The Circle- My New Best Friend

February 2, 2016

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As a parent there is a fine line between “I have to get some stuff done so it is okay that their faces are in a screen for a bit” and “GET OFF OF YOUR iPOD RIGHT NOW”.

Often times I don’t even realize that my kids have been in front of a screen for hours at a time.  They are quiet and docile and I need to get something done.  However, the older they get, the less creative they are and the more they stay indoors with their eyes glazed over.

The other issue is that I have boys.  For quite some time I have been concerned about what they are looking at on their devices.  There are so many temptations out there.  And once they see something, their curious little minds want to see more.  Or one click leads to another one and all of the sudden my innocent little boys are looking at pornography.  Do you know how slippery that slope is?  Not just for kids, but for adults as well.

It is hard to keep up with filters.  Especially when you have computers, iPads and phones all thrown into the mix.  I was overwhelmed with trying to limit everything and find good software that does it all and easily.  I don’t have time the inclination to figure all of that out.  The boys are getting older and I want to make sure I do everything I can to protect their hearts, minds and future wives.  The AVERAGE age that kids are exposed to pornography is eight.  EIGHT YEARS OLD.  That is a first or second grader.  That is Jameson, my youngest.  So how much has my 12 year old seen?  Yikes!!!

It is time (way past time) to finally take action and I have found the Holy Grail.

I read this article on a new device put out by Disney that helps put parents back in control.

So a few weeks ago I finally took the plunge and order the Circle by Disney. 

It was on back order because they have had so many people ordering it.  However, it still came in a week or two. 

Today, I finally had time to get it out of the box and start it up.

My consensus.  GENIUS.

Set up: Easy.  Just download the free app on your phone.  Then it takes you through the steps quickly and easily.  The hardest part was figuring out which device was which as some of them just came up as “Apple Device”.  I had to go into each (apple) device and go to  “Settings” and then “General” and then “About” and then it tells you the wifi address and you match that to the Circle.  Then you can rename it to “Tanner’s iPod” or whatever you want to help you keep it all straight.

From there, you can attach that device to a profile and then set perameters for each person. 

My favorite part… tracks how long you are on each app and you can LIMIT it for your kids.  Do your kids spend hours on Minecraft?  Not any more.  You can limit them to however long you deem appropriate.  You can also put filters on YouTube and Safari so that they are not coming into contact with inappropriate things when they are innocently (or not so innocently) browsing.  You can also set bedtimes so that your kids can’t be on their device after a certain time.  You can also set this for yourself so that you aren’t on your phone before bed.  Of course, you can also put in the password to change this if needed.

Want to have ultimate control???? You can PAUSE the internet at anytime.  Want the kids to stop what they are doing and come to dinner.  Pause the internet.  What?!?!  Awesome. 

I was able to set up all 5 of our family members and all (embarrassing) 14 devices (including our Nest, Wii, computers, laptops, iPods, iPads and phones) that are hooked to our wifi in less than 30 minutes.  Circle makes it easy and you set the level you want for each device (preK, Kid, Teen, Adult) and then customize content and time limits from there.

At any time, I can get on my app and see how long each person has been on their device and what they have been looking at.  At the end of the week, it will send me a report so that I can better customize the kids or realize that I spend WAY too much time on Facebook and Pinterest.  How cool is that?  Accountability for us and the kids.

The only downfall to this is that it only controls things that are attached to your wifi.  So if you have smart kids….they will find a way around it.  Or if they have a phone, they can switch to using their data and it no longer controls the device.  However, at this stage we only have one kid that has a phone and he is pretty limited as to when/how he can use it.  I will share our phone rules and contract in another blog.

If you are looking for a quick, easy way to help manage your family and their screen time, this is for you.  Best $99 I have spent in a LONG time.  Hard to put a price on peace of mind.

Click here for the link if you are interested in finding out more about it.  I didn’t get paid anything to write this article.  I just know that in the trenches of parenting….we have to help each other out!!!

We have also been talking about this at church in the new series Sex, Lies and Cyberspace.  If you want to watch these great talks about our thought life and some staggering statistics about pornography and the internet click here.

The Circle- My New Best Friend

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