacks can help you make the most of your new tablet.

  • Play a video within a separate app. To watch a video or FaceTime while you browse another app, press the Home button. The video will shrink and drop to the lower right corner of your screen. Tap the Home button again to return to full-screen. Note: this functionality is app specific, not universal. (iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro only)
  • Zoom in and out. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Zoom and make sure the slider is set to On to enable you to zoom in on specific areas of your screen.
  • Use Split View to run two apps simultaneously. Simply swipe in from the right side of the screen and one app will launch in Slide Over view. Tap the white handle that appears in the second app to expand it into a split-screen. (iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro only)
  • Customize accessibility features for users with visual or auditory impairment. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut to enable specific features immediately accessible by triple-pressing the Home button. Select Voice Over, Invert Colors, Grayscale, Zoom, Switch Control, or Assistive Touch.
  • Open a sidebar without leaving an app. This is one feature Android and Windows devices have offered for awhile and Apple is finally catching up. While one app is open, you can simply swipe right to the edge of your screen and a list of compatible apps will appear. Tap the one you want and it will appear alongside the app currently open. (iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro only)
  • Turn on Find My iPad. Go to Settings > iCloud > Find My iPad and toggle the slider to On. You also have the option to send location information to Apple if the battery is getting low. To find your iPad, log in to iCloud or open the Find My iPhone app on your phone. Remember, it uses your phone’s location services so it will let you know if the iPad is at your house, but sadly not where in the house.
  • Choose what appears in your dock. Siri is intuitive and learns the apps you use most, but you can go one step further and customize the six apps that appear in your dock. Hold down an app just as you would if you were deleting or moving your apps around and drag them to the bottom of the screen.
  • Use your iPad as a second monitor. (Available with some third-party apps) After installing third-party apps like Duet Display or Air Display, you have the option to connect your iPad to your computer and enable it to act as a second display.

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.