Thursday, December 24, 2009

Easy Net Access Spells More Risks for Children

Easy Net Access Spells More Risks for Children
By: Rajeshwary Menon

Easy access to 3G mobile connections, cybercaf├ęs and WiFi hotspots means children have more opportunity to go online unsupervised, leaving them vulnerable to internet predators.

Speaking at a Cyber Security Awareness for Everyone (CyberSafe) forum last week, DSP Mahfuz Abdul Majid from the Cyber and Multimedia Investigation Division in Bukit Aman warned of the dangers posed by the internet, especially to children who easily fall prey to cyberstalking, cyberbullying and indentity theft.

The internet has become such a convenient place for cheating – anymore can cheat anyone and there are so many potential victims. Criminals use technology to cheat, harass and disseminate false information and children especially, are vulnerable.

The forum, themed Protecting Children Online: Are we doing enough? and organised by CyberSecurity Malaysia, was attended by 100 participants comprising parents, educators, counselors and lawyers.

It covered topics and issues related to protecting children online such as the current trends in abuses of technology, role of parents, educators and the community in preventing the exploitation of children online and the cyber laws available to people who have been victimised online.

Tan Wei Ming, senior manager of Symantec - an IT company specializing in anti-virus software – spoke on the creative ways in which cyber criminals could mislead children and even adults through information gleaned from social networking sites.

They can profile you through social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace. Even if they only have your name and e-mail address, they can learn about your weak points. Children can easily fall victims.

He also touched on the importance of keeping computer anti-virus and malware detection software up to date, as cybercriminals use viruses to steal personal information, and even banking details.

Nowadays, malevolent viruses are also embedded in websites, the address of which is sent to you through a link. If you click on the link, your computer becomes infected and your personal details would be compromised.

Freddy Tan, the chief security adviser of Microsoft, spoke about dangers of internet addiction and shared tips on what could be done to keep children safe online.

Parents should start by setting boundaries and telling them to be safe and responsible online. They should teach children about what they should or should not share online.

He said policymakers could include internet safety education in schools, fund research on online risks and behavior and support community internet safety events.

Source: theSun, December 21,2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Parenting Tips

Parenting Tips

Here are some useful pointers for first-time mothers as well as mothers with a new addition to the family.

Power it down

Some children bite or push and act like a bully. If your child does this, don’t reward him by letting him see the other child crying or by picking him up and talking to him. Instead, let him know what he did was wrong, remove him from the scene and concentrate on the other child.

Teach them to apologise

Usually, by the age of two, children can make the connection between being naughty and the consequences of their action. Encourage children to say sorry to whoever they’ve hurt, and even give a kiss or hug if both of them are comfortable with that.

Don’t take sides

When toddlers fight or disagree, it’s often difficult to ascertain who the aggressor is. Make sure your child gets the message that some behaviour is never appropriate – like biting – but he can take action to protect himself if attacked.

Make work play

Young children don’t distinguish between ‘work’ and ‘play’ the way adults do. To them, anything can be a game and they can have great fun helping you, even with jobs you find tedious – such as sweeping, vacuuming, dusting and washing-up.

Plan and schedule chores

If you find chores and jobs around the house continually get in the way of spending time with your child, try drawing up a timetable for yourself so you can keep playtime and chore time separate during the day. That way, your child will understand the boundaries better, too.

Establish house rules

Make simple rules for children and be consistent. Start with a few things that they can do and should not do so they don’t become overwhelmed with too many regulations. Avoid having too many don’ts and always explain to the children that the rules were set up for their safety and benefit.

Clamp down on climbing

Many toddlers love to climb but they do not understand the consequence of their action. Often, they do not know how to get down and may even hurt themselves. Try to keep climbing opportunities to a minimum and don’t keep tempting things – like toys or sweets – on high shelves.

Make your home child-safe

Once your toddler learns to walk, it’s time to think about safeguarding his bedroom from accidents. Bookcases and chests of drawers should be fixed to the wall whenever possible, plugs removed from basins, windows locked and electrical sockets covered.

Source: theSun, Tue, 15 Dec 2009

Starting on Solid Food

Starting on Solid Food
by Rachel Goodchild

The do’s and don’ts of introducing baby to new fare

When should you start your baby on solids? It really depends on the individual child but it should be sometime between four and six months. At six months, he will have depleted the store of iron he was born with.
Some medical personnel will insist you wait until the six-month mark but you know your own baby better.

If he is getting hungry between feeds, chewing on his fingers and generally feeling very out of sorts, he is ready!

Your baby needs to start with plain food so don’t go adding sugar, honey or salt to his meal. You should always start with baby rice as it is the least likely to spark an allergic reaction.

The best time to introduce solids is after the mid-morning feed. You only start with very small quantities. Your child won’t suddenly eat a bowl of rice.

The first time, he may only have one spoon and that is completely normal. If he appears to gag on the rice, he may not yet be ready, so wait a couple of days before trying again.

Assuming your child tolerates the plain rice, try adding some pureed fruit or vegetables. You need to introduce one new solid at a time so that if there is a reaction, you will know what is the cause.

Your baby will still only be eating spoonfuls at each meal so why not save yourself some time. Puree the fruit and freeze in ice cube trays. For each meal, you only need to defrost as much as your little one will eat.

Just make sure that you use it within 24 hours and never reheat leftovers for a baby. They are very susceptible to food poisoning.

The trick is to gradually expand the foods you introduce. As he gets a little older, you can educate his palate to the delights of lentils and chicken.

You will still need to puree everything as he cannot yet cope with solids. At around seven months of age, you will be able to mash up his food instead as his mouth should have developed sufficiently to cope with small lumps.

During this time, milk is still his main food source so don’t be worried if it appears your infant is not "eating" enough.

Try introducing some finger foods when he is seven to eight months and sitting upright comfortably.

Lightly cooked vegetables such as carrot and courgette fingers are good. You can give him some humus as a dip. He will be delighted getting messy but may actually eat some as well!

It is also useful to introduce some carbohydrates at this stage as well.

Please don’t hover over your baby with the cleaning cloth. He needs to learn how to feed himself and the sooner you accept the mess, the better for both of you. You can get plastic coverings for the floor to make cleaning up easier.Or if it is warm enough, you could feed your baby while he is wearing just his nappy as he will be easier to clean.

He will soon learn good table manners but for now let him have fun as he learns about this whole new world.

In the middle of weaning your child, he will probably start teething. Some babies may have their first tooh as young as three months old. Often babies will feel pain, may have a fever, bleeding gums, red cheeks and generally be out of form. Sometimes they will also get nappy rash.

If he appears to be in pain, try rubbing some gel on his gums to help numb the pain. Or put his teething ring in the fridge as the cold helps to numb the pain. If your baby is old enough, try giving him a piece of hard cold fruit to nibble on.

This will be a very busy time for you and baby as you both discover this new world together. Enjoy it as it will be over before you know it.

Source: theSun, Tue, 15 Dec 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Childproofing Your Home

Childproofing your home
by Anna Tham

Our young ones are always curious and love exploring. Besides poking their little fingers into their eyes, nose and mouth, they also make a beeline for buttons, knobs, holes, cracks, and tug at strings, wires, and handles. Colourful objects and things that move or make a noise also attract their curiosity.

Once you have a crawling toddler around the house, you need to keep him safe by childproofing your home. To be sure you leave no stone unturned, take a ‘baby’s-eye view’ around your home. Get down on all fours, crawl around and see what your baby sees as he makes his way around the house.

Here is a simple, but non-exhaustive, checklist to help you childproof your home:

>>> Do not place breakable items such as vases, decorative pieces or glass picture frames within his reach. It is best to keep them in storage for the time being.

>>> Secure doorknobs of rooms, bathrooms, kitchen cabinets and wardrobes with doorknob covers or safety latches. This will keep dangerous items such as poisonous household cleaning products, medicines or drugs, and sharp objects like knives and other tools from their reach.

>>> Install safety gates at the top and bottom of the staircase. It is best to use those that can be anchored to the wall or banister, instead of those that use pressure which may topple or dislodge if the child puts his weight against it.

>>> Secure all hard edges and sharp corners with protectors to prevent injury in the event your child bumps into them.

>>> Keep dangling cords for curtains, blinds and electrical appliances out of his reach. Also, hang mobiles or dangling toys out of his reach and remove them once he can sit or stand up.

>>> Babies pull up on furniture after they start crawling. And when they learn to climb, you need to watch out. Anchor shelving units, cabinets, television sets and bookcases with braces or brackets to the wall or floor to prevent them from tipping over. Place furniture away from windows and ensure that glass doors and windows are made of strong, tempered glass. Put heavier items on bottom shelves and drawers to make furniture less top-heavy.

>>> Place pots and pans on the inner burners of the stove, and turn the handles away from his reach. Install smoke detectors around the house and ensure they are in working condition. Keep a fire extinguisher in the house and have emergency telephone numbers handy.

>>> Keep unused pails empty or overturned. If you are soaking anything, make sure the pails are out of your child’s reach. Children are top heavy and can drown in just an inch of water. Secure toilet lids and bathroom doorknobs to prevent him from entering the bathroom. Install a fence around your swimming pool. Drain out your wading pool and store it upright if not in use.

>>> Keep your floors clean. Wipe up spills immediately. Check under the carpets or furniture for food crumbs or small items that your child could pick up and put into his mouth. They are not only dirty but could be choking hazards too.

Most importantly, watch your child all the time. Even if you have childproofed your home, it takes only an instant for him to fall, crawl or run over to a dangerous place or put something into his mouth.

Source: theSun, Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Parenting Tips

Parenting Tips...

Here are some useful pointers for first-time mothers as well as mothers with a new addition to the family.

Walk the talk

Most parents want their children to be polite and use words like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, but if children don’t hear adults using the words regularly, they are unlikely to use them either. Make an effort to be polite in front of your children and they are more likely to behave that way, too.

Empathise with the child

Promote empathy in children by talking to them about stories you have read or films they have watched. For instance, if you’ve been reading Cinderella, talk to them about how upset she was because her stepsisters were mean to her.

Avoid yes or no questions

Once your child nears the age of two, their favourite word will become ‘no’. It’s not that they really mean it – it’s just that they’re learning that they have some control over their world. If you find it hard to deal with it, try cutting out ‘yes’ and ‘no’ questions and ask things like: "would you like yoghurt or strawberries?" instead of "would you like some dessert?"

Simplify tasks

Frustration is a growing pain for children when they try to do something and invariably find that they can’t quite do it yet. Help the young by giving them toys or tasks they can manage and help them along when they encounter difficulty. Simple tasks like cleaning up can give children confidence in doing things.

Dealing with depression

Even children can get depressed. If your toddler doesn’t seem to be happy or is acting strangely, try and find out what’s upsetting him/her. If nothing seems to work, take the child to a doctor immediately.

Play together

Keeping a positive attitude and playing with your toddler can help lift your spirits, even when you’re feeling down. Make an effort to find the time to indulge in fun-filled activities with your child.

Never home alone

Do not leave your baby or young child at home alone, sleeping or awake, even for a few minutes. There could be some dangers lurking around that you may not be aware of. Take your child with you, or get someone to take care of him/her, whenever you leave the house.

Source: theSun, Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Guide To Buying Shoes for Children

Guide To Buying Shoes for Children

For Small Feet

>> Always get children's feet measured when buying new shoes (only a third of children are average fir). Return after a few months to have the fit re-checked. During growth spurts, a child can grow two sizes in a term.

>> Don't buy shoes with more than the recommended "growing room" - they are a false economy, as they can cause numerous problems while the child grows into them.

>> Ensure that toenails are cut at least once a month, straight across to prevent thickened or ingrowing toenails. Check sock size regularly, too, as socks can shrink and affect nail and toe growth.

>> Act quickly and, if necessary, consult a podiatrist if you suspect a problem. This can worsen rapidly as a child's foot grows and may cause permanent deformities if it is ignored.

>> Don't allow older children to have heels higher than 3cm except for very occasional use.

Fit Big Feet

>> Ensure that soles are thick enough to provide adequate shock absorption, to limit wear and tear on the joints: We were designed to walk on earth, not concrete.

>> Check your fit: It is not only children's feet that change over time. There should always be room to wiggle your toes.

>> If you suffer pain regularly, have your feet checked. Pain is not normal, even if you have been on your feet all day.

>> Choose shoes with a lace, buckle or Velcro fastening: Support over the instep is necessary to stop the foot sliding and squeezing at the front.

>> Have two pairs of shoes for regular use, so that they can dry out: A foot has more than 200,000 sweat glands and can produce an eggcup of sweat in a day. Sweat can exacerbate skin and nail problem - and old sweat can rot shoes.

Source: New Straits Times, September 29, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Kids online safety

Kids Online Safety

Prevent your kids from spending too much time online.

The Internet creates interest and excitement and therefore it can occupy most of your children’s productive time. While in their growing years, it is important for them to manage their time and expose themselves to various activities during the day or the week in order to make their growing years more fruitful and meaningful, apart from just internet.

The following are some tips for parent to monitor their children’s time online and to ensure that they are safe as well.

>> Ask yourself if your child’s Internet use is affecting his or her school performance, health, and relationships with family and friends.

>> Determine how much time your children are spending online.

>> Get help, if your child is demonstrating strong signs of Internet addiction, consider seeking professional counseling. Compulsive Internet use may be symptomatic of other problems such as depression, anger, and low self-esteem.

>> Examine your own online habits. Do you have trouble controlling your Internet use? Remember, you are your child’s most important role model.

>> Don’t ban the Internet. It’s an important part of most kids’ social lives. Instead, establish family Internet rules about where your kids can go online and what they can do there – and stick to them. These rules might include: a limited amount of time online each day; no surfing or instant messaging until kids complete their homework; no chat rooms or online adult content.

>> Keep the computer out in the open. Set up your computer in a public area of your house, not in a child’s bedroom.

>> Establish a balance. Encourage and support your child’s participation in other activities – particularly physical pastimes with other children.

>> Help your child socialize offline. If your child is shy or socially awkward with peers, consider a social skill class. Encourage activities that will bring your child together with others who have similar interests, such as computer classes or hobby groups.

>> Teach your kids that not everything they read or see online is true. Encourage them to ask you if they’re not sure.

>> Monitor your kids. Investigate software that monitors and restricts Internet use, such as the parental controls. Although filtering and monitoring tools are helpful, keep in mind that they can be disabled by a savvy computer user. Your ultimate goal should be helping your kids to develop self-control, discipline, and accountability with the Internet.

>> Suggest alternatives. If your children seem interested only in playing online video games, try an offline tie-in to one of their favorite games. For example, if your child enjoys fantasy role-playing games, encourage her or him to read fantasy books.

Protecting your kids from online predators

The Internet has become an important part of our life, we use it for work, play and study but we must be aware of the dark side similar to real life problems that can affect your children. Talk to your kids about sexual predators and potential online dangers.

>> Young children should not use chat rooms – the dangers are too great. As children get older, direct them towards well-monitored kids’ chat rooms. Encourage even your teens to use monitored chat rooms.

>> If your children take part in chat rooms, make sure you know which ones they visit and with whom they talk. Monitor the chat areas yourself to see what kind of conversations take place.

>> Instruct your children to never leave the chat room’s public area. Many chat rooms offer private areas where users can have one-on-one chats with other users – chat monitors can’t read these conversations. These are often referred to as “whisper” areas.

>> Keep the Internet-connected computer in a common area of the house, never in a child’s bedroom. It is much more difficult for a predator to establish a relationship with your child if the computer screen is easily visible. Even when the computer is in a public area of your home, sit with your child when they are online.

>> When your children are young, they should share the family e-mail address rather than have their own e-mail accounts. As they get older, you can ask your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to set up a separate e-mail address, but your children’s mail can still reside in your account.

>> If all precautions fail and your kids do meet an online predator, don’t blame them. The offender always bears full responsibility. Take decisive action to stop your child from any further contact with this person.

NST1klassifieds, Saturday, September 5, 2009
Why Blog? The Purpose of Blogging