If one of your children has an iPad or iPhone, you know what household tension looks like. You have lamented being a policeman in your own house, are tired of peeking over their shoulders, and are perhaps even relieved when it’s accidentally left at school or a friend’s house. We get it.
Experts agree that the best answer to raising kids in the age of technology is constant and open communication, but there are still helpful tools parents can use to monitor and curb their habits. One such product is called Circle by Disney. (No not that one.) The Circle is a physical device that joins your wifi network and is quickly configured with an app. It’s a tool for filtering inappropriate content, establishing device bedtimes, and monitoring browsing habits. Oh, and it’s just $99 from Amazon. Ironically, the Circle is not actually shaped like a circle.
Installing Circle is insanely easy. Plug it in, download the app, and configure it within five minutes. Their app shows you all sorts of useful information about your child's browsing.
It should be noted, though, that the Circle only monitors and controls internet activity. If your child has an app that does not require internet, then it will continue to function. The good news for you is that these days, most apps —especially ones used by kids— require internet and can therefore be controlled with Circle. Let's dive into what it does.
View your child's browsing history, adjust filters, and set time limits.
Use Circle's preconfigured toggles for setting filters, or make your own 'custom filters.'
Bedtimes are useful for ensuring your child isn't using the device late into the evening.
Limit the overall time your child has for browsing the web. You can even customize certain platforms, such as FaceTime or educational sites, so that they do not pull from the time limit.
See which sites have been filtered. From this screen, you can easily allow sites that you deem fine.
Does your child need more time to complete their homework? No problem, adding time is super easy.
Circle isn't the only device that provides these kinds of parental controls. In fact, some newer wifi routers even have similar functionality included. So if you're in the market for a new home wifi system, look to see if parental controls are among its features. That being said, Circle is great if you don't want to rebuild your wifi network or just need to set something up easily and quickly. I'm loving mine.
I am an Apple Certified Support Professional with over a decade of experience supporting families, schools, and businesses. Tech has always captured my imagination, but it's not my only passion. I'm an ordained Anglican minister; Aeropress is a daily ritual of mine; I've driven across Mongolia; and I'm the father of three girls. I hope to provide for you a balanced and realistic perspective into the practicality of technology.