Online Safety Resources for Parents

Online Safety Resources for Parents

For a parent, the Internet is as much of a wonder as it is terrifying. For the first time in human history, our kids have access to a limitless, free store of knowledge, but there are also dark corners teeming with predators. When the worst happens, the story blazes across every news site, and we’re suddenly terrified for our own charges. That’s why it’s so important to familiarize ourselves with the best online safety resources for parents. Even though we occasionally hear wretched stories about children being harassed, victimized, and bullied while online, barring the younger generation from the Internet isn’t an option. A child needs to learn how to navigate the online world for purposes relating to education, communication, and eventually, employment.

Much as we educate our kids not to take candy from strangers, we need to consult online safety resources for parents and work to ensure that our children have safe places to work and play while they’re on the web. Face-to-face communication is important, too: Talk to your kids about online safety, answer any questions they have, and assure them that they can always come to you with more questions and concerns. If you’re looking for online safety resources that can help, consider these ten a great starting point:

WiredSafetyWiredSafety is a good online safety resource for both parents and kids. The site keeps up to date with the latest news on online safety legislation, and offers common sense stories and tips across every aspect of online life, including friendships, security, and relationships. There’s also advice for kids about how they should deal with online arguments and bullying.

Get NetwiseGet Netwise is an easy-to-navigate website that boasts a big library of video tutorials. Some tutorials include tips on how to filter search engine results, while others offer in-depth looks at online security programs.

Google’s Family Safety CenterNot surprisingly, Google features a portal to a variety of tools that parents and teachers can use to help kids navigate the Internet safely. You can use the Family Safety Center to control YouTube and Search content, report abuse, and watch video tips from other parents.

NetSmartzNetSmartz is run by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Its colorful tips and characters should hold special appeal to young visitors. Kids can even access, print, and read free eBooks that use metaphors to describe the hazards of giving away information to online advertisers.

StaySafeOnlineStaySafeOnline by the National Cyber Security Alliance emphasizes the importance of online security, especially when using social networks like Facebook and Google+. The site also provides parents with advice for keeping an eye on kids who love online gaming.

For more online safety resources for parents, check out:

Connect Safely

Facebook Safety Center

Common Sense Media

SafeKids

KidsHealth

Also be sure to see our own The Modern Parent’s Guide series of high-tech parenting books (a free download) as well.

[Image source: Digital Mom Blog]

How to Self-Publish Your Book or eBook

How to Self-Publish Your Book or eBook

It’s somewhere on the top of every aspiring writer’s “To Do” list: Write a Novel. Preferably one that earns a descriptor like, “Great American,” “Best-Selling,” or “Phenomenally Popular.” Alas, not everyone has the time or energy to engage in courtship dances with agents and publishers. Fortunately, the Internet is brimming with some of the best resources you can use to self-publish your own books.

You’re not restricted to publishing novels, either. There are tools online that let you self-publish magazines, eBooks, and even cookbooks. Most self-publishing services are hooked up with one or more major book distributors ( including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and international distributors as well), so selling online is a snap too. Of course, some writers still prefer the thrill and challenge of having their work acknowledged and promoted by a publisher. But if you’re looking for something quicker, easier and more practical, here are some great resources you can use to self-publish your writing: 

LuluLulu is the Internet’s go-to spot for self-publishing. You can pay for printing, editing, and marketing services a la carte, or else you can opt for a package experience that hooks you up with a personal coordinator that will take you through the process. If you’re undecided about what you need, you can sign up for a free consultation, and the site also offers extensive back-end selling tools for businesses. Distribution to online websites, iBooks and the Nook is also offered.

CreateSpaceCreateSpace is a publication service run by Amazon.com. You can turn your book into solid matter by using either the site’s free or paid services, and you can put the finishing touches on your work with the site’s affordable editing, design, and marketing options. You can also promote your novel via your own eShop, which is hosted by Amazon.

Kindle Direct Publishing – Many authors are turning to Amazon’s popular Kindle eReader to publish, with digital books starting to outsell print volumes. Using KDP, you can publish small Singles (about the size of a long essay) or full-size novels alike in digital eBook format, and get them up on the site for download to the Kindle Fire and similar devices in a matter of days. It’s shockingly convenient.

MagCloudMagCloud is a print-on-demand service that’s headed by Hewlett-Packard (HP). It’s tailored for the creation and distribution of digital editions and single-issue magazines. MagCloud offers digital support, too. Show the world that the fanzine is not dead by printing your own magazines and distributing them to friends, family and supporters! 

iUniverseWith iUniverse, you have access to advice and tips from insiders that have already had success self-publishing their work. The iUniverse Roadmap walks you through the publishing process, making it as easy as possible to get your work off the computer and up for sale. 

What About eBooks? – For some people, there’s no substitution for the rough lick of pages passing through your fingers. Let’s be reasonable, though, eBooks are only going to become more popular, not less so – especially with digital manuscripts now outselling print volumes. That’s why you should definitely consider putting out an eBook in addition to your print books or as an alternative when it comes time to self-publish. After all, hard copies of books and magazines tend to be a bit more costly than virtual alternatives, and a potential reader is far more likely to shell out for the (much) lower cost of an eBook.

Lulu.com’s even found that eBooks can offer readers additional benefits, and potentially boost sales of print editions as well, and offers eBook publishing, as do many of the other sites mentioned on this list. There are other services that can help with digital publishing programs as well, including SmashWords, Publish Green, and FastPencil. Look at what each service offers and decide what’s right for you. 

For more information about self-publishing books and eBooks, visit:

How to Self-Publish an eBook at CNET

How to Self-Publish Anything at Mashable

Why Every Entrepreneur Should Self-Publish a Book at TechCrunch

Make Free Phone Calls Online

Make Free Phone Calls Online

Briiing briiing. It’s for you. It’s big savings. Technology has changed drastically over the years, but one thing that hasn’t changed is humanity’s love for nattering at each other over long distances. Email makes it easy and cheap to communicate with loved ones who are on the other side of the country, but nothing can take the place of a meaningful telephone call. But how do you make those calls without having to worry about the minutes ticking down and the dollars piling up? Thankfully, a number of new services let you make free phone calls online over the Internet.

The best way to get started: Familiarize yourself with some of the many ways to make calls at zero cost online, as all offer different features, technology and services. As an example, there are VoIP (Voice-Over IP) programs galore that let you perform unlimited PC-to-PC calls, as well as alternate solutions that allow for PC-to-phone connections, videoconfrencing or video chats, and a variety of apps and services that offer unique calling capabilities. Keep in mind that you may need to download software to make these calls, though the necessary programs are usually free. More importantly, some VoIP telephone services do not support emergency 911 calls, or connect to standard operator reference services. Whichever software you choose to make calls with, confirm that it supports 911 at the very least. If it doesn’t, you’ll want to consider keeping a land line handy for emergencies.

That said, if you’re looking to put pro bono calling capabilities on speed dial, here are five of the many ways that you can now make free phone calls on the Internet.

Google VoiceGoogle Voice can be used on any Web browser, and it’s also available as a stand-alone app for Android, Blackberry, and iPhone. Essentially, the call management service lets you sign up for one number that can ring all your lines (cell, home, office, etc.) and alternately lets you connect to a destination phone for free. However, calls are limited to three hours in length (after which you will be disconnected, but can simply connect again), and they’re only free as long as you call numbers based in the United States and Canada. If you call foreign countries outside of North America, you’ll be charged a per-minute fee.

Google TalkGoogle Talk is a free browser plug-in that allows for unlimited PC-to-PC calls, and free PC-to-phone calls. If you want to make any kind of phone call via your PC, you need to have a microphone headset, which can be purchased at any electronics store.

iCallWith iCall’s software, you can make free calls from your PC to the recipient’s phone. The computer you call from can be located anywhere in the world, but in order for the call to remain free, the recipient must be in the United States or Canada. The program is very easy to use, though calls are limited to five minutes, and you must listen to a ten-second advertisement every time you re-connect.

SkypeSkype is probably the best-known name in VoIP technology. Many people have Skype accounts, which makes it easy to perform PC-to-PC calls. Skype is also great for videoconferencing and video calls, and it has a useful text-based Internet chat service.

FreeBuzzerUnlike most programs let you make free phone calls over the Internet, FreeBuzzer doesn’t limit you to the United States and Canada: You can make free calls to over 40 countries by utilizing phone-connecting software that’s similar to Google Voice. Your calls are limited to a brief two minutes, and you can only make three free calls in a day, but FreeBuzzer is still a good option if you want to say a quick hello to an overseas friend. Also, the company’s mascot is a mosquito. Charming!  

For more help with making free phone calls, visit:

Freebies at About.com

Make Free Calls Using Gmail at TechVibes.com