Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Potentially Dangerous Smartphone Apps That Your Kids Already Know About

It can be hard parenting tweens and teens, especially in this age of social media and smartphones. Kids have access to so much more than their parents did, so it’s important that all parents educate themselves as much as possible about all the different apps their kids are using. With a new school year upon us, police are warning parents about 15 different smartphone apps that could be red flags if you find them on your child’s phone.

Police departments across the country are asking parents to be more vigilant when it comes to their children’s smartphone use. They have compiled a list of 15 smartphone apps that parents should be aware of, especially if their child has any of them downloaded onto their phones. The Madill Police Department recently posted an infographic of all fifteen apps including; MeetMe, Grindr, Skout, WhatsApp, Tiktok, Badoo, Bumble, Snapchat, Kik, Live.me, Holla, Whisper, Ask.fm, Calculator and Hot or Not.

The infographic posted by Madill Police Department gives a brief description of each app and explains to parents why they should be cautious of letting their child use it. “With school just around the corner, we wanted to share with Parents, 15 Apps you should be aware of on your child's phone/tablet .. and the dangers that come with some of them,” the description on the post reads.

Lt. Jim Donnelly of the Bensalem Police Department spoke to ABC 7 and explained what parents need to do to ensure their children aren’t misusing these apps, noting that parents should be vigilant especially if they find the apps Kik, Whisper, and Skout on their child’s phones.

"We're dealing with a lot of criminal investigations where we see a lot of these apps pop up," Donnelly said.

"Maybe go into your kids' cell phone, talk to them about the dangers of it, see who they're talking to, who their friends are," added Donnelly.

Many commenters took to the Madill Police Department’s Facebook page to thank the police department for sharing this information, adding that it’s helpful in starting a dialogue with their children about what’s appropriate and what’s not on their phones.

“Thank you for posting this. I will definitely have a conversation with my kids & will be checking phones!” wrote one parent.

“I’m a HS English teacher in Lubbock Texas. I would LOVE to have a copy of this graphic to hang as a big poster in my classroom,” wrote another.

Social media can be fun and even educational for a lot of kids, but it’s something that definitely needs to be monitored. This infographic gives parents an easy to consume snapshot of apps that could be problematic if not used properly. Here’s a summary of the infographic provided by police.

MEETME: a dating social media app that allows users to connect with people based on geographic proximity. App users are encouraged to meet in person.
WHATSAPP: Popular messaging app that allows users to send texts, photos, voicemails, and makes calls and video chats.

BUMBLE: Similar to "Tinder." The dating app requires women to make the first contact. Kids have been known to create fake Bumble accounts that falsify their age

LIVE.ME: A live-streaming video app that uses geolocation to share videos so users can find out a broadcaster's exact location. Users can earn "cins" as a way to "pay" minors for photos.

ASK.FM: known for cyberbullying. The app encourages users to allow anonymous people to ask them questions

GRINDR: A dating app geared towards the LGBT community. The app gives users options to chat, share photos, and meet up based on a phone's GPS.

TIKTOK: A new mobile device app popular with kids. It's used for creating and sharing short videos. With very limited privacy controls, users are vulnerable to cyberbullying and explicit content

SNAPCHAT: One of the most popular apps in recent years. While the app promises users can take a photo/video and it will disappear, new features, including "stories", allows users to view the content for up to 24 hours. Snapchat also allows users to see your location.

HOLLA: A self-proclaimed "addicting" video chat app that allows users to meet people all over the world in just seconds. Reviewers say they have been confronted with racial slurs, explicit content and more.

CALCULATOR%: Only one of several secret apps used to hide photos, videos, files and browser history.

SKOUT: A location-based dating app and website. While users under 17 old are unable to share private photos, kids can easily create an account with an older age.

BADBOO: A dating and social networking app where users can chat, share photos and videos and connect based on location. While the app is intended for adults only, teens are known to create profiles.

KIK: Allows anyone to contact and direct message to your child. Kids can bypass traditional messaging features. KIK gives users unlimited access to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

WHISPER: An anonymous social network that promotes sharing secrets with strangers. It also reveals a user's location so people can meet up.

HOT OR NOT: Encourages users to rate your profile, check out people in their area and chat with strangers. The goal of the app is to hook up.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Who Is Blippi, And Why Do Kids Love him?

Chances are, if you have a kid between the ages of 2 and 6, you've heard of Blippi. The bespectacled fellow who wears really bright colors, glasses and a bowtie? In the past few years, Blippi has become an icon in the kiddie-sphere. His videos have views in the billions, and he has millions of followers. But who is Blippi? That's what most adults want to know.


Blippi is Stevin John, who has a background in brand development and online content creation. “My goal with Blippi was to bring positive emotions and memories to the act of learning," he writes in the "About" section of the Blippi website. According to the Blippi website: "Stevin grew up in a small town where he was surrounded by tractors, cows, and horses!" If you've ever seen his videos, you know that much of his content revolves around construction equipment and other outdoor activities like visiting parks and farms.

Before he went into the field of digital content creation, he was in the military. John is a former member of the United States Air Force, serving as a C-17 Loadmaster with the 4th Nuclear Airlift Squadron. After his service, he moved to Los Angeles to begin his career in the digital space. "I wanted to be a fighter pilot, but I soon started to realize the military wasn’t for me," he explains to The Spinoff.

So, how does a guy who was in the Air Force become one of the most popular children's entertainers on the internet? It's quite simple actually, Stevin John became an uncle. "When he was two years old I noticed my sister was using YouTube because it was free, but I started to see there just wasn’t any good quality children’s content on there," he says. Noticing that there was a lack of content featuring things kids like, including tractors, animals, and diggers. And thus, he came up with the idea for Blippi. Wearing a costume sewed by his mom (including his signature blue and orange cap) he posted his first video as Blippi in January of 2014.

Blippi is more like the millennial (John was born in 1988, which makes him 31) answer to Mister Rogers than slick YouTube influencer. But that doesn't mean he doesn't know how to use the internet. His videos are more aligned with the wholesome educational content parents search for on YouTube. Kids will learn their colors while Blippi runs through an empty playground. His visits to a construction site has kids running around singing his "I'm an excavator" song for days.

'It seems like the kids really enjoy me but the parents do too because they can keep their kids entertained with Blippi and they know it's safe content that's educational," John said to The Daily Mail.

Perhaps you heard about Blippi because of the scandal. Before he became Blippi, Stevin John had a web presence as Steezy Grossman (he legally changed his name from Stephen Grossman to Stevin John.) Steezy Grossman made a truly gross video where he pooped on his friend. The video went viral of course, mostly because of reaction videos other people made while watching it. “At the time, I thought this sort of thing was funny, but really it was stupid and tasteless, and I regret having ever done it,” John said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.

Thankfully, the video has been taken down, so none of his young fans can't accidentally find it. It is clear that John takes his role as an entertainer for kids very seriously. “Watching Blippi become part of children’s lives and so in turn in became a part of their families’ lives. Blippi is continuing to grow because these children really love Blippi, and now their parents are talking about it and spreading the love,’’ he says. “I believe that children are super smart and they have good intuition. I think they can tell that Blippi is genuine and I have fun doing what I do."

Some parents may not know this, but Blippi is a bit of a heartthrob. Moms all over the internet have commented on how handsome Stevin John is. But sorry folks, he's got a girlfriend.

While Blippi has grown a lot in the five years since John started, there's still so much he wants to do. Currently his videos are on YouTube, and he also self-publishes them on Amazon Prime video as well. Because of this, he has fans all over the world. Via his website, parents can buy Blippi merchandise, including a Blippi doll, DVDs, CDs, and apparel. As the brand has grown, he now employs a team to help him keep the ship sailing. He's also working on adapting the videos into a live show, and producing a mostly animated show with Netflix. Then there's the shoe deal with K-Swiss.

SOURCE: https://www.moms.com/blippi-youtube-personality-bio-net-worth-info/

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Time for Movie Night! Here are the Best Family Movies on Netflix in August

This August, every night can be movie night with these great family films now available on Netflix

Mary Poppins Returns

Even though nobody was clamoring for a new Mary Poppins, Emily Blunt whirled into Mary Poppins Returns, and managed to make it a winner. Returns looks to improve on the original by offering an actual villain and some tumult, but it's still for the younger set, with plenty of positivity, as well as catchy songs (we're guessing co-star Lin-Manuel Miranda, best known for Hamilton, chipped in on those).

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

The rest of the comic book movie canon can stand aside, as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the most stylish superhero film ever. Visually inventive at a level that most films can only aim for, Spider-Verse shows what happens when you bring a comic to life and have fun with it (unlike Ang Lee's Hulk). Fortunately, Spider-Verse is grounded with a great story revolving around young Miles Morales, who finds his world invaded by Spider-Men from different realities.

Coco (2017)

One of the sweetest films I've seen in years, Coco is a delight from start to finish that both parents and children will adore. The film centers around 12-year-old Miguel, who dreams of being a musician despite his family's strict no-music-ever policy. Miguel's journey gets magical, though, as his mischief sends him on a detour through the dayglo-imbued land of the dead. Don't worry about this trip being scary, as this land of the dead has nothing to do with the George A. Romero zombie movie of the same name.

Oh, and there's one major perk for watching it on Netflix: you don't have to sit through the 21-minute-long Frozen short "Olaf’s Frozen Adventure" that you were forced to endure if you saw Coco during its first weeks in theaters.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Retro Toys and Games That Are Still Fun Today

The next time you get to visit our childhood home, take a look at the toys you had as a kid. It is a little surprising to realize that most of these toys are of great quality and can still be played with by our own children. But are they going to enjoy them? In this technological age of tapping, swiping, and voice recognition software and whatnot, we can't help but doubt it. Your children might surprise you, though!

Rubik's Cube, Barbie dolls, G.I. Joes... these are some toys that may still have some pull when it comes to entertainment value. We've listed 10 great toys and games that will surely still be enjoyed by kids today.


What can we say, the classics really are dependable and won't let us down. Building blocks have been a part of our childhoods for generations. There are a number of brand names when it comes to these kinds of toys, but the two that stand out are Lego and Lincoln Logs.


The game of tag is played by children of all ages, from all walks of life. It's a shame if your kid can already run and has no idea what "tag, you're it" means. Tag is a game played anywhere that has a big running space: in playgrounds, at the park, backyard, or the streets (though not near roads, of course).

All around the world, children play different versions of tag with different sets of rules, each more creative and exciting than the last. Teach the kids this simple game and see how much fun they have, and how much exercise they did instead of flexing their fingers on that darn device.


Gamer moms and dads are going to love this idea. Think of the first games console you had as a kid. Look back and count the hours you spent sitting in front of that old TV, playing that old game that seemed so simple and needed graphic upgrades badly.

Why is Minecraft such a blast for today's children? It's that simple tech that attracts them, and if that's the case, then maybe they'd like our old video games? Super Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, Pac-Man, Tetris... they can go nuts with the range of choices they have and how easy the gameplay is. Have fun with a little blast from the past! Oh, and yes, don't forget to teach the kids how to play the other games and stop hogging the controller!


Children love make-believe and creating their own little worlds when they are playing. Some of our best friends when we were little were those dolls and teddy bears we had afternoon tea parties with. What better way to host a tea party than an oven, usually the Easy-Bake Oven?

This ultra-reliable toy enabled hundreds of children to find their passion for cooking, and many of them are surely now professionals in the culinary industry. This toy was invented by Ronald Howes and was released some 56 years ago. What was amazing about the toy back then was that it really heats up. Newer models have been made since, but the classic look is really vintage.


Some of us weren't very lucky as a child, because we didn't have the luxury of playing with a lot of brand-name toys. But that didn't mean we had a sad childhood. There are plenty of games and toys that we played with, and our memories are filled with these happy moments as a kid.

There are some simple and easy to make toys where the chief materials are right there inside our humble home, like the string telephone. Imagine how cute your kid would look, amidst the expensive toys and gadgets, playing with a string tied to a cup and talking to their sister or brother at the other end of the room. Make one with your child, and share a little creative moment.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Simple Snacks Kids Will Love

No matter the age, getting creative with snacks can be quite the task. Even with the use of Pinterest and other handy apps, you're often left to use what's in the fridge to make a yummy snack that even the children enjoy. Considering this somewhat hassle, when the child is vegan most people believe it limits their food choice; however, it often allows the parent and/or caretaker to be a bit more creative and adventurous.

For your convenience, we have collected ten simple vegan snacks that even the kids will like. More often than not, these ingredients will likely be hidden away in your kitchen, too! No need to rush out to prepare a fancy, instagramable meal or rip a bag of packaged food today, friends! Here are some fresh and simple recipes that everyone will enjoy.


Combining the use of grains with a go-to protein staple for most plant-based individuals, hummus is usually consumed with veggies or crackers. Though toast is also a great snack to pop in when you need a quick filler, combining the two staples is a unique and delicious way to spice up your old-fashioned toast regime.

Try topping with sesame, sea salt, hemp or flax on top. It's a great base to get creative with. But, if you prefer to keep it simple and plain, just humus on top will do. And, everyone will likely eat it to its crust!


There's something so simple yet so delicious about salt and avocado. Mix that with a crispy crunch of your favourite cracker and you have yourself a great snack! Honestly, all you need are these two ingredients to offer the kids. They'll enjoy the dipping process along with the combination of consistency. Avocados provide a great,, healthy fat to fill their bellies and you are rest assured they've gotten  good amount of nutrition as their meal between meals. Win-win!


Now, if you're vegan or plant-based, or just like to live dairy-free on occasion, most chocolate is made without milk if it's 72% or higher. When you mix dark chocolate with your favourite granola, it will taste like you're cheating on your healthy, diet ways; however, there are a lot of benefits to this mixture.

Keep in mind that there are small amounts of caffeine in chocolate; especially dark chocolate. So, you may want to limit little ones if they're snacking on this delicious treat.

SOURCE:  https://www.moms.com/simple-vegan-snacks-for-kids/

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Netflix in July: Great Family Movies, Shows to Stream

As you scroll through Netflix's Children and Family section, and become suspicious of the sea of bright colors and flashing lights, you're probably starting to wonder how many of these flicks are actually good. If already know the difference between a film that will (hopefully) inspire their young mind and one that simply numbs it, you've come to the right place. We've found the best family movies on Netflix, to help you schedule some quality TV time with your relatives, with many of them good enough for both of you to find something to enjoy.

Incredibles 2 (2018)

The Incredibles was such an instant classic that many were worried that even an OK sequel would tarnish its legacy. Fortunately, this sequel packs enough pizzazz and heart to sit side-by-side with its predecessor. Vibrating with a wonderful jazzy soundtrack and inventive visuals, The Incredibles 2 is a joy to watch. Story-wise, everybody's favorite super-powered family is back, and dealing with the immediate aftermath of the original film: a society that wants to ban their abilities. Scenes featuring Bob (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) dealing with the uber-powered Jack Jack steal the show, and function as fantastic centerpieces. And until Disney Plus takes it away 2020, Incredibles 2 is definitely one of the best family movies on Netflix.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) 

The rest of the comic book movie canon can stand aside, as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the most stylish superhero film ever. Visually inventive at a level that most films can only aim for, Spider-Verse shows what happens when you bring a comic to life and have fun with it (unlike Ang Lee's Hulk). Fortunately, Spider-Verse is grounded with a great story revolving around young Miles Morales, who finds his world invaded by Spider-Men from different realities.

Ralph Breaks The Internet (2018)

The mischievous, sentient video game characters Wreck-It Ralph and his buddy Vanellope von Schweetz are back, and trying to figure out how to support each other. Even if you wish the film's jokes stuck to the gaming world (which might be old hat for kids, but novel for parents) you'll still enjoy its underlying story of how friends can betray each other and learn to forgive. 

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) 

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is back in the armor that brought him to this Marvel Cinematic Universe, and this sequel's even more fun than its predecessor. Rated PG-13, it's got that mild super-hero violence that's probably acceptable to most kids in their pre-teen and teenage years, but the film's rooted in another hilarious performance from Rudd, who takes on some surprising characters during the film. Also, this chapter of the MCU series has a lot more fun with the shrinking and super-sizing tricks that Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) brings to the film.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Gaming: Video Game Releases in July 2019

***WARNING:  Some of the videogames I feature are rated T (teen) and M (mature).  I celebrate the technology and the skillset -- seriously -- of these games.   I respect that every family makes their own decisions for what games are played in their house.***

Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers (PlayStation 4, PC, Mac) – July 2

Stranger Things 3: The Game (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – July 4

Teppen (iOS, Android) – July 4

Sea of Solitude (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) – July 5

Dr. Mario World (iOS, Android) – July 10

SolSeraph (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – July 10

Blazing Chrome (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – July 11

Dragon Quest Builders 2 (PlayStation 4, Switch) – July 12

Streets of Rogue (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – July 12

Sky: Children Of The Light (iOS) – July 18

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order (Switch) – July 19

Fantasy Strike (PlayStation 4, Switch, PC) – July 25

Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Switch) – July 26

Kill la Kill – IF (PlayStation 4, Switch, PC) – July 26

Wolfenstein: Youngblood (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC) – July 26