Posts Tagged ‘technology’

How technology keeps me in touch with my family back home

ConnectedWhen it comes to technology, a lot has changed in the eight years since I moved to Toronto – three hours away from my family.

In 2005, we kept in touch mainly by phone. Of course, we also saw each other on holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. But if I wanted to get my stepmom’s opinion on a haircut or dress purchase, I was on my own.

Flash-forward to 2013. Sure, I still see my family over the holidays, and we still try to make time for a phone call or two here and there, but technology has brought us closer together – and helps me feel like I’m not really three hours away from my loved ones.

Social media

Thanks to Facebook, I’m able to stay on top of all of the latest happenings back home. My youngest sister just joined Facebook, so now we’re all in the loop together. As well, with two family weddings this summer, photos were easily traded without waiting for film to be developed and albums created.

Digital video

As a kid, I desperately wanted my parents to get us a video camera. I wanted to enter a funny clip on America’s Funniest Home Videos. I never could have imagined that within just 15 years, not only would I own a video camera, but I’d carry it around with me everywhere I go. On my phone. But that’s exactly where we’re at now.

While my family can’t make all of my important moments, and I don’t get home as often as I’d like, the ease of video filming and sharing nowadays is one way to feel like we’re not missing so much. I love getting a video of my newest baby cousin as she learns to walk and talk – all the way across the country.


You don’t always need a phone call to touch base with your family back home. Sometimes, a short email is all it takes to send an update. It’s also a great way to share the latest deal or to plan a trip.

Email has also replaced many annual family newsletters. Instead of long letters coming in the mail every Christmas, I get updates in my inbox on what others have been up to for the past year.


Texting has also changed the way I keep in touch with my family. Short messages to let them know I love them or are thinking of them can sometimes make it feel like they are right here with me.

I use Rogers One Number to  text my family members from my computer or tablet. As well, calling any Canadian number while using Rogers One Number is free, which means my family and I can stay in touch while keeping costs down.

How do you keep in touch with friends and family back home?

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Happy Father’s Day: Joe Boughner shares how fatherhood and technology intertwine

Digital parentingTechnology surrounds Joe Boughner.

By day, he’s a digital marketer. By night, he’s a blogger and a social media enthusiast. In all instances, he’s a dad to a three-year-old little girl.

With Father’s Day approaching, we chatted with Joe about life as a connected parent.

What is the biggest way technology has changed the relationship you have with your daughter compared to the one you had with your dad?

Picture-taking, hands down.

The only piece of technology (aside from the camera) that my dad and I bonded around was the television, watching hockey games together. With my daughter, technology is everywhere. My wife and I each have a laptop, a smartphone and a tablet. The kid even has “her” tablet, a first-generation iPad.

What is the one piece of technology you use most regularly with your daughter?

Probably the smartphone. We take a lot of pictures with it and the kid loves to look back at the pictures we’ve stored and talk about what she was doing for each picture. We also use our phones to video chat with Grandma and Grandpa in B.C. a few times a week too and our music collections are stored on them for the impromptu dance parties that seem to keep breaking out in our living room.

You wrote a post about being a travelling parent and mentioned that video chatting with your family is very important. What are some of the other ways you stay in touch when you’re on the road?

I changed roles at my company a few months ago so I’m not travelling nearly as much. Video chat was a big help but it was a challenge to get the kid to sit still long enough to really converse.

Other than that, my wife was always great about texting me with updates and emailing photos from her smartphone to keep me updated on what the family was up to in my absence.

Your daughter is still very young. How do you plan on teaching her on how to be digitally responsible online?

I wrote about this for the Yummy Mummy Club too, actually, in the form of a Digital Parenting Manifesto. I think, first and foremost, it’s incumbent on the parents to actually know what is happening on the internet before offering their kids unfettered access to it. I plan to keep exploring myself so I can talk knowledgeably about the risks and the rewards of living online to my daughter.

Before you had children, how did you imagine technology would fit into your parenting experience? How has that vision changed?

I don’t know that I thought about it that much, actually. My wife and I both live very connected lives. It was a given that technology would be part of our lives. But I guess what’s surprised me is the strength we’ve been able to draw from the people that the technology connects us to. My wife has written about this more than I have but we’ve both built really supportive networks online.

Tell me a story about your daughter’s relationship with technology — how has her experience with technology surprised you?

I guess the most surprising thing is just how natural it all seems to her.

I consider myself something of a digital native but, at the same time, I remember not having a computer at home. I remember having to lobby my parents for internet access. Even after that was successful, we had one computer. In the computer room. Where we went to connect to the internet.

My daughter, meanwhile, gets confused when she can’t watch YouTube videos on the WiFi tablet in the car. She is annoyed that our laptop screens don’t respond to touch. She’s never had to learn how to connect or how to navigate a computer’s operating system. It’s just been there.

How has technology changed your relationship with your dad?

Joe Boughner is an Ottawa-based writer, speaker and digital marketing professional. He currently works as Director of Marketing for non-linear creations and blogs as the Naked Dad on the award-winning parenting site Yummy Mummy Club. None of this manages to impress his three-year old daughter.

Sarah is a regular contributor to RedBoard.

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The perfect Mother’s Day gift? More time

Mother's DayAs a mother, I’m always struggling with time. “Time, more time. I need time. Please give me a sec. Wait baby until Mama finishes working/eating/doing the laundry.” Do these sentences sound familiar?

For Mother’s Day, what I really wish for is a way to fit everything in: quality time with my children and more than stolen moments with my spouse. I also dream about time for myself, free from distractions.

That’s why I decided to contact Clare Kumar. She’s a professional organiser at Streamlife and I’ve been reading her blog for tips on how to run my life a bit more smoothly. She was able to  share some tips on how technology can help us moms:

How can technology help a family with time management?

Before we get into talking technology, consider the basic principle of time management and scheduling. Often activities just stay as ideas if they are not committed to a calendar.  So, the first step in ensuring time for what’s important is to make sure you have a calendar system that works for you.

A great way for families to keep on top of each other’s commitments is by using shared calendars.  With Google Calendars, you can hide/display your calendars and instantly customize your view.  If you can see your commitments, you can make quick decisions on what you say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to.

We have a rule in our home for booking evening events. If there is ever a double booking, the person with the new event has to arrange for a sitter.  Forgetting to calendar the event can sometimes create a last minute scramble. It only took one of these to get everybody on board using the ‘family’ calendar system.  Don’t forget to book ‘date nights’ for you and your spouse as a way of nurturing your relationship.

How can technology help busy parents spend some quality time with their children?

Share your own favourite childhood shows or new games with them. My son just turned twelve and we gifted him an iPad mini. He knows I’m a fan of WordsWithFriends and just asked to download it. I’m looking forward to sharing this with him. I bet both our vocabularies will grow.

Email is a great way to have real conversations with your kids, especially with teens, while also teaching them communication skills. I’ve set up my kids with email accounts so that I can drop them a line whenever I’m thinking of them and share the latest YouTube video that made me laugh.

If you’re a mom who happens to travel out of town but still want to maintain your nightly routine with your kids, consider using video calling services to read your kids a story or talk with them about your day.

Technology just keeps bringing new ways to bond with your children! I loved a recent story about new moms being able to bond with babies that were in a neonatal intensive care unit through a new iPad application called BabyTime. That’s got to be good for both mom and baby.

What are your favourite apps for “me” time?

To be the best mom and spouse, it’s important to keep yourself in good physical and mental shape.  That means putting yourself first at times, or as I like to say, putting your oxygen mask on first.  It may be as simple as plugging into your phone or tablet and listening to your favourite song, or perhaps a recorded meditation.  Perhaps it’s writing down thoughts of gratitude in an online journal.  Maybe it’s a little foray into Facebook and connecting with like-minded friends. Even small moments in your day can be restorative.

What’s your best time-saving tip?

Elise is a regular contributor to RedBoard.

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Weekend Reading: Go-to devices, Blackberry 10, apps for kids, and apps created by teens

I’m always inspired to read about all the different ways technology is changing our lives for the better. It gives us so many more options as to how we access news and information, for example. Not to mention that it opens new and exciting opportunities for education. That it motivates some students to develop talents that lead to fulfilling careers is so great. This week we look at people’s viewing habits, why more developers should be focused on kids apps, and introduce you to the latest teenage whiz-kid developer.

What’s your go-to device?

When it comes to sourcing out your entertainment, programming and news, television still reigns supreme. But those habits are shifting, and according to a new study by eMarketer, your age plays a part in which device you prefer.

For instance, 28% of people 18 to 24 claim that their laptop is their main source of news and entertainment. TV remains the number one source for 30% of people from that same age group, but for how much longer? On the gender front, women are more likely than men turn to their smartphones or tablets to watch their favourite shows. Personally I’m torn – I still love watching TV and live tweeting and checking in to the shows I’m watching, but on the other hand, there’s something to be said for the convenience of accessing Anyplace TV on your tablet at the cottage too!

How about you? What’s your go-to source for news and entertainment? Read the full eMarketer report online to see how you compare.

The Blackberry Z10 is here!

Last week we brought you some of our favourite blog coverage from the Toronto and NYC events that introduced the Blackberry 10 platform to the world. This week we were proud to launch our first ever LIVE blog here on Redboard, capturing some of the first Blackberry Z10 sales in the world!

Catch the excitement filmed earlier this week in Toronto – were you one of our featured customers lucky enough to score a Blackberry Z10 on launch day?

Kids need more apps

When cellphones first came on to the scene, most parents were reluctant to hand one over to their kids. Those who did usually had restrictions in place to ensure the device was used for emergency purposes only. Though these devices are still handy for emergencies, parents are increasingly seeing the benefits of their kids utilizing them for fun and education too.

What’s also changed is how kids use their phone. While it’s true that gaming apps rank highest among kids 12 and under, educational apps were right up there with more than half using their devices for learning purposes too. Schools have even begun to take notice with 1.5 million tablets already being used by students in the US.

Upstart Business Journal referenced an eye opening infographic that app developers may want to capitalize upon – check out their post for more kid tech trends and share some of your favourite educational apps with us in the comments below!

High school student creates “Clipped”

We also stumbled across a fascinating interview with a 15 year old student who created an app in between homework and hanging out with friends. When I was 15 I was making mix tapes and experimenting with makeup!

Fast Company caught up with Tanay Tandon for a quick chat on how his app “Clipped” came together what this Flipboard competitor can do for you, and what’s next on his agenda.

It’s amazing what opportunities technology provides for teens today that can lead to such promising careers tomorrow. How is tech affecting you and/or your kids upbringing in 2013?

Kelly is a regular Redboard contributor.

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Minigraphics: Technology trends and predictions

Late last year, we surveyed 1040 Canadian smartphone and tablet owners to see how they used technology and what they predicted for the future. We presented the results in our latest Rogers Innovation Report, available through Slideshare. We also pulled together some of the statistics we found most interesting into a Rogers Innovation Report infographic. Now, we’re releasing some of our favourite individual statistics in dynamic minigraphic format.

Where do you stand on the following questions?

Looking back, in 2012…

Did you download a racy novel to a mobile device?

Ah, 2012: the year of E.L. James’ 50 Shades of Grey. Were you among the one-in-ten Canadian smartphone and tablet users who decided to opt for discretion and convenience by buying the electronic version of the novel and others like it through Amazon, iTunes and other online retailers? Hover your mouse over the dynamic minigraphic above to get other e-reader stats from around the world.


Have you ever used your smartphone in the bathroom? If so, how often?

An astounding 83% of Canadian smartphone users take the device with them to the washroom. A similar survey conducted in the UK last May concluded that 75% of respondents used their smartphone in the bathroom. We’d consider those people nomophobes – or people who experience stress when they’re unable to use their mobile phone – but I certainly wouldn’t consider them germophobes!


Do you agree or disagree with the following statement ‘In the next 5 years babies will be using technology before they can walk or talk.’

Did the 44% of Canadian respondents who answered “yes” to this question have this video in mind? I know I did. Hover your mouse over our interactive baby minigraphic to access other similar precocious tablet baby videos on YouTube.

To get non-interactive versions of our Rogers Innovation Report minigraphics, visit our Pinterest page.

So? Where did you rank? Are you following Canadian trends? Ahead of them maybe? Tell us where you think technology is heading in the comments below or join us on Twitter to discuss the results using the #RIRExplores hashtag.

Michelle is a regular contributor to the Redboard blog.

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Tech Essentials at your fingertips!

We recently surveyed Canadians like you about their knowledge of technology, curious to find out more about their comfort level.

While 60% of Canadians give themselves a B grade or higher for overall tech savviness, only 4% actually earn that grade. When tested on online security, data usage and roaming, 64% got most of the online safety questions wrong, 60% are stumped by data usage and 47% don’t understand roaming. The good news is that 87% of you are interested in learning more, with  83% of you open to using a website dedicated to helping consumers improve their tech knowledge.

You asked, we delivered. Today we’re launching Tech Essentials, a new program that provides Canadians with a deeper understanding of how to safely and properly use today’s technology. Tech Essentials provides information ranging from how to make smart and safe digital choices to resources for parents managing their child’s online use.

Tech Essentials content can be accessed through your laptop or on your mobile device, and includes how-to videos that you’ll want to check out. Here’s one on Safe wireless habits for kids:

From roaming to billing, to choosing the best device for your needs, Tech Essentials covers the must-know subjects that are relevant to most Canadians. Since online safety is important to us here at Rogers, we’re working with non-profit organizations MediaSmarts and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection to promote safe technology use through this program. We’re also proud that the Tech Essentials site has been accredited by the independent organization Parent Tested Parent Approved.

Why not test your own Tech Essentials knowledge right here and now? Did you know:

… that roaming charges are applied to text messages? Neither did more than one quarter of Canadians (28%)

… that text messages are separate from data allotment. You’re not alone: 82% of Canadians were unaware of this fact

… that your device’s security settings and software determine how safe you are when using Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet? More than two-thirds (68%) of Canadians did not know or believe this fact.

How tech savvy are you? Take our online quiz at to find out!

UPDATE: January 21 2013, 9:40 am. You can access our Tech Essentials Communications Technology Savviness Survey Summary Report on Slideshare, for more information on our survey and its methodology.

Michelle is a regular RedBoard contributor.


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A nation of Nomophobes : 83% of Canadians smartphone users take their devices to the bathroom, 51% to bed

Our annual survey of Canadian technology trends and predictions, is back! We surveyed Canadian smartphone and tablet users like you to find out what you’ve been up to in 2012, and to get a sense of where you think we’re heading in 2013 and beyond. Check out our Rogers Innovation Report infographic below to how you compare to other Canadians when it comes to some of the more common “Day in the life” statistics. From taking your smartphones to bed (51%) and to the bathroom with you (83%), to enjoying your erotica on e-readers and tablets (10%) to streaming Gangnam Style on your devices (43%), 2012 clearly showed that technology has become an integral part of our lives. Why, some might even say we’re a nation of Nomophobes! *

* Nomophobia : noun. A state of stress caused by having no access to or being unable to use one’s mobile phone.

Other interesting stats that emerged from the Rogers Innovation Report:

  • 67% believe that mobile payment will be the payment method of choice within 2 years;
  • 59% predict that within the next 2 years more Canadians will work from home thanks to developments in cloud technology and faster mobile speeds;
  • 82% believe that integrated technology systems that seamlessly connect 2 or more devices will increase in popularity in 2013;
  • 78% believe e-book sales will increase significantly in 2013. In 2011, that stat was 37%.

You can access the complete Rogers Innovation Report on Slideshare at

Join us on Twitter to discuss this year’s results using the #RIRExplores hashtag.

Michelle is a regular RedBoard contributor.


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Rogers and Boys and Girls Clubs launch a new education program

In this second blog post in our series highlighting the great work being done by Canadian non-profits we support through the Rogers Youth Fund, we want to tell you a bit about our work with Boys and Girls Clubs across the country. With more than a century of experience providing high-quality before and after school programs helping children and youth to overcome barriers, Boys and Girls Clubs build positive relationships and develop confidence and skills for life.  Who better, then, to work with us to develop Rogers Raising the Grade, a program aimed at increasing academic skills, high school graduation rates and access to post-secondary education for at-risk youth.  This interactive after-school program helps kids connect with mentors and tutors, interact with peers and receive homework support.

As part of the program, Rogers has helped develop Raising the Grade Technology Centres, which offer access to high-speed Internet and current technology including computers and other electronic resources to support learning. This year, Rogers and Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada are rolling out Raising the Grade in 25 Clubs, including the Toronto Kiwanis Boys and Girls Club in Regent Park.  We chatted with Ian Edward, Executive Director at Toronto Kiwanis Boys & Girls Clubs about Raising the Grade. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: What is life like for many of the kids in the community you serve?

A: Unlike the majority of us who have a computer at home and access to the internet and print and produce work at home, most of the kids from Regent Park live with the reality of the digital divide. They simply don’t have the same opportunities at home as the majority of Canadians. Many of the kids we serve are new Canadians who just don’t have support at home because their parents are working multiple jobs or retraining. We try to provide them with the support they need to continue to advance in their educational pursuits.

Q: Your location, 101 Spruce Street, has undergone important renovations that included the creation of the Rogers Raising the Grade Technology Centre. What can you tell us about these changes?

A: Our building has undergone a complete retrofit including the wiring, which was also donated by Rogers. Our old tech lab was built from donated equipment that was piecemeal, often out of date and not a network environment by any stretch of the imagination. The new tech centre was set up through a consultation process between Rogers’ tech teams and the kids themselves, so we could be sure the technology would meet their needs.

Q: Why do you think it’s important for kids in your community to have access to this kind of tech centre?

A: Tech has become such a huge part of our lives: we’re connected to the Internet. It has become the way information is gathered, learned and communicated. Having this kind of access to technology allows our kids to communicate and keeps them on a level playing field with kids from more fortunate backgrounds. At the Rogers Raising the Grade Technology Centre, young people can do all the research they need to do their homework and can access online resources like health services which are expanding faster than we can keep up. Through social media, which is so important to their social networking, the tech centre provides yet another opportunity for our kids to keep up with some of their peers. I’m astounded by how intuitive they are; kids figure out technology faster than we can and in ways that I would never think of. It’s impressive.

Q: What kinds of projects are possible now that might not have been possible before the Rogers Raising the Grade Technology Centre was set up at your facility?

A: We’ve been able to add a number of programs, including digital video editing and digital photography, because we now have the right technology. Volunteers and our young people are working together to develop web sites. We have a group of five 8-10 year olds who actually created their own language and fantasy environment. They’ve been able to create their own website as well as build an online community. It’s neat to see.

The Rogers Youth Fund initiative: our national commitment to helping Canada’s youth overcome the barriers they face in getting the most out of their education. To learn more about who we’re working with, check out the interactive map and scroll over the map pins to find out more about local programs in your area.

Carly is a regular contributor to Redboard.

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Rogers Back to School Prep: Connected Classrooms with @SuzeMuze

Rogers Back to School Prep GuideAs students commonly use laptops and tablets to stay connected, learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom anymore. Even more now, the latest smartphones are becoming essential tools for students. Our recent Rogers Innovation Report  found just that, as 54 per cent of Canadian students (18-24) look to their smartphones for help with their schoolwork, whether they’re researching online, accessing coursework, interacting with their teachers and classmates or submitting assignments.

To find out more about how students are using technology in the classroom, we caught up with @SuzeMuse, part time professor at Algonquin College in the Interactive Multimedia Developer program to see how she is using technology in her classroom and interacting with her students. Here’s what she had to say:

How do you think technology is changing the classroom?

Just a few short years ago, technology in the classroom simply meant using PowerPoint slides to present lectures. YouTube didn’t even exist until 2005! I believe that technology is the single most important change in the classroom in the past several years. It’s changing the way we do everything from communicating with students outside of class time, to the way we share information with them in class.  Like any fundamental shift, it’s not without its challenges, but I firmly believe the benefits outweigh the risks.

Do you allow your students to use smartphones and devices in class?

This is a controversial subject. I do allow use of smartphones and devices in class, but with a few limitations imposed. I have a rule about no texting or talking on cell phones during lectures, but I do encourage students to be active online in class. For example, if I refer to a specific web site during my lecture, I think it benefits students to look up that web site while I’m talking. If they want to share what they are learning with their Twitter followers or Facebook friends, I’m okay with that too. Being able to explain concepts that one is learning is a valuable skill. I encourage the use of technology when it helps further understanding and retention in my students.

As for students who may take advantage of the freedom I give them, and spend that time chatting with their friends and not paying attention? Well, if they are distracted and not listening in class, they won’t do as well in my course, plain and simple. Most of them figure this out pretty quickly.

Are you embracing technology with your students in class and for assignments? Can you give some examples?

I wholeheartedly embrace technology in my classrooms. Last year I “flipped” my video production class – I developed a series of video tutorials and posted them to YouTube. Students review these videos as their homework, using their computer, or smart device, and then our class time is devoted to working on creative projects. It has worked wonderfully well. I encourage students to tweet during class, and we have a very active Facebook group where students can share interesting links, ask questions and talk about what they are learning.

How do you feel about a virtual classroom with textbooks on tablets, cloud assignments and online collaboration?

I have taught fully online courses and hybrid courses (part in-class, part online), as well as fully classroom based courses. In my experience, it depends on the learner. The older generations (say, 35 and above) tend to be more amenable to classroom-based learning, simply because that’s the way we were brought up. But the younger generations are looking for new ways to engage and learn. We now have the entire world’s worth of knowledge in the palm of our hands. Not only that, but we can now connect, collaborate and share with anyone, anywhere on the planet, in real time. This is powerful stuff, and it changes the way we learn.

I do believe that the virtual classrooms of the future are about tablets, cloud work and online collaboration. It’s our job as teachers to define how that will work for our students, as we continue to be focused on key learning objectives and ensures that our students are being successful with these new tools.

Do you feel that embracing technology trends in the classroom will help give students the skills they need for future success?

I absolutely believe this, but I also think that the more that time goes on, students are becoming more savvy with technology too. In the past 4 years I’ve seen this shift first hand, with each new class that comes in. Students that are leaving high school to enter post secondary education these days are kids who have never known life without the Internet.

Many teachers are threatened by this fact – students sometimes know more than we do about how to use technology. However, teachers do still have a very important role to play. It’s up to us to teach students how to use the technology they were born with to become more effective communicators. We also need to ensure that they are aware of how to use the tools safely and responsibly.

In order to be able to do this well, teachers have to embrace the tools themselves. That requires education and the courage to just try things out. It may not always work, but if we don’t have the courage to try doing things differently, then there’s a great risk that we’ll be left behind.

Rogers Innovation Report - students and smartphones
















Katie is a regular contributor to RedBoard

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Weekend Reading: smartphone demand & tech for back-to-school

Think back to ten years ago to 2002. How big a role did technology play in your day to day life? If you were in school, did you own a smartphone or tablet? Or for business, how much could you really do outside of the office on your phone?

This week we rounded up a couple great articles on smartphone demand and technology for back- to- school.

Can the smartphone industry keep up with the demand?

Digital Trends recently uncovered some interesting facts surrounding people’s insatiable demand for smartphones by looking at inventory, expectations, and market share in their post “Smartphone market growing faster than anticipated.” The author even goes so far as to guess you may be reading this very article on your smartphone now! More on what types of smartphones continue to be highest in demand, and predictions on the cell phone market in 2016 in the full article here.

Technology & back-to-school

With the new school season just around the corner, there were a ton of great posts and articles published this week about back-to-school and technology. Here’s a few of our favourites:

  • This Toronto Star article called “Back to school: technology tips for parents takes a closer look at technology for kids 10 years old and younger. How young is too young to trust them with technology? Are there tools on these devices to even benefit the younger users? Check out the full article here.
  • published this great infographic on college students and gadgets through the years. Did you know that in 1984, there was only 1 computer for every 92 students?!
  • A recent consumer survey found that back-to-school spending is expected to top $500 per shopper this year. But what are kids really looking for? Take a look at this interesting article from Shine from Yahoo! on back-to-school trends.
  • And with all that new, back-to-school technology, how do you keep it all safe and secure? Check out this article called Five Quick and Easy Must Have Back-To-School Technology Security Tips.

What technology do your kids think is a must have for back-to-school?

Kelly is a regular contributor for Redboard.

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