Night time usage of smartphones is hindering children progress at school


Our children are back to school but instead of focusing on school subjects they are focusing on their smartphones…

Do you know that huge number of children are waking up at night and checking their smartphones? Some of them wake up with over 100 notifications from conversations happening overnight.  Almost half (45%) of young people are checking their mobile phones after they have gone to bed, a poll suggests. A survey of 2,750 11- to 18-year-olds found one in ten admitted checking their mobile phones for notifications at least 10 times a night. The poll was carried out by Digital Awareness UK and the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference.

As a result, the pupils are coming to school tired and unable to concentrate. The general recommendation is to make sure pupils have “digital detox” – putting away mobile devices away for 90 minutes before lights-out or keeping them out of the bedroom. Still is this possible and how to take the phone away from your child in the event when you are not around and want to be sure that during an emergency the child can call you?

The good news is that some of the top parental control applications have already addresses the issue – Protect Your Kid, Kidslox, Family Time are some of them.

Protect Your Kid parental control applications provide the so called “Night mode”. Parents can configure night time settings so all apps and phone calls (excluding parents’ and emergency calls) are blocked. Rest assured knowing your child sleeps at night and will be in a good shape for the next day at school. The app is providing way more functionalities – parents could also configure periods during the day (class hours) when their children can’t use any social apps for example. Another great benefit of the app is that after the free trial you purchase one-time license with no hidden fees or charges.

All right then – is it that easy?

The short answer is NO. As a parent, you need to see the signs, acknowledge the problem, discuss it with your child and make the steps to resolve it. You need to openly discuss that overuse of smartphones is not doing any good but with sensible use technology can always be of help and on hand. Only then install Protect Your Kid app and let it do its work.


Win a money can’t buy prize with LEGO® Friends and Toys R US – Become a LEGO® Designer and see your set in Heartlake City!

LEGO® Friends and Toys R US are running a great competition for Lego fans aged 6-12.

For the first time ever, The LEGO Group are giving children the chance to become a LEGO designer and create an awesome new set for the LEGO Friends range.  This money-can’t-buy prize will see the winning design being put into production and then going on sale at Toys R Us in the UK/Ire and LEGO Retail stores (global distributors may vary).  The chosen set will also include a minidoll of the young designer for that extra personal touch.

Lego and friend image

Let your imagination run wild
Heartlake City is the fictional home town of the 5 LEGO Friends, Stephanie, Olivia, Andrea, Emma and Mia.  The girls need a new place to hang out in Heartlake City, somewhere cool and fun, what should it be?   The designers in the LEGO Friends team need your help and imagination to design a new place to go.
Big or small, cosy, fun or crazy, you can build something inspired from current Heartlake City building sets, or something completely different – there is no limit to your imagination! 

In March 2017, The LEGO Friends team will select 20 semi-finalists, and from this shortlist the judging panel will then select 10 finalists before choosing the ultimate Grand Prize Winner on March 17th 2017.  The judging panel includes girl band L2M, Ellie V. – Youtube toy reviewer, Studio Bubble Tea – Youtube toy reviewers, Kristel Whitaker – fan of LEGO, and the LEGO Friends team.

The Grand Prize Winner will win a week-long trip for up to 4 people to the LEGO Group headquarters in Billund, Denmark, where they will engage closely with the LEGO Friends Design Team to turn their ideas into reality.
From the 26th December 2016 at 10:00am GMT to 28th of February 2017 at 3:00pm GMT, children aged 6 – 12 worldwide can enter the competition via http://www.lego.com/friends or the LEGO Friends Facebook app. 

How to Enter

1.    Create your inspirational concept model about a new social place in Heartlake City. You can use real life bricks or the LEGO Digital Designer software, that can be downloaded with no cost here: http://ldd.lego.com/
When designing your inspirational model, think about: how relevant is your inspirational model for fans of LEGO Friends? What does your set bring to the LEGO Friends range? Does your design look appealing and stand out? Don’t forget the little details – these can enhance your idea!

2.    Submit your entry via the competition website at LEGO.com/friendsdesigner or on Facebook via the LEGO Friends application. Upload 4 images of your model (these must show it from all angles), your product name and brief description outlining what inspired you.
Entrants must have their parents’ or legal guardians permission to go online to upload their creation. Collaborations between builders are not permitted for this competition. For full terms and conditions, restrictions and further information please visit http://www.LEGO.com/friendsdesigner  


Top tips to get excited kids asleep on Christmas Eve

With Christmas Day nearly upon us, many  parents in the UK will be dreading trying to get their kids asleep before Santa’s big day. Please find below five top tips from Professor Colin Espie, about how to get kids off to sleep before Santa drops in for his milk and cookies. Colin is a professor of sleep medicine at the University of Oxford and co-founder of Big Health, a digital health company.

His top five tips are:

1. Be active during the day

There is plenty of evidence that regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep through the night. One Australian study found that every hour a child spends inactive adds three minutes to the time taken to nod off. Take a break from Christmas movies and head to the park to help expend excess energy before bedtime. 

2. Stick to bedtime routines and rituals

A consistent bedtime routine, or a set of specific ‘rituals’ before lights out, will signal that it’s time to sleep. If you’re staying away from home, find ways to recreate parts of the routine, even if they are happening later than usual. Preparing for bed in the same order each night (such as bath, brushing teeth, stories, goodnight hug), will help with readiness for sleep, wherever you are. Even a few days of a consistent schedule should help your child settle into a new location. Bringing familiar bedding, toys and books will help them to relax and feel secure away from home. 

3. Act before your child gets overtired

Young children are often reluctant to admit that they’re tired – even more so when the alternative to bed is playing with shiny new toys. Look for signs of sleepiness before your child starts to get overtired, which is often the driver for ‘hyper’ behaviour.

Try to start the bedtime routine at a consistent time. If they really don’t feel tired, they can play quietly in their bed or crib with the lights low. If you notice that your child is often overtired at night, experiment by shifting the whole bedtime routine forward by 15-30 minutes. 

4. Give plenty of notice

Give plenty of notice when bedtime is coming up, and then stick to what you’ve said: “In 10 minutes the cartoon will end and it’ll be bath time, and then we’ll have time for two books.” 

A timer which rings when playtime runs out could be a useful ‘independent’ signal that it’s time for bed. If your child refuses to stay in bed, try to avoid giving extra attention for bad behaviour. Be as neutral and uninterested as you can as you return your child to bed, even if you have to do this a few times. Consistency is key – even at Christmas – to help the whole family sleep well.

5. And if all else fails…

With a house full of guests, your child may understandably feel as though they are missing out on all the excitement by going up to bed. If you’ve followed the tips above and still have a stubborn and weary young one hanging onto the bannisters in protest, the suggestion that Father Christmas only leaves presents for children who are asleep might just be enough incentive to encourage lights out.


About Big Health

Big Health was co­-founded in 2010 by former insomnia sufferer Peter Hames and world renowned sleep expert Professor Colin Espie. As the world’s first digital medicine company, Big Health creates automated evidence­-based behavioral programs using technology, thereby making them accessible by a wider audience. Big Health’s first product, Sleepio, is a digital sleep improvement program featuring Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques, clinically proven to help overcome even long term poor sleep without pills or potions. The company is based in San Francisco, with offices in London and Glasgow. For more information on Big Health and Sleepio please visit www.bighealth.com.


Competition for School Children to set the scene for George the swinging Chimp!


George the swinging Chimp is well known to all who live locally. He has been in the store for over 50 years and many people remember visiting the Toy department  as children and seeing George. Now they bring their own children in to visit him too.  Because of George’s strong bond with Colchester people, Williams & Griffin have decided that he is the right man for the job of overseeing the store’s redevelopment.

The real ‘George’ will stay in the Toy department during the redevelopment, along with the newly-named animated Dinosaur ‘Tyrone’.

However ‘George the Mascot’ will be seen popping up in all sorts of places, overseeing and informing customers of what’s happening in-store, and making sure that everything is going to plan!

The modern George today, has set up his own facebook page (georgetheswingingchimp) so you can keep up with his antics on-line. Last week he was trying on Timberland boots in the new W&G Shoe Hall to get fitted out for the store redevelopment works! His fun facebook site will contain colouring in sheets and activities for children, and information about George and his exciting times at Williams & Griffin throughout the store redevelopment.

Do you have any early memories of George the swinging Chimp? Do they remember when he first arrived at W&G?  Did you work at the store or in the Toy department when he first arrived? Do you have pictures of George from years ago? Williams & Griffin would love to hear about it. Any information can be directed to service@wandg.co.uk with ‘George’ in the subject box or post to 152 High Street, Colchester, Essex, CO1 1PN.

Williams & Griffin and working together . . .

As ‘George the swinging Chimps’ habitat is due to change at Williams & Griffin, there are also plans being discussed for a new chimpanzee enclosure at Colchester Zoo. There are currently 8 Chimps in ‘Chimp World’, 3 males and 5 females. The oldest chimp is Billy-Joe who was born in 1975, mother to Tara and Kora. Tara is the mother to Tekita, who is the mother to Tumba. The youngest chimp was born in 2009, Talia. Pippin is the largest male of the group and was born at Twycross in 1986 and finally there is Tombe, the dominant male.

The ‘Chimp World’ enclosure is due to be completely refurbished with outside housing which will double the size of the enclosure. The works are not officially scheduled yet but will take several months to complete – so watch this space!

George  is inviting local children to be part of his story  . . .schoolpack

George will be featured in many locations around the store during the redevelopment, and he would like to give local children the opportunity to design a scene for him go up in the store. An entry pack will be sent to all Pre-schools, Nurseries and Primary Schools by mid February 2014.

A minimum of 4 competition winners will receive goodies for themselves and for their school, pre-school or nursery.

If you have any queries, please contact the store via email service@wandg.co.uk with ‘school competition’ in the subject header.

To find out more about the competition and download entry materials please visit: http://www.williegee.com/georgecompetition/

Posted by Tracy Thomas


Spring 2014 Issue Out Now!

KidAround-Cover_Spring-14NORTHWe are delighted with the new Spring issue of KidAround, which is out today.

As ever, it’s packed with loads of listings and information – where to go, who to call, what to do as a parent where YOU live.

Over 120,000 copies of the two editions of this issue will be distributed across Essex over the next week so you should get one home from school or nursery soon.KidAround-Cover_Spring-14SOUTH

If you can’t wait that long, you can read KidAround online at:

North Essex: http://issuu.com/kidaround-magazine/docs/north_essex_spring_2014

South Essex:  http://issuu.com/kidaround-magazine/docs/south_essex_spring_14_

Please don’t forget to visit our website http://www.kidaround.biz for updated listings, new competitions and more!


Posted by Tracy Thomas




·         60% of new parents don’t have life insurance in place to protect their families

·         Almost a third (30%) of parents without cover admit that taking out a policy wasn’t a priority

·         Almost half (47%) without cover didn’t take out cover because they think it is just too expensive

·         Asda Money offers more to new parents with free life cover until baby’s first birthday*

As new research reveals 60% of new parents1 have no protection cover in place, Asda Money launched its free life insurance for new parents offering £10,000 life cover for each parent per baby under the ages of 12 months and up to their first birthday.

While becoming a parent should trigger families to take out life cover, it’s not just new parents that have neglected to do this.  Almost half (49%) of all parents do not have life insurance in place to protect their families, with 46% of those without believing it is just too expensive.  When parents do take it out, it’s often low on their to-do list, with 32% taking it out more than a year after having their first child.  Research also reveals that parents with younger children are less likely to have life insurance.  Only 3% of parents with children aged 0-5 years old have a life insurance policy while over a third (34%) of parents with children over 21 are covered.

For new parents, juggling all the demands and worries of having their first baby, taking out life insurance should give them added peace of mind.  Almost one in six (18%) who failed to take it out don’t think they will need it and almost a third (30%) said it is not a priority.  However, parents with children born before the recession kicked in (aged between 6 – 15 years old) are much more likely to have cover in place with 63% stating they have a policy.  Having a protection policy in place of any sort is low on the list for families; just 16% of all parents have income protection in place.

Kirsty Ward, head of Asda Money said “Whilst becoming a parent is an amazing experience, it can be a stressful and emotional time filled with sleepless nights and worry.  That’s why we are offering new parents the opportunity to receive up to £20,000 of free life cover per child until the baby’s first birthday, to provide some peace of mind.  We know that many families are feeling the pinch and we are hoping we can make a little difference.”

Asda Money free life cover for new parents is distributed through Asda’s distribution partner LifeSearch Limited, and provided by Aviva Life & Pensions UK Limited.

Asda Money’s free life insurance for new parents:

•       £10,000 free life cover – for each parent per child. So the family will receive £20,000 in cover if both parents apply.

•       Covers families for up to one year – The policy pays out if a parent passes away on or before their baby’s first birthday.

•       Automatic acceptance – unless a customer has been diagnosed with HIV, or received treatment for cancer within the past 12 months.

•       Absolutely free –Customers won’t be asked for their bank account or credit card details.  And if they have more than one baby under one year old, they can apply separately in respect of each child.

•       Free Advice: Lifesearch advisers are on hand to discuss each family’s full protection needs when setting up free cover. Although the amount of free cover available won’t be sufficient to meet the protection needs of the majority of growing families, it’s a start. There is no requirement to take out an additional policy, but where a need is identified we hope the additional cover is taken up to ensure the family is properly protected.

To find out more, visit http://www.ASDA.com/money

Posted by Tracy Thomas


Bookstart Star Launched for Children with Additional Needs


Booktrust celebrated yesterday with the launch of a new book pack to be gifted to children with additional needs.  The Bookstart Star pack is aimed at children that have disabilities that impact on or delay the development of their fine motor skills and includes books and resources to help families enjoy reading together every day. Inside the pack is an exclusive book from Child’s Play publishers, Off to the Park!, which includes an array of tactile features such as a big red squashy ball, a glittering path and even an ice cream scented page. Also included is Mouse Is Small, a board book from Mary Murphy and children’s publisher Walker and animal finger puppets to play along to the story with. Completing the pack are resources to help parents and carers enjoy reading with their children.

The pack was launched yesterday with an event at Free Word for the publishers, partners and for the first families to receive the pack. Head of Booktrust Early Years Sector Justine Hodgkinson said:

“We are delighted to add the Bookstart Star pack to the Bookstart Programme, and hope it will inspire a love of books and reading for the children and families who receive it. There is so much enjoyment to be had from engaging with the stories included, from the exciting tactile pages of Off to the Park! to the finger puppets which encourage families to bring Mouse is Small to life. Reading has a huge impact on a child’s development and the pleasure of sharing a story should be accessible for every child. We hope the Bookstart Star Pack will help us to reach even more families across the country.”

Bookstar Launch

Bookstar Launch

The new pack will complement the universal packs which are gifted to young children at key stages of their development, and will join the Bookshine packs, specially designed for deaf children and Booktouch packs for blind children. Bookstart works with partners in libraries, health and early years to distribute packs to all families and help to instil a lifelong love of reading. Over 35 million books have been gifted through the programme since 1992 and the programme has been adopted by 22 other countries. The bookgifting programmes are also enhanced by local rhymetime sessions and the Bookstart Bear Club, as well as targeted support for families via the Bookstart Corner programme.

Bookstart is run by Booktrust, an independent national charity that encourages people of all ages and cultures to engage with books.

Bookstart offers the gift of free books to all children at key ages before they start school, to inspire a love of reading that will give children a flying start in life. Bookstart works through a unique public/private partnership; generous publisher support, central funding from the Department for Education in England, the Department of Education in Northern Ireland and the Welsh Government. Working through local authorities and health partners, the free Bookstart packs help every child to develop early literacy and communication skills and become confident and enthusiastic learners who are familiar with books, stories and rhymes because they enjoy them as part of their everyday routine. Bookstart also aims to foster a love of books, stories and rhymes through a range of fun activities such as the Bookstart Bear Club and story and rhymetimes in community spaces. Parents and carers wishing to receive a pack should speak to their health visitor or early years professional. http://www.bookstart.org.uk

image001Booktrust is a reading charity that makes a nationwide impact on individuals, families and communities, and culture in the UK. Booktrust makes a significant positive contribution to the educational outcomes of children from the earliest age. We work to empower people of all ages and abilities by giving them confidence and choices about reading. We want individuals of all backgrounds to benefit from the wellbeing that a rich and positive engagement in reading can bring.

Booktrust is responsible for a number of successful national reading promotions, sponsored book prizes and creative reading projects aimed at encouraging readers to discover and enjoy books. These include the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, the Children’s Laureate, and Bookstart, the national programme that works through locally based organisations to give a free pack of books to babies and toddlers, with guidance materials for parents and carers. http://www.booktrust.org.uk

Posted by Tracy Thomas