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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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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