10 apps parents should know about in 2019

It's a new year, and that means new apps on your tweens' and teens' phones. While the old standbys like Snapchat and Instagram are still going strong, there's no shortage of social media, video-sharing, and homework-help apps that are popular but not necessarily household names. Of course, it's nearly impossible to keep up with every hot new app, which makes knowing the risky features – like interaction with strangers, anonymity, privacy concerns, and iffy content – a solid first step. But it's still important to know the specifics of what's on your kid's device and whether or not you'll allow it to stay there.


App review: Tynker Junior, terrific intro to coding for little kids focuses on the fun

Parents need to know that Tynker Junior is a lead-in to the popular Tynker: Coding Games for Kids app that teaches kids coding skills. This version requires no reading and starts simply enough that even really young kids can get on board. Kids will do best if they can recognize numbers and count. While the app is free, it has limited content. Full access requires an in-app subscription purchase of $0.99/month or $9.99/year (a free one-week trial is available). Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.


Game review: Nintendo’s ‘Fitness Boxing,’ gets kids in fit fighting shape

Parents need to know that "Fitness Boxing" is a sports fitness game available for the Nintendo Switch. Players go through a number of workout sessions, simulating a boxing exercise routine through the use of the Switch Joy Con's motion controls. Players move to the rhythm of different musical tracks, spar in light boxing matches and more, all while working towards certain fitness goals and keeping track of their progress along the way. Although players are constantly throwing and dodging punches in their workouts and sparring sessions, there's very little in the way of real violence. Instead, this is essentially a shadow boxing session meant to encourage players to enjoy getting more physically active.


Social Security: Benefits to increase in 2019

Each year we announce the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). Usually, there is an increase in the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit amount people receive each month, starting the following January. Law requires that federal benefit rates increase when the cost of living rises, as measured by the Department of Labor's Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).


Book review: ‘Slayer,’ teen-friendly series picks up where ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ left off

Parents need to know that "Slayer" is the first book from the world of the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" TV series and movie written by longtime Buffy fan/bestselling author Kiersten White ("And I Darken" trilogy). It helps to have watched the TV series to keep up with some of the characters and lore that pop up throughout the story. Expect demon-against-Slayer violence with many demons ending up dead (some by decapitation). Humans who die do so more quietly, in their sleep. Trauma from the past bubbles up often: the loss of a father and many family friends, a house fire, a girl whipped by her own mother. Caged demons are tortured, with one slowly skinned alive. Other mature content stays pretty mild: a bar scene with some beers, some minor swearing, a couple of kisses, straight and LGBTQ. When the main character, Athena, discovers she has supernatural abilities as a Slayer, she doesn't forget that she's always been a healer and protector. She tries to find a way to be both.

Top baby names of 2017

The parenting website BabyCenter released its list of most popular baby names for 2017. Many of the top names from 2016 have returned to the list. See if your baby's (or future baby's) name cracked the top 5.