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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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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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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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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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?

Revision Tips for Parents

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So the dreaded exam season will soon be upon us and we can already feel the stress starting to set in. From all night chemistry crams to last minute coursework printing panics, exams can be just as daunting for parents as they can be for kids. To help you avoid having a breakdown during this chaotic time we’ve prepared some top revision tips for parents.

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  1. Plan early. It’s best to find out the dates of your children’s exams and their coursework deadlines early. You can then start to draw up a revision plan and there’ll be no last minute surprises.
  2. Be flexible. Exam time can be a stressful period for the whole family. Try to relax the rules on household chores & jobs during exams.
  3. Be reassuring. On the day of an exam explain to your kids that failing is not the end of the world and that they just have to try their best.
  4. Eat brain food. Eating healthily during the exam period can give your kids the brain boost that they need. Whilst they might be tempted to fill up on caffeine and sweets, it’s best to stick to brain foods like: Fruit, fish & vegetables… and plenty of water.
  5. Avoid distractions. In today’s digital age a lot of revision has to be done online and it’s all too easy for kids to wander onto Netflix or YouTube when they’re supposed to be revising. With HomeHalo you can activate Homework Mode, which allows your kids to access the sites they need for work, whilst distractions like social media, movies & gaming are blocked.

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We wish your children all the best in their exams & hope these revision tips have helped. We don’t envy them, that’s for sure!

With HomeHalo you can not only help them avoid distractions, you can also set time limits on all their devices to make sure they switch off their screens and get some sleep in preparation for their exams. Click here to find out more – www.homehalo.co.uk

Feel free to share your own revision tips in the comments below:

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Staying safe on Skype

Over the years, Skype has risen to become one of the most popular video calling services in the world.  Naturally, youngsters have taken to the Platform too, as it provides an easy way to stay in touch with friends without having to worry about racking up a huge bill. Whilst this might be great for a teenager’s social life, it can leave parents concerned.

If you’ve ever wondered who your kids are actually talking to on Skype, or worried about whether they’re giving away too much personal info, then this post is for you. As well as giving you some handy tips for staying safe on Skype, we’ve also written a quick guide for setting up secure privacy settings for your kids.

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 Skype Safety Tips

  1. Use a secure password and keep it private. Avoid using dates of birth and family names. You should also ask your children not to share their passwords with friends.
  2. Don’t include personal info on your Skype profile.Info such as location, phone number and date of birth should be kept private.
  3. Never reply to people you don’t know. Don’t respond to messages, contacts, phone calls, video calls or screen sharing requests from people that you don’t know.
  4. Never reply to emails which request personal data, such as passwords or bank details. Skype themselves will never request any personal information via email, so report any emails that do.
  5. Be cautious of messages that insight urgency or panic. For example, if you receive a message saying “Your account will be closed unless you follow these instructions” do not click on it and then report it as spam.
  6. Don’t click on unknown URLs. If someone sends you a link, first check to see if you trust the sender and then check to see if the URL is a legitimate site i.e. www.skype.com or www.youtube.com. If you’re concerned that you’ve already clicked on a malicious link, please change your password immediately.
  7. Get the right privacy settings in place. To adjust privacy settings on a PC, open Skype and click Tools : Options : Privacy. To adjust them on a Mac go to Skype : Preferences : Privacy. Here you can set your preferences for receiving communications. For children we recommend selecting the following options:

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By default Skype will restrict the privacy settings on users under 16 years of age, however it’s always best to double check your children’s settings and the age they used when registering.

We hope you’ve found our “staying safe on skype” guide useful and that you’re already taking steps to keep your kids safe on Skype. If you’re worried about your children accessing inappropriate sites, or you’re just concerned that your kids are spending too long on social media, HomeHalo is here to help. With our router & smartphone combination you can set up age appropriate filters and time limits for all of your children’s devices. To find out more about how HomeHalo can keep your family safe go to: www.homehalo.co.uk

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