Friday, September 19: Mobile Games



When: TODAY, Friday, September 19, 2014
12:00-1:00 pm PT
3:00-4:00 pm ET

‘Mobile Games’

Join @theonlinemom @RobynsWorld @geekbabe and @thetechdad TODAY at 12 noon PT (3 pm ET) as we chat about Mobile Games!
Smartphones and tablets have inspired millions of people to start playing video games. From Angry Birds to Candy Crush to minecraft, these “casual games” are generating millions of dollars in advertising and in-app purchases, and have everyone from major corporations to individual developers scrambling to come up with the next big thing. Join us as we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of mobile gaming, look at some of the latest trends like multi-player gaming, and maybe even brag about a few of our high scores!
RSVP and attend the party for a chance to win a Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone or a MOGA Pro Power Game Controller!

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

  1. Email (subject line: VZWBuzz) and include your Twitter ID.
  2. Spread the word and RT this link on your Twitter feed:
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#VZWBuzz) today between 12 – 1 pm PT
  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 Wireless.)

Why You Get Unfriended On Facebook

By Tracey Dowdy

Christopher Sibona, a computer science PhD student at the University of Colorado, has bravely stepped in to address a grave social issue: why people get unfriended on Facebook.

Sibona has conducted several surveys focusing on why users choose to disconnect from “Friends” on Facebook. Recognizing that he’s gathering data from a narrow population, Sibona’s work has nevertheless produced interesting results.

I’ve conducted my own far less scientific and credentialed survey and, coupled with Sibona’s results, here are some of the reasons why individuals get unfriended:

1. You aren’t friends offline. Maybe you met once or twice; maybe you have mutual friends; maybe you were looking for a business connection and thought this would be a good lead. In any case, you aren’t friends in the real world so there’s no need to pretend in the virtual world.

2. You’re a creeper. You use Facebook to stalk family members and don’t know how to balance real life and life online. We’ve all done our share of stalking (who hasn’t checked to see who got fat or went bald since high school?) but these friends have raised it to a level that would dazzle Edward Snowden.

3. You’re never online. Maybe you joined Facebook because everyone else was doing it – we’ve all caved to a little peer pressure now and then – but somewhere along the line you lost interest. No problem. Happens to the best of us.

4. You’re a Debbie Downer. Your life isn’t filled with ups and downs, just downs and down even further, and whether because of geography or relationship you are not close enough for friends to be able to help beyond platitudes that may seem patronizing.

5. In the words of my friend Deb, “TOO MANY CATS.”

6. You post in a language other than English.

7. Your comments or posts are too often disparaging to individuals, organizations or groups you know your friend(s) support. Which leads us to number 8.

8. You consistently post status updates to provoke debate and argument. Religion, politics, human rights…you take a polarizing position and invite controversy. It’s your page and you are free to post on whatever topic you choose, but understand that many are not interested in online debate and will simply choose to walk away.

9. You take pieces of information that may be unrelated and piece them together to gossip. Even if what you’re repeating is true, it’s still gossip. And yes, even though we both know that if individuals don’t want their personal business discussed it shouldn’t be posted in the first place, until Facebook somehow develops a Breathalyzer or maturity meter, it’s up to us to be the better person.

10. The English language.
a. Your spelling and grammar are atrocious.
b. You post as if you’re texting or this is a newspaper ad and you pay per letter.
c. You are a grammar Nazi. Even if you’re right, no one likes the Nazis except other Nazis. Is that the company you want to keep?

As an interesting side note, Sibona has found that the individual who received the friend request is more likely to be the one to do the un-friending.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology.

6 Back To School Device Tips

By Robyn Wright

Even though it is still summer, school will be back in session before you know it. These days, parents have another item to figure out for their children: mobile devices and technology. Today’s students have an amazing array of devices available to them but they still need direction and guidelines for using them. Here are six tips for getting your kids ready for the upcoming school year:

  1. Set School Night Rules
    Before the school year even begins, establish the rules in your home for your kids and their devices. What can they use for homework? When can they use for fun? What time do they have to put their devices away? Include the consequences for not following the rules.
  2. Set Up a Home Charging Station
    Kids (and adults) are drawn to devices even when they should be sleeping. Set up a family charging station where all the phones, tablets, and laptops must be placed at night for charging. Establish what time the devices must be placed in the charging area.
  3. Do Not Use Device as an Alarm Clock
    Stick with a regular alarm clock to wake up in the morning. This keeps the devices out of bedrooms overnight (see charging station above).
  4. Find and Use Scheduling and Organizational Apps
    Our kids’ devices can help them stay on schedule and get organized with their school and after-school activities. Find age-appropriate tools and apps for your kids, and then show them how to use them to establish an effective routine.
  5. Understand Your School’s Electronics Policy
    Most schools have a policy about how and when electronics such as phones and tablets are used on school premises. Check out the rules before the first day of school. You may not agree with them, but those are the rules the kids will have to stick with. Make sure you and your children know what is allowed and the consequences if the policies are not followed.
  6. Set up Family Locator Service
    If you are a busy family with after school sports, evening classes, and more, then a family locator service might be helpful and offer some much-needed peace of mind. Family location services allow you to set up notifications when you kids arrive at or leave certain areas. Verizon’s Family Locator is just one of many options.

Robyn Wright is a social media specialist and blogs on her own blog,, as well as several other sites. Robyn has a love for family, technology, food and lots of apps!

Better Note-Taking for a Successful School Year

By Tracey Dowdy

When my friend Mike said, “Two weeks left of summer vacation then back to school!” my first reaction was “Nope. Nope. Nope.” Actually, it was my second reaction as well, and my third and, well you see where this is going.

Shifting gears from unstructured summer days to focusing on fractions and the major battlefields of the Civil War can be daunting even for good students. Yet despite the increasing number of laptops and tablets in the classroom, only about 65.5% of students take notes, although studies show note-taking increases retention of lecture material from 10% to 80%.

Beyond simply writing down what the teacher is saying, having a note-taking system increases the amount of information the brain can decipher during the lecture. Being able to capture those core concepts, as well as more complex details connected to the material, augments what the student retains and will recall later.

But which system is most effective? Again, that depends on learning style. Here’s a basic breakdown of three of the most popular techniques.

The Cornell System:

Developed by Professor Walter Pouk at Cornell University, this system is based on outlines prepared by teachers to guide note-taking in class. Important points are provided and students expand on this information and fill in the blanks. The page is broken down into three specific areas:

A. Cue Column – Use this area to review and self-test notes you’ve taken in class

B. Summaries Area – Using their own words, students summarize facts to demonstrate understanding of material

C. Note Taking area – In-class notes are written here.

The Outline System:

Pages are outlined by Primary and Secondary Topics. The Primary Topic separates the information into broad categories and the Secondary Topic breaks the information down into bullet points and paragraphs. The framework is repeated throughout the lecture.

Flow Based System:

The Flow Based System is the least structured. Instead of listing bullet points and following a specific format, ideas are captured as well as facts. Flow Based is considered to be particularly effective for in-class learning as your brain is capturing context and connecting ideas while filtering the information which ultimately increases long-term retention.

Now that you have a system, should you be writing or typing those notes? Again, it depends on the individual. The average professor speaks 2-3 words per second, the average student types 1.5 words a second and writes .3-.4 words per second. However, the actual physical act of writing a word engages your brain in ways typing can’t. Forming and connecting letters follows different pathways in your brain, helping with retaining that information. However, since most people type faster than they write, typing allows a greater volume of notes that can be reviewed later.

Ideally, students will make the most of technology while utilizing good old fashioned note-taking. By determining the style that works best and combining the best of both worlds, students can ensure this is their most successful year yet.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology.