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Category: #Kids (Page 1 of 2)

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What Is Roblox? Meet the Game Over Half of U.S. Kids Play

With more players than Fortnite, you have probably heard about Roblox—the game half the kids in the U.S. are playing. But what makes this online video game so popular? Here’s what you need to know about Roblox.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Benj Edwards

This Winnie the Pooh LEGO Set Lets you Revisit the Hundred Acre Wood

Front and rear views of the new LEGO Winnie the Pooh setLEGO

One of Disney’s most memorable properties, Winnie the Pooh, is now available in LEGO form along with the Hundred Acre Wood. The nostalgic set features all of your favorite characters from the movie, along with Pooh’s treehouse, jars of honey, and other fun details. It’s perfect for fans of Disney and classic cartoons.

The set was originally created by LEGO user benlouisa. It hit 10,000 supporters on LEGO Ideas in August 2019, and was formally approved for production by the LEGO team in February 2020. Now, it’s available to buy on LEGO’s site for $99.99.

Despite clocking in at 1265 pieces, the set is fairly small—measures 8.7 x 7.1 x 9.4 inches (22 x 18 x 24 cm)—and will fit with ease on a shelf or desk. Pooh’s house and the oak tree above it opens up to reveal the interior of Pooh’s home, complete with furniture. It also comes with five Minifigures: Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, and Rabbit, and each has their own accessories (a red balloon, a sack on a stick, a tail and removable ribbon, a scarf, and carrots, respectively).

New LEGO Set Alert!

Winnie the Pooh LEGO set

Revisit the Hundred Acre Wood with this nostalgic Winnie the Pooh LEGO set, available on LEGO’s site now for $99.99.

Source: LEGO

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Suzanne Humphries

YouTube’s New Supervised Accounts Keep Your Teens Safe From Bad Videos

As part of an effort to keep younger users safer online, YouTube just announced a supervised account option for parents of tweens and teens. The account option is available to parents who are ready for their kids to explore what’s on YouTube with a little peace of mind they won’t be exposed to inappropriate content.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Suzanne Humphries

Microsoft starts testing a Kids Mode in its Edge browser

b90dd390-9607-11ea-976f-fce95781db4cMicrosoft has started testing a Kids Mode in its Edge browser to help protect children while they’re navigating the web. The company, which created the mode primarily for kids aged 5-12, is rolling it out to Edge Insiders testers on the Dev and C…

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Pornhub will use a third-party firm to verify IDs on uploaded content

0608a7b0-6377-11ea-bf90-2a8b6d4ba807Pornhub has been on damage control ever since a New York Times report published in December accused it of allowing the monetization of child exploitation, revenge porn and other illegal content with its lax policy enforcement. Now, the website has ex…

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How to Stop Kids from Talking to Strangers on Nintendo Switch

If you have kids that use a Nintendo Switch, you might worry that they could potentially talk to strangers in online-connected games. Luckily, Nintendo provides an easy way to turn off communication with others in their Parental Controls app for smartphones. Here’s how to set it up.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Benj Edwards

Apple reportedly took years to drop a supplier that used underage labor

32066500-1493-11eb-8ffe-aac9645d9dd1On Tuesday, The Washington Post and the Tech Transparency Project published an investigative report on one of Apple’s supply partners. The two say Apple, and several other companies, source parts from a Chinese supplier that allegedly uses forced Mus…

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What’s the Easiest Video Chat Service to Use With Your Family?

Microsoft Teams together modeMicrosoft

This year a lot of people are using video chat for the first time, and a lot of them might not be comfortable with technology in general. If you’re trying to have a holiday video chat with your family, what’s the easiest way for all of them to get on board?

The answer is, predictably, complicated. It generally depends on what platforms you’re already comfortable with and how many people in whatever chat you want to hold are also comfortable with them.

The Easiest Option: Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger video chatFacebook

Facebook Messenger (and its associated video chat function) is probably the easiest and most reliable way to have a video chat with friends and family at the moment. It works well, and there’s an excellent chance that most or all of the people you want to talk to already have both a Facebook account and a compatible gadget. It’s accessible from almost any computer or mobile device—all you really need on top of a web connection is a browser (for laptops and desktops) or the Messenger app (for phones or tablets running iOS or Android). If you’re using a desktop computer, you’ll also need a webcam.

From the main Facebook interface, click the Messenger icon (the little speech bubble with a zig-zag inside it), start a chat with someone on your Friends list, then click the video icon in the corner. Bam, you’ve got a video call started. Of course, you can chat with as many people as you can fit on the screen at one time, up to 50, but there’s also the option for a group video chat: Just start a chat with multiple people and tap or click the video icon.

Facebook sells a dedicated video chat device, the Portal. It comes in picture frame and webcam form factors (good for using a TV), but these aren’t necessary to use Facebook Messenger’s video chat. They might be a good alternative if you’re chatting with someone who lacks familiarity with computers or mobile devices—there’s a high cost of entry for Portal, however, which is something to consider.

The Easiest Chat Option

Facebook Portal

Buy from Facebook. Starts at $65 for the smallest version.

For Apple Households: FaceTime

FaceTime on iPhone and iPadApple

FaceTime is Apple’s proprietary video calling system (not Facebook’s—yeah, it’s a little confusing). It’s pre-installed for free on basically any Apple device, including the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and MacBook laptops.

FaceTime might be the simplest, easiest chat system on the planet, and its quality is pretty darn good, too. It’s integrated with the dialer on the iPhone and the contacts system in your Apple account. To start a FaceTime call, just bring up your contact’s name or phone number in either, and tap or click the FaceTime icon (the little video camera). You can also switch to FaceTime in the middle of a standard voice call, assuming that the person’s number or Apple account is registered in the system.

Using FaceTime with a group is almost as easy. For this, you’ll want to open either the dedicated FaceTime application or the Messages app, then start a new chat. Put as many people as you want (up to 32) in the “To” line, adding people with the + icon. When you’re ready, tap “Video” to initiate the call. You can add new people to the call at any time. If you have an existing group chat in Messages, just tap the FaceTime button at the top of the app.


For Everyone Else: Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams screenshotMicrosoft

Of course, lots of people don’t have Apple-branded devices, and Apple has been very staunch about not letting anyone else into the FaceTime party. And despite the fact that an account is free, there are plenty of reasons to stay away from Facebook. If you want to video chat with people who don’t have either option, Microsoft’s Teams tool is the easiest free way to do so.

Teams is a lot like Skype, designed specifically for businesses to talk with remote workers, but it’s free for personal use, too. The Teams app is available on iOS and Android devices, as a dedicated Windows app download, or on any laptop or desktop (including MacOS and Chromebooks) as a web app. You’ll need to sign up at the Teams site (any email address will do), and once you’ve launched the app, you can invite anyone by entering their email address. If they don’t have Microsoft Teams yet, adding their email will automatically send an invite. To start a video call, just press or click the camera icon.

Because it’s designed for large corporations, the maximum number of participants allowed in a Teams call is 20, which should be enough for even the most extended of families. Teams calls can last for up to four hours.

Getting Everyone Together

If you have one or more locations with a large group of people, getting them all on screen at the same time might be tricky. The cameras on phones, tablets, and laptops are generally meant for just one person at a time.

There’s a work-around for this: Use a computer and dedicated webcam with a wide angle lens, like the Logitech C930e or the Lenovo 500. If you place a laptop near a TV and use an HDMI cable, you can put the webcam on top of the TV and use it as a monitor for a fairly easy and inexpensive big-screen gathering, though the sound might not be great.

Of course, dedicated webcams are becoming hard to find during the pandemic. If you have a camera from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Wyze, or many other manufacturers, you can plug it into a computer and use it as a makeshift webcam, too.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Michael Crider

Animal Jam was hacked, and data stolen. Here’s what parents need to know


WildWorks, the gaming company that makes the popular kids game Animal Jam, has confirmed a data breach.

Animal Jam is one of the most popular games for kids, ranking in the top five games in the 9-11 age category in Apple’s App Store in the U.S., according to data provided by App Annie. But while no data breach is ever good news, WildWorks has been more forthcoming about the incident than most companies would be, making it easier for parents to protect both their information and their kids’ data.

Here’s what we know.

WildWorks said in a detailed statement that a hacker stole 46 million Animal Jam records in early October but that it only learned of the breach in November.

The company said someone broke into one of its systems that the company uses for employees to communicate with each other, and accessed a secret key that allowed the hacker to break into the company’s user database. The bad news is that the stolen data is known to be circulating on at least one cybercrime forum, WildWorks said, meaning that malicious hackers may use (or be using) the stolen information.

The stolen data dates back to over the past 10 years, the company said, so former users may still be affected.

Much of the stolen data wasn’t highly sensitive, but the company warned that 32 million of those stolen records had the player’s username, 23.9 million records had the player’s gender, 14.8 million records contained the player’s birth year, and 5.7 million records had the player’s full date of birth.

But, the company did say that the hacker also took 7 million parent email addresses used to manage their kids’ accounts. It also said that 12,653 parent accounts had a parent’s full name and billing address, and 16,131 parent accounts had a parent’s name but no billing address.

Besides the billing address, the company said no other billing data — such as financial information — was stolen.

WildWorks also said that the hacker also stole player’s passwords, prompting the company to reset every player’s password. (If you can’t log in, that’s probably why. Check your email for a link to reset your password.) WildWorks didn’t say how it scrambled passwords, which leaves open the possibility that they could be unscrambled and potentially used to break into other accounts that have the same password as used on Animal Jam. That’s why it’s so important to use unique passwords for each site or service you use, and use a password manager to store your passwords safely.

The company said it was sharing information about the breach with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.

So what can parents do?

  • Thankfully the data associated with kids accounts is limited. But parents, if you have used your Animal Jam password on any other website, make sure you change those passwords to strong and unique passwords so that nobody can break into those other accounts.
  • Keep an eye out for scams related to the breach. Malicious hackers like to jump on recent news and events to try to trick victims into turning over more information or money in response to a breach.

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These Stanford students are racing to get laptops to kids around the U.S. who most need them


The digital divide is not a new phenomenon. Still, it largely took Americans by surprise when, as the U.S. began to shut down to slow the spread of Covid-19 in March, schools grappled with how to move forward with online classes.

It wasn’t just a matter of altering students’ curriculum. Many lacked either internet access or home computers — and some lacked both. According to USAFacts, a non-partisan organization funded by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer,  4.4 million households with children have not had consistent access to computers for online learning during the pandemic.

It’s a problem that two Stanford students, Isabel Wang and Margot Bellon, are doing everything in their power to address, and with some success. Through their six-month-old 501(c)(3) outfit, Bridging Tech, they’ve already provided more than 400 refurbished laptops to children who need them most — those living in homeless shelters — beginning with students in the Bay Area where there are an estimated 2,000 homeless students in San Francisco alone.

Unsurprisingly, it began as a passion project for both, though both sound committed to building an enduring organization. They always cared about the digital divide; now they’ve seen too much to walk away from it.

Wang, for her part, grew up in the affluent Cleveland, Oh., suburb of Shaker Heights, which has “always had racial tensions,” she notes. (The best-selling novel “Little Fires Everywhere” is set in the same place, for the same reason.) Partly as a result of “racism in our community,” Wang became involved early on in public health initiatives that address those from underserved backgrounds, and part of that focus centered on equitable access to education.

Bellon, a biology major who met Wang at Outdoor House, a student-initiated outdoors-themed house at Stanford, had similar interests early on, she says. Growing up in San Mateo, Ca., she volunteered in homeless shelters in high school and in college, experiences that made her aware of the challenges created by a lack of access to technology. For many, just getting WiFi can mean having to linger outside a Starbucks, she notes, and often, the only computer available is inside a library.

As the world shut down in the spring, Bellon realized these options were no longer available to the many people desperately needing them, just as Wang was coming to her own worried conclusions. The friends joined forces and now 30 other volunteers, almost all fellow Stanford students, are also contributing to the effort.

So far, Bridging Tech has been most focused on securing laptops for students lacking access to tech. Citrix Systems and Genetech have been among the bigger donors, but it’s easy to imagine that the nascent organization could use far more help from the region’s many tech giants.

Once it has lightly used computers in its possession, they are distributed to a handful of refurbishers with which Bridging Tech has partnered. All guarantee their work for a year. One of these partners, Computers 2 Kids in San Diego, also provides clear instructions so that children can get up and running without much assistance.

Bellon says that homeless shelters in the Bay Area typically have tech volunteers who help children turn on the computers and get set up, and that organizations like ShelterTech have partnered with Bridging Tech to ensure these young computer recipients also have access to WiFi.

The devices are also gifted permanently.

In the meantime, Bridging Tech has also launched a tutoring program, as well as a mentorship program based on more skill-based activities like computer science.

It’s a lot of moving pieces for two college students who not so long ago were primarily focused on getting through the next assignment. That’s not keeping them from barreling ahead into other geographies based on the traction they’ve seen in Northern California. Bellon says that they’ve already talked with shelters in New York, L.A. Boston, Washington, Atlanta, and a handful of other cities.

As they’re made more aware by the day, all around the country, disadvantaged kids who’ve been forced into distance learning because the pandemic are falling further behind their peers.

It’s not an issue that the federal or state governments are going to solve alone without more resolve. Consider that about one in five teenagers in America said in a 2018 Pew Research Center survey that they are often or sometimes unable to complete homework assignments because they don’t have reliable access to a computer or internet connection. In the same survey, one quarter of lower-income teens said they did not have access to a home computer.

One of the biggest questions for Wang and Bellon is how they scale their ambitions. Right now, for example, the computers being refurbished by Bridging Tech are being delivered to shelters directly by volunteers who drive them there. Bridging Tech doesn’t yet have the network or infrastructure elsewhere to ensure that the same happens in other cities.

Both founders are aware of their limitations. Wang says very explicitly that Bridging Tech needs not only more device donations but could also use the skills of a grant writer, a marketer, and a development professional who can help introduce the outfit to other potential partner organizations. “We’re college students, so anything people can teach us is very valuable,” she says.

She also readily concedes that Bridging Tech “doesn’t have the process nailed down for in-kind donations in other cities, so we’re mostly beginning to purchase those devices.” (One way it’s doing this is via an organization called Whistle that pays users for their old devices but also enables them to donate the proceeds.)

Still, the two want to keep at it, even after Wang returns to school and Bellon moves on next year to a master’s program.

“For a more equitable society,” says Bellon, tech clearly needs to be equitable. “Covid has exacerbated these issues, but you need tech for everything and that’s not going away.”

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Connie Loizos

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