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The Tweeny Teen Effect with Social Media

Teens are infuriating, and tweens and teens who don’t follow house rules are even more infuriating.

angry kitten

There are times when I wonder if I was hit with a forgetting stick the day that I decided having kids would be a good idea.  In among all the good and the not so good comes the infinitely worse growing up stage where they assert their growing limbs with the determination of a dog with a bone.

Arriving home late every night doesn’t stop them deciding that parents came from outer space with ten heads, geeky glasses and the uncool stick strapped to their heads as babies.  They never remember that we were once kids ourselves, and know EXACTLY what it’s like to have peer pressure, little crushes and huge anxieties.

Watching eldests Facebook is how I keep tabs on what he is doing.  Yes, I allowed Facebook because the alternative was to say no, and have him set one up at a friend’s house that I had no knowledge of at all.

I’ve mentioned this before, and have been pilloried for allowing my child to be on Facebook at all, yet, I look at his friends list and see very few kids who don’t have an account.  Even children whose parents have told me their kids aren’t allowed Facebook are there in all their self taken seductively photographed glory.

What worries me most is watching how some scenarios play out.  I delete inappropriate things and I can talk him through some of the things that happen, and I think we’re doing quite well with it.  Kids seem to be going online earlier and earlier and I’ve seen some very young children online.

I’ve spoken to parents recently who think their kids don’t have any social media accounts, but the reality is that if we don’t allow them, the parents of other kids will make those decisions for us and allow them to use it there.

I’ve heard too many parents say they don’t understand it all, or totally blast social media without the slightest idea of what it’s all about.  By law of averages, anyone reading my blog is likely to be reasonably technically aware and responsible, but how sad that so many don’t take an interest in their kids online activities.

Do you allow your children to use social media?  If you don’t, how do you know they don’t have accounts that you don’t know about?  Do you approve of social media for kids?  These are questions that all parents who are able to need to tackle.

I think our schools should be teaching our kids about the Internet from a much earlier age than they do.  We can’t stop our kids accessing inappropriate content, but we can help them to deal with it when they come across it.  The Internet and it’s good and bad points is not going to go away.  We all have a responsibility to all our kids to help them cope with it.  We tell them not to talk to strangers on one hand, but many of us let them talk to anyone they want to online.

From an early age our kids can negotiate parental controls, history deletion and sneaking on with smartphones on friends wi-fi systems.

Isn’t it time that parents who don’t use social media, or don’t approve of the Internet got with the programme and actually learned what it’s all about so they can help their kids with it instead of burying their heads in the sand and thinking it will all go away.



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A Little Bit of Basic SEO Terms


I think lots of us do things very differently when it comes right down to a little SEO.  I guess in simple terms, it really comes down to how we write and manage our blog information and content.

I don’t always get these right (who does), but it’s nice to remind myself how it should really go to maximise those good old search engine results.

What I think it best practice for blog writing SEO.

Unique Content

Search engines love content these days.   The phrase that many come up with is “content is King.”  Whether we like it or not, Google had decided that content is the way to go and who are we to argue with Google.  Good quality content gets better ranking placement which means more readers sent our way.  Try to avoid duplication of content as although it is unlikely to get you banned, it may get your post lowered down the ratings if another website hosting almost the same content is chosen as the one to rank higher.

Be Consistent

If we only post a couple of times a year, we’re not likely to have our websites crawled often for updates in the search engine directories.  If our content isn’t in them, it can’t be found.  Try to build a community of loyal readers who want to keep coming back for more of what you share, and they might even pass it on to their friends.

Social Media

For any blog that wants to be noticed, or wants visitors, sharing on social media is a must.  Many people recommend Addthis, but I found it sadly seemed to slow my WordPress install down so much that I found it frustrating to use, but I would love to have kept it as it was really good.

The WordPress Jetpack share options seem to be working well and it gets our information started on a good many social media platforms.  On social media, it doesn’t just mean broadcasting our wares and hoping people will listen.  It takes time and effort to get to a place where we create online virtual relationships with our mutual follows.  Social media is about trust, reliability and not always likeability.  Who cares which one you prefer most, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google +, Digg, Tumblr, Reddit or any others.  It’s the one you enjoy that you should stick to, unless you are a business as then you need to go where your customers are.

Word Count

This is quite important really.  Some online content networks ask for between 400 – 800 words for a reason.   Anything above about 250 words is acceptable, but go far too far over and few people will stop and read the whole post as the length of the text is just too much for them.  Not too short and not too long should be the order of the day.  As much as you need to get your message across.   This post will be slightly over, but not by much.


Keywords help.  In lots of cases, they are simply common sense, and thinking of what you would search for in Google to look for your topic can make how you craft your content slightly differently.  I once saw a local hairdresser with simply their keywords written into about 4 paragraphs on a page endlessly.  It was horrific to see and read.  Don’t overstuff your keywords.  Using about 3 – 6 in an 800 word post is probably enough.

I’ve noticed some people adding random keywords into their page or post meta descriptions and titles.  Think about what you are doing as Google isn’t silly.  If you add words into your seo descriptions and tags that are not in your content, they’re not going to like it.  You could well be seen as trying to manipulate the reader.


There was a lot of talk a while back about bloggers turning off comments and being unapproachable.  Only the individual blogger can decide if that’s the right route for them.  Google likes to see frequently updated content, and comments work for that too.  It also makes you look approachable and shows interaction with your readers.  It’s also very impolite to never answer your commenters.  I’m not perfect and I miss a few, but I try to catch them all.


If you’re serious about blogging and want to rise and rise and rise, you either have to be very popular, create fantastic content that nobody else does, or build some great links.  Remember that not all links are equal and that some links could do you some harm.  I blog for fun, but if you’re blogging for a future potential business or to turn it into a commercial enterprise, links in are a must.

Google have guidelines for using links that are not illegal, ie taking money for sponsored posts is not illegal, but Google does not like anyone paying or being paid for links that pass any page rank to another website.   Any of us who take the risk, also risk a potential ban from Google.  Building links naturally from relevant other websites that Google approves of is the best way to go forward.  That comes from great content, guest posting, and using social media well.  It is ALWAYS illegal to take money for a post or page and not declare the relationship.

Good luck as building a huge link base is really time consuming.


Tags are just like categories but for the net.  The search engines pull them up and they can be useful for having people sent your way.  A good blog post with some relevant keywords might just not need to put their tags on, and I do sometimes forget, but I think they are useful.

What they do is allow your content to be indexed much more quickly and hence perhaps a higher rank.  I still see people putting invisible text in websites, hoping that search engines will pull them up, but I suspect that would go against you as the text would be classed as hidden.   In fact, hidden text could get your blog de-indexed altogether in Google.

Some people have tag clouds on their front page in the hope that the words will be picked up from there, but I think that it totally unnecessary and a waste of front page space.  Others will disagree with me.   If you look at tags as the same as your keywords, it makes them easier to understand.   They should be made up of up to three word phrases and accurately describe or reflect the post or page that they are attached to.



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Child Abduction, Fear and Abuse. Help find April Jones.

The news this week has not been good.  Along with countless others, I’ve spent a lot of this week refreshing my news app on the phone to see if little April Jones had been found yet.  Sadly, she’s not been able to find her way home to her parents, and even more sadly, there has been criticism levelled at the family for allowing April to play outside at 7 pm.

Let’s put this into perspective.  The family live in a small community surrounded by open countryside, and where everyone knows everyone else.  The kind of community that I grew up in.

I wouldn’t let my children out to play late where we live, but I did growing up, and in a community like the Jones live in, I would have happily let my kids out the front at 7 pm.   This is key.  April was outside, beside her home, and picked up by someone she must have trusted.  What difference does the time make?

And pushing the criticism further away, we are really against it when we realise we have to protect our kids from people they know and trust.   I read a blog post yesterday, kindly sent along by Claire Jessiman, The Foodie Quine, that really tells it like it is.   Checklist Mommy from the US, talks about “Tricky People.”

She says “Tricky People are the New Strangers.”  I really would recommend that everyone who feels the slightest bit anxious about abductions and child abuse to go and read it.  It’s also quite light hearted for such a serious topic, which is rather endearing.

In reality, the people who groom kids tend not to be strangers in the eyes of the young.   Checklist Mommy does the same thing that I do.  She tells her kids to go to the nearest Mum with kids for help if they get lost, or something goes wrong.  It’s not actually very likely that they’re going to come across a policeman when they need it.  I’ve told my kids that for a long time, as it seems to be the path of least danger in my eyes.

Checklist Mommy goes further.   She talks about  Patti Fitzgerald of Safely Ever After.  A passionate woman with a vision that we all do need to listen to.

Realistically, our kids have a higher chance of being abused by someone they know than being abducted by a stranger.  The shock and horror when children like April Jones are plucked from the bosom of their loving family can cause us to react badly when we consider our own choices in how to approach our chats with our kids.

One of the things she says, that struck a chord with me was that nobody is going to offer to babysit for free so we can spend time to ourselves.  It really is telling that people don’t want to babysit for the good our own health.

Being suspicious of every adult around our kids is probably a healthy way to go, but we do have to balance that with being sensible.   Looking out for oddly given gifts and special treatment is just good parenting.  If the warning signs are making you uneasy, it’s perhaps time to make a difference.

The red flags and warning tips at Safety Ever After are really good advice.  We could do with a little of that kind of advice coming through our schools.  Sadly, we only seem to have stranger danger alerts.  How much are our kids missing about the dangers that exist for them, how will they learn that they have to take precautions with ALL adults, and not just strangers?

At the end of this all, social media is powerful.  An abducted child has a high chance of being killed within the first three hours of the abduction.   It was about three hours between April being abducted and the first social media appeals for help.   Lost Kidz is a personal Amber Alert system.  It means that the news of an abduction can get out quicker, and share the information with people who can begin to watch out for unusual signs in the area.

I’ve had the odd heart pounding moment when I’ve lost sight of a toddler, but how that feels when the child does not come back after a few minutes, I have no idea.   I do know that many children up and down our country this week will have been hugged tighter at bedtime.

The Lost Kiza website says:

“The Lost Kidz App has been developed to enable parents to send out an alert to other parents in the area if their child goes missing. The alert includes a current photo and any relevant information about the child, allowing an anxious parent to recruit the help of everyone in the vicinity to reunite the parent with their child.”

I have downloaded the app.  I think this could be a powerful social media intervention.   I like the fact that it has a four star rating already.  I like the fact that a lost child can be reported quickly, and the word spread.

Jersey based Stephen Fern created the app after watching a TV documentary about the abduction of Jaycee Lee Delgado – its created  big waves across America, and is spreading across the world.   Eyes immediately looking out for a child in danger.

I’ll continue to refresh my news screen, and hope that April and her family are re-united again.  It’s been a hard week for all parents to cope with the raw fear of abduction, but for April’s parents, this must be a living, walking nightmare.

Best wishes to April and I hope she finds her way home soon.


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This is an easy gallery posting for me to write about.  I have not joined the gallery before, so this is a new one for me.  I am writing this, and keeping it as short as I can.

It has the ability to end up as a rant, but I really want it to act as an education.

On twitter today, I had a discussion with a few people who had differing views on spelling and grammatical errors.   It was a pleasant chat and we discussed some opinions on this.  I hope this post is taken in the same vein.

I have come across the spelling / grammer issues many times, and without being dictatorial about it, The Gallery gives this the perfect platform.  I waded in with both feet on twitter as it is a theme that I have been aware of a lot more recently.

More and more tweets flash past in my timeline, and they are complaining about  spelling and grammar.  I am doing my little bit to stop that going any further than it already has as social media houses a very large proportion of fanatical readers and writers (myself included).  It took me a long time to learn what I am going to say, and I wish I had realised it earlier in my life.  It really did take having special needs children for this to sink in.

Lets just stop and think for a moment.

  • What if your opinion today is that people with bad spelling and grammatical errors are lazy, or just can’t be bothered?
  • What if you are offended by those people who get their words mixed up and use them in the wrong context?
  • How do you react when people whose commas, full stops, and question marks are in the wrong place?

Lets look at this from a different angle.

  • What if you came from an abusive background and you had little schooling.  You struggled to read and write, and  you couldn’t attend classes as you have three young children to look after.  There is no-one to help you with childcare, and social media is your sole way of communicating and talking to other adults?
  • What if you have grown up with a learning difficulty, but you have fought to be able to learn to communicate, and your brain won’t always let you remember the correct order, work formation and structure to sentences.
  • What if you had an aptitude so fantastic that you could receive a Nobel Peace Prize for the value of your work in Mathematics, but you just couldn’t grasp the reasoning behind why some words mean completely different things in different sentences.
  • What if you have a brilliant business brain, and people better than you at english do your promotional literature, but you want to meet your public through social media.  Would you prefer they saw you, or someone pretending to be you because their spelling is better.
  • Imagine you are a small business start up who can’t afford to employ someone to do your social media for you.  How are you going to connect with people if you can’t enter the modern age because people will judge your business by how well you can write?

If a company has promotional material to make themselves look professional, then they pay for that to be error free.  Large companies can afford to have eloquent people run their social media for them.

Perhaps the person at the other end of the spelling mistakes is ill.  Perhaps they could be the best friend that you ever made.  Perhaps you need some help and they are the one that steps up to the plate for you.

All I have to say to those who struggle to accept people who do not manage to meet your own standards of writing in the English language is:

Tomorrow – “Step away from the dictionary.”

ps I have not spell checked this post.