10 Reasons Why Attending the Digital Kids Summit is Essential to Growing Your Business

Digital Kids Summit

This September, the Digital Kids Summit at San Francisco’s Children’s Creativity Museum will be buzzing with business leaders in family-friendly digital media. If your company is struggling with the question of how to survive in a challenging marketplace, now is the time to tune in and learn from what these experts are sharing. Here are 10 compelling reasons why attending the Digital Kids Summit can provide insights to help grow your business:

1. Learn why moms purchase certain products

New 2016 research is available that explains what motivates mothers to say “yes” to buying certain digital brands. Does your product have what it takes to secure Mom’s approval?

2. Learn about global buying patterns

Understand Intel’s latest research about cross-cultural differences and how they influence buying patterns between the U.S., China and Germany.

3. Learn about Google’s view of creative play by taking a peek inside Imagination Day

Did you know Google is sponsoring educational workshops that use creative tools for teaching 21st century skills? Get the scoop. These workshops, called “Imagination Day”, are starting in the Bay Area this fall.

4. Learn how to best design a playful product

Observe how the National Institute of Play describes product design that fosters a lifelong drive to play. In addition, hear about the new book coming soon from Mark Schlichting: Understanding Kids, Play and Interactive Design: How to Create Games Children Love. 

5. Learn why to be careful when making content for kids

What’s appropriate versus inappropriate in terms of what to include in a children’s program? Find out why Standards and Practices could be helpful in answering this question.

6. Learn about reinventing classic toys

If you had to reinvent a classic toy, how would you proceed to add value without losing its magic? This session could be useful for app makers considering license agreements with classic brands.

7. Learn from Angry Birds: Are they still successful?

I would love to ask Rovio, the Finnish developer of Angry Birds, what it takes to run a successful business making apps. At this conference, you can!

8. Learn how kids are playing online at Samsung Kids

Samsung is one of the world’s largest information technology companies. Find out, from them, how are kids are playing on their Samsung Kids mobile platform.

9. Learn how to raise money and exit successfully

Getting funded and securing an exit may apply to your growing businesses. Hear insights from the VCs themselves and other venture funded companies.

10. Learn how to navigate a corporate acquisition

Some small businesses merge with others in order to survive, grow and change. Walk through a corporate acquisition with a Shark Tank contestant and hear how she navigated the waters.

And that’s only half of the agenda! To hear it all, reserve your spot now for Digital Kids Summit. Here’s how:

The Digital Kids Summit is taking place in San Francisco on September 13th and 14th at the Children’s Creativity Museum. Register through their website or reach out to the organizers if you have questions on how to get involved.

Don’t forget to tweet so folks can meet you there!

 

Lorraine Akemann | Co-Founder and Editor | Moms With Apps

Hollywood App Prompts Mother-Daughter Conversations

I saw the richest mom-with-app on the cover of Forbes magazine while browsing through an airport bookshop this summer. Intrigued, I purchased the reading material for my next flight. By the end of the day, I joined millions of others who downloaded Kim Kardashian’s app to my iPhone. Let’s see what it takes, I thought, to play the game of fame.

According to the Forbes article, the app called Kim Kardashian Hollywood is a remake of a preexisting app called Stardom. Glu Mobile, the company who made Stardom, approached Kim with the opportunity to rebrand the app. She went for it, and according to her remarks at the BlogHer16 keynote, she really enjoys the creative process of bringing app ideas to life.

Hollywood app prompts mother-daughter conversations

Sometimes I get so caught up in what’s educational for my kids, that I forget about what’s conversational for my kids. Hot mainstream topics, like the Kardashians, can be interesting to talk about with young teens. Instead of ignoring these types of media choices, I’d rather learn more about what makes them so popular, and then debate the findings with my girls.

Playing the app myself, I was faced with making choices about clothes, photo shoots, meeting with agents, and decisions about whether to attend a party or go to work. Within 30 minutes, I had over a dozen family discussion points. That does not include tidbits the girls found, like whether to make the game character be snarky or apologetic.

Hollywood app prompts mother-daughter conversations

Before getting carried away with our characters, we stopped the clock and had mother-daughter conversations based on the following questions:

  • What do you think about skipping work responsibilities to be more famous? 
  • What is snark? Why would a snarky comment be valuable in the game?
  • What are your favorite clothes in the game? Do you feel they are appropriate? Why or why not?
  • Why do you think the app is so popular?
  • If you made the game, how would you change the app?
  • What do you think are the pros and cons of being famous? Would you want to be famous? Why or why not?

Before long, we forgot about the app and resumed our regular summer routines. No one in the family wanted to sacrifice their chore money for virtual clothes. And that was fine with me. But meanwhile, we got to benefit from some girl talk by playing Hollywood for a day.

Lorraine Akemann | Co-Founder and Editor | Moms With Apps

10 Discussion Questions for Kids Who Play Pokémon GO

Commentary about Pokémon GO has turned into a national conversation, and opinions about real life gaming have been prolific on tech and parenting blogs. As a blogger myself, I’ve been reading about the advantages and disadvantages of being able to catch Pokémon with an iPhone. But one comment that really caught my attention simply stated the importance of discussion during the gaming experience, which is a helpful reminder worth sharing more broadly.

In the August 2016 issue of Children’s Technology Review, Warren Buckleitner published his thoughts on Pokémon GO:

“The game is loaded with local history facts, which are tied to earning the Pokéballs needed to catch Pokémon. But without discussion they’re only facts. Ask your child to share and discuss what they find.”

When reading Warren’s comment, it felt relevant not only for gaming, but also for parenting. Having discussions with my kids helped me progress through 13 years of parenting. A consistent back and forth exchange of ideas enabled me connect with them to reach agreement and understanding.

In that light, Pokémon GO can be a great source of conversation starters for families.

Here are 10 Pokémon GO discussion questions for kids

  1. Can you show me how to play Pokémon GO?
  2. What are Pokéstops?
  3. How do you catch a Pokémon?
  4. Who are your favorite Pokémon? Why? How many have you collected?
  5. Where have you found the most Pokémon? Why do you think they like that location?
  6. I keep hearing about Pokémon game terms, like gyms, eggs and leveling up. Can you explain those terms to me? What do they mean?
  7. Have you ever been in a Pokémon battle?
  8. What is your Trainer name? Why did you choose it?
  9. What are some ideas you have to stay safe and sensible while playing the game?
  10. When would be a good time to turn the game off? Or on?

Next time you find yourself in the virtual reality of Pokémon GO, remember to ask a child these Pokémon GO discussion questions to start a conversation about what they think!

For more information about Children’s Technology Review, visit www.childrenstech.com or follow them on Twitter or Instagram at @childtech. Don’t miss CTREX, their massive online database of over 12,000 academic reviews of children’s interactive media products. CTREX is an ideal search tool for teachers, librarians and parents who are constructing their digital learning initiatives for the new school year.

Lorraine Akemann | Co-Founder and Editor | Moms With Apps

Photo credit Flickr

10 Steps For Building Your Best Resume

If you haven’t guessed by now, one of my favorite apps for moms is the BlogHer.com website, network, conference, and mobile app! As I prepare to host the Resume Building Open Lab at BlogHer16, I created this checklist to outline 10 steps for building your best resume. Read along or come join the fun!

Resume Building Checklist

1. Track your work

Did you know that LinkedIn offers diverse categories to input your experience, such as volunteer work, languages, and certifications? You don’t have to be in the formal workforce to actively build a professional profile. Professional experience can be gained by managing projects, writing, speaking, or volunteering in your community. Keep track of what you do!

2. Proofread your resume

Have you had another person read your resume? If you don’t have another person around, have you read your resume backwards? Despite many opinions on the ideal resume, one universal truth is that resumes cannot have typos.

3. Choose a format that is easy to update

Whether your resume is created from an online tool, or from an app, or with a graphic template, or from a text document, one of the most important tasks is to ensure that the resume meets the needs of the job opening. This means a resume may require several iterations during a job search. Choose a tool you can update easily to get those submissions flowing.

4. Use strong action words

When describing work experience, do the phrases start with strong action words? To find out, print your resume and underline each action word. Then search Best Action Words For Resume and click through the results to get more ideas. I like the word lists from Time and Forbes.

5. Quantify accomplishments

Look at the two phrases below (from an article in Forbes) and choose which phrase sounds better. The second example is stronger because it provides evidence to underscore accomplishments. Reread your resume and quantify accomplishments where possible.

1) Managed a budget to plan large-scale events for students

2) Managed $12,000 budget to plan large-scale events for 2,500 students

6. Identify keywords by reading job descriptions carefully

Reading job descriptions is essential preparation for writing a focused resume. Does the work experience in your resume address the job description requirements? Or, have you stepped back and thought about your main sets of skills? Are you applying for jobs that match your strengths?

7. Understand applicant tracking systems

Some companies manage resume submissions electronically with software called applicant tracking systems. By understanding how these systems work, you’ll gain more confidence about the best way to create a resume. Simple formatting, accurate keywords, and no PDFs seem to be standard suggestions for resumes that make it through applicant tracking systems. For more tips, read this article from CIO Magazine.

8. Keep filenames organized

Applying to different companies may require optimizing your resume for each submission. Keep filenames organized by establishing a naming convention for each resume version. I keep a master version, and then save iterations with name_date_company in the filename.

9. Secure references

What good is a great resume if you don’t have a great reference? How can you prove that you did great work? Keep in touch with people you’ve worked for, and remember to wrap up projects with exit interviews, mutual LinkedIn endorsements, and reference requests.

10. Don’t get overwhelmed

Diving into resume writing will stir up hundreds of tools and resources. Try not to get paralyzed in the process. Different sources may offer different opinions on the rules of resume writing. Ease up, and chart the course that gives you the most confidence.

Reach out if you’d like some moral support during the process. Networking is a key part of the game! — @LorraineAkemann

Lorraine Akemann | Co-Founder and Editor | Moms With Apps

Photo credit Flickr [Mickaël MÉNARD]

The iPhone Case Dilemma

I’ve owned nearly every generation of iPhone from the iPhone 3, to the iPhone 4S, to the iPhone 5, and finally to the iPhone 6. This pocket computer with apps for everything has become an integral part of daily life. I use the phone to take photos, get directions, and over communicate. So why am I hesitant to use an iPhone case, especially with a device that I don’t want to break?

I thought of this when a blogging contact from News of the Wired told me about his new website for cellular accessories. I said, “Cool, I’ll try one out!” A case will put me at ease when my phone is in someone else’s hands. A case will provide insurance whenever I’m rummaging through my purse over concrete. A case may even prompt me to start gaming by taking it outside to collect small monsters!

Yet I still resist putting my phone in a case. Maybe it’s because my iPhone is designed exactly as it should be, and I like interacting directly with the device. Maybe I’ve finally found a product that doesn’t seem to need any extras.

To my contact, I’d like to publicly thank you for sending me a sample case from Cellular Barn. I like the site, and I’m certain that in the unfortunate event my phone slips and shatters, I may second guess my inclination to overlook the insurance!

What about you? Do you use an iPhone case? Leave a comment if you are inclined, and hopefully their new catalog will catch your interest.

Lorraine Akemann | Co-Founder and Editor | Moms With Apps

How Library Tech Helps Boost Summer Reading

Welcome to long summer days and relaxing summer nights. Kids are decompressing from the school year and easing into a new, low key routine. Summer reading is a fulfilling and mellow pastime for the whole family, and having plenty of books around is key to keeping it going. I’d love to share how we use technology to boost our access to new (and free!) reading materials all summer long.

Increase Book Selections with Summer Reading Lists

At the beginning of summer I print out reading lists for each daughter. My favorite grade-level lists are provided by the Houston Area Independent Schools Library Network (HAISLN). I like these lists because they are accessible online, and contain at least a paragraph to describe each book. The descriptions are important for helping kids preview and select books of choice.

Local libraries may also have their own reading lists. For example, the teen section for Redwood City Library provides reading recommendations for each area high school, which are all available online.

Find Incentives with Summer Reading Challenges

Search “summer reading challenge” in your web browser to find national challenges (like the one hosted by Scholastic) or regional challenges from libraries. For older readers, the GoodReads social network has an annual reading goal program that can be used during the summer months. With a quick search we found the summer reading challenge for our local library, and I’ll bet yours has one too!

Access Books Freely and Easily with the Library Hold System

Physically taking a book list to the library and trying to find all of the books by hand can take a lot of time. Sometimes, your branch may not have the book or it may be checked out. To streamline, we use our library’s online catalog to place a hold on each title. This way, we receive notifications once the books arrive to the hold shelf. Using the hold system is an awesome way to stock up on a bunch of recommended books, for free!

Would you rather access the library catalog on mobile? That should be easy enough. Just check if your local library has an app, or add the library’s webpage to your home screen.

Once our summer reading is underway, visiting the library (and the treasures waiting on the hold shelf) becomes a real treat. If you are motivated to keep kids current on keyboarding or digital literacy skills, have them log books onto a Google Doc. Let them build a table with title, author, and date completed. Before long, the book list will grow, and peaceful readers will fill the home.

Lorraine Akemann | Cofounder and Editor | Moms With Apps

Photo Credit Flickr [Spirit-Fire]

Shark Week Educational Apps for Kids

I’ve been a fan of Shark Week since it was first created as a TV programming series in the late 1980s to dispel myths about sharks. Its success enabled viewers all over the world to appreciate these awesome creatures as way more than just predators circling divers in a cage.

Although Shark Week has recently slid into sensationalism (which has appalled the scientific community because of fictitious and non-factual shows), the result of having a dedicated week to be reminded about the ocean’s wonders can serve as a positive benefit for environmental awareness.

Let’s continue the awareness by considering educational apps that are fun for young summer learners during Shark Week.

shark week
“Murky Reef” (critical thinking activities for elementary students in 1st and 2nd grade)
shark week
“Treasure Kai and the Lost Gold of Shark Island” (interactive book app)
shark week
“A to Sea” (alphabet app with sea creatures for early learners)
Shark Week
“A Shark Knocked on the Door” (animated storybook app in Spanish and English)

I curate apps by searching the Know What’s Inside App Discovery Center, reading Digital Storytime’s reviews, researching what’s new on the App Store, reading the App Friday newsletter, and from keeping in touch with the network of family-friendly app makers I’ve known throughout the years. If you have a favorite Shark Week app for kids, please let me know in comments, or tweet to me at @LorraineAkemann.

Happy Summer Learning!

Lorraine Akemann | Co-founder and Editor | Moms With Apps

Photo Credit Flickr [Matt Kowalczyk]

Let’s Build Your Resume At BlogHer16

If you are thinking about your next career step, join me at #BlogHer16 on Friday August 5th for the Resume Building Open Lab.

BlogHer Open Labs are hands-on round table sessions where attendees share expertise on specific topics. I will be leading the Open Lab for Resume Building, and near me will be experts available for WordPress, Google Analytics, and Email Marketing. BlogHer Open Labs are a great place to get individual questions answered. Be sure to come and check them out!

For my lab, feel free to bring your latest resume or thoughts about career goals, and we can take it from there. Can’t make it to the Open Lab? No problem, just reach out on social media (@LorraineAkemann) and I’ll be happy to connect at another time. Here is a list of subjects we’ll be ready to address:

Resume Review

Let’s get into the nitty gritty and read your resume together. Having an objective person review your resume can help prioritize the most compelling content, scan for typos, and give the boost of confidence needed to get that resume out into circulation!

Resume Formatting

Dates, indentations, margins, grammar and headings: elements like these can be the reason why resume writing is such an overbearing process! Let’s face it together. I’ll have some reference books and samples on hand so we can make sensible decisions on whether that section needed a semicolon or a period!

Creation Tools

Resume creation tools are becoming more dynamic and visual as our world continues to shift online. Although I prefer the easy accessibility of Google Docs (always simple to update), other options like Canva or Visual CV provide templates and tools for a graphically designed layout. The good news is that plenty of options exist to get your resume experiment started.

Building Blocks (with LinkedIn)

What content will you use for work experience and education when your life has been so diverse? My favorite tool for tracking experience over time has been LinkedIn. There are sections of LinkedIn that cover volunteer work, autonomous projects, certifications and awards. Even if you’ve taken a break from the formal workforce, LinkedIn still provides ways to keep your profile up to date.

File Management

Creating a resume is a process which involves several iterations. Adding a skill, tweaking an action verb, or adjusting the format can be an ongoing process. Keep your files organized to ensure version control. I create folders in Google Drive and save each iteration with the exact date in the filename.

Securing References

As job searches progress, past work references may be needed for potential employers. Do you have people in mind who can provide those references? Are they prepared to receive calls and inquiries to give testimonials about your work? Make sure these contacts are well prepared. A great way to do this is to specifically request a reference after every major project you complete, and then find a reason to keep in touch with that person every few months.

Networking

Planning for your next career move involves proactive steps to stay connected to others. This includes having a “yes” mindset (“you bet, let’s do lunch!”), securing references, endorsing others, and attending meetups, conferences or networking events. It’s not always easy to step out into the limelight, but keeping your network in motion is a huge part of uncovering new opportunities.

Luckily, we’ll be in the right place to jump start this type of networking. BlogHer is my number one resource for personal and professional development. Follow everyone you meet, tweet about sessions you find valuable, create new content for your blog, share and learn best practices, and meet new, mutually supportive people.

Going alone? Me too. Let’s meet up!

Lorraine Akemann Quote Card Code

Having worked in corporate America prior to having children, I firmly believe that women should have every opportunity to return to the workforce with confidence. Motherhood, entrepreneurship, blogging and community-building enabled me to find my own professional voice while building a diverse set of leadership skills. The more active I become, the more work opportunities I find.

Let’s lead the charge for workforce confidence at #BlogHer 16. I can’t wait to meet you!

Lorraine Akemann | Co-Founder and Editor | Moms With Apps

Photo Credit Flickr / Flazingo Photos

Meet Three Women Business Leaders Who Drive Success in Mobile Apps

Join me on June 15th, 2016, in San Francisco to meet three women business leaders who are are driving success in the kids’ app marketplace. I will be moderating the Women In Tech panel at the Developing Apps for Kids Conference, hosted by Tech With Kids. We will be discussing best practices related to product development, marketing, operations, and key critical success factors for thriving in today’s mobile economy.

Panelists for Women in Tech: Driving Success in Mobile Apps

Panelists include: Connie Bossert, PhD, CEO and Co-Founder of Fairlady Media; Ariella Lehrer, PhD, CEO of Legacy Interactive; and Nancy MacIntyre, Founder and CEO of Fingerprint Play. These CEOs bring their experience of running two to thirty person companies in the kids’ tech industry, and relay what it takes not only to survive, but also to succeed and grow in this business environment.

Topic 1: Product Development

Panelists will be asked to share the decision-making process behind which products they decide to launch next. How much does data analysis play a role in these decisions? Or, is the launch the result of a strategic partnership? Ideally we will isolate the important quantitative reasons that a new app or product feature is greenlighted for development.

Topic 2: Launches and Marketing

What is the most successful proven element that goes into a product launch? Does this include launching with a well-known brand, in app-cross promotions, seasonal timing of the release, graphic design excellence, relationships with app stores, a great app review, a press release, or acknowledgement by an industry award? Whatever the case, please elaborate about keys to success in getting the word out so your product gains traction over time.

Topic 3: Business Operations

What have you learned over the years about sustainable business practices, and what do you think will determine your longevity over the next several years? Some depend on a diverse portfolio of product offerings to provide flexibility in case of market swings, and others have established focus in certain niche areas.

What is the best ongoing strategy to ensure business success? Small and nimble teams? Outsourcing? Tech tools and operational efficiencies like Slack or Trello? Partnerships? Licenses? Networking? Investments? A consistent stream of new apps? We’d love to know how successful CEOs balance day to day operations with long term strategic growth.

Excited to hear more? Me too! Tickets to the Tech With Kids Conference in San Francisco are still available up until the night before the event. I hope to see you there!

Lorraine Akemann | Cofounder and Editor | Moms With Apps

Photo Credit Flickr [WOCinTech Chat]

How Apps Show Curriculum Alignment

As teachers close out the 2015-2016 school year, no doubt they will be planning for 2016-2017 very soon. With digital literacy as a pillar for 21st century learning, using apps for educational purposes may continue to increase in popularity. How do we know which apps have curriculum alignment? The answer isn’t always obvious, but these developers have taken steps to explain how curriculum standards are integrated into their app’s content.

Let’s take a look at how these alignments are presented in case more developers are curious about mapping their app’s academic content to standards frameworks.

Bel Math Apps is a husband-wife development team who specialize in building math quizzes for elementary and middle school. They have outlined connections between each app and its associated common core alignment in this table:

curriculum alignment

Todo Math’s early learning curriculum and daily math practice supports common core alignment as shown by a table on their curriculum page. Each Todo Math Mission has an educational purpose that is also associated with academic standards.

curriculum alignment

Appp Media’s educational apps for young kids come with a Teacher’s Manual to illustrate in detail how apps can be used in learning settings. This manual is a downloadable PDF from their website and includes the curriculum standard behind several game objectives.

curriculum alignment

L’escapadou, a family-run design studio focused on educational apps for kids, posts detailed app descriptions on their website which include common core standards for each app.

curriculum alignment

Splash Math’s learning program has a web page dedicated to common core alignment, and dynamically segments their apps by grade, concept and topic to drill down to specific common core objectives.

curriculum alignment

Do you know teachers who consider using apps in the classroom based on curriculum alignment? Do you have a suggestion for how developers should display or validate their curriculum mapping? Feel free to discuss in comments!

Lorraine Akemann | Cofounder and Editor | Moms With Apps

Photo credit Flickr [Brad Flickinger]