Posts Tagged ‘Consumer Reports’

Consumer Reports Wants to Ask Your High Schooler About Distracted Driving

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Consumer Reports is surveying high school students about their attitudes and practices regarding distracted driving. And they need your help.

If your child is in high school, please ask him or her to take this quick Survey Monkey survey. When the results are published this spring, I’ll link to them here. Thanks!

(Note: I’m the social-media reporter for Consumer Reports. Follow me on Twitter at @CReporter for all the latest consumer news! You can also follow me at @kathysena.) And be sure to check out the wonderful Consumer Reports blogs.

Guest Post: Growth Lines Keep a Family’s Memory From Fading

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

I’m so happy to share with you a guest post from Gian Trotta, a home-improvement writer who lives in Newtown, CT with his wife and six-year-old daughter. He moved to Connecticut three years ago after completing a gut-level (and gut-wrenching) renovation of a 164-year-old Brooklyn, NY townhouse

When people leave a house, their presence can linger in myriad ways.

In the case of our Connecticut home, a steadily ascending tier of dated lines on the side of one door in our home charts the growth of the previous owners’ two daughters until they were 8 and 10 years old. Dated multicolored pencil, ink and magic-marker lines marked with “A” (for Annie) and “K” (for Katie) showed the girls’ steady ascension over the years.

At times the lines were widely spaced, showing the girls going through growth spurts. At other times, the lines and markings themselves are squiggly and haphazard, as if the measurements were hurried as the young ladies had places to go.

We didn’t push the previous owner to paint over or clean off the lines before we moved in, as we both had more pressing details than the door to attend to in order to make closing. An inspection had showed that the property was in violation of some village codes. Since Michael, the father, was being relocated to Vermont for work, he wanted to sell the house as much as we wanted to buy it. So he and I spent an afternoon drilling anchor posts into the rocky Connecticut soil and running cables over the outbuildings to bring the home up to wind-resistance requirements.

As we worked together, he filled me in with many details about the house, and I half-jokingly told him that we would never paint over the growth lines and he could come back anytime with the girls and resume the measurements.

Repainting the door stayed near the bottom of my punch list as more pressing projects took precedence. After a while, we realized the lines had just kind of … well, grown on us and we did want to remove such a vibrant vestige of the earlier inhabitants’ vitality.

In time, we might just work out a deal to replace the door with a new one and give them the old one to take back to their new home in Vermont. But just the other day, my daughter asked if we could start charting her growth on the door, so I emailed Michael to ask permission if we could add Thea’s height lines to the door. He gracefully granted the request, along with a promise to bring the girls by for a visit the next time they were in Connecticut.

— Gian Trotta is an Associate Editor at Consumer Reports’ Home and Garden section. You can read his blog postings on other home-related issues here.

Prepare Now for Your Child’s “Launch”

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Flipping through TV channels yesterday, I ran across the funny Sarah Jessica Parker - Matthew McConaughey movie “Failure to Launch” in which a thirtysomething slacker suspects his parents of setting him up with his dream girl so he’ll finally vacate their home.

Then I saw, on the Consumer Reports Money Blog, the post, “Should You Bail Out Your 20-, 30, 40-year-old Child?”

Hmm. Some food for thought here.

But why should parents of kids that aren’t even college age be concerned with this?

Because we set the tone for our child’s early-adult years during the childhood years. Do you fully expect your child to become a functioning adult who will make his or her way in the world at a certain age? Are you talking with your child about handling money, taking on increasing responsibility in age-appropriate ways and learning how to navigate the adult world?

When your child makes a mistake, or an error in judgment, do you rush to make it all better? To bail her out?

Let’s acknowledge the fact that, if we parents do our job well, we will be putting ourselves out of a job at some point. That’s the plan. That’s healthy for both you and your child.

Let’s not be the parents who call the university dean because little Meagan doesn’t like her first college roommate. Let’s let our kids find their way, struggle a bit when necessary, and grow from the experience.

When they’re 28, they’ll thank you. And you’ll thank yourself.

Microsoft Kin: Do You Want Your 14-Year-Old Daughter Watching These Ads?

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Thanks to Donna Tapellini over on the Consumer Reports Electronics Blog for raising a potential red flag for parents with her post today: More Videos for Microsoft’s Kin Phones Raise Concern.

(Full disclosure: I’m the social-media reporter for Consumer Reports. But I’m also a parenting blogger, and the mom of a teenager, and you’d better believe I’d be talking about this and linking to this post in any case.)

Just weeks ago, Microsoft pulled its promotional Kin video, after Consumer Reports questioned whether the ad was promoting sexting. Now they’re back, and I’m disturbed by what I’m seeing in these ads, which are being shown on Facebook and You Tube.

In the ads, Rosa Salazar, a young woman from Brooklyn (she looks to be no older than 20), makes a cross-country trek to meet, in person, some of the people she’s friended on Facebook and other social networks. Of course, many of these “friends” are total strangers.

And don’t even get me started on the stalker-like behavior encouraged by the second ad, below…

Is Microsoft being irresponsible here? Do you plan to talk with your tween and teens about such ads? Watch the videos here. Check out Donna’s post, which also includes some thoughts on this ad campaign from Jen Singer over at Then let us know what you think.

Happy Mother’s Day! How About Some Flowers, Candy — and a Computer Virus

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

E-cards are so popular these days, we usually don’t even think to worry about opening them. And most are safe. But Consumer Reports warns that scammers sometimes use ecards to do their dirty work:

“Scammers frequently have used bogus e-card messages to spread computer viruses and other malware. Such messages contain holiday-related subject lines but include nasty attachments or hyperlinks. For example, in 2008, the FBI warned that e-card emails were being used to spread the Storm Worm Trojan horse, which allowed outsiders to commander Windows computers.”

Check out Consumer Reports’ tips on safely receiving Mother’s Day E-cards.

(Full disclosure: I’m the social media reporter for Consumer Reports. Follow me on Twitter at @CReporter for great consumer tips and conversation!)

P.S. Yes, I’m shameless. Just had to share a picture of my baby boy, who is now 14 and taller than me!

How Much Does the Tooth Fairy Pay These Days?

Friday, March 19th, 2010

The Tooth Fairy might need to get a day job to pay for all those teeth, because payouts for baby teeth are on the rise, according to a new report by Desiree Ferenczi  of Consumer Reports. (Full disclosure: I work part-time as the social-media reporter for Consumer Reports. You can find me on Twitter as @CReporter.)

The  Tooth Fairy is dropping an average of $2.13 per tooth this year, up 13 percent from last year, says a national poll sponsored by (I’m shocked!) Delta Dental of Minnesota.

And it’s quite a range: anywhere from 5 cents to $50 for recently-lost baby teeth, Ferenczi reports.

Are you kidding me? Who gives their kid 50 bucks for a lost tooth?

Beware of Kids and TV Tip-Over Hazard

Friday, February 12th, 2010
Playful toddler on hardwood floor

Got a curious toddler?

Consumer Reports’ recent blog post and video about TV tip-over problems really caught my attention. Young children can be crushed from the weight of a falling TV.

But there are things you can do to protect your kids. Check out the post and video, then check out that TV sitting on the dresser in your bedroom…

(Full disclosure: I’m the social-media reporter for Consumer Reports.)

When Kids = Distracted Driving

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

We often think of distracted driving as driving while eating, putting on makeup, talking on a cell phone, etc. Driving with kids in the car can be distracting, too, according to a recent Consumer Reports* blog post, especially if there is crying, whining, or some other issue that warrants attention.

“Usually it’s either a dropped toy, needing a tissue, drink, or snack, that forces me to reach back and try to assist,” says Consumer Reports automotive writer Liza Barth.

“A few weeks ago, my husband rolled into a car in front of him after he inadvertently pulled his foot off the brake at a stop light while reaching to the back seat to tend to our son,” says Barth. “After that, we realized that even when stopped, it can not only be dangerous, but expensive (unfortunately, it was a BMW) to look away or remove your attention from the road.”

Visit the Consumer Reports blog for tips on driving (safely) with kids in tow. And visit Consumer Reports’ kids and car-safety section for more safety tips on driving with children.

*Full disclosure: In addition to being a parenting and health writer,  I work for Consumer Reports as their social media reporter. You can follow me on Twitter at @CReporter.

Danger at the Dollar Store

Monday, August 24th, 2009

this is possibly the greatest thing I've ever ...

We're all trying to stretch a buck these days, and dollar stores may seem like a good way to do it. But buyer beware when it comes to danger at the dollar store, says Consumer Reports in their latest video.

(Disclosure: In addition to being a freelance journalist, I'm also the social-media reporter for Consumer Reports. Follow me on Twitter at @creporter for CR's latest updates.)

What types of dollar-store products could be hazardous? Cigarette lighters that look like mini toy skateboards. Party whistles that can easily come apart and create choking hazards. And my personal favorite on CR's list: bubble-blowing liquid that comes in a bottle with what looks like a baby-bottle nipple on top. Nice.

Sure, you can save on many items that are perfectly safe. But keep a sharp eye out for items that could harm your family.

Protect Your Kids on Social Networks

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

As many of you know, I've been working as Consumer Reports' social media reporter since February. I love this work, and it fits so well with my commitment to sharing important consumer news with parents right here on Parent Talk Today.

I usually do my work for the organization as @CReporter on Twitter. But my editors also asked me to write a Consumer Reports blog post, "Eight Ways to Protect Your Kids on Social Networks," which talks about how to keep kids safe on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc.

Nancy Willard, director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, advises parents, educators, librarians and policy makers on how kids can use the Web safely. Her advice in this post can help keep your kids safe.

For more on information on surfing the Web safely, visit the Consumer Reports Guide to Online Security.