Tips and Resources to Set Up a New Mobile Device for Your Child

Holiday Family

sponsored by Verizon Wireless

As a #vzwbuzz blogger I get asked a lot of questions about how to go about picking a new device to give for a child or a teen. Figuring out what to buy can be confusing, getting the device set up, making sure it is parental controls are in place can be maddening particularly on Christmas morning. Here’s a few tips that can save your sanity and turn a great mobile device into an epic offering, sure to elicit screams of delight from your child when they open your gift.

At Time of Purchase

Know the Operating system, remember you will be the one overseeing software upgrades and general troubleshooting for young children. Pick a platform you are comfortable with.

Tempting as they are price wise, try to avoid knock off or no name tablets, stick to trusted mainline manufacturers.

Open the device in store if you can, be sure it boots up and the screen is good. If you bought the device online, go through the same steps NOW in case there is a problem with the device and it needs to be exchanged ASAP for a good one.

For devices with cellular capability, get your sim cards and have them activated, if you are buying the device at your carrier they can do this for you! Alternatively, you can often activate on your computer at home.

If the device has 16GB of storage or less, consider buying a microsd card to gain additional storage for apps, music, pics and movies.

Consider purchasing an addition charger/ cable to keep as a spare and/ or a car charger for those long road trips.

Decide upon what sort of warranty coverage you want/ need. Shop around and read the fine print, some plans will repair or replace a broken device but don’t cover you if they are lost or stolen.

Setting up the Device

Avoid this

Buy a case and/ or a screen protector for the device before it is handed to the child. An unprotected new phone or ipad that slips out of the hand or gets stepped on during the frenzy of opening gifts is often a device with a cracked or shattered screen.

Have the screen protector professionally applied in the store ( many retailers will do it for free or for a modest fee, trust me, this is worth it to get a smooth result)

Assuming this device is a gift for a child or teen and you already have their email address and passwords. Set up the device, go to Google Play store, Windows Store, Apple App store or Amazon and install basic apps. A new device is even cooler when you boot it up and your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Vine accounts are ready to use.

Do NOT use a credit card for App purchases. Buy gift cards to use on the devices instead, this minimizes fiscal damages if your child makes in app purchases or if the account gets hacked.

If this is a young child be sure to go through any parental control options offered on the device and set restrictions. Be sure to check out any parental control resources your carrier offers.

Resources For Help

AppleCare Protection Plan – provides extended warranty support for hardware & software including accidental damage.

Square Trade – offers protection plans for smartphones, Tablets, desktops, laptops and more.

Amazon Instant Video Parental Controls

Amazon Parental Controls for Fire HD 

Links to Parental Control options for All Kindle Devices

ios devices – Understanding Parental Controls

Android Parental Control Tips

Setting up Parental Controls on Android Devices

Should you Switch Wireless Plans? – Read the fine print closely!

How to Chose the Right Tablet – there is a perfect device for every need!

How to Choose a Smartphone – one size doesn’t fit all!

Comparing Smartphone Operating Systems – choose the right device for you!

Tech Gifts for the holidays – In case you still are confused about what to buy!

Great Tech Accessory Gifts

If you are a Verizon Customer you’ll be pleased to know they offer a lot of Family friendly controls and safety options, many at no extra charge or for a modest monthly fee.

Still haven’t purchased that special gift? Head over to the Verizon Website to compare devices, plans & accessories you will be sure to find a gift to please every gadget lover on your list.

Getting your child’s device protected and securely setup will ensure your gift is useable immediately and will save you a lot of stress come  Christmas  morning!

Disclosure: As a member of the #vzwbuzz team I am given devices for review and other benefits by Verizon Wireless. All opinions are my own.

Sometimes it is All About You

Heath Check

Some of you are aware that I have been struggling with health issues for quite awhile. First came the colitis and a steroid to treat the condition. Next came the heart palpitations that left me staggering and almost fainting. A two day Holter Monitor test earned me a Cardiologist and a Stress Echo exam. I got through the stress test… yes! I do indeed have a heart! but ( there is always a but isn’t there?) the good Doctor says the ejection rate for my heart isn’t normal, a healthy heart is 55% mine is somewhere south of that number.

Next up, my physical exam ( note to self stacking appointments on the same day is probably not a good idea going forward.) Everything is just great, except I am a little fat (shocking announcement ;) and oh, by the way you have a hard lymph node on the right side of your neck, you need an ultra sound and a CAT scan of the soft tissues of your neck. And for the cherry on top I have a bad molar that needs to come out. Try getting an appointment with a oral surgeon three weeks before Christmas with a new cardiac condition, lol!

To say that I am scared would be an understatement. Now I wait for Stress Echo final results, I wait 10 more days for the ultrasound of my neck. I try to remain calm while adjusting to meds to regulate my heart and begin a new med to try to heal my gut. I try to quiet my inner drama queen who is imagining the worst possible outcomes of these situations. Dr Google is definitely not your friend at 3am and I frequently must force myself over to YouTube for some funny cat videos.

The meme “Keep Calm and Carry On” is about the only mantra that works for me right about now. I need to prepare for Christmas for my family, I need to drag myself to work and be as productive as possible. I sit, I wait, I try not to worry … and I so wish that all of this wasn’t about me or anybody else for that matter.

9 Apps to make living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease Easier

Disclosure: As a Verizon Lifestyle #VZWBUZZ  Blogger I receive Devices for review & occasional travel opportunities. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.




Managing an IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)   can be exhausting simply because there are so many things to remember at a time when you are feeling less than your best. You may find yourself suddenly juggling appointments with specialists, managing a slew of medications, monitoring and tracking your symptoms with so much going on it’s easy to forget vital information. Over this past summer I became quite ill with an IBD, I’d like to share my story as well as the apps I’ve found useful in managing my health. Continue reading 9 Apps to make living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease Easier

Get your body moving at the Microsoft Store #FallFitness Event

Fitness ball


Disclosure: I’m being compensated for my participation and support of this Microsoft Store Promotion.

That familiar snap is in the air here in Boston, the cold weather is approaching and if you are like me going outside to exercise is just not happening! Couple reduced physical activity with increased feasting over the holidays and we could be facing a weighty problem next Spring.  Thankfully, Microsoft has some really innovative and fun exercise solutions and they’ve invited us to come and spend the day at the Microsoft Store today, Thursday Oct 30, (see below for a location nearest you) check out the latest in fitness technology, enjoy fitness activities .. and oh yes, there will be prizes! Continue reading Get your body moving at the Microsoft Store #FallFitness Event

My Review of the Verizon Edge Plan

* Edge agreements have changed slightly since this post was published

A lot of you have correctly pointed out to me that since I’m a #VZWBUZZ ambassador & Verizon sends me devices for review I’m not having a real customer experience. I’ve decided to rectify this by purchasing a new phone on the Verizon Edge and share with you the factors that led me to choose Edge over a traditional 2 year contract. Continue reading My Review of the Verizon Edge Plan

9 Great Android Apps to Explore Boston with in 2014

Boston Public Garden Swan Boats
Boston Public Garden Swan Boats


Verizon enabled my son Matt to be able to see our hometown through a new lens by gifting me with an HTC One M8 for review. My son is not a blogger but he wanted to share a few pics of Boston with you and some great android apps that you might find useful should you decide to visit Beantown over the summer.

One of the things Matt likes most about the HTC One M8 phone is the camera. He informs me the front facing camera produces clear crisp “selfies . Picture quality in the rear facing camera is awesome, sharp, clear shots.  Another feature he really enjoys is Pan 360 mode, where you can capture an image focusing on a full 360 degree panoramic angle to capture practically everything within a standing position.


Boston State House
The State House


John Joseph Moakley Courthouse
John Joseph Moakley Courthouse


Boston Harbor
Boston Harbor


Matt was also impressed with the screen quality of the One M8, a 5 inch full HD screen lets him enjoy videos on the go (he loves Anime and CrunchyRoll )  He says the phone achieves the perfect balance, a screen big enough to text, answer email but not too big to easily slip into a pocket.

HTC BoomSound™ brings music and movies to life via dual front facing speakers. Both Matt & I are pleasantly surprised at the level of sound this phone kicks out, rich bass, minimal distortion. Having the speaker Jack on the bottom of the phone was another nice feature.

HTC Sense TV™ – Boston is a sporting town & Sense TV allows Matt to check scoreboards and the social media feeds of all his favorite teams. Go Red Sox!

Peace of Mind – Matt’s an active young man, HTC Advantage™ offers a free, one time replacement if he breaks or cracks his phone screen within the 1st six months of ownership.


9 Free Android apps for your visit to Boston

Boston Logan Airport BOS – Makes navigating Logan Airport a lot easier, you can check flights for 3 days, find gates, food , check the weather forecast & even book a hotel room.

OpenMBTA – uses GPS to indicate where buses and trains are at presently, and when they’ll arrive at your destination.

Best Parking – Find Parking – If you’re driving this app will save you time & money

Boston Offline Map & Guide – Supports 10 languages, maps, attractions lists, currency convertor all offline! There are also online components to find things to do & hotel deals.

Freedom Trail Boston – Explore the Freedom Trail, Harvard, the North End, Concord, Lexington & a lot more, video tours,  links & destination info on a ton of historic locations.

Around Me – Useful for finding banks, hospitals, restaurants, movies & more.

NPS Boston – The National Park Service map of Boston – Covers every site along the Freedom Trail and Boston African American National Historic Site. This app is really well done, get info, choose tours or build your own, tons of images, videos & text based info to educate & guide you.

Street Food Boston We have some terrific food trucks in the city & this app will help you find them all!

DressCode Nightlife App – There’s a ton of great nightlife here in Boston. This app finds clubs you can get into based on what you’re wearing! You can search for clubs by name or location, view pics & user comments. GPS gives turn by turn directions to assist you in getting there. There’s also a special promos module that an help you get extra discounts.

Matt’s conclusion about Verizon’s 4G services?  ” Verizon 4G has worked great with whatever apps I use, contents all load in just seconds “


Want to explore your city through the lens of the HTC One M8? You can learn more about this wonderful phone and find a plan that’s right for you over at Verizon Wireless.

Disclosure: As member of a pretty cool team of influencers, I receive devices for review and other benefits

Mobile Families Deserve Powerful Answers

As you know I am a lifestyle blogger for Verizon and I receive devices for review but those devices do NOT cover my phone bill. Verizon does not require me to buy their services as a condition of my participation in the #vzwbuzz program, but I felt it was important that I pay for an individual plan in order to give you the most honest reviews possible. My husband and son have had phones but were hesitant to switch to Verizon because of the cost involved.  I managed three phones with different carriers and I have to tell you why it became a nightmare.

MY husband Mike
MY husband Mike


Problems With So Called Cheap Prepaid Carriers

1. You have to buy the phone outright – most of the phones are in my opinion below my standards in terms of their power. The so called ‘flagship phones” offered by prepaid carriers are devices that are two, three years generations old and they come with a hefty price tag.

2. Limited network coverage – I lost count of the times my husband and son were unable to reach me because their phones dropped signal. My husband actually paid for a phone to use on a two month trip that turned out to be useless despite the carrier map that showed good coverage in the region he was visiting.

3. Data Throttling – There is no such thing as unlimited data, if you look at the teeny, tiny fine print in prepaid agreements you will notice that they will throttle your data speeds after you’ve used a certain amount of data, many times these reduced speeds render your phone useless for surfing the web.

4. Customer Service – On more than one occasion I needed help to activate a new phone, change a plan or resolve a billing issue. In every case I needed to wade through a maze of phone menus, sit on hold and spend considerable time trying to resolve problems with a person who had difficulty understanding me. Fixing a problem was never simple or without frustration.

My Mobile Family Deserves Powerful Answers

Verizon was kind enough to send me two new phones and we decided to add new lines and switch over to the MORE EVERYTHING plan. As my original line is still under contract for a couple months my line access fee is $40 per month, the two additional lines cost $15 each when coupled with a 10 GB monthly Data Plan. We also enjoy FREE unlimited texting & voice minutes, international messaging & 25 GB of free storage. Our bill now? it’s actually less and will get even smaller once my primary line comes off contract. Here’s a link explaining the price break down and how I scored some smart savings with Verizon

The Husband

Verizon Samsung Galaxy S5
Verizon Samsung Galaxy S5


Verizon has so many powerful phones in every price range! My husband choose the Samsung Galaxy S5, hes a gym rat and the ability to use the S5 as his fitness partner to track his heart rate & get personalized nutritional advice via S-Health was ideal for him. Add in the water and dust resistance features of this device and it is a perfect fit for him. The Galaxy S5 is also XTLE ready he’s enjoying the extra speed here in Boston. Oh and the screen and camera are wonderful!


My Son

Verizon HTC One M8
Verizon HTC One M8


Matt choose the new HTC One M8 as his device, he desired great sound quality and the ability to take and share terrific pictures with his friends. The dual front speakers and HTC’s BoomSound™ gives him terrific sound for music, videos & games, the duo camera with it’s 3D- Ultra Pixel allows him to take and create wonderful pictures to share. Matt loves the sleek, premium look of the M8 so much he chose a clear case for the phone to showcase it’s good looks!

Coming Home To Verizon

Verizon is not the cheapest wireless service available but after having experienced several different carriers I’ve learned that cost is not the only factor that needs to be considered in deciding which mobile carrier to choose for my household. The combination of high data allowance, unlimited voice minutes and texting, 25 GB of backup storage coupled with reliable, robust XTLE speed has convinced me that Verizon Wireless is the right service for my family. As a bonus I was surprised to find that my new monthly bill is very competitively priced and is money well spent for the peace of mind it gives me.

Does Your Family Need Powerful Answers?

Do you want the security of knowing that your family is always connected no matter where they may travel? Would you enjoy the peace of mind offered by being able to store up to 25 gb of your precious family data securely in Verizon’s cloud? Do you crave the freedom to get a new phone more frequently or add additional lines at a very competitive cost? Check out the current plan offerings over at Verizon Wireless, there may be a plan there that’s just right for you! Discover MORE  

Disclosure: As member of a pretty cool team of influencers, I receive devices for review and other benefits.

Enter to Win an ipad mini | Discover #Thrively


Discover Thrively

As parents we all want to encourage our children to explore various activities in order to help them uncover their true talents. Come and “Discover Thrively” a fantastic new site  that will help unlock your child’s full potential! Thrively is free to join and they offer a unique strength assessment developed by board certified pediatric neuropsychologists that will assist you in helping your child to tap their hidden abilities. Continue reading Enter to Win an ipad mini | Discover #Thrively