information

IN THE NEWS: Your Baby Monitor Can Be Hacked

by Samantha on August 1, 2015

Who's listening to your baby? Parents urged to take precautions with monitor technology

 

monitor

Who’s listening to your baby?

Are you safe? Is your baby safe?

The intersection of technology and parenting continues to expand as we increasingly rely on digital tools to make our roles as parents easier. We use tech more than ever to live our daily lives, from watching our babies to entertaining them; from reading to our kids to monitoring them (texting and cell phones). It all seems great, right? Granted, the convenience provided by technology can’t be denied, but there is a dark side to its usage as well.

As hacking becomes more commonplace in our daily lives, the instances of our digital tools being compromised will also increase. We’ve seen a rise of incidents where personal information has been hacked via email, cell phones and cloud accounts, but did anyone really anticipate that baby monitors would be a target too?

It’s scary to think that our most precious assets could be open to being spied on, secretly viewed, spoken to by strangers, or worse.

I recently provided my thoughts on this disturbing trend in an interview on Global News. You can watch the full segment below. There are also some simple tips that parents can follow to make sure that their babies remain safe and secure.

What you do to avoid hacking via baby monitors or similar devices:

1) Educate Yourself - Make sure that you fully understand the technology that you’re using, especially in their children’s rooms.

2) Err on the Side of Caution - When in doubt, don’t. If you have any concerns or misgivings about the technology behind any particular device, don’t use it until you are sure about it’s security, or chose another option altogether.

3) Choose a Secure Password - Don’t make the password for your device too easy. Remember to use a login that is not easily-guessed, that is changed frequently, and that includes a non-sensical string of letters (both upper and lower case) and numbers. For more information on how to choose a secure password, visit this page: How to Create a Secure Password.

4) Limit the Use of Devices - The less amount of devices used to monitor our kids, the less likely hackers will be able to successfully gain access where they don’t belong.

Global News Segment - Baby Monitor Hacked!


 

What other tips do you have for parents who are concerned about being hacked? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.

—-

Want more parenting advice and tips? Click on the image below to get your copy of my eBook today!

Like this post? Subscribe to the MMM newsletter get the latest parenting tips, advice and insight delivered right to your Inbox!


Image courtesy of www.foscam.us

{ 0 comments }

CBC investigation reveals more questions than answers on this increasingly popular tactic

Hmmm…seems as if I’m not the only one with questions about the charitable donations that are being requested at the checkout.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that the trend towards “checkout charity” is one that gets under my skin.

Why?

Because there is little accountability about where the requested money is going to and consumers are being put on the spot to donate. A CBC Marketplace investigation revealed that a number of companies employing this practice are not as transparent regarding the details of how checkout charity funds are spent. You can read more about it here:

Checkout donations: Poor transparency about where the money goes

In terms of consumers, many feel shamed into donating at the cash register for fear of appearing cheap in front of the cashier and those who are lined up behind them. Instead of feeling good about their donation, or their decision to decline, they leave the store with a bad taste in their mouths.

Checkout Charity

Doing what they do best, the folks at CBC Marketplace set out to get to the bottom of this practice by asking the tough questions that us average consumers want answered. What Marketplace’s investigation revealed was surprising, to say the least.

Check out the full episode below featuring yours truly, as well as interviews with spokespersons from companies that employ this tactic. I was very surprised at what was revealed in the episode and would love to hear your thoughts on these details as well. Looking forward to your feedback in the comments section below.

FULL EPISODE: CHECKOUT CHARITY - DOING GOOD, FEELING BAD

——

Want more parenting advice and tips? Click on the image below to get your copy of my eBook today!

Like this post? Subscribe to the MMM newsletter get the latest parenting tips, advice and insight delivered right to your Inbox!

{ 0 comments }

Let’s End the Myth of the “Evil Twin”

by Samantha on January 31, 2015

There is no "good" twin and "bad" twin in the pair - let's end this fallacy

Good twin, evil twin

It was an otherwise mundane Saturday at Costco.

With three kids in tow, I sauntered through the aisles, plying myself and the kids with free samples and piling up my shopping cart with bulk items, many of which I didn’t really need.

We lined up in the checkout aisle and I took a deep breath before the final total was told to me by the cashier (it’s always more than you think it’s going to be when shopping at this particular store).

Making our way to our car, with my boys sitting together in the front of the shopping cart, we were stopped by what looked to be a kind-hearted woman. Smiling, first at me, then at the kids - with a focus on the boys in particular - she stopped me.

“Are they twins?,” she asked.

“Yes. They’re identical,” I responded.

“Awww! They’re so cute!”

“Thank-you!,” I replied.

Looking at both of them with wonderment and curiosity, I thought I knew what she was going to ask next.

She’s going to ask me how I tell them apart, I thought to myself.

I was sure that this question must have been coming because it’s often one of the first things that people ask when they see identical twins - at least it has been in my experience.

Imagine my surprise, then, when she hit me with this doozy:

“Which one is the ‘good’ twin and which one is the ‘evil’ twin?”

She was serious.

My first thought was a mix of confusion and bewilderment as I tried to make sense of her question. “Good” twin? “Evil” twin? Was she for real?

Within a few milliseconds, my confusion simultaneously turned to anger and irritation about her presumptive comment.

How does one answer such a question? Was I to just respond - in front of both of my twins, and my 11-year-old daughter as well - “Oh, THIS one. THIS one is evil, this other one is good.

Was that really her expectation?

The mythology surrounding twins - particularly identical twins - is particularly fraught with the erroneous perspective that there is a “good” twin and, therefore, a “bad” one. Like Yin and Yang, black and white, opposites must co-exist and apparently this truth must be the case with identical twins. Its apparently not enough for some to accept that twins - identical or not - are not necessarily polar opposites. There is no “good” or “bad” twin any more than there is a “good” and “bad” set of siblings that haven’t had the unique experience of being born on the same day (or just a few minutes apart).

Identical twins, by definition, are certainly similar in many ways. From the obvious - how they look; to the not so obvious - their thought processes, they way they relate to each other and others, and other quirks of their personalities. That being said, they are individuals - not “good,” not “bad,” just  - different. Yet there seems to be a desire amongst some to attribute polarities to each twin. This needs to stop.

As the parent of identical twins, it’s hard enough to try to foster feelings of independence within them on a day-to-day basis. Imagine having someone who looks exactly like you? Of course you’d want to be seen as an individual. Kids will misbehave - whether they’re a twin or not - it’s a normal part of being a kid. So why is it when a twin misbehaves, they’re automatically labeled as “bad” or “evil?” Ironically, they are perceived to be the same (particularly in the case of identical twins) yet opposites. How is this logical - or fair?

Surely there are sibling rivalries that exist amongst twins, but the same can be said for any siblings, twin status notwithstanding.

There are no polarities when it comes to twins. No “good” one vs. “bad one;” no angelic child versus evil spawn, no duelling forces, vying for the top spot in their respective categories. There are just kids - warts, scabbed knees and all. Though the mythology and expectation of opposite-minded twin siblings is appealing to some, it is, fortunately, untrue.

To the woman who very rudely asked me which one of my kids was “good” and which one was “evil,” and to the many others who believe in this false dichotomy, so sorry to disappoint.

To read this article on HUFFINGTON POST, click here.

——

Want more parenting advice and tips? Click on the image below to get your copy of my eBook today!

Like this post? Subscribe to the MMM newsletter get the latest parenting tips, advice and insight delivered right to your Inbox!

 Image courtesy of www.galleryhip.com

{ 2 comments }

Diversity And Kids - Top 6 Tips For Parents

by Samantha on May 22, 2014

kids diversity

“Mom, why does she look different?”

This is a question that many of us have had to grapple with as we raise our kids in an increasingly multicultural and multiethnic society. As a person on colour myself, I’ve been on the receiving end of the question and can still remember an incident (one of many) that happened to me as a child.

I was about eight or so, and was leaving a large department store with my mother. Another child, about the same age as me, saw me, turned to her mother, pointed at me and asked “Why is she Black?”

The mother looked mortified, said “SHHHH!!!” and quickly scurried the child out of the store. I was left standing there with my own mother feeling confused and ashamed, though I wasn’t sure why. My mother, thankfully, spoke to me about why people would have questions and that curiosity isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Oftentimes, questions such as this are a starting point for some very important discussions that parents can have with their children.

It’s all about how we as parents handle these types of situations when they occur. Our responses are going to set the stage for how our own children behave in future. “Monkey see, monkey do,” as they say. For this reason, it’s so important to instill not only an understanding of other cultures and ethnicities, but a respect and interest and celebration of them as well.

Living in Toronto, I’ve been very fortunate to be surrounded by an incredible range of these cultures and ethnicities. It’s one of the things I love about the city and appreciate that my children have had the opportunity to be learn about diversity. Unfortunately, not all places are as diverse and there are still situations where children are being faced with being the object of another child’s questioning, just as I was so many years ago.

For parents who are trying to raise children who are more culturally and ethnically aware, regardless of their locale, there are some things that can be done. Following are six tips for parents who want to raise kids who have an appreciation for diversity.

Diversity and Kids - Top 6 Tips For Parents

1) Friends Not Foes - There’s nothing like a good friendship to make a child want to learn more about a person’s culture. Children are naturally curious and are drawn to new people and ideas. Encourage your kids to have relationships with a variety of peers from different backgrounds and ethnicities. The opportunity for learning and understanding as well as making a new pal will be well worth it.

2) Food For Thought - Are you stuck in a Meatloaf Monday or Taco Tuesday treadmill? If so, how about mixing things up a bit and exposing your child to some other food options? Having different foods around the house and serving them for meals is a great way of teaching kids about other cultures. Check out some different recipes from other cultures online or invest in a cookbook that specializes in meals from around the world. Your child will likely love it and it will give you a starting point for discussions about diversity.

3) The Inside Story - Reading is always a great activity for kids and in this case, even more so. Go to your local library with your child and check out some books that highlight other cultures. These can include historical and factual-type books as well as anthologies that combine cultural tales and stories. For smaller kids, help them choose picture books at the library and read cultural stories with them. They’ll appreciate the novelty of the stories and will be more likely to remain interested.

4) Talk the Talk - There’s nothing like immersing oneself in another language to fully understand the nuances of a culture. Of course it’s somewhat different for a child, but getting children interested in speaking a new language is a great first step towards diversity appreciation. Whether it’s through classes at school or taking lessons after school or on weekends, language is a great portal to understanding another culture.

5) Lead by Example - As parents, we have a job to do and one of them is realizing that our children will follow the examples we set. If we convey negative or suspicious attitudes about other cultures and ethnicities, our kids will pick up on these and replicate our behaviour. “Monkey see, monkey do” is real so keep this in mind and remember to convey a positive and open attitude about other cultures, particularly around your children.

6) Culture Club - Fairs, festivals, events - these are all great opportunities to open up your child’s understanding of those from other backgrounds. Wherever possible, attend cultural and ethnic celebrations with your children and expose them to some of the great traditions that so many celebrate. Take your kids to culturally-focused events and immerse them in the customs of others. By doing so, your child will have a greater appreciation for others and will learn something in the process as well.

To read this article on HUFFINGTON POST, click here.

How do you teach your child about diversity and other cultures? What advice do you have for other parents who want to expose their children to other cultures and ethnicities? Leave me your thoughts in the comments below!

—-

Want more parenting advice and tips? Click on the image below to get your copy of my eBook today!


Image courtesy of www.sheknows.com

{ 5 comments }

telephone

I have a security blanket and it’s my land line.

Quaint, I know, but I just can’t seem to give it up. After all, I have young children at home and, well, you know - what if there’s an emergency?

Having grown up in the Jurassic Era, it just seems normal to have a land line - a phone that is not cellular, mobile or portable beyond a few steps past my front door. There’s security in knowing that no matter what, I can pick up that phone and dial whomever I need to contact whenever I need to contact them (not literally, of course - that would require a rotary component).

Having a phone that is physically tethered to our homes provides a sort of comfort; we know that in the event that we’ve forgotten to charge our mobile phones or we’ve had the unfortunate occurrence of losing our smart phones, we still have that backup that exists just a few steps beyond the front door.

We’ve always had a landline; why, then, would we give it up?

The answer to this question is being provided by a growing number of people - parents, in particular - who feel that our fiber-optic security blanket needs to be put out to pasture once and for all. These days, we’ve lived long enough with technology to feel comfortable with our smartphones as our “go-to” device of choice. A virtual one-stop shop, we can shop, text, take pictures and videos and - if we need to - call 911 if the need arises. Because of this, the idea of untethering ourselves from our “retro” phone seems like the obvious course of action.

Yet, there’s that nagging little voice in our heads that keeps asking us whether it’s the right thing to do. This voice seems to be concerned about a few things:

  • Effectiveness - Will our smartphones actually do the trick when we really need it to?
  • Cost - We think we’ll be saving money by cutting the ties with our landlines but will we really save money? After all, won’t we just be using our smartphones more often?
  • Fear - We’re afraid of the unknown: we’ve always had a landline; what would it be like to be without one? The mere thought terrifies us.
  • Comfort - Knowing that our cell phones are our only selection when it comes to making calls can make the  most hip and tech-savvy parent feeling somewhat uncomfortable.

As parents, there are certain mandatory items that we are obliged to provide our kids, in order for them to be safe and secure. They include obvious items like food, shelter and clothing. Perhaps not surprisingly, telephones - landlines, more specifically - are an important part of this parental toolbox. For any parent that has grown  up pre-internet age, the thought of not having a landline in the home is often met with great debate, consternation and fear.

Yet when most of us look at the reality of how much we really use our landline, it seems fairly obvious as to what we should do.

I’m not unlike many of my friends and colleagues who have a landline that is rarely used. Other than the increasingly annoying telemarketing calls that interrupt my evenings, the home phone rarely gets any use anymore. Most of my friends and family know that to reach me more readily, just text or call my cell. It’s as simple as that. As a result, the landline remains at home, like a relic from the past; a reminder of a distant and long forgotten time. Despite this fact, I haven’t given up my landline…yet. I know that I will; it’s just a matter of time. It’s an emotional connection more than a more practical or even logical one. When that time finally comes, I’ll send the landline off with a respectable farewell and will call my friends - from my cell phone - for some emotional support.

VIDEO: ELO - Telephone Line

Want more parenting advice and tips? Click on the image below to get your copy of my eBook today!


Shoes.com offers Free Shipping and Easy Returns

{ 0 comments }

VIDEO: Emergency Preparedness Tips For Families: Global Morning Show Segment

May 10, 2013

Following my post regarding best practices for families about Emergency Preparedness, I was asked to return to the Global Morning Show to discuss. Armed with an Home Emergency Kit based on the information found at Toronto Hydro’s site, I was ready to go. Watch below for tips and advice about what all homes should have […]

Read the full article →

An Emergency Preparedness Checklist – Top 10 Tips For Families

May 4, 2013

An Emergency Preparedness Checklist – Top 10 Tips For Families Emergency preparedness is particularly important in families with children in the home. Not only should parents make sure that their kids know fire drills and how and when to act in emergency situations; they should also make sure that kids are well-versed on where certain […]

Read the full article →

VIDEO: Top Tips For Stress-Free Christmas Shopping

December 12, 2012

We all know how crazy it gets during the holiday season. The stress of trying to get everything in order - from the house to the gifts and beyond - is all too much for many of us. The malls are packed, the kids are hoping for a good haul and Santa’s on his way. […]

Read the full article →

It’s the End of the World As We Know It - And Our Kids Will Be Fine

December 5, 2012

This blog post will self-destruct in 15 days. That’s if you believe all of the hype about the Mayan prophecy. Apparently, the world, as we know it, will come to an end. It’s over, folks. It’s the end of the world as we know it; I feel fine but many kids don’t. For the record, […]

Read the full article →

Preparing Your Child For the First Day of School - Top 7 Tips

August 24, 2012

Ease your child’s back to school anxiety with these simple tips The first day of school is just around the corner and parents and children everywhere are preparing anxiously for their big moment. This is especially the case for children who are going to school for the first time. The thought of school with “big […]

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Read the full article →