Posts with «family & relationships» label

Discord bans teen dating servers and the sharing of AI-generated CSAM

Discord has updated its policy meant to protect children and teens on its platform after reports came out that predators have been using the app to create and spread child sexual abuse materials (CSAM), as well as to groom young teens. The platform now explicitly prohibits AI-generated photorealistic CSAM. As The Washington Post recently reported, the rise in generative AI has also led to the explosion of lifelike images with sexual depictions of children. The publication had seen conversations about the use of Midjourney — a text-to-image generative AI on Discord — to create inappropriate images of children.

In addition to banning AI-generated CSAM, Discord now also explicitly prohibits any other kind of text or media content that sexualizes children. The platform has banned teen dating servers, as well, and has vowed to take action against users engaging in this behavior. A previous NBC News investigation found Discord servers advertised as teen dating servers with participants that solicited nude images from minors. 

Adult users had previously been prosecuted for grooming children on Discord, and there are even crime rings extorting underage users to send sexual images of themselves. Banning teen dating servers completely could help mitigate the issue. Discord has also included a line in its policy, which states that older teens found to be grooming younger teens will be "reviewed and actioned under [its] Inappropriate Sexual Conduct with Children and Grooming Policy."

Aside from updating its rules, Discord recently launched a Family Center tool that parents can use to keep an eye on their kids' activity on the chat service. While parents won't be able to see the actual contents of their kids' message, the opt-in tool allows them to see who their children are friends with and who they talk to on the platform. Discord is hoping that these new measures and tools can help keep its underage users safe along with its old measures, which include proactively scanning images uploaded to its platform using PhotoDNA. 

Discord's Family Center is a new opt-in tool that makes it easy for teens to keep their parents and guardians informed about their Discord activity while respecting their own autonomy.

— Discord (@discord) July 11, 2023

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

New Family Center tool gives parents better insight into their teen's Discord usage

Discord is announcing Family Center, a new tool that will help keep parents and guardians in the loop on what their teens are doing on the platform. The company says the main goal of the tool is to help both teens and parents build better internet habits.

The new Family Center utility comes in two parts: an activity dashboard and a weekly email summary. The dashboard will give parents an insight into how many people their kids have messaged or called, along with data on how many friends they’ve added and how many servers they’re connected to at any time. The weekly summary is all of that, but in an email sent every week.

Family Center will join all of the existing parental control tools already found on Discord, giving both teens and guardians more options to customize their experience on the platform. Tools such as direct message and explicit image filtering, friend request settings and user blocking have helped teens stay safe on Discord.

While Discord’s new Family Center tool is a step in the right direction, the company has a lot of work to do to make its platform a safe space not only for teenagers but adults as well. Last month, it was reported that Discord was in hot water over an astonishing amount of cases regarding child safety on the platform. Hopefully, Family Center can help reduce these incidents on Discord.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Facebook adds parental control tools to Messenger

Meta has added new tools to its Family Center that will allow parents to see and control how their teenage kids are using Messenger. They'll now be able to view how much time their kid spends on the app, along with their privacy and safety settings. Parents and guardians will be able to see who can message their child and who can see their stories. In addition, they can get notifications for changes to their teen's contact list and for any changes their kid makes to their privacy and safety settings. If their child reports a user to Meta, parents can also get notified if their teen chooses to share the information with them. 

The social networking giant said these are but the first batch of parental supervision tools coming to Family Center, and that it plans to add more over the next year. While they're only rolling out for users in the US, UK and Canada at the moment, Meta intends to expand their availability to other regions around the world in the coming months. Take note that Facebook has had parental controls for Messenger Kids for years, and these tools are for the main Messenger app, meant for parents with teens 13 to 18 years old. 


Aside from these new parental tools, Meta will now show teens a notification when they've already spent 20 minutes on Facebook to urge them to set daily time limits. For Instagram, it's exploring a new nudge feature that will ask teens to close the app if they've been scrolling Reels at night. Meta has also expanded its parental controls for Instagram to show parents how many friends their teen has in common with accounts they follow and are followed by. Plus, teens will get a new notification after they've blocked someone, encouraging them to add their parents to supervise their account. 


The company has a few safety updates that aren't teen-focused, as well. It's rolling out Quiet Mode, which mutes all notifications and changes a user's profile status, on Instagram around the world over the coming weeks. It's also currently testing a couple of new features meant to protect Instagram users from unwanted DMs. Users must now send an invite to connect to someone who doesn't follow them before being able to send a message. Further, they can only send one invite at a time and can't send more until the recipient accepts it. These message request invites are text only, prohibiting users from being able to send photos, videos or voice messages to other users they're not connected to. 


This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Venmo rolls out Teen Accounts with no-fee debit card and ATM access

Good news for parents with teens: Venmo is rolling out what it calls Venmo Teen Accounts. This lets parents create accounts for minors aged 13 to 17. It comes with a Venmo Teen Debit Card, which gives parents or guardians an insight into spending, lets them send money and allows them to manage privacy settings.

According to Venmo, over 50 percent of parents are interested in using apps to help their children learn about money. The company also claims that over 45 percent of Gen Z want to have a conversation with an adult about managing personal finances. The Venmo Teen Account should hopefully bridge that gap for many parents or guardians out there.

Venmo says that the Venmo Teen Account has no monthly fees and that the debit card will have no-fee cash withdrawals at ATMs. Of course, the account will be able to send and receive money from family and friends. Parents and guardians will be able to see friends list, transaction history, account balance, and be able to manage the debit card’s PIN, lock and unlock it and block users from interacting with the account.

And since it’s separate from the parent or guardian’s account, teens will be able to independently track their own spending and learn financial responsibility. Venmo says that teen accounts will be eligible for direct deposit, which is great for those with part-time jobs.

Signing up for a teen account is pretty straightforward. Parents or guardians will need to sign into their personal Venmo account and tap Me > (Your Name) > Create a teen account. From there, you’ll need to add a name, address, and date of birth, and choose a debit card style from a selection of a few colors.

Venmo Teen Accounts will be rolling out to select users in June of 2023 and will be available on a wider scale in the weeks following.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Etsy launches its own wedding registry service

The age of walking around a home goods store with your fiancé scanning items to upload to your registry has long come and gone. Digital wedding registries have sprung up in its place, with most large companies offering one. Now, Etsy has launched a site-wide wedding registry, joining the ranks of stores like Amazon, Macy's and Pottery Barn. It's a logical step for Etsy, home to seemingly endless products and a section devoted just to "Wedding & Party" filled with gifts and decorations.

Wedding registries are available to anyone with an Etsy account and are free to create. When you click the "Create a wedding registry" button, a pop-up asks if you've set a wedding date yet. From there, it opens a personal homepage where you can favorite or add gifts to your registry. It also suggests gifts below and tracks how many items have been added and purchased. You can view your registry or add more options at any time through the registry homepage or on your account dropdown menu.

Gift listings can get very specific, with options to include detailed personalization requests. Customization is a feature the makers-centric e-commerce company is known for and one that might set them apart from some of the other wedding registry sites. The company certainly hopes so: It attributes the introduction of its wedding registries to a growing desire for personalized gifts over more standard, mass-produced options. According to Etsy, users' searches for handmade gifts increased by 872 percent in the last three months compared to the same time last year. 

Guests looking to shop your registry will need to make an Etsy account to buy anything. On the registry homepage, they can click "Find a registry" and search your name to browse items. Once purchased, sellers will receive orders as usual with a note that it's from a registry.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

The best tech gifts for new moms

There’s a lot to keep track of as a new mom. All of a sudden, you’re scrambling to learn how to care for a tiny person, without sleep and with a lot of new responsibilities. It’s a rough adjustment that takes time, patience and probably at least a few crying jags to get the hang of. If you’re looking for the perfect gift for a new mother, give her time to sleep. If you’re looking for the next best thing, try these helpful gadgets that are designed to make the job at least a little easier.

Hatch Rest+

Having a soft light on during nighttime feeds and diaper changes can be really helpful, especially when you’re sleep deprived. And a lot of experts will recommend using a white noise machine to help babies sleep soundly. Hatch’s Rest line combines both functions into a single device that can be controlled entirely from a smartphone. The Rest, and Rest+, offer 11 colors and sounds that can be combined, favorited, programed and timed to help your baby doze. The Rest+ is more expensive at $90, but adds a clock, battery power and a two-way audio monitor feature. It can also be voice controlled using Alexa. I’ve used it successfully to help sleep train the twins and, when they’re bigger, it can be programmed to help them learn when to wake up. — Amber Bouman, Commerce Writer

Owlet baby monitor and smart sensor

If there is only one piece of tech that makes it into the nursery, it should be a baby monitor. Being able to check on your sleeping infant without waking them is an invaluable gift, and you’ll want one that’s reliable, clear and adds thoughtful features (not just tech for tech’s sake).

Owlet makes a Cam that streams 1080p HD video to an app on your phone. The camera itself can sit on a base or get mounted to a wall. It has a 130-degree wide-angle lens to cover the room, but has to be manually tilted or adjusted so you can’t pan remotely. The video feed has night vision and displays in color during the day. The camera has two-way audio, so you can both hear your little one and speak to them through the device. There’s also background audio so sound from the camera will play over other apps if you have it up and running as well. In addition, it can send you notifications if it senses movement or sound coming from your baby’s crib. The Cam uses AES 128-bit encryption and a TSL connection to WiFi for security, though the feed can be shared with up to five people at a time (assuming you’ve shared your log-in credentials with them).

Lastly, it can be paired with Owlet's wearable sensor, the Smart Sock, which measures an infant’s heart rate and pulse ox. If the baby’s stats take a dive or shoot into irregular levels, you’ll get a very unsubtle alert on your phone — and on the sock’s base station. Because it’s intended to be worn at night and during naps, the Owlet Sock also tracks babies’ sleep habits. All this data is viewable in the app, making it a fairly complete monitoring system. — A.B.

LIFX smart lights

New moms don’t have enough hands to do everything they need to, when it needs to be done. Automating even the smallest task, like turning on and off a light, can be a big help. LIFX’s smart lights make great gifts because they come in all-white or color options, they’re dimmable and they require no connecting bridge or hub. That means your giftee can just screw them into their existing lamps, connect them to WiFi via the mobile app and start using them. They may want to automatically dim the lights in their baby’s room at a certain time, or shift to warmer or cooler light depending on the time of day. They can customize it as much or as little as they want — and if they just can’t be bothered, they can always use Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant voice commands to control these smart lights, too. — Valentina Palladino, Senior Commerce Editor

Kobo Clara 2E

Whether she’s bottle or breast feeding, a new mom has a lot of sitting-around time when the baby’s first born. She could spend time scrolling social media, but “flipping” through a book on an e-reader might be more rewarding. Kobo’s Clara 2E earned the top spot in our guide to e-readers thanks to its eye-friendly warm light, sharp display, intuitive interface and speedy but accurate touch responses. It’s compact and lightweight enough to hold in one hand, which is particularly important for busy new moms, and it can handle getting accidentally drenched. She can buy books through the Kobo store, borrow them from the library or subscribe to Kobo Plus for $10 per month to get unlimited access to a big selection of audio- and e-books. – Amy Skorheim, Commerce Writer

Theragun Mini 2.0

If the new baby has mom feeling knots, a personal massage “gun” like the Theragun Mini 2.0 can provide some temporary relief by gently pummeling away her muscle aches. While not the most forceful device of its kind, this triangular massager is effective enough to ease soreness yet small enough to carry around and outside of the house. We’ve recommended the original Mini in past gift guides; that one has slightly longer battery life and remains a good buy if you’re on a tighter budget, but this model is 20 percent smaller and supports a couple more attachments for targeting different parts of the body. Just be warned neither is exactly quiet. No massage gun is a substitute for proper sleep and nutrition habits, but since those will be in shorter supply for any new mom, it can be a useful tool to have on hand. — Jeff Dunn, Senior Commerce Writer 

Twelve South HoverBar Duo

A tablet might be a new mom’s saving grace when she’s constantly shuffling around the house tending to the needs of a baby. A good stand like the HoverBar Duo can make it easier for her to safely and securely prop up her device without fear of it accidentally being knocked over by a rogue, tiny fist. One of our favorite iPad accessories, the HoverBar Duo has a weighted base, and while it could be knocked over, it would require more force than most infants could muster. It also comes with a clamp attachment so they could hook it to a table or desk if that’s more convenient. Whether they need to use their tablet to read work documents, show off the little bundle of joy to friends and family in a video call, or just binge-watch a show while the kid naps, the HoverBar Duo can give them a stable way to keep their table in view. — V.P.

Baby Brezza Safe + Smart bottle warmer

I’m not sure exactly how many steps I’m earning walking up and downstairs to check on the bottle warmer, but it’s probably a fair percentage of my daily exercise. Baby Brezza makes a Safe + Smart Baby Bottle Warmer that uses Bluetooth to connect the device to your phone. Using the Baby Brezza app you can operate the warmer remotely and get alerts when the bottle is ready. Though the app is pretty minimal, that’s not always a bad thing when you’re bleary-eyed and trying to feed an infant in the early morning hours. Plus, having controls on your phone allows you to turn off the warmer and avoid overheating a bottle. The downside is that the Safe + Smart warmer only holds a single bottle at a time. — A.B.

Smart breast pump

If your giftee is breastfeeding or pumping, a smart breast pump from Elvie or Willow is going to be a huge time saver. These wearable pumps let Mom keep on schedule while keeping her hands free to do any of the 40 other things she’s got on her plate. The pump, power supply and container are all contained in the egg-shaped device, which pairs to an app using Bluetooth. They’re a bit cumbersome to wear, but comfortable to use, and it beats being tethered to a wall unit, though the results are not always as consistent.

Though both products are similar in design and functionality, there are some differences between them. The Willow pump can be used with reusable containers or disposable bags, while the Elvie only has the container option. The Elvie pump is quieter and more discreet, while the Willow pump offers a spill-proof system that can be used even while upside down. (I tested this myself and it works.) They can be purchased in a set or two, or as an individual pump. — A.B.

Wabi Baby 3-in-1 sanitizer

While my children are very cute, they also like to chew on my house slippers, eat post-its and lick the touch-and-feel books. So I spend a lot of time cleaning the things that do belong in their mouths like pacifiers and teethers and plastic toys, which invariably end up on the car floor. While most of these things are easy to throw into boiling water, it can be worth the time saved to let a sanitizer do the job. The Wabi Baby sanitizer is something that I received as a gift, and it’s served me well. It takes up a fair amount of counter space but it’s relatively quiet; it fits a wide variety of bottles, dinnerware and accessories; and it can run a drying cycle after the steam sanitation session.

The display shows how much longer the process will run, it’s fairly simple to operate and it automatically remembers your last session so you can select it again easily. However, you can only use distilled water which can admittedly be a pain. Also, you have to be careful about where you put the Wabi; it requires a drainage mat for excess water. — A.B.

Bose QuietComfort 2 earbuds

Bose’s QuietComfort 2 earbuds have excellent active noise cancellation (ANC), but new moms might not feel comfortable flipping it on when they’re always on alert. Fortunately, Bose’s latest buds also have a good transparency mode, which lets you hear the world around you and your music or podcast. They’ll pair up with Apple or Android devices and their smaller size make them more comfortable than previous generations. We awarded them an 87 in our review and gave them a spot in our wireless earbuds guide, mostly thanks to their ANC. Moms might not get the chance to tune out the world all that often, but when someone else is on baby duty, a little bit of silence may feel like a blessing. – A.S.

Hulu subscription

The new mom in your life will probably appreciate some TV time on your dime when she finally gets the little one to go to sleep – and when the baby inevitably wakes up and needs to be held soon after. Hulu’s app isn’t the cleanest, but the service remains one of the better streaming services for keeping up with recent episodes from primetime TV shows. It has its share of kid-friendly content as well, though you can expand that catalog by pairing the service with Disney+ (and ESPN+) through a Disney Bundle subscription. — J.D.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

TikTok will automatically limit screen time for teens

TikTok is introducing new settings that are meant to reduce how much time teens are spending in the app. In an update, the company says it will automatically default teens under the age of 18 to a daily screen time limit of 60 minutes.

With the change, teens will still be able to bypass the daily limit, but they’ll be required to enter a passcode, “requiring them to make an active decision to extend that time,” the company says. Additionally, if teens opt to turn off the screen time limit altogether, TikTok will further prompt them to set a limit if they spend more than 100 minutes in the app.

The company is also adding new parental control features via the app’s “Family Pairing” feature, which allows parents to monitor their children’s activity on TikTok. Parents will be able to set their own custom screen time limits, and view a dashboard that details stats about their child’s time in the app, like how often they open it and what times of the day they use it most. Parents can also set a schedule for when their children can receive notifications, and choose to filter topics they don’t want to appear in their For You feeds.

The update comes as lawmakers in the United States have renewed their efforts to ban TikTok entirely. In addition to national security concerns, Congress has also criticized the company for not doing enough to protect its youngest users.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Sorry, but you still have to push this $3,800 electric-assist stroller

Non-parents may not believe it, but pushing a pram around can be a fairly strenuous task, especially when the train gets rough. It’s a full body workout to push two kids under four in my old Uppababy Vista, which weighed the same as an iceberg and had the turning circle of the Titanic. To remedy this, Canadian startup GlüxKind has developed an electrically-assisted stroller that’ll make pushing easier, and can even drive itself, albeit only when your kid isn’t on board.

The GlüxKind Ella is the brainchild of Anne Hunger and Kevin Huang, a couple who were less than whelmed when looking for a stroller for their own daughter. They decided to build their own device by strapping an electric skateboard to a regular stroller, and started developing their product from there. The device has three modes, the first of which is to add electric assist to the wheels as you’re pushing it around.

Trying this in an admittedly limited demo at CES, it feels very much like the sort of power boost you get with an e-bike. You still have to push this thing around, but you only have to make a fairly meager level of effort before the motor kicks in and helps you out. As well as easier forward motion, you’ll also find turning to be a lot snappier than you may expect, useful too when you’re trying to maneuver your rugrat in tight spaces. It’ll also prove useful when going uphill, or if you’re carrying lots of groceries in Ella’s surprisingly large cargo space.

I’m told that the battery will last for around eight hours of mixed use, and you’ll need to charge it at the end of every day, more or les.

You can also set the pram to rock your baby to sleep, moving backwards and forwards by about a foot. This, I’m sure, will be a godsend to parents who are otherwise praying for divine intervention at 3am as their precious child refuses to sleep. I’m aware that there are some safety caveats about using such a feature on a regular basis, but being able to call on the feature in a pinch will surely be an instant-sell to some harangued parents.

The last mode, and the most eye-catching, is self-driving, where the stroller will drive ahead of you by a couple of feet. It’ll maintain power when going up hill, and brake so it stays close to you when you’re going down the other side. But crucially, the system is designed to not work if you put your kid in the seat and expect the pram to do all of the work. A weight sensor in the bassinet and stroller chair will block the function if it detects the presence of a child.

A product like this is, understandably, going to be at the higher end of the price scale, and when it hits Kickstarter this spring, the first 100 units will set you back $3,800. Once that early bird special is done with, the price is likely to climb a little higher, but for that you’ll also get built-in GPS so you can track where your pram is if you’ve asked friends and family to babysit. GlüxKind also has plans to build out a community feature to find and connect like-minded parents — the sort of whom are also prepared to spend north of four grand on a self-driving stroller.

Hinge is adding video identity verification to combat fake accounts

Starting next month, dating app Hinge will begin rolling out a new profile verification feature to combat a surge in fake accounts. Dubbed “Selfie Verification,” the feature will prompt users to upload a video of themselves, which the app, with a combination of machine learning and human oversight, will use to confirm they look like the person pictured in their profile. People who complete the process will get a “Verified” badge on their dating profile.

Hinge parent company Match Group told Wired, the first publication to report on the feature, that Selfie Verification would roll out to all users by December. “As romance scammers find new ways to defraud people, we are committed to investing in new updates and technologies that prevent harm to our daters,” Hinge spokesperson Jarryd Boyd told the outlet.

The feature comes after Wired writer Lauren Goode wrote about her experience with Hinge’s many bots. The app, like many other dating platforms, is rife with fake accounts, and the real people behind them will often attempt to scam their matches out of money. For instance, “pig butchering,” one of the more popular online dating schemes, frequently sees victims tricked into “investing” their money into fake cryptocurrency platforms. As Gizmodo points out, online dating scams aren’t new, but they’ve become more prevalent since the start of the pandemic. In February, the Federal Trade Commission issued a warning to online daters, noting that people reported losing a record $547 million in 2021 from online dating fraud.

How much Selfie Verification will help protect Hinge users from such scams is hard to say. Other Match Group apps, including Tinder, already employ similar features. On those platforms, users aren’t required to verify their identity, and you still see plenty of fake accounts.

Snapchat Family Center shows parents their children's friends list

Snapchat has launched a parental control portal that allows parents to keep an eye on who their young teenagers have been chatting with. The new in-app feature called Family Center shows parents their kids' friends list, as well as who they've messaged in the last seven days. Take note that parents can only see who their teens have been talking to, but they won't be able to read their chat history. Snap says the center was designed to "reflect the way... parents engage with their teens in the real world" in that they know (for the most part) who their kids have been hanging out with but don't listen in on their conversations.

In addition, parents can confidentially report accounts they think might be violating Snap's rules straight from the Family Center. Back in January, Snapchat changed its friend recommendation feature following calls for increased safety on the app by making it harder for adults to connect with teen users: In particular, it stopped showing accounts owned by 13-to-17-year-old users in Quick Add. Teens also can't have public profiles and have to be mutual friends to be able to communicate with each other. Plus, their accounts will only show up in search results under certain circumstances, such as if the one searching has a mutual friend with them.

Snap promised to launch new parental controls and other features designed to protect underage users on its service last year. The company revealed its plans in a hearing wherein lawmakers put the pressure on social networks and apps that cater to teens, such as Snapchat and TikTok, to do more to protect children on their platforms. 

Family Center is completely voluntary, and teens can always leave the portal if they want — they'll even be given the choice to accept or ignore a parent's invitation to join. And since the feature was made for underage teens, users who turn 18 will automatically be removed from the tool.

The company plans to roll out more features for the Family Center on top of what it already has. It will allow parents to easily see the newest friends their teens have added in the coming weeks. And over the next months, Snap will add content controls for parents, as well as the ability for teens to notify their parents whenever they report an account or a piece of content.