17 articles Tag safety

Stay Safe Online with Azoomee

In the past, I’ve admitted to being a helicopter parent and although I am still pretty overbearing involved in Sausage’s life, I do try to step back a little now that she’s getting older. Although she’s one of the youngest in her school year, she’ll be going into Year 4 in September, which means that that it’s won’t be long until boys and secrets with her friends are on the agenda. As someone who was mortified to discover her mother read her diary when she was a teenager, I firmly believe that kids should be given respect and privacy, but this can be tricky in modern life because of the Internet.

The best thing we can do is to properly educate our kids about staying safe online and self-moderation, so that we can afford them a little more autonomy and not have them feel like we’re looking over their shoulders all the time. That’s why, when I heard that Azoomee had teamed up with the NSPCC to create an app, including a series of lessons for kids about staying safe online, I was thrilled. Take a look at what it offers here:

Azoomee from Azoomee on Vimeo.

The Azoomee app is available on both Android and Apple (there’s a free 15-day trial available), and it’s basically an all-encompassing safe space for kids to use. Within the app, kids can choose to do arts and crafts, play games or watch kid-friendly TV shows. The art section allows kids to share their creations with friends and family who’ve been pre-approved by a parent, which means that kids can still communicate through the app without needing to use an unsecured and potentially unsafe messaging app.

What’s more, this summer Azoomee is running a series of FREE, weekly, interactive learning sessions based on Search It Up, an animated series on digital literacy and online safety. Search It Up was produced by Azoomee, written by BAFTA winner, Dave Ingham and created by BAFTA award winning production studio, ArthurCox.

I love the fact that the Azoomee is suitable for both of my kids as there’s content within that suits all ages, meaning that we don’t need to have two different services running for each of them. At the end of the day, anything that’s able to give parents a little bit of peace of mind is worth every penny in my opinion! Sausage is getting a phone for her birthday (shh! don’t tell!) so this would be the perfect way to ease her into the responsibility of having her own device.

How much does a subscription to Azoomee cost?

Premium (Full access for up to five children in a single family)
  • Monthly subscription: £4.99
  • 6-monthly subscription: £29.95
  • Annual subscription: £44.93 (three months free!)

You can also follow Azoomee on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or go and have a read of their blog which is packed full of useful info.

Is this the  sort of thing you’d install for your child? Have you already tried Azoomee and love it? Leave me a comment below!

Keeping Your Kids Safe Online

I’ve always been a huge fan of kids using technology; I know lots of people think that screen time is negative for kids, and I agree that all things should be in moderation, but I strongly believe that children can learn a lot from various apps and programs and that they should have time on devices without us leaning over their shoulders.

Sausage is at an age now where her interest in the internet has evolved slightly. No longer is she spending ages on the Cbeebies website or using the Mister Maker app to make beautiful, fridge-worthy creations. Now, she’s also asking about websites (like the ones you see advertised on the TV) which allow users to not only play games, but chat with one another too, which really concerns me. I have no objections to her chatting with friends online, but these websites are SO often a completely unknown quantity and can be a portal to online bullying, which is why I was keen to help when a cyber-bullying charity got in touch. Here’s what they had to say:

To mark this year’s Stop Cyberbullying Day on Friday 17 June, anti-bullying charity Bullies Out has partnered with data analytics firm Online Them to raise awareness of the risks of cyberbullying and what parents can do to spot the warning signs in time.

Monitoring software such as Online Them enables parents and teachers to keep an eye on children’s online activities and highlight any causes for concern. Any monitoring of online activity tends to spark handwringing sermons about the right to privacy. But this is not another example of Big Brother clipping the wings of youngsters trying to explore the world and all the opportunities that brings. Nor does it give parents and teachers free reign to spy on children.

Tools using Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing can identify and highlight anything of concern or unusual to an individual child such as social media posts containing adult content, or mentions of crime, as well as flagging any new friends in countries outside the UK and a rank of who a child is interacting with most on social media. This is done on a consent-only basis, meaning a child has to agree to the use of software to monitor their high-level social media use. Consent can be given easily and quickly via an email invitation – all they have to do is click the attached link and authorize access to their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. They can connect all three accounts or just one or two.

Monitoring tools present a great way to hold a child’s hand as they enter the world of social media. Parents and teachers can both use these tools to safeguard children in a low-maintenance and non-intrusive way.

Sausage uses her own iPad and laptop, both of which are internet enabled and I really don’t like to be hanging over her shoulder the whole time, so using an online monitoring software would really give us peace of mind. She’s not allowed anywhere NEAR Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or any of the other places where random people could gain access to her, and Husband and I will be thinking long and hard about whether she’ll ever be allowed accounts on these sites, while she’s under our rules.

If you want some really handy tips on how to keep your kids safe online, take a look at the Bullies Out site, where there is a whole wealth of information, and also links to allow you to donate to this excellent cause. Online Them are also currently offering a free one month trial for parents, allowing you to try the site before you commit to a subscription.

How do you moderate your kids online usage? Have you got any apps installed? Have you ever had to deal with cyber-bullying? I’d love to hear from you, so please leave me a comment below.

Making Sure Your Child is Safe in the Bedroom


Our children tend to spend a lot of time in the bedroom sleeping or playing, and this is usually alone without the supervision of an adult. With this in mind, it is little wonder that most parents are eager to ensure that their child’s bedroom is not only a comfortable and secure place to be, but also a safe one that is as free from hazards as possible.

There are all sorts of things that could increase the risk of accidents and injuries in the home. In a child’s bedroom, there can be clutter lying around on the floor, through to electrical items and wiring, ornaments or furniture that are made with glass, unsafe or unsteady furniture, as well as sharp edges and more. As a parent, it is important to check your child’s room for potential hazards and then take relevant steps to increase safety levels and provide valuable protection for your child.

Some examples of hazards and solutions in your child’s bedroom

The exact hazards and dangers that pose a risk to your child in the bedroom will depend on the room itself and what you have in it. However, there are some common ones that most parents will have to worry about. These include:

l Electrical sockets and radiators: Both electrical sockets and radiators can pose a serious danger to younger children. It is therefore important to make sure that you invest in items such as protective radiator covers from places such as GE Little Group to stop the child from getting burned. Also make sure you use socket covers to ensure they don’t tamper with electric sockets.

l Furniture that is not sturdy: Unsteady furniture could collapse and end up causing your child a serious injury. For example, an old bed that is on its last legs could collapse whilst children are sleeping or jumping on it. So be sure visit a reputable bedroom furniture retailer such as Bedstar who have built a reputation for supplying a wide range of respected bed brands that will ensure that your children are safe and secure, no matter how unruly they get in the bedroom.

l Get rid of clutter: Of course, a child’s room can get very messy, but if there is too much clutter and too many toys left lying around, the child is more likely to trip and sustain an injury. You therefore need to make sure you invest in suitable storage so that everything can be stashed away safely after use – and take some time to talk to your child about the importance of putting things away.

l Use window locks: If your children are tall enough to reach the windows then they are tall enough to fall out of them, You should always ensure you use child locks on windows so that they can be opened safely without the risk of your child falling out of them.

By acting upon these common safety hazards, you can make the bedroom a far safer place for your young child to sleep and play.

Have you heard of these motoring acronyms?

car-482683_1280Do you know your ABS from your AFM? How about EDC and ECU? Many motoring terms can be quite complex, necessitating industry-standard acronyms that are easy for people – mechanics, salespeople and drivers, to remember. Some are now readily familiar as they have become shorthand for common features sold with every car, such as AC, yes; even in Newcastle cars need air conditioning from time to time! Here’s a list of some of common acronyms that it’s good to keep in mind when shopping for a new car…

ABS – Anti-lock Braking System. If you need to slam on the brakes in a hurry, your ABS will kick in with a series of electronic sensors to prevent them from locking up, thereby stopping the car from skidding, or at least cutting the risk of it. Basically it releases and then reapplies the brakes in rapid succession, simultaneously reducing speed, thereby letting the driver steer and maintain control. Note that it is not a substitute for a sensible stopping distance!

PAS – Power Assisted Steering. Larger, heavier cars, the adoption of front wheel drive in many vehicles, and wider tyres all mean that it would be difficult to effectively steer many cars at low speeds without PAS. You can have a hydraulic or electric system depending on the type of car you drive, and if you’ve ever tried steering a car without PAS, you’ll have noticed the difference immediately.

SRS – Supplementary Restraint System. This is your airbags. Using a series of sensors dotted around the car to determine likely impact should you have a crash, the airbags deploy as a further in-car safety measure, working alongside your seatbelt to cushion you from the blow. The algorithms used to deploy the airbags are increasingly complex, and may now take into account not just the speed you’re going, but your weight, whether the seatbelt is being used, and where you’re sitting in the car to judge when and at what speed to trigger the airbag.

EFI – Electronic Fuel Injection. This is now the primary means of getting the fuel into your car’s engine, having replaced carburetors over the last few decades. The fuel is atomised and then injected through a tiny nozzle at high speeds – a more efficient and environmentally-friendly method than the previous suction technique, that will also save you money. Similarly, DDI, for Direct Diesel Injection.

LPG – Liquid Petroleum Gas. A mix of propane and butane that can be used in some vehicles as an alternative to petrol or diesel. While it is considered to be more eco-friendly, burning more cleanly and containing fewer particulates, it is generally thought that LPG-powered vehicles have a higher fuel consumption.

ECU – Electronic Control Unit. These are your car’s brains. Think of your car as like an octopus. Its eight arms each have a mind of their own, able to coordinate and problem-solve, do their own thinking almost, without needing to consult the octopus’ main brain. Modern cars have many ECUs, up to around 80 in some vehicles, each with their own function, such as controlling the powertrain or the suspension. They are all connected to the car’s main computer(s), which collects and collates data from each ECU and passes information to the driver so decisions can be made.

ACC – Automatic Cruise Control. This one is very clever. When your car is in cruise control on the motorway, on-board sensors note the proximity of traffic from vehicles ahead of you and adjust throttle or brakes to keep you a safe distance away. Expect this to advance in the future to use satellites and radar, and even cooperation with a similar system in the car in front to prevent crashes.

Basically, if there are any acronyms listed for the car you want to buy that you don’t understand, ask for them to be explained before making a purchase, as they may be important. Got all that? OK, TTFN.

We’re BRITAX Mumbassadors!

Since becoming pregnant, we’ve had some brilliant opportunities arise, with lots of reviews and experiences coming our way, but the one I’m most excited about is becoming an official Mumbassador for BRITAX! When BRITAX got in contact as asked if we’d like to represent their brand in 2014, we jumped at the chance to work with such a well-known and well-respected company and were super impressed with the range of products that they offer.

In terms of the new baby, (who’ll be here 3 weeks today, with any luck!) BRITAX are sending us one of their beautiful Affinity travel systems, which looks like this:


Isn’t it pretty?!

There were 6 different colour options and we let Sausage choose, so she went for the ‘Cool Berry’ option above and Husband and I decided we liked the silver chassis option. We’re also lucky enough to be being sent a second colour pack, and we’ve gone for ‘Cactus Green’, which is a nice, neutral option (you know, in case we ever have a little boy…) which I reckon will be ace at concealing all the inevitable muckiness that a toddler can do to a buggy!

Britax Affinity Cactus Green colour packThe Affinity has so many little features that I love, such as the anti-theft coding system, which gives your pushchair a unique code that stops it from being sold illegally. Another thing I love is the fact that the seat unit can be parent facing our outward facing – Sausage’s pushchair only had an outward facing mode and while I think it’s good for kids to see the world whilst out and about, it’ll be nice to have the choice. Once it arrives and we’ve had a chance to have a play, I’ll be writing about it a lot more.

BRITAX also wanted to get Sausage in on the act, and will be sending her one of their Group 2-3 car seats. At the moment, she just uses a booster cushion in the car, which we thought was adequate for her age, but the folks at BRITAX explained that a proper car seat should give side impact protection and spinal support. Their range of seats is actually suitable for kids up to the age of 12 and I’m really looking forward to having that extra peace of mind when we’re out in the car. Also, who doesn’t love a ZEBRA print option?!

BRITAX KID plusWe’re SO excited about working with BRITAX next year and cannot wait to start testing out all of our new goodies!

Child Car Safety for the New School Term

Commissioned Post

It’s that time of year again. The bliss of the summer months have flown past in an unforgivable blur and here we are at the beginning of the new school term. Uniforms to buy, pencil cases to fill and of course the dreaded school run.

The rules and regulations of child transportation are somewhat more complex now than they were when we were children. It may be wise to check up on some of the current advice and guidelines in place ahead of the new school term.

The Rules and Regulations

Children are required by law to sit in a booster seat until they are over the age of 12 or 135 cm in height, whichever comes first. In addition, the driver is responsible for ensuring that the youngster is wearing a seatbelt until they reach the age of 14, as at that age they are considered liable for their own safety. The reason behind these rules are to protect a child from being injured in the event of an accident.

All child seats used must adhere to EU regulations, this will be indicated by the presence of a capital E inside a circle on the labelling. A detailed account of the kinds of car seats available can be found here: http://www.childcarseats.org.uk

There are also some exemptions to these rules that are worth checking out to keep your child and any other children in your care safe.

Driving with Children

It’s easy to concentrate on the children rather than keeping your eyes on the road, particularly on familiar journeys. However, driving safely should take precedence over all other concerns. It might help if you give your child something to keep them occupied.

Your driveway is an area where you would be well advised to take extra special care when children are concerned. It’s easy for a child to wander in front of, or behind a car particularly when you are reversing (you may not see them). Make sure all manoeuvres are at very slow speeds to give yourself time to react and where possible ask another adult to help you.

Child Safety Inside and Out

Carshop.co.uk explains to us that car doesn’t have to be moving for it to be a safety hazard. In an ideal world we should never have to leave children alone in a car, but the world is not always an ideal place. Make sure you are aware of the dangers, including:

  •  Keeping your keys with you at all times and locking your vehicle.
  • Where possible you should turn the wheels so that should the car start to move, it will be prevented by the curb.
  • Leave windows open on warm days so the children do not become too over heated.
  • Keeping all dangerous objects out of reach.

 Car Safety Features for the Wise Parent

Cars are getting more and more complex and while there are a range of safety features available that can make cars more child friendly, there are some innovations that may be less beneficial. You would be well advised to think carefully when making your choice.

A car with a push button start, may not be a sensible choice. Particularly if the engine will begin while you and the keys are a short distance away. Alternatively, a vehicle that relies on you pressing the clutch to start the engine could be a better choice.

One of the best features available are electric car windows that have an automatic shut-off when they feel any pressure. This can go a tremendously long way toward protecting little fingers and even heads from getting trapped.

All you really need is the right information and with that, the rest becomes a matter of using your common sense. With the right foundations in place and awareness of the potential hazards, you should enjoy happy motoring with (hopefully) happy children.

When Did Your Parenting Instinct Kick In?

Don’t mess with this Mummy!

Last night, Husband and I went out for dinner with some friends after going to see a house that a couple of them had bought, and over dinner a few of us started talking about this post. I wrote it on Friday before last and since them my blog has seen its busiest day ever and the most comments I’ve ever had on a post. There were opinions from all angles, all walks of life and certainly lots of debate over the issue.

What was interesting to me though, was the opinion of my real life friends. One of my best friends, Jamillah, commented on the post and quite frankly, what she wrote is deserving of a whole post of its own, to follow later.

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