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.

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

 

 

HomeHalo win Theo Paphitis’ Small Business Sunday award

Today we want to share some exciting news, in that HomeHalo is one of the lucky winners of the Theo Paphitis Small Business Sunday award! International entrepreneur and star of BBC2’s Dragon’s Den, Theo Paphitis is the founder of the Small Business Sunday award (SBS).

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How does Small Business Sunday work?

Each Sunday thousands of small businesses apply to become an SBS winner. Applicants can enter by tweeting their business idea to Theo using the hashtag #SBS. Theo himself chooses his favorite businesses who instantly become part of the auspicious SBS Winners club!

Here’s what Theo has to say about SBS:

“I admire people who have passion and energy. If you cannot bore your friends to death about your own small business then something is seriously wrong. I was struck by the number of business owners on Twitter who wanted to tell me about their new products and services. Small Business Sunday was born so that people have a specific time slot to tweet and can pitch their ‘sell’ directly to me.”

 

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If you’ve seen Dragon’s Den before you’ll know how business savvy Theo Paphitis is, so it’s a fantastic honor to be recognized by such a revered businessman. Theo is also the brains behind some huge high-street brands, like Ryman, Robert Dyas and Red Letter Days.

Since we began the HomeHalo journey almost 5 years ago, we’ve been working hard to make our dream of a safer internet a reality and this is a great reminder of how important the mission is. We’ve had huge response on Twitter and we’d like to thank everybody who has showed their support. We would also like to thank Theo and his SBS team for this fantastic recognition and we’re looking forward to working with the SBS network in the future. To find out more about the award please visit http://theopaphitissbs.com/ You can also follow Theo on Twitter via @TheoPaphitis

To find out more about HomeHalo and how to join us on our journey visit www.homehalo.co.uk/products

Parental Control on Youtube

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With over 300 hours of new video being added every minute, YouTube is one of the most popular video sharing sites on the web. Since the first video was uploaded in 2005 the site has grown to have over 1 billion users, uploading clips of anything from music and games, to videos of their pets.

Whilst it can be a great source of entertainment for kids there’s a lot of content on there that you wouldn’t want your kids seeing. That’s why we created this guide, to help you setup secure parental control on YouTube.

 
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Parental Control on YouTube: Activating Safe Mode

 

When it comes to parental control on YouTube, the site provides a “safe mode” option which filters out videos which have been flagged as inappropriate. Whilst YouTube state that the safe search option is not 100% accurate, it’s a good place to start when safeguarding your kids against inappropriate videos.

Follow these simple steps to get Safe Mode set up and locked down:

1- Go to  youtube.com and scroll to the bottom of the Homepage.

2- Click on the button titled “Safety”.

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3- If you select the “on” option a message will appear allowing you to lock safety mode. This will mean that your children cannot disable safe mode without having your username and password.parental-control-on-youtube-screenshot2

4- To do this, click “sign in” and you’ll be prompted to enter your YouTube login details.

5- Once you’ve entered your details simply click ‘Save’. Safe Mode will now be activated.

6- You are now free to sign out and safe mode will be locked on your browser.

Please note: This will only lock safe mode on the browser you are using. You will need to repeat this process for all the browsers on your device.

 

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Parental Control on YouTube: Setting time limits

 

Another thing to bear in mind is the amount of time your kids spend on YouTube. Recent news articles have reported that many children are missing out on sleep and having trouble focusing at school, as a result of spending too long on YouTube.  A recent BBC article reported that Minecraft videos have become the 2nd most searched for term on Youtube. Stating that some children’s Minecraft obsession can lead them to neglect their schoolwork and become irritated when not playing or watching the game.

So what can you do about it? With HomeHalo you can set up time limits for when your kids can access Youtube. Whether they use a tablet, smartphone or any other Wi-Fi gadget you can ensure they aren’t sneaking online after lights out. To find out more, you can watch our video here https://youtu.be/–s4o4_FqgQ

 

With a combination of HomeHalo parental control and Youtube safe mode you can get peace of mind that your kids are safe when they’re watching they’re favorite videos. If you’ve found this post useful you might also want to check out our post on Facebook and Twitter privacy settings: www.homehalo.co.uk/blog/privacy-settings/

 

 

Internet Safety: What are the real issues?

From adult websites to cyber bullying there’s plenty to worry about when it comes to our toddlers, tweens and teens on the internet. Our children use the net for a variety of reasons, including homework and talking to friends. As parents we don’t want to stifle their natural curiosity, but we do need to provide an internet safety halo to protect them whilst they’re learning. To help you make a start with internet safety we’ve prepared some handy info-graphics explaining some of the dangers of today’s online world and what you can do to protect your family.

Inappropriate sites

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42% of 7-16 year olds claim to have seen online porn. Often children come across inappropriate and sometimes upsetting websites by accidently clicking on links. After all, it’s not called the web without reason! Some websites will also use tracking ‘cookies’ to show adverts to their previous visitors as they move around the net. In real terms this could mean that they are invited back to a porn site as they view other perfectly harmless websites.

At HomeHalo we’ve categorized each website by appropriate age range. You can also choose additional websites that your kids can or can’t access.

Employers and internet safety

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Employers are using social media, more and more in order to recruit new employees. As a parent it’s important to talk your child about what they post on social media and make sure they know that anything they post could be there forever. After all, do they want a future employer seeing their tweets about how much they hate maths? The best way to avoid this is to get the right privacy settings in place. Check out our simple guide to privacy settings on Facebook & Twitter here.

Parental control

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Over half of the parents we recently interviewed about internet safety had no parental controls set up on their child’s PC, tablets, games consoles or laptops. The main reasons we found for this is that they’re too confused by the bewildering array parental control gadgets and software.

This is where we come in…

With HomeHalo we’ve made it simple. You can set up the device in 6 easy steps and then use our intuitive smartphone app to easily manage all your kids devices. You can even choose what they can and can’t see it, dependent on their age. Click here to find out more.

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?