Family

Family

Why getting my 11-year-old a phone was the best parenting decision I made

There was never any question in my mind that when our daughter started middle school, we would get her a smartphone. My husband and I work in technology-related fields and knew the benefits and drawbacks to getting her a phone at age 11. Instead of pledging to Wait Until 8th – delaying the introduction of a smartphone – we've spent the middle school years actively discussing and navigating the perceived dangers of the device while enjoying the unexpected advantages of it as a communication tool to strengthen our relationship. And you know what? It's been one of the best parenting decisions we've ever made.

Family

Game review: 'MachiaVillain,' tongue-in-cheek black humor reigns in chaotic cartoon sim

Parents need to know that "MachiaVillain" is a downloadable strategic simulation game for Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. The game uses slapstick, tongue-in-cheek humor to parody classic horror film cliches by putting players in charge of building their own evil mansion, managing a minion workforce, and luring stereotypical victims to their doom. Although violence is one of the central themes of the game, its cartoonish, comedic style significantly cuts the impact of the blood and gore. Parents should also be aware that the game's dialogue includes occasional crude humor.

Family

App review: My3-Support Network: Excellent crisis support app could be a lifesaver

Parents need to know that My3-Support Network is a crisis support app for people who experience suicidal thoughts. Users can choose three trusted people from their contacts list to place on the app (911 and the number for the National Suicide Hotline are automatically listed). It also guides users through creating their own safety plan, where they list warning signs, coping strategies, distractions, their "reason to live," and more. There's also a further resources page that links users to organizations that help people with specific needs, such as suicide attempt survivors, LGBTQ youth, and more. The privacy policy applies to the organization's website and not specifically to the app, so there's no way to know exactly what information is collected and shared via the app. The app description states that "... all your sensitive information is automatically stored confidentially." However, without a specific privacy policy, it's best for teens.

Family

Movies to watch with tweens, teens that don't make you look like a dork

Once your kids have outgrown the Disney princesses, the Kung Fu Pandas, and the Ice Ages of the world, picking something for family movie night can get a bit more challenging. If you want tweens and teens to admit to genuinely liking your choices (rather than just tolerating them with an eye roll), you'll need something cool and sophisticated – just not too cool and sophisticated.

This week's circulars

Movie News & Reviews

Movie review: 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' is a satisfying, action-packed prequel

Parents need to know that "Solo: A Star Wars Story" is a stand-alone adventure about a young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) that takes place several years before he teams up with Luke and Leia in "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope." The movie reveals details about the infamous smuggler's past – like how he became the captain of the Millennium Falcon and how he met legendary characters like Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). Expect lots of peril, chases and action violence, including scenes of large-scale ground warfare as well as executions, shoot-outs and torture. While there's not much blood overall, characters do die. There's also a bit of language, some drinking in pubs, and innuendo (plus more kissing than is typical for a Star Wars film). Han definitely isn't always first in line to make the morally right choice, but ultimately the movie has messages about equal rights for all creatures and the importance of teamwork, communication, courage and friendship. And the cast is noticeably diverse, with many female characters, people of color and creatures who have distinct backgrounds and ideas.

Family

Living with Children: Some say, parents should ask their babies' permission before changing their diapers

Competition amongst the membership of the International Association of the Weird and Even Weirder for the Most Bizarre Idea of All Time has finally, after more than five decades of weird-mongering, come to an end – the rest of us can only hope, anyway. The winner is Deanne Carson of Australia who proposes that to advance a "culture of consent" in the home, parents should ask their babies' permission before changing their diapers, as in, "I'm going to change your nappy (diaper) now, my precious. Is that okay?"

Family

Ex-etiquette: Ex posts 'missing you' letter on Facebook from family pet to son

Q: My ex and I split up about four months ago. We were together almost ten years and had two sons together. She had an affair, I found out and moved my kids out the next day. She sees the boys intermittently, but it's difficult since she's living with the guy. Yesterday I found an open letter on Facebook from our family pet. The pet lives with her and the letter was written like it was from the pet, talking about how much he missed my oldest son. My son hasn't seen it, but I'm afraid he will, and it just seems like it's hitting below the belt. What's good ex-etiquette?

Family

Cohousing: The new Bay Area trend in senior living

The skyrocketing cost of Bay Area housing almost forced Marietta Borgel to leave San Jose, the place she's called home for six decades. Then she discovered home-sharing and, for the first time in her 75 years, Borgel moved in with a roommate.