How to Keep Younger Children Safer When Using Computers

Featured Post 

More than a third of all 3-4 year-olds are now accessing the internet in their homes. My daughter has been accessing computers since she was two, and swipe technology has made this possible. She whizzes around the iPhone and iPad better than her father does and can often be seen on my lap searching the internet for answers to questions I don’t know the answer to (e.g. why don’t electric eels shock themselves?). She is truly a digital native. She is now five.

As an ICT consultant, I train teachers for a living on the use of hardware and software in the classroom and I strongly believe that these technologies can positively impact her learning.  However, I don’t want her spending day in and day out in front of the screen.

I know a lot of parents are reluctant to allow their children to access these technologies and rightly so. The internet can be a dangerous place, but I do feel that children who are denied access may be put at a disadvantage academically.

I’ve been doing a bit of research about e-safety and younger children, aged 3-5, but everything I read tends to relate to slightly older children who are able to read and write.  My daughter is just learning to read and write so I found that a lot of the information was not relevant to this stage as it was talking about chat rooms, cyber bullying, etc so I thought I’d put together a short list of my top tips for keeping younger children safer when online.

In our house, she has supervised access to iPhones, iPads and a PC.  This is where my experience lies so this article is based on that.  However, I’m sure it can be translated to Androids, Macs and other tablets.  Do chip in the comments section.

My top 10 tips for keeping younger children safer

When using an iPad or iPhone

I’ve learned a few of these the hard way – just remember that the settings are your friend.

1.) Turn off In-App Purchase to avoid any nasty surprises! I’ve written about this in the past when my neighbour nearly got stung with a £70 bill from iTunes.

You can do this in Setting>General>Restrictions and turn off In-App Purchases

How to turn of in app purchases

2.) Turn of Location Services – this one really scared the crap out of me. I hadn’t even thought about the fact that someone could identify my daughter’s location using it. Eeeek!  I have now turned it off! It’s in Restrictions as well.

Turning off Location Services

3.) Disable Safari and YouTube – My daughter and I do go onto YouTube and Google as I mentioned earlier, but only when we are together, so to ensure she doesn’t find her way on there when I’m not looking I have disabled them. It’s a bit of a pain as I have to turn it back on again when I want to use it, but I’d rather be safer than sorry.

How to Turn off You Tube and Safari

4.) Set Media Parameters, again it’s in restrictions but you can decide what age range you are comfortable with when watching films or accessing apps. However, if you are using any other subscription-based film services like LoveFilm, you may also have to change the settings there as well. The instructions can be found here.

Setting Age Restrictions

5.) On the iPad the default is 15 minutes for needing to re-enter a password for purchases.  Change this to ‘Immediately’, otherwise they have plenty of time to run up a bill buying stuff.

Change time limit for entering password

When using the PC

My daughter rarely uses the PC unless I’m with her and to be honest, I’d rather she use the iPad so that I can get on with my work or faffing around on social networks. But when she does, these are a few things that I have done:

6.) I’ve made a folder for her with a list of favourite sites, which reduces the chances of her getting onto an inappropriate site, but it’s not fail safe.

7.) I have turned on Safe Search Mode on Google so when we are searching together it reduces the chances of us coming across anything unsavoury. Look for the ‘cog’ in the top right corner and select search settings, you should see it in there!

8.)  It’s not 100% accurate, but I have also switched on Safety Mode on YouTube.

9.)  Make sure your anti-virus software is up to date in case, god forbid, they manage to download something dodgy. I personally use AVG Free.

10.) And lastly, this is true for any type of technology whether it’s a tablet, phone, computer or gaming console. Always keep them in a busy place in the house, so you can keep an eye on what they get up to. We rarely allow the iPad to go up into her room, unless I’m having one of my lazy parenting moments. We can get away with this at the moment as she is only five, but we will cross the next hurdle when we get to it.

Hopefully, this has helped in some way. Do leave any other tips in the comment section below. Go safe out there!

A huge thank you to Geek Mummy and Violet Posy for their valuable contributions to this post.







With Hello Fresh, Mums can cook amazing food at home in no time

Every once in a while a new idea comes along that makes people wonder why nobody thought of it before. Hello Fresh is a brand new grocery delivery service tailored to the needs of busy mums. With Hello Fresh anyone can easily prepare amazing food for their family and friends in their own home.

Hello Fresh delivers amazing recipes and all the necessary ingredients to your door every week. It is easy to sign up on the website for a weekly subscription. Simply choose how many meals you would like to receive and Hello Fresh does all the hard work for you.

The recipes are created by professional chefs who have worked in world-famous restaurants such as the Fat Duck. These chefs have taken the hassle out of weekly meal planning, ensuring your family has a healthy balanced diet. And don’t worry; they are so easy to prepare that busy mums can create a Hello Fresh meal in no time. Kids love trying the exciting new meals. Take them on a journey around the world with dishes like Emperor’s Chocolate Chilli Con Carne, and Penne at Sunset. Pickier eaters can easily leave ingredients out of a recipe, or be bold and try something for the first time. Who knows, it could be a favourite!

In fact, Hello Fresh takes easy cooking to a new level. Recipes typically take only 30 minutes or less to prepare and don’t require fancy kitchen equipment. The recipe cards are lovely to look at and provide a photo for each step, making sure that every meal is just perfect. So if you enjoy great food but want to save time on meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking, – Hello Fresh comes to the rescue!

The company was started by a small group of food fanatics in Central London who believe that it should be easier for busy mums to cook delicious food in their own home. Launched in early January, the service has already found a following among savvy Londoners and is taking off as a revolutionary new way to eat. Currently, Hello Fresh only delivers to addresses within the M25 but expect this to change soon. Certainly one to watch for 2012!

The website is and and find them on Facebook at

How to Find the Right Save the Date Cards

With so many choices these days, people still manage to pick all the wrong stationery for their special events. How long do we spend really checking out the card we get in the post? One minute tops (more likely seconds) and then it gets tossed into the waste basket. So when brides-to-be start looking for perfect wedding save the date cards for the upcoming nuptials, the first question they should ask themselves is not how to pick out something very white, romantic and … well, boring. They need something to grab full attention of the recipients and make them run straight to their kitchen calendar and circle the date in scarlet.

Here are the three alternatives to traditional save the date cards that a newly engaged couple could consider (and their guests would love to get):

1. Cupcakes Save the Date Card


What better way to get the attention of friends than to present them with save the date cards featuring delicious cupcakes? It will help things if they are hungry when opening the envelope…Friends and family members will salivate at this prim bride and groom in cupcake form. It’s a truly satisfying design for food-lovers and can hint about the delicatessens waiting for the guests at the wedding party.



2. Bridal Shoe Save the Date Card


After a tiring day of being charming, this bride has kicked off her shoes in preparation for a night of romance… The glowing satin of the shoes paired with the single rose gives you a glimpse of an upcoming event almost making it real, as if it’s about to happen today (not a year from now). This provocative save the date card is a definite attention-getter.





3. Thailand Save the Date Card

A couple who’s throwing a wedding in a beautiful, warm climate would find this design ideal. A card featuring the calm sea and the white sands undoubtedly has the power to lure guests to a wedding! The azure sky as well as the inviting seat on a boat combine to make an appealing save the date card (and will look good on the fridge too).
No engaged couple wants to find their wedding invitation under a stack of bills, put aside to look at later, or even dumped in the round file. Save the date cards with a dash of flair are a must-have for couples who want to ensure their guests remember to slip on their fancy dress shoes and show up!


*Featured Post – please see my full disclosure policy for details

Best cottages to visit this Christmas

It’s Christmas and it’s time to do something special with your family. Have you ever considered searching holiday cottages UK to do something really unique?  There are so many fabulous places in the United Kingdom, so why not drop one a visit during the festive season?

I know what you’re thinking, it’s impossible to pick a place out of a hat and just head off. Well, don’t worry, because we’ve sourced five of the best cottages for you to consider.

Merle Cottage, Middleton-in-Teesdale – Found in the Yorkshire Dales, this cottage boasts an open fire and sleeps four to make it the perfect spot for a romantic weekend or a family getaway. The village is charming and the people are friendly, meaning that it is a great place to enjoy the festivities. Attracting many walkers each year, there are many waterfalls and trails to enjoy if you keep wrapped up.

Coachman’s, St. Nectan’s Glen – Cornwall has many coastal cottages to choose from but this is the ultimate for a romantic getaway. At this time of year, is there anything more wonderful than having footpaths to the coast and up the glen during the day before cuddling up in front of an open fire in the evening?

Brambles Cottage, Kerrykeel – There’s more to the United Kingdom than England, and this is evident when you get chance to head to Northern Ireland and enjoy the wonders of County Donegal. This pretty village is perfect for a quiet getaway, and it sleeps eight people so make a family trip of it!

Pencoed Cottage, Capel Llanilltern – To Wales now, and this cottage found near Cardiff makes the list. A stunning property found within a rural village, you can use this as a base to head to the Welsh capital or just enjoy this scattered village from your charming cottage.

The Old Coach House, Arrochar – There are also parts of Scotland that can’t be forgotten when chasing a holiday cottage for a Christmas getaway. This property is found in a beautiful setting within Argyll and the Isles and although it is roomy, it is also very cosy. The
surrounding area is great for climbers but being at the head of Loch Long, it is a popular location for many reasons.

So there it is, the best cottages to visit with your loved ones this Christmas. Making the holidays even more special for you and your whole family.

*Featured Post – for more information see my disclosure policy

Is Car Insurance Sexist?

I’m just trying to work out in my head how I feel about car insurers no longer being able to quote based on gender.  When it was first proposed, my initial thought was that it seemed fair that quotes shouldn’t be based on gender and did seem sexist.  Why should someone receive a discount just because they’re female, even if men are statistically more likely to be involved in accidents?   But what does this mean for men who are safe drivers with clean driving records and what about women with less than gleaming driving records?  I personally feel that car insurance quotes should be based on your driving history.

However, now that European judges have outlawed the setting of car insurance premiums based on gender which goes into effect in December 2012; there is a good chance that my own insurance will go up by about 25%.   I wouldn’t mind if the savings were equalised between men and women drivers, but I predict that in fact we will all be paying more.  It’s going to cost insurance companies to implement this and I predict these costs will be passed onto us.

Our car insurance is already increasing at ridiculous rate.  I can’t remember exactly, but our quote this year was astronomically higher than last year and we haven’t made any claims.  A single male friend of mine in his 30s, saw his insurance go from £300 to £1800 and he hadn’t made any claims.  When we enquired with the company their response was that, due to the economy (recession), there has been a huge increase in the number of claims.  This doesn’t make sense to me.  Why should I be paying more, when I haven’t made any claims?  Shouldn’t those with poor driving records be footing the bill?  In the end, we did shop around and moved our car insurance.

What do you think? Could this result in more uninsured motorists on the road?  Are you prepared to install a blackbox in your car? What about ageism as young people pay an extortionate amount for car insurance?    Would love to hear your thoughts?

*Sponsored by Tesco