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



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.


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Meltdown in Aisle 5: Top Parenting Tips From Multiple Mayhem Mamma



Social media and kids. Two topics that evoke lots of emotions, particularly for parents. Following my article Social Media and Kids: What Parents Need To Know I was invited to be interviewed on CKNW AM 980 to talk about some of the issues and my suggestions for parents. It was a great discussion and I covered some of the key points outlined in the article. You can listen to the full interview below.


Protecting Your Child on Social Media - CKNW Newstalk 980 Interview

What do you think? What other things can parents do to protect their kids who may be on social media? Leave me your answers in the comments below.

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Lane Bryant

snooping on kids
How do you feel about snooping? You know - going through your kids’ stuff, reading their diaries (if they’re older) or checking their online footprint? Is it a parent’s right to snoop on their kids?

As our children enter their tweens, this topic becomes particularly pressing, especially these days. Kids are doing and saying things that make many of us uncomfortable, to say the least. And as we continue to address the very real concerns about parenting in the digital age, we realize that it’s not just the older kids that we have to worry about. How many of us hand our kids our smartphones, tablets or laptops in order to distract or entertain them when we need a few minutes to do something else? Our children have online access and as a result, they’re interacting with others, often without our knowledge. Add to this the growing problem of cyberbullying and its repercussions and we have a very real issue that we can’t ignore.

As parents, we have a responsibility to know what our kids are doing and to protect them from harm. To this end, there are those who say that snooping is part of the game. Others disagree, saying that we should trust our kids as well as give them their privacy. True; children do need to be trusted and their privacy does need to be respected. But to what end? That’s the crux of the issue.

Today’s Monday Musings asks the question “Is it ever okay to snoop on your kids?” The answer will surely be divided and many of us are still trying to figure things out.

Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below and let’s discuss.

VIDEO - Is it Ever Okay to Snoop On Your Kids?

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How to Clean Your House in 15 Minutes or Less

by Samantha on June 28, 2013


The phone rings or you get a text:

“Hi! I’m in the neighbourhood and I’m coming over. See you soon!”

You freeze.

After all, if your mother-in-law, long-lost friend from grade school or pastor is in the area, it’s really hard to tell them “no,” and that they can’t come over. There are repercussions, you see, that will make things so much more difficult, if you choose to deny them.

Now, all of us who are parents know that it’s virtually impossible to keep a consistently clean house at any given time. We all know that kids, by definition, means chaos, and with chaos comes mess. It’s the natural order of things. On any given day, my home looks like a cross between a war zone where fingerpaints, markers and crayons are the weapon of choice, ground zero of a brazen attack by angry toys and a twisted dystopia of food stuffs, where remnants of last night’s dinner can (embarrassingly) be found in bedrooms, bathrooms and basements. Ugh.

For these reasons alone, the sheer embarrassment of this chaos being revealed to those fortunate souls who are child-free, or have grown children (or perhaps just a housecleaner) is not to be underestimated. No, as much as people say that they understand that the house is a complete disaster, they really don’t and, don’t kid yourselves, they will go away, shaking their heads and wonder incredulously how you, yes you could be such a slob. Oh, yes – you’re a bad parent, to boot.

It’s just plain humiliating and not worth the stress. Accordingly, I’ve come up with some ways to mitigate the madness and make the impromptu visit by unexpected guests occur without you having to crawl into a hole from embarrassment. Following are some simple tips on how to clean your house in 15 minutes or less:

1)   Time Management – You have 15 minutes so make it good. You don’t have a lot of time so here’s what I suggest: three blocks of 5 minutes for each area and no more. It may seem impossible but you can do it. The finite time period will get you going in no time. Nothing like a tight deadline to light a fire under us, right?

2)   Main Area – This is the first thing they’re going to see when they walk in the door so make sure that your guest doesn’t have such a horrifying first impression that they’ll never forget and will, similarly, never stop talking about what a slob you are to anyone who will listen. Kids have toys, and many of these toys have millions of little pieces, much to our irritation. Ditto for Lego which, when stepped on, is a painful reminder of how many little pieces there are on the floor and otherwise. Be prepared and always have a few storage bins or boxes in your main area (living room, dining room, etc.) where you can throw errant toys in a frantic hurry. Chuck them in, and call it a day. If the bin is overflowing and can’t be covered, that’s okay. At least the mess is centralized instead of scattered all over the floor. Give yourself 1 minute to do a really quick sweep and if you’re really on a roll, do a quick Swifter to make the floor look a bit better. Only if you have time, of course.

3)   Kitchen – You have five minutes so do the basics: any dirty dishes need to be put in the sink. Make sure there are none on the counters or tables – it makes everything look a lot messier. If the dish count isn’t too horrendous, take a couple of minutes and power-wash a few dishes. If you’re fortunate enough to have a dishwasher, load it up and close the door. Out of sight and out of mind. The less items that there are piled in the sink the better.

4)   Bathrooms – This is one of the most important areas to focus on and here’s why: it’s really gross to go into someone’s bathroom and it’s kind of unclean. Toothpaste globs in the sink and a toilet that hasn’t been cleaned very recently is nasty, even in your own home. In someone else’s, it’s hard to forget. The plan of attack in the wake of your “15-minute warning” from your guest should be this: one minute to dump some bleach or cleaner in your toilet and to scrub like you mean it, one minute to add spray clean your sink, on the faucets and on any obvious areas of dirt that need to be scrubbed and one minute to do a really quick once-over with a sponge on all of the main counters and walls. Take one to two minutes to sweep and you’re done.

5)   Assign Jobs – Your kids are part of making the mess; why not make them part of the frantic clean-up? As soon as you know that you’ve got 15 minutes, give them a job or two to tackle. Kids who are aged 5 and up love to use a Dustbuster or similar Handy-Vac type vacuum. Get them to do a quick once-over of the stairs or rugs so that there are no dust-bunnies or balls of dust in the corner. Similarly, get them to do some quick dusting of the furniture and areas where dust collects so that your house guests are not horrified by the dust bowl in which you live.

So as you can see, you can get quite a bit done in a short period of time. The key is to get your motor running, get into the cleaning grove and to power clean like there’s no tomorrow  - just for 15 minutes or so.

*To read this article on Huffington Post, CLICK HERE*

Do you have any quick tips about how to get the house clean in a hurry? Leave me your ideas in the comments section below!

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Kids playing with iPhone

The great thing about the online world is that it brings people together who may have normally never met. At least that’s been my experience. An example of this is my fortunate connection with Meryl Neiman, founder of Playdate Planet.

I first had the opportunity to interact with Meryl via commentary that she added to an article that I had written for Huffington Post. From that point on, Meryl and I kept running into each other virtually; we ran in the same parenting circles, websites and social media channels, so I guess we were bound to interact. And that we did. It didn’t hurt that one of our mutually favorite topics - playdates - was the crux of our connection.

Since that time, I’ve had the pleasure of following Playdate Planet and continuing the discussion about not only playdates, but all things parenting-related. One of these topics is technology and kids. If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know that the intersection of parenting and technology is an area that fascinates me more than others. As a matter of fact, so interested am I in this subject matter that I started an ongoing series on it: Parenting in the Digital Age.

Knowing this, Meryl reached out and requested an interview for her radio program. She wanted to discuss technology, social media, cell phones and related topics, within the context of parenting. Of course, I was game!

The full podcast can be found on iTunes and here, at the WebTalkRadio site. Have a listen and let me know what you think!

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