Wednesday, 27 February 2019

When is the right time for your child's first mobile phone? #AD

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Carphone Warehouse and Nokia. All opinions are my own.

When is the best time for a child's first smartphone - Tween boy in hat

Choosing the right mobile phone is a big decision for anyone, this is a device that you will most likely use every day and you may be reliant on it for communication, for accessing news and for keeping up to date with your diary and activities, you may even pay for your shopping using it, or take advantage of electronic transport passes on your commute. Choosing the first mobile phone for your child is an even bigger commitment. When you hand your child a smartphone, you are providing them with the possibility of unlimited access to the Internet, and while this can be a great educational tool, it's also giving them a responsibility much beyond their years. You are trusting them to be sensible and set their own limits, yet how do you know if they are ready for such power?

When is the right age to have a first mobile phone?

Before you even start to consider which handset or tariff to opt for, you need to decide when the right age is for your child to have their first mobile phone. This is a question that doesn't have a 'one size fits all' answer. It will be different for every child and will depend on their own maturity level and circumstances. Can they exercise restraint? Can they be trusted not to use the phone during class or when they should be in bed? Do they have enough judgement to know what photographs are appropriate to post online? Do they 'need' a way to get in touch with you for emergencies?

We made the decision that our son would be given his first mobile phone for his eleventh birthday. This tied in well with him starting secondary school a week later as he would getting public transport independently for the first time and he would be able to utilise a smartphone to access apps and educational websites to help with his homework.

Tween boy looking at screen of Nokia 3.1 plus Andriod one smartphone

What should you consider when buying your child's first mobile phone?

One of the first things that I considered when we were browsing for Ben's first mobile phone was cost. I wanted to find a balance between a phone that had enough 'street-cred' to be 'acceptable' to a pre-teen and his friends, but also wasn't too high value and wouldn't, therefore, make him a target for theft. It also had to look good as my son can be rather fussy about what he wears and what he carries around with him would be no exception. Sturdiness was another huge factor, I have to admit that Ben takes after my side of the family when it comes to clumsiness and 'butterfingers' is a pretty apt nickname for us both! We certainly didn't want him to end up with a cracked screen after just a few days so we were in the market for a phone that would be fairly robust.

When it comes to the capabilities of the phone itself we were looking for an operating system that would last the test of time and features that would grow with Ben, we also wanted him to have a camera that he could have some fun with on our travels, taking pictures and videos to capture memories of all our family adventures.

Once we knew what we were looking for and had agreed on a budget, we took Ben to our local Carphone Warehouse to have a look at what they had on offer, Ben was immediately drawn to the Android One  range from Nokia and they really did seem like the perfect phone, a no-nonsense version of Android that has all the essentials in a sleek, easy to use handset a million miles away from the Nokia 8210 I had as a teen (Although I did love the polyphonic ringtones!)

How do you protect your child when they have their first mobile phone?

Just like any parents, once we had made the decision to purchase our child's first mobile phone, we wanted reassurance that he would be safe online and that we can keep in touch at any time.  We wanted to give our 11-year-old freedom and independence but equally be able to protect him from inappropriate content.

Thanks to Carphone Warehouse and Nokia, I was introduced to the Family Link app from Google. An app that offers that much needed reassurance to parents but also allows children to have the freedom to explore the capabilities of their technology within protected boundaries.

App Authorisation

For children who are excited about having the independence of their first smartphone, the first thing they want to do is download ALL of the apps they've ever heard their friends mention or seen advertised on TV or even the bus stop! Once we had the Family Link app set up, Ben was free to access Google Play Store and select apps to download, but each time he chose an app he had to request permission from me to continue, he could do this by either sending the request through to the parental app on my phone where I could either approve or decline or if I was in the room with him, he could hand me his phone to log in with my credentials and approve it instantly. There is the facility to vary the amount of control, so if I wanted I could change it so that he only needed my permission for paid apps or those with in-app purchases.

Using Family Link app from google to restrict screen time

Screen Time Limits

One of my big worries was the amount of screen time Ben would have when he had his own device, he had always wanted five more minutes on the PlayStation or one more episode of whatever he was watching on TV and I was concerned about how we would be able to limit this with his phone. Family Link accounts for this and allows you to set up daily limits for screen time as well as set a bedtime period between which times the phone cannot be accessed. It also has a parental override so even if daily limits haven't been reached but you know that history homework is still sat on the desk waiting to be done, you can manually lock the phone so that your child is unable to unlock or use the phone, other than to make preset 'emergency' phone calls.

As well as limits, the app allows you to view reports of your child's activity on the device with a breakdown of the apps he has been using so you know if he really was researching for his science homework or just chatting to his friends online.

Location Monitoring

Another useful feature of the app is the ability to see where your child is located. When this feature is enabled, you can check at a glance if he is at that friend's house or almost home from school. It's also handy if the phone is left somewhere or even lost in the house.

Tween boy with Nokia 3.1 plus Andriod one smartphone - blue

Can you allow your child independence on the Internet?

The Family Link app took around 15 minutes to fully set up on my phone using my existing Google Account, including setting up a Google Account for Ben. 

For me, this app lets me set digital ground rules and gives me peace of mind that I can allow my pre-teen more independence to explore the online world without worrying that he is going to put himself at risk, run up credit card bills or even sit up all night watching Rollercoaster POV videos. He knows that he has a set time limit for screen time and he has to take responsibility for how he uses it.

Right now I still feel that he is too young for social media accounts, but many of his friends already have them, so if we do decide to relax this in the future I know that the Family Link app will allow me the confidence that I will be able to monitor his screen time.

With the help of the Family Link app I feel reassured that we made the right choice in the timing of our son's first mobile phone. He has the security of a way of contacting us if needed, the independence to explore and learn using technology and the approval of his peers and at the same time, I have the peace of mind that he is using technology in a responsible way.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World - Plush Toys #SentforReview

To celebrate the release of the third movie in the How to Train Your Dragon series, we have been sent a selection of the new plush toys available from Posh Paws to review. This post also contains affiliate links.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World  - Plush Toys #SentforReview

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World sees the return of our favourite dragons and dragon riders and introduces a few new ones too including my daughter's new favourite, the Light Fury! Posh Paws have brought out a range of super cute toys to accompany the release of the Dreamworks movie at the beginning of this month and we were excited to see some of them up close.

The new range includes Bag Clips, Night Lights, Medium plush toys and Large plush toys with prices starting at just £5.99.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World  - Toothless and Hookfang plush toys

Both my children have been fans of the franchise based on the How to Train Your Dragon Books by Cressida Cowell for a number of years now and own all the books as well as a number of toys and novelties that they have collected over that time. They eagerly awaited the release of The Hidden World and we all went to see it on opening weekend, they both gave it rave reviews! Although my eldest is now probably at the upper end of the age range now, he has certainly passed his affection for it on to his younger sister who was thrilled to receive these Posh Paws goodies to play with!

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World  - Toothless plush bag tag

Toothless Bag Clip

The bag clips are available in a variety of dragons including Toothless, Light Fury, Hookfang, Barf and Belch, Stormfly and Meatlug. They are approximately 10cms in height, are suitable for ages 3 years + and are available at an RRP of just £5.99 from your Clintons and Hamleys stores.

These adorable mini soft toys may be small but they are full of detail! The soft black 'fur' is textured to give the effect of scales, the tail features Toothless' unique red tail fin as made by hiccup and the face includes his distinctive green eyes in high quality embroidery. The large plastic clip is ideal to clip on to school bags or luggage so your child can take their new friend with them to school or along on their travels and the price is great pocket money value.

Hookfang from HTTYD toy - Review

HookFang Medium Plush Toy

As any How to Train Your Dragon fan will know, Hookfang is the Monstrous Nightmare dragon ridden by Snotlout. Both warriors at heart, they are a fearsome duo but Hookfang has been known to ignite first and think second, not always doing what Snotlout asks! This plush version won't be breathing fire but does come with rather funky glow in the dark wings which makes him an ideal bedtime companion. Great quality and attention to detail, this medium plush also features embroidered facial features, with 3D eyes and a cheeky toothy smile.

Girl stroking night fury dragon - toothless

Toothless Medium Plush Toy

Toothless is the last known specimen of the Night Fury Species, once thought of as the unholy offsping of lightening and death itself, but now proven to be a playful, inquisitive and intelligent, loyal dragon and of course Hiccup's best friend.  He is the Alpha, the king of the dragons and plays a significant role in The Hidden World movie (but we won't spoil that for you if you have yet to see it!)

Toothless from HTTYD toy - Review

The Toothless plush from Posh Paws is slightly larger that Hookfang but shares the high quality and attention to detail, as well as a soft but sturdy cuddly body. Just like the smaller bag clip, Toothless bears the distinctive red tail fin crafted by Hiccup and soft textured scale like fur. When the light go out he has an extra surprise in store, as well as glow in the dark wings and badge, his beautiful big green eyes glow also!

glow in the dark dragon wings - hookfang and toothless

These 32cm medium plush toys are also available in Light Fury, Barf and Belch, Stormfly and Meatlug, each feature the glow in the dark wings and bear a shiney glow in the dark badge. They have an RRP of £16.99 and can be purchased at Amazon, Zoom, Harrods, Hamleys and Clintons.

Hookfang and Hiccup plush toys HTTYD

Dragon night lights are also in the range at just £8.99 RRP and large 61cm Plush Dragons are available for £29.99 RRP.

girl kissing toothless the dragon HTTYD

What we thought of the new HTTYD range from Posh Paws

Elizabeth adores her new Posh Paws friends, the mini Toothless is attached to her favourite backpack ready to join us on our next adventure and the medium Toothless and Hookfag have joined her Hiccup and Astrid soft toys on her bed, she loves how their wings and badges glow once the lights go off! They all get a big thumbs up from us and would make perfect gifts for any HTTYD fan.

Posh Paws How to Train Your Dragon soft toys

Girl with How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Toys

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World  - Plush Hookfang and Toothless Toys from Posh Paws

If you have a How to Train your Dragon fan, you won't want to miss our review of the latest Spinmaster toys released with the How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World movie (Including fire breathing dragons!)...  COMING SOON.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World  - Plush Toys #SentforReview

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald - Nifflers and Niffler Babies

We are big fans of the world of Harry Potter in our house and we all loved the first Fantastic Beasts film, especially being introduced to all of the magical beasts that lived inside Newt's suitcase! In fact, after watching the movie for the first time my daughter declared she wanted her own Niffler!

Now her and many other children's wishes can come true as you can buy them (or yourselves!) their very own soft and cuddly Niffler plush toys to cuddle and take care of!

What is a Niffler?

Nifflers are British creatures, and are fluffy with a long snout. They are burrowing  animals with a liking for anything shiny! Although gentle and affectionate, they can be very destructive and rather mischievous.
The second movie in the series, Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald, is out at cinenas now and not only brought back the lovable yet mischievous Nifflers, but also introduced us to the super adorable Niffler Babies!

Kids At Play (KAP) Toys have brought out a full range of Niffler plush toys to accompany the movie.

These soft and cute teddies are great quality and have lots of lovely details, the 'adult' Niffler even has it's own pouch to keep all the shiny things he finds! The small Niffler babies also fit snugly in there too!

Perfect gifts and stocking fillers for any fans of the Fantastic Beasts series young or old Niffler and Niffler babies are available in a variety of independent retailers now and you can follow Kids at Play Twitter to find out more.

How adorable are these plush Niffler Babies? Do you have a Fantastic Beasts fan who would love to cuddle up with these?

If you'd like to find out about more gift ideas from the wizarding worlds then pop over and read this review of New Look's Harry Potter Sleepwear range and these top gift ideas for Harry Potter fans!

These products were sent to us for the purpose of this review, all opinions and images are our own.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Harry Potter Sleep Wear for Grown Ups!

I love the Harry Potter books and movies and I'm delighted that it is a fandom that everyone can enjoy no matter their age! You may have read my Top Stocking Fillers for Harry Potter Fans gift guide where I brought together some great gift ideas for Hogwarts wannabes, well I'm now thrilled to discover that New Look have brought out a fabulous range of sleepwear and loungewear for big kids just like me who love J.K.Rowling's stories of witchcraft and wizardry.

Harry Potter Hogwarts PJs from New Look

Released just in time for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, out this week, these PJs and dressing gown would be perfect for snuggling up and re-watching the Harry Potter movies on a cold winter evening!

Harry Potter Gifts for Grown Ups

I've been sent a couple of items from the new range that would make perfect gifts this festive season. 

Ladies Harry Potter Hogwarts Shortie Pjs

Harry Potter Ladies PJs

The Harry Potter Hogwarts Pyjama set  would be perfect for packing in your trunk to Hogwarts or maybe for a festive break away. This two part PJ set consists of a short sleeved stretchy t-shirt with the Hogwarts crest on the front and a pair of toasty green tartan brushed cotton shorts, with a matching tartan drawstring bag to keep them together. Available in sizes S, M and L with an RRP of £19.99 these would make an ideal gift for Mums, Sisters, Aunties or teen children who are big Harry Potter fans!

Harry Potter Gifts for Adults - Book, Pjs and wand

Harry Potter Men's Robe

If you're buying for a guy who who's a big Potterhead then don't despair, as New Look have something for the men too! This fabulous men's Hooded Dressing Gown can be found on the New Look website here, and I've been sent one for a sneak peek and I can't get over just how soft and snuggly it is! An ideal gift for your husband or boyfriend so that you can steal it back again when you're feeling chilly, maybe? This robe may be super warm and fluffy but it's not too girly for the man in your life! In black velour, it has two burgundy pockets and is trimmed in the Hogwarts tie colours of burgundy and gold with a matching belt. The chest has an embroidered Hogwarts crest and the back has the word Hogwarts embroidered in bold white text. The details are exquisite and the quality is high, making its RRP of £27.99 very good value!

Men's Hogwarts Robe

Do you have any Adult Harry Potter Fans to buy for this Christmas? I would highly recommend checking out the sleep wear range from New Look if so!

Harry Potter Gifts for Men - Dressing Gown, Wand and book

Join in with the #HarryPotterPJParty on Twitter

Join me tonight for a chat over on twitter all about getting cozy in your Jammies and watching the Harry Potter movies! There may even be some prizes to be won! Join myself @mymummyspennies and the lovely @DanielleGParker who will be hosting the twitter party from 8pm-9pm tonight (Monday 12th November 2018) Down forget to follow #HarryPotterPJParty!

We were sent the Harry Potter Sleepwear items from New Look in exchange for this post and the twitter party. All opinions are our own.