Monthly Archives: November 2007

Kid designed laptops

A bunch of 7-9 year olds in North Carolina were recently given the task of “designing” the perfect laptop. As someone who works in educational technology I’m finding some of the drawings these kids came up with quite interesting and more than a tad disconcerting.

Looking at these designs, it seems that the commercial and pop culture side of the web is hands down beating anything educational for these kids. To these kids, the web is a place where you buy things, play games, catch up on pop culture news and connect with friends.

Not surprisingly, almost every kid has a Games button, but what I find most fascinating is how attuned these 7-9 year olds are to consumer culture, marketing and pop culture. There are designs with buttons labeled “Buy”, “Shop” and “Order”, reflecting the fact that, to these kids buying things online is a perfectly natural extension of going online. Compare that to 10-15 years ago when e-commerce was still met with skepticism by many. To these Millennial, it is just part of their everyday life.

There are also buttons rife with pop culture references, like Webkniz and, and lots of gadget buttons. iPod, cell phone, video camera buttons, reflecting the ubiquity of electronic devices in kids lives. I’m sure it has been stated by someone somewhere, but it seems self evident that their generation will be the most documented in history.

I’m disheartened to find a lack of buttons to things like “dinosaurs” or buttons labeled National Geographic Kids or NASA Kids. It’s sad to think that well done information sites aimed at kids are losing out to Webkinz and Barbie. But I suppose if we had the same exercise with College level students we would probably see more Facebook and YouTube than their college library buttons.

One kid, bless ’em, did include a magical button that I am sure every parent would occasionally like to have on their keyboard – “babysitter”.

You can see some of the drawings these kids did at The Morning News site. If you want to read the original blog post (no photos, but more info on the laptop club), parent.thesis family blogger Amy Tiemann had the original post on CNet.

Kids say the craziest things…turns out, parents do as well

Only a Parent

We all know what comes tumbling out of a kids mouth is gut busting. But what is often just as funny is the stuff that comes tumbling out of OUR mouths in response to what our kids are doing. That is the premise of Only a Parent, a website where you can submit those crazy things that we all hear ourselves saying, but if we really stop and think about it, sound absolutely ridiculous. The owner of the site then creates a custom illustration for the quote, giving all of us parents a fine chuckle.

The site relies on submissions from parents, so if you have ever heard yourself saying something that doesn’t sound quite right when removed from the context you said it in, send ‘er in.

They never tell you about the guilt…

The Boy is turning 1 in a few weeks and I’ve been in a reflective mood about the past year. There have been, of course, great joys – another set of firsts to track (his first steps happened just days ago – more on this in a moment). But one feeling that has been popping up in me lately is not quite so happy or positive. It’s guilt.

For all the research we did about having a second kid – all the websites we scoured, people we talked to and books we read – I don’t recall anyone talking about the guilt you might feel about upsetting the balance of the first kids life.

I’m really feeling for The Girl these days. She is also approaching a birthday – 4 for her – and while I know she loves her little brother, there are those moments when you can absolutely feel the sadness in her, mourning what she once had exclusively and is now gone. And it’s not pouting or whining (although those do appear as well), but there is just this feeling of genuine resignation that occasionally settles over her as she struggles to deal with this change.

Case in point. The Boy has started walking and, like most parents, we are heaping encouragement upon him as he struggles to master this skill. I caught some video of this the other night and it wasn’t until I was watching it later that I saw just how upset it made The Girl that her little brother was getting all this positive encouragement from his Dad for walking.

In the background you can see her, sitting on the floor, back to the camera completely ignoring what is happening around her – her little brothers first steps. Her shoulders are slumped over and she is absentmindedly playing with a doll. But you know her attention is focused on what is going on around her; she just isn’t showing it.

Her Mom is much better at including her at moments like this, but I couldn’t help but fell very conflicted over this one little moment. On one hand, I want to cheer for The Boy, want to heap encouragement on him and help him, just like I did for her when she was learning to walk. He deserves just as much. But on the other, I feel horrible that she is being eaten up by this and, almost worse, can’t take pride in her little brother’s accomplishments.

And therein lies the guilt. In a lot of ways, life before #2 had settled into comfortable normalcy for her, and for us. We had our routines and she was very much at the center of everything. Then, overnight, that “normal” life is ripped away and redefined. We did prepare her as best we could, but how can a 3 year old really comprehend what a difference a sibling is going to make in their life when even her parents can’t comprehend what a difference 2 will make?

I know that ever family goes through this kind of stuff, and that it will, with love and patience, all work itself out. But I really wish someone would have told me about this before so I could have been better prepared to internally handle such a negative emotion as guilt.

Canadian Moms – er, Canadian Parents website

A few months back, Rebel Dad had a great post about Dads being absent from many mainstream parenting magazines. Well, this week a new Canadian parenting site has popped onto my radar screen, Canadian Parents, and I’ve got a bit of a bone to pick with the site. Apparently, they have fallen into that familiar parent publication trap and believe that all parents are mothers.

Right off the top, one of their major subsections is tagged “Being a Mom”. Cool, but why no “Being a Dad”?

They have 6 (count ’em ) 6 Mom blogs, but not a single Dad blog. There’s a MomTalk podcast. No DadTalk. There are dozens of forums, many targeted at Moms but not a single Dad forum.

I think you get the idea.

What gives, folks? Why not just call yourself Canadian Mom?

Kidizoom Camera choosen “Toy of the Year” by Canadian Toy Testing Council

The Canadian Toy Testing Council (a non-profit, voluntary, registered charitable organization) has released their 2008 list of the best toys of the year and the Kidizoom Camera was chosen Toy of the Year. The Toy Council calls it:

A durable digital camera designed with children in mind. Drop it-step on it-toss it! No matter what, it keeps on working and working! With an LED screen and a dual viewfinder for photos or videos, this camera is a true gem. Fully loaded with games, an editing option to add borders, silly features and sound to their photos. Once the masterpieces are complete, they can be reviewed on the LED screen, shown on your television or downloaded to your computer. This versatile and amazing camera offers a wonderful opportunity to introduce your child to the world of photography!

The site also has Children’s Choice, Best Bets, and Great Books categories.

The Toy Council has been doing this since 1952, and they test these products with kids. They pick toys and send them home with kids for 6 to 12 weeks to try to simulate how these toys will be actually used.

We’re just starting to think about Christmas for the kids and passing along tips for our family members so the timing of this is perfect. One more tool as we start making some Christmas purchasing decisions.

Moving from 2 to 3 kids requires a change in strategy

No, it’s not us planning a third. I ran into a friend on the weekend who has just gone from 2 to 3 kids. When I asked him how it was he came back with a great sports metaphor. “It’s like basketball,’ he said. “We’ve moved from man to man to zone coverage.”

Fernwood daycare protest (and a quick Halloween thanks)

A couple of very local notes in this post. First, a big thank you to all the municipal politicians who decided last year to ban the sale of fireworks at Halloween. For the first time since arriving here 14 years ago, it didn’t feel like I was living in a war zone. The kids slept thru the night and I didn’t have to listen to the neighbours dog bark everytime something exploded within 12 blocks of our house. Thank you.

Second, tomorrow is day 3 of a 4 day protest by the Fernwood Neighborhood Resource Group executive director Roberta Martell. Martell is on a 4 day fast from high atop the centre, protesting the lack of available daycare and daycare staff in the region. The centre (with an apparent waitlist of 400) has been forced to close because they can’t find qualified staff. If you happen to be in the area, pop by and wish her well. She’ll be on the roof until Saturday.