Expert answers questions on toddler and school tech

Q How can I tactfully ask guests invited to my toddler’s birthday to avoid tech gifts?

A When it comes to technology, many people understand that not every youngster is plugged into an iPad. Still, tech gifts are among the most popular gifts. You can’t always control exactly what your child receives, but the following ideas can help make choosing a gift easy on party guests and help you be a gracious host.

Try a themed party. Consider having a themed party to give those invited some gift-giving guidance. For instance, an invitation to a “Build Caden’s Bookshelf Party” invites guests to share a favorite new or used book. Or throw a clearly non-tech party that includes creative play, art activities and/or the outdoor fun and chances are the gifts will follow suit. “Join us for a toddler-style BYOB (Bring Your Own Bubbles). We’ll spend the afternoon playing outside and blowing bubbles to celebrate Jane’s birthday!”

Be honest up front. If someone asks you for a gift suggestion, be ready with ideas that focus on non-tech interests: blocks, books or balls, for example.

Consider nixing gifts altogether. Playing games with friends and celebrating with special foods is a special gift of its own. You can add a note to the bottom of the invitation. “The best birthday gift Andrew could receive is your attendance. Please bring the gift of yourself. No other gifts are necessary.”

Q My son’s middle school teacher is using Edmodo. What is that?

A Edmodo is an online tool allowing teachers, students and classmates to connect safely and share resources for educational purposes.

As backpacks get lighter with the use of online textbooks, connections to technology are becoming common for today’s students. Some teachers use Edmodo to post grades, awards and badges to motivate student performance in the classroom and set goals toward progress. Others use Edmodo as a simple reminder for upcoming tests or a place to post homework.

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