Families

Families

Game review: 'Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions: Kid-Friendly RPG' shows benefits of teamwork

Parents need to know that "Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions" is an updated version of the very first game in the Mario and Luigi series of role-playing games (RPGs). Nintendo's iconic brothers demonstrate teamwork and a willingness to cooperate with rather than fight their enemies – even long-time nemesis Bowser – as they work to restore Princess Peach's stolen voice. When they encounter more aggressive enemies they enter turn-based combat that involves stomping and smashing cartoonish creatures with large hammers, causing them to disappear in a flash of light. Combat requires some skill and practice to master, but an easy mode lets younger and inexperienced players jump in without too much trouble.

Families

App review: Toca Life: Office, fun app for preschoolers tackles superheroes and robbers

Parents need to know that Toca Life: Office is part of the Toca Life series of open-ended play apps. This one takes place in an urban environment complete with a bank (and a possible bank robber), offices, a court room, a jail cell, a day care, and an array of superhero costumes, so be prepared for more than a stereotypical office setting. The main screen has a parent section with instructions and tips, a Toca News area, and a Toca Life Weekly link with fun videos and tips. All of these, along with the music and video recording abilities, can be disabled from the app settings within your device. In terms of characters, they're diverse in terms of gender, age, and ethnicity – one even appears to have vitiligo. Kids will also find a few wheelchairs around as well to help in their storytelling. Younger kids may struggle with the fine motor skills to pick up and use some of the smaller objects within the app. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the information collected and shared.

Families

New research shows kids' screen time shifting dramatically toward phones and tablets

My kitchen counter has changed a lot over the last six years. What used to be dedicated to a bowl of fruit, a coffee maker, various papers, and mail that I haven't gotten around to throwing away yet has become a mess of wires coiling back to one put-upon outlet. A rotating set of smartphones, tablets, Bluetooth speakers, and headphones have made their way to the counter as well, pointing to a broader set of changes in the house. Our family, which includes a 5-year-old and 3-year-old, has a lot of mobile device stuff. And we aren't the only ones. Recently, we released the third wave of the The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Kids Age Zero to Eight, an ongoing series tracking the use of media and technology among U.S. kids. Beginning in 2011 and repeating again in 2013, these surveys offer us a once-in-a-lifetime look to see how new technologies have been enmeshing themselves in our children's lives. Based on a nationally representative sample of more than 1,400 parents from all over the country, the survey paints a complex portrait of increasingly mobile families. Some of the key findings include:

Families

Is cyberbullying more common than you think?

It's hard to pin down exactly how common cyberbullying is among kids. Different studies measure cyberbullying differently. The definition of what cyberbullying includes can vary as well. One thing that's certain is that all kids who are online are at risk of cyberbullying. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that cyberbullying affects about 15.5 percent of high school students. For comparison, about 20 percent of high schoolers experience in-person bullying at school.

Families

Snacks: Not-too-sweet treats

Who says dessert can't come first? Let the kids break the rules with one of these sweet but not too sugary snacks whenever they have a hankering for something indulgent.

Families

Braised cabbage, pork shoulder does double dinner duty

Recently my friends Penny and Chris hosted a dinner party inspired by their recent travels to Germany. Several neighborhood families savored German beer cheese and hearty rye bread before sitting down to enjoy an array of sausages. Guests rounded out the meal by providing a salad studded with apples and walnuts and a bowl brimming with roasted fingerling potatoes. I opted to contribute an uber-traditional batch of braised red cabbage.

Families

Social Security: 13 fearless things to know about your SSN

While many of us look forward to Friday, with its end-of-the-workweek designation and our weekend plans, certain cultures consider it an unlucky day. Some people, suffering from triskaidekaphobia, are truly terrified of the number 13. Combine the two factors and it's not surprising that many believe that Friday the 13th is a frightening day.

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Children's Hospital Los Angeles Courtesy to The Belliingham Herald
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