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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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

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.

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.

Revision Tips

  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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Welcome to our new digital parenting blog….

Do your children spend too long in cyberspace? Do you have to drag them kicking and screaming away from their screens? Have you ever wondered what they’re really doing online? Well… you’re not alone. Our research shows that 72% of parents are concerned about the amount of time their little ones spend online… and it seems they’re right to be worried. One study has found that too much screen time can lead to anxiety, depression & loss of sleep in children. Throw in all the risks from pornography, cyberbullying & scam sites and you’ll find that your children are exposed to an alarming number of threats, all from the palms of their hands.


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The digital parenting jungle…

In the past parents taught their kids road safety and stranger danger. Nowadays the threat is a little closer to home and digital parenting is high on everyone’s agenda. That’s why we’re writing this blog, to share with you our expert tips and advice for keeping your kids safe in the digital jungle. If you’re baffled by social media, nervous about cyberbullying or just having trouble reigning in your kids cyber habits then you’ve come to the right place.

So who are we? We’re a team of parents turned inventers who got together after growing tired of our kids being in danger online. With 14 children between us we know how difficult it can be to control a Twitter obsessed teenager and an iPad addicted 10 year old, so we decided to do something about it. After studying internet safety for over five years, we developed a solution. HomeHalo is a handy gadget which allows you to set time limits, activate homework mode & all the things you need to keep your kids safe online. Check out our site to find out how we can help your family.

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We’re looking forward to posting our next blog which will be all about what you can do to keep your kids safe on social media. In the meantime please leave us a comment below, telling us what worries you about your kids online. If you get the chance why not like us on Facebook

We’ll be back very soon. Until then we’ll leave you to ponder this fact:

“When our children kids’ generation reach 80 years of age, they will have spent 25 per cent of their lives in front of a screen!”

 

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