Recently I have changed my mind about how I think about the internet when it comes to my children. I had always believed in giving them the freedom to use it backed, with knowledge and what was appropriate behaviour to keep them safe. I thought that this would be enough. I believed that it was the best option because the internet can be accessed in so many ways that it was no good restricting them because they could still access it when out of the house. I cannot go into detail about what has changed my mind but what I will say is that I forgot that they are indeed children. Discussing the impact constant technological usage can have on children and family harmony, Psychologist Honey Langcaster-James commented: “Parents are right to be concerned. Too much tech time can have an adverse impact on children’s development on almost every level; socially, emotionally and intellectually.”
I can understand why children feel they need for the internet as I use it a lot myself. People’s attitudes of what behaviours are safe and acceptable vary greatly online though and it is easy to be sucked in to thinking that a risky behaviour is safe. A recent experience of my own involved someone I had never met in real life inviting me to people’s houses. They had in fact found me from a group that suggested I was a vulnerable member of society. When I mentioned that I did not wish to be invited they were rude and told me that I was not well. In fact they got people to agree with them! I can see how if I were a child I may even question my judgements and end up at that house!
Children do not understand dangers the same as adults – thus putting them at risk. These children may be curious, or taken in by strangers online, if they are not carefully monitored. Yes they may be vulnerable when they leave the house, but why increase that risk when they are home. Over 30% of children are now spending two hours a day on technology; and one in ten parents does not know how much time their child is spending online. That the pull of the internet is reaching children younger and younger. I know myself that my primary school children wish to use it for homework – even in infant school (5-7 years). That is before they start sneaking devices to bed – which is even more dangerous and they could be lead to view inappropriate material.
“New research by HomeHalo,* a parental internet control system, has discovered that 90% of British parents admitted that their children had used a phone or tablet before the age of 8 years old.” With “2.1 million UK households containing eight or more different technological devices, which are accessible to children. The research found that one in two parents were concerned about their children’s technology habits, a further 49% worried that their child was in danger whilst on the internet and a quarter of respondents were either not fully aware, or were unsure of the content their children were accessing online. Overall the research suggests that parents simply do not know how to address the issue”.
HomeHalo works with your existing router and allows you to tailor the whole family’s internet usage on an individual basis. Previously if we did not want the children to access the internet we would turn the router off – but this would mean that no-one would be able to access the internet. With HomeHalo it means that just because I do not want the children online doesn’t mean I have to cut myself off! There are profiles for 6 different age bands (under 6; 6-11; 12-14; 15-16; and adult/unlimited) so you can set each family member.
Home Halo works with all devices that access the internet through the Wi-Fi – tablets, phones, laptops, games consoles & smart TVs. It works straight out of the box, with no software needing to be installed. It has a database of over 500 million websites categorized for content so you can determine what you want accessing, as well as protecting you from scam and virus sites. It can be managed through the password protected smartphone app or a web browser, and you can even change things when you are out of the house (through the cloud). You can set time limits (even maybe an idea for myself!), block inappropriate sites, activate homework mode (to block distracting sites; again maybe an idea for me to block social media when I need to get work done).If a blocked site is tried to be accessed then a message is sent – allowing the adult to decide whether it is to be unblocked or not; as well as being able to check the browser history.
Please note that not only can children still access sites using 3G or if they go to other people’s homes, but that also inappropriate content is widely distributed on sites that it shouldn’t be. Do teach your children clear rules, and make sure you know what they are looking at. I appreciate that you may not be able to monitor everything that they are doing but I think having a restricted time on WiFi access will be a big step forward into making this more achievable.
My verdict on the Home Halo
HomeHalo has been very useful in that we have discovered that one of our children has been accessing the internet when he was not meant to. With HomeHalo it has allowed us to restrict and monitor this more with our busy lives. We have had some initial teething troubles with the Home Halo with things such as speed, blocking sites, sites not being added to the whitelist quick enough. Devices difficult to connect are Nintendo ones – and we are still struggling to add the WiiU as a device. We have successful connected over 30 devices so far! There is a helpline, e-mail address and forum (the later of which we are hoping will help with our problems). The reports are not yet available via the app and video streaming we could only block if we set the profile to 0-6 years (although in theory I should be able to block YouTube). All in all though I think it is worth the £3 a month for peace of mind of our children’s safety.
Home Halo costs £35 and £3 a month rolling contract (which can be cancelled any time with no tie-in). For us that’s only £1 per child – so well worth it.
If you want your own Home Halo then if you use my Home Halo referral link then it will help me out (please and thank you). You can use code: FRIEND10 to get a £10 off discount.
*HomeHalo polled 1,118 Netmums subscribers between 10th September – 8th October 2015 As a percentage of ONS Families and Households figures, 2014
See also Child Safety Online
I received a free HomeHalo for purposes of review. I have not been told what to say nor any other form of compensation for this post.