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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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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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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Privacy settings on Facebook & Twitter

Social media has become a central part of the lives of today’s digital youth, forming a platform for children to communicate with friends and learn about the world around them. In fact, research has shown that 59% of children have used a social network by age 10, and over half of all adolescents log on to a social networking site more than once a day.

As the time children spend on social media increases, so do the dangers they’re exposed to. In fact 12% of teens say that they witness cruel behaviour on social media frequently. Bullying, harassment & contact with strangers are just a few of these dangers and are a worry for most parents.

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As parents, the first thing you should do to protect your kids is to ensure they have the right privacy settings in place on their social media accounts. In this guide we’ll walk you through how to apply basic privacy settings on Facebook and Twitter.

Protecting you children’s Tweets

On twitter your children can select “protect my tweets”, so that only their approved followers can see their tweets. Simply follow the instructions below:

1.

  • Sign in to Twitter
  • Click on your profile picture in the top right hand corner of your browser.
  • A drop down menu will then appear
  • Select the “settings” option.

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  • Next, select the “Security and privacy” option from the left hand menu

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  • A menu will then appear offering various security and privacy options.
  • In the privacy settings we recommend that your kids check the box that’s says: “Protect my Tweets”. This will ensure that strangers and future employers will not be able to see their tweets.

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  • We also recommend that they select the box titled “do not allow anyone to tag me in photos” or “only allow people I follow to tag me in photos”. This will ensure they aren’t tagged in any unwanted or upsetting photos by strangers.
  • To further protect their privacy you should un-check the box titled “Add a location to my tweets”. From this menu you’ll also be able to delete any past location information that twitter has stored about you.

Setting privacy settings on Facebook

1.

  • Sign into your Facebook account.
  • Select the downwards arrow in the top right hand corner.
  • A drop down menu will appear.
  • Select “Settings” from the menu.

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  • A new screen will appear.
  • In the left hand menu select the “privacy” option.
  • A screen will then appear to the right offering various Privacy options.

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  • For children we recommend working through the list and selecting the strictest privacy settings.
  • In the “who can see my stuff?” section select “edit” and ensure that “friends” is selected. This will ensure that only approved friends can see your posts.

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  • In this screen you can also select who can send your child friend requests. We recommend selecting “friends of Friends” for this.
  • We also recommend selecting “Strict Filtering” for messages. This means that messages from unconnected users will be filtered into your child’s ‘other’ inbox.
  • You can also select who can look you up using your email address & phone number, as well whether you want search engines to link to your timeline. We recommended selecting ‘no’ for this option.

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As parents we understand how difficult it can be to monitor your kids in the constantly changing world of social media. Hopefully this post has helped you make Facebook and Twitter a bit safer for your kids. With HomeHalo you’ll be able to limit social media use by setting time limits. You can also activate Homework Mode which lets your kids use the web for homework, whilst distractions like social media and gaming are blocked. To find out more about how HomeHalo can protect your kids’ online, click HERE.

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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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