If you are anything like me, when it comes to parenting my kids I tend to filter decisions and choices through the lens of safety:
I should probably put shoes on him before he goes out to play…
Maybe I should not let my baby girl play with that choking hazard, a.k.a. a small toy…
I may or may not have put his shoes on the wrong feet, that can’t be too dangerous, right?
I feel like any loving parent wants the best for their kids, especially when it comes to their safety and well-being.
The truth is we live in a day and age where a lot of our time is being spent in front of a screen (e.g. phone, tablet, TV, computer, etc.) This seems to be the new norm for families because the Internet allows us to digitally access anything we want in an instant. So here’s the concern…as a loving parent, how can I ensure the safety of my children when it comes to the Internet? Alternatively, in other words, how can I know that my kids are digitally safe?
To better answer this question, we need to understand that the Internet can be accessed in two different ways: through Wi-Fi and/or a data plan. If available, Wi-Fi can be accessed at home, a friend’s house or even different public hotspots, such as Starbucks. And accessing the Internet through your data plan can be done anywhere. The reason why this is important to know is that understanding where your kid accesses the internet helps you, as the parent, know how to better monitor their online usage.
With that said, if you are looking to ensure the digital safety of your kid when they are at home, there’s a great tool I’d like to share with you called Circle. Circle is a product made by Disney to help monitor and filter any device connected to your home Wi-Fi. In other words, if you want to have a peace of mind when your kids are at your home using Wi-Fi, Circle is your answer. As of right now, this product is only available to IOS users, but there are plans to make this available to Android users in the future. So let me walk you through how this product works…
What is Circle?
After you order Circle and receive the product, you’ll open the box and follow the instructions on how to set this device up. One of the first things you’ll find is that you need to download their free app called Circle with Disney.
Circle Set Up
Once you download the app, you will receive step-by-step instructions on how to set up your Circle device on your smart device. From this point on, everything you do with Circle will be done from this app on your IOS device, which is very convenient.
You’ll need to make sure you turn on notifications for this app because if your device is ever unplugged from your home Wi-Fi (either by accident or if your kid unplugs it), it will alert you. But the cool thing is even if it is unplugged, it will still protect your house because it also has a backup battery built in.
As you pair the Circle to your home Wi-Fi, you will quickly find how user-friendly this app is. One of the first things you’ll do is set up an account for you, as the parent, and then create profiles for each person in your family.
When you create these individual profiles, you will be able to manage and set up parental controls for each of them, however you would like.
All you do is enter each member of your family, label them as an adult, teen, kid or pre-teen and then set up appropriate filters for each. And as you set up each of these filters you can allow access or not to different platforms and categories such as specific social media sites, dating, explicit material, music, sports, online shopping, etc. You can even block ads from coming up on your devices, which is crucial because, at times, inappropriate things are advertised.
One other great feature with Circle is that you can set daily time limits for each family member on specific platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc. or even total time online. In fact, Circle allows you to pause the Internet in your home if you ever wanted to (dinner time, family time, etc.)
There’s even a “bedtime” function, which allows you to decide a particular time when a device will disconnect from the Wi-Fi and when it will wake up or connect back to Wi-Fi. How cool is that?
This app allows you to assign each of the filters to whatever device is connected to your Wi-Fi (phone, laptop, tablet, gaming system, etc.)
How Circle Works
So how does all of this work? Let’s pretend one of the filters you put on your teenager’s device was no access to gambling sites. If your son or daughter tries to visit a website resembling anything to do with gambling, Circle will pop something up on their screen telling them that there has been a filter set on this particular website. Also, on the same pop-up screen, the user can see how much longer they have until their device “goes to sleep” as well as how long they’ve been on the Internet.
As a parent, you can look at each family member’s specific online usage (What apps they have used, websites visited, etc.)
So as you can see, Circle with Disney is a great tool to ensure that your family is digitally safe whenever they are connected to your home Wi-Fi. And as you use this device, you might find opportunities to have conversations with your family on how to make smart choices when connected to the Internet. Ultimately, Circle keeps each family member accountable, smart, and allows freedom within boundaries when it comes to using the Internet.
I will say though; this device is not a catchall.
A couple of things to keep in mind…
1) You as the parent still need to look into what your kid or teen is doing on each social media platform that they have. For example, Circle allows you to see how long they’ve been on Snap Chat or lets you set a time limit for different things, but it does not allow you to see the content they are looking at or posting. That’s where you still need to set your monitoring boundaries, which is what Be Socially Smart is here to help with.
2) Circle is only good for in-home Wi-Fi connectivity. If your kid or teen connects to the Internet using their phone’s data plan or even Wi-Fi at another location, this software does not work for that.
So there you have it, Circle with Disney. I highly recommend this product if you are a parent who wants help ensuring that your kids are digitally safe when at home.
If you are interested in finding out more about this smart product or if you’re interested in purchasing one, just go Here. And remember, to help your kids be digitally safe outside of your home Wi-Fi, be sure to let “Be Socially Smart” become one of your go-to resources.