Monday, 28 November 2011

A Little Bit About Me – Well, My Pets

Hi everyone, hope you are all well and have not caught the lurgy as I have. I've just spent the entire weekend in bed. The good news is that i'm feeling a lot better today (with the exception of an annoying blocked nose), and at least i've caught it well before Christmas, so just hope I don't catch anything else now! I thought I'd tell you a little bit more about my little ones I have at home.

Poppy The Princess
Poppy is a 3 year old Bichon Frise, that can do no wrong. She is very sensitive and highly intelligent, but does, on occasions, think she's is a German Sheppard. She's scared of quite a lot of things and she's not fond of other dogs. I want the ground to swallow me up every time I take her to the vets for her booster. I got a puppy this year (which wasn't really planned) but I thought he would help Poppy get used to other dogs, which has sort of worked.

If you look closely, you can see her halo.
Buddy terrorizing Poppy

Buddy aka Tarzan is my puppy. He's a mixed breed consisting of a King Charles Spaniel, a Bichon Frise and has a little bit of Yorkshire Terrier mixed in there somewhere. He's a ball of woolly fur and deceives everyone he meets as he looks like a teddy bear. He likes to terrorize Poppy and more often, my cat, Jack.

The technique
Vicious monster

Jack is my 4 year old cat. Named after Jack Sparrow and also Jack Black (geddit?), I first got Jack when he was just 5 weeks old (yes that is too young to be taken away from his mother but at the time I didn't know that). As a result, Jack doesn't seem to have developed like a normal cat would. He's quite lanky and has a strange meow (it sounds like a baby dinosaur). He's not a very snugly, but enjoys company when Buddy isn't around to bother him and he enjoys to have a wrestle with Poppy when he can. Jack has learnt how to open the fridge door help himself to the contents (as long as it's not in a tin or a jar). Luckily for us, Poppy has developed a built in alert button so if Jack opens the fridge she'll let us know.

Baby Jack at 5 weeks old. Fitted into the palms of my hands!
Jack "mowing" (not meowing) for food.

So that's all of them (for now!). I'll be back soon to update you on goings on at and also do have a look at a few more kids websites. In the meantime, if you have any questions for me, or if there are any websites you'd like me to take a look at then please leave me a comment below.


Thursday, 24 November 2011

PLOS, G2G! - Do You Know What Your Kids Are Saying Online?

Hi everyone! So, I was browsing on my Facebook newsfeed the other night, scrolling through endless status updates about “I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!” and came across a post from a younger relative of mine saying she thought somebody on the show was “peng” (no it wasn't Willie Carson! Haha). I think this picture of the conversation will explain what happened next...”S” is my younger relative, and “R” is my brother that lives in Germany – the reason why I say that will make sense when you read it. Oh and I'm still “Liz”!

I briefly touched upon this subject in one of my previous posts (link here), where I mentioned a new “language” kids use online today. From time to time, slang words will come back in fashion (even though they'll think they're new) and other times, like “peng” they'll make them up. This can be extremely infuriating when you're talking to a younger person and you haven't got a clue what they're wittering on about. The website Urban Dictionary ( keeps a current record of slang words and can often include acronyms too. Users rate descriptions of words up or down depending on how relevant they are at the time. As of October 2011, the website had over 6 million definitions and it's still rising, so it's worth a quick browse at the least!

Another way people (mainly kids and teens) communicate online is with the use of acronyms. To try and learn all the different ones would be pointless but here is a list of the top 15 terms for parents to watch out for if they have kids using the internet.

  1. AITR = Adult In The Room
  2. P911 = Parent Emergency
  3. PAW = Parents Are Watching
  4. PIR = Parent In Room
  5. POS = Parent Over Shoulder
  6. PLOS = Parents Looking Over shoulder
  7. PRW = Parents Are Watching
  8. MOS = Mom/Mam/Mum Over Shoulder
  9. MIRL = Meet In Real Life
  10. S2R = Send To Receive (pictures)
  11. LMIRL = (Lets) Meet In Real Life
  12. CD9 = Code 9 - (means parents are around)
  13. E or X = Ecstasy (the drug)
  14. ASL(R P) = Age Sex Location (Race / Picture)
  15. TDTM = Talk Dirty To Me
If you happen to notice your kids using any of the above terms online, if you are able to, it would be a good idea to check their chat history as sometimes, kids could tell you that the acronyms they're using will mean other things, for example, PAW (Parents Are Watching) could also mean “People Are Weird” or something else, so if you notice in their chat history that after the mention of the word “PAW” the conversation suddenly changes then it's likely they were talking or looking at something they shouldn't have.

I hope this quick post has provided some good info for you if you didn't already know these things. I'm going to try and get back to looking at more kids sites soon so if anyone has any suggestions then let me know!

Thank You


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Why Do People Bully?

 As the title suggests, in this post I will be looking into the reasons why people bully. At some point in everyone's life, they have probably bullied someone, whether they meant to or not. An example of this is my best friend, who is one of the sweetest people you could ever meet, told me that when we were younger, (i'd say about 6/7ish) she used to “bully” another girl in our class, by saying she wouldn't play with her unless she could have her bottle of Sunny Delight (her mother wouldn't buy any for her at home). At the time, she didn't realise this was bullying as she just wanted the bottle of Sunny Delight, and feels terrible about it now.

One of my other childhood friends was guilty of bullying too. He would exclude people from his group of “friends” based upon who he liked that week. If you weren’t his chosen flavour, or if you asked you would NEVER be allowed to have a crisp or a sweet from him. He had to offer you one. I have no idea why we all kept falling for this every week, but looking back it's quite laughable to think what you'll put up with as a youngster.

Bullying can stem from many different reasons, in the examples above it can create a feeling of superiority or just the fact that you can gain “gifts”. It can also be to fit in with peers, jealousy, to prevent embarrassment if they're not particularly good at something or it can be a result of a poor family background.

There is a young boy that lives in my neighbourhood, I'll call him Joe, but I don't know his real name. He's quite “weedy”, has buck teeth and is usually described as “that little git”. I've seen him on quite a few occasions standing behind a bigger boy, using him as a human shield to hurl insults at other kids. I've also seen him stood in my next door neighbours garden, ripping up their elephant grass and leaving it strewn all over the pavement outside my house, just before jumping off a grit bin and diving into an old man's hedge that he had proudly finished pruning earlier that day. However i've also witnessed him wandering the streets alone in all weathers too, with a pot noodle or a cone of chips.

I'm not condoning his actions, but I do think that his home life has a huge part to play in how he acts, so can he ultimately be to blame if he doesn't have anyone there to teach him right from wrong? The sad thing is that behaviour like this is likely to carry on into his teens and possibly into his adulthood, where he'll learn that it will be acceptable to act like this to get what he wants and won't accept authority figures.

It is the responsibility of parents to spot signals of your child bullying someone. Some of these signs include:

  • Have a positive views towards violence and may love to watch fight scenes etc.
  • Often become aggressive towards adults – including teachers or parents
  • May tend to try and dominate situations and others in a group.
  • Boy bullies tend to be physically stronger than their peers
  • Can be hot tempered, impulsive, and can get easily frustrated
  • Often test limits or break rules
  • Good at talking their way out of difficult situations
  • Show little sympathy toward others who are bullied, may say things like “they deserved it”

How To Intervine If Your Child Is A Bully

I have taken the next piece of information from a website called It explains how parents can intervene if their child is a bully:

If you suspect your child may be bullying you have an absolute responsibility to step in and put an end to the behaviour.

If you are approached by your child’s school or another child’s family about a situation in which your child is bullying another child, be careful to not be too defensive, but at the same time, do not jump to any conclusions until you have an opportunity to discuss the situation with your child – remember there are always two sides to every story.

If after an open and honest conversation with your child, in which you must make clear the severity of the situation, you do not feel your child is truly the aggressor in the situation, work with a school counsellor or social worker to come to an appropriate conclusion to the situation.

If however, it does appear that your child has engaged in bullying behaviour it may be very difficult to accept, but you must face the situation head on.
It is in the best interest of your child and the victim to put an end to the bullying right away. Here are some guiding principles to help you with the situation:
  • Do not make excuses for your child.
  • Make it clear to your child that you take the bullying seriously and you will not tolerate this type of behaviour.
  • Maintain and consistently enforce family rules. Utilize positive reinforcement when your child follows the rules and appropriate negative consequences for breaking the rules (such as the withholding of benefits or privileges).
  • Stay involved and supportive of your child’s school and extra-curricular activities. Stay informed of what they are doing and whom they are spending time with.
  • Encourage your child to channel their energy into more positive activities, such as sports, clubs, or music lessons.
  • If the above steps do not result in noticeable, positive changes in your child’s behaviour, consult with a mental health professional.”

I hope you found this information useful and you keep the warning signs in mind. If your child is being bullied though, I know it will be difficult to keep a level head, but try and keep the other child in mind too, as they may be going through something themselves and don't know how to handle the situation or realise they're causing upset. If you are not able to resolve the issue with the child's parents then ask the school to get involved to try and remedy a problem.

Below I have included some resources for parents of bullies or bullies themselves that may be useful: – PDF file which includes information on how you can stop bullying behaviour and can also help you understand it a little bit more. – Link to a website with more information on how you can help stop your child from bullying. / 0800 1111 - Children can also contact childline themselves for free if they would like to speak to someone else about their problems and they won't be judged. – This is a support website for children and adults to use which has contact numbers for different organisations dealing with problems such as anger management through to other problems such as offenders & family support.

Thank You,

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Anti Bullying Week 14th-18th November 2011

Hi again, I thought i'd type another blog about bullying as it's Anti Bullying Week this week, so it's a little late but we've still got a few days left!

This year the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) is focusing on verbal bullying, using the slogan “stop and think – words can hurt”. ABA defines bullying as “the repetitive, intentional hurting of one person by another, where the relationship involves an imbalance of power. Bullying can be physical, verbal or psychological. It can happen face-to-face or through cyberspace.”

Bullying occurs everyday and it is becoming increasingly common for people, including younger children in primary school to say things like “that's gay”, call each-other “retards”, or use racial slurs in a flippant manner, without realising the meaning of the words and the hurt it can cause someone else. Remarks may not be directly aimed at someone, but it can affect them indirectly, for example, if someone used a racial slur, they might be offending someone's relative of that racial origin etc.

This sort of bullying can take place inside and outside of school. It can even occur on the internet where many people who would never bully anyone face-to-face can get involved with bullying online, whether intentional or not. Everyone needs to understand that whatever they post online is just as important as whatever they say offline and can, in some instances become a criminal offence.

Some key signs to look for if you think your child is being bullied are:

  • signs of emotional distress during or after using the internet.
  • withdrawal from friends and activities.
  • avoidance of school or social group gatherings.
  • poor grades at school and "acting out" in anger at home.
  • changes in mood, behaviour, sleep, or appetite.
  • your child may spend long periods of time at the computer, even after their bedtime, as they may not feel they are able to take themselves away from the situation.
  • if your child closes their browser or mail windows suddenly when you come near the computer. This may not be cyber bullying (it should encourage you to check your computer's internet safety settings though!), but it is worth looking out for.
  • if your child complains about aches & pains frequently. Emotional stress can in some cases result in physical disturbances, so it's worth bearing this in mind and encouraging your child to speak about any problems they're having.
  • paranoia, particularly when friends are brought up, as any kind of friendships can be become difficult to sustain if your child is being bullied.
  • your child may become emotionally distant. They may lose their drive to make friends and socialise and also have an extreme fear of humiliation or rejection. You will need to encourage your child and be supportive of them.

Children should always be able to speak to their parent or a teacher if they feel they are being bullied, unfortunately they don't always feel this is possible. A recent survey by Stonewall, a charity for gay, lesbian and bisexual people, has discovered that over half of the 150,000 gay pupils they surveyed said that they had experienced homophobic remarks, not from other pupils, but from teachers. One pupil said: “The teacher was laughing at the fact that there are homosexual people and all the other pupils were taking the mick and my twitch started up and I had to leave.”
So, it is worth noting that there are places where children can speak to someone if they are being bullied, online or offline, I will include links to some of the many organisations that are available to help young people or parents with issues of bullying at the bottom of this post

I think it's also worth pointing out what is available on to combat bullying and also what help and support we offer. Not only do our Cyber Security Officers (one of whom is me!) monitor the site , but we also have an alert button on every page where we can be contacted by the members, they also have links to ChildLine, Samaritans and CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection).

Part of my job is to monitor the site for bullying including subtle or passive bullying, e.g. one of our members created a poll entitled "who do you dislike the most" and listed all the people in her class at school. I took the poll off the site as it could only cause offence to the people who were voted for. I sent the member a message telling her that we had taken it down, and the reasons why. She was very apologetic and (in my opinion) genuinely did not think that it would upset anybody as it was meant to just be a bit of fun.

What can you do if your child or another young person is being bullied?
ABA's website has some useful information on what you can do if a young person comes to you saying they have been bullied:

  • Your key role is listening, calming and reassuring that the situation can get better when action is taken.
  • Provide a quiet, calm, safe place where they can talk about what is happening.
  • Make sure they know that your first concern is for their health and well-being.
  • Ask what it is that the young person wants to happen.
  • Help identify the skills the young person has at their disposal to solve the problems.
  • Discuss it with your child’s school.
  • They may worry what you think of them or think you may be angry with them, so listen carefully and show that you are hearing by ‘playing back’ to them what you hear.
  • Assure them that the bullying is not their fault and that you are there to support them.
  • Remind them of the support they can have from family and friends.
  • Help them to identify choices available to them and the next steps to take.
  • Make clear how much you value and love them.
  • Remember that you may feel pressure to take action, sometimes any action, but this may be
    unhelpful if you do not have a clear and full view of the facts – or what your child wants.
  • Above all they need to know you are there if they need you.

Useful Links & Contact Info

Counselling service for young people and children.
TEL: (UK) 0800 1111. Calls are free and confidential.

Counselling service for anyone in distress or at risk of committing suicide.
TEL: (UK) 08457 90 90 90

This is an organisation for help and advice for parents of bullied children.
TEL: (UK) 08451 205 204

Charity organisation which provides help and support for anyone being bullied. You can have access to online support, call them on Skype and also contact them on their helpline.
TEL: 0808 800 2222. Calls are free and confidential

Charity dedicated to help stop bullying. They also have another site to speak to Cyber Mentors (just like where kids can speak to kids about their problems.

Website which provides more helpful information and resources on bullying and links to other websites.

Stop Bullying
Online website to provide information regarding bullying.
social networking website for under 18s only. Members can ask to be trained to become Cyber Mentors to provide support for other members on the site.

Anti-Bullying Alliance
Anti Bullying Alliance's website. Contains useful information for parents and resources for schools/clubs.

I hope you've found this information useful and you are able to put everything into practice.

Thank you,

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Accepted at Mumsnet & Cyber Bullying

Hi again, excellent news, Mumsnet has accepted me as a featured blogger! I'm so pleased! The only other time I've ever had anything “published” was when I was in school in year 9. We had to write a poem on any subject and it would possibly have been featured in a young poets book. I'm not very good at poems, so I scribbled something down at the last minute and it was rejected – probably because my facts about space were all wrong and made up. I can't remember what I wrote, but I think I may have made some planet names up and said something about another planet having a million moons? I re-entered the poem the year after, as I'd been studying the solar system in physics, so I was able to use actual facts and it was accepted. Although, I cringe looking at it now as it's awful, it's not really a poem, it's just a mash-up of facts (although at least they're true and I got a B in physics so I suppose it was good revision!).

A new radio volunteer joined us last week too for some work experience with our GBK Radio team to help with the production side of things. I'm not entirely sure of everything the radio team do at the moment, as they lock themselves away in their little radio production booth, but I know that they are currently working on recording new jingles for the upcoming radio shows. I'm sure whatever it is is WAY too complicated for me.

I've also been able to create a Google+ Business page for GreatBritishKids so more people can be updated on future news & press releases. Link to the page can be found here: or alternatively by clicking on the Google+ badge on the menu on the right hand side of this page.

Google+ announced in August that they were rolling out a new verification badge program, making it so celebrities, public figures and those who have amassed vast quantities of people in their circles can verify their identities with a check mark and a small banner that rolls out next to their names. This sounds like an excellent idea (sounds slightly familiar too!), but as they're only offering this to extremely popular people, it's only protecting people from following fake celebrities, it doesn't necessarily protect the individuals themselves (the followers), or everyday people like you and me from speaking to normal people that claim to be someone else. However, this could be a valuable stepping stone in making the internet a safer place, as it stops the anonymity of some people which can help prevent cyber bullying.

A definition of Cyber Bullying is “the use of the Internet and related technologies to harm other people, in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner”. Unlike regular bullying, cyber bullying has the advantage (for the bully) of the ability to remain anonymous through the use of fake email account names, nicknames in chatrooms etc.

For someone at the receiving end of this torment, it can feel as though they have no other options left but to end their lives as they don't have anywhere safe to hide any more. I came across this article yesterday: which talks about a girl whom was bullied over the internet to the point where she was self harming after users of the site Formspring told her that she should kill herself.

For those of you who don't know what Formspring is, it is a website where users can sign up and post under an account name or remain anonymous and post questions to other users on any topic. There is an option where users can block anonymous questions from being asked of them, however as most young people see this site as a bit of fun initially, or a test of character, they usually prefer to accept all comments. There has been a lot of controversy around this site due to the amount of suicides in which cyber bulling on websites such as Formspring is believed to be the root cause.

There is also an option to link a Formspring account up to a Facebook or Twitter account where you can invite your friends or followers to ask you anything. I have seen in the past that this gives people who you may even be friends with on Facebook, the opportunity to post nasty, anonymous questions to you. Again, like Facebook, Formspring requires new members to be 13 years or older to sign up to their services, however I also believe that like Facebook, there are many that will lie about their age to gain access.

Although Formspring itself participated in a White House Conference on Bullying Prevention. I think they need to look more at stopping bulling on their website, for both younger and older members, by moderating all comments posted on the site before allowing them to be posted to members, removing personal attacks and being more responsible for their members' safety and well-being.

Thanks for coming back again to read my posts. See you all soon!


Monday, 14 November 2011

The Ramblings Of Lizmundo - Office Plants, Jingles And More Kids Sites!

Hello again, take a seat and I shall tell you what has been happening in the world of Lizmundo. Well, last week was pretty eventful, Thursday I had the wonderful experience of one of my bosses singing a jingle to me. We've been trying to think of jingles to use on GBK radio which is a lot harder than you might think. So here is what I had to listen to: (you need to read the next bit with the jungle book tune in mind) "I'm the king of the sign ups, Yeah! the Cyber VIP, I spend my days monitoring the site and that makes me happy, keeping kids safe on GBK is what I'm here to do, I check their face by webcam, so I know who is I want to verify you whoo whoo, I want to check and see, who you be, it's freee eee............" I best not make comment on my boss's efforts, incase he reads this, but I'm going to try and get my creative juices going and think of a better one, but it's hard, especially when you keep thinking about other company's jingles in the process! Like this one for a skip company "Just call A Lewis Skip Hire, skip skip skip hooray, just skip the rest and try the best, and call us up today!". It has definitely been fun though, even if my boss a little cringe worthy :-)

Said boss has also given me a peace lily. I haven't named it yet.
The pretty addition to my desk

As you can see, it's very pretty but I am concerned that I'll accidently kill it. I'm hopeless with plants. I always buy them with the best intentions but they never last, just ask my venus fly trap! Hopefully it'll be different on this occasion and I might be like this with it:
Simon Pegg in Hot Fuzz with his Peace Lily

I've been feeling quite old, and learning that kids don't just use acronyms like “LOL” (laugh out loud) anymore like I used to when I was younger. I've been keeping an eye on the blogs published on our website, which is one of the features that seems to be quite popular amongst the members. They blog about typical kid things you'd expect – boys, girls, football and Justin Bieber (One Direction are also really popular), but they also use a language I'm not familiar with - mostly acronyms. One member has talked about her “BBFAL” on her blog. Now I know that “BFF” stands for Best Friends Forever, but BFFAL??? Luckily, on this occasion she's included what her acronym stood for (it stands for Best Friends Forever And Life just incase you were wondering). Normally I have to search our list we keep for these sorts of things but i have to add to it by searching online as they seem to make new ones up all the time! I have to check they're not outsmarting us! I could list a huge amount of acronyms for you to refer to but they'd only make new ones up again!

Phoebe (not her real name) has also named some other site she uses in her blog – Quizzaz. I had never heard of this before in my life so I had to Google this too!

Quizzaz as the name suggests, (well, after you see the website, it's head slappingly obvious what it is) is a website where members can create quizzes for anyone to answer. I came across one which was titled:

Don't take this quiz or you'll be scared”. So I clicked on it.
Question one:
why didn't you listen!!!!!!”
  • Because my mommy told me I could
  • I like fear
  • Because I LOVE your quizzes
  • Because I'm ugly – hmmmm....
Question three:
What's your fear?”
  • The Dark
  • Gay People – charming!
  • *is off*

After you click through the answers, the quiz will give you a result. Mine was “Gustav Shafer -
It's Ok But You Should Be Scared Anyway”.

I don't know what this means. I don't even know who Gustav Shafer is, anyway, there are lots of other quizzes on there, most of them contain swearing and other subjects which can in-bed themselves inside childrens' minds, things that they shouldn't need to worry about. For example, another quiz was titled - “what weight are you?”, the results would tell you if you were super skinny, skinny, perfect, quite fat or obese.

These quizzes are created by the members of the website so could potentially contain anything, and it doesn't seem as though these quizzes are checked to see if they're appropriate for their audiences before they are posted on the site. I joined the website to see what sort of filters they use but there were no restrictions on age to join and there weren’t any visible guidelines as to what you could/couldn't post.

What sort of message is this sending to the youth of today? That you should be scared of gay people? and you will be called fat based upon your answers to a quiz? Lovely :-(

So, that's my thoughts on Quizzaz anyway, and what I've been up to lately. I hope you also have a good week too. I will be looking into more websites this week and I will share with you what i find out.
As you can tell, I'm a bit disconnected with today's kids so I want to try and stay in the loop!

Mumsnet soon, they have a good filter in place to check bloggers before they get posted, so fingers crossed they'll like my posts!

Thanks for reading, be back soon!


Monday, 7 November 2011

Social Networking Sites - What Makes Them So Appealing?

Hi there! Monday again and the start of another new week. I caught the bus into work again this morning and due to the driver's erratic driving skills, we almost crashed. Twice. However I arrived at work in one piece.

I logged into my homepage this morning and I noticed that there had been quite a few signups over the weekend, quite a few have also been verified too. One was even verified through webcam on Skype! We are averaging at around 4 – 5000 page views a day now so the word of must be catching on (I'm just glad it's not “the bird” anymore). Hooray!

I've been looking at some news articles over the last few days and found this one from the Daily Mail which is pretty alarming: .

For anyone that's reading this that thought “I'm not clicking that link, it's a long, boring news article!” It basically says that there are a million under 13s in Britain that uses facebook everyday. That's one in four pre-teens accessing it every single day. One user, lunepremiere from London has commented on the article and said “Notice they said a million use at least daily.. so yes, the real figure is probably higher!”. This statement is more than likely very true as most parents probably don't even realise that their child has signed up to the service.

So what makes sites such as facebook so appealing to these preteens?
Shy people like myself (although I'm not as bad now as I used to be), can bring out their extrovert personalities online e.g. by creating a blog or a page about their interests. They might speak to people from their school online that they would never have the courage to approach in real life for whatever reason. They don't have to be so afraid of being themselves as they can also go in search of other people on the internet for people with the same interests and problems as them.

The problem is, it's who they end up speaking to is the real issue. Just as it's easy for someone to reveal their true personality online, it's just as easy for someone else to hide theirs, and trick a vulnerable person into thinking that they are someone they can talk to.

There is no way of checking people's real identities on facebook, and just to prove a point, my dog even has an account! She has 42 friends and constantly gets new requests from strangers, even children sometimes. Although she has never accepted strangers onto her account, you can get my meaning of how easy it can be to get into contact with the wrong people. If you have a picture of a cute cuddly dog, people will want to speak to you and be your friend. Go figure! 

It is up to everyone to try and promote other alternative websites for pretreens and young teens to visit. Obviously I'd prefer it if they checked out as I know from first hand experience how safe it is, but as long as they are kept safe is the main priority.

Thanks for coming back to read my posts!


Friday, 4 November 2011

Thoughts & Experiences Of Lizmundo On Internet Safety

When I was about 12/13 years old, I started using the internet at home, my parents obviously knew a lot less than I did too, as neither of them had even turned a computer on until a few years ago. We didn't have anything in the house before then and in school we could only use Microsoft Encarta – brilliant fun! When we finally got broadband at home, I used to use sites like Yahoo! Chat and spoke to quite a few dodgy characters at the time, even a few paedophiles actually, although I didn't find out who they were until a few years later.
Internet safety, and reporting suspicious people online wasn't as well heard of back then so I didn't realise I could have reported them. The Government set up CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) to deal with this and is a great source of safety material and help for all age groups. Knowing what I know now about what goes on, It's very scary to think that kids could be in the same situation today that I was 10 years ago.

I worry about my nieces & nephew using the internet as people can be so deceiving. It's so easy for kids to chat to complete strangers over the internet these days. Does your child have a Wii, an Xbox or a Playstation? All of these have chat functions, where the kids can play games with anyone around the world. They can chat to each other in real time and now even speak over headsets. Teaming up to play games is not only fun but teaches kids how to work together as a group to win a task. So I get the attraction, but all parents need to take an interest when their kids are playing online and ensure they are only playing with their true friends that they know personally. They would not ask a stranger in the street to come into their house to play a game! so why would you let them on the internet?

That's why I love working for so much, It's only week 3, but I’m really getting stuck in. My job role is Office Supervisor, so I get to do all the normal stuff, like dealing with the mail and making sure the office filing is all in order, but I also get to monitor the site. This is where I get to check that the content of the site is appropriate for our members. The other day a member uploaded a pop song for everybody to hear, but when I listened to it, it was uncensored, the dreaded F word was being used again in a pointless fashion, so I had to take the tune down and tell the member why. I know that this website is much safer than the others because I'm doing the "keeping safe".

Yesterday the website had a huge boom of activity from new users (a local school had gotten wind of us and had handed out leaflets to every kid.) I had a pop up message from a new member, Ben*, that had logged in for the first time. He said that he loved the website as it was just like facebook. He also wanted me to play games with him. Since new members can't contact anyone on the website until they're verified, he could only contact me, so I accepted the game and he beat me. I'm no good at pool in real life either.

I also had another new member contact me to ask if she could be instantly verified by webcam. Now this was my first time with a live member, as my training had been done just using other members of staff, so this was it, I cleared my throat, checked my hair was looking good (not much I could have done with it anyway, it's always fuzzy from the dreadlocks!) and I pressed the button to launch the webcam. My face popped up in a box, then the box expanded to show a black screen, nothing just black! So I sent Alice* a text chat message, asking if she had turned on her webcam, she replied "w8, am doin it now, i'm 10. Then as if by magic, her little face appeared on my screen! amazing! I said hi Alice, what's your date of birth? she told me and I wrote it down, then I asked her one more question and that was it! in under 20 seconds little 10 year old Alice had been checked to make sure she was under 18 and was a real kid. I had a flash back to when I was first using the internet and all the horrible experiences I had with paedos pretending to be other kids, I came over all warm and felt really good about myself, that by me checking Alice was Alice, I had made her safer and all of the other members on the site. I know that when Ben gets verified and wants to talk to Alice, that they will both know that they are kids and feel safer.
So that was it, My first webcam with a member! I changed her status from 'restricted ' to 'unrestricted' and hey presto Alice was able to use the whole site!

I'm just glad I'm playing my small part now by making sure kids have positive experiences with the internet where they can be themselves, be creative and make new friends.

Let me know if you like my blog, I'm getting back into this and want to continue writing about my experiences.


*I've made the names up to protect the identity of the innocents lol.