Family

Family

App review: Messenger Kids, Facebook-created app has fun features, collects kids' data

Parents need to know that Messenger Kids is a kids' messaging app created by Facebook targeting kids under 13. After downloading, a parent (or anyone with an existing Facebook account) must log in with their Facebook credentials, and that person can then approve all contacts in the Messenger Kids app. Parents can also add contacts to their kid's account via the grown-up version of Messenger. Within a message, kids can send kid-appropriate gifs, stickers, emojis, and live filters, and they can also access all of the photos and videos on the device. Kids can also have live video chats with their approved contacts. Since kids can't delete messages, parents can monitor what their kids send through the app. Though there are no ads or purchases, the privacy policy states that all content (message content and app usage details) is stored and that information is used to develop new products. Read the app's privacy policy to find out more about the types of information collected and shared.

Family

Ask Mr. Dad: Restaurants and kids; think twice before mixing

Dear Mr. Dad: I'm a server at an upscale eatery and am constantly amazed at parents who bring their loud, unruly children into the restaurant and let them run wild. We've had kids trip servers, knock over bottles of expensive wine, disturb other customers, start food fights, and worse. As a parent myself, I would never let my kids get away with this kind of behavior, but since we're in a customer-is-always-right business, I'm not able to tell people what I really think about them and their lousy parenting. A few years ago, you did a column that gave guidelines to parents. Would you please give us a refresher? I want to laminate them and give them out to every parent who comes in with a child.

Family

Ex-etiquette: Is it OK to continue giving gifts to ex's relatives?

I was recently divorced from a marriage of 18 years. We have one son, now away at college. With Christmas right around the corner, I'm wondering if it's proper to continue giving birthday gifts and/or Christmas gifts to my ex-mother in-law, ex-brother and sister in-laws, young ex-nieces, and nephews? They were family for so long; it seems strange to no longer be in contact around the holidays. What's good ex-etiquette?

Family

Here's why thinking of your baby as an adventure can be helpful

Pregnancy announcements are a big part of my social media feed. Baby shoes seem to be the most common way to do it. Position them adorably next to a dog or between adult shoes or in the palm of your hand and you've got a photo to make your announcement, guaranteed to rack up hundreds of likes.

Family

App review: FriendO: Teens are going wild over social networking app that connects them to friends, strangers

Parents need to know that FriendO is a free social networking app that lets users swap lifestyle questions with online friends. The app requires a valid phone number to register. Though the app store rates FriendO as 17+, the app's terms state that users only need to be older than 13. Terms also state that kids between the ages of 13 and 18 must have parental permission, but the app contains no parental controls. Though users can't be anonymous, it's possible to enter fake names and fake email addresses during registration. The app contains a messaging system and allows users to search the entire user base and send friend requests to users they don't know. Read the app's privacy policy details the kinds of information collected and shared.

Family

Game review: 'Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2,' epic, collaboration, packed with positive messages

Parents need to know that "Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2" is an action adventure game that's the latest collaboration between Lego and Marvel, with an original story that brings together a massive collection of heroes and villains. The game is easy to play for gamers of all ages and skill levels, and features strong elements of teamwork and puzzle solving. While there's violence in the game, it's presented in a very cartoonish and stylized nature, with objects and characters simply breaking apart like toys before disappearing from the screen. Parents should also be aware that the game does feature optional expanded downloadable content (with more to come), which requires an additional online purchase.

Family

Must-have apps for holiday travel

Traveling with kids is always an adventure. And anything longer than a trip across town requires some strategic planning to keep kids entertained, civil, and – ideally – learning along the way. In the mix of homework, books, music, and of course actually talking, apps can be super helpful when you're trapped in a car or a plane. Whether you want to listen as a group, have the kids play together, or let them get their thinking caps on, check out these apps and our other travel lists to find what works best for your family.

Family

Movie review: 'The Man Who Invented Christmas,' heartfelt take on a holiday classic

Parents need to know that "The Man Who Invented Christmas" is a fictionalized take on how English author Charles Dickens came up with "A Christmas Carol." Dickens is desperate for a story idea when a series of strangers, relatives, and friends inspires him to write about miserly old Ebenezer Scrooge, a character whose presence begins to invade Dickens' life. There's little iffy content aside from a use of "ass" and a few possibly disturbing flashbacks to when Dickens, as a child, is forced to work in a factory after his father is imprisoned, as well as a scene in which a rich man tells Dickens that poor folks should hurry up and die since they don't serve a purpose in society. Ultimately, the film expresses the same sentiments as the classic story – about Christmas being a perfect time to show compassion, empathy, charity, and generosity.

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