YouTube Kids App Review

YouTube is the video sharing website on the world wide web. It’s such a huge network that when you search Google for any given topic you’re sure to find videos in the results. The great thing about YouTube is that anyone can upload content to the platform. The bad thing about YouTube when it comes to kids is that anyone can upload content to YouTube.

Parents are often left trying to sort a way to help their kids watch videos on YouTube whether it’s those crazy popular unboxing videos or Minecraft tutorials without their kids stumbling on content that’s full of adult content or worse gratuitous cursing.

Finally, finally! Google has launched a new app for kids over 5 called YouTube Kids. The app is available now and it’s free on Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

YouTube Kids Review

YouTube Kids App

We downloaded the app today and spent some time looking through the features and videos. Parents, this is exactly what you’ve been looking for-a video player that only features kid-friendly YouTube channels. Kids, you’ll like it, too-I promise.

Kid-Friendly Menu

YouTube for Kids Homepage

It has a menu that includes Shows, Music, Learning, and Explore. Recommended channels are under each header and include some your kids probably already watch like the LEGO channel, Stampylongnose, PBS Kids, TED Ed, storybots, and shows like Sesame Street and Peppa Pig.

Kid-Friendly Graphics and Audio

It features a fun intro graphic when you open the app, music that plays while the app is open, and fun noises when you scroll or switch channels.

Search

You’ll also find a search magnifying glass where you can search for content they already love.

Our Initial Thoughts

While I was skeptical that my 9 and 10-year-old would like the interface they surprised me by liking it. More so they like that I don’t have to be over their shoulders while they watch a new channel to make sure they aren’t hearing an f bomb every two seconds. I feel comfortable with hem exploring in the next room without worrying about them stumbling on content that is adult. I’m all for adult content-just not for young kids.

In addition to the easy to use interface there is an area for grownups only that allows you to turn on and off the sound effects, search, and even set up a timer. Unfortunately, this is easily accessed with a passcode on the screen. I’m hoping in future updates they will allow parents to sign in and choose a permanent passcode so that setting a timer and other settings can’t be adjusted by small people.

grownups area YouTube Kids app

I’ll be back to update this post next week with further thoughts.

Centsible Rating

  • Cost: ¢¢¢¢¢
  • Quality: ¢¢¢¢¢
  • Value: ¢¢¢¢¢

Overall: ¢¢¢¢¢

You can read the official statement here and click over to Google Play or the App Store to get the app now. For more apps I’ve shared in our tech section.

Kelly

All images are from the YouTube Kids app.

Yummly: Finding new recipes to try and share

Yummly is an app and website that allows you to find and share recipes you want to try. It’s got a ton of great recipes from blogs, websites, and brand created recipes in one place. The best part? You can search with all kinds of options like ingredient, allergy, nutrition info, calories, cost, time, course, and more.

Yummly

Yummly is something my husband introduced me to and we’ve been able to share recipes with one another so we can decide what to cook for new recipe night. If you’ve been following along you know we’ve been having a weekly new recipe night. It’s been great way to find new items to rotate into our menu.  It’s incredibly helpful to find things that fit our healthier diets and the time constraints we often face with busy schedules.

When you ‘yum’ a recipe it saves it to your account so you can find it easily later. You can also access those same recipes from the app to help you find them on the go. It’s super helpful if you’re shopping for groceries and forgot to add something to your list.

In addition, our daughter loves to cook and bake and she’s been able to share recipes she wants to make with us. It has helped me buy ingredients for her when I’m at the store or gives me the opportunity to veto it if it’s too complicated or time-consuming.

You can download the Yummly app or head to Yummly.com to look for recipes and try it out. I recently added a Yummly plugin to the blog so you can easily print recipes or ‘yum’ directly from the site to save them to your account.

Here’s a sneak peek at what it looks like on the Oreo ‘ice cream’ recipe:

Oreo ice cream recipe Yummly

You can find all my ‘yums’ here: Kelly Whalen on Yummly. Would love to see what you ‘yum’!

Kelly

Life 360 Gets you Organized and Stay in Touch #sponsored

Where are you?

Are you on your way home

Did you get to your friend’s house ok?

How many times a week do you have text or phone calls where you are checking in on family members or friends? I checked and in the last week I’ve had similar text messages nearly a dozen times!

What if you could simplify and save time by downloading an app that allows you to check in with the people you love easily? Life360 is an Android and iPhone app that allows you to do that, and so much more.

Life360 logo

What is Life360?

I’m always a fan of free, and Life360 offers a free version as well as a premium version. In the free version you’ll be able to create circles and use a variety of features such as ‘Check In’ which allows you to check into a location to let everyone in your circle know that you’ve arrived.

You can also send a panic alert should you need to notify your circle of an emergency situation in only 10 seconds. While it’s something I hope I’d never need to use it’s nice to know that you can alert your circle. This could be useful for a number of reasons such as a pregnant mom going into labor, a child who is locked out, and more. It’s a great way to get ahold of everyone immediately.

Panic Alert

What if you need to get ahold of your circle for less immediate reasons? Maybe you need to let your friends know you’re running late to a dinner out. Or perhaps you want to find out what’s cooking for dinner. It’s simple to send a quick note to your circle, and you can customize your message for whatever you need to share.

Quick Message to Circles Life360

In addition you can upgrade to Premium service for $5/month or $50/annually. This will allow all members of your circle to have access to live advisors 24/7 (great for roadside assistance), unlimited places you can check in and unlimited location lookups, as well as stolen phone protection. With Life360 you can locate a lost or stolen phone, but with Premium service you can claim $100 towards your next phone if your phone is stolen.

Life360 Premium Features $100 phone protection Life360 Premium

Life360 is a useful tool for organizing contacts whether it’s used to check in on your kids, keep track of when your spouse is headed home from work, or check in with friends or colleagues when you’re out and about.

Ideas Life360 shares for using their awesome app.

Keep family & friends separate with Circles
We default to the Family Circle, but you’ll want to create more for the other people in your life. Aunts & Uncles, perhaps? Babysitters? Dog walkers? Marathon pace team? The sky’s the limit.

You’re the boss.
When you create a Circle, you get to decide who is invited and who gets the boot. Perfect for when Nancy creates a scandal and gets kicked out of the PTA.

Location sharing is up to you.
Not everyone needs to know where you are at all times. Location sharing is specific to each Circle, and you can turn it off and on whenever you want.

Where to get Life360:

Download the app in Android or iPhone here. You can also learn more about Life360 on their website.

Kelly

Disclosure: As a principle of Splash Creative Media I am working Life360 on a campaign to raise awareness about their product and features. The opinions contained within are mine and mine alone.

Science and Fun with Sid the Science Kid App {Sponsored}

I’m always on the lookout for new apps for my kids, especially ones that sneak in a little learning while they play. Mindshapes asked me to share info about a new app they developed with one of our favorite characters, Sid the Science Kid. After playing with the app I knew readers would love it too.

With the latest Sid movie,  Sid the Science Kid: The Movie  (available on DVD),  an app was released to further educate kids and engage them with science fun.

SID's Side to the Side

Sid the Science Kid: Sid’s Slide to the Side is an awesome iOS app (available for iTouch, iPad, and iPhone) that combines story and games called in an ‘appisode’ format. It’s a story-based adventure where kids will watch and play along with games and activities. It will keep your kids engaged with songs and games along with their favorite character Sid the Science Kid.

Slide to the Side activities

While the app is educational the kids will be so entertained they won’t even realize they are learning something new! This appisode features Sid the Science Kid and teaches kids all about friction.

Friction Sid the Science Kid

My first grader is learning this in school right now, so I was excited to have him try out the app and test his knowledge. He’s a science lover and throughly enjoyed the app, getting to learn more than he did at school about the concepts and playing fun games too.

My third grader also had fun figuring out which surface to use in the games, as well as getting a refresher on the science concepts behind friction.

Games featured:

Push-a-Puck: Explores the concept of friction through choices of materials and a variety of combinations. As kids play levels progress so that kids learn even more.

Sid’s Speedway: Go-Kart racing game that teaches about friction with a fun race.

Sid's Speedway

Our Review of Sid the Science Kid: Sid’s Slide to the Side

Audrey’s Review: “The story is fun, and the games were neat to play around with. I wish it had more games!”

Aidan’s Review: “I loved it! We’re learning about this (friction) at school, you know. I really liked the games!”

My review: After the kids played around with the app I took a turn as well. It’s a fun app that engaged me and I loved the way it allowed you to play with a variety of materials to teach about friction. Most importantly it kept the kids engaged, and they both came away from the app with science facts and information to share with me.

Download Sid the Science Kid: Sid’s Slide to the Side  via iTunes for iPod, iPad, or iPhone for only $2.99  

About Sid the Science Kid:  
Sid the Science Kids
Sid the Science Kid, produced by The Jim Henson Company, is a groundbreaking TV series which airs weekdays on PBS KIDS. The series uses comedy to promote exploration, discovery and science readiness among early learners. Find all things Sid, including videos, songs, games and activities at pbskids.org/sid.

About Mindshapes:  
Mindshapes creates fun learn and play educational applications for kids. The company has offices in London, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Mindshapes has released several award-winning kids’ apps for iPhone and iPad and has plans for many more! Learn more at: www.mindshapes.com, @mindshapes, and facebook.com/mindshapes.

Kelly

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Mindshapes new app, Side the Science Kid: Slide to the Side.

Dinorama App: Teaching Kids Money Skills

The makers of Dinorama  asked me to try out their app since they knew my readers and I would love it, and I think they’re right! Dinorama is an app that’s designed to teach young kids money management and savvy saving skills. It’s not only a fun app, but it teaches tons of valuable skills. My favorite part though? NO advertising, and NO in-app purchases!  While we have our settings turned off (so the kids can’t make in-app purchases anyway) it’s a nice change to have an app that’s not encouraging spending more.
Dinorama Park

The app has quickly become a go-to favorite in our house. No, I did not play it myself for hours….okay, I did. Both because I love to test out stuff before I hand it over to the kids, and because it was so much fun!

What is  Dinorama?

Dinorama is an iPad app that helps you design and care for your own dinosaur park. The idea and execution are simple, but it offers hours of playtime and learning fun.  While there are loads of features I’ll share the reason it’s a great fit for the blog is because it teaches kids about saving and making smart investments.

Here’s how it works.
You have your own Dinosaur Park. To start you’re walked through how to set up your park, care for your animals, and how you earn money and stickers. Money is the currency you use to purchase new attractions or pet dinos for your park, as well as feed your animals and care for their habitats. You can also earn money through attractions like a photo booth, café, and even upgrades to your dinosaur’s habitats. Stickers are collected to open new ‘shelves’ in the store where you can purchase habitat upgrades, attractions like a balloon stand, and hire workers like a tour guide for your park.

Customize your park.

Customizable park features include picking the names and colors of your dinosaurs, choosing upgrades to their habitats (which can also earn you additional money from visitors), and choosing where and what attractions you’d like in your park.

Take care of your dinos and park.

Dinorama Fixing Habitat
Caretaking  is a big part of the app as well. You have to maintain the habitats by scooping poo, cutting down webs, and fixing leaks. You also have to feed your dinos on a regular basis. A nice touch was that healthy foods give the animals energy while ‘treats’ get the dinosaurs to do a trick.

While kids will learn a lot about caretaking the main goal of Dinorama is to help kids learn to save more and spend wisely. Learning about dinosaurs is just the icing on the cake!

Learn to save and spend wisely.
To teach kids to weigh the savings they get from spending more the app uses some clever devices. For instance if you have a popcorn stand you can refill the popcorn stand with 15, 30, or 65 bags. The more you buy, the larger your profit. If you leave the popcorn stand unstocked, potential visitors won’t visit which means you won’t  receive  their admission. Thus the key to running a successful and profitable park then is to save up and purchase larger refills for bigger profits.

Dinorama restock attractions

Additionally there is a piggy bank that you can use to increase your savings. If you save more, you get more interest. It takes longer, but kids will soon learn it’s better to save for the long haul.

Dinorama Savings Bank

Money Skills Dinorama Teaches

Savings is rewarded.  The more you save and the longer you wait for your returns, the more you earn. This teaches kids about compound interest and long-term investing.

Profit margins are higher the more you spend. Whether it’s buying in bulk or making larger investments, kids are learning that buying in bulk can get you larger profits.

Managing multiple ‘assets’ requires attention to detail. Not only do kids have to keep their dinosaurs fed and happy, but they also have to stock stands at their park to ensure guests visit.

Know when to spend and when to save. The app quickly teaches you that overspending will lead to unhappy visitors and dinosaurs. Kids will learn that they have to maintain everything without overspending.

Save for a rainy day. You literally have to save for a rainy day in this app! When it rains, less visitors show up to your park, so you have to save up for those times to ensure you still have funds for stocking your park, and feeding your animals.

Maintenance is key. Without maintenance of the dino habitats and the park’s attractions you won’t earn as much.

Dinorama Reviews:

Dinorama Park 2

My Review:
This is a must-have app for teaching kids money skills in the guise of an app that’s fun to play! Any young child that loves app play and/or dinosaurs will love this app. Since the app is new I offered the makers my opinion and will share with you as well.  I’d love to see is a ‘login’ screen so multiple kids (ahem, and adults) can have their own parks. As it is now the app only allows you to create one park which cold making sharing tough. While most of the app is picture-based and easy enough for a non-reader to understand, there are some text portions. The text is shown, not read outloud which could make it tougher for non-readers. I helped my first grader read through the instructions anyway, but he had to ask me to read some of the tougher words the tour guide shared as well. Overall though those slight issues are easily improved in the later versions, and the app itself gets two big thumbs up from me.

Kids’ Review:

Aidan says, “I love that I can name my dinosaurs and pick their colors! That’s fun.” He also shared, “I was sad the first time my dinosaur ran away (from not caring for it), but then I learned how to care for them, and now they’re all happy. See, this guy is eating his broccoli trees right now.”

Audrey says, “I like everything about this! I love to save in the piggy bank, but I really like running the park and getting to pick everything that goes here.”

The bottom line:

All the  activities  in the app translate into some great conversations with kids about saving, spending, investing, and other money skills. It will open up discussions about spending smarter, saving for a rainy day, and more. If you have an iPad this app is a must-have.

Right now the app is on sale for only $1.99, that’s 60% off the regular price! You can learn more and download the Dinorama app on iTunes.

Kelly

Disclosure: Dinorama gifted me the app to try and compensated me for my time, but all opinions (and fun had!) are my own.  

Alexandra Rain App + Guitar Giveaway

I’m always looking for new apps to entertain the kids at those in between times. We like to have a few fun apps, but also some that focus on education and positive messages.

That’s why I’m excited to see the launch of the Alexandra Rain app-an app that focuses on modeling positive qualities like courage, love, and peace. The app follows the journey of a fashionable 8 year old little girl named Alexandra Rain, who calls herself a ‘Super Model Extraordinaire!’ While she enjoys modeling fun fashion styles, what she loves to model most is the kindness in her heart.

The definition of ‘model’ is understood in two different ways in the app and stories. Alex is a fashionista and likes to model clothes and jewelry, but her primary focus is modeling kind, positive behavior with each story focusing on a different message.

The first book in this series is all about courage. The book takes you through an interactive story about a typical day at school when Alexandra is afraid and needs to find her courage. Through a series of storylines and interaction she learns what courage is, and how to find her courage.

“The best fashion statement is what you model with your heart.” -Alexandra Rain

Whether your daughters love princesses, rock-n-roll, sports, or art the Alexandra Rain app teaches girls to be themselves.

Alexandra Rain App Features:

  • Dress Up: Calling all fashionistas! Girls can create their very own fashion creation with the Dress Up Alex feature.
  • Karaoke: Sing along to her hit single “You Can Model Love!”karaoke style and watch her music video “You Can Model Love.”
  • Coloring: Color the fun coloring pages featuring Alexandria!
  • Matching: Fun matching game!

Download the App:
Download the app, and enter to win a guitar, and join us for a twitter party to take part in the rockin’ fun.

Available on iTunes for only $1.99 starting November 14.

Twitter Party with $1,000 in prizes!

Twitter party November 14th at 1pm ET with over $1,000 in Rockin’ prizes!  RSVP here!

Links to Check Out:

Alexandra Rain website
Twitter
Facebook

Win a Daisy Rock Pink Glitter Guitar (ERV $300!)

Just in time for the holidays Alexandria Rain App is giving away Diasy Rock Pink Glitter Guitars to help your own girl be a ‘Super Model Extraordinaire!’.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Viewing this in a feed or mobile? You may need to click through to see the giveaway form.

Kelly

Emergency Safety with #bSafe App

Emergencies come up more often than we’d like in life. Whether it’s a financial emergency that dips into our emergency fund, or a medical emergency that requires fast action, life never goes exactly as we plan.

As my kids get older we talk a lot about various kinds of emergencies from fire safety to how to call 911, but I always think there is more we could do to be prepared.

I’m grateful we know live in the time of cell phones that are so smart. My oldest is just two years away from driving, and I worry about the time when the kids will all be off on their own.

While I was the kind of kid that played by the rules, once I got my license dropping off friends and going out sometimes meant I would come home a bit later than my parents would have liked. They asked for a simple phone call to check in if I was going to be late, and eventually bought me a pager (pink, thank you very much) so they could page me if they needed me to get in touch.

Smartphones are now in the hands of teens all over the world, and while I relish the fact that I can keep in close touch with my kids via cell phone when the time comes I worry about what kind of new trouble it presents. There will be lots of conversation about it in our house for sure, but close monitoring as well.

BipperKids is a solution we have been using for my son’s phone when he needs it. It allows us to see what he’s using the phone for and set usage, time and app limits. Bipper includes a location based feature that allows you to find your child (or their lost phone) easily. It’s made giving my 14 year old a cell phone that much easier to swallow since he knows I’m monitoring his use, and can track him down wherever he goes.

The GPS option became so popular that Bipper launched bSafe an app for adults and kids that is amazing in its’ simplicity. It uses geo-location to find you allowing you to hit one button to alert family and friends when an emergency arises. The SMS or call includes your location so your contacts can contact emergency services.

Here’s how bSafe works:

Step 1: Download bSafe.  You can download bSafe several ways:

  • enter your phone number at the  bSafe wabpage  to download via SMS
  • search for bSafe using the iTunes or the Android Marketplace
  • text bsafe to 84145

Step Two: Select ‘Guardians’ for your safety alarm. From my iPhone I was able to go directly to my contacts and choose my guardians. I also had the option of calling or texting the people I chose.

Step Three: Notify your guardians via text. This is optional, but I recommend it so they know you added them!

Step Four: Check out how it works. It’s a fairly simple setup, and there are some options to check your location, and set up a fake call to make sure it works.

In all setup took me less than 5 minutes including the time it took to read the terms of use provided. Now I’m all set in case of an emergency which gives me peace of mind, and will help me be less anxious when my kids are off on their own.

Would you use this app? What do you think of the features?

Kelly

Disclosure: This post is part of a compensated campaign with Bipper where I was paid for my time in evaluating the app. As always, all opinions are my own.

Mall apps: Fashion Friday

Malls can be tricky places to visit if you’re on a budget, and if you’re thrifty it may be downright painful to visit a mall, but sometimes it’s a must to pick up something you need (or want).

Technology is catching up to malls with some malls creating apps you can download to your iPhone, Droid or Blackberry. Now your smart phone will save you time and money while you shop.

The best part I think is the discounts! This adds another layering of discounts available to consumers in addition to Foursquare, Facebook Places, among others.

Marina Bay Sands shopping mall 3

The benefit of downloading an app for an out of town mall can be great as well. I know when we were in San Francisco we had to stare at the mall map for awhile to figure out where we were going, and it didn’t even occur to me that they might have an app!

Ways you can use mall apps (based on PRIET‘s  app and the info they shared with me):

  • Directory of Retailers: Search by store name, choose from a store category or view the store directory. More information is displayed about the store, including the option to locate the retailer on the interactive map, for easy navigation.
  • Sales & Promotions: This feature has the most up-to-date mall retailer specials, along with innovative, and coming soon will be customized app coupons that allow shoppers to show the mobile phone screen of the coupon to retailers for immediate discounts.
  • Dining Guide: Unique to the app as the restaurants are listed separately from the retailers, the Dining Guide offers a description of restaurants, along with locations.
  • Interactive Map: In addition to mall retailers and restaurants, the interactive map showcases elevators, escalators, restrooms, ATM machines, entrances, handicap access, customer service and the mall management office, when you tap the icons on the right.
  • Directions: The app links directly to Google Maps, providing shoppers with driving directions from any location.
  • Calendar of Events: From mall-wide sales to fashion shows, the malls’ upcoming events are listed here.
  • Movie Listings: If applicable, descriptions and show times of movies playing in the malls’ movie theaters are listed on this feature.
  • More Information: Another feature includes additional information, where consumers can peruse job openings, check mall hours, learn the latest fashion trends or contact mall management.   Coming soon, consumers will also be able to check balances of mall gift cards.

Your local mall app may have other options available on their app as well, these app options are based on PRIET Malls which is the owner my local mall.

Have you downloaded a mall app yet? Do you think it’s a great idea or a bad one?

I’m looking forward to using my local mall apps to score better deals when I do have to shop. ;)

Kelly

Creative Commons License photo credit:  Cimexus

SWAGG- get organized, give, and maybe win $100!

Did you get some of the $1,000,000,000s in gift cards purchased and given this holiday season? If you’re like me you want to keep them all in one place so you don’t forget about them, but the sheer number of them can really crowd your wallet and cramp your purse. That’s where SWAGG helps.

SWAGG helps you deal with the troublesome problem of how to deal with the overabundance of gift cards, loyalty & membership cards that clutter up your wallet or handbag.   You can load all those gift cards, loyalty cards, etc into your iPhone or Android mobile device.  Voila, now you can shop from your phone. Did I mention the app is free?

SWAGG also allows you to “give or get.”  Wondering what to give your sister-in-law Stephanie?  You can give a gift card directly from your mobile device. You can also enter your zip code upon downloading and get offers that are redeemable at stores in your area.

If giving and getting aren’t enough, the very download of the app gives back!   SWAGG has partnered with the non-profit organization Stand Up to Cancer. Every time you download the app between now and December 31,2011, SWAGG will donate $1 to Stand Up to Cancer – up to $125,000!

Win $100 SWAGG credit!

We’re having a little contest of sorts between the SWAGG ambassadors. Whoever gets the most comments on their blog that say “I downloaded the app,” wins a $100 SWAGG credit for one lucky reader!

So by downloading the app and leaving a comment you are entering to win $100 SWAGG credit, giving $1 to Stand Up to Cancer, and getting a free place to store all those loyalty and gift cards! That sounds like a win-win-win!

How to Enter

Leave a comment after you’ve downloaded the SWAGG app!

Bonus time!

You can also do the following for extra entries! (one per person) Leave a comment for each action you take. If you already Like or Follow, just say so in the comments.

GOOD LUCK!

Another way to win with SWAGG & CGC

You can also win a sweet Sundance getaway courtesy Clever Girls Collective and SWAGG! They are sending a lucky pair of movie fans to the Sundance Film Festival! The prize includes:

  • 2 night/3 day stay at Yarrow Hotel in Park City Utah (Jan 21 – Jan 23, 2011)
  • Ground transportation to and from hotel to airport in Park City, Utah
  • Dinner for two at Tao Lounge, including 2 nightclub passes/li>
  • All access to The House of SWAGG Gifting Suite
  • 2 tickets to a movie premiere on Saturday, January 22nd — movie tbd
  • Prize is valued at $4,000!

Kelly
Disclosure: I was selected to be a SWAGG Brand Ambassador by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity. This is a compensated program, but all of the opinions I share are my own.