Developer Interview with Hoa Ly of Enjo

Find Enjo on the internet, Facebook and Twitter.

Hello Hoa! Tell us about the company!

We’re a small team who’ve taken on a big challenge – to create a chatbot to provide emotional support to parents world wide!

Tell us about Enjo(which is awesome!!)

Enjo helps you handle the ups and downs of being a parent. Enjo will make you reflect on the good things in your life, and the highlights of parenting. It could be meaningful memories with your child, what you appreciate in your partner or what makes you grateful about being a parent.

And when you’re feeling down, stressed or worried, Enjo will offer support, validate your feelings, perhaps try to shift your perspective or just let you know if it’s common to feel the way you do.

We’re still experimenting with it, but we think it’s pretty cool that Enjo sometimes can help you get out of the black-and-white-thinking that can occur when you’re filled with negative emotions, and add some nuance just by reminding you of good things you’ve talked about in the past. The feeling of ”I don’t ever do enough for my kids!” can sometimes be turned around just by getting reminded of the sweet moments you’ve shared and good things you’ve done for your family.

Any future apps planned?

We don’t have anything that’s in the planning stage yet, but of course we’re thinking about making other psychology based chatbots for groups other than parents.

Any advice for those developing apps?

Try to find something that you care deeply about, and try to find an innovative way to package it into an app. For me it’s been psychology. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of helping people live better lives by making the insights from research more accessible.

Of course there’s an infinite number of things we still don’t know about the human mind. But the biggest problem in my view is that the knowledge we do have doesn’t reach all the people who could benefit from it.

Any advice for parents?

As a psychologist and researcher I’d recommend you to try being a mindful parent, and simply practice to pay attention to the present – as well as your own and your child’s feelings. It doesn’t mean that you will never get angry or upset. It is completely normal to feel negative emotions, but not acting on them mindlessly is what compromises mindful parenting.

Most importantly, mindful parenting does not mean being a“perfect parent” and is not something you can fail at – only something you can get better at.

But I’m actually becoming a father in just a couple of weeks, so I’m looking forward to utilizing my own experiences in the future!

Best wishes Hoa on your upcoming arrival. We can’t wait to see what additional apps your company comes up with!

Download Enjo for free!

Article: Managing Your Child’s Screen Usage During the Holidays

Managing Your Child’s Screen Time Usage During the Holidays

With the fast arrival of the holiday season comes every kid’s favorite time of the year and every parent’s most dreaded time of the year: winter break from school. The kids are home for a few weeks and will likely choose to occupy their time by playing on their devices. Whether those devices are gaming consoles, mobile phones or tablets, they are likely to be played for hours on end. This can be a pain point for many families during this time of the year.

Many parents find it difficult to manage their child’s screen time while also finding creative ways to encourage their child(ren) to spend time together as a family. As daunting of an issue as managing screen time can seem to be, there are a few ways to make the process smoother for the whole family

Having The Important Conversations

The most important step in managing screen usage is setting established rules that both you and your child can mutually agree upon. By allowing them to be an active participant in the rule setting process, they will be more likely to want to follow them. The holiday break can be a great time to have this conversation with your child and explain to them why it is important to their mental and physical health to take breaks from their devices.

While you’re on the subject of setting healthy digital habits, it’s also important to talk to your child about avoiding the dangers of the Internet. Important topics to cover include: cyberbullying, exposure to inappropriate material, online predators and keeping personal information private. Many of these issues can be avoided by setting up parental controls that help you as a parent to monitor their online activity, and also by choosing an antivirus software that will keep your family safe online. It’s never too early to have these types of conversations with your child and this time of year can be a great time to have them as winter break approaches and more internet-connected devices are gifted.

Creative Solutions

The best way to get your kids to step away from their devices is to offer distracting options which will place their attention elsewhere. Opt for creative solutions and alternatives that the whole family can participate in. There are many options, especially during the holiday season. Here are a few we suggest based on the age of your child(ren).

Ages 3-5

With this age group, it is particularly important to limit screen time as their small little brains still have a lot of growing to do. The holiday season can be a particularly magical time for the young ones. With all of the excitement, it won’t be hard to find alternative family activities that you can incorporate even the youngest ones in. Suggestions include:

  • Visiting Santa at your local mall
  • Taking a walk to see the lights in your neighborhood
  • Picking out a book at the library

Ages 5-7

With this age group, they are just in the introductory phase to technology. They will likely start to ask for internet-connected devices, video games, and movies. Because the subject matter of many of these video games and movies can be harmful to them, it’s important to educate yourself as a parent on the rating systems used and knowing if your child is ready for content of a certain nature or not.

  • Baking cookies together
  • Building a snowman or going sledding
  • Making a holiday-themed craft together

Ages 9-12

This age group is one of the most active screen users between tablets, video games, and even smartphones. It’s extremely important that you have the important conversations about internet security with children of this group. Monitoring their online activity with parental controls may be seen as invasive by some parents, but it can be an effective tool for keeping your child safe online. When screens are away, the family can play! There are many activities for this age group to partake in during the holiday season, for example:

  • Participating in a giveback program
  • Going to a local holiday festival
  • Making a homemade present for a family member

Teens

Parents of teenagers often complain about the struggle of finding the proper balance between gaining respect from their teen and managing the limitation of screen time. A recent study found a correlation between high screen usage amongst teens and increased rates of depression. This reminds us how important it is to have open lines of communication with our teens, as many parents can be unaware of the situations their child is facing online. This could include cyberbullying, technology addiction and even distancing themselves from normal social settings. Remind your teenager of the importance of family during the holiday season by encouraging them to partake in activities that you will both enjoy such as:

  • Volunteering at your local charity
  • Hosting a family board game night
  • Taking them shopping

We hope that these alternative suggestions will give you inspiration for creative ways to manage your child’s screen usage. If this topic still seems to cause a great deal of stress and arguments in your house, consider leaning on other resources to determine if this may be a deeper issue of technology addiction.

 Scott and his team of community advocates work to share industry research, helpful tips, and cybersecurity defense strategies. Their efforts are directed towards helping Internet users keep their information private.

Dr. Panda’s Holiday App Giveaway 2018

Dr. Panda’s Holiday App Giveaway 2018

Our friends at Dr. Panda have some holiday fun tucked up their sleeve.  Below is a post from their Facebook page – I can’t wait to help share these fantastic apps!  We love Dr. Panda here at The iMums and have reviewed many of their 37 apps!  While you wait – check out our app reviews of Dr. Panda games or our article about Cooking, Cleaning and Role Play with Dr. Panda apps.

 

From Dr. Panda

The Holiday season is almost upon us, and Dr. Panda’s ready to share the spirit of Christmas with everyone! 🎄That’s why over the next 5 weeks we’re going to be giving away some of our awesome apps to everybody, a series of free gifts from us to you! 🎁 So stay tuned folks, Dr. Panda’s coming to a chimney near you with your 1st mystery gift this Thursday!

 

Week # 1 — expired

Dr. Panda Mailman is a universal app for iOS that features the post office! This app features the ability to make and address your own postcards, pick a gift to package up for delivery including wrapping and delivery. Read our full review

Week #2 Dr Panda School – expired
http://smarturl.it/xmaspartnrwk218

Week # 3 Dr Panda Racers – Link to download
Dr. Panda Racers by Dr. Panda LTD is the newest addition to the Dr. Panda suite of apps. This app features a racing theme that lets you build your own cars and track including jumps and tricks, washing your vehicle, competing against other Dr. Panda characters and more! As you successfully complete the races – in first place you earn prizes which include race car parts, spray paints, and trophies. The tracks can either be concrete, dirt or sand and you choose them prior to racing at the event. To play the app you either choose or build your car, choose or build your track and then head to the pits for a wash before going out to the track for the race. At the starting line you are prompted to buckle your seat belt and then it’s on to the race and fun stunts! The track is controlled using a toggle which allows you to go 5 or 10 – and then the stunts require stopping to complete a tracing task. Read our full review

Article: Protecting Your Families Data using simple tips from Common Sense Media

The Bare Minimum You Should Do to Protect Your Family’s Data
By Caroline Knorr

For a lot of families, technology is the glue that holds everything together. There’s your kid’s Instagram feed you follow to see what they’re up to. There’s your school’s online network you check for homework and grades. There’s the mapping app that gets you to your kids’ playdates. And then there are the regular old texts from your kids that say “hi Mom” and let you know all is well. But this connection and convenience comes at a price — and that’s your data. With increasing frequency, we’re seeing large privacy violations — when hackers get access to people’s online data or companies misuse it or fail to protect it — and we all realize how vulnerable we are to identity theft, the publication of sensitive information, and stolen credit card numbers. A new Common Sense and Survey Monkey poll reveals that most parents and teens think it’s important that sites clearly label what data they collect. Technology use comes with privacy risks, but don’t worry — the answer isn’t living the life of a Luddite.

The thing is, most of us are far too reliant on technology to stop using it now. You may delete Facebook for a while … but you always go back, because how else are you going to see your cousin’s new baby? And how can you tell your kid’s teacher your kid can’t sign up for Google Classroom when that’s how the students work on group projects? It may be a stretch to say we need technology, but we sure don’t want to live without it. Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to reach a higher level of safety and security. It’s important that the whole family is on board with these privacy best practices, because your data is only as strong as the weakest link. Do these now:

Use strict privacy settings in apps and on websites. When you or your kid signs up for a new website or app, establish your privacy preferences immediately. The default settings on most apps usually aren’t super private, but on popular social media such as Instagram, Musical.ly, and Snapchat, you can control things like who can see what you post, who can contact you, and whose posts you can see.

Enable two-factor authentication. For an added layer of protection, enable two-factor authentication on apps and sites (like Gmail or Facebook) when available. This will help protect your accounts from hackers by sending a code to your phone when you log in from an unfamiliar device.

Beware of phishing scams. Don’t open emails, texts, online “security” alerts, text notifications, or other things from anyone you don’t know, don’t recognize, or weren’t expecting. Often this is “phishing” — companies sending out enticements hoping someone will click on them, thereby allowing entry to your device. Phishers can make their messages look authentic by copying logos from companies such as Amazon, Google, or even the IRS. But they often make mistakes such as using unusual grammar, weird punctuation, or threatening language.

Use antivirus protection. Buy and download antivirus software from a reputable source such as McAfee, Norton, or Symantec. Beware of free antivirus software, as it can contain malware. The iOS operating system has antivirus software built in, but it can still be vulnerable, so make sure you update your OS when prompted, as the updates can fix security holes.

Don’t use unsecure Wi-Fi networks. Make sure any Wi-Fi you connect to has the little lock sign next to it and requires a password. Hackers are notorious for sneaking into unsecured Wi-Fi. Even better, get a VPN (virtual private network) — but, just like with antivirus software, don’t use a free VPN.

Fine-tune your browser settings. Take a look at the privacy settings offered in your browser (usually in the Tools or Settings menus.) Most browsers let you turn off certain features — for example, the “cookies” that websites install on your computer that track your movements. Some cookies, such as those that remember your login names or items in your online shopping cart, can be beneficial. But some cookies are designed to remember everything you do online, build a profile of your personal information and habits, and sell that information to advertisers and other companies. Consider using plug-ins like Privacy Badger or HTTPS Everywhere to block tracking or keep your activity safer from snoops.

Turn off location services. Unless you use an app that lets you track your kid’s location for safety reasons, turn off location services on your phone and your kid’s phone. You can turn them on again if you want to find local businesses or use your mapping program.

Don’t let apps share data. When you download a social app, it will ask if it can access information stored on your phone, such as your contacts, photos, music, and calendar. Say no. If the app won’t work without this data, consider whether you can share some of what it’s requesting but not all. Or find a similar app that doesn’t overreach.

Be careful with social logins. When you log onto a site or app with your Facebook or Google username and password, you may be agreeing to share certain information from your profile. Read the fine print to know what you’re sharing, and edit if possible. Even if you limit what’s shared with the third party, your social network will continue to track your behavior.

Do regular privacy checks. Get in the habit of regularly checking your privacy settings on all social apps you use. Do this in front of your kids and narrate the experience to demonstrate how important keeping track of your information is. You can also download all your data from Google or Facebook, for example, to see what’s been collected.

Use tough passwords and change them frequently. The best practice for passwords is to use real words or phrases you can remember easily — but spell them incorrectly. They should be at least eight characters and have a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters, such as 5pEAzhawh$ for “five pizzas.” Even better, use a password manager like eWallet. Get more password tips.

Tweak your home assistants. Keep Alexa and Google Home’s microphones off if you’re not using them. Also, periodically comb through the settings either on the apps or in your online profile to see what you’ve shared and whether you need to delete recordings or make other privacy changes.  You can even pause your Internet using Netgear Orbi and Circle.

Cover your cameras. Whether it’s with a Post-it or a cute customized cover, block your webcam from potential spies. It might seem paranoid, but even Mark Zuckerberg does it.

About the Author – Carline Knorr

As Common Sense Media’s parenting editor, Caroline helps parents make sense of what’s going on in their kids’ media lives. From games to cell phones to movies and more, if you’re wondering “what’s the right age for…?” Caroline can help you make the decision that works best for your family. She has more than 20 years of editorial and creative marketing writing experience and has held senior-level positions at Walmart.com, Walmart stores, Cnet, and Bay Area Parent magazine. She specializes in translating complex information into bite-sized chunks to help families make informed choices about what their kids watch, play, read, and do. And she’s the proud mom of a teenage son whose media passions include Star WarsStarCraftgraphic novels, and the radio program This American Life. Email Caroline at support@commonsensesupport.desk-mail.com.