Have Sex ‘Micro Talks’ With Your Kid

In the history of parenting, there might be nothing more dreaded than The Sex Talk. Masturbation, nocturnal emissions, menstrual cycles, how to use condoms—nobody wants an awkward lecture on these topics. I remember once joking with my mom about douching after seeing a commercial on television. She then took on a super serious tone and started to explain vaginal hygiene. I am not sure I’ve yet to recover.

At the same time, despite access to a plethora of internet resources and improved education in the classroom, kids do need their parents to step in to fill in the gaps. But how do you go about it with feeling like you’re busting into a private life without an invitation? And how do you cover the always-changing environment in which teens are living?

Maybe it’s time to retire the old, let-me-sit-you-down kind of sex talk in favor of something more palatable—and more effective. I suggest micro conversations numbering in the hundreds across years of young adulthood.

How to you engage in a micro chat? Simple. You look for moments in your everyday communication with your children to bring up important sex-related topics. You might use current events, community happenings, social media, television and books to ask questions and spark discussions.

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The approach keeps your kids informed without having the stress of a single face-to-face onslaught of facts. Here are four ways to use micro conversations to broach the tough topics related to sex.

If you see something, say something

The other day, I was walking with my 12-year-old son into Costco. I see a girl with a hickey on her neck. So, I say, “Hey, Em, do you see the red spot on the girl’s neck? Do you know what that is?” He had no idea. I explained how people can make hickeys. When he asked why someone would do that, it opened up the conversation about young relationships.

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Another time, I was watching a reality program with my daughter. There was a boyfriend who was becoming controlling with increasing levels of anger and even some violence. I asked her if she would be concerned if her partner acted like the boyfriend on the show. We both expressed concerns for the girl in the relationship, and then discussed intimate partner abuse.

Read what teenagers are reading

Young adult novels are not just for kids. In addition to helping parents know what is really going on in the private lives of teens, these books are windows of opportunity to talk about dating, sex, rape, consent, sexual identity, sexting and more. When I read Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight, I was shocked and distraught about everything I was reading. Surely, this type of teen life is exaggerated. Turns out my daughter wasn’t shocked. Why? Because she had already seen glimpses of suicide, hazing and same-sex attraction. Reading that book allowed me to talk about those issues in a very real but not uncomfortable way.

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Use the news

Every day there’s a story that can be discussed over dinner. Talk about the Brock Turner verdict and the latest #MeToo story. Mention the controversy of transgender athletes competing in high school and start a discussion about all of the potential concerns on both sides. Let that lead into the transitioning process, hormones, what makes someone a man or woman, and on and on. Bring up a recent study showing sexting with teens is on the rise. There’s an endless stream of topics. Just google “teen” and the subject of your choice.

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Documentary movie night helps when experience fails

I regularly subject my kids to watching real stories about real people. Sure, they’d rather watch America’s Got Talent. But they sit through these movies and then the conversations begin and flow for days. My daughter and I watched Audrie & Daisy, a film about date rape in high school. We were able not only to discuss how and when sexual assault can happen but also the effects of drinking, drugs and cyberbullying.

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Starting a sex-related conversation with children at any age isn’t easy, even in micro doses. If it doesn’t go well at first, no worries. Just try again another time. Keep at it. Eventually it does become easier as teens become accustomed to talking about a wide range of issues. Then in the future when your child is faced with sexting, drugs, sexual assault or relationship issues, they’ll know you can be approached for help.

MobiTV tunes into $50M for its set-top-box-free broadcast services for pay TV providers

After raising $21 million in 2017 for a late-stage pivot from mobile TV to set-top-box-free IPTV services for the home, MobiTV is announcing another large growth round. The company — an early mover in building services to stream broadcast TV on mobile devices (it was established in 1999) — has raised $50 million more to continue building momentum, in part by expanding internationally.

MobiTV today has deals in place with 90 cable and other TV operators, covering 2 million people, with its MobiTV Connect services — providing access to 350 channels including those from A+E Networks, AMC Networks, Crown Media Family Networks, C-SPAN Networks, Disney and ESPN Media Networks, SHOWTIME, and Viacom — making it possible to add new channels by way of apps — no need for a set-top box, with customers instead either using existing streaming devices such as a Fire TV stick, Roku or Apple TV; or their smart TVs.

“Our vision of creating leading edge video experiences and technology in a unique, cost-effective manner has allowed MOBITV to win business faster than anyone else in the industry… since we first launched the platform in 2016,” said Charlie Nooney, MOBITV Chairman and CEO, in a statement. “We continue to demonstrate our ground-breaking approach to addressing operator challenges as they upgrade their pay TV offering in an increasingly competitive marketplace.”

The funding comes from existing investors Oak Investment Partners and Ally Financial, along with investment from Cedar Grove Partners. We’re trying to find out the valuation. For some context, in 2017, its valuation was  between $400 million and $500 million, according to figures from PitchBook and also what sources told us.

The set-top box has developed as a cornerstone to how many pay-TV services work today: emerging at a time when TV sets were very limited in terms of their functionality — they were not designed for hundreds of channels that could be added and removed depending on what your subscription plan offered — they took on a key role for pay TV providers in the struggle for “customer ownership”: the set-top box ensured that would-be channel owners could only connect with viewers by going through pay TV providers.

But fast forward to today, and those set-top boxes have become a millstone for anyone but the very largest providers (and maybe the biggies, too, but it’s notable that the reference customers noted by MobiTV are not the Comcasts of the world, but companies like Citizens Fiber, Windstream, and EPB).

Set-top boxes can have technical faults, they are expensive, and they go out of date in terms of their functionality. The latter is an important point, because the rise of streaming and over-the-top services have completely transformed how consumers get their TV content today. They now have options for cord-cutting — that is, bypassing pay TV providers altogether — by getting channels and on-demand content over the Internet, and linking that through to their TVs to watch.

MobiTV’s technology was originally built for mobile phones, and as such bypassed the set-top box from day one. While broadcast TV viewing on mobile never became a mass-market phenomenon (people watch on-demand on mobiles, and some might watch broadcast streams, but mainly it’s for short pockets of time rather than the main, default screen people use). Then the team, led by Nooney, spotted the opportunity to bring the same technology to larger screens.

The promise of set-top-box-free pay TV services gives the operators a wider array of channels and potentially more flexibility in how they are provisioned. At the same time, a solution like MobiTV’s potentially lowers the total cost of ownership for providers by removing the need for the set-top boxes.

That’s not to say that some of its customers are not using both. Here, they can provide a certain set of channels directly through those boxes, with another set that are offered on top of that.

“We believe in MOBITV’s superior consumer experience and know that being the only true TVaaS commercially deployed solution in North America has differentiated their positioning in the marketplace,” said Bandel Carano, Managing Partner, Oak Investment Partners, in a statement. “They have reinvented pay TV by providing operators a platform that allows consumers to use their streaming devices or SmartTV, while eliminating the requirement of a STB – without completely alienating it! This leaves room for everyone to evolve and future-proof their cable offering at a pace comfortable for both operators and consumers.”

Create a Family Chore Chart on Alexa

Photo: kate_sept2004 (Getty Images)

With family chores, kids often spend more time protesting and less time doing the actual job. (“It’s Scarlett’s turn to unload the dishwasher!” “No, it’s Willow’s turn!”) A solution: Put Alexa in charge.

You can make a chore chart using Alexa Skill Blueprints, which allows people to create customized skills by filling in the blanks of a template. Start by typing out the members of your household. Then begin assigning chores. There’s a list of tasks to choose from, or you can add your own. (You can assign the same chore to multiple people, if you’d like.) You can also have Alexa remind a family member about a chore at a specified day and time, on whichever device you choose.

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When you open the chore chart, Alexa can read the chore list for a certain family member (“Maggie has two remaining chores: Put away the laundry and dust the banister. You can do it!”). It can also “log” a chore, marking it as done. You can find out who has completed the most chores over the course of a week by asking for the “chore score.”

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The Alexa chore chart can be motivating—you’re game-ifying chores (a tactic that works for kids and grownups) and you’re keeping the emotion out of the chore delegation process. (There’s no arguing with Alexa.) And you don’t have to keep one of those clunky magnetic chore boards on your refrigerator. That’s a win in itself.

Hear about how to exit from Jess Lee, Justin Kan, and Michael Marquez at Disrupt SF

All startup founders want to steer the business they started to a success outcome. Sometimes, the goal is an initial public offering. Sometimes, it’s an acquisition.

Though acquisitions often represent a kind of finish line for entrepreneurs, they aren’t easy to line up, and even when an offer is on the table, it often comes with difficult decisions. To better understand how to field interest, what’s involved once an acquirer comes knocking, and who can be impacted when a company decides to sell, we’ll hear from Sequoia Capital’s Jess Lee, serial founder Justin Kan, and CodeAdvisor’s Michael Marquez at Disrupt SF 2019.

Each has something to contribute to this fascinating topic of conversation.

Justin Kan is today the founder and CEO of the legal tech startup Atrium, but it’s hardly his first project. The godfather of “lifecasting,” Kan first came known in the startup world for founding Justin.tv, which spun out Socialcam, an app that Autodesk later acquired for a tidy $60 million, and itself later evolved into the game-streaming powerhouse Twitch, which was eventually acquired by an even bigger giant, Amazon, for $970 million. Kan, who went on to spend three years as a partner with Y Combinator, hasn’t succeeded at every venture. (Few remember his brief stint as founder and CEO of Exec.) But his perspective as a serial founder and investor has made him a trusted source of wisdom in startup-land, and when it comes to exiting, he knows the drill.

Jess Lee currently serves as a partner at one of the most successful and well-respected VC firms in Silicon Valley, Sequoia Capital. Her portfolio includes companies like The Wing, Dia & Co. and Maven Clinic. But Lee has been through the acquisition process from the other side of the fence, too. A Google product manager for several years, she joined the fashion site Polyvore in March 2008 (she’d fallen in love with the product and was quickly asked to become its first product manager). Once there, she graduated to VP of Product before ultimately taking over as CEO and eventually selling the company to Yahoo, where her former Google colleague, Marissa Mayer had herself taken on the reins as CEO. It may have looked seamless to outsiders, but Lee learned plenty of lessons in the process, and we’re thankful she’ll be sharing some of them during this discussion.

Michael Marquez has spent the last decade at Code Advisors brokering deals across the startup ecosystem. While he works mostly behind the scenes, he has become a go-to person for founders seeking help when they’re considering an offer (or trying to snag one). Having spent the previous decade in corporate development roles at CBS and Yahoo, he knows first-hand how buyers think and how to position your company for the best outcome.

We’re amped for this conversation, and we can’t wait to see you there! Buy tickets to Disrupt SF here at an early bird rate!

Did you know Extra Crunch annual members get 20% off all TechCrunch event tickets? Head over here to get your annual pass, and then email extracrunch@techcrunch.com to get your 20 percent off discount. Please note that it can take up to 24 hours to issue the discount code.

Roman Mars Recommends More Editing of Your Podcast and Less Worrying About Gear

It’s safe to say Roman Mars knows a thing or two about podcasting.

His wildly popular podcast 99% Invisible has racked up more than 300 million downloads, and his podcast collective Radiotopia boasts critically-acclaimed shows like Ear Hustle and Song Exploder.

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In the video above, Mars shares his advice for beginner podcasters.

Monday’s Best Deals: KitchenAid, Game of Thrones Catan, Refurb MacBooks, and More

Best Deals of the DayThe best deals from around the web, updated daily.   

Kinja Deals and follow us on Twitter to never miss a deal. Be sure to read our guide on how to prepare for Prime day and bookmark our Prime Day deals hub to be ready for the big day.

Today’s Best Tech Deals

For the user who only uses their laptop for browsing the web, Netflix and occasionally retweeting the Kardashians, this 15″ Acer Aspire 3 is a solid laptop and quite a deal to boot. This $300 laptop packs some pretty mediocre specs (AMD Ryzen 5 2500U, 8GB DDR4 and 1TB HDD) but if you swap in an SSD, this laptop can sing.

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So if you’re looking to pick up a laptop for the non-techy person in your life (or want to do some early back-to-school shopping) this is the one to buy.


Today only, Amazon’s blowing out a bunch of refurbished Touch Bar-equipped,

You can choose from the $1880 256GB model in space gray or silver, or upgrade to the the 512GB model for an extra $100. (And no, these aren’t the models in the news which are being recalled or have faulty Logic Boards.)

For those wondering, these are Amazon Renewed, not Apple Refurbished. Which means they have a shorter warranty provided by Amazon, not that amazing 1-year Apple warranty.

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Today’s Best Home Deals

$260 would be a really good price for a 325 watt, 5 qt. KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer, but today,