Suren's blog

Getting Ready for Back to School!

Most K-12 schools are back in session (in the US) over the next few weeks. It is time to prepare to get back into the routine and get things in order. One thing to check on is your kids' devices to make sure they are setup with age-appropriate restrictions and parental controls. Done already? Ok. Here are some more resources to help you de-stress and stay in control over the next few days.

Back to school

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Photo credit: BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives / Foter / CC BY 2.0

Expired Subscription? Here's How to Renew it!

If your subscription is about to expire or has expired already, you must have received an email notification. To renew your subscription, follow the steps below.

  • Login at mobicip.com.
  • If your subscription has expired already, you will see a notification like this.

Upgrade Notice

  • Click the 'Upgrade Now' link to purchase a new subscription.
  • If you do not see any notification, select Devices from the menu.

Devices menu

  • You will see a list of devices with associated subscription expiry or renewal dates.
  • Click Upgrade Now or Renew Now and follow the prompts to re-activate your subscription.

Renew Button

Note: Subscriptions purchased will be applied to devices using your account. If you need any devices to be removed, or subscriptions moved around, please contact support with your request.

Internet Safety Among Top 10 Kids' Health Concerns

Every parent has concerns about their children's health and safety, but sometimes it helps to know that you are not alone. The C.S. Mott Children's Hospital publishes a national (US-wide) poll based on an annual survey, and this year's results are as revealing as they come. Read the full report here.

Top 10 Children's Health Concerns Infographic

Highlights

  • Internet Safety is one of the top concerns in the local community and nationwide
  • Bullying nearly tops the list nationwide, second only to childhood obesity

Are we worrying too much? Stephen Balkan, CEO of Family Online Safety Institute, offers the sage advice, "let’s help kids to become resilient, by helping themselves and then helping others." Enough said.

Best of the Mobicip Blog

Have you visited the Mobicip Blog lately? Check out some of our most recent popular posts:

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Browser Updates Available Now!

It has been a productive summer at Mobicip and the updates keep coming! In case you haven't noticed already, the latest update of the Safe Browser is now available on the App Store and Play Store. On iOS, the update offers a fresh user experience and fixes several bugs, especially the deployment server issue for schools. On Android, the update fixes the workaround issue on Samsung tabs, among several other bug fixes.

Download Mobicip Safe Browser with Parental Control Update from the App Store

Download the update now

To report issues or feedback, please get in touch with us. If you're happy with Mobicip, leave a happy review on the Apple App Store or Google Play store! Your feedback and support will be greatly appreciated!
 
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All New Parent / Admin Interface Available Now

If you're a Mobicip Premium user, you may have noticed the revamped Web & App Monitor already. This redesign brings some key changes to the parent / admin interface that you see when you login at mobicip.com to review your reports and settings.

You will notice that

among other improvements and enhancements. The goal of this revamp is to make the interface more intuitive for novice to advanced users, regardless of the type of device or browser used. Please take a look and let us know what you think and what can be improved further.

To report issues or feedback, please get in touch with us. If you're happy with Mobicip, leave a happy review on the Apple App Store or Google Play store! Your feedback and support will be greatly appreciated!

The Mobicip crew
 
This is a copy of the latest Mobicip newsletter. Click here to subscribe.

4 Ways to Put the Family iPad to Good Use

Educators around the world are embracing mobile learning in what is considered a relentless and inevitable march towards the 'flipped' classroom. The average family today owns at least a handful of mobile devices, which invariably end up serving as modern-day babysitters, among other duties. Is there something we can learn from teachers to turn such free-form playtime into opportunities for learning?
  1. Consumption: Playing with apps is one thing, but it is increasingly clear to educators that making the incredible wealth of information on the web accessible (while making it age-appropriate, of course) is a vital cog in the mobile learning experience.
  2. Curation: An app like Notability allows kids to save their own articles, annotate them, highlight passages, add a picture, drawing, chart or sticky note, integrate a website or media, and add their own voice, effectively transcending what can be done on pen and paper.
  3. Creativity: Check out apps like Explain EverythingBook CreatorAnimotoiMovieGarage BandVoiceThreadDoodlecast, etc. Such apps put your kids at the center of the content creation process, which makes for a far more powerful learning experience than just consuming content.
  4. Connection: One of the primary motivations for kids to engage in creative activities is to share the product of their efforts. With family, friends, and peers. Create an environment that is conducive for creative collaboration, a virtual play network perhaps, and you'll see how it enriches the creator and the consumer.

Next time you consign the family tablet to its babysitting duties, think like a teacher. Have an underlying plan in place. As HarvardX Research Fellow Justin Reich puts it, don't “think of iPads as repositories of apps, but rather as portable media creation devices.”

To report issues or feedback, please get in touch with us. If you're happy with Mobicip, leave a happy review on the Apple App Store or Google Play store! Your feedback and support will be greatly appreciated!

The Mobicip crew

Photo credit: davitydave / Foter / CC BY-NC 2.0

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Making a Case for Self-Directed Learning

Unless you're an educator, you probably haven't heard predictions by thought leaders that the traditional school system is on its way out. More surprisingly, these predictions are being borne out by experiments where new learning models are being tried out.

Acton Academy in Austin, TX is a case in point, where a "Learner Driven Community - a disruptive approach led by self-directed learners, in a community tightly bound by personal covenants and contracts, using the full power of the internet to craft a transformative, personalized learning path," is being tried out.

Inspired in-turn by Sugata Mitra's experiment, the academy is attempting to create a new type of learning environment that is not bound by the traditional notion of a classroom, a school, or even the need for a teacher. Whats more, the results are there to see. "We haven’t taught any math. Not one minute," says Jeff Sendefer, a 'Middle School Guide' at Acton. "Instead we have relied on a collection of game-based adaptive math programs such as Khan Academy. Despite having many Eagles who entered with low test scores, all but one of our Eagles is now on an advanced high school math track." Intrigued? Read the full article for the top 10 surprising conclusions that came out of the program.
 
To report issues or feedback, please get in touch with us. If you're happy with Mobicip, leave a happy review on the Apple App Store or Google Play store! Your feedback and support will be greatly appreciated!
 
The Mobicip crew
 
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Photo credit: Night Owl City / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

A Gentle Introduction to 'Vamping'

'Vamping' is the latest tween lingo bound for the English language dictionary. You probably haven't heard the word, but as a digital parent, its very likely that you know what it refers to.

The hashtag '#vamping' is used by kids and teens camping out like vampires on social media late into the night, unbeknownst to parents. The phenomenon is so widespread that school administrators, academics, and the media have taken note. Busy schedules during the day, a craving for unstructured activity, and good old peer pressure, are all attributed as reasons for young users to jump on the bandwagon.

Of course parental controls like Mobicip can help limit internet usage late into the night by setting up time limits. But experts suggest that a more effective parenting approach may be to disallow the use of electronics in the bedroom after bedtime. Sounds like a no-brainer? But its easier said than done, mainly because parents themselves have a hard time switching off at night!
 
To report issues or feedback, please get in touch with us. If you're happy with Mobicip, leave a happy review on the Apple App Store or Google Play store! Your feedback and support will be greatly appreciated!
 
The Mobicip crew
 
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Photo credit: geekdreams / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

4 Questions to Consider When You Setup Apps for Kids

Honestly, how many times have you installed an app for your kids and granted the permissions it needs without a second thought? Many of these apps store personal data on the cloud. How securely this data is stored, and what is used for, is entirely up to the app developers.

"App developers don’t always know what they’re doing, and careless or rushed coding may not stand up to entry-level hacking," says Rob Pegoraro, a Tech Columnist at Yahoo Tech. "If you use an insecure or hacked app on your phone, you could be exposing its personal data — like your address book, location, messages, and so on." Next time you install an app, ask yourself these questions:
  1. What personal data am I giving up?
  2. Does the app explain why it needs this data?
  3. What is the app's business model?
  4. How do I delete my account?

Read Rob's column for more. Having a choice of a million apps is a good thing. But many app developers may not have considered the seriousness or risk of a data breach. When it comes to your kids, shouldn't you?

To report issues or feedback, please get in touch with us. If you're happy with Mobicip, leave a happy review on the Apple App Store or Google Play store! Your feedback and support will be greatly appreciated!

The Mobicip crew
 
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Photo credit: flickingerbrad / Foter / CC BY 2.0

How To Limit In-App Purchases on iPhone, iPod touch or iPad

There is no question that kids are drawn like fish to water to games on the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. So you make sure they have fun, stay safe, and learn something useful. But many parents don't realize there is another risk that can leave you with a hefty bill to pay. In-app purchases have caused such a furore that Apple introduced some handy features to limit them. If you got burned by this already, you can file a claim with Apple. But, as always, its better to be safe than sorry.
  • Keep your (iTunes) password to yourself. Well, it is a password, duh! But you'll be surprised by how many parents share it only to repent later.
  • Use the Restrictions feature (Settings > General > Restrictions) to set 'In-app Purchases' to OFF.
  • Also under Restrictions, under Allowed Content, set Require Password to 'Immediately'. 
  • Setup an iTunes 'allowance'.
  • Use an iTunes gift card in lieu of a credit card.

To report issues or feedback, please get in touch with us. If you're happy with Mobicip, leave a happy review on the Apple App Store or Google Play store! Your feedback and support will be greatly appreciated!

The Mobicip crew
 
This is a copy of the latest Mobicip newsletter. Click here to subscribe.

Photo credit: IntelFreePress / Foter / CC BY-SA 2.0

Keep the Learning Cap On Over Summer

Summer if officially here! Well, almost. It is a time to relax and have some fun. For parents and educators, however, it is time to ponder over the 'summer slide' - a euphemism for the fact that students tend to 'unlearn' what they learned over the school year - and how to arrest it.


Thankfully, experts are chiming in to help. Here are the top 10 recommended activities:

  1. Read to your children, or encourage them to read
  2. Visit local museums, parks, or universities
  3. Use apps that let them play, and learn
  4. Introduce computer programming
  5. Travel to historic sites or national parks
  6. Join clubs for niche interests and activities
  7. Encourage 'based-on-books' movies
  8. Play board games with the family
  9. Volunteer for your favorite charity
  10. Get them a 'Job' from your network of adults

Thats great! But before you get going, remember that the same experts agree that a little bit of downtime and a little of a 'summer slide' is actually a good thing!

To report issues or feedback, please get in touch with us. If you're happy with Mobicip, leave a happy review on the Apple App Store or Google Play store! Your feedback and support will be greatly appreciated!

The Mobicip crew
 
This is a copy of the latest Mobicip newsletter. Click here to subscribe

Photo credit: Dmitry Kichenko / Foter / CC BY 2.0

The 'Slenderman' Debate and What Parents Need to Know

The internet offers an unprecedented treasure trove of information and resources for all of us, and for our kids. But the recent 'Slenderman' incident, for lack of a more family-friendly phrase, has thrown a spotlight on the uneasy relationship that parents have with the online world.

"Unmonitored and unrestricted access to the Internet by children is a growing and alarming problem,"the Police Chief said. Reports suggest the kids were exposed to unrestricted content on school-issued iPads outside of school. This has sparked a raging debate, as you can see herehere, and here, on who is really to blame, and whether there are deeper issues at play.

For parents, and schools, this is not an academic debate any more. James Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media, and one of the saner voices in this debate, suggests that you take the time to learn what they are interested in and "share your opinions so as to help your kids develop the ability to view media critically." Essentially, engage, be connected, and stay involved in their online lives.
 
To report issues or feedback, please get in touch with us. If you're happy with Mobicip, leave a happy review on the Apple App Store or Google Play store! Your feedback and support will be greatly appreciated!
 
The Mobicip crew
 
This is a copy of the latest Mobicip newsletter. Click here to subscribe.

Photo credit: Waag Society / Foter / CC BY 2.0

Five Internet Safety Myths to 'Not' Worry About

If you're a parent today, chances are you've read things about kids and the internet that keep you up at night. While many articles tend to sensationalize, especially when something bad happens, what are the real threats when kids go online?

Caroline Knorr from Common Sense Media has compiled a very useful list of myths (and truths)
  1. Social media turns kids into cyberbullies.
  2. Teaching kids not to talk to strangers is the best way to keep them safe online.
  3. Kids act worse online.
  4. It’s dangerous to post pictures of your kids online.
  5. Parental controls are the best way to monitor my kids’ online activities.

For the truths, read full article here. That last one is a surprise coming from us. After all, Mobicip offers one of the most popular parental controls for smartphones, tablets and laptops. In Caroline's words, "By all means, use parental controls to help prevent exposure to age-inappropriate material and to manage time limits. But don't think they get you off the hook. Continue to discuss responsible, respectful online behavior, set rules and consequences for misbehavior, and train your kid to manage his or her own usage." We agree!

To report issues or feedback, please get in touch with us. If you're happy with Mobicip, leave a happy review on the Apple App Store or Google Play store! Your feedback and support will be greatly appreciated!

The Mobicip crew
 
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Photo credit: Enokson / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

What Parents can Learn from Apple's Guide for Teachers

The App Store and the Google Play store have hundreds of thousands of apps, many of them with great educational value. It is no mean task to identify the right apps for students. Apple has published an official guide to help teachers, titled "Apps in the Classroom - Using iOS Apps for Teaching and Learning".

Apple's Official Guide - Apps in the Classroom

If you’re just getting started teaching with apps, it’s helpful to begin by setting goals for student learning. What must students understand? What should their interaction with apps look like? And which apps would work best for your specific lesson plans? You may find that choosing an app is easier after carefully considering what you want students to do with it, and why.
 
While the guide offers a birds-eye-view, it is nevertheless quite relevant and insightful. What can we learn, as parents, from the guide to help us navigate the wonderful world of apps? The guide offers five key considerations to evaluate and select apps:
  1. Engagement - Is the app intuitive, keep your kids interested, and makes them want to use it again?
  2. Appropriateness - Does the user interface, design and subject matter appeal to your child's age level?
  3. Instructional Design - Is the app aligned with what you want your kids to learn from it, and is it effective in achieving its goal?
  4. Motivation - Are gaming principles used in the app, and does the app balance the gaming aspect enough to help prevent distractions?
  5. Accessibility - Does the app accommodate special needs that your kids might have?

Pretty straightforward? Well, the next step is to use these principles to uncover the hidden gems among educational apps. We followed these very principles to come up with our own list of apps that will engage kids enough to let them play and learn at the same time. See the list in this article - Top 10 Apps for Kids to Play & Learn. The guide concludes:

It’s an exciting time of innovation in learning. We’re seeing apps that provide engaging, Multi-Touch, rich experiences that were never before possible. Have fun exploring the amazing world of education apps.

Top 10 Apps for Kids to Play & Learn

Your kids love to play on the smartphone or tablet. Wouldn't it be really cool if they do what they love and learn along the way? Here are ten handpicked apps that will do exactly that!
Collage of recommended app icons
Duolingo
Offers instruction to learn at least 12 different languages, in a fun, engaging and playful experience.

Qwiki
Automatically turns pictures and videos into beautiful movies to share.

Mobicip
Offers safe and secure access to the internet, search and YouTube for protected and/or supervised browsing. 

DIY
The app that helps you do real world activities, and share your work with friends.

News-O-Matic
Covers news of the day in an engaging way, exploring its many facets through images, maps, videos, and games.

BrainPop
Delivers fresh movies that cover a breadth of relevant topics including current events, historical figures and milestones, holidays, curricular subjects, and more.

City Guides
Learn about major cities of the world, including local tips, current weather, fun facts, and a selection of iconic photos. 

LEGO Movie Maker
This fun, kid-friendly app helps create a custom stop-motion movie, using LEGOs or anything else.

QatQi
Lose yourself in the world of QatQi (pronounced “cat-key”), a gorgeous and meticulously crafted word game that pleases the senses and tests the limits of your lexicon.

Lumosity Mobile
Lumosity is designed by neuroscientists to train memory, attention, and more.

Hope this helps. Want to add more to this list? Let us know on our forum so we can update this list!
 
To report issues or feedback, please get in touch with us. If you're happy with Mobicip, leave a happy review on the Apple App Store or Google Play store! Your feedback and support will be greatly appreciated!
 
The Mobicip crew
 
This is a copy of the latest Mobicip newsletter. Click here to subscribe.
Image credit: All icons and trademarks belong to the respective app publishers / developers.

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