3 Ways to Keep Tabs on Your Kids Online


Is it impossible to keep tech-savvy teens safe online? A recent McAfee survey shows that 70% of teens hide online behavior from parents.

Some of the things they’re hiding include violence and porn. But some teens also reported lying, cheating, stealing, hacking, sharing sexy photos and even cyberbullying. Yikes. This is scary online behavior for young ones that could follow them the rest of their lives, even preventing them from getting into college or landing a job.

Here’s the cold, hard truth, Mom and Dad: If this is true, then we’re failing at raising our kids in this digital age. But it’s not all bad news. If you set up a safety gate or put plugs on outlets for your children when they were toddlers, then you can set up tech safeguards as well. Here are three things you can do to make sure your kids stay safe online.

1. Set Up Parental Controls on Your Devices

Take a few minutes to set up parental controls on computers, smartphones, tablets and gaming systems — everywhere your kids have online access. Really, this is as easy as following a recipe on the back of a cake box.

Android, iPhone, Windows, Mac, and smart-everythings today have settings or apps that with just three to five steps let you “set and forget” a list of filters. You can password-protect your settings, too, so that your kids can’t (easily) outsmart you and undo them. Here’s a quick and dirty guide to setting up filters fast on mobile devices.

  • iPhone and iPad: Settings > General > Restrictions > Switch “On/Off” down the list for content, games, web browsing and everything else you want to restrict.

  • Android: Google Play Store > Menu > Settings > User Controls > Content Filtering. Tick any of the boxes next to the ratings listed above that you think are appropriate.

  • Windows: Start (or Windows) button > Control Panel > User Accounts > Family Safety > Parental Controls. You can create new accounts for each teen, set time limits and control games and content.

  • Mac: Apple button > System Preferences > Parental Controls. You can create accounts for each teen, set time limits and control games and content.

When it comes to surfing the web, browsers like Chrome and Internet Explorer have an Internet options folder where you can easily set up security safeguards and content filters for language, nudity, sex and violence. Again, this only takes about five minutes to do.

  • Chrome: Google Preferences Page > SafeSearch Filtering > Save Preferences

  • Internet Explorer: Tools > Menu Bar > Content Advisor > Enable. Select the web content categories you’re looking to restrict (sex, drugs, nudity or foul language).

2. Install Surveillance Software

The next level of protection is surveillance — with the understanding that you’re using these tools to protect, inform and empower your kids, not to spy on them. After all, teens need to learn about the trust, respect and privacy that comes with growing up. This isn’t about setting up traps or trying to catch them doing something bad. It’s a way to make sure they’re safe.

One of the best free filters is K9 Web Protection. It blocks sites in more than 70 categories, including pornography, gambling, drugs, violence/hate/racism, malware/spyware and phishing. Among paid services, we recommend Net Nanny, Safe Eyes and SafetyWeb.

With these sorts of services, you can monitor their activity, get alerts and set up time controls, among may other features. Most of these services let you keep tabs on your child’s cell phone calls and text messages as well.

3. Be in Control

The most important way to protect your kids in this digital age is to step up and parent. You’ve likely heard this before, but have a heart-to-heart about the rules of cyber-conduct. Keep your tone positive, and let them know this is about keeping them safe, which is your job as a parent.

Print out, sign and post a family Internet contract so that rules, expectations and consequences are clear. If you haven’t already, move computers, phones, handheld gaming devices and all other internet-connected gadgets out of their bedrooms and into a common area of your house.

If your child turns the monitor off or changes the screen when you come into the room, that’s a red flag that it’s time for another chat.

Used correctly, these tools are teen tamper-proof, and your kids can’t turn them off without your knowing about it. Sadly, they are not teen tantrum-free. You’ll likely get grief from time to time that you’re ruining their lives. But stay strong, modern moms and dads. It’s our job to protect our kids online and off, and it’s our responsibility to ultimately teach them how to protect themselves.

This article originally published at Tecca

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/09/02/monitor-your-kids-online/

10 Ways YouTube Lets You Live Vicariously


‘Social Media Is a Blogger’s Best Friend,’ Says BlogHer Co-Founder


What do you call thousands of women all working together to create content and share their knowledge? You call them the backbone of BlogHer, an organization that creates opportunities for women through social media. About 5,000 bloggers gathered in New York City recently for the 8th annual BlogHer conference. During the three-day event, bloggers came together to meet, exchange ideas, and learn from each other, and from speakers such as Martha Stewart and Katie Couric.

BlogHer has grown immensely from when it first launched eight years ago and social media has helped make that happen. Mashable caught up with Elisa Camahort Page, Co-founder and COO of BlogHer to find out just how Facebook and Pinterest are helping these women effectively communicate, and monetize their business.

Do you have your own blog? What do you like to write about? Let us know in the comments.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/08/10/blogher-social-media-is-a-bloggers-best-friend/

Four Steps for Using Your Mobile Device to Jumpstart Your Love Life


Girl texting

It’s easy to celebrate the benefits of technology, particularly the access to information and connectivity provided to us by our mobile devices. However, there is at least one major drawback to living in an era where there are more cellphones than people. It’s much harder to have real, serendipitous, potentially romantic run-ins with people we might have otherwise met if we weren’t constantly drooling over a retina display. Think
about it: how many times have you avoided a conversation with the cute stranger on the bus or at the bar or in the waiting room because you’d prefer to look at Taylor Swift’s Instagram feed?

Rather than get rid of our mobile phones (never gonna happen), it’s time to adapt. Here are four easy steps you can take to turn your mobile device from a hook-up prohibitor in to the ultimate wingman. (Note: we’re excluding step zero, which is getting a smartphone. Come on — it’s 2012 already!)

Step 1: Browse the Merchandise

There’s no need to go download a bunch of dating apps right off the bat. In fact, the best way to start the mobile search for love is to use the apps you probably already have: Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare and Facebook. A little (repeat: a little) e-stalking never hurt anyone. In fact, you could simply arrange “chance” encounters with current crushes when they generously let you know where they are going that night via Twitter, or check-in to the bar down the street from you on Foursquare. Just be careful not to cross over into the “creepy person who shows up everywhere I check in” zone.

Step 2: Put Yourself Out There

Now that you know what you want in a partner and have decided that your current network isn’t providing enough romantic opportunity, it’s time to put yourself out there. Pick one or two of the big online dating services and sign up. They all have mobile apps. OkCupid is among the best (and has an optional location-based element — more on that below). Just because you’ve signed up, doesn’t mean you have to immediately
start dating everyone with a hot profile picture. It’s always worth spending a few days seeing who’s on the site and then cultivate an approach to message the people you like.

Don’t stop there. Think about what matters to you, and there is likely a dating site built around it. For instance, if you’re a music lover both Fellody and Tastebuds.fm connect people based on musical interest.

Step 3: Show and Tell

Sexting sometimes gets a bad rap, and with good cause. Once you post something on the Internet it’s there forever. However, if you really want to use your mobile device to improve your love life, experience with sex messaging is something you might want to try. Fortunately, there are apps and strategies for phone-to-phone adult fun that don’t carry the same risk and offer much of the same reward. First and foremost is the now-famous Snapchat, which allows you to destruct a picture after it’s been sent.

An evolution on the Snapchat model is “Peek: Sexting Awesome” (bad name, cool app), which also has a self-destructing photo feature that protects your privacy. In addition, you can mask your pictures so that your partner needs to swipe around the screen to see just a bit of the image at a time. It’s quite the playful way to send sexy pics.

There are also gentler ways to get your point across. Try “I’d Cap That” to add sexy captions to otherwise safe-for-work photos that won’t get you in trouble if they somehow end up on the web.

Step 4: Location, location, location

In the end, you are going to have to meet people in real life. Location-based dating apps sound a little scary, but they can be very effective (and safe!). One end of the spectrum are well known hook-up centric apps like Grindr and Skout. The major dating players are all getting in on location features, too. OkCupid’s location-based feature is an opt-in for their already great app — and it’s a good way to test out the experience. There are even apps for niche communities. Yenta, for instance, connects local Jewish singles based partially on location.

And there’s more. Among our favorite location-dating apps is Tinder. It suggest people in your area you might like. You can then anonymously “skip” or “like” them with the flick of your finger. If they like you back then the app puts you in touch. It’s simple, safe and fun.

There you have it — a pathway to mobile induced love in four simple steps. If it doesn’t work out, there’s always the old fashioned approach: use your mobile phone to call up someone you like and ask them out to dinner.

For more sage digital era dating advice, be sure to watch the exclusive Mashable series, Love in the Time of Robots. Each week we answer viewer questions on everything from online dating dilemmas to sexting etiquette to tactics for stalking your exes on Facebook.

New episodes premiere every Monday at 10pm ET. Watch the latest episode here:

Video streaming by Ustream

Image courtesy of Flickr, micurs

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/11/09/four-ways-mobile-device-find-love/

Students Will Flock to Online Study Halls This School Year


Everything from text books to chatting with a teacher can be done online, so why not move school study halls to the web? A recent survey predicts that 2012-2013 school year will see the rise of online study halls by students who want to enhance their education with digital content and more online collaboration.

This is according to two surveys conducted by Chegg, an online academic hub for students. The site’s registered users have grown 45% since January 2012.

“There is a student-driven revolution taking place in higher education,” said Chegg President and CEO Dan Rosensweig. “We’re seeing students take back their education, empower themselves and look outside their schools for technology, tools and resources to help them succeed.”

The surveys were conducted in July 2012 and looked at college students’ study habits and their attitudes toward using technology as a study tool. Three major highlights emerged from the study: students are collaborating both online and in person; education-focused technology tools are much needed and “interactive content is the next frontier in education.” Some specific highlights of the study include:

  • 47% plan to or are considering using an online study group in the upcoming school year.

  • 51% would be likely or extremely likely to chat online with an expert in real time to answer questions.

  • The number of students who might try online tutoring or homework help next year will increase 5X.

  • 64% would be very likely or extremely likely to use an online assistant that automatically compiles study materials for each class

  • 67% said they would be very or extremely likely to use video tutorials that explain difficult concepts.

Chegg started as a textbook rental company with a free app and now has expanded to offer numerous other academic services, as well as acquiring other education-related startups. Today, Chegg’s Homework Help service is used at 95% of the largest 1,000 colleges.

The two surveys were conducted this past July with the help of Survey Monkey. 849 undergraduate and graduate students, who were all Chegg users responded to the survey.

Would you visit an online study hall? Tell us in the comments.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, jocic

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/08/15/students-will-flock-to-online-study-halls-this-school-year-study/

How Social Media Helps Romantic Relationships Thrive


Once upon a time, all singles needed to worry about was waiting long enough in between dates to place the next phone call. Now, daters must think about the “right” time to send a Facebook request or start Twitter following the person you’re dating — in addition to refraining from Internet stalking a new crush.

Besides the obvious — like, not friending your new boyfriend or girlfriend’s pals before meeting them — we’ve spoken to leading relationship experts for the nitty-gritty.

Below are some modern social media guidelines that will propel new, and long-term, romantic relationships.

When Done Right, Social Media Is Like Glue

Self-described Internet geek, wife and mother Alexandra Samuel, Ph.D., believes that the Internet sustains and builds relationships.

Social media is a daily point of contact for Samuel, the director of the Social + Interactive Media Centre at Emily Carr University, and her husband of 12 years Rob Cottingham. Social media allows the busy couple to connect while apart.

“We’re all really busy and it’s very hard to find time for your partner,” Samuel tells Mashable. “Rob and I stay in touch throughout the day. We can also stay in contact indirectly because we monitor each other on Twitter.”

The couple uses Twitter to keep in touch, cheer each other on and “share the love.”

Their regular tweet conversations have garnered fans. The Twitter couple won a Shorty Award for the website WeTweet.ca that pulls all their tweets to each other into a stream.

“People will also tweet at us about what a cute Twitter couple we are,” she says. “These little reflections on your marriage or on your relationship from other people are incredibly valuable.”

For the couple, social media came naturally with equal interest. With other twosomes, one person could be more active on social media, Samuel says. If social media preferences are off balance, then couples will need to have a talk to lay out guidelines.

“You have to sit down and have a conversation about what you feel is private and what you feel like is enough attention when you’re together,” Samuel says. “What things about the relationship are okay to post and what hours it’s okay to be online.”

The duo has learned from experience to follow some guidelines. One rule prevents oversharing. “Our policy is I wouldn’t tweet something he said or vice versa without asking,” Samuel says.

Samuel also suggests that couples should not get mad at each other for missing or seeing public tweets. “You need to assume that anyone you see has read nothing that you’ve posted,” she says. “But equally, consider the possibility that anyone you know could have read or seen anything you’ve posted.”

Social Media Guide for New Couples

Meeting someone new used to be more exciting. Being able to Google someone and read their Facebook, Linkedin, About.me and Twitter profiles in full, takes all the initial mystery and intrigue out of getting to know someone.

This is the new dating mistake many are making, says Julie Spira, online dating and netiquette guru and author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating.

“When your relationship is new, I say avoid connecting on social media sites at first,” Spira tells Mashable. “Sure he or she may be excited about your relationship and can easily follow you on Twitter, but if you receive a friend request before or after a first date, it’s best not to accept it.”

A Facebook request or Twitter follow may seem harmless. However, experts warn being fast friends on social media could result in hurt feelings.

“Remember that it’s a new relationship and one may still be playing the field while the other only has eyes for you,” Spira says. “Becoming friends prematurely may result in hurt feelings when you see his photo posted hugging another woman. Even though it may be his cousin, your feelings will be hurt and you might be jumping to conclusions.”

How long should love birds wait? It could take a couple weeks or a couple months. It really depends on the individuals in a relationship, experts say.

“I think once you’re dating somebody, if you’re not at the stage where you feel comfortable asking them if you can follow them on Twitter and Facebook, then you’re probably not ready to follow them on Facebook or Twitter,” Samuel says.

But, it’s important to remember, “there’s a difference between friending someone on Facebook and just seeing their stuff as it comes up and going through their entire Timeline. You don’t need to go through the archives,” Samuel says.

Guidelines for Long-Term Couples

Social networks are a place for sharing the great moments in life. But, experts warn not to overdo it.

Coupled up individuals may prefer to present themselves differently online, so it’s always best to talk about what to post and what not to post.

“One might want to post a photo with a passionate kiss, where the other may view social networking sites as a business networking tool, so don’t tag your sweetheart in a photo that his or her boss shouldn’t be viewing,” Spira says.

Even with serious partners, individuals should give each other some breathing space. It’s easy to obsess over a girlfriend or boyfriend’s every move. However, romantic duos should showcase trust by avoiding cyber stalking at all costs.

“Understand that every couple needs space, both online and offline,” Spira says. “Keep separate profiles and avoid staring at and obsessing about what they’re doing during your busy day by checking to see their whereabouts on Foursquare.”

Dr. Karen Ruskin, a licensed marriage and family therapist, believes social media is a great way to propel the relationship. But, like anything good in life, social media is only valuable with balance.

“I am thumbs up, high up there for the use of technology in connection for social, fun, pleasure, for growing a relationship and enhancing a marriage,” Ruskin says.

When it becomes too frequent or invasive for one person, the couple should take a step back, Ruskin says.

“It absolutely can be too much, if it’s too much for one partner and not the other,” Ruskin says. “If one person feels it’s smothering, that can be very uncomfortable. They can feel enmeshed rather than feeling individuated. You’re constantly together even though you’re supposed to be independent individuals.”

Even with social media, it’s important to maintain “healthy individuation,” experts suggest. Limits are up to the couple to decide.

“We often identity who we are in our relationships and connections with the other person or people we’re with,” Ruskin says. “We don’t want to lose ourselves in our connection with others through technology.”

Other Helpful Online Tips for Couples

  • Take down your old dating profile once you’re serious about someone.

  • Don’t do anything on social networks that you wouldn’t tell your partner about.

  • If mentioning the other person, ask before posting.

  • Reminder: Social networks are public. Always avoid posting details about your sex life.

  • Avoid airing dirty laundry or having “digital spats on Facebook and Twitter,” Spira says.

  • Be aware of the effects of social media on your lives. “No matter what type of romantic relationship you’re in, you want to think consciously about how you want your time spent online to support your own love life,” Samuel says.

How do you use social media in your romantic relationship? Share with us in the comments whether or not protecting your partner’s privacy and autonomy is a priority.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, IsaacLKoval

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/07/09/new-social-media-love-rules/

Students Are Choosing Colleges With Social Media Clout


Efforts by higher education institutes to gain Twitter followers, Facebook likes and YouTube views, while connecting with students on blogs and message boards, are paying off.

A recent survey of 7,000 high school students by online education resources Zinch and Inigral reveals university social media accounts are influential to students who are deciding between colleges and universities.

Admissions counselors are actively recruiting students on the popular social networks. The survey reveals schools that are smart with social media — engaging students in video chats, Facebook contests and Twitter conversations — are most influential online. About two-thirds of survey participants said they actively scoped out prospective colleges on popular social networks including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Tumblr.

The institution’s level of engagement on social media bears a lot of weight with prospective students. Being able to connect with counselors quickly about the admissions process is hugely important, according to the study.

“Students want to be connected with other students,” Gil Rogers, director of College Outreach for Zinch told Inside Higher Ed. “You can post a picture of an athletic event, but you also want to be able to connect students to ways that they can be part of that event or be part of that campus.”

According to social media consulting company Sociagility, the top social media-savvy schools are Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The schools share sports team highlights, impressive research developments and large photos of campus events to engage online users on social networks.

Do you think its important for universities and colleges to connect with perspective students online? Tell us in the comments.

Image courtesy of Flickr, HckySo

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/09/26/colleges-social-media/

SkinnyScoop Brings the Conversation Into Pinterest-Style Recommendations


Pinterest: Where women go to organize their dream closets, get exercise tips and save recipes for cakes they’ll never bake. But where the virtual bulletin board is great for setting goals and daydreaming, SkinnyScoop wants to take these dreams and turn them into action.

Launched in San Francisco, SkinnyScoop’s site targets women -– specifically moms –- to combine the whimsicalness of Pinterest with reality of a modern-day sewing circle. Women can create social lists akin to Pinterest boards, but can also join in on relevant discussions and follow other users. The startup announced $1 million in seed funding today.

“SkinnyScoop takes the offline conversations between women that happen everywhere, everyday, and moves them online bringing value to both the tastemakers and the women they influence,” says CEO Eden Godsoe. “We rarely have time these days to read long articles or sift through email chains to figure out what book to read, app to download or gift to buy.”

After signing up for a free account via email or Facebook login, SkinnyScoop provides you with pre-sorted lists like “Books I couldn’t put down” and “Favorite baby toys,” but also leaves the option of creating your own lists. The idea is women will take recommendations from style mavens down the block or their best friend more seriously than random images found on the Internet.

Images are auto-populated and lists can be shared across social networks. Godsoe sees potential for women bloggers, who can embed their recommendations into a visual list on personal sites.

“Pinterest is a great tool for housing what women are striving for – their dream vacation, perfectly decorated home or flawless bikini body,” Godsoe says. “Going beyond the inspirational, SkinnyScoop is more centered on what someone needs, wants or is interested in today…it uses structured data — which makes it more actionable, versus photos or images — to connect hundreds of thousands of women and identify what is trending, most useful or popular among their friends.”

Would you be more likely to trust an item if recommended within your social circle? Let us know in the comments.

Images courtesy of iStockphoto, tetsuomorita, SkinnyScoop.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/11/19/skinnyscoop/

Don’t Miss These 25 Digital Media Resources


If this week’s tech news was off your radar because you were catching up on Breaking Bad to prep for Sunday’s finale, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered.

Our team at Mashable has rounded up the top 25 digital media resources for your reading pleasure. Skim through for articles on nearly impossible mobile games to beat and nine manufacturers who figured out the secrets of tweeting.

Editor’s Picks

  • Now and Then: 10 Classic Video Games That Got a Major Upgrade
    See how far gaming has come when you look at these side-by-side comparisons of retro video games and their modern counterparts.

  • 5 Ways Cities Are Using Big Data
    Big data’s kind of a big deal. Here’s how a few cities are using mass information to make their residents’ lives a little easier.

  • 7 Music Discovery Tools to Find New Tunes
    If you’re on the lookout for new tunes, try these seven websites and apps for social-music discovery.

  • How to Follow Facebook Across Social Media
    If you’re interested in getting all Facebook news, updates and other content in your social stream, then take a look at our guide to all the various accounts you should be liking, following and bookmarking.

  • 10 Moments on Twitter That Will Go Down in History
    These 10 key moments highlight important changes in how Twitter has been viewed and used.

  • Tech

  • The 6 Best Launchers to Turn Your Android Into an iPhone
    Here are six great launchers to make your Android device look more like an iPhone.

  • 5 iOS Settings to Limit Your Child’s Mobile Usage
    Here are five tips on how to use the built-in iOS restrictions to prevent your kids from making a big mess with your Apple device.

  • 6 Creative Hacks for Your Smartphone
    If you’re looking for easy ways to customize your phone without jailbreaking or rooting it, try these hacks and tricks.

  • The 10 Most Beautiful Mobile Games
    Great graphics don’t necessarily make a beautiful mobile game. Check out these 10 games that focus on more than visuals.

  • 10 Cute iPhone Cases for Couples
    To show the world just how synced-up the two of you are, we found an adorable selection of precious pairs of cases that are perfect for couples.

  • 24 Essential Mind Mapping and Brainstorming Tools
    We’ve compiled a list of mind-mapping tools to help you organize, summarize and visualize information.

  • What to Remove First When Your Phone Storage Is Full
    Not enough storage space on your phone? Here’s what you should get rid of first.

  • How to Create Tilt-Shift in Photoshop
    Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to create tilt-shift miniature fakes with just a few effects in Photoshop.

  • 6 Tricks for Instantly Looking Better in Photoshop
    Need a new profile picture? Use these Photoshop tricks to make your pic fashion magazine-worthy.

  • 7 Bright Ways to Use Your iPhone’s LED Light
    Seven fun and practical ways to use the iPhone LED light on the iPhone 4, 4S, and 5 for parties, music, and everyday life.

  • 10 Nearly Impossible Mobile Games
    Want a challenge on the go? These mobile games will frustrate and intrigue even the most hardcore gamers.

  • Business

  • Thrillist: From a Simple Newsletter to $80 Million in Revenue
    Ben Lerer and Adam Rich have taken their vision from a simple email newsletter to the multi-brand content and commerce company, Thrillist.

  • The Anatomy of the World’s Top CEOs
    What do the world’s 100 top-performing CEOs have in common? Check out this infographic to find out.

  • How Tech Companies Prepare for Life After the IPO
    A looming IPO can mean extreme changes in the office. Here are how some tech companies have dealt with the pressure.

  • Why Native Advertising Is the Opposite of Porn
    Here’s why native advertising is the opposite of porn.

  • Is It Cool to Work for Yahoo Now?
    In the Marissa-Mayer era, Yahoo is transforming its image as an out-of-touch 90s relic by reworking its flagship web products — Yahoo.com, Yahoo News, Yahoo Mail and more — for the current decade.

  • 9 Manufacturers Doing It Right on Twitter
    The manufacturing industry has a wide-casting net of sectors, jobs and companies. Here are nine manufacturers on Twitter worth your follow.

  • Lifestyle

  • How One Woman Grappled With Grief Through Gaming
    When things couldn’t get worse, Ramona Pringle turned to World of Warcraft for therapeutic escape. Now, she’s sharing what she’s learned through an interactive app.

  • 9 Lifelogging Apps to Log Personal Data
    Want to keep track of your life for posterity, or just get to know your personal habits better? Try these lifelogging apps.

  • 14 Nerdy Places Where You Can Get Your Geek On
    A list of places and events all around the United States geared towards nerd and geek culture.

  • Top News of the Week

  • Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Bids Tearful Farewell
    Video has surfaced showing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer bidding farewell to his employees with his trademark mix of emotion and enthusiastic physicality.

  • Apple Will Pay Some iPad Owners Cash in Legal Settlement
    Consumers who purchased an iPad 3G before June 7, 2010, are eligible to receive cash and discounts from Apple and AT&T after a lawsuit was settled Friday.

  • BlackBerry Agrees to Be Acquired for $4.7 Billion
    Fairfax Financial Holdings has agreed to acquire BlackBerry in a deal worth $4.7 billion.

  • Image: Flickr, jakobhans

    Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/09/29/25-digital-media-resources-3/

    How to Organize Family Plans With Google Calendar


    If your family has a lot of soccer games, school projects and piano lessons, the old paper calendar just won’t cut it. Google Calendar is an online calendar system that’s perfect for busy families with multiple schedules. It’s easy to use, share and sync. Here’s a basic how-to guide on using the tool.

    Google Calendar Basics

    You need a Google account to use Google Calendar. If you don’t have one, it’s easy and free to create. After registering for an account, you can access the calendar from Google.com/Calendar or from the menu bar at the top of your Google or Gmail home page.

    You’ll see a pretty standard calendar view, set by default to show you one week at a time. If you’d rather see the entire month or just one day at a time, click the appropriate button at the top right of the page.

    To add an event to your calendar, click the date and time. A popup window will appear where you can add pertinent details. If you want to add a location or description, invite guests or set the event to repeat, click Edit Event. (We’ll get to some of those other options in a minute.)

    You can also click on the red Create button in the upper left to quickly add an event to your calendar. You can use Google Calendar to simply enter events on the basic calendar page. But where this calendar really shines is its ability to add multiple calendars to one account, view some or all of them at the same time and share with family and friends.

    Share Your Google Calendar With Other Accounts

    On the left sidebar under the calendar where it says “My calendars,” you’ll find a small arrow. If you click it, you’ll see “Create new calendar.” That’s where you can create your first new calendar. As an example, we’ve used a fictional child named Sarah, who takes violin lessons and is on the swim team.

    Enter your calendar’s name along with a description, if you’d like. The location field is optional, but make sure the time zone is set to your location.

    We advise against making your family’s calendars public, for safety reasons. You can share your calendars with specific friends and family members if you’d like, but you don’t want strangers knowing when you’re home and when you’re away.

    Under the section labeled “Share with specific people,” you can enter the email addresses of other Gmail users’ calendars that you’d like to be able to see. You can choose whether they can edit the calendar, see all event details or just see if you’re busy.

    Once you’ve set everything the way you want it, click on “Create calendar.” You’ll go back to your main calendar screen, where you’ll now notice that Sarah’s calendar is listed under your own.

    You can choose a different color for it, plus other options from the pull-down menu to the side. Now when you create an event, you’ll have the option to put it on your calendar or Sarah’s, and it will appear on your calendar in Sarah’s color.

    Repeat the process to create a calendar for every family member — even pets, if you’d like. Don’t forget Fido’s obedience classes and the cat’s vet appointment. Choose a different color for everyone, and you’ll be able to see at a glance who’s supposed to be where and when.

    Never Forget a Birthday

    You can create recurring events on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis — a great trick for remembering birthdays and anniversaries. Just add an all-day event (which you can do either from the event creation page or by clicking on the box above the calendar but below the day itself), and set it to repeat every year on that date.

    You can also set up reminders for certain events, which can be set to a popup or email that occurs at a time of your choosing.

    This is great for remembering things that aren’t a normal occurrence. Choose to receive a daily agenda email for each calendar to give you an overview of what’s happening for everyone.

    It’s easy to stress out over all the moving parts of today’s modern family life. But with the right tools, you’ll feel like you have your very own concierge.

    Image courtesy of iStockphoto, VadimPO

    This article originally published at Tecca

    Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/07/07/how-to-use-google-calendar/