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Technology For Good Helping Little Ones Learn Animated Trains Sims Medieval Adventure Video Game Photographing Happy Memories Budget-Friendly National Parks Personal Watercraft

Using Technology For Good

(NAPSI)—Teaching your children to use technology, such as mobile phones, ethically and responsibly not only gives you the opportunity to connect your values to their behavior, it helps them develop the skills they need to operate in today’s world.

To assist parents with information on topics ranging from sexting to phone etiquette to driving while texting, LG Mobile Phones created LG Text Ed. The program includes an advisory council of experts who provide materials for www.LGTextEd.com on a monthly basis.

The council suggests these guidelines:

• Kids under about 12 shouldn’t use a mobile phone for anything but calling parents or 911.

• For teenagers, mobile phones can be beneficial when plans change and they need to reach out to you to pick them up or provide help.

• If your child is at an activity or party, checking in with a parent via a mobile phone provides a sense of grounding. The kids know you’re being watchful and you know you can reach your child.

• Mobile phones can help your child reach out to a peer for advice, to provide support and to engage in healthy, meaningful social interactions.

• With fancy gadgets comes increased accountability. When you set guidelines and appropriate boundaries for mobile phone usage, you foster healthy communications, responsible ownership and adherence to house rules.

• Environmental awareness. About 130 million mobile phones end up in U.S. landfills annually, and could contaminate land and water supplies. Many socially conscious programs, however, can help kids exercise environmental stewardship by recycling mobile phones. For example, LG’s Txt 2 Recycle and ecoMobilization movement raise awareness about the ecological impact of e-waste. The programs motivate students and give them tools for action, such as contests to collect and recycle mobile phones to help reduce e-waste and raise money for any cause important to them.

• You can encourage good usage. Kids learn by watching their parents.

• Make sure your kids never share their mobile phone passwords with anyone except you.

Examine your child’s cell phone bill—know whom they’re calling and when.

• Take advantage of usage controls such as the ability to restrict contacts to an approved list, limit purchases made through the phone, GPS locator and limit the time the phone may be used.

• Additional insights on how to promote sensible mobile phone usage according to the experts at the LG Text Ed Advisory Council are at www.LGTextEd.com and the LG Text Ed campaign.

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Helping Your Little Ones Discover The Big World

(NAPSI)—Helping babies learn to understand the larger world around them is not only vital, it’s usually fun. The littlest thing can be a really big insight for babies and it can be thrilling to watch their surprise as they discover something they do can have an effect. While thinking up ways to get a response out of baby can be delightful, it’s often a creative challenge for busy parents. Nationally recognized expert in child care and development Dr. Karen Hill-Scott (Ed.D., Learning and Development, UCLA) believes interaction is the key ingredient in a baby’s development and she has some timely tips on how to make it happen without a lot of planning or effort:

• Playtime. “For a baby, any time is playtime,” notes Dr. Hill-Scott, “and it’s more about finding the fun during routine daily activities than it is about making structured plans. In fact, having a predictable daily routine is very helpful for baby’s understanding of how the world works.”

As little ones grow, they’ll play alone and with others. Each situation offers different benefits. Playing with other children can help build socialization skills and playing with parents is invaluable because it strengthens language and emotional bonds. Toys are always a big hit during playtime and help to build skill sets—just be sure to look for toys that correspond to your baby’s age.

• Story Time. It’s never too early to begin reading to baby. Little ones love books with bright colors and sharp contrasts. Look for books that have pictures from everyday life so your baby will begin to make those connections. Books with texture or pop-up surprises are fun. Remember to put your best dramatic expression into your storytelling because hearing your voice and your language discussing what’s on the page is just as important as the pictures baby sees.

• Video Time. Dr. Hill-Scott has had a prominent role in developing groundbreaking children’s programming for Nickelodeon, NBC, Discovery Kids, PBS, The Henson Company, Sony Wonder and the Disney Channel. “There is a variety of content available on TV and on DVD these days that is very helpful in making connections between the images that babies see and hear on screen and what they experience in real life. Laughing and playing together through media is one of many ways to discover what fascinates your baby. Talk about what’s on screen just as you would with a picture book.”

Dr. Hill-Scott recently worked with The Baby Einstein Company in the development of the latest collection of Discovery Kits that help parents make these connections while introducing classical music, nature and the arts in playful, interactive ways. Each kit includes a DVD, a music CD and picture book or set of Discovery Cards that complement each other, giving parents a variety of ways to interact with their babies. Learn more at www.babyeinstein.com.

• Travel Time. Dr. Hill-Scott also notes, “With so many people on the go these days, keeping baby happy and entertained is critical.” She suggests packing a baby gear bag with food and comfort toys that your baby loves. Then make sure baby has something to look at and touch from the vantage point of the infant seat. Puppets, plush toys, lighted mirrors and other interactive toys make travel time less tense.

• Quiet Time. With such a big world to explore and keep baby occupied, it’s important to have some daily “downtime.” Transitioning from activity to quiet time can be easy with music or books and can also be the best time for quiet interaction. Consider products that can help slow the pace and create a more relaxed environment you can enjoy together.

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 Get On Track For A Great Time

(NAPSI)—Trains have always fascinated kids and provided a great opportunity for all generations to enjoy time together. There are several ways to incorporate trains into your plans this spring and summer, all of which are sure to be exciting and fun but also educational for the entire family.

For a memorable experience, consider taking a train on your next vacation or long weekend getaway. Make plans to board Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner, a scenic ride that travels along Southern California’s coast. Or, take a trip into New York City on the Northeast Regional line.

When planning the trip, also consider places that feature train museums, historic railroad rides or train-themed restaurants. Hop aboard Durango, Colorado’s historic Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to experience a steam locomotive ride, or enjoy ocean views on Newport, Rhode Island’s Dinner Train.

You can also ask nearby railroad lines if they offer kid-friendly guided tours, so the entire family can enjoy seeing how the train and train station operate.

Ideas for rainy days include having a train movie marathon. Introduce older children to classic flicks featuring trains, such as “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” or a more modern title like “Train Master,” depending on their age.

For preschoolers, there’s even a new television series that features characters that are all trains. “Chuggington,” a CGI-animated television show that airs daily on Disney Channel’s Disney Junior, follows the humorous adventures of three “trainees,” Koko, Wilson and Brewster, who live and work in the town of Chuggington. The show is populated by dozens of trains of all shapes and sizes, all of whom work to make Chuggington a better place.

Along with all the adventure, each episode teaches positive life lessons to help with preschoolers’ social skills. The older and wiser engines on the show provide guidance and encouragement as the trainees learn about friendship, the importance of telling the truth, completing tasks, resolving conflict and other important values, all with humor to which little ones can relate.

Kids can now re-create the adventures and stories of their favorite characters in “Chuggington” with new collectible engines and train sets available in stores. Train play is a great way to stimulate kids’ imaginations and has been shown to improve fine motor skills.

For more fun, consider hosting a train-themed party for your children and their friends. Kids can help make their own train ticket invitations and decorate train-themed cupcakes. Train-inspired games and activities can include “Conductor Says,” musical trains or a scavenger hunt with a train map.

Add some color to your party by incorporating “Chuggington” characters and playing some of the games from the website, www.Chuggington.com.

 

Note to Editors: While May 7, which has been declared National Train Day, is a good time to run this article, it can be used at any time.

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 Join The Sims For A Trip Back In Time

(NAPSI)—Good news for anyone who’s ever longed for the adventure, romance and beauty of medieval times is that now you can immerse yourself in that world—at least virtually.

A New Way To Have Old-Fashioned Fun

The Sims franchise, the groundbreaking game series that allows players to create and live a virtual, simulated life on a computer, celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2010 with an impressive more than 125 million units sold since its launch in February 2000.

Now, players can guide heroes on legendary quests in “The Sims Medieval.” This game lets players see how their Sims’ lives play out in a medieval time period.

You can build up a medieval kingdom, participate in quests and fulfill story line elements. Players will find their Sims in such situations as poisoning the king, searching for dragons, putting other Sims in the stocks or having them face the Pit Beast. Every quest plays out differently.

Everything in the game is crafted to create an attractive medieval world you can explore. The medieval objects—tapestries, clothing and furniture, even the Sims themselves—look different from the modern versions due to the warm glow behind the characters and the artistically painted approach to the world itself.

Players get close to their characters, send them on epic quests and make sure they carry out their daily responsibilities, including healing the sick for a Physician Sim, trading for exotic goods as a Merchant Sim and forging armor as a Blacksmith Sim.

The game is rated T for Teen by the ESRB.

Learn More

For more fun with medieval Sims, visit www.TheSimsMedieval.com.

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 New Adventure Video Game Gets The Whole Family Involved

(NAPSI)-As families move from outside to indoor entertainment this holiday season, video games take center stage and all eyes are on the next group experience. Speeding to the front of the line are family-friendly games for the Wii with one notable offering being Cars Toon: Mater’s Tall Tales from Disney Interactive Studios. This game brings the popular Disney•Pixar Cars film franchise to the Wii where up to four players compete.

Adding to the experience is Larry the Cable Guy as the voice of Mater in the film, Disney•Pixar’s Cars Toons: Mater’s Tall Tales cartoon shorts and now this video game. His indelible voice quickly engages players as Mater and his pals relive wild stories about hilariously unpredictable events.

Families play through competitive and cooperative multi-player games inspired by the popular Mater’s Tall Tales animated short series. These bring Mater together with Lightning McQueen and the Cars gang for a new set of adventures, capturing the endearing sense of humor of the lovable tow truck.

Cars Toon: Mater’s Tall Tales features more than 30 levels of fun with gameplay modes that include “Mater the Greater,” “El Materdor” and “Rescue Squad Mater.” Additionally, players can also customize the look of cars with collectibles earned during their adventures.

Learn More

For more information, visit www.disney.com/carsvideogames.

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Photographing Happy Memories Can Be A Snap

(NAPSI)-With just a little bit of planning and a basic understanding of your camera’s features and modes, creating great photo memories can be quick and easy.

The features and capabilities found in today’s point-and-shoot cameras are much more advanced, creative and fun than in years past. Here’s a look at just a few:

• Classic Images: Black-and-white photography has a classic appeal because it enhances detail and captures the depth of a given subject. For an elegant picture, take the camera out of “Auto” mode and select the “B&W” option. Similarly, you can capture an image with the “Sepia Tone” mode to create a golden brown, antiqued photograph that’s nice for a family portrait.

• Come to the Point: All good photographs have a main focal point that draws the attention of the viewer.

• Find a Fun Perspective: Capturing your photos in a different, creative perspective using the “Fish-Eye Effect” or “Miniature Effect” mode can let you create fun images to share with your friends. The “Fish-Eye Effect” creates a “ballooned out” perspective of the subject you’re shooting.

The “Miniature Effect” mode blurs the top and bottom of an image to give the effect of photographing a miniature-scale model. This is excellent for shooting landscapes or scenery from a high vantage point. You can choose to keep the image B&W and accent one color, such as red or green, with “Color Accent” mode. In this mode, you can unleash an artistic touch to create beautiful black-and-white photos, isolating a single color that will “pop” out of the image.

• Bounce off the Walls: Your flash, that is. Instead of a picture taken in the harsh light of a direct flash, aim the flash at the wall or ceiling and photograph your subject in the warm glow of its diffused light.

• Smile and Shoot: You can also use a self-timer to make sure everyone in your family photo is picture ready. Use your camera’s self-timer to make sure the entire family is in place for the photo. Instead of a self-timer, certain Canon cameras have Smart Shutter Technology. With a single wink at the camera, it releases the shutter and takes the photo. You can also set the camera to detect a smile and the shutter will then be released. This avoids you having to rush into the picture and gives everyone time to put on their best smile.

• Fill the Frame: A common error among part-time photographers is that the subjects seem off in the distance with lots of space around them. Fill your frame with your subject either by using your zoom lens or just moving in closer.

• Bright Ideas for Taking Pictures in the Dark: With so many fine photo opportunities taking place in low light during nighttime, you may care to consider a camera that comes equipped with technology to ensure crisp photos when light is not optimal. To help maximize your photos in dark settings, most digital cameras offer “Night Mode” for clear photos even when shooting in low-light situations. Canon has a new feature in its PowerShot models, called the HS (high-sensitivity) System. This helps capture high-quality images in low light without the use of a flash, expand the camera’s dynamic range and reduce noise at high ISO levels, ultimately capturing greater detail and color in images in low-light settings.

• Learn More: For more information on digital cameras, go to www.usa.canon.com/powershot or call (516) 328-5000.

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National Parks—A Fun, Budget-Friendly Activity

(NAPSI)—An entertaining way to get out and experience nature while promoting an active, healthier lifestyle with your family may be to visit a national park. There are over 400 parks and sites throughout the U.S. Here are some hints on how to make the most of your park time:

If You Only Have One Day

Most parks offer a fun and free way to get outside and enjoy the natural wonders of this country. A rewarding day could include picnicking, walking, bicycling, fishing or horseback riding. Also, most parks have a variety of hiking trails that will give you something different to explore every time you visit.

If You Have a Few Days

Whether you’re a nature aficionado who prefers to “tent camp” or a newcomer who enjoys the comforts of a cabin, there are accommodations suited for practically any preference. Spend a few days to get the most out of your “family time” by doing fun activities, while learning firsthand about natural features, wildlife and history.

Fun at the Park Back at Home

For national park fun in the comfort of your home, you can watch “Yogi Bear,” the heartwarming Blu-ray combo pack and DVD now available from Warner Bros. The family-friendly film features everyone’s favorite pic-a-nic basket−stealing bear, Yogi. In the latest live-action adventure, Yogi discovers that Jellystone Park is being sold, tossing him, Boo Boo and all their friends out of the only home they’ve ever known. He and Boo Boo join forces with his long-standing friendly rival, Ranger Smith, and must find a way to save the park. Set against the natural beauty of national parks, “Yogi Bear” is a great way to show your family all the fun the outdoors has to offer.

National parks can be a wonderful getaway for families to have some fun while making invaluable memories that will last a lifetime.

For more information on national parks, visit www.us-national-parks.net; for more information on “Yogi Bear,” visit www.warnerbros.com.

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Summer Fever Pandemic To Follow Frigid Winter

(NAPSI)—For most of the United States, it has been a long, cold winter. Many cities, in fact, reported their coldest, wettest winters in history, which experts say is the source of a “Summer Fever” pandemic not seen in decades.

Summer Fever symptoms include a sudden urge to indulge in new experiences and find new sources of fun. It’s akin to the feeling of freedom after the last day of school.

Although Summer Fever is not great news for employers in terms of productivity, it’s a boon for boat dealers who provide the means to indulge in all that summer fun. And interest is already starting to take hold, as evidenced by winter boat shows around the country reporting attendance jumps upwards of 14 percent compared to previous years.

This trend could benefit companies that make products focused on making it easy for first-time buyers to enter the boating market. One such company is Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA, which sells personal watercraft under the WaveRunner brand and runabout boats 21 and 24 feet in length. Yamaha’s focus on value and cost control has helped the brand become the best-selling personal watercraft in the industry today as well as the best-selling boats in the 20- to 25-foot category.

According to Bryan Seti, national marketing manager for Yamaha Watercraft, WaveRunner and boat sales are exceeding 2010−2011 projections, with most boat show markets reporting double-digit sales increases.

“Following this brutal winter, all eyes are already on the summer months. And this comes as consumer savings are at a high not seen in many years and interest rates remain very low,” said Seti. “Visitor traffic on our Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels is buzzing with activity, which we see as a clear indication that people are ready for summer, and they are excited to get outdoors and recreate with the family.”

Erin Shaughnessy, producer for the recreational boating website Best of Boating, concurs with Seti. “Our visitor traffic is at an all- time high, which is a good sign for the boating industry, which has been beaten up during the last few years. Boat buyers are still looking for a great value and low cost of ownership, which are areas where companies like Yamaha have a distinct advantage.”

A recent survey of Best of Boating visitors shows that boat and personal watercraft buyers are thinking with their left brain when it comes to a pending boat purchase.

“Our visitors have become more rational when it comes to paying for unnecessary features and more analytical when it comes to comparing brand reliability, fuel efficiency and the daily cost of operation,” said Shaughnessy. “For 2011, less is more.”

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AMERICA'S HEROES



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