Posted on 7 Comments

Featured Guest Post: 7 Steps to Keep Your Child Safe Online

Baby Computer

The internet is a wonderful way for our children to learn and play.  But as every parent knows, it can be a dangerous place too.  Even if you lock your security settings as tightly as possible, you can still download viruses and be targeted by spammers and scams.

There’s an even riskier human element to the web as well.  People target families to steal identities and money, and predators often pretend to be children and teenagers to target kids in chat rooms, games and social networks.

The best way to protect children from this is to supervise them whenever they’re online.  But with so many devices now able to access the internet, it’s impossible to monitor children all the time.  Even children as young as 3-5 years-old are now going online independently by using the family laptop or tablet.

So what can you do to teach your child how to be safe online?  What should they do to protect themselves? Here are seven steps which should help…

1. Thinking about the internet as a place

A great tip to help teach your child about the dangers of the internet is to imagine the web as a physical place.  You don’t have to go into specifics, but try to make them realise that there are bad neighbourhoods online the same as there are in ‘real’ life. What are bad neighbourhoods? You’ll often recognise them by the ads for gambling sites, drugs and even pornography. Make sure they’re aware that it’s bad to end up on these sites, and they shouldn’t wander off there on their own online if they do end up unsupervised.

2. Giving out personal details

Teach your children that they shouldn’t hand out personal information when they’re playing games or chatting to other kids online. It might feel natural for them to post instant messages explaining where they live or what their phone number is, but explain that this is dangerous. Even if the person they’re communicating with is genuine, these personal details may not stay in the right hands.

3. Accepting online communications

If your child starts using a social gaming site and begins striking up friendships, they may start sending instant messages, emails, texts and photos to each other. Children need to be very careful about this. An innocent-looking message could contain bullying messages, or messages from adults pretending to be a child. And both kids and their parents need to careful about downloading and opening attachments containing viruses that will harm your computer – downloading the latest virus protection software will help protect against this.

4. Meeting up with strangers

It might feel normal for children to arrange a meeting when they’re been playing games together or chatting online. But make it clear that your kids should meet up with people they’ve only talked to on the internet. It’s vital that your children understand that online friends are still ‘strangers’ if they haven’t met them in real life.

5. Deciding if something is reliable

Young children are incredibly trusting and honest. While this is an admirable trait that many adults wish they’d held onto better, it means that kids aren’t equipped to judge whether people or information they encounter online is reliable or not. Teach your kids how to check out whether things are real or lies by reading other websites, in books or by asking someone who knows.

6. Telling adults about online concerns

It’s important for kids to tell adults if someone is being bullied or feeling worried in the physical world, and the same principles apply on the internet.  It’s even easier for bullies to target victims online, as they can harass other children anonymously and from a distance.  And sometimes other children or profiles will talk to kids in a way that seems suspicious or makes them feel uncomfortable.  Again, it’s vital in this situation that children know to tell parents, teachers or other responsible grown-ups that they’re worried.

7. Talking about the online experience

The internet doesn’t go away just because you power down the laptop, and children’s experience of being online can stay with them long after a session has ended.  Sometimes kids might be upset about something that has happened online and not let on, so it’s a good idea to talk with your children regarding how they felt about their time online.  You don’t need a blow-by-blow account, but this is a good way to get a handle on whether anything is concerning them online – or whether they’ve been doing anything risky.

These steps are in many ways just the tip of the iceberg.  There are many in-depth guides to help you keep your children safe online, but this advice should help give you a foundation to start building safe internet behaviour.  To read more about internet safety for kids go to

This is a featured guest post.  Although this content of this post is one that I have received compensation for my time in editing and posting, the content is a very real issue that our children face on a daily basis.  We’d do well to consider the content and remind ourselves of the obligations we have to our children and keeping them as safe as we possibly can.

Posted on 6 Comments

How to know you might be being ripped off by a new product or service provider.

Image: farconville /

Receiving regular questions from people who get ripped off by a slick marketing presentation frustrates me.  There are millions of sellers and marketers selling products and services they have no experience or exposure to themselves.  Having spent three years selling on the Internet when my boys were little, I am now pretty Internet aware when it comes to checking out a new seller or promoter, but still not perfect.

Last year, Chrissie from Mediocre Mum learned the hard way that there are people who can sell themselves effectively with impressive language, but have very little knowledge themselves when it comes to being faced with someone who is in their own field.  Chrissie was a delegate in a room with an expensive trainer who knew much less than she did.   A lot of us learned a valuable lesson through her experience.

While many of these people will undoubtedly learn the skills of the trade as they go, there are a few things you can do to decide for yourself whether someone knows what they are talking about.


Check the whois for the domain of the people you looking to work with or buy from.  Check any blog, shop and website address against the UK register to see how long the domain has been in operation.   Dot coms are not likely to show up on the UK Nominet register so the easiest way to do it is to use a domain seller.

Go to Namesco and enter the web address of the domain you want to check.  Find the extension your seller uses and then press the magnifying glass in red on the right hand side.

Some operators will buy pre-aged domains, so the next step you should check is.

Page Rank

An aged domain may well achieve a PR of 1 or 2 by means of simply being on the go for any length of time.  A domain with a PR of N/A or 0 is either very new or has been penalised in Google, possibly using duplicate content or selling paid links.  It’s an easy mistake to make and is fixable, but not something that should stop you using a website if other things check out.

Page Rank Checker

Ignore people who tell you Google page rank means nothing.  It means a lot to those who want to sell advertising, and helps websites feature higher in search engines.

Google has delisted link farms so some websites have lost their PR with it.  PR increases by a factor of apporoximately 10 x the amount of reputation (relevant links in) with each step it takes.

  • A PR of 2 is approx 10 x harder to get than a PR 1.
  • A PR 3 is approx 10 x harder to get than a PR 2, and so on and so forth.

It’s easy to see that a 10 is pretty nearly impossible to get.

Social Media

I’ll use social media and people who sell advice on it as an example, as I am a heavy user.  Look at the field or advice service you are planning to use with the same level of scrutiny in the appropriage fields.  If you still decide to go with it, you have made your own informed choice.

There are very big mistakes we can make trusting “experts” in social media.  The only way to try avoid them is to check out people selling services.

Social Media Profiles


If they only ever tweet to the wind and advertise themselves with little or no interaction, they know nothing about the platform.


Blog posts without dates could mean the posts are old and out of date.  To talk about blogging, people need to show evidence of exposure to writing one regularly and using it to interact with some readers.

Marketing is using a relevant mixture appropriate methods to get ourselves out there.  We all know it needs to be planned with measurable results and achievable targets in a cost friendly manner.


Online social media isn’t quite as cut and dried.  It’s a fluid, continually growing and evolving platform that takes time and effort to build up with trust and interaction.

There’s plenty of information on the web about this but make sure you listen to people who are actually using it, and not those who are simply buying what someone else has said about it.


I never, but NEVER use a small, new or budding business checkout service directly.  What you may have is someone sitting in their back bedroom who gets all your credit / debit card information with address and CSV security number.  When using Paypal, I will only use it if it goes directly to the Paypal website to pay.

I won’t use a small vendor website to pay if I have to do it through their web address in the address bar, even if they do have an SSL Certificate.  That’s not being paranoid.  I shredded the credit card details of everyone I received, but your vendor might just throw yours in their bin to land on a refuse pile, or worse, sell them on.

It’s much safer to use small vendors through Paypal direct, or if they have the use of a payment provider like Worldpay.

If it’s a Limited Company, you can check on Companies House how long they have been in operation for.   Some people buy pre-registered Companies off the shelf, so dig a little deeper if you are spending out a lot of  money.

We can’t always protect ourselves from everything, but we can try to do all we can to find out the background of someone we plan to spend money with.