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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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 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

 

 

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.