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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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?