Internet Safety Month

by Katie on June 22, 2016

As always let U.S. Cellular make it easier by using the Parent/Child Cell Phone Agreement to set some ground rules for cell phone and device usage.

I am part of the U.S. Cellular Blogger Brigade. I received an Apple iPhone6S and am being compensated for my time.IMG_3929

My boys are at the age where I don’t have to worry about internet safety too much yet.  These their electronics under the watchful eye of an adult and have strict limits. However, I know the day is quickly approaching where internet safety is a conversation that we are going to need to have. U.S. Cellular has provided some helpful tips to facilate the conversation.

Children and teens are going online for a variety of reasons, from school assignments to staying informed about the things that matter most to them – news, sports and pop culture. They’re also using social media, like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to communicate with friends.  And, of course, they’re accessing entertainment online – gaming, downloading music, reading books and magazines, watching movies, TV shows and YouTube videos.

    • Given the frequency of hacking incidents, cyberbullying and phishing scams, it’s a good idea for parents to discuss guidelines about what is – and isn’t – appropriate for their children to access and share online.
    • U.S. Cellular knows that every family is different so we suggest having open discussions about what works best for your family’s Internet use.
    • While smartphones and tablets can enhance and simplify our lives, sometimes parents struggle with how much freedom to give their kids – online as well as offline.  
    • Since every family is different, U.S. Cellular’s goal is simply to be a resource for information to help parents have open communication with their kids about Internet activity so they can make the best decision for their family.
    • Devices such as (DEVICE) can help families stay connected, but with that connectivity comes responsibility, and many parents realize they need to guide their kids’ mobile device usage.
    • The majority of parents establish rules about their child’s cell phone usage, and seventy percent of respondents in U.S. Cellular’s most recent survey noted they always or frequently monitor their child’s cell phone use.
    • Here are some tips that U.S. Cellular has provided to help parents monitor their children’s online activities and facilitate conversations about the use of mobile devices:
      • Have an agreement with your children. U.S. Cellular has created a Parent-Child Agreement to help guide families’ conversations about mobile phone usage. The agreement focuses on safety and etiquette, and it’s customizable based on each family’s specific needs
      • Discuss online communications: Beyond texting, increases in the use of social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have opened up new communication pathways for teens. U.S. Cellular recommends that families discuss the importance of never posting harmful or hurtful comments on others pages and always being responsible for what is said online.
      • Set boundaries for online sharing. Make sure your child knows to never share personal information online. That includes their name, age, address, school and sports teams, as well as any passwords. Also, remind them to communicate only with family or friends and not to answer unsolicited requests or texts.
      • Post photos appropriately:  We all know how eager kids are to capture and share photos, but today’s kids don’t realize that once those images are online, they are in the public domain and can even be modified by others. Talk about guidelines for sharing photos with friends and alert them to never post photos which could contain information about where they live or be seen as inappropriate. It’s also best to not post or share photos or videos of others without their consent.
      • Use parental controls. The NQ Family Guardian app is available for $4.99 a month on Android devices and provides safety and security by monitoring your children’s location and mobile usage. This service allows parents to review their child’s calls and texts, and restrict certain websites and apps. Children can even send their parents an alert with the simple press of a button if they are in trouble or find themselves in an uncomfortable situation. For iOS users, there is a wide range of parental-control options that are automatically available in iOS 9’s Settings app.



Best Travel Apps

by Katie on May 18, 2016

11221710_758958784080_7788536356889706288_nAs always let U.S. Cellular make it easier by using the Parent/Child Cell Phone Agreement to set some ground rules for cell phone and device usage.

I am part of the U.S. Cellular Blogger Brigade. I received an Apple iPhone6S and am being compensated for my time.

Our family loves to travel and have several trips planned for this summer. As much as I like to use vacations as a time to “unplug” I also can’t deny the fact that my phone has so many helpful features and uses while traveling.  Some of the apps listed below are ones that I use regularly while traveling. What are your favorite apps to use while on the road?


Memorial Day just around the corner and families and friends are packing their bags to kick off the summer travel season. Using smartphones and tablets for travel purposes is on the rise. According to a recent U.S. Cellular survey, 76 percent of smartphone owners used their phone to assist them while traveling in 2015, up from 68 percent in 2014.

With today’s mobile devices, such as iPhone6S, top-rated apps and a nationwide network that works in the middle of anywhere, people can manage transportation, lodging, adventures and dining from the palm of their hand.

With vacation season coming up, U.S. Cellular recommends the following apps to help travelers with everything from planning their journey to finding the best restaurants once they arrive:

    • TripIt: By forwarding confirmation emails from airlines, hotels and restaurants, TripIt creates a detailed itinerary in one place. Users can access their plans on any device. The app also links to Google Maps to provide directions.
    • Uber: Users can avoid taxi lines and get a reliable ride in minutes from Uber. The app connects to a phone’s GPS signal to find a driver near its location and provides a fare estimate. Users also can watch their driver arrive and leave anonymous feedback for future customers.
    • Currency Converter: Traveling outside the United States can present a different set of travel challenges, including determining the exchange rate. This app contains more than 190 currencies and updates exchange rates frequently. Users also can set favorites used most often for quick access.
    • OpenTable: New food and restaurants are often highlights of any trip and finding the best options in a new city can be a challenge sometimes. With this app, travelers can read reviews, look at menus and make reservations. If plans change, travelers can make adjustments through the app.
    • Dropbox: This is commonly used to share work files and store other important documents, and it can be used for travel as well. Create a picture folder to upload photos at the end of each day. This frees up memory on a device and ensures users have properly stored their memories.


Letting Kids Be Kids

by Katie on April 20, 2016

12771585_10153824797656826_3443625610929779849_oMy kids very rarely ask me to play with them.

Probably because most of the time I tell them no.

Sure, I play board games and read books and can occasionally be found coloring alongside them but that is about all they get out of me when it comes to playing.

Sounds harsh, doesn’t?

My mom didn’t play with me and I’m guessing most of your moms didn’t play with you either.  Somewhere along the line things changed and the idea that a parent is suppose to spend every waking hour catering and entertaining their kids came to be. I just can’t get behind that.  I want to raise boys who grow into independent, thoughtful, and creative men and for me that means not hovering around, letting them take some risks and giving them the tools so they can make their own fun.

IMG_2799I want them to play on the playground while I read a book on the bench…not because I don’t care but because falling and scratches and bruises are part of being a kid.  I want them to learn how to ride their bike in the street so they know how to look for cars. I want to let them run around the block…while I nervously wait for them to get back.  I want to listen to their chatter out in the backyard while I make supper. I want to be OK with my kitchen being a mess if that means they made their own trail mix.  I want to step over piles of Legos while I fold laundry. I want to hear all about the chapter book my oldest read before bed.  I want to hang the picture on the fridge that my youngest drew while I talked to a friend on the phone.

My boys know they are loved and are always safe with me. They know that taking them on adventures and special dates is my love language.  They know they will always see me on the sidelines of their soccer games cheering them on. They know that Fridays after school means a trip to the gas station for a special treat. They know that I will always say yes to a trip to the movie theater and butter on the popcorn. They know that I will probably never say no if they ask to sleep on our bedroom floor.

They also know that I’m there if they ever need anything …just as long as it does not involve Legos.


National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April 19, 2016

As always let U.S. Cellular make it easier by using the Parent/Child Cell Phone Agreement to set some ground rules for cell phone and device usage. I am part of the U.S. Cellular Blogger Brigade. I received an Apple iPhone6S and am being compensated for my time. I take my phone with me pretty much […]

Read the full article →