Fashion meets function with kids’ baking attire, as modeled by Sam and Summer.
It's a question parents have debated for over a decade: At what age should their kids be allowed to have their own cell phones?
The reality is that most kids have mobile cellular devices well before high school.
John Breyault, vice president of public policy, telecommunications and fraud at the National Consumers League, commissioned a study in 2012 that found nearly 60 percent of parents said they offered cell phones to their children at ages 10 or 11. Since then, that average age has gotten even younger, and the prevalence of cell phones among teens and pre-teens has nearly doubled, said Shawn DuBravac, chief economist and senior director of research at the Consumer Electronics Association.
"Today about 80 percent of teens between 12 and 17 own a cell phone, and about half of those own a smart phone," said DuBravac. "That's about twice the rate from just two years ago."
Some carriers, are marketing cell phones to kids as young as five: "It's not uncommon to see, really, two and three year olds becoming quite fluent with using a touch tablet or a touch device," DuBravac said. "So by the time they turn 6, 7, 8, they're very comfortable with the mobile devices."
But how young is too young? Consumer experts recommend a case-by-case approach.
"Are their kids responsible enough to have a phone when they are, maybe, 8?" Breyault asked. "Or do they need to wait a little later to make sure they know the responsibility that comes with having a phone? So that could be 13, 14, maybe even older.
"...This is an age group where they are doing a lot of activities outside the home, things like sports practices, after-school activities, going over to friends' houses, some of them going to the mall on their own," he went on. "So most parents we surveyed said they were getting the phone so the kid could stay in touch with them."
And though critics abound who believe cellular technology is driving a stake through face-to-face interactions, DuBravac made the case that in an age in which families are often strained for time together, such devices can act as a relationship resuscitator: "Parents I've talked to generally love that their kids have cell phones because they can text them when maybe a call wouldn't work, they could get a note out," he said. "I know students will often send photos of reports or grades that they've gotten to their parents."
Experts recommend that before allowing their children to have cell phones, parents should have a conversation with them about "digital hygiene" practices: staying within data limits, avoiding inappropriate content, and steering clear of privacy risks and cyber-bullying.
"Kids learn by example," DuBravac said. "So they're gonna follow the way you use technology. We encourage parents to use technology wisely, for example if they're in the vehicle, especially if they're driving."
And in the spirit of back-to-school season, teachers, too, will be tasked with staying alert and up to speed on the technology that kids may be bringing into the classroom.
"Many school administrators are wrestling with this problem now," Breyault said. "Certainly having a little computer right in your pocket can be a powerful incentive to try to cheat on tests for example... this poses new questions for them. Do they need to make sure the cell phones stay in book bags or in lockers for example?"
Meanwhile, some school districts are embracing the cell phone craze, installing technology like smart boards, which allow classroom content to be digitally accessed on smart phones or tablets. DuBravac encouraged a "forward-looking" approach for school districts as more kids come wielding mobile devices.
"The use of technology among teens and preteens has always been a storyline," he said, "whether it was the use of portable video games in the 80s or even calculators in the 60s and 70s. So schools have always looked at how technology can be and should be integrated into the curriculum."
Breyault agreed mobile technology offers the potential to be an asset in the classroom: "They know that they have these devices, they know that they're on them constantly," he said. "So certainly there are vast upsides to putting technology and cell phones in the hands of kids and letting them use them in an educational context. But like with any other tool, you have to make sure that it's used appropriately."
There’s a lot to think about when hosting a baby shower for an expectant mommy. It’s her big day and as the host, you want everything to be perfect and stress-free for the mommy-to-be. Ultimately, the success of your shower will all boil down to your level of organization. Here are important things that every hostess with the mostess should consider to ensure that her shower is a big hit.
First and foremost, you must decide on the theme of your shower because the theme may affect the time and location. In addition to the theme of your party, this is also the time to decide whether you want your shower to be all women or co-ed and if you’re going to have the shower before or after the baby is born. At this point, it is also good to outline your budget. Remember to include all of your expenses so that you can plan accordingly. Items to consider in your budget are location, party favors, food, decorations, invitations, Thank You notes, games, prizes, etc.
Once the theme and budget have been determined, the next step is to set a date, time and location. Most showers happen four to eight weeks prior to the baby’s due date. Baby showers usually take place on Saturdays or Sundays to accommodate guest’s schedules. When deciding on a location, the most important things to consider are the number of guests it can accommodate and the cost. Showers often take place at restaurants, rented spaces or in a home.
Next comes the guest list and invitations. This step includes obtaining current names, phone numbers and addresses for the mommy-to-be’s friends and family. Keep this list after you mail out invitations because you will need it when you send Thank You notes. When selecting invitations, you want to ensure that they are cohesive with your theme.
Now it is time to decide on a menu for your party. Do you want to serve appetizers or a full meal? Will you do the cooking or have the shower catered? These are all things to consider. Once your menu is finalized, you can outline your party itinerary and purchase supplies (decorations, party favors, games and prizes, plates and utensils if you’re having the party in your own home, etc.) Try to purchase as much as you can in advance to simplify your to-do list on the day of your event.
On the big day, it’s all about making sure that the food and décor look beautiful, getting the party favors ready to go, taking photos, keeping a list of gifts that guests bring to help with Thank You notes and making sure that mommy-to-be has the time of her life. Happy hosting!
Consider these helpful tips when determining the perfect name for your adorable boy or precious girl.
Is there an important or meaningful family name or religious name that you would like to pass on to your baby?
Are you drawn to traditional or one-of-a-kind names?
Explore names that represent the season or time of year when your baby is born.
Are you open to sharing your baby name ideas with others which could result in positive or negative feedback that could sway your decision?
Keep an open mind and select a name that you and your significant other both love.
Take advantage of baby books, websites and other resources that provide thousands of ideas.
Attempting to get children of all ages to go to bed for the night or settle down for a nap during the day can often be a difficult task. For most babies, counting sheep usually just isn’t enough. Here are a few simple tips that will help get your little one to sleep without all of the fuss.
One of the most important things that parents can do is create consistent naptime and bedtime routines and attempt to stick to those routines as much as possible. According to AskDrSears.com, one of the key principles of infant development is association, so consistently using the same routine before bedtime will cause your baby to associate that ritual with sleep and make the bedtime process much easier. This pre-bedtime or naptime ritual can include rocking, singing lullabies, a warm bath or anything else that helps relax your baby. For naps, try to designate the time of day that your baby seems to become the most tired and attempt to schedule naptime during those natural patterns.
Before putting your baby to bed, remember to remove any physical discomforts that could be present. This could include clearing the nasal canal, changing wet diapers, removing clothing that could potentially be irritating and addressing teething pain. Try to create as tranquil an environment as possible by making the room dark, quiet and a comfortable temperature.
According to the Mayo Clinic, stimulation during the day can help promote better sleep. Engaging children while they are awake helps them become tired and more receptive to bedtime or naptime. Singing, playing games and going on walks are good ways to help tucker little ones out.
Above all, it is important to approach your child’s sleep patterns with a realistic attitude. No child is the same and it is normal for a baby’s sleep schedule to be erratic. All parents are busy and things are bound to come up that are going to interfere with your baby’s sleep. Allow for some flexibility in your bedtime and naptime routines. The goal here is to discover what works for your situation. If you attempt a technique and it doesn’t seem to work, be open to trying new methods until you discover the best way to have your little one sleeping soundly.