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Tag Archives: kids

The clock is ticking for e-cig companies to block underage users

The FDA is giving makers of e-cigarettes sixty days to come up with a more effective, forceful plan to combat underage use of the products. FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb is yet again moving the goal posts for e-cig companies. He now considers underage use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) an epidemic, forcing the government to make a choice that we all knew was coming: save the smokers or save the kids? “I believe in the power of American ingenuity to solve a lot of problems, including this one,” said Gottlieb in a statement . “I’m deeply disturbed by the trends I’ve seen. I’m disturbed by an epidemic of nicotine use among teenagers. So, we’re at a crossroads today. It’s one where the opportunities from new innovations will be responsibly seized on right now, or perhaps lost forever.” E-cigarettes, like the Juul (which owns more than 70 percent of the market by revenue), offer a much less harmful alternative to cigarettes for folks who smoke. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death, according to the CDC , with 6 million deaths per year worldwide, and that number is expected to rise to 8 million by 2030. Public Health England says that e-cigarettes are 95 percent less harmful than combustible cigarettes. Addiction, which in this case is caused by nicotine, is always harmful, but not nearly as threatening as the harm caused by actual smoke from traditional cigarettes. On the spectrum of risk, e-cigarettes should seem like a huge win in the decades-long battle against smoking. But that was before teenagers started using e-cigarettes, including the Juul, at a surprisingly increasing rate . The FDA says more than 2 million middle and high school students were regular users of e-cigarettes last year

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Instagram Launches A Resources Page For Parents Of Teens – Ubergizmo

Ubergizmo Instagram Launches A Resources Page For Parents Of Teens Ubergizmo The internet can be a dangerous place to navigate, especially those who are younger and might not know any better, or who might not be emotionally equipped to handle certain situations online. This is especially true on social media where we have seen ... and more »

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When battery life saves human life

Few would equate human life with battery life, but for many migrants escaping war or famine, a single percentage point of battery can mean getting the right information at the right time – or not surviving at all. Smartphones today have become an integral part of a forced migrant’s journey. From navigating mountains in Central Asia using Google Maps to staying connected with family back home via WhatsApp, smartphones have transformed the migrant experience – though not always for the better. No electron spared In Eastern Europe, many migrants pushed back from Hungary stay along the border on the Serbian side in abandoned buildings. Volunteers visit these sites to bring supplies, including repurposed car batteries that migrants use to charge their phones. At one abandoned building less than a mile from the Hungarian border, migrants huddle around one car battery to charge their phones, and they all agree about the importance of battery life to them. Many asked for a power bank to enable them to charge their phone when outlets are not available. Between each other, they constantly compare notes on what apps use up the most battery power, and remind each other to close apps when not in use. Nashid, a migrant from Pakistan taking shelter in this building, says one of his primary needs at this remote outpost is for a way to charge his phone. With no regular access to electricity, he depends on the visits of volunteers to be able to charge his battery, concocting all sorts of ways to keep it alive until their next visit. Some of his strategies include making sure his phone is turned off when he sleeps at night or if he naps during the day, as well as using the lowest brightness level possible. He swears that taking out a dead battery and shaking it repeatedly provides him with a few extra minutes of phone use.

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More Alexa ‘blueprints’ arrive, offering customizable voice apps for families and roommates

Earlier this year, Amazon rolled out a new feature that allowed Alexa device owners to create their own custom skills using preconfigured templates. Today, Amazon is expanding Alexa Blueprints, as the service is called, to include a handful of new templates designed for families and roommates. These include a chore chart template, a house rules template for roommates, and others. The Chore Chart template allows families to schedule and track children’s weekly chores, and even lets multiple kids (or anyone, really) compete to see who has done the most. Parents first configure the skill with a list of weekly chores and who those chores are assigned to. Throughout the week, the kids can log their completed chores by asking Alexa. (“Alexa, ask Chore Chart to log a chore.”). Anyone can then check the progress by asking for the “Chore Score.” Another blueprint is a variation on the existing “houseguest” and “babysitter” templates, which let you fill in useful information about the home, like where to find the TV remote or what the Wi-Fi password is, for example. The new “ Roommate ” blueprint, available now, lets you program in other information about the house, like the “house rules.” You can have Alexa nag users to turn off the lights or run the dishwasher when they ask for the “house rules” for a given room. This passive aggressive roommate shaming system may not be the most useful – unless maybe used to poke fun – however, the template also lets you program in other important contacts, like the landlord or building manager. The two other new blueprints are more lighthearted in nature. One, “ Whose Turn ,” will have Alexa either randomly pick whose turn it is to take on a particular task – like walking the dog – or she can pick from the next name in the list, depending on how it’s configured.

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Huawei Locator GPS Tracking Device Announced – Ubergizmo

Ubergizmo Huawei Locator GPS Tracking Device Announced Ubergizmo #IFA18 – We've all been guilty of misplacing our bags, wallets, keys, and more. However thanks to technology these days, we are able to better keep track of them. Huawei has also announced the launch of the Huawei Locator, which is a device that can ... and more »

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Bark brings in $9M to help parents track their kids’ online activity

Not to be confused with a dog-walking startup, Bark is a watchdog for kids’ and teens’ internet security. Today, it announces a $9 million Series A led by Signal Peak Ventures , with participation from Two Sigma Ventures, Symmetrical Ventures, Fuel Capital, Hallett Capital and Atlanta Seed Company. The round comes as the Atlanta-based company, which uses artificial intelligence to track kids’ online activity and notifies parents when its algorithm finds concerning content, passes an impressive landmark. To date, Bark’s algorithm has analyzed more than 1 billion messages across text, email and social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snap and GroupMe. “Having Bark connected to your child’s devices and accounts is similar to wearing a s eatbelt,” Titania Jordan, Bark’s “chief parent officer,” told me. “You would not let your child drive a car without wearing one, so why give them a device that can access the world 24/7/365 without a safeguard?” Bark launched at TechCrunch Disrupt New York in 2016 and has quickly acquired a large user base of parents. The app, which costs $9 per month, alerts parents with an email or text when its algorithm comes across content that it deems inappropriate or dangerous, then shares that content with the parent. Bark’s hope is the app will protect kids from potentially dangerous behavior, like sexting, cyberbullying or contact with  internet predators. They also want to warn parents when Bark’s AI detects signs of depression or suicidal thoughts in the child’s online behavior.  According to the 1 billion messages processed by the app, 66% of teens and 57% of tweens have experienced cyberbullying as a bully, victim or witness; 54% of teens and 40% of tweens engaged in conversations about depression or anxiety; and 40% of teens and 28% of tweens encountered violent subject matter. Bark was founded by Brian Bason, the former CTO of the Twitter-acquired social marketing startup Niche. Brandon Hilkert (pictured below) is the CTO. Bason, Hilkert and the other members of the executive team at Bark have five children among them with another on the way. They say kids and teens are receptive to the app, though it seems like something that would be less than tolerated by any teenagers I know. Bark, at least, doesn’t give parents full, unfettered access to every single message their kids send and receive.

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Amazon’s children’s book subscription ‘Prime Book Box’ opens to all in the U.S.

Amazon today publicly launched a new perk for Prime members with young children, with the broad release of the new subscription-based “ Prime Book Box ” service. The $22.99 per box offering ships Prime members in the U.S. a curated selection of kids’ books every 1, 2 or 3 months, at up to 35% off the list price, Amazon says. The service was first launched in May,  but was only available in an invite-only basis at that time. Members will receive 2 hardcover books or 4 board books per box, depending on the child’s age. The books chosen are curated by Amazon editors and include a combination of new releases, classics and “hidden gems,” and are tailored to the reader’s age range of “Baby-2,” “3-5,” “6-8,” or “9-12.” For example, some current selections include Amazing Airplanes, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, Malala’s Magic Pencil, and Nevermoor.  However, parents can log on to the Book Box site and preview their selections before the box ships, then customize the list as they choose. This would make sense for families with an existing book collection – because their child is older, an avid reader, or because they have hand-me-down books from other children. If they’re new parents just starting their book collection, they may instead opt to just wait for their shipment, and have the books be a surprise. The Book Box FAQ also noted that Amazon will use members’ recent purchase history on its site to make sure the box doesn’t include any books the customer had already purchased. “As a mom who’s spent over 20 years reading and reviewing children’s books, the best part of my job is sharing a love of reading with kids and their families,” said Seira Wilson, Senior Editor, Amazon Books, in a statement about the launch. “Over the past few months, it’s been both exciting and rewarding to hear that Prime Book Box is encouraging kids to spend more time reading. Now that Prime Book Box is available to all U.S. Prime members, I hope we can inspire even more children to discover a love of reading that will last a lifetime.” The Book Box service is another way for Amazon to retain Prime members – especially the valuable memberships from heads of U.S.

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A majority of U.S. teens are taking steps to limit smartphone and social media use

It’s not just parents who are worrying about their children’s device usage. According to a new study released by Pew Research Center this week, U.S. teens are now taking steps to limit themselves from overuse of their phone and its addictive apps, like social media. A majority, 54% of teens, said they spend too much time on their phone, and nearly that many – 52% – said they are trying to limit their phone use in various ways. In addition, 57% say they’re trying to limit social media usage and 58% are trying to limit video games. The fact that older children haven’t gotten a good handle on balanced smartphone usage points to a failure on both parents’ parts and the responsibilities of technology companies to address the addictive nature of our devices. For years, instead of encouraging more moderate use of smartphones, as the tools they’re meant to be, app makers took full advantage of smartphones’ always-on nature to continually send streams of interruptive notifications that pushed users to constantly check in. Tech companies even leveraged psychological tricks to reward us each time we launched their app, with dopamine hits that keep users engaged. Device makers loved this addiction because they financially benefited from app sales and in-app purchases, in addition to device sales. So they built ever more tools to give apps access to users’ attention, instead of lessening it. For addicted teens, parents were of little help as they themselves were often victims of this system, too. Today, tech companies are finally waking up to the problem. Google and Apple have now both built in screen time monitoring and control tools into their mobile operating systems, and even dopamine drug dealers like Facebook , Instagram and YouTube have begun to add screen time reminders and other “time well spent” features. But these tools have come too late to prevent U.S. children from developing bad habits with potentially harmful side effects.

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