To do in Toronto: Create a Rey doll hackathon

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Many people have noticed that the female lead character Rey is notably underrepresented in the tsunami of Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys. Read the rest

Howto: make your own fantastically detailed Star Trek: TOS bridge playset

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David Weiberg handed down his childhood set of Star Trek: original series action figures to his eight-year-old son, and then the two of them built a fantastically detailed, correctly scaled replica of the original Enterprise's bridge to go with them. Read the rest

Griefer hacks baby monitor, terrifies toddler with spooky voices

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Remember how, back in September 2015, researchers revealed that virtually every "smart" baby-monitor they tested was riddled with security vulnerabilities that let strangers seize control over it, spying on you and your family? Read the rest

New US law says kids can walk to school by themselves

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After years of documenting instances in which parents and kids are terrorized by law enforcement and child welfare authorities because the kids were allowed to be on their own in public places, the Free Range Kids movement has gotten some justice: a new Federal law gives its official okey-doke to parents who let their kids get to school on their own. Read the rest

How imaginary friends went from a parental worry to a badge of honour

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For a long time, kids' imaginary friends were a cause for concern: Dr Spock recommended taking kids to "a child psychiatrist, child psychologist or other mental-health counsellor" to figure out what kids with imaginary friends were "lacking;" while Jean Piaget saw imaginary friends as a sign of failure, not of an active imagination, because "The child has no imagination, and what we ascribe to him as such is no more than a lack of coherence." Read the rest

Parenting and sysadminning are remarkably similar

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Six years ago, I wrote a column comparing IT managers' prohibitions on using your own devices and applications to abstinence-only sex ed: a high-handed approach that leaves its audience ignorant and resentful, and dedicated to undermining you behind your back. Read the rest

New EU rules would ban under-16s from social media

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A last-minute change to pending EU data-protection rules will ban under-16s from using social media without explicit parental consent -- the rules are up for a vote on Tuesday. Read the rest

Experts baffled to learn that 2 years olds are being prescribed psychiatric drugs

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In 2014, US doctors wrote ~20,000 prescriptions for risperidone, quetiapine and other antipsychotics for children under the age of two; a cohort on whom these drugs have never been tested and for whom there is no on-label usage. Read the rest

UK National Crime Agency: if your kids like computers, they're probably criminals

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Warning signs that your kid is involved in cybercrime: "Are they interested in coding? Do they have independent learning material on computing?" Read the rest

If your kids don't want to drop bombs on Syria, they may be terrorists

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The "child safeguarding" office of the London Borough of Camden sent parents a brochure listing warning-signs for "radicalisation" (code for "incipient terrorist recruit"). Some signs: your kid objects to government policy, especially foreign policy; "mistrusts mainstream media reports" and switches their screen quickly when adults approach. Read the rest

What happened when a parent fought for his kid's privacy at an all-Chromebook school

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Katherine W was seven when her third-grade teacher issued Chromebooks to her class. Her dad, Jeff, is a serious techie, but the school's tech choices didn't sit well with him. He was able to get Katherine an exception that let her use a more private, non-cloud computer for the year, but the next year, Katherine's school said she would have to switch to a laptop that would exfiltrate everything she did to Google's data-centers. Read the rest

Vtech toy data-breach gets worse: 6.3 million children implicated

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The Hong Kong-based toymaker/crapgadget purveyor didn't even know it had been breached until journalists from Vice asked why data from its millions of customers and their families were in the hands of a hacker, and then the company tried to downplay the breach and delayed telling its customers about it. Read the rest

On the grotesque obsession with accomplished women's fertility

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Rebecca Solnit is a brilliant writer whose essay Men Explain Things to Me sparked the discourse about "mansplaining" and whose 2009 book A Paradise Built in Hell is one of the best history books I've ever read -- so why do so many interviewers want to talk to her about the fact that she chose not to have babies? Read the rest

Hacker puppets explain screen time limits for kids

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You may have heard that "screen time" -- time with TV, phones, tablets, computers, or video games -- is bad for babies and toddlers. Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics reversed course on their previous advice about screen time for kids under two."

Read the rest

Facebook won't remove photo of children tricked into posing for neo-fascist group

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The mother a 13-year-old girl has been unable to get Facebook to remove a photo that her daughter and a 12-year-old friend were tricked into having taken, which is being used to promote the violent neo-fascist group Britain First. Read the rest

It was once socially acceptable and surprisingly affordable to send children by parcel post

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Between 1913 and 1920, many Americans sent their children around the country by mail. Provided your child weighed less than 50 lbs, you could simply affix stamps to their clothing and send them off with the postmaster. They'd be whisked across the country in the railway system's mail compartments and delivered to relatives safe and sound. Read the rest

Religious children more punitive, less likely to display altruism

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In The Negative Association Between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism Across the World published this week in Current Biology, academic researchers from the US, Canada, Qatar, Jordan, South Africa, Turkey and China report on a study of about 1,200 children from around the world in which a "robust" correlation between religious upbringing in either Christianity or Islam and a lack of altruism was demonstrated. Read the rest

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