Every time I open one of the few education magazines that I still get from my teaching days there are always articles about kids internet usage - there always have been. When I talk to parents of teenagers I am shocked that tablets, smart phones aren't banned in schools like they were 6 years ago when I left teaching and instead kids will sit in corridors and play on the games and use them instead of getting outside. My eldest is getting that way - during school lunchtimes his favourite place is to go into the computer room and play on the computers preferring this over going out to the playground and as soon as my husband walks through the door he's asked whether his smart phone has charge. Allowing some screen time has never been a problem for me but it's the fact that when we go to take away the device there is such a fuss made over it. What I want and have tried to describe it to my tech husband is a way that I can take control and not stop usage instead control when devices can be used so I can be present and monitor especially with my kids whilst still in Primary School - HomeHalo which launched last week does just that.
Growing up in the 80's and 90's for me and my brother it wasn't computers and gaming devices that we argued with our parents over but TV's. Wanting to have a TV in our rooms so we could watch something different than the rest of the family my parents did but they set it up with a timer on the plug point so that I could watch it during set times meaning I wasn't up to all hours of the night and there was no arguments (well after the first few days of "IT's not fair" when it switched off in the middle of my favourite programmes) it was something that happened and that was it.
HomeHalo gives that sort of control to you as a parent - with 2.1 million homes in the UK having 8 more devices that connect to the Internet, ours included and over 8 and a ½ million parents saying that arguments like we have are a daily occurrence it's a smart choice. The brain child of parents of a young boy who was exactly as I described the HomeHalo lets you take control of ALL of the families usage. Integrating with your existing system sitting with the router you use an app or the web browser to set up user profiles for your family and then set up the usage. Whether you want to restrict Internet use completely during dinner time (we do - we have a no device rule at the dinner table), switch of distractions for homework so that only certain areas of the web can be accessed and limit the times when the devices can be used and then switch off as well as override when needed it provides different options that you can tailor to your families needs.
The app is very simple to use and because there is no complicated wiring I was able to set it up very quickly with no problems at all. Just plug in at one end - download the app and away I went and set up for our family.
Our HomeHalo Set up
Before school - we would have wifi switched off for the children's device. My husband would need internet on as he buys his bus ticket to get to work via the Internet and whilst the kids get ready I check my work emails.
Throughout the weekday the computer and iPad would need internet but I like the idea of having distraction switched off for part of the day as being constantly connected even as a Work at Home parent there is temptation to switch on and surf.
After school - until after dinner around 5:30 all internet switched off we spend time together as a family. At this stage my kids don't get daily homework just reading and spelling.
At 5:30 to 6pm switch on for the kids devices so that if they wanted to they could play games.
At 9:30pm switch off for the whole family - so that myself and my husband would actually step away from the computers and devices and spend time together.
This would be the ideal but because at the touch of a button we can change and adjust using the FREE apps it's easy to adjust and allow more time or take away time for what ever reason.
What you need to know about HomeHalo
- You need to purchase a Route from HomeHalo at the cost of £35 that will work with your normal connection and has 1 months subscription included so you can test it out
- Download the FREE app
- There is a monthly subscription of £3 for the service on a month by month basis ensuring that your family is safe online.
- It doesn't work with 3G and 4G as these aren't connected to your wifi so if your kids have smart phones they would still be able to access the internet through their data plan.
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