Free Apps for All!

computer apps, ipad, iphone, computer, computer games, Steph is a 15-year-old writer from Quezon City, Philippines. She also likes to draw, surf the Internet a lot, play video games, and daydream in her free time. Because of her laid back nature, she wants to get a job that she would at least enjoy, and dreams of becoming a best-selling novelist some day.

My dad’s the thrifty sort of guy. He always considers things before actually buying them, and so it pushed me to look around for stuff that has no cost at all. And once we got an iPad, it opened new possibilities for the entire family as another way to go to the Internet off the desktop computer and another gaming device.

So now I’m going to share with you a few apps that I found for free in the app store, and while the fact that they’re free would normally have some limits on them, it’s still fun enough to last you for hours and it’s for everybody (most of the time).

These apps aren’t listed in any particular order, and I don’t really have a favorite (as I prefer the computer).

Tilt to Live
This is the first game that we got that entertained the whole family for quite a while. As the name says, you have to tilt the iPad as you navigate a cursor-like thing and avoid red dots of doom as you try to kill them with weapons placed around the screen. You have to make sure that you don’t come in contact with them or else you’re going to die, and that game is a one life sort of thing, so a game over is a game over with no extra chances. The free version has four basic weapons and a Classic mode unlocked.
If you’re into games that are fast paced, arcade-like and extremely addicting, then this is the game for you. If not, it will grow on you, because it’s normal for you not to be skilled on this game in your first try.
iTunes Preview: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tilt-to-live/id335454448?mt=8

Temple Run
Our family discovered this app way before it became a sensation in the web. Basically, you have a character (you can unlock more kinds with coins you get in the game) running from a bunch of black monkey demon things with white masks and you have to jump, duck, and tilt left and right to earn as many coins as you can and survive. Along the way are “power ups” that can attract coins without you getting to them, score bonuses, and even turn you invisible for a period of time, making you invincible against obstacles. If you haven’t tried this game yet, then you better get it now, because this is what replaced Tilt to Live for us, and it takes a good game to make our heads turn away from that app.
iTunes Preview: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/temple-run/id420009108?mt=8

Draw Something
Looking for a simple guessing game to play with your friends? You can download Draw Something and play with not only your Facebook friends, but also with anybody else around the world. You’re given a word, and you have to draw it. Make sure the other person can guess it, and he or she does it to you. It’s easy and it’s fun as well.
iTunes Preview: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/draw-something-free/id488628250?mt=8

Dragonvale
This is an app for those who want something more time consuming, similar to many Facebook games out there. You basically grow and breed adorable dragons in this game, earning money through others being attracted to your park. This allows you to buy more dragons and decorations~ While the game itself is free, you’re going to need money for some shortcuts, but I got through the game without them, so no need to worry.

iTunes Preview:  http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dragonvale/id440045374?mt=8
Official Site: http://www.backflipstudios.com/games/dragonvale/

Dropbox

Thanks to my computer teacher for introducing me this awesome site! This is originally something for the computer, but now it has an app of its own, and you can use it as long as you register on their website. Dropbox is a nifty little tool that allows you to store 2GB of files for free, but what’s the use of that? Well, if you install Dropbox on other devices or computers and log in there, your files will follow as well! (I used this software to put things I made at home and transferred it to school). That means that you don’t need a USB or anything as long as you have Dropbox and a working Internet connection. You can also expand it if you pay, but I think 2GB is quite big already, isn’t it?
Homepage: https://www.dropbox.com/

If you look around, you’ll find many things that are actually for free without you realizing it. You just have to search and find the right sources, and with that, you can find anything you need without having to spend a dime.

 

How Parents Can Limit Their Teen’s Time Spent On Facebook

Ara is a 16-year-old from Edmonds, WA. She enjoys blogging, spending time with her family and hopes to somehow incorporate her passion of writing into what she does in the future.

 

 

Facebook is extremely addictive. Many studies show, teens spend an average of 16 hours on the Internet per week, with a considerable amount of that time coming from the usage of Facebook. Research shows that excessive amounts of time spent on any Internet site by teens can lead to obesity, impaired relationships between teens and their parents and even psychological problems (http://www.stltoday.com). Although it may seem a difficult task to pry teens away from Facebook for few hours a week, it is definitely a possible task.

 

Things parents can do:

 

  1. Consider internet/Facebook as a privilege that is earned after daily activities and homework is completed (this is especially a good idea if Facebook is interfering with your teen’s ability to accomplish daily tasks).

 

  1. Be a good role model. If your teen is seeing you browsing the Internet or Facebook all of the time, you may be setting the wrong example for them if you are trying to get them to use Facebook less—they may think “if they use Facebook/the Internet a lot too, then there must be nothing wrong with being on Facebook for x hours a week”.

 

  1. Interact! By spending some time consistently face-to-face with your teen without Facebook you can help remind them that communication through the use of technology and Internet sites should not replace communication in real life. Also, it is helpful to include family activities that do not involve Facebook.

 

Overall, although it seems like a daunting task, it is completely possible to limit the time your teen spends on Facebook with some reasonable, realistic methods.

 

Photo Credit: Goiaba from Flickr

Digital World: Alone Together

technology, internet, loneliness, computer, social networkA study from the University of Bristol showed that the more time a child spends looking at screens, the more feelings of loneliness, sadness and negativity are reported.

 

When I shared this study with my teen interns, most of them were amazed. In fact, one said, “But when I am online I am with so many people.” But are we?

 

Yes, when we are on Facebook we have 1000 plus friends and lots of people to chat with. Online games are often with users half-way around the world. Chatrooms are abundant. So are we alone when we are online?

 

We are alone together.

 

Technology has affected friendships in many ways. You can be friends through your machines and friends with your machines—many teens half-jokingly refer to their iPhone as iPrecious in reference to Golum’s obsession with his ring in Lord of the Rings.

 

Here are a few problems with online friendships:

 

1) They are just social enough to quell the need for people to go out and spend time with friends in person—or find new friends.

 

2) Friendships can stay very surface, it is harder online to make deep connections.

 

3) There is a false sense of intimacy. When you are chatting with someone online in your bedroom, sitting in your PJs on your bed, it feels intimate, even if you are only talking about surface ideas.

 

4) Relationships become ‘tethered.’ We feel we have to constantly check-in with our friends and they can see what we are doing without us necessarily knowing.

 

5) Online relationships also need to be defined much faster—labels on Facebook, social networks or virtual worlds.

 

6) We know what our friends are doing, but we didn’t necessarily tell them ourselves because they can check in with our updates and profiles.

 

7) Our avatars our friends. What we put online is a crafted version of our self. We put up what we want people to see, perhaps an ideal or limited view. So our avatars our friends with each other, as opposed to actually seeing each other for who we are.

 

8) Communication is different in writing—venting, talks, posts are different online than they are in person (for better or worse).

 

I am not saying that relationships are all bad. Technology has also given us access to relationships we might never have had, it keeps families in touch, it allows people to connect on some level with each other. However, we must balance online and offline relationships. We have to work to minimize the bad effects above with the positive effects of having online connections. As technology becomes more abundant, we have to keep some relationships sacred.

 

Citations:

Scientific American: Preteens and Glowing Screens

Advice for Students: Online Software

Julia is a 17-year old junior from New York City. She swims, plays the violin and loves spending time with her English bulldog Louie.
For students trying to challenge themselves with increasingly difficult high school classes, outside tools can be extremely helpful. Many top-tier universities have released helpful educational tools, including video/podcast lectures, handouts and even sometimes tests or exams to help high school students looking to challenge themselves or supplement their high school curriculums or even professionals hoping to expand their knowledge.

Some of the more helpful tools include OpenCourseWare (OWC) and
iTunes U. OWC is a free educational tool accessed online. Universities such as MIT and Yale post video lectures and PDF files on a website that can be accessed by anyone. Courses range in difficulty from intro classes to more advanced and specific classes, and include a wide variety of topics within multiple fields of discipline including science, humanities, math and engineering. Not all courses offer full access, but many courses have enough to be an extremely helpful tool to anyone struggling
with a topic or looking to learn a little bit beyond what their high school classes will teach them. Just this past year I watched an intro to biology lectures while prepping for my high school biology midterm. The class covered exactly what I was learning and helped clear up a few of my questions.

Another great tool is the iTunes U section of the iTunes store. Also completely free, it is open to anyone with an iTunes account.  It has tons of how to and educational tools, not all tied to universities but all helpful. Episodes, which are either visual or audio, can be downloaded individually or an entire class can be downloaded. Prestigious universities such as Harvard, Yale and MIT also offer video lectures.

Most OpenCourseWare classes can also be accessed so that videos can be watched from an iPod or other apple device.  Additionally, for students looking at colleges, this can be a great way to visit a college on a budget; sit in on a class or two with a professor on a topic that interests you and get a sense of what it is like. These tools are incredibly useful and expansive and are a great resource for pretty much anything you are looking to do. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this free resource!

Did you like this post? Check out our new book: Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I’m Grounded? This is the groundbreaking new parenting book written by Vanessa and her teens! Get a secret view into the world of adolescents and prescriptive advice on everything from lying, to texting to procrastination.

How Facebook Worked For Me

Pranshu is a 13-year old that lives in San Jose, CA. He enjoys reading and playing the saxophone.Facebook by Franco Bouly.

When I left my old school after sixth grade, I worried that I would not be able to contact or talk to my old friends. I had forgotten I had a Facebook.

I signed up for a Facebook account in the middle of the year. I never used it after that. One of my friends had asked me before,”Why don’t you have a Facebook?” I replied that I didn’t really participate in Internet fads, and that it would be over soon. Just to make him stop pestering me though, I did get one anyway. I never used it after that.
As I sat there playing cards with my friends, I felt sad that I wouldn’t be able to keep in touch with most of my friends there, as one of them was going to the same school I was heading to. Then I heard someone say, “I’ll add you on Facebook.”
At that moment, I remembered that I had a Facebook. I asked some of my friends if they had a Facebook account. Most of them didn’t because they didn’t want to get sucked into it, like I thought before.
After the last day of school, I added whoever was my friend at school. I also added other friends I knew before, as well as family members. I could talk to my friends again. I could help my friends again. I was
relieved.
Whenever someone needed an opinion, they would post something up, and I would try my best to answer their problem. If I needed help, I would ask them. I could message them if they wanted to hang out somewhere, or just to chat.
A year and a half later was the first time I asked for help from my friends. One of my friends was ignoring me, and I didn’t know why. This was after our school’s award ceremony, so I suspected it was
jealousy, but I wasn’t sure. I tried approaching him about it, but he ran away every time. I posted a note on Facebook and got replies back within the hour.
One person said that people like him aren’t worth the trouble, and that I should just forget about it. She explained it quite colorfully. Another one of my friends said to try to resolve what happened and see
why he was avoiding me. I went to ask why he was avoiding me, in front of all our mutual friends. He replied something obnoxious, and I knew that he was jealous over some stupid thing. I severed ties with him.
I felt like I did the right thing, so I didn’t feel bad about what I did. As one of my friends stated, “What did YOU do? It’s his fault.” Without the color, though. With those words, I realized that some
people aren’t worth the trouble in the first place, and that Facebook friends may not be the right friends. But it still is one of the best ways to contact someone without being face-to-face.

Battle of the Social Networks: Facebook, Formspring, and Twitter.

Sam is a 15-year-old from Montgomery, NJ. She enjoys playing tennis, writing and Community Service. Her favorite subject in school is History.

While Facebook is the biggest social networking site on the planet with more members than the entire population the United States, other social networking sites such as the celebrity-adored Twitter and the up-and-coming Formspring are catching on fast. So which site will come out on top? I compared the three sites in different categories.

Concept:

Facebook: Like a cleaner, safer, more Ivy-League version of MySpace (Mark Zuckerberg, its creator, attended Harvard). However, there are limits to how many friends and groups you can add, and expect frequent, slightly annoying layout changes, and the complaints that follow (“LIKE OMG I HATE THE NEW FACEBOOK!!!”)

Formspring: A question-and-answer site that allows people to ask you questions, either under a screen-name or anonymously. A pretty innovative idea that’s received a significant amount of controversy for its anonymity…maybe too much controversy, as there have been reports of fights and suicides due to cyberbullying.

Twitter: Similar to the status feature of Facebook, but choose your words carefully, as it’s a 140 character limit. Celebrities LOVE this site, too! Can be addictive, but can also be a bit dull compared to the other two.

The Winner: Facebook

Individuality of Profiles:

Facebook: Add every application, group, and fan page you want, and feel free to alter your personal interests, general info, and even your name. On the other hand, you better get used to royal blue and white, because it’s the only background you can use.

Formspring: Add a background (yes!) and a profile picture, and change your location, your greeting, and the name that pops up in searches. But the only application you have is the big white box on the page. In addition, they also give a limit to your bio.

Twitter: As for backgrounds, put whatever you want, like a Formspring. Also like Formspring, you might have to keep your bios short and eliminate any chance of using your favorite Facebook apps.

The Winner: Facebook

Interacting with People

Facebook: There are the basics of any social networking site: the Wall, the Inbox, the Chat, the Status. Maybe the people at Facebook need to do something more creative with these basics and make sure they’re always working (so I don’t scream at my little chat box every time something doesn’t send)?

Formspring: If you want to share inside jokes, make a complement to someone outside your social circle, or get the guts to complement that guy or girl you’ve had a crush on, here’s a chance to do it without embarrassment. However, this site may give people who don’t have the nerve to tell someone off a little bit more confidence than they should.

Twitter: The only thing that seems to be connecting you and your friends is pressing the Shift and 2 keys, then writing a screen-name. Between that and re-tweeting your friends’ posts, there doesn’t seem that much to do.

The Winner: Formspring

The Celebrity Factor

Facebook: Most celebrities have “fan pages” where you can “like” their page, statuses, photos, and write on their wall. Some of these pages are intertwined with their Twitter pages. However, there are many pages for certain celebs, so it can be difficult to figure out which ones are the official profiles.

Formspring: Celebrities have appeared to avoid this social network. I could only picture how many hate messages certain celebrities will get if they made one.

Twitter: Celebrities are addicted to Twitter as they are with dieting and exercising. Certain celebrities (even B-listers and has-beens) have grown their fan bases because of Twitter. Oh, and there is definitely a bigger chance of your favorite celebrity replying to your tweet. However, some celebs like to abuse Twitter with misspelled rants or TMI tidbits (Spencer Pratt and John Mayer, this means you!)

The Winner: Twitter

There are many aspects of Facebook, Formspring, and Twitter that work as great tools in this crazy world of social networking. While Twitter may be the best for keeping up with your favorite stars, Formspring is better if you want to boost your confidence on the Internet. However, these two sites do not compare with the behemoth that is Facebook. With a great concept and tons of individuality, Facebook is truly the best social network out there.

Internet Addiciton Disorder: 10 Tips If You Have An Addiction to the Internet

Internet Addiction Disorder, also known as IAD is excessive computer use that may interfere with daily life.  Internet Addicts are more common than we think and more and more people are struggling with their addiction to the Internet on personal, social and mental levels. Many parents write in to us about their kids overusing the Internet asking what they can do about it.

How Do You Know If You Are Addicted to the Internet?

There are a few different indicators for internet addiction disorder. See if any of these apply to you or our child.

__You often find yourself wanting to go home to use the Internet instead of participating in something outside of the Internet.

__You often spend more time than expected on the Internet.

__You often neglect household chores because of the Internet.

__You have more online relationships than offline relationships.

__When you have not gone on the Internet you feel anxious, lonely or depressed.

__Other people in your life often complain about the amount of time you spend online.

__The first thing you do when you wake up in the morning or before you go to sleep is check the Internet.

__You spend more than 4 hours of non-work time online each day.

__Your schoolwork, job or other obligations are often put on hold because you check email or do activities online.

__You get fearful or upset at the idea of not having Internet for an extended period of time.

If you marked yes to more than three of these, you might use the Internet excessively and that could turn into an addiction.  The Internet is a wonderful, fun, educational, social tool.  But, it cannot take you out of real life. Here are some tips for keeping your Internet use under control and lessening the chances of becoming an Internet addict:

Tips for Stopping Internet Addiction Disorder

1. Keep A Time Log

I highly recommend keeping a time log of how much time you spend online.  This might be a lot more than you think and is the first step to recognizing how serious your Internet Addiction is.

2. Work vs Play

Internet Addiction is becoming harder and harder to diagnose because so many people work online.  Therefore it is hard to differentiate between work and play. Once you have kept a general time log you want to keep a log of when you are working online and when you are not.  This way you are able to see if you are really online for work and if your working is addiction in itself–if you are a workaholic not an Internet Addict.

3. Figure Out What Specifically

If you do not work online then keep a log of what activities you are doing.  Is it Facebook specifically? Email? Chat? Many people lump the Internet into one big pile, but you might not have a problem with everything, just one aspect of being online and that is what you can work on.

4. Find Your Trigger

Many people have a trigger that keeps them on the Internet for excessive amounts of time. Keep notes of your online path.  Mine looks like this in the morning:

Email-Facebook-Email-Stumbleupon-Blog-Email-Gchat-Email-Google Docs-Email-Google Reader=2.75 hours

5. Stop the Cycle

I quickly realized it wasn’t Facebook or GChat that was keeping me sucked into the online vortex it was email.  So I cut it out to see what happened.

Email-Facebook-Stumbleupon-Blog-Gchat-Google Docs-Google Reader-Facebook=1.3 Hours

I saved a ton of time and realized if I only checked my email every two hours I still got the same amount (more done) and no one for work had to wait to long.

6. Talk About It

I think more people need to know about IAD or Internet Addiction Disorder.  Talking about it with people you are close with will help you feel not ashamed and spread the word that this is a problem in our society now.

7. Get Accountability

You also might want to tell a few people and then have them check on you.  Talk to them about how mornings are your worst Internet time and then work near them or go to coffee with them so they can help you work through it.  Or if you have a problem getting off of chat ask them if it would be ok for them not to talk to you on chat anymore except to remind you to take a break.

8. Put Up Hour Limits

Set some clear time limits for yourself.  Set kitchen timers, have your roommate unplug your router and put post-its above your computer reminding you to take breaks.

9. Make A Reward

This is a tough thing.  The Internet should be addictive–it’s awesome! So go slow and reward yourself when you meet your time limits or only check email twice per day (just do not let the reward be more Internet time).

10. Check-Ins

This is a process.  We all go through ups and downs.  On vacation or in the summer I check the Internet a lot less, and it is not a problem, same with weekends.  Make sure to keep checking in with yourself.   I try to start a new time log every 4-6 months just to check-in.  My latest one showed a spike in time on Twitter which was not even around at my last check-in and it is something I had to take into account for why I was spending more time online.

Most importantly, do not feel ashamed if you or your child is addicted to spending time online.  There are a lot of mom internet addicts as well and it is important to be open about your problem and ask for help if you need it.

7 Ways to Beat Internet Addiction and Netoholicism

7 Ways to Beat Internet AddictionMy name is Vanessa, and I am a Netoholic.

Internet addiction n problematic, pathological or excessive computer use that interferes with daily life. Also know as a ‘Netoholic.’

Internet addiction is a bit strong, but I think that minor electronic addiction affects us all in some way. Here are 7 steps and ideas to help slow, stop or at least acknowledge your, your kid’s or your significant other’s internet addiction disorder.

Internet Addiction Recovery Tips:

1. Internet Addiction Symptoms Vary

If you think this post does not apply to you, you are probably wrong. Being addicted to something does not mean that you are not also a normal functioning person. A minor addiction can be just as troubling. If you ever feel compulsive or anxious about not being online or missing something when you are away from your computer, then this can be something to address in your life.

2. Accept

Ending your denial about your addictions is the first step to recovery. As I mentioned above, addiction comes in all levels. I spend about 12 hours a day online. This is OK with me as long as I know I will be OK if I unplug at anytime, take frequent small breaks and day or week long breaks. It is a constant effort to keep checking in with myself to make sure I am leaving the drug every once in a while and when I feel myself crossing over to online land as a permanent resident I recognize that I need to take a step back.

3. Facebook Addiction

Stop pingxiety:

Pingxiety n The state of anxiety that arises from hearing an email, IM, Social network ‘ping’ or alert.

I slowly began to realize that whenever my google notifier makes its little ding, my heart flutters and clammy hands until I get to see who the email is from is not healthy. I also found the same amount of anxiety when my text message sound came on, someone pinged me on gchat, I got a retweet…you get the idea. I have now turned off my google notifiers, stopped automated notifications of social network pings, updates, tweets and messages and have my phone on silent for texts and voicemails. To address my pingxiety and consequent electronic addiction, I have turned off the reminders of my drug and now only check at designated times. (Helpful to those of you who send me pitches via email to be on our blog)

  • Check email at 8am, 12pm, 5pm (only respond to urgent emails)
  • Respond to all other emails ONLY Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10-12…and you would be surprised, but I am polite about this and people deal with it. Instead of having 5 short emails back and forth, we just have 2 long ones.
  • Check phone only when on break (waiting in line, waiting for my oatmeal to heat up, after checking email before I workout, etc)
  • Gchat/IM is always off and I go on when I want to specifically talk to someone
  • Twitter/Facebook only gets checked when I am bored and through my phone out of the house (lines, 5 minutes early to an appointment etc)

Amazingly, I still get everything done even in these shortened hours. The hours I am still online, but I am doing fun or necessary projects and I am in control of my actions, instead of my actions being ruled by my pings.

4. Share, Share, Share

Ask for help! Talk to others about this! Everyone is having their own difficulties with this problem. Talking to others will help you feel less alone and share tactics, ideas and vent about how to fix it. You can also get a buddy to help you unplug every once in a while.

5. Find Healthy Substitutes

The reason the Internet can be so addictive is because it is often times the strongest source of pleasure and satisfaction in a person’s life. I find I go to the Internet to fill up space in my life–when I am bored (chat with people from College), when I am sad (to watch funny videos), when I want knowledge on something (to read an article). When people cannot find passion, inspiration and happiness from life itself, they turn to their virtual lives. Therefore, in order to beat Internet Addiction, I had to find things in real life that could fill up that emptiness I was feeling. For me, these substitutes included:

  1. Dance classes
  2. Having friends over more often
  3. Travel on weekend trips where I did not bring my computer
  4. Joining a gym
  5. Playing with other friends and neighbors pets because I cannot have one of my own
  6. Getting real life board games

6. Is Computer Addiction Stress Management?

Not only can using the Internet be a filler for joy it can also be stress management. It is off that the Internet can simultaneously be the cause of all stress while at the same time being the only way to ease stress. The most important thing here is to realize what you do and how you use the Internet if you are stressed. I realized when I was feeling anxious about something in my life I would go through my email and website bookmarks and mindlessly sort and organize them. Once I realized this was not a necessity, but simply a coping mechanism to my real life stress, I started to organize instead my files, my closet, my bookshelves just so I was not mindlessly spending so much time online…and my house gets really clean.

7. Safeguards to Balance Addictions to Electronics

Once you recognize the steps above you need to start building in more safeguards to protect yourself from numbing use and addiction disorder.

  • Get some of those real life fillers that make you happy
  • Figure out how you use the Internet for stress and find other outlets in the real world.
  • Setting a schedule or time limits for how much time you spend online
  • Take day long, week long and hour breaks regularly.
  • Stop pings if you can.
  • Get a buddy to check-in with
  • Comment, vent, divulge on this post to see if anyone else feels the same way.
  • Avoid people or places that encourage the over-use of the Internet.

This is an important topic to discuss with people who you are close with as well, especially young people. Whenever I give talks to teenagers and tweens about the Internet, I talk to them about Internet addiction, Internet addiction symptoms and how to deal with it and recover from computer or Facebook addiction. Talk about it and understand it is a process, but acceptance is the first step to recovery.