Parenting Bytes

Parenting Bytes

From digital dilemmas like managing screen time to new apps and devices that can make parenting easier (or at least more fun) family tech expert and host Rebecca Levey, along with tech reporter Andrea Smith, mom blogger Amy Oztan and guest parenting bloggers, explore the ups and downs of parenting in the digital age. Join them every week on Parenting Bytes where they will discuss the latest tech, gadgets, apps and issues around raising the digital generation - and maybe even learn something even your digital kid didn't know!

  • Thursday, January 12th
  • Episode 100: Our Favorites from CES 2017!

    Andrea and Amy are back from Las Vegas with all of their favorites from the Consumer Electronics Show! Parenting Bytes at CES 2017 - Las Vegas at night CES 2017
    Andrea and Amy are back from Las Vegas, where they checked out all of the newest in tech, from wearables to appliances to robots to toys, and everything in between. Here are their favorites, plus a couple that, well, they weren’t too crazy about. And, um, Sting!! You can see Andrea and Amy’s Tech TV interviews on Tom’s Guide, and also on the Living In Digital Times YouTube Channel. Sting
    Andrea was practically on the stage at Sting’s concert. Parenting Bytes at CES 2017 - Andrea getting up close and personal with Sting
    Sting!! #ces2017 #harmankardon A video posted by Andrea Smith (@andrea_smithstapleton) on Jan 6, 2017 at 9:08pm PST
    Willow Wireless Rechargeable Breast Pump
    Gone are the days when you have to lug around a cooler-sized bag and duck into a bathroom to pump. The new wearable set of pumps, called Willow, slip under your bra. Each contains a rechargeable battery and 4oz bag to collect the milk. LEGO Boost
    LEGO Boost is kind of like LEGO Mindstorm, but for a younger set. Aimed at kids seven and up, it’s a robotics kit with five designs to build, including a robot, a dog, and a car. LEGO Boost works with both iOS and Android, and will cost $159 when it comes out. Circuit Cubes
    Circuit Cubes are little boxes containing motos, lights, magnets, and more that bring other toys to life. You can use them with many different toys and household items, but they’re specially sized to work with LEGO blocks. Philips Sonicare Kids Bluetooth Toothbrush
    Philips has gamified oral health with their Sonicare Kids Bluetooth Toothbrush. It connects to an app, and kids can make the little purple character on the screen do things based on how well they’re brushing. Parents can monitor kids’ progress and set goals. (As of this writing, there was a $10 coupon on Amazon, which would make this toothbrush only $30!) JetJat Ultra Streaming Drone
    This teeny tiny drone, which connects to a cell phone or VR headset, can stream pictures and videos as it flies. Dot
    The animated series Dot, based on Randi Zuckerber’s book of the same name, empowers girls to embrace tech. You can find it online and on the Sprout Channel. JBL Soundgear
    JBL has invented wearable speakers that go around your neck, surrounding you with sound. Lenovo Smart Assistant
    This sleek new smart home product from Lenovo has Amazon’s Echo on the inside, but better speakers on the outside, including a version from Harman Kardon. Whirlpool Connected Appliances
    Whirlpool has also partnered with Amazon to bring you Alexa-connected appliances. We’re one step closer to Rebecca’s dream of having robots do all of the housework. LG InstaView Fridge
    Not only is this new refrigerator equipped with Alexa (are you seeing a pattern?), it also has a giant tablet on the refrigerator door that can turn translucent, letting you see into the fridge without opening the door. GeniCan
    This innovative device attaches to your garbage or recycling can and allows you to scan items as you throw them out, which adds them to a shopping list. We’re not quite sure that this is something the world needs, but it is cool. FoldiMate
    We’ve talked about this robot clothes folding machine on the show before. Amy’s excited, and Rebecca thinks it’s dumb. Aristotle
    Mattel has come up with an Alexa just for kids. It can also be used by adults as an actual Amazon Echo. Jooki
    No screens, just a music player for kids that’s operated with figurines instead of a screen. Ocean Medallion
    If you like Disney’s MagicBand, you’ll love this new wearable from Carnival, debuting on Princess towards the end of 2017. It promises to make your cruising experience truly personalized. Philips Sonicare Flexcare Platinum Connected Rechargeable Toothbrush
    Philips isn’t letting kids have all the fun with brushing teeth. This adult version of a connected toothbrush shows you on an app where you’ve brushed your teeth and where you’ve missed. It also coaches you on how to apply the right pressure. Smart Cube
    Like a child-proof lock on steroids, the Smart Cube is a lock that can be operated with a phone. This would be especially useful for people who rent out their homes, have roommates, or don’t want people messing around in their medicine cabinets (but want to know when someone tries). Nixplay Iris Connected Picture Frame
    Forget those clunky electric photo frames from a few years ago. This thin, sleek frame looks like, well, a picture frame! You can instantly share your pictures to this WiFi-connected frame. As long as you don’t need more than 10 gigabytes of storage, there’s no monthly fee. GoBe 2 Calorie Tracker
    This wearable claims that it can track your calorie intake automatically (with an 85% rate of accuracy) by measuring the glucose levels in your body. No measuring, no food tracking, no pricking your skin. LG Wallpaper TV
    This incredibly thin OLED 4K TV (1/10 of an inch!!) has an extraordinary picture, and a price tag to match. Lenovo 500 Multimedia Controller
    This little keyboard, about the size of a mouse, will control the Windows 10 devices hooked up to your TV without a big, cumbersome keyboard. thinOPTICS Glasses
    These glasses will be with you all the time, because they live on the back of your phone. Never be caught without your reading glasses again! Swarovski Phone Case from Otterbox
    Because phone protection doesn’t have to be ugly! From Otterbox. Hizero Bionic Hard Floor Cleaner
    Whether the mess on your floor is wet, dry, or a messy combination of both, you can clean it with this floor scrubber/vacuum. Coros LINX Smart Cycling Helmet
    This is an innovative bike helmet that incorporates bone-conducting bluetooth headphones and a wind-resistant microphone.
  • Thursday, January 5th
  • Episode 99: Parenting Resolutions

    It's a new year, have you made any parenting resolutions? How about resolutions for yourself to get organized? We've got some resolutions, advice, apps, and a special message from Bitdefender Box about securing your Smart Home.
  • Thursday, December 29th, 2016
  • Encore Episode: Parent Hacks

    We're reposting our Parent Hacks episode from earlier this year. Welcome to Parenting Bytes! It's just Rebecca Levey and Amy Oztan in the studio today, with a very special guest calling in: Parent Hacks author Asha Dornfest! Asha tells us all about how Parent Hacks--both the website and book--came to be, and clues us in on some really helpful hacks for parents (pool noodles and vinyl tablecloths, who knew?) Plus our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, December 22nd, 2016
  • Episode 98: Why You Should Stop Taking Facebook Quizzes Right Now

    How many times a day do you see a quiz go through your Facebook feed? Two? Three? Ten? Which "Friends" Character Are You. Which Country Should You Move To. We'll Guess Your Age Based On These Three Questions. Harmless, right? As our president-elect would say, WRONG! Those quizzes--which aren't actually part of Facebook, but are shared all over Facebook--are actually designed to collect information about you, helping data companies compile massive amounts of data about you. According to this article, one data company says that it has as many as 5,000 data points on 230 million Americans. Taking the quiz itself probably isn't harmful. It's when you share the quiz on Facebook. By clicking "share" you're giving the website that produced the quiz certain rights, and you've now linked all of your quiz answers to your real name and identity. And it's how they use that data that is truly terrifying. They are able to target us with Facebook ads that speak directly to our own fears. The massive amounts of targeted Facebook ads deployed on behalf of the Trump campaign may have swung the election. And the worst part is, we're doing this voluntarily. This isn't spying or hacking, this is ordinary Americans, sharing way too much about ourselves as a form of entertainment. This trend of oversharing goes beyond Facebook ads, however. There are companies that compile health data on you to sell to insurance companies. A status update about your daughter's surgery could impact your insurance rates, and you wouldn't even know why. So think before you share, and teach your kids to do the same. Who is seeing that information? What rights are you giving up when you allow a data company access to your Facebook account?
  • Thursday, December 15th, 2016
  • Episode 97: YouTube's Young Stars

    Their Tube
    For most people, YouTube is a place to waste time watching other people’s videos and maybe post an occasional video of your own. But for a growing number of kids YouTube is a money maker that demands a lot of their time.
    A new article in the Washington Post (part of the excellent The Screen Age series by Jessica Contrera and Caitlin Gibson) titled “Their Tube” explores what childhood is like when your every move is being captured on camera for strangers to see. Author Jessica Contrera talked to us today and the conversation was fascinating. Jessica spent time with the families she profiled and it sounds like it was a bit of a surreal experience at times. There was one little boy, part of a YouTuber family, who always seemed to be “on” and performing for a non-existent camera. Jessica honestly wasn’t sure if he knew he wasn’t being recorded.
    So what does this kind of lifestyle do to kids long term? And what about the kids (like Amy’s daughter) who want to be YouTube stars, but didn’t realize just how difficult it is to make it big? Rebecca’s day job is co-founder of KidzVuz, a video platform for kids. She’s seen a huge change in the five years since starting the site. At first, parents were reticent about allowing their kids to post videos online. Now parents come to KidzVuz demanding that they make their kids YouTube stars!
    What most viewers probably don’t realize is just how much work goes into those popular channels. The kids simply aren’t doing all of the work themselves, it’s often a family affair. So where is the money going? Are the children being exploited? We talk about all this and more.
  • Thursday, December 8th, 2016
  • Episode 96: Santa In The Age Of Google

    This week we're talking about how to keep your kids believing in Santa (if you do that) when it's so easy for them to find things out with google. Plus, teacher gifts: Yes, no, and what? Santa Santa. He's basically one big lie, but so many of us do the dance in order to give our kids a magical Christmas. And the new Macy's "Believe" campaign is trying to bring that magic back. But why do we do it? Andrea thinks we do it for leverage over our kids ("You'd better behave or I'm telling Santa!"). Rebecca thinks that since our kids get stuff all the time, all year, the renewed interest in Santa is an attempt to make Christmas gifts special again. And Amy thinks it's crazy to perpetuate this lie, but she did it with her kids anyway! And is that kind of deception harmful? Last year we did an episode asking if Elf on the Shelf was teaching kids to live in a surveillance state. All of that may be beside the point, however. In the age of google, kids can get to the truth themselves. There's no longer a thoughtful editor answering a curious girl's letter. (Although in our on-air demonstration, Siri did a great job.) Kids can just google it and see an answer they might not be ready for. Or worse, ruin it for other kids who still believe! So what do you do? How did you handle it when your kids asked you if Santa Claus was real? How did you handle it when their friends tried to ruin it for them, or when they tried to tell others the truth? Teacher Gifts There are many different policies regarding teacher gifts. Some schools simply don't allow them. Some collect money and divide it equally. Others leave it to the parents, which can create problems inside the classroom, or even between classrooms if things get competitive. And what kind of gift is appropriate? Are personalized gifts great, or do teachers just get too much crap year after year? Would they prefer a gift card instead, or is that seen as impersonal? We'd love to hear how you handle this at your kids' schools, and if you're a teacher, we really want to know what you think. If you do need a teacher gift we've got some great suggestions!
  • Thursday, December 1st, 2016
  • Episode 95: Media Literacy: We Need To Teach Our Kids How To Tell When News Is Fake

    Today we were thrilled to have Michelle Ciulla Lipkin on the show, even if we weren’t thrilled about the reason: the proliferation of fake news, and the alarming number of people who can’t seem to tell the difference between actual journalism and something false, misleading, or based completely on opinion. Michelle is the Executive Director of NAMLE, the National Association of Media Literacy Education. According to the website, NAMLE’s vision is “to help individuals of all ages develop the habits of inquiry and skills of expression that they need to be critical thinkers, effective communicators and active citizens in today’s world.” Honestly that seems like the opposite of what we saw happen to the general public in the recent election, so they’ve got a lot of work to do. Part of the problem, according to Michelle, is that the way we consume our news changed too fast for us to adapt. Facebook insists that it’s not a media organization, but it’s undeniable at this point that many people are getting the majority of their news from Facebook. So what responsibities do Facebook, Google, and other sites have in deciding what to show us, and how much can they be trusted, given the amount of advertising revenue they garner from fake news sites? If it isn’t their responsibility (or in their own best interest) to show us news only from reliable sources, then we have to take it upon ourselves to be better digital citizens. “If you don’t have the time to verify, then don’t share it,” says Michelle. The buck stops with us. When we look at something online, the first thing we should ask ourselves is, “Is this true?” If we can’t verify it in other reliable places, we need to be suspicious. And we need to teach our children to be suspicious as well. A Stanford University study showed that the vast majority of students—middle school through college—weren’t able to tell the difference between real and fake news, or even real articles and sponsored posts. According to Michelle, "We need to train our teachers and librarians on the new rules." Sadly, for some people, facts in news don’t even seem to matter. Some people have convinced themselves that mainstream media is all biased and fake, and Michelle thinks this is a huge problem. "This is a crisis in our democracy if news can't be trusted." Rebecca added that not teaching civics in school anymore is making the problem much worse. When you don’t know how government works, when you don’t understand the basic principles of democracy and of our constitution, it’s much easier to believe fake stories about government. So what to do? How do we teach our kids to be smart about the news? Michelle has some great resources for parents and schools: News Literacy Project Classroom Program
    NAMLE Resources
    Common Sense Education
    NewsWise from CyberWise
    Talk to your kids. Talk to their schools. Read articles with them and give them clues about how to tell real from fake. And most of all, set a good example yourself!
  • Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016
  • Episode 94: Meditation Instead Of Detention In Schools Really Works!

    We’ve got two great topics to go with your Thanksgiving feast this week: meditation, and being screenwise. First, we talk about some schools that have replaced detention with mindful meditation, and the amazing results they’ve been seeing. Then, we talk with Devorah Heitner, who wrote the book Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (And Survive) In Their Digital World. Enjoy, and have a great weekend!
  • Thursday, November 17th, 2016
  • Encore Episode: Holiday Food!

    We’re reposting our fun Holiday Food episode from last year, because it’s packed full of great tips and gadgets to help you get your holiday dinners together. Rebecca even has a gadget that Amy’s never heard of, and Amy’s the kitchen-gadget queen! We discuss Amy’s control issues in the kitchen, plus, we make each other nostalgic—and hungry—talking about the holiday traditions and foods that we can’t do without.
  • Thursday, November 10th, 2016
  • Holiday Gift Guide 2016!

    It’s that time of year again, when we start making lists and hunting down the best gifts for friends and family. We’ve got you covered with the hottest tech toys, the best stuff to make your home smart, and some unique gifts that will thrill whomever you give them to. Or like Amy, just give a bunch of them to yourself.  Plus, we’re giving away some of the hot items we talk about in this episode, including an XBox One Minecraft bundle and the hot new Air Hogs Connect Mission Drone! Go to the bottom of the post to enter.
  • Thursday, November 3rd, 2016
  • Episode 92: The American Academy of Pediatrics Finally Gives Up

    Rebecca and Andrea welcomed Amy back from a trip to Disney World! This week we’ll be talking about Halloween (including trick-or-treating in the Magic Kingdom), and how the American Academy of Pediatrics has updated their screen-time guidelines once again, perhaps in an attempt to stay relevant.
    But most importantly, Amy brought Andrea a Charleston Chew bar that her daughter got trick-or-treating!
    Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
    For the first time, Amy went trick-or-treating at Disney World. Attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party involves buying a separate ticket, which includes Magic Kingdom admission starting at 4pm. The Halloween festivities start at 7, with each person (adults too!) getting a bag for candy. Then you go around treat stations, and get completely loaded up with as much candy as the cast members can grab for you.
    There are no limits to how many times you can go to the treat stations, and additional bags are available! It’s an expensive, but exciting, way to trick or treat. Plus, there’s a special show at the end of the night called HalloWishes, a take on the usual fireworks show, Wishes.
    Halloween Manners
    Maybe the co-hosts are just getting old and cranky, but it seems like a lot of kids (and adults!) have forgotten good Halloween etiquette. Kids are grabbing more candy than they’ve been instructed to (in one case, even the bowl went missing!), and in Amy’s neighborhood an increasing number of uncostumed adults are asking for candy too.
    On the other end of the spectrum are things like Trunk or Treat, where parents all meet in a parking lot and kids go from decorated trunk to decorated trunk, getting candy in an ultra-safe and supervised way.
    Somewhere in the middle is probably a perfect Halloween that never actually existed.
    The AAP Gives Up
    Nobody really pays attention to those screen-time recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, right? But they keep issuing them, and in an attempt to stay relevant, they’ve finally eased up a little. But it’s still not enough to please the folks at HuffPo, who had some harsh things to say about the new guidelines and how they’re reached.
    Bytes of the Week
    Amy’s Byte is another podcast, from the people behind the wonderful Bowery Boys podcast, called The First. It explores inventions and firsts of all kinds, and while only one episode has been released so far (about the first Ferris Wheel), Amy has high hopes based on the quality and longevity of The Bowery Boys.
    Andreas Byte is a wearable from TomTom. Smaller than the Microsoft Band, with all sorts of monitors and connectivity, Andrea gives it high marks.
    And last, Rebecca is recommending an article in The Atlantic about how many states have basically outlawed normal teenage behavior.
  • Thursday, October 27th, 2016
  • Episode 91: Bake It Happen For Breast Cancer Research!

    Shari and Stacy lost their mother Judy to breast cancer eight years ago, and they put their grief into action with Bake It Happen. For the fourth year in a row, people sign up on their website,, and bake one of Judy’s famous recipes. Then they share a picture of their creation to Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram with the hashtag #BakeItHappen. And here’s the best part: an anonymous partner donates $5 for each picture shared to the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation, which awards grants for breast cancer research! (If you’re not on social media, you can email a picture to the site, and those will get counted for donations too.)
    While the effort started with friends and family (and a different name: “Bananas for Boobies”), it has grown to include lots of strangers. Last year’s campaign raised $20,000! Shari has seen pictures from firehouses, soccer teams, and people baking to honor a loved one. The sisters’ hope is that in future years the fundraiser will expand offline to retail stores, with a big brand backing the cause.
    You only have until the end of October to get your pictures posted! This weekend is a great time to do some baking. If your child’s school is having a Halloween bake sale or Halloween party on Monday, you could bake for that! Just remember to post a picture (or more than one!) to social media with the hashtag #BakeItHappen. You can sign up and find more info on
    Halloween Bytes
    We’ve got special Halloween-themed Bytes this week!
    Amy is recommending an Android app called Horror MakeUp, which has great tips on gory makeup effects. Also, you should read a post on McSweeney’s by the always-funny Wendi Aarons, titled “My Halloween House of Horrors.”
    Andrea recommends the list of spooky story apps on Tech With Kids, 25 Spooky (and Cute!) Tech Accessories to Celebrate Your Love of Halloween from Pop Sugar, and a Tech Times article about how to mark your house for trick-or-treaters on the Next Door app.
    And Rebecca keeps things simple with an article about 18 DIY Halloween Hacks You Can Make From Stuff You Already Have, on the Little Things website
  • Thursday, October 20th, 2016
  • Episode 90: The Real Cost Of Using Smartphones Around Kids

    It’s a beautiful fall day in NYC! No, not really, it would be a beautiful day if it were July. It’s 85 degrees and we’re all dressed like it’s summer in the middle of October. But we’re happy to be here!
    Rebecca commented that Andrea tests out more gadgets than anybody Rebecca knows. It’s true. If you want to know about the latest in consumer tech, you should be paying attention to Andrea. Like her latest for NBC, about gadgets to make your home smart.
    The Real Cost Of Smartphones
    Back in the old days when Amy wanted to ignore her kids on the playground, she used a newspaper. But according to Rebecca, a newspaper or book wasn’t that bad. Today parents are ignoring their kids an increasing amount with smartphones and tablets. Because of the interactivity and rabbit-hole nature of the internet, this is so much worse than just reading around your kids.
    According to an article about a new research study, smartphones require much more of an emotional investment than books or magazines, and interaction with kids suffers. “The human brain can’t process kids and incoming messages on smartphones at the same time, the scientists say. When parents feel compelled to pay attention to work email—or news alerts, text messages, or a thousand other things that make a phone ping—and their children need attention, parents feel internally conflicted.”
    Rebecca pointed out that while we talk a lot on the podcast about kids who use their devices all the time, parents are just as bad, or worse. And since they’re modeling behavior for the whole family, that behavior has a huge impact.
    Amy was quick to point out that since she works from home, she’s had to make her kids understand that if she’s working when they get home from school, that’s not an OK time to tell her long stories and bug her. But according to Rebecca, that’s really a whole other issue.
    Still, Amy says the solution is to give your kids your full attention at certain times, but to make sure that you carve out time to be online and not be bothered by your kids, whether it’s for work or just to relax. Remind them that they had their time, and now you get to do your thing for a little while. Set a timer, and get them on board!
    But if the problem really is that you just can’t get off of your device, there are apps that can help you. You can see a list at the bottom of this post, under “This Week’s Links.”
    If you can’t even put down your phone while eating dinner with your family, Common Sense Media is running an incredibly sad challenge called #DeviceFreeDinner. Sign up on their site and they’ll give you access to all sorts of things that you shouldn’t need, but apparently a lot of people do. Conversation starters with your kids? OMG. Have we really forgotten how to talk to each other? Sad. But we applaud CSM for trying to help.
    Bytes of the Week
    Amy’s Byte is a collection (two, actually) of non-sexy, non-insulting Halloween costumes for girls. And while both the Huffington Post’s list and the one on A Mighty Girl can be purchased, if you’re a crafty type, you could also get ideas from the list and make them yourself.
    Andrea’s Byte (which Amy also happens to own) is a temperature and water sensor from Honeywell that will alert your phone if something goes wrong having to do with water, humidity, or freezing temperatures. This would be great for people with a vacation house, people who worry about frozen pipes, or people like Amy who put their washing machines up on the third floor.
    Rebecca’s Byte is a genius service that automatically sends you a printed photobook when you’ve posted a certain number of photos on selected sites. Everything is formatted for you, so you can just quickly OK all of the images. And it’s inexpensive too!
    Rebecca’s Byte wasn’t just the service, though, it was also the video that advertised it. Hilarious and relatable.
  • Thursday, October 13th, 2016
  • Ep 89: How To Avoid A Virtual Kidnapping Scam

    Rebecca finally remembered the new name of Amy’s blog. Andrea showed off her newly-unpacked fall clothes. Amy declared her love of jeggings. And Rebecca got us off to a hungry start this week, talking about apple babka from Breads Bakery (cue Elaine Benes referring to non-chocolate babka as “lesser babka”). Don’t worry: if you’re not in NYC, they ship nationwide! Virtual Kidnappings
    There was a scary story in the Washington Post about a mother who got a phone call claiming that her 23-year-old daughter had been kidnapped. The kidnapper threatened to hurt the daughter if the mother didn’t send him money, all the while monitoring what the mother was doing by making her keep her phone on speaker. Eventually the mother realized that the kidnapping was fake and her daughter was safe, but not before she’d wired thousands of dollars to Mexico. This scam isn’t new, but it’s having a resurgence thanks to social media. The perpetrators can mine sites like Facebook for all sorts of info that they could use against a parent or grandparent to make them think that the kidnapping was real. The amazing thing is that all three of us had a story about this. Rebecca’s nephew had been the unknowing subject of one such scam, where his grandparents were targeted and asked to send money to their nephew to bail him out of jail. Andrea also knew people who had been targeted. Amy even had something similar happen about twelve years ago, where the caller claimed that he had her mother, and would rape her if Amy didn’t do as he said. So what can you do about it? A companion article has some good tips. AT&T Unite Explore
    Amy’s Byte this week is a mobile hotspot. The AT&T Unite Explore from NETGEAR is rugged, versatile, and has some great parental control features. When you’re not at home and need to get on WiFi, this is an excellent option. You can read her review here, and more on Tom’s Guide. National Teen Driver Safety Week
    Andrea’s Byte is National Teen Driver Safety Week, which is next week (the week of October 16th). Motor vehicle crashes are the number one leading cause of death of teens 15 to 19 in the U.S., but there are apps and car integrations that can help. For example, Chevy’s Teen Driver technology is a built-in program that tells you how fast your teen is driving, lets you limit the radio volume, and can give you a report card of how your teen’s driving measures up. AT&T’s Drive Mode app and Verizon’s messaging app can both be set to silence text alerts when you’re driving, and send an automated message to the person texting you to let them know that you’re driving and will get back to them later. And the Focus app for iPhone will train you to drive screen-free by admonishing you if you pick up your cell phone while driving. Manifest Destiny
    Rebecca’s Byte is a massively long article (more than 12,000 words) in The New Yorker titled “Sam Altman’s Manifest Destiny.” It explores how the head of Y Combinator, a hugely successful startup accelerator that has helped nurture many successful Silicon Valley startups, is working to head off global human extinction from artificial intelligence. “OpenAI, the nonprofit that Altman founded with Elon Musk, is a hedged bet on the end of human predominance—a kind of strategic-defense initiative to protect us from our own creations. OpenAI was born of Musk’s conviction that an A.I. could wipe us out by accident.” Sleep tight.
  • Thursday, October 6th, 2016
  • Ep 88: When Should You Interfere In Other People‚Äôs Parenting?

    Intro Rebecca is still bitter about Amy changing her blog’s name from “Selfish Mom” to “Amy Ever After.” And Andrea is not wearing purple, because she moved recently and hasn’t had a chance to unpack enough of her fall clothes. It’s finally chilly in NYC! The Myth Of The Straight-A Student What do you do when your child is obsessed with getting great grades? NYC is famous for parents stressing over getting their kids into the right pre-school, then the right elementary school, right on up the line to a top college. Many schools all over the country put a ton of pressure on kids to be straight-A students. So what happens when the kids internalize the pressure and obsess over their grades? An article in the Washington Post had some great suggestions for lessening the pressure, without totally letting kids off the hook for getting good grades. Some suggestions include looking beyond the obvious, big-name schools, backing off so they can fight their own battles, and focusing on character development instead of grades. Plus, our friend Jessica Lahey’s book, The Gift of Failure, was mentioned in the article. It’s a really great resource. When (If Ever) Should You Butt In When It Comes To Parenting? Last week, a woman in Texas tried to intervene when she saw a man in a Wal-Mart dragging his daughter around by her hair. He had wrapped his daughter’s hair around the shopping cart’s handle, so she took pictures, and then asked him to stop. When he refused, she called the police. Ultimately, the police said that they couldn’t arrest him because he had a right to discipline his daughter. So the woman posted the pictures to Facebook, and they went viral. A really interesting article in the New York Times expanded on this topic and asked when is it OK to interfere in someone else’s parenting decisions? Rather than a stranger spotting abuse in a public place, the article focused more on what happens when friends or grandparents butt in about parenting styles or decisions. The tl/dr version? It pretty much never works out well. There were many examples in the article of friendships being destroyed over someone butting in. One great suggestion from the article for grandparents was a one-and-done rule: the grandparents can butt in once for an issue, and that’s it. No matter what the parents do with the advice, they can’t butt in on that topic again. Bytes of the Week Amy’s Byte is the incredibly awesome new Will & Grace video, made especially for the presidential election. The show didn’t miss a beat. The writing, the set, Grace’s hair, Karen’s cleavage, everything was the same and just as great as when the show was on. You have to watch it. Andrea’s Byte is a very cool, high-tech ceiling fan. The WiFi-enabled Haiku Ceiling Fan works with the Amazon Echo, can be installed indoors or outdoors, and has an LED light with 16 brightness levels. Neat! Haiku Ceiling Fan Rebecca’s Byte is a ten-episode serial podcast for kids, The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel. You can subscribe to it in iTunes or wherever else you get your podcasts, or you can listen to it on YouTube!
  • Thursday, September 29th, 2016
  • Ep 87: Black Dolls Matter, with Ozi Okaro of Ikuzi Dolls

    We're talking with Ozi Okaro, founder of Ikuzi Dolls, a line of 18" dolls of color that are available with different skin shades and hair textures. Check out this week's sponsor, eSalon. The professionals at eSalon create hair color formulated just for you! Visit and get 50% off of your first box. Intro Rebecca got the new name right this week of Amy’s blog – sort of. Whether you go to,, or (her old site), you’ll end up in the right place. And Andrea is off traveling somewhere, we’ve lost track of where! Have fun wherever you are, Andrea. Black Dolls Matter Ozi Okaro has joined Rebecca and Amy in the studio to talk about her company, Ikuzi Dolls. Ozi is a mom of four living in New Jersey. Born in Canada, her background is Nigerian, which helped her come up with her company’s name - Ikuzi means “to teach” in Nigerian. “For me, growing up, it was a challenge to find dolls that look like me.” Once Ozi had two daughters of her own, she was still frustrated with what was out there in terms of diverse dolls. So, with help and funding from friends and family, she started Ikuzi Dolls. Founded in 2014, and available online since last year, Ikuzi dolls are 18-inch dolls of color, similar in size to American Girl Dolls. They come with beautiful dresses in African-print fabrics, a variety of different hair textures, and several different skin shades. Ozi modeled the dolls after her daughters, and she’s delighted that other people think the dolls look like their own daughters. She’s even had significant interest from Latino and middle-eastern parents, since some of her lighter-skinned dolls look much more like their daughters than most white dolls do. We’ve all seen that iconic picture of the little African-American boy touching President Obama’s hair, just to confirm that it felt like his own hair. It’s so important for children to see themselves represented in the world in positive ways. Ozi agrees, and sees the effect her dolls are having on little girls. “We get a lot of pictures sent in, girls taking pictures with their dolls, and they’ll style their dolls like them, and take pictures. And they’re saying the same thing: These dolls represent us. We can relate to them.” Other companies have tried to represent African American girls with their dolls, but it’s usually just a darker version of the dolls they already have. Ikuzi dolls are coming from a much more authentic place, and aren’t just a token brown doll in a sea of white dolls. So what’s in store for the future of this innovative company? Expanding to more looks. “The shades of black beauty are very varied, and so it’s going to take a long time to satisfy everyone. We’ll try our best. My goal is to make sure every little girl can go and pick up a doll and play with it and love herself, and just appreciate the doll and relate to the doll and identify with the doll. That’s pretty much our goal.” Ozi has offered a generous 15% off for our listeners! Go to and enter code PARENTING at check out. These would make amazing gifts, so get your holiday shopping done early! Bytes of the Week Amy’s link this week is a trippy virtual reality experience for Google Cardboard, a 360-degree music video of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. If you don’t have Google Cardboard you can also watch it as a 360-degree YouTube video. Be sure to plug in headphones, because the sound has been integrated with what’s happening in the video – coming from different places depending on where you’re looking. Behind the Scenes: The Bohemian Rhapsody Experience There’s also this promo video from this year’s Tony Awards, also in 360, where you can scroll the video to look in any direction. Hamilton: An American Musical 360 - Wait For It Rebecca’s byte is a literal bite, a video from Real Simple showing an easy method for separating pomegranate seeds from the fruit. And the food talk led to all sorts of tangents, from a misconception about what’s really in Libby’s canned pumpkin, to this hilarious video review of Patti LaBelle’s sweet potato pie. Enjoy!
  • Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
  • Ep 86: Should We Get Rid Of Middle Schools?

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Today's topics couldn't be more different. First we talk about how awful middle school is, and what can be done about it. Then we discuss the 68th Emmy Awards, from the red carpet to the diversity to our favorite moments. Plus our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, September 15th, 2016
  • Ep 85: Is Sexting The New Flirting In Middle School?

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca Levey and Amy Oztan are talking about a heavy, important topic today: middle schoolers are sexting up a storm, and the great Screen Age series in the Washington Post is tackling it by telling the story or a girl who was ostracized for being a slut when a boy sent her picture around. Special guest and author Jessica Contrera walks us through the pressures on girls these days to send "nudes." Plus our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, September 8th, 2016
  • Ep 84: Baby Name Regret

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca Levey and Andrea Smith are in the studio this week, while Amy Oztan calls in from the Catskills, trying to suck a few more days out of summer. We're talking about a list of 50 things you should never say to your kids, and what happens when you regret the name you gave your kid. Plus our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, September 1st, 2016
  • Best Of: Odd Mom Out

    Today we're rebroadcasting one of our favorite episodes! Rebecca Levey, Andrea Smith, and Amy Oztan are joined by Elisa Zuritsky and Julie Rottenberg, Showrunners and Executive Producers of Odd Mom Out on Bravo, a hilarious show about a mom on the Upper East Side of NYC who doesn't fit in with her wealthy friends and relatives. We talk to Elisa and Julie about what it took to get a show like this on the air, how they try to combine being moms of young children with a punishing production schedule, and what Sex and the City - another show they worked on together - would be like today, in the era of cell phones and blogs. Plus all five of us give our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, August 25th, 2016
  • Ep 83: How To Prepare For Disasters Without Scaring Your Children

    Rebecca Levey, Andrea Smith, and Amy Oztan are in the studio today talking with Tanya Weinberg, Director of Media and Communications at Save the Children, about the recent flooding in Louisiana, including how your donations help and how you can prepare for a disaster in your own home. Plus, we discuss an article from the Wall Street Journal about what your teen needs from you at each stage. And our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, August 18th, 2016
  • Ep 82: Do You Have A Favorite Child?

    Rebecca Levey, Andrea Smith, and Amy Oztan are in the studio on this hot, sticky summer week talking about a touchy subject: the favorite child. Do you have one? Plus our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, August 11th, 2016
  • Ep 81: We Are All Aly Raisman's Parents

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca Levey and Andrea Smith are in the studio today with special guest Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Mag's online editorial director. We're talking about some new features on Office 365 that claim to make you a better writer, and parents at the Olympics - both parents of Olympians, and Olympians who have children. Plus our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, August 4th, 2016
  • Ep 80: The Best Back To School Shopping Tips

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca Levey, Andrea Smith, and Amy Oztan are in the studio talking about back to school: from what your kids need to how to get those things for the best price, whether you're shopping in store or online. Plus our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, July 28th, 2016
  • Ep 79: When To Get Your Child A Smartphone

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca Levey, Andrea Smith, and Amy Oztan are talking about when to get your child a smartphone, and how much peer pressure should play into the decision. Plus, we interview author Daryn Kagan about her new book, Hope Possible. And our Bytes of the Week! 
  • Thursday, July 21st, 2016
  • Ep 78: The Importance of Empathy

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca Levey, Andrea Smith, and Amy Oztan are talking to author Dr. Michele Borba about how incredibly important it is to instill empathy in your children, and how to do it. Plus, after playing all week we give a Pokemon Go update. And our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, July 14th, 2016
  • Ep 77: All About Pokemon Go!

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca Levey, Andrea Smith, and Amy Oztan are in the studio today with a special guest, former Parenting Bytes producer Brian Coursen! And we're talking about the brand new game that has seemingly taken over the country in less than a week, Pokemon Go. Plus our non-Pokemon Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, July 7th, 2016
  • Ep 76: In Defense of Super Early Bedtimes

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca Levey, Andrea Smith, and Amy Oztan are in the studio today talking about early bedtime for kids. Is it a good idea? Is it even possible? Plus a special expanded summer Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, June 30th, 2016
  • Ep 75: Mean Girls: When To Step In?

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca Levey, Andrea Smith, and Amy Oztan are in the studio today talking with Kate Canterbury, from The Guavalicious Life, about an ugly incident her daughter had with some mean girls, and the epic Facebook discussions that followed. When do you step in and when do you let the kids work it out? We're also talking about how to deal with teenage (or parent!) cell phone data hogs, and kids and money in general. Plus our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, June 23rd, 2016
  • Ep 74: Summer STEM Projects from The Maker Mom

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! It's just Rebecca Levey and Amy Oztan in the studio today, but they're joined by a great guest, Kim Moldofsky of The Maker Mom. We'll be talking about interesting and fun things for kids to do this summer that will sneak in some STEM learning in the process. Plus our Bytes of the Week!
  • Friday, June 17th, 2016
  • Ep 73: Exciting Summer Books for Teens and Tweens!

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca Levey, Andrea Smith, and Amy Oztan are in the studio today talking to Sandie Chen, senior book and movie reviewer for Common Sense Media, and she has some awesome book recommendations for older kids. Plus, we're talking about phones and summer camp: are you kids allowed to take their phones to camp? Do you text your kids while they're at camp? We'll let you know what we think. Plus our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, June 9th, 2016
  • Ep 72: Online Vigilantes

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca is off this week (how dare she!), so Andrea Smith and Amy Oztan are in the studio talking with guest Amy Mascott about how to give your kids some fun activities this summer. Then we shift to the trend of Facebook Justice, where people attempt to do by viral memes and posts what they feel the police and courts aren't doing. Plus our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, June 2nd, 2016
  • Ep 71: Should You Pay Your Kids For Grades?

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! We're in the studio today with Rebecca Levey, Andrea Smith, and Amy Oztan, talking about paying students to do well in school, plus what to expect when your kids go to summer camp, whether it's a day camp or sleepaway camp. Plus our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, May 26th, 2016
  • Ep 70: Got Grit?

    Hello and welcome to our 70th episode!! We're covering two great topics today: Social Media rules for babysitters, and a thorough examination of Angela Duckworth's book about grit in Slate. Plus as many Bytes of the Week as we were able to cram in because we just wouldn’t stop talking!
  • Thursday, May 19th, 2016
  • Ep 69: Screenagers

    Hello all, thanks for joining us! Rebecca Levey and Andrea Smith are talking to journalist Jennifer Jolly about teenage brains and the new movie 'Screenagers,' plus why giving a two-minute warning makes tech tantrums worse. Plus our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, May 12th, 2016
  • Ep. 68: How Not To Raise A Tech Entrepreneur

    Hi and welcome! The entire Parenting Bytes crew is in the studio today with two great topics: A study about how giving young children small sips of alcohol can lead to drinking later on, and an article claiming that giving your kids tech tasks to do will help them be tech entrepreneurs later on. Plus our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, May 5th, 2016
  • Ep. 67: Awaken Summer!

    Hi there and welcome to another exciting episode of Parenting Bytes! We're all in the studio on this gloomy day, but we're talking about things that can be warm and sunny: taking a gap year, and all of the fantastic new stuff coming up at Disney World! Plus our Bytes of the Week.
  • Thursday, April 28th, 2016
  • Ep. 66: Jeff Kinney Wants Your Kid To Be A Storyteller

    Thanks for listening to Parenting Bytes! We're in the studio today with Rebecca Levey, Amy Oztan, and Andrea Smith, talking about the point of preschool crafts, plus a special interview with Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney and president of StoryArc Media Jen MacLean. And of course, our Bytes of the Week, including some great Mother's Day picks from Andrea!
  • Thursday, April 21st, 2016
  • Ep. 65: Shitty Moms

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca Levey and Amy Oztan are in the studio this week, talking to the authors of the new book, Shitty Mom for All Seasons. Then they discuss what happens to kids' brains, emotions, and behavior when they're getting screen time. Plus our Bytes of the Weeks!
  • Thursday, April 14th, 2016
  • Ep. 64: When They Leave For College

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca Levey and Amy Oztan are in the studio today with special guest Abby West, talking about her oldest going off to college and what that's doing about her emotionally. Then we discuss a theory of child rearing that involves no discipline, just an insane amount of positive reinforcement. Plus our Bytes of the Weeks!
  • Thursday, April 7th, 2016
  • Ep. 63: Kindles vs. Books

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca Levey is calling in from Miami this week (lucky - it's freezing in NYC!), while Andrea Smith and Amy Oztan are in the studio. This week we're talking about Kindles vs. books, which do we like best? Which do our kids like best? Plus Snapchat, which none of us are on, but should we be? Plus our Bytes of the Weeks!
  • Thursday, March 31st, 2016
  • Ep. 62: Parent Hacks

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! It's just Rebecca Levey and Amy Oztan in the studio today, with a very special guest calling in: Parent Hacks author Asha Dornfest! Asha tells us all about how Parent Hacks--both the website and book--came to be, and clues us in on some really helpful hacks for parents (pool noodles and vinyl tablecloths, who knew?) Plus our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, March 24th, 2016
  • Ep 61: Let's Move!

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! It's just Rebecca Levey and Amy Oztan in the studio today, with Andrea Smith calling in because security measures would have made her commute from NJ ridiculous. So, today we talk about Amy's recent trip to the White House, the First Lady's Let's Move initiative, and some scary body trends that have hit the internet. We also talk about one baseball player's desire to bring his teenage son to work with him every day. Plus our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, March 17th, 2016
  • Ep. 60: Metric Parenting

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! It's just Rebecca Levey and Andrea Smith in the studio today, because Amy Oztan ditched them for the White House! We'll talk more about that next week when she's back. This week we'll be talking about an article in Fast Company about how to track parenting successes and failures, and some great tech that will help you with family travel. Plus our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, March 10th, 2016
  • Ep. 59: American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! We have a special guest with us for the enter episode today, Nancy Jo Sales, journalist and author of the new book American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers. We'll be talking about that, plus Women's History Month and International Women's Day. And our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, March 3rd, 2016
  • Ep. 58: I Don't Want To Be Your Friend

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! This week we're in our NYC studio talking about selling fundraising items for your kids--Girl Scout Cookies, wrapping paper, magazines--and what happens when your child doesn't want to be friends with someone. Plus our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, February 25th, 2016
  • Ep. 57: The Digital Divide

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! We're in the studio this week discussing why we teach girls to be scared, and the digital divide between the home broadband haves and have-nots. Plus our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, February 18th, 2016
  • Ep. 56:Old School Meets Digital at Toy Fair

    Hello from Toy Fair in NYC! Rebecca Levey, Andrea Smith, and Amy Oztan are recording from the Digital Kids Conference with two very special guests. First up is Maria Bailey of Blue Suit Mom talking about the research she did on Millennial Moms. Then we talk with Tonda Bunge Sellers, who talks about the blurring lines between old-fashioned physical toys and digital toys. And our special Bytes of the Week from Toy Fair!
  • Thursday, February 11th, 2016
  • Ep. 55: How To Give Your Kids Money

    Rebecca Levey and Amy Oztan are in the studio today and have a special call-in guest, Kelly Whalen from, who will be talking to us about kids and allowance, including some plastic options. Then Amy and Rebecca will be talking about Valentine's Day apps for kids. Plus our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, February 4th, 2016
  • Ep. 54: Does Anyone Actually Want The New Barbie dolls?

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca Levey, Amy Oztan, and Andrea Smith are all back in the studio today, talking about the new "diverse" Barbie dolls, and how to help your kids understand politics past the insults that are being shouted by the candidates. Plus our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, January 28th, 2016
  • Ep. 53: Is Middle School Just The Worst?

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca Levey and Amy Oztan are in the studio today, talking to special guest Kelly Wallace of CNN, who wrote a great piece about why the middle school years are the hardest on parents. We're also talking about a tragic case in London of a 14-year-old boy being killed by an older teen he met in an online gaming group. And, our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, January 21st, 2016
  • Ep. 52: Twelve Things To Know By High School

    Hello and welcome to Parenting Bytes! Hosts Rebecca Levey, Amy Oztan, and Andrea Smith are back from Las Vegas and in the NYC studio! This week we're talking about some of the things that we saw at CES, and an interesting article detailing twelve things every kid should know by high school. We love some of them, and have issues with a few. Plus our Bytes of the Week!
  • Wednesday, January 13th, 2016
  • Ep. 51: Live from the Consumer Electronics Show!

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca Levey, Amy Oztan, and Andrea Smith are in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics show, recording right from the show floor. We're talking about all sorts of products and gadgets. We're thrilled to be sponsored at CES by Lenovo, and we'll be highlighting some of the great Lenovo products that debuted at CES. We'll also be talking to Robin Raskin, founder of Living in Digital Times. Plus our Bytes of the Week - our Bytes of CES!
  • Thursday, January 7th, 2016
  • Ep. 50: That's Not How They Do It In Scandinavia

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca Levey and Amy Oztan are in the studio for the first time this year, with special guest host Nancy Friedman! We're talking about a better way to keep kids focused during the school day, and the emotional garbage our tweens and teens dump on us. Plus our Bytes of the Week!
  • Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015
  • Ep. 49: Organize Your Life for 2016!

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca Levey, Amy Oztan, and Andrea Smith are in the studio for the last time this year talking about organization, parental resolutions, and parental fails!
  • Thursday, December 17th, 2015
  • Ep. 48: 2015 Year in Review - Best Bytes and Faves!

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca Levey, Amy Oztan, and Andrea Smith have braved the crazy midtown Manhattan holiday traffic once again to bring you their favorite bytes from the past year!
  • Thursday, December 10th, 2015
  • Ep. 47: Elf on the Shelf, or Big Brother?

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca Levey and Amy Oztan are in the studio today, with a special guest calling in: Leticia Barr of Tech Savvy Mama. We're talking about how (or even if) to punish a child who repeatedly breaks computer rules, plus whether or not Elf on the Shelf is training kids to live in a surveillance state. And our Bytes of the Week!
  • Thursday, December 3rd, 2015
  • Ep. 46: Hour of Code

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca Levey, Amy Oztan, and Andrea Smith are spending this episode talking about Hour Of Code, a global movement to get people interested in coding with one-hour lessons available for free online. We're talking to Deirdre Quarnstrom, Director of Minecraft Education at Microsoft, and Mark Engleberg, inventor of Think Fun's Code Master game, an offline board game that teaches the thought processes behind coding. And as always, our Bytes of the Week!
  • Wednesday, November 25th, 2015
  • Ep. 45: Holiday Food Edition!

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca Levey, Amy Oztan, and Andrea Smith are discussing food. Thanksgiving food, holiday cooking, cool kitchen gadgets, essential kitchen tools, and more! Plus our Bytes of the Week.
  • Thursday, November 19th, 2015
  • Ep. 44: How To Talk To Kids About Tragedy

    Welcome to Parenting Bytes! Rebecca Levey, Amy Oztan, and Andrea Smith are in the studio today with a very special guest, Michelle Ciulla Lipkin. Michelle is the Executive Director of the National Association for Media Literacy Education, and she has a significant connection to terrorism and was able to give us some excellent tips for talking to kids about tragedy. She also gave us some great insight into how to raise media literate kids. Plus our Bytes of the Week!

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