Using New Technology to Contact Loved Ones in a Disaster or Emergency Situation

The sickening tragedy in Boston has made the MamaBear app team pause and reflect on how thankful we are to go home every day to our families. It also makes us consider how vital it is for us to know where our family members are when disaster strikes. Disasters and emergency situations can evolve rapidly. When they do, standard communications simply aren’t good enough when we desperately need to check on the well-being of our loved ones.

Here are some technology pointers from a recent Wired article as well as our top tips to help communicate faster and easier when trying to locate family or share your location with family during an emergency situation:

1. Stay off the cell phone.

While calling is the obvious choice for many parents, rely on other types of communication during an emergency. The fact is calling doesn’t usually do very much good in most disaster situations. First responders need an open phone line into danger zones, and cellular service may be blacked out entirely due to interference. Calling over and over again can actively slow down rescue or relief efforts, while causing unnecessary stress as we wait.

Try to rely on a data connection and reach out through social, email or text if at all possible. Texting is almost always a better option than calling as it uses less data and can be far faster.

*But, it’s also important we remember a phone number, and teach our kids a phone number – don’t rely on saved contacts. Should you or your family get to a landline, know which number to dial by memory.

2. Conserve your battery.

  • Make sure you close out unnecessary apps running in the background – games, multiple social or location apps will use battery life. Only run necessary apps when needed – texting or locator apps. Mulitple apps running in the background will undoubtedly eat up battery life.
  • If you’re not firmly connected to a WiFi signal and your phone is constantly scanning for connection, turn off WiFi – reducing the constant scanning can help conserve.
  • You can also change some device settings – lower the brightness of your screen and reduce time lengths of screen lock.
  • Have a back-up. Use or carry a battery case and try to bring a charging cord with you as much as possible should you have access to outlets.

3. Apps are Your Friend in a Disaster.

Apps sometimes use entirely different communications protocols than standard digital options. It can be vital to teach our kids to use social media apps, and run locator apps like MamaBear during a disaster. Social media sites are monitored by thousands of users in disaster situations, and reaching out through social media apps is continuing to prove effective in a huge range of emergency and disaster situations. The MamaBear family monitoring app provides one touch options to check in with parents quickly and parents can share their location quickly with their children as well.

The MamaBear App works hard to protect our children and honor families everyday and our sense of urgency and importance becomes greater in emergency situations. Have a discussion with your family about what to do in an emergency situation and have a plan. Stay Safe.

5 Things to Pack for Your Child’s Spring Travel

spring trip kids

The makers of the MamaBear family tracker app know a little something about spring parenting. Every year spring means traveling for thousands of kids all around the United States. As our kids grow up, they want to do more than simple afternoon trips and sleepovers. Day trips to amusement parks, camping trips and spring break trips are all commonplace for modern tweens and teens. To ensure our children have a safe and easy spring travel experience, we’ve made a list of five good options parents should pack for their children.

1. Extra Clothes

Even when our kids pack well, they aren’t always prepared for sudden weather shifts or bad weather days that are fairly frequent in many spring break locations. Packing a few extra days’ worth of clothes will ensure your kids stay warm, clean and dry over a camping trip or extended spring trip.

2. Snacks

It’s utterly astounding what our kids think they can live off of when we aren’t around. A diet of fast food, gas station sandwiches and energy drinks will make any trip less fun for our kids. We’ve found that every time we pack healthy snacks and drinks for our kids, they eat them! They can gain valuable nutrition even away from home.

3. Money

Even when we take our kids with us on spring break, kids can be a bit of a money sink. Eating out for most meals, buying knick-knacks and general entertainment like arcades and movie theaters cost even more in many common spring destinations. Packing a little extra money away that our kids can access in case of an emergency can make all the difference to our kids’ vacation.

4. Cell Phone and an Extra Charger

Spring trips and spring break can make an excellent time to give a child a cellphone. Even for kids that already have a cellphone, parents can rest a little easier if they know the phone made it onto the trip and that chargers are available. Packing an extra charger lets us know the phone is charged and on for the entire trip. This is especially important if you’ve loaded installed a parenting app like the MamaBear family tracking app.

5. MamaBear app

The MamaBear family tracking app was made to give parents peace of mind over exactly this type of occasion. With MamaBear installed onto a child’s phone, a parent can easily monitor their locations, as well as their social activity. This lets us know our kids are behaving as much as we expect them to over a spring trip.

By following these five easy tips from the makers of the MamaBear family tracking app, parents can make sure their children have a safe and successful spring trip.

Internet Protocol for Parents: Raising Your Kids in The Digital World

Once upon a time, parents were more concerned with skinned knees and bad grades than worrying that their children’s social security numbers might be commandeered by a middle-aged man named Keith in New Mexico. Oh, how the times have changed. With over two billion people using the Internet now (that’s more than a 500% increase in the last ten years, according to WFS.org), and more and more of our leisure time being spent online, parenting in the digital era isn’t something to be taken lightly.

The Internet might be a lot like the Wild West right now with identity theft outlaws, but that doesn’t mean your family should be given free rein to do as they please. It’s dangerous out there, and we’re just starting to breach the tip of the consequence-iceberg.

Start With The Basics

According to the Pew Internet Project, only about half of parents take consistent action in monitoring and patrolling their children’s Internet behavior. They may think of it as a trust issue, but it’s more of a safety issue than anything else. You wouldn’t let your child wander around a big city alone after dark. Although the Internet doesn’t pose the same physical threats, it is a giant, scary virtual city that can wreak psychological havoc on their impressionable young minds.

Teaching your kids the basics of Internet usage, and following up on monitoring is essential to their well-being. A good start is to encourage them to use it as a source of inspiration that they can apply to the real world, instead of letting their little brains wither away on social media for hours, then have nothing to show for it. If they love dinosaurs, steer them towards dino-tastic sites they can share on social media; that way, you can help them blend their positive, real-world interests into the digital vortex.

Keep One Eye Open, Keep Suspicious Tabs Closed

The dangers of strangers online are at an all-time high, and the bad news is that they’re probably only going to multiply. According to Lifelock, children are the newest and most preferred targets for identity theft, which makes ID theft education that much more important. To an identity thief, a child has no risk of former bankruptcies or bad credit, and they have almost no reason to ever check their credit score — a thief can go years without getting caught.

When your children are old enough to browse and interact on the Internet, it’s time to talk to them about the importance of cybersecurity and how to best protect themselves. They should never give out personal information to anyone online. If it’s a friend or classmate, they can wait for the information until they see them in person. Teach children how to defend against cyberbullying and the importance of reporting it. If they’re active on forums or comment threads, make sure they only use a screen name or a nickname, and let them know that even a harmless tidbit like your ZIP code and your team’s final score in the soccer match can help bad guys find out who you are and where you live. There’s no reason to be paranoid, but they should always take precautions.

By:

Sharon Manns

Sharon is a concert pianist, barista and single mom for her awesome son, Kyle. She writes about her adventures as a busy mom and how to care for special needs kids.

The article above was from a MamaBear guest blogger. The MamaBear blog is now accepting guest post from reputable bloggers on a variety of subjects. If you are interested in guest blogging for MamaBear simply contact us here.

New Phones – Happy Kids – Anxious Parents

social media tracking

I’m sure you experienced pure delight on your child’s face when they unwrapped their new phone! Now it’s time to decide what parenting measures you need to protect them while they have a new, very powerful piece of technology. Many parents turn to monitoring apps, also known as parental control apps, as well as measures to keep the child from tampering with the monitoring tools. Follow this quick and easy advice on setting up and choosing the right parenting restrictions and monitoring for a child’s new phone.

Device Restrictions:

On iPhones:

– Go to the “Settings” app on the phone and click “General”
– Scroll down to select “Restrictions”
– After clicking “Enable Restrictions” and entering a private passcode, parents can set up restrictions for usage, content, location and more.
– Switch the button off for “Deleting Apps” to prevent the child from tampering with any apps meant for monitoring, like the MamaBear App.

On Android supported devices:

– Go to the Google Play store and click on “Settings”
– Select content filtering to allow your preferred maturity level
– Lock the settings, by touching ‘Set or Change PIN’ in the Google Play “Settings” area
– Unlike device settings on Apple, you’ll need to turn to the App Store to install apps to provide similar device restrictions
– For instance, the Kid’s Place app sets what apps you want your child to be able to open, limiting device features.

Content:

On an iPhone in the restrictions area described above you can restrict content of music, movies, shows, and apps based on the child’s age.

On Android devices they allow filtering by maturity level. You can see how they define maturity level here: http://support.google.com/googleplay/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1075738
Using the MamaBear App can bring to parent’s attention use of “restricted” words deemed by the parent on Facebook and Instagram.

Usage:

Typically usage restrictions, like limiting text messaging, phone calls and data is best done by contacting the service carrier for the individual device. There are also apps available that can restrict phone usage while driving like the DriveSmart app.

Location:

For many parents a useful feature of their kid’s GPS enabled smartphone is knowing where they are and where they’ve been. The MamaBear App parenting app is invaluable in this regard, offering real time monitoring and location alerts. Parents can access all of the alerts functions through the settings menu. Driving alerts use a simple on or off interface and allows parents to choose a maximum speed. Though you may want some apps to use your child’s location to take advantage of specific features, not all apps need to know your child’s location.

On iPhone go to “Settings” then “General” and then “Privacy.” Tap on location services to see all the apps that are using the location of the phone. If it’s necessary for the app to have location services leave it on. If not, you can turn off location services for particular apps.

On Android, go to “Settings” and click “Apps.” You’ll need to click each app to see if they have location permission.

Using these simple tips will help parents keep their new smartphone users safe and give their kids some freedom with their new best friends. I promise they won’t be leaving home without it.

MamaBear is available on the Google Play store for Android phones and in the Apple App Store for iOS enabled phones and devices.