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 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/

 

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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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

Your digital footprint

There’s been a lot in the press recently about whether our security services are spying on our Facebook messages and Tweets, that I was reminded of my own experience with GCHQ.

Back in 1994, when having a fax machine was deemed ‘current’, I was asked if I would provide a personal reference to an old friend of mine as he was going for a promotion that required another level of security clearance. Now given that I was brought up in a part of the UK with a large number of military establishments and naval bases this request did not come as surprise. As an upstanding British citizen with nothing more than a couple of speeding tickets to my name I had been asked to do this on a couple of occasions.

This time however, they wanted to interview me. So at the given time, I opened my front door to a man who looked like he had arrived straight from the 19th century, clearly an ‘establishment fellow’, with the only thing missing being the bowler hat – a truly intimidating character.

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We sat down and he started to flick through the pages of a huge manila file, it had to be 3” thick. Trying to fill the silence I quipped “goodness me, you have a lot of information on Peter!” To which he responded, and to my amazement “Oh this isn’t Peter’s file my dear – it’s yours”

I wonder then, as we are now living in the digital age, how much information is available to organisations about our children?

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Eight years ago when I joined a global UK Telecoms company, the security checking took 6 weeks! These days companies can find a whole load of information online in seconds. Our children need to really think every time they post, tweet or snapchat, as anything they put ‘out there’, can and might be used against them!

As the next generation grows and matures they could find their past coming back to haunt them. Our kids often don’t think about the future, so we’ve set up a check list to help your teenagers keep a clean digital footprint:

Digital Footprint Tips

1. Keep it private... Make sure your children have secure privacy settings on their social media accounts. Avoid posting anything publicly and make sure only close friends and family can see their posts.

2. Think before posting... Explain to your children, that posts are often there forever & could affect them later on in life. Think: Would you want future employers or even future friends seeing that photo?

3. Online vs real life... Set clear ground rules for how to behave online. If you wouldn’t do it in real life don’t do it online!

4. Google yourself…. Try searching your name online and see what comes up! If there’s something you don’t like try contacting the site to see if they can take it down.

5. Have a spring clean… Make sure your kids remove any unused social media accounts and that they check through their social media photos regularly to delete any unwanted images.

For more info on how to set the right privacy settings for your children, check out our privacy settings guide: www.homehalo.co.uk/blog/privacy-settings/

With HomeHalo you can set time limits on each of your children’s devices to ensure they aren’t spending too long on social media. You can also set age appropriate blocks to ensure they don’t come across any inappropriate sites. Click here find out how HomeHalo can keep your family safe: www.homehalo.co.uk

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“Exam time – Do not disturb”

So for many of us in the UK, the long awaited February half term is over. Although the children have caught up with sleep, in many cases until lunchtime; the sibling rivalry has reached fever pitch and they are ready to go back to school; or so I would have thought.

Sunday, for our family, arrived with an air of panic about it, mainly because this year is GCSE year. The level of half term homework is at its highest with an average of 5 hours needed per day to complete and tweak coursework. Now, if you are lucky enough to have a teenager who writes up a revision plan and sticks to it, then lucky you! But for most us, our kids live by the philosophy of ‘I’ll do it later’ or ‘maybe tomorrow’, which in my house meant a scurry of activity including rewrites, printing and an immense amount of paint dribbles all over my dining room table! Who would have thought that a Fine Art GCSE could create such mess?

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As I casually looked though Facebook, I see that it’s not only my children.  I’m fortunate enough to be ‘friends’ with a lot of my children’s friends, ranging from those taking A levels and GSCEs to Year 9 exams.  Their weekend posts all seem have a similar theme. One I particularly liked was “Devoted most of my half term to Netflix! Not much coursework done… oops!” No doubt her parents were less than impressed!

My own children, (when finally getting out of bed) seem to have spent the week ‘device hopping’ – imagine the scene, my daughter is sat in an armchair with her laptop on her lap (doing homework) on one arm of the chair is her phone constantly bleeping with Instagram/Snapchat messages. On the other arm is her iPad mini showing some kind of make-up video…..needless to say when I’m offered the final proof reading of her English essay, it makes very little sense and has to be done again.

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So what can we do about this? Well, you can join our product tester programme which will put you firmly back in control. With HomeHalo you’ll be able to activate Homework Mode, which lets your kids use the internet for work, whilst distracting sites like Facebook and Twitter are blocked. As well as this you can limit the amount of time they spend on Netflix and block all the dodgy sites you wouldn’t want them to see anyway. It’s the easiest way to keep them focused over the all-important exam time.

You can do all of this and more for only £55! We’ll also provide 12 months service, which will see you safely through exam time, summer holidays and even Christmas. This really is a great opportunity to save some money, whilst getting peace of mind that your kids are safe online.

If you’re interested then give us a call or go to http://www.homehalo.co.uk/homehaloproducts

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