Feb 25

5 Top Tips for Your Child’s New Technology

It’s that time of year when our kids are bringing home new technology. Maybe you paid for it or maybe it’s provided by the school (from your school fees of course!)
But it’s a tricky time, especially as they may know more than you about how to use it (you haven’t had a chance yet!) and they have had instructions from school about care and use too.

So my advice to parents is always to set some ground rules as soon as you can. Makes it easier on everyone in the long run. There are a few things you can do – besides talking to your child about what they are up to of course – to help things run a bit smoother.

Charging
All digital devices should be kept out of our kids bedrooms wherever possible. Charging should be done overnight in a shared family space. Maybe the kitchen bench or the office or family room. Check that devices are charged before you go to bed and you won’t have problems with complaints in the morning when you are running late and they’ve forgotten to charge it up. You also minimise the disruption to their sleep that the constantly pinging and flashing of laptops or tablets bring with them. If you do only one thing – make sure that there are NO devices in your kids’ rooms at night.

Get a filter
There are lots of great activities and resources online. And lots of not-so-nice stuff too. Make sure you protect your family as far as possible by setting up a filter. This ‘catches’ a lot of nasties at your modem, BEFORE it can be delivered to your child’s device. It’s not hard to set up. Instructions are here.

Ask lots of questions
Your kids will want to use their device all. the. time. It’s up to you to make sure you understand what they are doing. Kids are curious. They will click on links they shouldn’t and wander off topic (searching ‘Justin Beiber videos’ when they should be working on maths homework…). So we need to let them know that even know they are now in the online world, they haven’t left us behind. Even if you don’t know what they are talking bout, get the key words out of them (app name, website name) and google it. You have to learn this stuff too… Even better, get them to show you how their game/activity/resources work. Let them be the teachers for once and see them beam with pride :0)

No use in private spaces
Make sure that any time they are using their device, it’s in a space you can see them. You might not always be able to see the screen, but I’ll bet you can tell by their expressions and body language when they are doing something they shouldn’t be! If you are cooking dinner or working online yourself, have them near you. Ask questions and be interested and close by if they need help or support.

Get a proper bag for back support
So many kids carrying such heavy bags – and not computer devices but textbooks and sports gear and HUGE pencil cases (what is it with huge pencil cases!?!??). So we need to help them manage their bodies too. Most schools in Australia would have suggested backpacks for kids to use. These are usually ergonomic and better for our kids backs. They don’t have to cost a fortune but a good one is worth it – just compare the cost to 6 months worth of physio visits. The next step is to try and get your kids to carry it on both shoulders, with their heaviest items at the bottom. This is how the backpack is designed to be used. Yes, they may not think it’s the coolest but even if they ignore you at school, if you can get them walking from the bus stop with the backpack on two shoulders, it’s better than nothing…

 

New computers are exciting and kids generally love the way that digital devices let them learn. And with these few tips you can help them be safe, healthy and look after their new, expensive learning tool!
PS If you liked this post, you’ll enjoy our weekly newsletter.

BONUS: Receive all our posts delivered right to your inbox AND your free copy of my new ebook
‘Super Simple Cyber-Safety at Home’

Everything parents need to know about keeping your kids safe online, no matter what devices they have! Sign up now:


Dec 16

Using Free Wifi – what you need to know

Isn’t it great how we can get online pretty much anywhere now? At the library or at school or work. Even at Macca’s now!
It’s great to have ease of access and know that we can make use of the great resources online whenever we need. No more last minute printing of meeting agendas or minutes – just pull them up on your iPad or laptop. Even on holidays most hotels and resorts have free WiFi . Awesome, right?
Well yes and no. Open (often free) WiFi means its open to EVERYONE. Even that dodgy looking chap over there. He’s online with you too. And he’s sharing your WiFi connection.
Not usually a big deal, except that these open WiFi set ups can be unsafe.
You will likely be fine to search online or maybe even check your email. But I’d be wary of checking my online banking or shopping online with these WiFi connections.
keeping safe online
That’s because the WiFi is so open-access that techno-criminals can hack the WiFi connection and see what you are doing on your computer. Of course not everyone is a criminal. But we do have to be safe with our online information. Remember it only takes 3 pieces of ID to steal your identity. So imagine what they could do with your banking password or email login details!
My tip is to make sure you use your own WiFi connection (or 3G/4G) on your phone or iPad to do the more private tasks like paying bills or signing in to an account.  That way you are a bit more protected than on an open hotel or cafe’s WiFi network.
Use that free WiFi on holiday of course – but do think about your privacy and your information before you dive into all doing all sorts of private things online. We don’t want your holiday ruined by identify theft or a credit card hack….
Stay safe with Holiday Wifi

PS If you liked this post, you’ll enjoy our weekly newsletter.

BONUS: Receive all our posts delivered right to your inbox AND your free copy of my new ebook
‘Super Simple Cyber-Safety at Home’

Everything parents need to know about keeping your kids safe online, no matter what devices you have! Sign up now:


Sep 25

Positive selfies – why we all need them!

I saw something at a school I was presenting at the other week. It was so great I had to share it here – Positive Selfies!

They had posters everywhere about Posotive Selfies. Love it. A simple idea really. Instead of sexting or sharing photos of friends not look their best for fun or even cyber-bullying by posting photos of others with nasty comments, just take a photo of you, looking like you. That’s it.

I love this for a couple of reasons, one is body image which I’ll talk more about below. The other is that the school isn’t trying an ‘abstinence’ approach to technology use. Telling teenagers not to take photos and post online isn’t going to work. If we stop it happening at school, it will happen at 3:30 when the bell rings. Embrace the technology I say :0) . Great idea!

Back to the body image stuff – the school seemed to be running ‘Positive Selfies’ as a competition. So you could enter your selfie photo online and the one that looked most like you in real-life would win an iTunes vouchers.

i was only at the school for a day (it’s in a country town), but at recess and lunch I saw lots of phones out and lots of photos being taken. How cool, right?

So here’s my thoughts, when was the last time we modelled this to our kids? I think as women we know the importance of having positive body image particularly around our kids but how is that translating to what we do online? Do we vet all the pics our kids want to post? Do we say “no way you’re posting that, look at my tummy in that one! Delete!!” ??

I know I have. It’s hard not to, right? Especially as we likely have more insight in to how the online world works than they do. And that means we have a sense of who will see that photo…

So from now on I’m going to ask a different question when someone posts a photo of me online. I’m going to ask: Who’s going to see this? Am I ok with the audience?

Letting our kids know that it’s the ‘who-sees-it’ that we are concerned about, rather than whether our chins are showing to their best advantage should mean I can demonstrate that sharing online means thinking more about the ‘audience’ and less about me. Cos I’m ok as I am thanks!

And just cos I don’t love a photo – which is just one moment in time – doesn’t mean the memory that we are sharing or the event or the people we are with are unimportant. Photos are really our memories these days and I want to have lots of great ones once i’m old and grey ;0)

PS If you liked this post, you’ll enjoy our weekly newsletter.

BONUS: Receive all our posts delivered right to your inbox AND your free copy of my new ebook
‘Super Simple Cyber-Safety at Home’

Everything parents need to know about keeping your kids safe online, no matter what devices you have! Sign up now:


Sep 01

Taking photos of your kids at school events

How is your week going? cold and rainy here with a side of nasty cold to top it off. But I didn’t log in to chat about my head (nasty, painful, thanks for asking). I actually wanted to write about a question that’s come up with a few parents and different schools lately – Is it ok to take photos of my child at school and put them on Facebook for the family to see?

Seems simple enough – yes, your child, your photos, go right ahead.  But of course it’s difficult because school events usually involve many, many, well, school children. Your beautiful darling may be dancing up a storm, but it’s likely that so are 24 other darlings right next them on stage.

So your photo that showcases their incomparable talent also shows 3 or 5 or 20 other kids too. And you probably didn’t ask each of their parents if you can post the pic online.

And that’s where the challenge begins!  We do want to capture those never to be repeated (except at next  year’s concert) moments, so here are my suggestions to make sure you can keep in with the mums at school…

  • Think about cyber safety – does the pic show the school name or location or any details about any child? If they are wearing school uniform it probably does – so zoom out a bit so it can’t be read in the photo.
  • If your darling has their photo take with with their BFF and you don’t want to cut them out (how rude!), just ask  their mum or dad ‘I’m putting this on Facebook to show the grandparents – ok?’ It’s just good manners!
  • If you have a photo you absolutely need to share ( I get it, sometimes our kids are just hilarious devine), use a free app like Skitch to blur the faces of those other kids. Bonus: your child’s face is the main feature of the photo now!
  • And finally, think before you share. Where are you posting that photo? Consider who will see it and whether you are ok with that audience :0)

For me, I think this stuff is important because our kids have online profiles from a young age, before birth in some cases with all the ultrasound photos out there…So we have responsibility for their online footprint just as much as our own, and with a little thought we can make sure we aren’t over sharing other children’s photos either.

Do you post photos of your kids online?  Let us know what you do or don’t do…

 

 

PS If you liked this post, you’ll enjoy our weekly newsletter.

BONUS: Receive all our posts delivered right to your inbox AND your free copy of my new ebook
‘Super Simple Cyber-Safety at Home’

Everything parents need to know about keeping your kids safe online, no matter what devices you have! Sign up now:


Jun 01

New ebook now launched!

So I just launched my new ebook – Super Simple Cyber Safety at Home! I hope that my lovely subscribers enjoy it!

I’ve been working on this for the past few months and it’s based on the Top Ten Questions I get asked by parents. I’ll bet a few of you have the same questions.

Well now you have the answers all in one place…in a straight forward format that you can read on any screen (or even print it out if you like!)

From what questions to ask, to where to charge your iPad at night, this ebook is for any parent with kids using technology at home.

That might be an iPad, laptop, tablet, Wii or XBox…anything with wifi needs your attention and your kids need your support. These ten tips will get you on your way to being an up-to-date and supportive parents for our young 21st Century Citizens.

super simple cyber-safety ebook

Subscribe to the blog to get your copy now!

 

Super Simple Cyber-Safety is free for subscribers to the blog, but RRP is $9.99.

Did you miss out? I want to make sure you get your copy now! So, not to worry  – just subscribe to the blog now and I’ll shoot you through your FREE copy asap! To sign up now – click here!

 

And don’t forget to let me know what you think back here or on Facebook.

May 06

My latest project…Super Simple Cyber-Safety ebook

How is your week going? I’m very excited today becasue I’ve got some great news! I have finished my free ebook for parents and it will be ready to be delivered to your inbox in the next week or so.

To received the free ebook you need to be subscribed to my newsletter – you can do that here.  If you are already subscribed you don’t need to do anything! Just wait for the goodies to drop into your inbox!

The ebook:

Super Simple Cyber-Safety ebook is your parent’s guide to cyber-safety at home. From tips on storing technology to ways to ask your kids about what they are doing online, this ebook will set you and your family on the road to safe and effective online learning for your kids.

Technology is great, but it’s what we do with it that makes it useful! This ebook is for all parents and you don’t need lots of tech-know skills to implement these 10 easy ways to keep your kids safe online.

Aimed at parents of kids in Primary and early Secondary school, you’ll find 10 tips to safely use technology at home.

So keep your eyes open! And sign up now to receive this great resource hot off the press!

 

 

PS If you liked this post, you might enjoy keeping up with the blog through our weekly newsletter. Receive all our posts delivered right to your inbox! Sign up here!


Mar 30

Kids Version of Facebook

It’s nearly Easter! That means school holidays, bunnies and chocolate. What will your kids get up to during the break? Hopefully there will be some outdoor fun and maybe some playdates. Looking at the weather here in Melbourne, there’s going to need to be some indoor times too. Rain, for days on end!

Once they have exhausted all their playing, making and doing and you hear the ‘I’m bored’ call, I’ve got a suggestion to keep them happy online, using a safe website that let’s them chat with their friends – but you can keep an eye on them as they do it!

First though, they need to be 13 or older. 13 is the age that most online resources set as the entry age. Just because our kids are 13, though, doesn’t mean we should let them go without supervision. You can, of course, lie and sign up if you areunder 13 but there are a number of good reasons not to.

The tool I’m talking about here is called Edmododownload

It’s a kind of Facebook-type website that uses a password to keep it safe (er).

You, as the adult, sign up and create a ‘virtual classroom’.  Then you give that private classroom code to the children you want to invite and they sign up. One good feature is that they don’t need to provide an email address or their full name, so it’s a way for our kids to practice their cyber-safety skills too.

I suggest they just use their first name and initial of their last name, just to be safe.

I use Edmodo all the time and I like it best because it keeps all the posts on one big page – like one giant Facebook feed.

That means our kids can’t go to an individual page and post something they shouldn’t. It also means that you only need to keep an eye on one page of posts. You won’t need to check a dozen different pages to keep on top of what they are doing!

edmodo

Your kids can share images, links, text, files – whatever they like. So that cat video that makes them giggle can be shared amongst them as a link, meaning they won’t necessarily spend hours on other sites – hopefully they will be encouraged to spend more time on Edmodo than on a hundred other sites that we don’t know about!

A few families I know have used Edmodo as a way to keep their kids happy (they get to go online) and to make sure they are well-supported and kept safe too.

You can set up a ‘classroom’ really quickly and let your kids chat and share – but know that you can check on them anytime using the website or app. I love the app because it’s easy to use and gives you notifications when anything is posted. A quick check and then you move on. Easy and not too time-consuming!

 

Do you let you kids go online? Use social media? Let us know what you think about using online social media at home??

 

 

Jan 05

Holiday Checklist – don’t forget the charger!

Hope you’ve had a great break over Christmas! In Australia, schools are still on the long summer break and lots of us are heading off on holidays to the beach or the bush. This year we don’t have a lot of time off together but we are hoping to manage a couple of nights away here and there. Every year I forget something – no matter how hard I try. So, in an effort to get better at holiday packing – with my all-important tech-toys! – here’s my quick list of reminders. Maybe it will help you too :0)

I do unplug when I’m away. Nothing like a good book or crappy magazine on holiday but I also keep in touch with family and friends online – bit of balance is a good thing, right!!

  • First of all – my iPad. Yep. I’ll need to keep up with this blog, my work and all the other blogs I follow – oh and Facebook of course :0)
  • This year, I’ve got a new cover for my iPad that protects the front and back (previously I only had the front covered). Your kids need one that protects it well. Especially the corners – that’s where the damage occurs and the screen smashes when they ‘bounce’ it off the floor…maybe speaking from experience there ;0(
  • I’ll also need to bring my charger and the car charger too – for those times we camp without electricity, not too often but it’s nice to be totally unplugged sometimes.
  • Next, I’ll need to bring my Kindle Paperwhite ! I know I can read on the Kindle app on my iPad but if I’m sat by the pool or on the beach, it’s just too bright to read on the iPad. My new Kindle has a backlight and I can read it in any light. It’s got a month long battery life – so no need for the charger :0) – BONUS: The Kindle is really light in my handbag. Anyone else have a ridiculously heavy handbag in summer…sunscreen, bug spray, brush, deodorant… !!!
  • I bring my external battery charger too – I hate when my laptop dies half way through a movie!

  • Finally, I need my Fitbit. It syncs to my iPhone and lets me know when I need to move more. Especially important when I’m eating for England on holiday ;0)


For the kids –

So on family holidays, I bring at least two 4-way power boards. You know, like the ones below, that mean you can plug in their toys after the long drive (or long day).

I also like these ones with power surge protection. That way if your holiday house has a not-so-modern power set-up, (meaning it may not have the built in surge protectors most of us rely on at home), I won’t lose expensive iPads, laptops and games systems from a power surge or lighting strike – they only cost $13, a good buy I think.

      • Next, I set up a charging station at our holiday house. All digital toys get plugged in centrally overnight.
      • Finally, if our holiday house has wifi I make sure I’m the one who knows the password. I’m in charge (or the hubby) of setting up devices on the wifi. That way I know who is online and when.
      • I have also been known to turn the wifi on and off during the day. Off during the morning and lunch. On for quiet afternoons watching movies online. Off for dinner. On for an a hour or so of downtime before bed. That way I can filter what they are doing when :0)

I’m also going to be taking bathers, towels, sunscreen, sun glasses, a bottle of wine and couple of glasses. And that will be all I need :0) Ok. Chocolate and cheese too. Of course.

 

Have a lovely break – or week – if you are going away! Let me know what I’ve forgotten here, would love to hear from you.

 

PS If you liked this post, you might enjoy keeping up with the blog through our weekly newsletter. Receive all our posts delivered right to your inbox! Sign up here!


Jan 02

Tech-Tip Friday – cyber-safety with your new gadgets!

Happy New Year! How did you celebrations go? My New Year’s Eve was quite low key with some fantastic friends spending the evening at our house. Did Santa visit your house last week? I hope so – and maybe he brought you a new (digital) toy or two, or maybe your kids were the lucky ones!

IMG_8950

New Year’s Eve at our house :0)

While normal life has yet to resume where I am, and for the blog too, I just wanted to check in to say hi, Happy New Year AND to link you to a few key resources to keep your kids safe online with those new digital gadgets that ‘Santa’ worked hard to pay for, buy, hide and wrap ;0)

Monday it’s all systems go again, so I’ll see you then! In the meantime, check out what I’m up to on Facebook or Instagram.

Have a lovely weekend one and all!

 

Set up filtering on your home wifi and keep the nasties of the Internet away from your kids.

Who are they chatting with and what are they using to chat with their friends online? Ask these questions to check if your kids are making the best choices…

With new digital devices, your kids need to know the different between ‘Public’ and ‘Private’ and what they should be sharing (or not) online. Learn more with this post.

If you want to begin some cyber-safety chats with your kids, start with the 3 Things Rule! 3 things kids (and us) need to remember when interacting online :0)

As you or your kids set up new devices with fun new apps and software, we need to think about the info we are giving our (of course) but also the details we make up! Tell the Internet you are 18 and the ads you’ll see are quite different to those a 40 year old would see – learn more in this post. Important for your kids to understand this little tip!

PS If you liked this post, you might enjoy keeping up with the blog through our weekly newsletter. Receive all our posts delivered right to your inbox! Sign up here!


Dec 19

Avoiding nasty Internet content home

Did you know most schools have extremely strong and robust filtering systems for their Internet? This stops kids getting to *most* of the dodgy stuff online. But there can be a problem when  they come home to your house – and most families don’t have any filtering system at all, meaning that our kids can get to anything and everything they like – and even if they don’t mean to they can be exposed to nasty online content.

A filter is a piece of computer software that looks at what you are trying to access on the Internet – before you are taken to the website – and then decides if you should be allowed to see those pages. It’s not, and never will be, fool proof. There is so much information on the Internet and it’s being updated so frequently that no software program can keep up. We still need to teach our kids to be cyber-safe.

But filters can usually take away the really nasty stuff (I won’t list examples here -> you know what I’m talking about).

When a child in Prep (5 year old) Googles for pictures of  “ladies” at school for her story,  she would (should) be shown innocent images of women. If they Googled this at home without filters, they might get something quite different – because of course, the computer doesn’t know it’s your gorgeous, innocent 5 year old on the keyboard, and not a single man in his 50’s living in his mother’s basement…

(***Big generalisation but you know what I’m implying here, no offence intended to the genuinely, lovely men living with their mothers later in life!)

So, while we need to be careful and supervise young kids particularly – we can also set up a filter at home.

You can buy software that you install on each device at home – on your laptop, desktop, iPad.

But I’ve found that parents generally prefer to have the filtering the same for everyone in the house. So a Filter that you set up on your MODEM can be a good way to go.

I like OpenDNS –  www.opendns.com/home-internet-security/

openDNS cybersafety filters kids learning

 

 

Here’s what they have to say about their filter product:

Today’s families have an array of Internet-connected devices in their homes, from computers to gaming consoles to smart phones. OpenDNS is the only Internet parental controls solution that empowers parents to manage Web access across every device that accesses the Internet on your home network. This includes phones and computers that your kids’ friends bring into the house, giving parents peace-of-mind that their kids are protected regardless of how they’re accessing the Internet.

 

It’s quite straight-forward to set up and once you’ve done it the first time, the settings are easy to adjust – good for as your kids get older and you want to give them more access.

Set-Up OpenDNS

It’s really, really easy to set up – just register for an account when you’re on your home network and then follow the instructions in the email you’ll receive

Next, add a network (it does the tech stuff for you – it’s just one click, and this is why you need to be on your home Internet when you do this) and then choose what your family has access to – remember this will impact on ANYONE who uses your Internet, including you!

You can choose to block certain categories of websites, like “adult,” “games,” “academic fraud” or “social media” or there are levels within those categories of low, medium or high filtering. You can also choose to block certain websites only…

openDNS cybersafety filters kids learning

Finally, it quickly and easily lets you see which websites are being accessed in your household. By signing up for statistics, you’ll be able to see when and what the family are looking at online – on every device.  This is handy for checking no one is on Facebook at 2am – and if they are, having a bit of a chat about switching off at night!

While I certainly don’t advocate stalking your kids through these statistics reports, it can be handy to occasionally check your OpenDNS account and see what’s going on at home, especially as our younger kids learn to manage their online world :0)

Do you use any filtering at home? Care to share any stories with inappropriate content and how you managed it – leave us a comment below.

 

***By the way, I’m not being paid by OpenDNS or any other filtering company – I just love their product! See my disclaimer for more info***

 

PS If you liked this post, you might enjoy keeping up with the blog through our weekly newsletter. Receive all our posts delivered right to your inbox! Sign up here!