Inside the KidzVuz Holiday House Party (Video)

photo credit: Josh Strauss Studios

photo credit: Josh Strauss Studios

100 mom and dad bloggers from all over the Northeast  – and their awesome kids, about 140 of them! – came ready to party with KidzVuz in NYC on November 24th, 2013.  We had amazing large sponsors like Homewood Suites by Hilton, Dermalogica, Samsung, Nintendo, Hasbro, Spinmaster and Audible.com along with smaller NY based brands we love like Downtown Bookworks, IScream NY,  Battery Pop, Green Mustache, Fairway Market and Chloe’s Soft Fruit.  Plus incredible non-profits like The Broadway League, ESRB and The Lamp NYC.

With hands-on activities throughout the room, and video stations where kids could talk about the fantastic products and sponsors that they really loved, the KidzVuz Holiday House Party kicked off the holiday season with joy, fun and plenty of candy to go around!

Watch the video and you’ll instantly see why KidzVuz is the only company that truly brings kids, families and awesome brands and experiences together in a really engaging and unique way!

Don’t Blame the (KiK) Messenger – What the REAL conversation needs to be about Cyber Bullying

There was an extremely sad story in the New York Times about a 12 year-old girl in Florida who committed suicide after being relentlessly bullied both on and off-line.  It’s unfortunately an all too familiar heartbreaking story involving mean girls, cyberbullying, school officials who didn’t really know how to intervene, and a parent who did every thing she could to prevent this from happening.  And unfortunately the reporter took an equally well-tread path in blaming the use of apps as a catalyst for the suicide.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely think social media and mobile tech can amplify the effects of cyberbullying, and make it harder and harder for kids to escape bullying.  Whereas kids used to be able to come home, or go to an after school activity, and leave the school bullies behind, social media photos and texts follow a kid from place to place.  Even changing schools has less positive impact since so much bullying can live right in the palm of a kid’s hand via their smart phone or iPod Touch.   BUT there are key points missing from the reporting of this story, and in my opinion blaming the apps, specifically KiK Messenger and ask.fm, and the technology is diverting us from the real issues.

First of all, there was no mention in this article that at 12 years-old it was not legal for this girl to have a KiK messenger and ask.fm account.  That is because of COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) which prohibits companies from collecting personal information about kids under 13 without express verifiable parental consent.  Most companies don’t want to deal with that legal headache – and they want to collect as much info as possible about their users – so they are NOT COPPA-compliant.  But of course kids know how to easily lie to get on these social media apps.  All you have to do is scroll down and select the right birth year.  Most parents don’t even know that Instagram and these other social media apps aren’t allowed for kids under 13.  They’ve been so focused on Facebook as some boogeyman of the web that they haven’t noticed that kids are on apps – and Facebook is just not one of them. Though this young girl also had a Facebook page that was shut down.  So she was very immersed in social media – and that is very common.

Parents who think that shutting down a Facebook page is going to be enough, or commenters who said that kids just shouldn’t have smart phones and that would solve the problem,  are massively missing the point.  THIS is our kids’ world.  They are online.  They might not have a smart phone, but they may have an iPod Touch or a tablet.  Being connected is not just about a phone.  And in the end what we are left with is a generation that needs to have the tools to manage social media responsibly and safely.

And that takes me to the next big omission – where are the parents of the girls using these apps and social media as weapons?

At the core of this issue is the freedom that kids (and adults) feel to be outrageously cruel online because hiding behind the screen has a way of emboldening people to bring out their worst.  And tweens and teens who are already in a narcissistic haze of hormones and myopia are particularly susceptible to pushing these boundaries via social media (and in real life too.)  That doesn’t mean we should ban social media, it means there has to be real discussion about how to use it. There needs to be consequences for the bad behavior online – and not arrests after something horrible happens – but parents who are monitoring their children’s online behavior not just for being bullied but for being the bully too.

I’ve written extensively about how parents can and should monitor their kids’ online and social media use, and as the co-founder of KidzVuz – a site made expressly for kids under 13 – I see every day the kind of behavior that kids try to get away with and the information they try to put out there.  They desperately want to connect and share.  We give them a safe space to do that, but the truth is they see the huge popularity of Instagram and YouTube and it’s beyond exciting to them.  They don’t get that those sites aren’t going to moderate for inappropriate content or bullying, they are on their own.

There are so many emotional and maturity level reasons they shouldn’t be on these apps and sites in the first place, but they are – and at 13 they are allowed to be legally.  A 13 year-old isn’t exactly the epitome of a careful, thoughtful person.  So even if you are shutting your kids out of social media until they are “legally” allowed to be there, they will have NO idea of what to do or what the ramifications of their behavior will be when they turn 13, unless you teach them.

The most important take-away parents must learn is not to just monitor but to participate.  Have the same social media apps as your kid, connect your iTunes account, friend them on everything, and most of all if your kid is the bully shut THEIR account down.  Take away THEIR phone!  Most of all, don’t be afraid to parent.  You would never say you don’t want to know the friends your child hangs out with everyday or going to parties with, but parents turn a blind eye to the “friends” online all the time.  There is no distinction between the online and offline world for kids – and parents need to respect and understand that in order to parent Generation Z.

KidzVuz in the News – on E! News, Fox NY and going viral!

fox ny set

What makes a video go viral?

My husband described it as lightening in a bottle – and I think that’s true to a degree.  It is rare, and it has an element of impossibility.  This past week we watched our first honest to goodness viral video happen at KidzVuz.

We’ve had videos get tens of thousands of views, we have one video that consistently gets 1000+ views a week and we have no idea why – but this week GlitterGirl, one of our KidzVuz star reporters, interviewed Ryan Reynolds on the red carpet of the Turbo premiere, and this video had the secret sauce.

People Magazine, Pop Sugar, ABC News, and E!online were among the 25 news outlets that picked up the video.  Then E! News played it on air as one  their best of the weekend videos.

Here’s the E! News clip of the video:

She’s adorable.  He’s got fatherhood talk swirling around him.  The question was different and adorable.  Is that what made it a viral video hit?  I don’t know.  And anyone that tells you they can make a guaranteed viral video is lying.

But I can tell you that what makes this, and all of our KidzVuz videos special is that they are the definition of authenticity. And that can make all the difference.

GlitterGirl joined me on Fox NY Good Day Street Talk last week too.  We talked about internet safety, parenting and how she ended up on the red carpet!

(and no, she is NOT my daughter!)

Turn Your Kid into a Citizen Reporter and Reviewer With the New KidzVuz App!

appshot

I am super excited to announce the launch of the first and only video creation and sharing app for kids!  After months of hard work with a team of fabulous developers, our KidzVuz app has hit the iTunes App Store!

What can kids do on the KidzVuz app?

First of all it’s awesome for travel.  No more eye-rolling or saying, “I’m bored.”  Now kids can create travel videos instantaneously, engaging and empowering them to be a part of the trip – and share their tips with other kids.

Got a budding foodie?  Instead of zoning out at the table with a game, let them make food reviews from the restaurant – who doesn’t want to know what’s beyond the kids’ menu?

And of course it’s great for movie, theater, sports, toy, tech, book and fashion reviews too.  (not to mention showing off music, dance and athletic skills)

Anywhere your kids goes they now have the ability to have their say on the go!

Plus, they can check out what other kids have to say BEFORE they buy something.  And so can their parents.

It’s totally monitored and moderated just like our main KidzVuz.com site and it’s FREE!

So, what are you waiting for?  It’s made for iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad.  Download the app right now and please rate and review it in the iTunes store!  Have fun and have your say!

 

 

 

Check Out KidzVuz on WPIX Morning News: Hot Holiday Picks for Tweens!

Yesterday, Nancy Friedman and I were incredibly excited to do our first live on-air TV segment for KidzVuz.com.  We were featured on the WPIX Morning News here in NYC with two awesome KidzVuz reviewers to show the best holiday picks for tweens – by tweens!  Aren’t you sick of hearing adults go on and on about what kids want – only to discover your kid didn’t really care about that supposedly “hot” toy at all?  Well, we are lucky to have kids all over the country telling us what’s cool, trending or on their wish lists every day on KidzVuz.com.    Check out our awesome segment with the incredibly wonderful Tamsen Fadal who was beyond genuinely nice and great with the kids!

And check out the amazing giveaway for some of these products and a Windows HTC phone on KidzVuzParents.com.  Plus there’s still time for your kid to enter to win a $100 Visa Gift Card on KidzVuz.com.

Building Social Media Savvy Kids

So excited to be in the Wall Street Journal today in the article, Tweens’ Secret Lives Online.  It’s a great write-up for KidzVuz.com and an issue I feel passionately about.  Kids are online.  Kids are going to make mistakes.  The two realities are not a great combination.  But, they are realities nonetheless.  So we have to empower our kids to take control of their digital lives and learn how to be digital citizens.

We started KidzVuz with empowerment, creativity and safety in mind.  The earlier kids learn how to master content creation and become responsible people in the virtual space the better it will be for them and all of us.  I am amazed by the original and hard work my daughters are already doing online, and I hope that they continue in that vein.  But I also know cyber-bullies and trolls are out there, and are inevitable.  All I can do give them the tools to deal with those evils in the future and hopefully rise above them to see the great, positive potential in technology and social media.  We constantly hear from parents telling us that KidzVuz has been a source of positivity and confidence for their kids online, and that is the very best feedback of all.

Pinned on Pinterest: Tween/Teen Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

I’ve been a pinning maniac lately over on our KidzVuz Pinterest Board.  It’s such a great way to share our reviewer’s picks with parents of tweens, and also a super fun way to curate the best of what we see trending for tweens on the web and on KidzVuz.  Here’s our Valentine’s Day Board – we’re adding new stuff every day so follow us on Pinterest!

The Month In Review: Is it February Already?

My blog has become a neglected child as the new year blew in and with it a flurry of activity for KidzVuz.com.  Trying to find balance between my various online and offline endeavors has not been easy – and I won’t even talk about work/life balance because I’ve already referred to my blog as one of my children.  Never a good sign.

So, while I vow to myself not to forget the reason I did all this to begin with – to write – I figured I’d do a totally cheating thing to do and catch up with the Top 5 Awesome Moments and Events I Forgot to Write About In January:

1.  KidzVuz.com was named one of Cool Mom Tech’s Top 15 Coolest Websites of 2011!  We were pretty excited to be chosen alongside Pinterest and the Amazon Android Marketplace.  Now we’ve got even more to live up to this year.

2. CES 2012! Gadgets and gizmos galore of course, like the fabulously curvy and light Sony S Tablet and the Live Streaming enabled new Sony BloggieLive .  I was lucky enough to be given both to try out and will be reporting back in the month ahead.  To get a better idea of all the great new techie products we saw at CES check out these TWO Blogging Angels Podcasts taped live at CES!

High Atop CES With Ben Rudolph (recorded in the Microsoft Booth)

CES Wrap-Up with TechMama (that’s Beth Blecherman to you Luddites!)

3. CES Press.  Nancy Friedman and I had two great interviews while at CES for KidzVuz.  One aired live and hasn’t been reposted yet so stay tuned.  The other was on the Pulse Network with Butch Stearns and you can watch it here.

4. Also at CES I spoke on a panel about mom bloggers and brands during the Living in Digital Times Summit with Beth Blecherman of TechMamas and Cool Mom Tech and Stacy DeBroff of Mom Central.  The panel was moderated by Lori Schwartz of McCann Worldwide and included a really interesting presentation about mom influencers across all spheres.  I hope to publish the report when it becomes available next month.  Basically, it showed how incredibly influential moms are to each other – whether on the playground or online, and how that translates into all sorts of magic (or tragedy) for brands.  Good stuff.

5. Finally we’ve been planning our first event of the year, co-hosting the grand opening party for 50 mom bloggers and their families to celebrate the opening of the new J&R Jr. store in downtown Manhattan.  I am so incredibly excited to be working with J&R since I basically grew up in the music store.  Seriously.  But that will be its own post coming soon.

And that’s what you missed last month on Beccarama.com.

Onward!

The KidzVuz Gift Guide for Tweens is Here!

I’m all for bargain hunting, though Black Friday is pretty much my least favorite event in the world.  Nothing is worth the crowds and madness (and pepper spray) in my book.  But I do love to figure out exactly the right gift for the people in my life.  There is nothing better than watching someone’s face when they open your gift and it’s PERFECT! Of course some people are easier to buy for than others – and one notoriously difficult group to buy for are tweens.  Too old for your typical kids gifts, too young to be completely jaded and want only gift cards, you have to hit this group right on target or risk the eye-roll, or worse.

So, with that in mind we actually went to the source and asked our KidzVuz reviewers want they want this holiday season.  Then we did some pretty cool scouting ourselves at Toy Fair, from our friends at The Big Toy Book, and at all of the cool tech and toy previews we’ve been to this year.

We made our list, we checked it twice (actually about 50 times but we don’t want to make Santa feel like a slacker)  Then we threw in a whole bunch of amazing giveaways and came up with our gift guide.  It’s so big we’ve broken it into three parts rolling out today, Monday and Wednesday.  So hop on over to the KidzVuz.com parent blog and start making your list and entering our giveaways so you can be the gift giving champion of the season!