Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Survival Guide: Kid Sites & Tech Support Tips

With Christmas morning mere hours away, there's two things on your mind: Keeping the kids occupied while you cook dinner, and figuring out that fancy new gadget gift.

I'm here to help!

First, with some kid-friendly websites:

Nickelodeon -- My own niece & nephew showed me this one... an assortment of educational, but fun, games will keep them occupied with characters they recognize and age-appropriate skill development.
Crayola -- As one might expect from the crayon-and-crafts maker, lots of activities and exercises to download and print. Great for the "road trip activity" resources.
Fisher-Price -- Proof it's never too young to get your child computing, the younger set will enjoy FP's simple colors and easy-to-manage colors, shapes and basic skills games. Enough fun the adults will want a turn!
PBS Kids -- One of the better kid-friendly sites, look for extensions of television programming they may already be used to with learning and activities in a variety of areas.

There are literally THOUSANDS more. Before setting your kid loose on any website, give them some guidance:

  • Know where they're going
  • Check out the websites in advance
  • Keep a watchful eye

If you're receiving a new Blu-Ray player, computer, or other gadget this holiday... it might be overwhelming. It doesn't have to be.

Some general tips to keep you from total frustration:
  • Take it easy. It's natural to want instant-gratification-- but take your time. Missing a set in setting up electronics can result in disappointment and frustration. Take the time to follow the instructions, complete the setup and learn how to work the device. It will save you headache and fatigue later on.
  • Don't return electronics to the store if they're "not working". There's a decent chance your gadget is not defective, rather you were just not properly trained in how to use it. (Blame the manual, not the user!) Call for tech support, ask someone else to take a look, or set it aside for a few hours and get a fresh look.
  • Take advantage of warranty support-- you might even have warranty support from the buyer's credit card. This is also a good time to mention extended warranties. Actual needs vary by owner, but generally I discourage buying extended service plans. (There's a reason they are sold aggressively.) A notable exception and a must-buy: AppleCare.
  • Tell your insurance company. Often your Home Owner or Renter's policies will cover new, often expensive, gadgets-- but only if they have logged serial number and purchase (or gift receipt) dates. This is especially relevant for high-end digital cameras, computers, and in-car electronics.

Still frustrated? Need some help? I'll be monitoring this blog on Christmas Day-- feel free to ask your question here and I'll do my best to point you in the right direction!

Merry Christmas!

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