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Archive for the ‘Child Safety’ Category

Create an educational kids video for Zoodles!

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Contributed by Debbie Heimowitz

Learn how the Zoodles Education team screens their video content. Then, create videos of your own for a chance to be featured in Zoodles!

Behind the Scenes

When we started our quest to find the best YouTube videos for kids, our first results were…well… questionable. Finding great content is our team’s central mission, and it is also one of our biggest challenges. For every hundred videos we evaluate, it can be tough to find even one that’s worth adding. So why does this happen? And what do we look for?

The first reason it’s a challenge to find high-quality video content is that the content itself is scarce, and it’s also hidden amongst a ton of other content that’s not always appropriate. We run across an unbelievable number of videos that are supposedly for kids, but are inappropriately named, have foul language dubbed over them, feature bizarre characters, or are even so misleading that they connect to shady spam or porn sites.

The high-quality content we look for is harder to find, because less of it exists to begin with.  Educational kids content can be expensive to produce and design. When companies do produce children’s content, it tends to be in formats that are unusable to Zoodles, like thirty-minute television shows. So, when we do find great content in short formats, we definitely try to promote it and find other content from the same filmmakers.

Here’s what we look for:

yoga-for-kidsEntertainment: First, the videos must entertain us. We know that if it’s not fun, your kids won’t want to watch it. Specifically, we look for bright colors, high concepts, and ideally a strong production value. In our team discussions, questions like “Was this only funny to me?” get tossed around as part of our evaluation process.

The ElementsEducational Value: Secondly, we want to know what your children will learn from watching the videos. Will the video help reinforce concepts about the alphabet? Will the video bring your kids to another planet? Does it tie into the national standards for education?

We love when videos focus on specific learning standards, but we also value concepts that aren’t as obviously educational.  We place just as much importance, for instance, on videos that encourage physical and emotional wellness like this yoga video for kids or this video about cyberbullying.

If a video is able to meet our educational and entertainment standards, we know we’ve found something for our Zoodles families!

Now create your own!

Are you interested in creating your own educational videos and being featured in Zoodles? Here are some ideas to think about as you start your process:

  1. Pre-design the show. What is the “learning problem or learning need” you are solving? For example, do you notice your child struggling with spelling concepts that you’d like to teach in the video?
  2. Set learning objectives. What do you hope the audience will gain from watching your video? How will you measure these results?
  3. Think about what techniques you would like to add. Filmmakers use several tools to help reinforce educational concepts including: relatable fictional characters, the use of repetition and rhyme, music, dance etc.
  4. How long do you want the video to be? We will accept any videos less than 3 minutes in length.
  5. Have fun!

If you’ve created a video that you believe meets our standards, send us the link at feedback@zoodles.com!


Debbie Heimowitz is on the Education team at Zoodles. She is the co-creator of the Internet safety DVD series Adina’s Deck. Check out www.adinasdeck.com for Internet Safety tips and more high quality educational videos!

Introducing a new mode for Android phones – Kid Mode

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Every smart phone today has an “Airplane Mode” which puts the phone in a state that is safe to use while flying on a plane.  Think about that, your phone has a simple mode that makes it safe to use on an airplane!  Why doesn’t your phone come with more “modes”?!?

Well today Zoodles is launching an entirely new mode for Android phones and we are calling it “Kid Mode”.  With our FREE Kid Mode app (available now in the Android Market) children 8 and under will have access to hundreds of age appropriate games and videos while parents will be able to relax knowing that their kids will no longer accidentally make calls, send emails or delete apps.  This is an app that the whole family will really love!

So here is how it works:
The Zoodles Kid Mode app is a really smart app that adapts to the child using it.  Games and videos are shown to a child based on their age and other optional information provided by parents (such as reading ability).  In addition to adjusting to the age and skills of the child, Kid Mode adjusts to the capabilities of the phone it is being run on.  For instance, on an Android device without Flash, the Zoodles app will detect the missing software and remove games from the system that require Flash.

Here is a sample 4 year old experience where Kid Mode is filled with letter recognition games, counting activities, and interactive storybooks:

4yroldAndroid

Here is a sample 7 year old experience where Kid Mode is filled with fun logic puzzles, language activities, and fraction games.

7yroldAndroid

Here is what a Flash game looks like in Kid Mode:

CaptainCarlos

Protecting your Android Phone:

The optional “Child Lock” feature of Kid Mode means you can hand your Android phone to your child without ever worrying about what they might accidentally do while on the phone (say good bye to random phone calls to the boss, erased emails and deleted apps).  To accomplish this we disable the built-in buttons on your phone, so your child can’t accidentally exit out while they’re playing.  While children can’t accidentally exit when our child lock is enabled parents will be able to exit easily by following on screen instructions that children can’t follow.

So head over to the Android Market on your phone and upgrade your phone with an entirely new mode – Kid Mode!

Finally, I want to say thanks to the team for working hard on this app and to all the kids who tested Kid Mode for us.

Best,

Mark Williamson
CEO & Co-founder of Zoodles
.

4 Tips for Keeping Your Kids Safe

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010
lost child

Lost Child

Guest Blog by Tara Shaw

As a parent, you will quickly realize that you can’t protect your kids everywhere they go. This can be quite scary, especially as young children may find themselves in a dangerous situation without even realizing it. Kids and even teens are often oblivious to the risks, such as the potential of being assaulted, bullied, kidnapped, robbed, or otherwise harmed. How do you prepare them to escape such situations without causing them to fear for their safety every single day?

Today, more and more parents are asking this question. Here are a few techniques for you to use to keep your kids safe:

Teach them basic safety information

From a young age, children should know their own phone number and home address. If they are ever separated from you, this information can lead to a quick reunion. Your kids should also know how to reach you at all times, especially when you are at work. For emergencies, teach them how and when to call 911, and to seek out a trustworthy adult if they need help in a public place. These basics will allow your children to get help from adults during emergency situations.

Work on your child’s recognition of potential dangers

Most children are fairly trusting and naive. They may not realize that a stranger is trying to lure them away from their parents, only that the stranger has a puppy or a bag of candy. Teach them how to recognize that someone may not have the best intentions at heart. Of course, children must also know about appropriate touching from a young age. Kids of all ages should be taught when it’s okay not to follow an adult’s directions, even if that adult is an authority figure.

Children should know who to trust

If you’re like many parents, you caution your kids to avoid interacting with strangers, yet instruct them to find a trustworthy adult if they feel they are in danger. When is it okay for a stranger to talk to them? As a parent, you must walk a fine line when teaching your kids what kind of adult to seek out if they are in trouble. You may want to instruct them to look for police officers or security guards in uniforms, mothers with children, or store clerks.

Provide your child with the tools to fight back

While running away from potential dangers is often the best strategy for children, what should they do if it’s too late to run away? Instruct your kids to yell as loud as they can to get the attention of nearby adults. Your kids should also have personal alarms to help them summon help. Look for child alarms shaped like panda bears and other animals. Your teens may be responsible enough to carry a canister of pepper spray, a nonlethal self defense device that gives them several minutes to escape a dangerous situation.

Self defense methods and strategies must always take into account your child’s age and responsibility level.

As a parent it is your duty to prepare your children to protect themselves. Children do not always recognize when they are heading into a potentially dangerous situation, which can make your job tricky as a parent. All children must know that there are dangerous people out there in the world, even though you probably want to protect your kids from this fact for as long as possible. Despite this wish, it is important to provide your child the tools and knowledge necessary to keep them out of harm’s way.

Author Byline

tara

Tara Shaw

Tara was born in England and moved to USA in 1998. Together with her husband James she started the Resist Attack website in 2009 to make available a wide variety of personal safety products and to educate families on how to stay safe. So far they have published over 250 articles on the subject.

Physical and Mental Benefits of Childhood Fitness

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

diabGuest Blog by Amanda T.

Kids health news is dismal these days; growing children are currently at risk for falling victim to one of the largest health epidemics this country has seen in many decades. Childhood obesity has tripled in the last thirty years, and the number of adults with serious health issues has increased significantly as a result.

Children who are obese during important developmental stages are more susceptible to lifelong issues such as heart disease, arthritis, asthma, Type 2 diabetes, and more. Rather than allowing your children to snack on processed foods and empty calories, try introducing more fruits and vegetables into their diets. Avoid defrosting frozen meals for dinner, and attempt making one healthy meal a week.

fruitPreservatives, artificial hormones, and processed foods have the ability to alter a child’s tastes, as well as their metabolism. Do your best to eliminate sugary snacks and unnatural sweeteners and replace them with raw carrots and broccoli (or whatever vegetable you can get your child to eat). You will be surprised how your children’s taste buds can change! Eventually they may be happy to eat raw broccoli, or they may lose the taste for sugary cereals and sodas altogether.

The social implications of childhood obesity have the ability to cause severe psychological distress and trauma in kids and adolescents. Not only can children feel different than other kids, but they will also have trouble keeping up on the playground, they may not participate in PE programs and games, they may not feel confident enough to join sports teams, and they can often be chosen last for teams during kids PE games or recess.

These issues have the ability to create antisocial tendencies, low self-esteem, and feelings of self-worthlessness. In some children, this can cause lifelong psychological trauma and confidence issues. As they get older, they may begin to develop health problems, which will only increase the likelihood of depressive tendencies. The body and mind are very closely linked, and mental well-being can be greatly affected by physical health.

A great way to encourage mental well-being in children, despite weight issues, is to consistently encourage physical activity. Limit your kids’ sedentary time in front of the television, computer, or video games. Make exercising more about fun rather than about health or appearance. Implement exercise in daily tasks such as walking around the neighborhood after dinner, or if you live close enough, try to walk your kids to school, to the park, and to their friends’ houses. Simple steps such as these can make a huge difference in your child’s health.

The health and mental risks of obesity among children are very real, and very serious. Take action now to help your child develop into a strong and healthy adult with positive habits, and high self-esteem. There are more than enough obstacles for them to face without considering their weight, so do your part in ensuring their health at a young age!

Author Byline

Amanda is a writer and blogger living in San Diego, CA. She writes on behalf of SPARK PE which strives to foster environmental and behavioral change by providing Physical Education, After School, Early Childhood, and Coordinated School Health programs to teachers and recreation leaders serving Pre-K through 12th grade students.

What Every Parent Should Know About Video Gaming

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Guest Blog by Susan Long

Child playing video game

Child playing video game

Way back in that other life, the one before kids, I’d spend long evenings building Roman cities or searching for treasure while my husband shot zombies and eluded the police. We were dedicated gamers and with no kids, we had plenty of time to indulge our hobby. Now that we have kids, we’re constantly surprised about how little quality information is available for parents. Like drugs and sex, parents are being told that the only safe way is to tell them “no way”. It’s true that there are risks you may not have considered but if you are armed with accurate information and educate yourself and your child, there are some definite benefits too!

Gaming – It’s Not All Bad….

Gaming can actually assist children with developmental stages. Depending on the game, children develop problem solving techniques, analytical thought and logic skills as well as developing better hand-eye coordination.  It’s a relatively safe, fun activity that allows awkward teens to “fit in” without exposing themselves to risky behavior. It’s also a fairly affordable source of entertainment for long school vacation periods.

The Real Hidden Danger…. Literally!

Most parents are unaware of “Easter Eggs”, “Cheat Codes” and “User Generated Expansions”. These are the real dangers to look out for and there is surprisingly little information out there for parents. Games that seem perfectly acceptable on the surface can contain unseen dangers!

Easter Eggs

Like the chocolate treat, gaming Easter Eggs are something the child must hunt for, it is hidden from sight and often missed by a parent testing out the game. In G and PG rated games, it may be something like a familiar cartoon character that goes unnoticed until the game has been played many times or a little feature that can only be seen after clicking certain background objects.

As the ratings move into M, R and AO, the Easter Eggs can get a little more adult. The most famous example of this is in the AO rated Grand Theft Auto modification where a series of codes unlocks graphic sex scenes.

Arguably, the first ever software Easter Egg may have been in a less exciting program. In an early version of Microsoft Word, spell checking the phrase “I’d like” came back with the suggestion “I’d like to see Bill Gate’s head on a plate” proving that it’s not just the cool game programmers that like to express themselves!

Cheats

A cheat code is a command that kids can type into the game to “unlock” advantages. Perhaps typing a line of code will give them unlimited money or allow them to skip to the next level. Usually these are pretty harmless but it’s worth investigating them before choosing a game for your child.

A good example is the EA Games best seller “The Sims”. Although it carries an M rating, it’s about raising families, buying nice clothes and pets, getting good grades at school and building a lucrative career. It can make game play feel like you are “virtually” playing dolls, and it is a favorite with 8-15 year old girls. Most parents are happy enough to allow their girls to play The Sims even though there are “implied” sex scenes. However, the built in game cheat “Censor Grid” allows the player to see the characters in a “mock” nude state and to kill the characters in strange and bizarre ways.

User Generated Expansions

Online Sims fan sites allow kids to download expansions for the game – letting them perform tasks or buy objects that are not condoned by EA Games. Unfortunately, some of this user generated content contains sexually explicit scenes and objects and anatomically correct skins. In other games, children can commit especially violent acts and engage in other activities with adult themes attached. This is especially common for PC games (it’s much harder for console games) so it is vital that parents thoroughly search fan sites, forums and any other game related site that their child visits. It may be possible also to block downloads from these sites using some parental lock software packages.

Physical Safety

Most parents are now aware of the physical downside to gaming. The rising childhood obesity rate is partly blamed on “screen time” and more and more kids are suffering back pain from sitting still at a desk or in a lounge chair for long periods. Like anyone sitting at a PC, it is important to make sure that the desk is ergonomically correct for your child. If they are playing on your computer, you may wish to purchase an adjustable desk and chair.

While the Wii Console is a bit of a revolution in gaming, it appears to be the main offender for gaming related injuries. Before you think about putting the Wii up on Ebay, you might want to re-assess how you think about it. If your children are playing active games on their Wii, treat it as a low level sport. Make sure they warm up a little first, that they don’t overdo it, that the playing area is free from dangerous obstacles, ensure they take plenty of breaks and that overall, it plays a healthy role in their lives (don’t let school results or social interactions be dictated by it). If your child starts to show signs of RSI, see your doctor immediately.

Although the experts don’t yet agree on how hard, too much screen time is definitely hard on little eyes. If your child shows any symptoms of eye strain, speak to your doctor or optometrist.

Online Gaming

With any online activity, children are at a small risk of being approached by inappropriate people. The same rules apply to online gaming as any other online activity:

  • Mom must approve all new friends
  • Mom must have all passwords
  • Mom must monitor any conversations with people the child doesn’t know
  • The child may not friend any adults, even ones they know well
  • Mom must be able to monitor any “chats”

Most parents have the “stranger danger” talk with their children at quite a young age. As kids become interested in online activities, it’s time to have that talk again.

As with any game your child wishes to play, you should thoroughly investigate the online game to ensure it is age appropriate and that it does not allow user generated content. Popular online games like Second Life are not appropriate for young children for this reason.

On the flip side, online gaming is an especially good outlet for shy children and children who struggle to connect with friends. Children participating in multi-player online role playing games work with other kids to achieve quests and goals. This can be a wonderful exercise in building self esteem and social skills through feeling accepted.

This social aspect is however, one of the main reasons that online gaming is also the major growth area for “video game addiction”.

Video Game Addiction

It’s a controversial new topic but more and more, the experts are agreeing that video gaming can become an addiction. It is now listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders so is at least technically, an official mental illness. Kids get the same release of endorphins as they would gambling or taking drugs and any parent of a serious gamer will tell you that it can impact on their social, family and academic lives.

However, the addicted behavior is far less risky than more extreme examples like drug taking so it is probably more similar to the notion of television addiction than heroin addiction. The word “addict” has a tendency to create panic and over reaction in parents.

With any activity, it is vital to set boundaries and teach proper behavior early. Allowing children to explore gaming from a young age also allows parents to educate them about dangers and risks so that they can make informed decisions through to those especially difficult teen years.

If you feel that your child has a serious gaming problem, and talking, negotiating and setting boundaries have all failed, there are now support groups and psychological help available.

Video games are not all evil! Electronic entertainment is a phenomenon so great that it is definitely here to stay so, like anything in life, the best you can do is provide guidance and protection while they explore the big cyber world out there!

Author Byline

Susan Long is a mother of two mad gamers and one gamer of the future, when she finally has access to her computer, she writes about happy family holidays and Car Rental.

3 Quick Stress Calmers for Kids and Adults

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Guest Blog by Mike Reeves-McMillan

Have you ever been caught in a current or a tidal rip, or by a wave, swept along helplessly and struggling to escape?

Child Meditating

Child Meditating

Sure you have – metaphorically if not literally. Because this is what it’s like to be caught up in a powerful emotion, or stressed out of your mind. You’re completely surrounded and flooded by what’s happening to you, and there’s no part of you that’s outside it.

If there was a part of you outside it, maybe that part would help to pull you out of the water. Like having a friend standing by with a life preserver and a rope.

That’s what these three simple techniques have in common. They help you to get outside the flood of emotion and stress. And back-to-school time is exactly the time to know how to do that.

1. Breathing Focus. You’ve heard of this one. “Just take a slow deep breath.” It works because you’re taking what’s usually an involuntary response, that speeds up and becomes shallow under stress, and deliberately slowing and deepening it. That sends your body the message that it’s OK to calm down. It’s a simple way to start back towards feeling in control of the situation.

2. Body Awareness. Pause for a moment and connect to the feelings in your body as you’re stressed or emotional. Whereabouts are they? What are they like? How strong are they? If your emotion had a color and a shape and a sound and a temperature, what would those be? Do you think you could use your imagination to change that color and shape and sound and temperature? Again, you’ve stepped outside of the stress and started to take steps to get back in control.

3. The Now Game. My friend Gabrielle invented this one to play with her three preschoolers when they start to get upset. You just take a moment and say a simple sentence starting with “now” that describes something you can sense. So, “Now I see a big red bus going past.” “Now I taste mint.” “Now I hear a bird.” It gets you out of your head and out of your overwhelm. Instead of being all stress, you’re partly stress and partly someone who’s noticing things around you.

You know the expression “woe is me”? For kids, who are wholehearted about every emotion they feel, it’s always true when they’re upset. They’re totally identified with being “woe”. It can be true for adults as well, though, and using these simple techniques breaks you (or your kids) out of the total identification, pulls you out of the water, and stands you dripping on the beach.

Author Byline

Mike

Mike Reeves-McMillan

Mike Reeves-McMillan is a health and personal development coach who helps all kinds of people with their stress. You can get a lot more resources like these when you sign up for his free course, Simple Stress Management Techniques.

How to make your iPhone kid friendly

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010
Contributed By Ginny Haynies Zoodles Marketing Team

Contributed By Ginny Haynies Zoodles Marketing Team

According to reports, there are an estimated 40 million plus iPhones in circulation and 4.8 million Android devices activated per quarter. In addition, more than 3 million iPads were sold before July 1st. The sales only continue to grow and as the numbers increase so do the number of children with easy access to the Internet. With these devices comes the introduction of mobile applications for our children. As of September 2009, iPhone and Android users were downloading an average of 10 apps per month and iPod Touch owners at 18 apps per month. (http://blog.7touchgroup.com/tag/how-many-apps-sold-per-user/) A quick count of my own iPhone reveals 50+ applications with a large percentage of them being games, both fun and educational for my children.

According to Education.com there are currently over 3,400 education apps available for download at the iTunes store, with a large number of them targeted for children between the ages of two and five. They note that the top selling iPhone education app continues to be Wheels on the Bus and that “13 of the 20 top paid apps in this area are clearly child-directed.” (http://www.education.com/magazine/article/smartphones-kids) A quick search of the Android marketplace reveals the same trend occurring there. The preschool and young child market is clearly a hot topic and a market that is being heavily targeted.

Two great parent resources for finding great Smart Phone applications for your children are theiphonemom.com and momswithapps.com. While the iphonemom focuses more on iPhone/iPad applications, momswithapps also features Android applications. Their reviews and suggestions often lead you to some fantastic applications. While using discretion in selecting which mobile applications you choose to install on your device, you might also implement the 3 C’s approach to evaluating media for children as suggested by Lisa Guernsey, Director at the Early Education Initiative:

* Content – What is the basic premise of the app? How is it designed? Is it research based? Is it age appropriate? Does it come from a trusted source such as Sesame Workshop? There are a few great resources to help parents evaluate content, such as Common Sense Media and Children’s Technology Review.

* Context – Who is interacting with the child? How do parents talk about what’s on the screen? Is the child learning through a game, then applying that in another activity? Is the child telling stories about what he or she has experienced?

* Child – How much stimulation can this child take? What types of media trigger the most curious questions, playful reenactments, engagement and joy? What is she missing out on by spending time on the device – is she still exercising, socializing, and doing her schoolwork?

Apple reports that more than 1.7 million iPhone 4 phones were sold in the first week and that more than 75% of the devices sold were upgrades for existing customers. Which leads one to wonder: what is being done with the old phones? While many may be donated or resold, another use is to modify a few settings on your older model iPhone and let them function as an iPod Touch. Many of the current application offerings rival those of other popular hand held gaming systems and are quickly becoming more popular among elementary age children.

These same settings and suggestions are also easily applied to your own iPhone, iTouch, or iPad and will allow for some added security and protection if you choose to allow your child to play with your phone or device. These are all located under Settings -> General -> Restrictions.

photo 1photo 2

The first step is to apply a passcode that you will remember, but your child does not know so that you can keep the restrictions in place.

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Then you will see a list of choices of things you can either disable or set limitations to restrict. If you choose to use an alternate web browser application such as Mobicip or SafeEyes on your mobile device you will want to disable Safari so that you children will not get an unfiltered web browser. I also suggest you turn off YouTube. This will take away the button for YouTube, however, you would still be able to watch videos you have direct links to and through child safe video filters. This will keep little hands from navigating into Lady Gaga’s most recent music video accidentally. I also highly suggest you turn off In-App purchases. This will prevent your child from accidentally upgrading an application or purchasing something from within an application that they did not understand. Also located under settings are options for Music, Movie, App, and Podcast age ratings. Obviously the level that you choose to put these settings at would depend on if the device is being used by you primarily or if you are turning it into a dedicated child safe device.

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As always the best advice is to closely watch your little one, but these precautions and settings can help to make your iProduct a bit more child-safe.

Online Safety for Children

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Guest blog by Nathan Richardson, Founder, ComplexSearch.com

Children are gaining computer skills earlier and earlier because computers are such an 2855311492_5c1a6aea17integral part of our lives.  Computers are a great tool that allows children to reach out to new sources of knowledge, fun, and cultural experiences. But, it also leaves them vulnerable to exploitation and harm by computer sex offenders. It is easy to speak with strangers online and give out personal information, even if it’s unintentional. Online safety for children is a big concern for parents as technology grows and becomes an integral part of everyday life.

Children need to be aware that they could not only infect the computer with a virus and break the computer, but they could come into contact with child predators, thieves, and other such people that do not have good intentions. When young children start using the computer and gaining independence to use the computer on their own, parents may want to provide guidelines and safety precautions so these types of things do not happen.  There are many products, tips, and recommendations to help parents provide online safety for children. The tips here are just a fraction of the tools available for online safety for children.

One of the easiest and highly recommended tips is to keep the computer in a heavy traffic area, like the living room or kitchen. The computer should be located in the open so family members can easily see what the child is doing on the computer. Knowing that the parents and other family members can easily see what they are doing online, children will be more apt not to break the computer rules.

Parents should create a list of computer rules and post them at the computer area. This way, the children will know exactly what they can and can not do on the computer. The list could include things such as not giving out your email address, real name, street address, and phone number to people the child is chatting or instant messaging with, instant messaging restrictions such as who the children can talk to, specific times in which the computer can be accessed by the children or a time limit for how long they can stay on the computer. Parents may also want to post a specific list of allowable websites.

If the child is on a social networking site, the parent should be one of their “friends” to monitor the activity. The child can also be instructed not to accept any new friends without parental permission. The parent may also want to provide rules on game playing within the social networking sites as a lot of these games allow instant messaging and “chat room” type services.

Parents can check the history on the computer to see exactly what Internet sites the children have visited. If anything looks odd, ask them about it. Communication is key to online child safety.  Talk to your child about proper Internet etiquette. Teach them to be responsible on the computer without simply scaring them about predators and online thieves.

Watch your child’s expressions as they use the computer. If they look angry, frustrated, scared, or any other similar emotion, go find out why.  Online bullying is becoming too familiar.  Again, communication is key. Talk with your children about cyber bullying and how to handle it. This will put your child at an advantage so they do not succumb to such abuse.

There are many products available that parents can purchase to block or filter unwanted and inappropriate websites. These products will not allow access to certain websites based on criteria set up by the parent. The product will “review” the website prior to loading the page for view. If the site has content or restrictions based on parental settings, the page will not load or it may be added to a report for the parent to check out at their convenience. An Internet search will provide results of the many filtering products available.  Review them to find the best one that will fit your family’s needs.

Parents can download kid-oriented search engines. Browsers specifically geared toward kids can serve as a safe gateway between your computer and the Internet. These search engines work just like regular search engines, but provide special features to protect kids from inappropriate material. Some ways this works is that the search engine will only search within a certain group of approved sites, or withhold results from sites that are deemed inappropriate.  These tools are free.These browsers can filter out sexual content and otherwise inappropriate images and words, and are also designed to be easier for kids to use. Zoodles is an excellent choice. Here are some alternative sites if Zoodles, for some reason, does not meet your needs.

The Internet is a wonderful portal for learning, and children should be able to utilize the tools available to them, while being safe. Communication is the key to online safety for children. With these tips about online safety for children, you can be assured your children can experience the wonderful world of the Internet while being safe and responsible.

Author Byline

Nathan Richardson is the founder of ComplexSearch.com, a savings portal for deals and personal finance advice.

Helmet Safety Guidelines

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

Guest blog by Karyn Climans, Owner of Tail Wags Helmet Covers Inc.

helmet articleThe tragic death of Natasha Richardson was a major wake-up call for a lot of people. Ms. Richardson was skiing on a beginner slope in ideal skiing conditions. She was participating in a private skiing lesson with a professional ski instructor. She was laughing and talking after the accident. When she was asked if she wanted to be taken to the local hospital for a check-up, she allegedly declined. How could such a “small” accident have caused the severe brain damage that led to her death?

Would Natasha Richardson still be alive today if she had worn a safety helmet? It’s impossible to know for certain (if only we could turn back time) but sports injury experts say ski helmets cut the rate of head injuries by 30% to 50%. Research shows proper use of a bike helmet can reduce the risk of a head injury by 88 percent.

Our awareness about the importance of helmet safety continues to grow, but the question remains:  How can we best protect our children? Here are a few guidelines for parents:

Insist that your child wear a safety helmet

Helmets are non-negotiable! Riding tricycles and bikes is as much a part of summer as ice cream and running through the sprinkler. It’s our responsibility as parents to protect our children from unnecessary injury. Whenever skating, biking, skiing, snowboarding, or scootering, insist your child wears his/her helmet. Just because legislation making helmets mandatory for ALL sports isn’t yet in force, it doesn’t mean it’s not important.

Role model the behavior for them. Think of it in these terms … when helmetswe want our kids to learn good manners, we teach by example. The same is true of helmet use. If we wear a safety helmet then it’s easier for us to insist that our kids do too! For those of you worried about “helmet hair”, ask yourself which is worse … helmet hair or a head injury?

Ensure that your child’s helmet fits properly

In order for a helmet to do its job, it needs to fit properly and the strap has to be done up. Not sure if your child’s helmet from last year still fits? Wondering whether or not your older child’s safety helmet can be passed down to your younger child? Ask a sales associate in your local sporting goods store to check the fit of your child’s helmet. I’ve always found them more than willing to help and it’s better to be safe than sorry!helmet store

Don’t pinch pennies when it comes to your child’s head. Tempted by the great sale on helmets at your local discount retailer? We all want to save money but a helmet that doesn’t fit properly won’t protect your head. It’s imperative that your child tries on the helmet before you buy it because everyone’s head is shaped differently. As well, ensure the helmet you are purchasing meets helmet safety standards. CSA, CPSC, ASTM or Snell certifies most helmets sold in North America.

Replace helmet when needed

Bike helmets are designed to protect your head against only one crash. After a crash in which the cyclist has hit his or her head, a helmet should be replaced, even if it does not look damaged. You should not rely on a helmet that has been in a crash to protect you from another head injury.

Helmets should be replaced if they are more than 5 years old. The plastics dry out and may become brittle with age. Also, older helmets may not meet current safety standards, or they may have missing or broken parts.

Don’t wear a hat under your helmet. Your child may be complaining that he/she is too cold under their helmet. This is particularly true of skating and hockey helmets because they usually don’t have any insulation. Please keep in mind that wearing a hat under the helmet does not allow the helmet to fit properly. You can always try adding a helmet cover over the helmet. It adds a layer of warmth and will make it FUN for your child to wear his/her helmet when they have an adorable helmet cover design they love.

Wear the proper type of helmet

Remember that there are different helmet styles for different sports … for a good reason. It’s a proven fact that people tend to fall differently depending on the sport and, therefore, the type of protection required by the different sports helmets varies. In other words, please don’t assume that a bike helmet will protect your child while tobogganing.

Overwhelmed by all of the statistics and the helmet do’s and don’ts? If you are, you are not alone but please keep the following in mind. Once you and your children are in the habit of wearing your safety helmets, it will become second nature. Remember the first few times after car seat belt legislation was passed and you felt uncomfortable with the routine … now you probably don’t think twice about buckling up before pulling out of the driveway. I hated my ski helmet at first but now I feel “naked” without it. The Zany Zebra helmet cover also helps make it a lot more enjoyable to wear.

Author byline

High Res Karyn & her dogs

Karyn Climans, Owner, Tail Wags Helmet Covers

Karyn Climans, Owner of  Tail Wags Helmet Covers Inc. A company dedicated to encouraging more kids and adults to actually wear their safety helmets. Also, check out her Tail Wags Facebook Page.

5 Ways to Make Your Child Seat Safer

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

Guest blog written by Lauren Dzuris of FindMyCarSeat

Photo

Photo courtesy of Inmagine

Having a baby is one of the most exciting things you’ll ever come across throughout your life. The long, 9 month journey we have with them, to holding them for the first time is a  feeling that can’t be explained. We love them instantly, want what is best for them and we realize how important it is to look out for their safety.

Our baby’s safety is 100% our responsibility as a parent.  Not to mention, making sure they’re safe in the car is a huge responsibility.  If you didn’t know already, 3 out of 4 car seats are installed improperly in some way.  That is very scary to think about, and it makes us wonder if ours is safe.  If you’re looking for ways to make sure your child’s car seat is safe for them to ride in, consider a few of these tips below!

Requirements: Make sure your child’s car seat fits them properly.  It is common for parents to have a car seat that is a little too big or too small for them.  Make sure it’s made for your child’s weight, height and age specifically.

Tight fit: Your child’s car seat should not be able to move around whatsoever.  It should have a tight fit and not be able to move from side to side or from front to back.

Manuals: Make sure you look over both your vehicle’s manual and your child’s car seat manual.  You want to make sure you install the car seat properly and by looking both of these over, you can increase your chances!

Facing: Children should be rear-facing until they’ve reached both 20 lbs and they’re one year of age.  If they don’t meet both requirements, they shouldn’t be turned forward-facing.  Rear-facing is the safest position for them so keep them rear-facing as long as you can.

Looked over: If you feel like your child’s seat may be too wobbly, it’s not tight enough, or you feel like you may have made a mistake along the way of installing it, get it looked over!  If you take your child’s seat to the nearest police station or fire station you can get it looked over by a professional.  They will make sure you leave with a safely installed seat!

As you can see, there are a few things you can do to enhance the safety of your child’s car seat.  Take your time, read the directions over and over if you have to, and be sure to get it looked over at a nearby car seat inspection station if you don’t feel 100% comfortable with the job you did!

Author Byline

Lauren Dzuris

Lauren Dzuris

Lauren runs FindMyCarSeat, a website that is dedicated to helping soon to be parents find the perfect car seat for their child.  It also has several tips and advice on everything from pregnancy to caring for your baby.