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.

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.

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/

 

The summer holidays are here!

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So the summer holidays are finally here! This means warmer weather, BBQ’s in the rain and the children almost at the end of another school year!

 If you are anything like us though the school summer holidays come with mixed feelings. For most of us the headline challenge (after paying for the family holiday) is arranging child cover. Increasingly this is achieved by us working from home or relying on our friends and parents.

With copious amount of physical and mental energy pent up from weeks without the constant company of 30 odd children in a learning environment; most of us are seeking ways to occupy our children in a safe happy environment without having to spend a fortune on days out.

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“Im Bored”

Although we at HomeHalo can’t actually help with the annual predicament of the “I’m bored!” cries, we can help you with the heavy task of ensuring that your children are safe when they’re attached to their favourite gadget. Whether that be an iThingy, PlayStation or Xbox, the HomeHalo will be your ‘eyes’ whilst your children are happily shooting or surfing …. Leaving you to juggle, work, home and a million other things!

If you are one of the hundreds of thousands of parents that are lucky enough to have your own parents looking after your children during the summer then you have other issues. Not only do children suddenly live by grandparents rules of extra biscuits…they can baffle them with ‘tech speak’  and given that most of us don’t know how our kids technology works, what chance do our parents have?

Summer Holidays: HomeHalo to the rescue!

 This bit we can help with! We all know that parental control is something we really need to sort out, but let’s face it – it’s pretty boring and most of us have no idea how to achieve this anyway – so this is where HomeHalo comes into its own – 7 easy steps and you’re up and running… just don’t get your teenager to set it up!

 And imagine the fun you can have with our app, blocking your little angels or stroppy teenagers each time they step out of line! Head to www.homehalo.co.uk/buy/ to enlist your summer holiday guardian angel.

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Apple Watch: The Parent’s Guide

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Apple-Watch

 

Last week the Apple Watch launched and with sales already reported at $1 billion, it’s bound to become the must have fashion accessory in schools across the country. Billed by experts as the ‘game changer’ for the wearable tech industry, it’s no doubt your kids have already started nagging you for one.

With alerts, information and notifications soon to become available from your children’s wrist, will the Apple Watch just mean another distraction in the classroom or another alert ringing out at the dinner table? If the hefty price tag hasn’t already put you off, we take a look at some of the implications of smart-watches on family life.

What does the Apple Watch do?

Apple opened up their WatchKit software last year and app developers across the world have already begun releasing their own Apple Watch offerings. Along with the usual suspects like Twitter and Instagram, other creators have started releasing more unique apps like Lifesum, an app which tracks your daily food intake and compares it with the amount of exercise you’ve had. Other apps include an alcohol breathalyser called ‘BACtrack’ and the innovative ‘Boiled Egg Timer’ which is set to revolutionize egg boiling i.e. it tells when you’re egg is ready! You’ll also be pleased to know that as well as tracking your heartbeat and managing your daily schedule, you can also use it to… guess what? tell the time!

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Apple Watch: Set to revolutionize egg boiling!

Will the notifications ever end?

How many times have you had to tell your kids to put their phones away at the dinner table? Well now you’ll have to add watches to the list of distractions, as notifications start ringing out from their wrists at all hours. Teachers will also be on the receiving end of Watch pains, as they struggle with pupils who are supposedly “Just checking the time”.

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Dinnertime: Saying Grace or sending texts?

Will it take off?

When the iPad launched in 2010, everyone wondered why anyone who’s already got a smartphone and laptop would need a tablet device. Five years on and the iPad has become an integral part of many people’s lives. In fact, tablets appear to be the main concern that we hear from parents who’re worried about the amount of time their kids spend online. In many cases, parents feel that their kids are using their tablets too much to play games or watch Minecraft videos late into the night. Could the same soon be true for the Apple Watch? ….. Only time will tell.

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Have iPads replaced the television in the home?

How do you control devices?

Before you go running off to buy your kids a space-age timepiece, you might want to think about how you manage your children’s current devices. Research has shown that too much screen time can lead to depression and anxiety in young people. With HomeHalo you can set personalised time limits and content filters for each child and every device. You can control these from the palm of your hand using our app, and ensure that your kids aren’t becoming addicted or exposed to inappropriate content. To find out more about how HomeHalo can keep your family safe click HERE.

What do you think? Will the Apple Watch improve our lives, or is it just another distraction?