Teach kids how to resist advertising and be smart consumers

Commercials are nothing new. We all grew up with them and can probably sing a dozen or more jingles. What is new is how advertisers have adapted to digital media – especially apps, websites, and social media. Many of today's ads – from product placements in movies and on TV to online contests, viral videos, and "chatbots" (robots that send instant messages) – don't look like ads. And that's by design. Adapting to ever more jaded and fickle viewers, marketers have developed ways to integrate ads into entertainment, so it's hard to tell where the "real" content ends and the ads begin. These techniques also encourage us to interact (click, swipe, play, chat), which gives marketers data about our habits, likes, and preferences.


App review: Bethesda Pinball, inventive spin based on popular games is fun and addictive

Parents need to know that Bethesda Pinball is a trio of video game pinball machines that are inspired by the games "Doom," "The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim," and the ones in the "Fallout" series. While there's some dark imagery, there are no acts of violence, nor is there any inappropriate content. Each table is sold separately, and as a group, but players can also download the app for free and pick one table to play when connected to the internet. They can then use in-game currency to play rounds on the other two tables, with that currency either won by beating other players' scores, or by purchasing currency with real-world money. Players can also buy temporary boosts that will give them even more currency when they win. Read the app's privacy policy in the "Legal Resources" section of the game's "Options" menu or on the game's website to find out about the information collected and shared.


Game review: 'Crawl,' slick, 5-star game is madcap monster fun

Parents need to know that "Crawl" is a downloadable competitive local multiplayer brawler. Up to four players or bots fight one another as they progress through randomly generated dungeons. Despite appearances, under the hood this game is actually essentially like playground tag. One player takes turns as the human hero who is eventually killed by one of the three other players, who are ghosts possessing traps or spawning monsters in each environment to kill and then replace the hero. Violence is constant, but the pixelated graphics limits the impact on players.


Suicide, cyberbullying, and more conversations to have with teens about '13 Reasons Why'

The Netflix series "13 Reasons Why," based on the best-selling 2007 book, is the story of a teen girl who commits suicide, leaving behind a series of tapes that hold the story of her motives. Teens who watch this excellent but extremely dark and dramatic series may find themselves identifying with the characters, including the smart, troubled Hannah Baker. In this story, where not many adults are role models, the kids are left to process Hannah's suicide on their own.


Skyler: When it's time for parents and kids to part ways

Recently I did something I haven't done in a very long time: I went on a hike alone. There was a time – about three years ago or so – when I was always accompanied by my two kids, Malcolm and Lux. Possibly they were forced to go, and probably at least one of them complained, but they went with me because I told them they had to.


Book review: 'Olivia the Spy,' preschoolers learn about the dangers of eavesdropping in adorable tale

Parents need to know that Ian Falconer's "Olivia the Spy" is another winner in the picture book series starring an adorable pig who often appears in a red-and-white striped onesie and tends to get into typical kid trouble. This time, after making a few mistakes around the house, she hears her mom complaining about her on the phone and spies on her parents to hear more. Ultimately, she hears a part of a conversation that leads her to believe she's being sent to prison (her mom's actually taking her to the ballet as a surprise). It's a funny misunderstanding cleverly laid out, with a lesson not only for eavesdropping kids but also for complaining parents.


Daddy Daughter Valentine's Ballet Class

Fathers of dance students at the Philadelphia Dance Center took the father-daughter dance to a new level for Valentine's Day and created some lifelong memories in the process.
Philadelphia Dance Center
Daddy Daughter Valentine's Ballet Class 0:35

Daddy Daughter Valentine's Ballet Class

Dad and daughter duo sing cute rendition of 'You've Got a Friend in Me' 2:26

Dad and daughter duo sing cute rendition of 'You've Got a Friend in Me'

Obama tearfully thanks Michelle, daughters, and Bidens during farewell address 4:02

Obama tearfully thanks Michelle, daughters, and Bidens during farewell address

High school students give classmate a Christmas surprise, and it's the perfect fit 2:04

High school students give classmate a Christmas surprise, and it's the perfect fit