The bad effects of too much screentime every parent should know

Your kid’s health is important. You do everything to make sure they are as healthy as possible. But when it comes to screentime, most parents don’t realise the effect this can have on their kids health. What can you do to help them?

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independent article

1. Bad quality of sleep

Studies show that the blue light emitted from screens affects the levels of sleep inducing hormones, causing less “quality” sleep. Turn off their devices an hour before bedtime with HomeHalo’s curfews to ensure they have a good night’s sleep.

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2. Effect on school grades

Being online constantly can also cause issues with your kids grades. HomeHalo’s Homework mode ensures there are no distractions when they should be studying

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Autism Article

3. Greater chance of seeing something they shouldn’t

Over 47% of children admit seeing online porn or inappropriate images whilst surfing the net. Using HomeHalo’s content rules you can be sure they are only seeing websites appropriate to them

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4. No boundaries

There are no rules on the internet and kids of any age can access any website they wish. Most websites “age” restrictions are as simple as typing a date of birth which can easily be faked. With HomeHalo, the content is filtered to match their age so you can rest assured they aren’t on any adult sites they shouldn’t be

 

HomeHalo is hear to help and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us!

 

10 e-safety tips your kids need to know!

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In conjunction with Safer Internet Day and our ongoing quest to make the internet safer for our children we’ve compiled some of our top internet safety tips. Here are 10 things you and your kids need to know:

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  1. Don’t give away personal information

Not everyone is who they say they are online, therefore you should never give away personal information. Details like address, phone number and even the school you go to should be kept private.

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  1. Think before you share

Once you have posted something online it can often be difficult to remove. Even if you only intended to send a message to a friend it’s possible that it could be screenshotted and sent to other people.

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  1. Keep it private

Do you really want a future employer seeing that tweet about how much you hate Maths? Make sure you’ve got the right privacy settings on your social media accounts so that only close friends and family can see your posts. We have a full guide for doing this on Facebook and Twitter here.

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  1. Switch off 1 hour before bed

Research has shown that the use of backlit devices such as smartphones and tablets can supress melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone which regulates sleep, therefore it’s recommended that you switch off one hour before bed to get a good night’s sleep.

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  1. Report cyberbullying

If you receive any threatening or abusive messages it’s best not to retaliate, as this can often provoke further messages. Most social media sites have a ‘report’ button and you can also take a screenshot of the messages to show to a teacher or parent.

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  1. Never meet up with anyone you’ve met online

You should always speak to a parent or guardian if a stranger suggests that you meet.

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  1. Keep passwords safe & secure

You should always keep your passwords private; don’t even tell your close friends. You should also never choose a password that somebody could guess, like your date of birth or the name of a pet. The safest passwords include a mixture of upper and lower case letters as well as numbers and special characters.

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  1. Use Nicknames

When using a micro-blogging site like Twitter you should always use a nickname rather than your full name. It’s often a good idea to sign up using a different email address to the one you use for school/work.

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  1. Have a social media spring clean

It’s a good idea to have a regular clean-up of your social media accounts. Un-tag yourself from any unwanted photos and delete old posts. You should also delete any old social media accounts to avoid leaving unnecessary information about yourself online.

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  1. Use parental controls

The easiest way for parents to get peace of mind that their kids are safe online is to set up parental controls. The only problem is that they’re often too complicated to setup and easy for kids to get around.

HomeHalo a simple and secure way for parents to manage their kids’ devices. With our handy app you can apply age appropriate filtering to all of your kids Wi-Fi devices; making sure they aren’t accessing any harmful sites or spending too long online. If you need to get them off their devices for bed or dinner all it takes is a few taps of the app. If you want to see how HomeHalo can make your life as a parent easier, just download our app and try out the free demo. Android Download | iOS/iPhone Download

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5 tips for spending less time on screens

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2016 is here! The kids are now back at school and the tinsel has been put firmly away for another year. So do you breathe a sigh of relief that it’s all over or do you suddenly have something new to worry about?

Well, if your family is anything like ours, then your house is now full of new gadgets and the kids are now totally absorbed by their screens.

Our recent research found that two thirds of parents struggle to get their kids to put their gadgets down, leading to families across the UK having 8 million arguments every day!

With this is mind wouldn’t it be nice to make one of your New Year Resolutions to spend less time online, less time arguing and more time together?

To help you achieve this we’ve prepared 5 tips for keeping to a balanced digital diet in 2016:

1. Turn off unnecessary notifications

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How often have you found yourself tapping a Facebook notification only to waste the next half an hour scrolling through your timeline? Well, if you don’t want to waste this year looking at photos of your friends’ dinners, trim your notification settings back to only the essentials.

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2. Organise a ‘no internet’ day

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For many of us going a day without the internet seems harder than going a day without food. Why not challenge your family to an internet free day? Lock away those tablets and organise some outdoor activities; but don’t get caught checking your emails when your kids’ backs are turned!


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3. Have a ‘tech free’ dinner table: 

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Try enforcing a no screens at the dinner tablet rule to encourage conversation.

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4. Get a good old fashioned alarm clock:

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Avoid the temptation to check your social media accounts before bed by not using your phone as an alarm clock. This will also help you sleep better!

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5. Enforce some time restrictions.

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With the HomeHalo app you can easily set up an access schedule for all of your kids’ devices, so you can be sure that they aren’t spending too long online. This way you can then give them the space they need without having to look over their shoulder all the time. Get your HomeHalo here.


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Christmas 2015: Top gadgets for kids

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So December is here and the festive season has begun. In the coming weeks we’ll be braving the high streets and trawling the web trying to get all of our Christmas shopping done. But in today’s digital age it’s harder than ever to find presents that don’t break the bank.

This has got us reminiscing about the toys of our childhood, back in the days when presents didn’t need to connect to the internet! Do you remember asking for a Rubix cube? How about chopper bike? In fact the most hi-tech thing we ever asked for were Polaroid cameras or record players.

Well, nowadays Christmas lists are filled with gadgets and gizmos that are bound to keep kids hooked to their screens until the New Year and beyond. In this post we’ll run you though some of the top gadgets for kids this Christmas. We’ve included something for all age groups and budgets, so whether you’re looking for a last minute stocking filler or a big gift you’ll find something here. But remember, when the time comes to drag your kids away from their screens HomeHalo will be ready and waiting.

 

  1. Lego Fusion Townmaster- Around £39.95

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    We’ve all played with Lego at some point, but gone are the days when it was just plastic bricks and imagination. Lego Fusion Townmaster is an interactive Lego set which links to your smartphone to allow your creations to come alive. If your kids are technology addicts, this is the perfect balance between screen time and good old fashioned imagination play. The set includes 256 Lego pieces and an iOS or Android app for around £39.95


    2. Amazon Fire Kids Edition- From £79

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    Amazon’s latest kiddy tablet starts at £79 and is the perfect introduction to the digital world. The new gadget comes in a chunky case to keep it protected from those inevitable drops and tumbles. Included with the device is a year’s subscription to ‘Amazon Fire For Kids Unlimited’, giving access to a load of kiddy-friendly content. Plus, it comes in pink or blue!


    3. Luckies Smartphone Projector- £17.95

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Want to watch your favourite videos and movies on the big screen? Turn any room into a cinema with this handy smartphone projector. This gadget fits all smartphones up to a maximum size of 8.0cm x 14.5cm and 3.2 x 5.7 inches.

 

4. Official Star Wars: The Force Awakens BB-8 Interactive Droid- £129.99

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Controlled by your smartphone, the BB-8 Droid allows kids to live out their Star Wars fantasies. The droid can be controlled by voice command and allows kids to watch and record holograms. Its movements and personality are as authentic as they are advanced and offers a range of expressions and interaction.


5. Leap TV- £79.99

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LeapTV is an educational video gaming system that allows kids’ to learn through motion. Featuring 70+ LeapFrog educator-approved games and videos it teaches reading skills, mathematics, science and creativity.

Featuring three different game modes, BodyMotion, Pointer Play & Classic control. Whether swinging through Skyscrapers as Spiderman or crashing around on Kart Racing, Leap TV is bound to keep the kids entertained for a while… or at least until new year.

 

6. Batman Gadget Pen- £6.99

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A must have for all Batman fans is the Batman Gadget Pen. The handy gizmo features a ball-point pen, flat and cross-head screwdriver, ruler, spirit level and smartphone stylus all in one trusty device.


7. HomeHalo-
£35, plus £3 per month subscription

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With all the new gadgets your kids are asking for this Christmas, you’re going to need a way to bring them back into the real world. Luckily HomeHalo is here to help. Our app and router allow you to manage the time your kids spend online, the sites they visit and much more. It’s the easiest way to give your kids a balanced digital diet. Plus our Homework Mode will help ease your kids back into the new term. Order yours today for just £35 and you can have it set up in time for Christmas.

Don’t play with child safety!

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Before our recent launch event I had the pleasure of having dinner with TV’s Psychologist Honey Langaster-James. She provided a fascinating insight into how technology affects young children, with social skills and lack of sleep being the major issues with our youngsters. She also gave me a great analogy as to why parents need products such as HomeHalo. This blog is my own thought process following that meeting and is also based on my own concerns as a parent, but all credit goes to Honey for her perfect understanding of what we are all facing in today’s world.

As 30 and 40 somethings, we have all lived through some of the most technological advances in the last 100 years; the life our children lead is not even similar to the childhoods we had; and the last 8 years, since the smartphone became one of our  ‘best friends’ having our world and our activity within, it has simply changed our lives. But do we, as parents, really understand it all?  I know I don’t!

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So what? I hear you say….Well, picture this: your much loved child has made it through reception year and now onto Year 1 and is beginning to demonstrate true independence and settling in to their new circle of friends. Play-dates are a recurring theme and your child has been invited to a friend’s house for tea.

You’ve not met this child before, nor the parents – so your first mission is to understand where they live, what type of people the parents are, why you haven’t met them at school? You then ascertain the drop off and pick up times, whether they will be leaving the house, is your child to be driven by the unknown person and what are their driving skills like, do they have a spare car seat, and what will they feed them? Will they need spare clothes, will they understand that your child will throw a major fit if broccoli is presented to them – frankly it’s a minefield and you will only relax when they are home safely, fed and watered!

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Sound familiar? I still feel like this with my 15 year old, although she will now eat broccoli.

So your beloved child comes home and picks up their iThingy, or yours – “just going on Minecraft Mum” they yell. However they don’t. They surf the web; they are transported to a new virtual world or room – enter this room and in it there are strangers –  big hairy teenagers, bullies, paedophiles, kidnappers, thieves and some pretty unsavoury images – all manner of characters waiting to talk to your child.

The child you won’t let go to the park or even cross the street without holding your hand is now exposed to a world you clearly don’t want them to see at this tender age – food for thought?

My Dad once told me after a particularly difficult time with my Son, that there are only two things guaranteed in this life: one is our own death the other is that we will all, at some point, feel that we have failed our children.

As parents we all want to give our children the best and keep them safe for as long as we possibly can. You can do this today – try a free demo of our app and find out how HomeHalo can protect your family. Simply click the following links to download the Android or iOS (iphone) app. Then hit ‘Demo Mode’ to try it out for free!

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HomeHalo Press Briefing: ‘Preventing 8.5 million arguments’

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So we’ve 8.5 million arguments every day about kids on screens. 56% of parents are being flatly ignored by their kids and parents feel powerless. That’s a key finding from the research we ran on 1000 parents with Netmums and supported by the TV psychologist, Honey Langcaster-Jones (Big Brother and a regular on breakfast TV).

We love the internet, but surely it should not cause this level of aggravation. On Tuesday this week we began to sort this out!

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A select number of press & bloggers including: Emma and 3, Boo, Roo and Tigger too, Grenglish, Me and My Shadow, Kiddy Charts, A Moment With Franca, MumsMakeLists joined us to discuss the outcomes of our research. We took the opportunity to demonstrate the HomeHalo app and router, the very simplest way to enact proper parenting of your kids whilst they’re on-line.

Meanwhile Honey was busy being quizzed by 5 different radio stations. Her interviews made it to air on 25 different channels in the end! The research is now supporting numerous journalists in heaps of national and regional newspapers and periodicals, starting with the Daily Mail.

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The simple message is that there is a really simple solution! The UK can save all that stress by simple parenting tactics that we can all understand. And the great news is that there is a new and simple tool on the market that allows you to set some simple rules for all your kids and their devices. Click here to find out more.

HomeHalo research featured in the Daily Mail

We recently teamed up with Netmums to carry out some research into how families are affected by technology. The results were staggering, showing that gadgets ’cause eight million rows a day’ with two thirds of parents admitting that they struggle to get their children to put devices down.

Read the full article here.

iPads seem to have become a central part of family life.

 

5 ways we make parenting easier!

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  1. Minecraft doesn’t count as homework anymore!

    So your kids have homework due and they need to use the internet for it! Fast forward a few hours and they’ve watched 2 films on Netflix, built an entire city with their friends on Minecraft and they’ve barely written the title to their essay. This is where Homework Mode comes in. Just flick the slider, hit ‘start homework mode’ and they’ll be able to access all the sites they need for work but distractions like social media, gaming and movies will be blocked.

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  2. Bedtime is now for sleeping!

    Have you ever caught the glow of an iPad coming from your children’s bedroom at night. With HomeHalo you can set the WiFi to go off at a specific time for each child. You can set different times limits for the weekend and you can even extend their time if they need a little longer to finish the last level of their game.
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  3. You can be a great parent…even from the pub!

    So you’ve booked the babysitter and you’re heading out with friends for the evening. With a pint in one hand and our app in the other, you’ll be able to manage requests and ensure your kids are off of Netflix and ready for bed on time.

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  4. No more looking over their shoulder!

    Naturally, parents worry about what sites their kids are looking at, the problem is constant snooping at their screen can lead to some very stroppy teenagers. With HomeHalo, you can give them the space they need, whilst being sure they’re not accessing anything unsavory. You simply select their age group or the type of sites you want to be blocked, then sit back and reflect on what a wonderful parent you are!

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  5. Spend more time on other stuff!

    Once you’ve got your HomeHalo plugged in, you’ll be able to focus more time on your other parental responsibilities, like being a taxi driver and cash machine!

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To enlist your internet guardian angel head to http://www.homehalo.co.uk/buy/

 

HomeHalo reporting has arrived!

Our fantastic new reporting feature is now available through our app at no extra charge!

We’ve listened to our customers, who tell us that they really want to be able to see which sites their children have visited or have attempted to visit. From today, you’ll be able to view a list of sites that your children have been to in the last day, week or month.

This function gives you the ability to easily identify any problems should they arise, without your children feeling like you’re spying on them. We hope this will also give you added peace of mind that your children aren’t accessing harmful content online.

As you’ll see from the image below, the new function will give you a preview of each site visited and you’ll be given the option to blacklist that site or block the entire category:

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Coming very soon we’ll also have a data usage report, which will show you how much data each user has used on certain sites. This will be introduced with our next firmware release. Please be aware that until we introduce this update any data shown will be there as an example.

Shortly you will receive a notification asking you to update your app.

If you have any questions about these new features feel free to give us a call on 0800 228 9393 or email us at info@homehalo.co.uk

Kind regards

The HomeHalo Team

 

 

What do our customers have to say?

“I just love the app that allows me to give the kids more time in seconds. I’m in control again and so much more comfortable knowing that my kids are protected. Also it’s clever how the kids have different rules – but I’m not restricted.”

 Mary, Norfolk, UK.

 

“HomeHalo is exactly what concerned parents have been waiting for. Discrete control of your child’s exposure to on-line dangers. Easy to set up, simple to use, providing knowledge and peace of mind that your child is safe without being overbearing and controlling. Thank you HomeHalo”

The Hawke Family, Hampshire, UK.

 

“HomeHalo is better than good, now we are over the start-up resentment, both kids are sending “more time” requests & I love that it has eliminated the daily homework battles with Lauren “

Helen, Wiltshire, UK.