Monday, May 16, 2011

How Do You Keep Kids Safe Online?

With summer around the corner, parents like me are planning for ways to entertain the students in our lives. Unlike when I was young, kids love being on the computer and have computers or handheld devices literally at their fingertips. So how do you control which web sites they are visiting? Kids could be sitting in the same room as you but reading web sites that are too mature for them. Can people spend too much time on FaceBook?

Alex Williams wrote about this conundrum & more in the New York Times article "Quality Time Redefined". The articles states: "Nearly 60 percent of American families with children own two or more computers, and more than 60 percent of those have either a wired or wireless network to connect to the Internet, according to studies by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. A third of all Americans log on from home multiple times a day, nearly twice the number that did so in 2004."

So what's the effect on today's children and developing family relationshipos? There are a lot of opinions about whether technology and wireless strengthen or pull apart families. Williams' article covers both sides of this debate. I still think making rules to limit the time on TV and computers is important. Then having time to read stories aloud to each other, color or play games can be allowed so kids get personal interaction with their parents but also enjoy the time online, improving typing or interactive skills.

My concern still is around controlling the content of what's being viewed on your kids computer or mobile device. I've recently learned about a soon-to-launch tool that helps parents manage who's viewing which sites, create no online time, and much more. The price is super affordable too. Check back here for more information as it becomes available and I'll share my thoughts on it. Be sure to add your comments, too. Surely I'm not the only parent wondering how to manage my daughter and the virtual realities that loom.

Until the next nap time...

Free Summer Movies & Cheap Summer Movies in Houston for Kids

Looking to escape the summer heat? There are numerous movie theaters throughout Houston offering discounted or no fees for kid-friendly movies. Here are six different locations offering little to no charge for great movies all summer long. Find one by you and check out a flick.

- Studio Movie Grill at City Centre hosts children every weekend at 11 am with rated-G Kid Toons (cartoons like Olivia) for just $2. Additionally, Studio Movie Grill offers free movies for families raising children with special needs. The lights are dimmed and the volume is softer to help accommodate these children. The next opportunity is on Saturday, June 4 at 11 am when Kung Fu Panda 2 will be showing. Lastly, Studio Movie Grill kicks off the 2011Summer Series with 11 movies played over three months of summer for $1 per child and $2 per adult. Check out the schedule of upcoming movies and start planning.

- Cinemark Tinseltown (in Houston on Hwy. 290 and in The Woodlands) debut the Summer Movie Clubhouse with 10 movies shown throughout the summer for only $5 in advance or $1 at the door. A different movie will be played each week and all movies are rated either G or PG. All shows start at 10 am. Check online for the Houston schedule and The Woodlands schedule.

- For older kids, head downtown to Market Square Park to watch Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade on June 18 at 8 pm. There is no charge to attend.

- Rave Motion Pictures launches its Family Film Fest at Yorktown Crossing in Houston. Each Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 am a rated G or PG movie will be played at no charge. Check out the Rave web site for updates on the schedule.

- The Houston Silverado IMAX on Hwy. 249 in Tomball welcomes families for Family Film Festival every Saturday at 10 am. Just $3.99 provides kids with "all you can eat pancakes" as well.

- Enjoy $1 movies throughout summer on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 am at The Marquee on I-10. Choose from two movies each time. The show line-up is available at The Marquee and offers a coupon to the Red Robin Restaurant in the same complex.

Until the next nap time...