Guest Post: Four Technology Mishaps Involving Parents

A very smart woman of our acquaintance joined Facebook so she could spy on her college-aged son. She sent her son a Friend request. He wrote back: “Love you Mom, but no way!” Thinking she was sweetening the pot, Mom wrote back: “If you Friend me, I’ll pay for your Facebook for a whole year!”

Whether its Mom stalking her offspring on Facebook or Dad showing off his latest Tweets while he’s chauffeuring the soccer carpool, social media are just the latest technology whereby well-intended parents can cause their offspring considerable embarrassment.

Of course, the Millennial Generation (sometimes called Generation Y) have always been more comfortable with technology than the Boomers and Gen-Xers who preceded them. After all, they grew up with computers and video game consoles; they’ve been multi-tasking practically since birth. Text messaging is second nature to them and they don’t understand why older generations insist on regarding smart phones as something you talk into.

Here are four more examples of the technological disconnect between the generations, technology mishaps involving parents.

The Proliferation of Well-Dressed Homeless People

Many older people are perplexed by the concept of cell phone headsets, particularly when Bluetooth is involved. They may not be able to make out the miniscule earpiece and they’re really stymied when the headset is cordless.

Thus when Mom is standing at a distance watching her beloved daughter chat up a faraway friend, she may leap to the conclusion that her daughter is talking to herself or at the very least to the Imaginary Playmate that Mom thought she saw the last of when her daughter was four.

Mom doesn’t start to get really embarrassing however until she and the daughter are at the mall, and Mom goes up to a stranger – who’s talking on a cell phone headset – and hands the stranger a dollar.

“Why’d you do that?” asks the daughter.

“Well, I figure he’s homeless – after all, he’s talking to himself, right?” says Mom. “So he can probably use the money. Although I must say, he’s awfully well dressed for a homeless person.”

Contact Wii

It took a while but finally family game night is beginning to feature video games in addition to that ancient edition of Scrabble where half the E tiles are missing. The Wii game console with its dazzling assortment of sports games like Wii Bowling and Wii Tennis is always a crowd pleaser.

But have you ever tried to play Wii Tennis with someone who was born before the concept “virtual reality” became commonplace? Someone from an older generation who’s related to you? This person may insist upon playing Wii Tennis as though it was a contact sport, slamming that controller dangerously close to the TV. The “three feet back” rule wasn’t invented to guard the television from overly rambunctious children but from clueless older folks.

Cancel My Subscription

The young man who told us this story about his mother swears it’s true although we have our doubts.

She approached him one day looking for help: She wanted to stop subscribing to a department store e-newsletter but her efforts were being thwarted. “I’ve written to Macy’s three times now,” she complained to her son. “Once to their local address and twice to their New York address and they still keep sending me the darn thing.”

Mom was chagrinned to discover she’d wasted all those stamps: The proper way to unsubscribe from a newsletter or indeed any listserv at all, of course, is to send the publishers an email with the word “unsubscribe” in the body of the message.

Sharing Embarrassing Photographs

One of the most embarrassing things a parent can do is share snapshots of you as a child with your Significant Other. Invariably they pick those photographs where you’re romping naked in the bathtub with your sister or you’ve fallen asleep in the back seat of the car with your finger lodged firmly up your nose.

The rise of social networking websites has broadened the scope of this humiliation. Now simply by tagging those candid photos of you, your parents can embarrass you not only in front of your current Significant Other but also in front of any potential love interests on your Facebook or MySpace Friends lists.

Tom Walker is a writer and an editor at Cartridge Save, suppliers of HP LaserJet cartridges and assorted printing products.

Guest Posts: How to Take Better Family Photos: 10 Tips

There is a long and time honored tradition of taking family photos at special occasions and events. There is also a tradition of taking posed portraits of the family as a whole that can be framed and hung on the wall. In lieu of hiring a professional photographer, taking a good family photo requires some thought, some planning and some luck. The right equipment can always help as well.

Lighting

Lighting is the first and arguably most important part of taking a great family photo. Lighting can make a huge difference in the quality of the image. The best light is as bright as possible and natural. A room filled with sunlight bouncing off of many light colored surfaces will create ambient light and remove dark or distracting shadows. A fully lit subject photographs very well. If natural light is insufficient at the time of the photo, then as much artificial light as possible scattered around the subjects in all directions will work.

Camera

A digital camera is not only the easiest, but also the best option for a family photo. A good 35mm camera will work as well, though. The key is to have a camera with a fast shutter speed. If using a 35mm camera, make sure that the film speed is fast as well. This means that the amount of time that it takes to capture the image will be less and result in a better image.

Clothing

If possible, try to make sure that the clothes being worn in the picture are either neutral in color, or are at least not contrasting. This will make a huge difference in the final image. Avoid having clothes with logos or other images on them because it will date the picture, removing its timeless quality, as well as being a distraction from the faces of the family.

Background

When positioning the members of a family for the photograph, be very aware of what is around and behind them. There should not be an incidental objects behind the members of the family. The family should also not be positioned in front of a light source because the light will overtake the people and cause a large, bright area in the photo. Remove furniture and other distracting objects from the scene as much as possible.

Composition

Composition of the image is also very important. The individual members of the family should be lined up with some consideration given to the color of their clothes, their height and their family status. It is common to place the matriarch and patriarch in the center of the photo, lined on both sides by other family members in height order. While there really are no hard rules, the image will look better if the subjects form smooth lines.

Taking The Shot

Once everything is set up, it is time to take the photograph. If there is a third party that will not be in the photo, they should have a steady hand. Also make sure that more than once picture is taken since very few photographers rely on a single image. If there is no third party, try to put the camera on continuous shoot and let it run for a few shots before turning it off. If possible, use a tripod to stabilize the camera or make sure that the surface it is resting on is flat and solid.

Shooting Outdoors

Many families take their portraits outside. Shooting outside shares many of the same rules that indoor shooting follows. Most importantly, make sure that the sun is behind the camera, not behind the subjects. When choosing a site to shoot, choose a location that is neutral. Landscapes that are too vast or beautiful can take away from the importance of the family in the photo.

Shooting Spontaneously

There are times, especially during family gatherings, where portraits are not the only type of photograph that is desired. Shooting spontaneously to get images of natural interactions between family members can create amazing photographs. The key is to use a long lens and zoom. Stay out of the action to capture just single uninterrupted moments. A fast camera lens will also help here since it will capture just a fraction of a second with very little chance for motion blur most of the time.

Post-Processing

Once the photos are taken, the best results will come if a little post processing is done. Most digital cameras come with a free photo editor, and if not there are many free ones available online. For analog photos, they will need to be scanned into a computer, but many photo developers now offer this service. The easiest way to increase the quality of a photograph before printing is to adjust the levels and then adjust the contrast. These two simple acts will bring out the natural beauty of the photo.

Framing

The final step to making the photo look as professional as possible is to have the image matted and framed. Choose a matt that matches the colors of the photo. Sometimes having a colored matt with a white bevel works well with darker photos. Choosing a frame is a personal choice, but generally simple frames work best with photographs.

Following just a few simple rules and listening to any artistic inclinations that arise can help to create professional looking, timeless family photos.

A stickler for quality, Tom Walker handles and reviews the best ink cartridges available at his job at Cartridge Save. He also makes sure that he channels quality into all his work, and enjoys writing a variety articles for practice.

Guest Post: The New Kind of Daycare

It goes without saying the most parents want the best for their kids, even more than what they had growing up. So when it comes to working multiple jobs just to skate by, parents are not afraid. However, a good portion of their paycheck is allocated to childcare, so why shouldn’t they get more than just a person looking after their child, why shouldn’t it include education?

If you are fortunate enough to have a friend or family member willing to look after your very young child while you are on the job – or are able to hire a babysitter – you may be saving money, but your child is probably missing some important opportunities for intellectual growth. Yes, his/her physical needs for nourishment and protection are certainly being met, and there may be some socialization that occurs in a typical day care center, but many of them neglect learning activities that can stimulate cognitive function and give the child a firm foundation for furthering his/her education later in life.

The Benefits

It has been clearly demonstrated that even one year of attendance at a certified preschool in which young children have opportunities for cognitive development through age-appropriate learning activities (such as educational games and other forms of constructive play) gives a child a tremendous advantage when they enter kindergarten. Such children have superior skills in reading, writing and speaking and mathematics – which are the foundation of every other subject. Additionally, children with a year or more of academic preschool have better social skills and are able to function better in a group setting. The effects of a quality preschool education will last a lifetime – and make it far more likely that the child will succeed, as an adult in a Darwinian economic and social system in which every person is for him or herself and the only rule is “survival of the fittest.”

Not All Work
It is a common fear that parents possess that educational day care will be too much work and that children will should be having fun and getting messy. Their concerns are not unfounded. But what they need to remember is that this is a classroom full of other kids just like them, wanting to be kids. The development of their social skills will enhance their ability to feel comfortable when away from parents. Kids need time to interact with each other, and educational day care programs allow them to do so.

It is Never too Early to Start

The growth that occurs in a child between birth and age five has a tremendous impact on their performance in school later on, this is a well known fact that Educators have long realized (even if policymakers refuse to acknowledge it). Sadly, although a recent policy decreed that “every child will enter school ready to learn,” lawmakers on Capitol Hill were as usual very vague on how this is supposed to happen.

Research supports that children may start learning even before birth; during the last trimester, the child may benefit from exposure to certain types of music as well as speech. So while you may joke about singing and talking to your baby pre-birth it is actually quite beneficial. The human brain undergoes rapid growth throughout the preschool years; it is safe to say that what happens to a child during the first five years of life largely shapes the adult s/he will become. At this stage of a child’s life, s/he develops his/her basic language skills, a sense of self, his/her place in the group and the role of culture – all the basic tools required to function in a given society.

In short, the preschool years are those in which an elastic, malleable brain is “hardwired.”

**Co-written by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas

Emily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the Austin day care facility, a member of the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose Schools (located in 16 states throughout the U.S.) and part of the network of day care preschools delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum.