Apps & Games for Techie Teens

Today’s tech-savvy Bay Area teens have more games and tools at their fingertips than ever, from mobile apps that help them keep in touch with their friends to those that help them meet new ones. Here are a few that appeal to teenagers.
iPhone, Android, Windows
Nearly three-quarters of teens text, sending some 60 messages a day. But instead of sending a message to just one friend, how about sending a message to a bunch of friends, all at once? GroupMe allows groups of people to communicate easily with each other on their phones. For parents and people who supervise teens, it’s also an effective way to communicate with all of them at the same time.
iPhone and Android
Teens who fear that an unflattering photo snapped on the fly will live forever on the Internet can now turn to Snapchat. Photos taken and sent through the app disappear after a certain amount of time, sometimes in a matter of seconds. Some parents have voiced concerns about teens using it for sexting or other inappropriate behavior. If that’s the case, then it may be time for a parental chat.
Ouya, a $99 video game console, is just starting to hit stores. But if its Kickstarter campaign is any indication – it raised nearly $8.6 million last year – there’s already a lot of interest in it. Unlike traditional systems such as the Nintendo and Playstation, Ouya makes it easy and inexpensive for developers to create games for it. For teens on a budget, that could mean games that are cheap or even free to play. At this writing, Ouya is scheduled to start shipping in late March to customers who pre-ordered and will hit retail stores in June.
iPhone (Android may be available by the time this article is online)
Celebrity teens, such as Justin Bieber, have already signed on for this new app, which lets you create and share text, audio, pictures and video. It’s a bit like Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube and Facebook, all rolled into one.
iPhone and Android
The Skout app lets teens meet, chat and flirt with other teens who happen to be nearby. A new feature called “shake to chat” even lets teens randomly connect with another teen just by shaking the phone. But fun aside, parents should know that Skout came under fire and temporarily banned teens from its community after three men sexually assaulted teenage victims they met through the app. Since then, Skout has reopened the app for teens, but with tighter rules, increased monitoring and improved security software.
Ellen Lee is a freelance business and technology reporter from the East Bay and the mom of two girls.
Digital Camps Teens Will Dig
This summer, games and gadgets aren’t the only tools teens have to keep from getting bored. At these summer camps, teens can also tinker with technology, learn how it works and – a parent can only hope – maybe even turn their interest into a career.
• Computer CampAges 10 to 18. UC Berkeley and Stanford. From designing their own websites to creating a spreadsheet, students spend the week learning both practical and creative computer skills.
• CosmosAges 13 to 18. High school students who show promise in science, math, engineering and technology can apply for this competitive four-week summer program offered at UC campuses, including UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz. Note that the deadline has already passed for this summer.
• Digital Media Academy – Ages 12 to 17. UC Berkeley and Stanford. For the teenager who dreams of producing music videos, the Digital Media Academy offers a series of one- and two-week camps on the UC Berkeley and Stanford campuses. Courses include digital filmmaking, developing iPhone and Android apps, robotics and music video production.
• iD Tech CampsAges 7 to 18. San Francisco State University, St. Mary’s College, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Santa Clara University. The budding techie can pick from a range of courses at iD Tech Camps, including one- and two-week camps dedicated to video game design, 3D modeling and animation and computer programming. During camp, students create a portfolio of their work, tour local tech companies and meet industry professionals.


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