Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Why parents should work with their children to tackle online security

Social media: love it or hate it, you can’t avoid it, and that goes for our children, too. It is everywhere. So, what can parents do to help kids stay safe online?

The first thing is not to fight against it. This is how the world works now. When we say social media is ‘everywhere’, we mean everywhere. Instagram has recently trumpeted about reaching 700 million users, while Twitter has now claimed to have active user numbers in the region of 328 million. Meanwhile the leader of the pack, Facebook, has soared to over 2 billion active users as of June 30, 2017. The list goes on.

It’s hardly a flash-in-the-pan, either. Facebook boasts a whopping growth rate of 20 million active users per month, while Pinterest’s monthly active users went up to 175 million earlier this year. Another popular platform, Reddit, is thought to have added 16 million users to their platform. The world has never been so connected. You’d have to be a social media hermit to avoid it.

It’s easy to explain its popularity. Devices, phones, accounts and apps are everywhere. It’s never been simpler to stay in touch, to upload, share, tag and like.

But there’s a catch. And it goes back to the numbers game that the platforms themselves play. Because although we like to teach our kids to share and share alike, you can share too much. And they can get caught in the numbers game of seeking more and more ‘likes’. And then there’s cyber-bullying and the sinister world of strangers appropriating your online information.

There’s also the time-factor, too. It’s easy to let devices devour whole days, especially on weekends and during school holidays, leaving homework as well as straightforward social interactions, books and good old ‘playing’ lagging far behind.

Like any parent, I’m concerned. But for me, banning phones, blocking access without explanation and building cyber-walls won’t work. I’m tech-savvy but I know my kids will soon outstrip me in the wherewithal to wheedle their way around any restrictions I put in place.

As ever, education is the key and talking to your children, discussing the issues with them and preparing them for what lies in store will go a long way to helping them steer a safe course through the social media seas. It’s basic parenting, after all.

But just as teaching children to cross the road safely can’t eliminate the danger caused by a reckless driver, no amount of open and honest discussion and education is going to completely close off all risks.

Which is where products like Kaspersky’s Security Cloud come in.

Kaspersky’s solution is much more than a way of keeping kids safe online. Kaspersky’s Security Cloud is a service which provides privacy protection, password encryption and even a VPN (Virtual Private Network) for ultimate protection across devices. It guards against malware and viruses on laptops and android devices too.

It also allows parents to see if a child tries to access an unsuitable site, giving them the chance to veto a child’s choice. And that, for me, would be the starting point to a discussion. In answering the question ‘why?’ (‘why won’t you let me watch/access/play that?’) this is where the serious business of online education begins.

Parents should always let their children know that a device is being monitored and what steps are being taken to keep them safe. Open, honest and age-appropriate discussion is as important than any technological solution. But when used alongside Kaspersky’s Security Cloud, that discussion can begin before any damage is done.

The software can be set up to link up to 20 devices via the main MyKaspersky account (which you must install in order to get started) all of which then need the have the Kaspersky Safe Kids app installed. You can tailor the restrictions to suit and a traffic light system of levels makes it easy to assess what is and isn’t going to be suitable.

Not, of course, that that should be an end of the matter.  My advice would be to prepare to justify your decisions and reason with your children. And prepare to be wrong! Not all unknown online content is going to be bad. Let’s not forget there’s an awful lot of ‘good’ out there as well.

After all, over 2 billion Facebook members, 700 million Instagrammers and over 300 million Twitter users can’t all be wrong!

Sunday, 24 September 2017

An English garden...

I can't claim to have green fingers. But I do like a nice garden.

Trouble is, they're hard work. So when FFX (one of the UK’s largest independent suppliers of high quality tools, fixings & building supplies, based in Folkestone, Kent) got in touch to see if I could use some help (a couple of products from their website in return for an honest review) I jumped at the chance.

Autumn is the time of year when all sorts needs to be done (so I'm told). And the lawn is one of them. Give it a good rake, then treat it with some autumn fertiliser and that should see it through the winter.

And with the Einhell EINBGSR12 Garden Spreader you can take the guesswork out of spreading and ensure the entire lawn has an even covering. It's light, easy to use and with seven distribution settings, versatile enough to have a variety of uses. 

Weeding, of course, is something that goes on at all times of year. But this Draper GRT/DD Gardeners Tool Cart and Seat certainly makes life easier. And - being on wheels - it has the added bonus of being quite attractive to the children. Dress up weeding as a game that involves scooting round the garden on this little trolly (which handily holds all your tools as well) as you can sit back, relax, and watch.

Now that's what I call gardening!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Groovy Baby Bubblebum music

If, like me, you've got small children and if, like any parent, you're concerned about their safety and if - like plenty fortunate enough to have done so - you've recently been on holiday, read on.

(Even if you haven't or you aren't or you weren't, read on. It won't cost you anything!)

Anyway, children, cars, travel. In the UK children have to use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall, whichever comes first. Over 12yo or 135cm tall and kids must wear a seat belt. So far, so straightforward.

But what do you do on holiday?

If the holiday involves travelling by car, no problem. But you can hardly take a car seat on an aeroplane, unless...

Unless someone makes one that neatly folds up when deflated, stores in its very own bag
and weighs no more than a packet of digestive biscuits. AND one that meets all EU & US regulations and easily fits into backpack or glove box or suitcase or carrier.

That seat, dear reader, is the Bubblebum. We've got one. They're great.

And you can have one, too. And not just any one, but a fabulously flag-waving Union Jack version.

To enter, click the Rafflecopter widget below and keep your fingers crossed. Good luck!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Roald Dahl Day

Happy Roald Dahl day, the day on which (in 1916) the great man was born!

Like many men of genius (I don't think that's taking things too far, do you?) Dahl was a complex individual. Some of his views weren't what we'd call 'politically correct'. Others were downright damnable.

But Michaelagelo was an unlikeable character and it doesn't stop us admiring the Sistine Chapel ceiling. And Gaugin's paintings sell for millions despite the fact he slept with 13-year-old Tahitians.

Separating the art from the artist isn't always easy. So let's concentrate on the art, shall we? And one particular scene from one particular book that happens to be one of our favourites.

Just don't watch if you're about to have lunch...


Monday, 11 September 2017

I've never changed a nappy...

No, not me. I've changed plenty. More than I care to remember.

But Jacob Rees-Mogg has never changed a nappy. Not one. Ever.

I know, shocking isn't it.

There are probably plenty of other people out there who haven't. But perhaps not many who've got six children.

But then, who among us with six (or even my own total, three) children can afford to pay staff to do it for us?

And even if we could...

Yes, you see. That's not really the point, is it?

I mean, I'm not suggesting nappy-changing is a measure of 'new' manhood or parenthood or any other 'hood'. Changing nappies doesn't make you a better dad. Or a dad at all, for that matter.

But... But... What?

I don't know. There's just something about the not having done it at all - and the slightly boasting tone in which such information was divulged - that makes me think, perhaps, that changing a nappy - at least one nappy - might actually be a good thing for a dad.

After all, someone's got to do it. And although Rees-Mogg's nanny might disapprove of him doing it I'm sure an Eton and Oxford education qualifies him to... at least, attempt it.

I'd have thought any self-respecting father would have wanted to have a go at it, these days?

But then, Rees-Mogg - by his own definition - isn't of 'these days' is he?

Which rather begs the question...

Which days is he 'of'?

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