Kids these days want to watch what they want when they want it – largely because virtually everything is now available on-demand. Case in point: Even if they don’t tape a TV program to your digital video recorder (DVR), they can still use the television, computer, tablet PC, video game console or smartphone to purchase, rent or download it, or stream clips down via an online service like Netflix – which, for a monthly fee, provides streaming access to a vast library of content via PC, iPad, gaming console and more. Other services such as Hulu offer a number of free options for recently aired programs to be viewed with commercials, or access to an archive of shows for a monthly fee. Redbox and Amazon Prime also provide options for on-demand entertainment, with dozens more services and apps offering similar features. The moral of the story: Today’s kids’ world of entertainment is truly on-demand, and parents need to work harder than ever to monitor and regulate the shows, films or Web content that they watch, considering that children of all ages can access nearly anything desired with a few clicks or Internet searches.
Consider that some of these services offer parental controls, while others provide limited or no content restriction options, as we point out in Parenting High-Tech Kids: The Ultimate Internet, Web, and Online Safety Guide. For safety’s sake, avoid providing kids with access to your account information and passwords, and make yourself available to help them choose age-appropriate options when they’re ready to watch their favorite programs.
Cloud computing refers to the practice of storing and running programs on remote servers, with results streamed back to users’ desktops or video game consoles over wireless networks, rather than housed and run locally on devices. This means that, for example, if you download a song on iTunes on your home computer, and access Apple’s iCloud, all your other devices linked up to your iTunes account can automatically enjoy access to the song, too. The reason this is important is the fact that kids may be able to access any sort of media that you or your family have downloaded to any device you own, even if they’ve never connected these gadgets directly to one other. Parents need to know about the cloud (as well as associated file, photo, video and content sharing services that that leverage it) and how to manage their data – and that kids may be able to access programs, games and content that leave little lasting footprints to track later on systems themselves.
Keenly-attuned to fashion, travel, and nightlife trends, associate editor T.T.’s encyclopedic knowledge of bars and restaurants remains unrivaled – and her word is gospel when it comes to Sunday brunch. Our resident trivia night expert and staff humorist, she’s only been banned from one karaoke joint (that we know about). Also: Dog is her co-pilot.