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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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.


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.



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CBC Marketplace - Checkout Charity

by Samantha on February 16, 2015

CBC program investigates the popular trend of soliciting donations at the checkout


“Checkout Charity” is a thing.

Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay.

I’ve discussed the topic on more than one occasion, both on this blog and in the media. For details, click on the link below.

IN THE NEWS: Is “Checkout Charity” Just a Money Grab?

checkout aisle

Seems like I’m not the only one who’s fed up with this sneaky way of gathering funds. Consumers in general, are becoming fatigued with the amount of requests that occur on a regular basis. Enough that Canada’s leading consumer investigative show, Marketplace, decided to look into this increasingly popular practice.

I was interviewed for the show and of course gave my two cents. Tune in on Friday, February 20th to watch the full show. I’ll post a link to the program and do a follow-up post once it’s aired as well.




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Designer Labels and the Economics of Parenting

by Samantha on December 12, 2011 FREE SAMPLES

I went shopping the other day.
I figured I would buy my eight-year-old daughter a new coat. After all, it’s winter, it’s cold and the really bad weather hasn’t set in yet. Sounds like a good plan, right?

I wasn’t prepared for some of the prices that I encountered. Call me sheltered, or perhaps I’ve just spent too much time in discount department stores buying kiddie clothing. That along with coveting hand-me-downs wherever I can. 
But I digress.

This particular coat caught my eye. Red. Shiny. Slick
I loved it and I thought my daughter would too.

There was no price tag to be found. 

There was, however a chain that was attached to the coat, running down to the floor. That should have been my first clue.

When I was younger, one of the best lessons my mother taught me was one that at once came to mind as I pondered what the price of this item could possibly be. My mom always said “If there’s no price tag, don’t bother asking. You can’t afford it.” (I may be paraphrasing, but that was the basic gist of what she would tell me. This advice was particularly compelling when I was a teenager making minimum wage but wanting clothes with maximum clout - which meant a price tag that I could not afford). 

Anyway, back to the story at hand.
The jacket shown here had no price tag attached. The jackets behind it didn’t, either. 

There were all, however, chained to the floor.

When I realized that no price tags were to be found, I became obsessed with finding out what the price was, as I realized at once that the jacket might have been out of my price range. Just might.

Was it ever, and then some.

When I tracked down a sales person to ask the MSRP, she advised me that the said coat was $645.00. Yes, that’s six-hundred and forty-five dollars. Not including tax, thank-you (the tax would add another hundred bucks or so, but who’s counting?).

Silly me, it was a Moncler jacket; I should have known better.

I kept going; the jacket wasn’t in the budget.

Which made me think about who these jackets and similar items are really targeted to, and who are buying these items?

Very wealthy people, one would assume, but I’m not sure that’s the case.

I’ve certainly seen many a child that I know does not come from wealth, sporting items of clothing or otherwise (tech toys anyone?) that are beyond the financial ceiling of the child’s parents. 

How can this be?

Is it a case of maxing out the old credit card in order to give the child something that the parent, perhaps, could not afford, or didn’t have as a child?

Is it a case of parents living vicariously through their children via clothing and conspicuous consumption, in order to show everyone in their immediate neighbourhood that they can indeed afford such items (even if they can’t?)?

Is it a devil-may-care attitude on the part of the parents that throws caution to the wind when it comes to finances, letting the financial chips fall where they may in the name of “style” for their little darlings?

It may very well be none of the above - I don’t know, though I suspect that it may be all three.

We live in an age of “designer” this and “premium” that and it’s hard to live within our means sometimes. Many of us try to do so - myself included - and fail miserably. How can we not, after all? We are surrounded by images of beautiful items, whether they be clothes, shoes, household goods, or otherwise. Kids pick up the messages about “top-of-the-line” goods pretty early. Once they’ve learned through osmosis, there’s no turning back. You’re stuck.

So what’s a poor parent to do?

Buy the expensive items and go into debt on credit or otherwise, or take a stand and say “no” as hard as that may be?

I know that I’ve given in on many occasions (perhaps not to the degree of $675, but still).

We want our children to have nice things. We want our kids to look good. We somehow feel that the less that they have, the more that their dearth of “stuff” is of a reflection on us. Though we know intellectually that this is not the case, emotionally we can’t help ourselves.

We judge ourselves based on others and what they have, and we shouldn’t. Easier said than done in this materialistic world that we live within. 

Unfortunately as a result, our children suffer and so do their parents. They bear the brunt of the stress felt in spending money that we don’t have then scrimping, complaining and worrying about how we’re going to pay off the subsequent bills. They also bear the brunt of the unrealistic situation that we have set up based on “stuff,” as it’s a slippery slope that’s hard to get off. Once one starts buying the expensive items, be they clothing, tech toys or otherwise, it’s very hard to take a step back and tell the kids that the gravy train is off the rails for goods. We are our own worst enemies.

So I’ll put this question out there this week:

Do you spend more money on your kids’ “stuff” than you know you should? If the answer is “yes,” why do you think you do so? Does guilt play any part?

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