Family Tech News Roundup: Dec 8th – 14th

Very interesting news week for parental controls and online safety!

As we inch closer to CES many companies are releasing information, but a lot more are holding back until that wonderful week in January. Of course, we will be there covering the event as we do every year. I’m really excited to see what companies have in store for us this year! What will be the theme I find for the year this time? We will just have to wait and see. Follow @FamilyTech on your favorite social platforms to stay up to date!

Apple Updates Screen Time Parental Controls

Screen Time got an update from Apple with iOS 13.3 this week. The features they released were promised to arrive “in the fall”. Being the beginning of December, I don’t think it quite qualifies, but it technically counts at least for another week.

The update includes the ability to block unknown people from contacting your child via FaceTime, iMessage, and text. However, kids were quick to find a way around the restrictions. Apple promises an update to fix the bug soon.

Google Assistant Gives You To-Do List Choices

One bit of news this week that I was thrilled with is the option to select between a few of the most popular to-do list applications when adding things via Google Assistant. You can now choose Google Keep,, AnyList or Bring. I chose Keep, since I use that frequently anyway.

I am hoping someday TickTick will be added to this list, and then it will be PERFECT!

Vudu Add Rental Incentives

This week Vudu added 2 new incentives for movie rentals. The first was Rental Redo, allowing you to get a credit in the amount of the rental if you don’t like it or turn it off within the first 30 minutes of a movie. This allows you to try out a movie before you really regret the time you’ve wasted.

The second initiative the company announced is rental price matching. If you find a rental at a different service for a cheaper price you will get a credit for the difference between what you paid and what the cheaper price was.

These two services, in conjunction with Vudu’s rent-to-own testing, make Vudu the place to stream movies!

Ring Camera Hacks

News reports started surfacing this week about indoor security camera hacks. The attackers were talking to children in their own rooms through a Ring camera. This has freaked out a LOT of parents who are swiftly trashing their indoor cameras.

There are ways to protect yourself from these kinds of breaches though. Make sure your keep your login account secure and turn on 2FA where you can. I outlined more on how you can protect your smart cameras and devices from being hacked.

Disturbing Report From Bark

This week there was also an article about a 37-year-old woman who pretended to be an 11-year-old girl on Instagram. The experiment was spearheaded by Bark, and the results were shocking. Within seconds, this “11-year-old” was getting direct messages from people all over the world saying extremely graphic and inappropriate things.

Instagram announced the ability to block people who are not currently followed by the Instagram account, and I’m in the beta Instagram group, but I have yet to see the ability to lock it down. Especially with these reports, Instagram needs to step it up and release that update ASAP.

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About the author

Sarah Werle Kimmel

Sarah Werle Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 20 years of her career working as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on local NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX news affiliates, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website

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