Friday, 27 September 2013

Socially Yours ...(Online)

I started using the Internet in 1995, almost 20 years ago! At the time it was nothing like it is today and I remember being at Uni and printing off vast amounts of pages for a little information!

Today everything is SO accessible from shopping to research to sex and dating, everything you could possible need or want is at the click of your device!

Looking at a recent survey looking into our nations online habits some of the results really surprised me! for instance 27% do not use social media sites at all, that is a quarter of those studied. Companies are so wrapped up in directing advertising and promotion online through Facebook and Twitter they need to remember there is still a large amount of Internet users that are not seeing 'that ad' or 'this competition'!

Facebook is still coming out on top closely followed by Twitter and Pinterest but Google + and Linkedin are closing the gap with more people using them to socialise and career build.

I use the Internet everyday, mostly I use it for company as many of my good friends are online and we chat everyday but I also use it for shopping, recipes and of course my hobby - Comping!

I have met some amazing people online - most of which are now very dear friends and next weekend a big group of us are getting together for a comping weekend. It is also my birthday so I can't wait!
Online relationships are often accused of being fake/not real and not 'real life' friendships but for me this couldn't be farther than the truth!
I spend all or most of my evenings alone and without my online friends I would be basically Nobby no mates! We discuss everything and air our views and problems and without this social interaction I would have been institutionalised a long time ago!

Obviously you do have to be careful like I have written about before (which you can read HERE) as you do NEVER know if people are being honest. A friend of mine recently blogged about a very sad and SHOCKING experience she had to deal with, worth a read of any net users time. Tattooed Mummy was completely taken in by a 'friend' and it is a disturbing read.

3% admitted to 'Stalking' somebody online with love interest being the most popular answer but Ex's, Family and partners ex all being subject to being looked at.
It's not just personal stalking though that hits the headlines with an increasing number of employers looking at potential and current staff's social media behaviour - which doesn't always turn out well! Just have a read of this article!

I think people really do not realise how much information they put out there! I know I am careful to never get really personal on any social media platforms. I don't disclose going away or going out and I certainly never get in to very personal arguments! Where we used to have time to reflect and chill out before we retaliated it seems rows and arguments are at the touch of a button and before people think the backlash is instantaneous!

A good movie to watch is Panic Button - really shows how a comment anyone makes without thinking can get you in a awful lot of trouble!

This survey has really made me think about just how much of my time I do spend on my laptop, phone, iPad....errrrr But for me in my situation where I cannot go out in the evenings very often it is a lifeline so I am not beating myself up too much!

How much time do you spend online?
Have you ever stalked an ex online?
Do you think our nations online habits are a good thing or can only lead to isolation?

Please feel free to comment! I love reading your views!

This is a Partnered post,In collaboration with Ladbrokes Bingo

Sunday, 15 September 2013

All Change! - Pocket Money Memories...

I don't know about you but as a child of the seventies I didn't really get pocket money, not in the way of a weekly handout anyway.

I always wanted these but never got them:

My Dad used to run the Christmas 'Thrift' club at our local pub and he put some money away each week for me and my older sisters' - so that we had something to spend on things at Christmas. It was always a lovely surprise and I always really appreciated it. I used to buy prezzies for everyone and something to wear New Years Eve out of it!

I used to earn pocket money as I got older - for washing my Dad's work van or doing the polishing or such like. I used to love saving, but things changed when I got older!

So I made it really important for Evan to save right from really young and he still does. He saves his weekly pocket money of £3.50 from January to July for his summer break and then July to November to do his Christmas shopping.

He earns his money by being in charge of the household recycling and composting. He sorts all the paper, cardboard, and tins/plastics each week and has just added washing up one evening a week.
I also have a list on the inside of one of my kitchen cupboards; of extra allowance he can earn if he is observant (He doesn't earn much this way).

I can always remember my Dad standing in front of the airing cupboard shouting at my Mum that he 'couldn't see his clean hankies' they were ALWAYS in the same place on the top shelf on the left! Always.
So I thought trying to teach Ev to notice things - like bring in the milk or pick up an empty cup and take it to the kitchen, but he rarely notices - it is just not instilled in men!

It's reviewed about every 6 months or so although this was the first increase in a year. He is happy with it and enjoys saving.
In the summer I bought him a Terramundi which he is ONLY saving £2 coins in! So this year he will see a total change in the amount he can save without extras! He is though determined to save the approximate £1000 it will hold in £2 coins.

I don't believe that money should be just handed out willy nilly and I think teaching Ev to earn his pocket money has made him realise value to an extent - he still thinks I have one of these though:

This is my entry into the Tots100/Roosterbank Competition.

makes it simple for families to manage pocket money and gives children the skills and confidence to look after their money responsibly.
Pocket money on is virtual, so no real cash deposits are required. Parents use the site to keep track of pocket money transactions, set up regular weekly pocket money payments, make ad hoc ‘boosts’ and approve spending.
Children can view their balance and make decisions about what to do with their pocket money. That may be saving for the future, donating to charity or building a nest egg to pay for a favourite treat.
There are also fab competitions and rewards to encourage them to get into a saving routine, including Roostie Interest which children earn on savings and can be redeemed for prizes!


One thing I do love about Ev's change pot is that he loves to use the Coinstar in a local supermarket. It counts up all your change and gives you a coupon which you can either take to customer services for the notes or take off of your shopping. It also allows you to donate to charity which Ev loves about it. He knows he donates twice a year and it's brilliant!

Friday, 13 September 2013

Safely Does It - Child Internet Safety

Somebody this week Tweeted me that:
 'Teaching children Internet safety should be like the Green Cross Code Man taught us road safety in the 70's'
NEVER was a Tweet more accurate.
With headlines on a daily basis of youth suicide due to cyber-bullying, kids repeatedly accessing traumatic footage, young boys and girls being targeted by predators etc. Now is the time we really must approach this subject with our kids and make them aware of the hidden dangers.

As you may or not know I have a son. He is 11 going on 25 and has hit his 'Alpha Male' period! I try to protect him all the time, 'wear your bike helmet', 'Don't watch that', 'No you can't have that game' etc etc This week I have seen him go to on to upper school and then be bullied after just 2 days. That issue was stamped on straight away and the school was excellent.

Sometimes though the bubble wrap just isn't enough and no matter what you have done previously something happens and you realise just how vulnerable your precious child really is.

I've heard and read a great deal about keeping your children safe online this week. It is a complete minefield and extremely difficult to control.
As soon as online safety is mentioned we instantly think predator or paedophile but it is also about what they SEE. I know I've accidentally seen things online I wish I hadn't - but a few clicks here and there and you can end up in some really dark places miles away from where you start.

Mamabear's Robyn Spoto talks about just how important talking to your children regarding using social media is in today's world; in this really good article HERE.
I use a combination of talking about bad stuff online and what sites I like him using, along with History monitoring and keeping a constant regular check of who he is friends with. To be honest he is not really into social media yet and actually watches videos, game walkthroughs and plays online games, so I am not in 'that place' yet of Twitter and Facebook etc.

Sometimes though, even with all my good practice and knowledge it gets really difficult and I found out just how hard a few months back...

My son has a Nexus, which he received from me for Christmas. Previously to that he borrowed my laptop and used it with me present in our lounge, but as he has always been a really good boy online and I know from checking History & various installed software he looks at nothing bad AT ALL - EVER. Well not at home and not on any of our devices.

He was in bed and I went up to check on on him - you know, tuck them in - poke them - watch them for a while.... He'd fallen asleep reading his Kindle app. I picked up the Nexus which was sleeping and went to Google something....

He had a few pages open and I was closing them down when I saw it.


It wasn't just naked people, it wasn't just sex - it was pure full on HARDCORE explicit. Stuff I would never, ever look at and my little boy, my baby had seen it.

I sat and I cried. I got angry. I swore. I cried again.

I remember finding a porn mag when I was 12 in my Dad's work van, this made THAT magazine look like Cbeebies.
I NEVER want to see Mr Tumble on that website.

I sat up most of the evening. Debating on what to do. How do I ask him? What do I say? Do I shout? Do I cry? Do I ask him just how much he watched? It went on and on and I didn't sleep.
Morning came and we woke as per usual, instantly he knew something was wrong with me and I don't know how! I asked him to sit in the kitchen with me and have a cuppa. He did.
I explained very calmly what I had found and he sat with huge tears in his beautiful eyes, quite utterly mortified. Then it all came out in a barrage of guilt and explanation, he hadn't seen much at all. his older FRIEND had shown him how to bypass the blocks and look at this horrendous free site and Ev (gulping down huge tears) had told him to stop and he shouldn't be looking at this in his house!
I explained the best way I thought, that it wasn't real, that it's almost a 'cartoon' of sex and he should NEVER EVER think that this is what to expect from any future partners. I also offered to even him buy him a magazine to which he absolutely refused (thank goodness) but I explained that I would rather know what he was looking at; That I wasn't cross with him and it was natural to be curious! He was so remorseful and heartbroken that we cried together and it was all OK.....I know he is not ready for any of it YET and even though it scared the hell out of me, HE was actually really mature and stood up to his friend.

I was lucky enough to meet and discuss this issue briefly with Eleanor Mills (Journalist & Broadcaster) at BritMums Live, as Eleanor was a guest speaker on the Feminism Panel. She has written an amazing post regarding porn and the young entitled Generation Porn.

So, we can control what they see and what they do to some extent but just get that clever OLDER friend in the picture and it all goes haywire!

I've invested in better software and bought Norton 360 which allows protection for up to 3 devices. There is also Norton Family Premier which is specifically aimed at children and seeing what they do online! I haven't used that product, but I love 360 - NO getting around anything, anytime, anywhere - Fantastic! You can read all about Norton's top tips to keep children safe online HERE.

Screen shots from my 360 and yes I know I need to back up!:

The worst thing he has looked at since? Some dodgy songs about poo on you tube and I really don't mind!

So have you had any problems online?
Do you use any software aimed at children's usage?
How have you approached the subject?
Do you think schools should fit this into the curriculum?

Song for this post.

This is a Partnered post, please see my disclosure policy for details. Norton 360 was purchased by me for my own use.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Dear Son.....

Dear Son,......

I'm sorry I can't be with you
each and every day,
I'm sorry I can't protect you
from the nasty things they say,
I'm sorry I can't just stop it
and make it go away.

I'm sorry that it's you this week
that has the brunt of it all,
I'm sorry that it started
just at the start of Fall,
I'm sorry that the boys involved
you thought were your good friends
I'm sorry that it carries on and never
seems to end...

If I could wrap you in my arms
and take it all away
I'd wrap you in bubble wrap
and not let you out to play
I'd keep you in until you are 50
and not let anyone near
but I can't so I have to watch as
you cry and shed a tear...

I know and understand how much it really stings
when they whisper and chant
and call you nasty things
it gives life a nasty slant.
Now that I am older I know that
I could deal
but then, back then
I remember how you feel.

People used to say ignore them and
they will go away
But they never did
and bitches always stay.
Just concentrate on the good
and try to give as you get
because they obviously don't know you
or haven't met YOU yet!

You are a super cool boy
and I'm lucky that your mine
and if they had any brains
they would stop and take the time
to get to know the real you
that is funny, bright and clever
and anyone that bothers
would have the best mate ever.....