If you have children in the ‘tween to teen years, then I have no doubt you share the never-ending struggle to manage their “devices.” I feel like this is a battle my husband and I are often losing.
Instead of constantly engaging in behavior management with our kids, my husband and I try to talk to them about the root causes of why they should regulate their own online behavior. Staring at a screen all day decreases your attention span. You are killing your brain. You are losing your ability to focus. (Insert your own speech here.)
Of course, our lectures are often like rocks skipping over water. It’s hard enough for adults to set good boundaries when it comes to smart phones, iPods and other devices. Knowing our own struggle, we can’t expect our kids to do much better. And ultimately, we are in charge of setting rules and boundaries for our kids. It’s our job to help them make better choices.
In order to give ourselves more control, a few months ago, we purchased the Circle device. A lot of parents have asked me what I think about this tool, so here are five things I’ve learned about it since we started using it.
1.First of all, let me just say that I love the Circle device. Using a simple app on my phone, it allows me to control every computer, iPad, iPod and phone that is getting a signal from our wifi router. (This even includes the devices of people who come for a visit!) I can set an overall “age” rating for each device. For example, if I set a device to “kid,” that device won’t be able to access social media apps, such as Snapchat. If the device is set to “teen,” it can automatically access more apps. I can then set a bedtime and wake up time for the Internet for each device. I can set time limits that will turn off an app or the Internet after a certain number of hours of activity. I can set certain time periods during the day when the Internet will take a break on that device. I can block access to certain apps by device. I can pause the Internet for the whole house or hit pause on an individual device. (Have you ever had one of those moments when you just wanted to throw something to take out your aggression? Well, hitting the “pause” button on the Circle device is a safer way to release tension, but it gives the same feeling of satisfaction.) Overall, I love how much control it gives me over the use of our wifi.
2. Which brings me to point No. 2. The circle device only controls your wifi. What this means is, if you set a bedtime for your child’s phone, that intelligent tech-savvy child, will simply turn off his wifi and start using his cell phone data once the wifi turns off. In SOME families (rest assured this would NEVER happen at our house), a child might even walk over to the router and UNPLUG the Circle device. (It might be a good idea to lock your router in a closet. This is what I’ve HEARD anyway.) Thankfully, Circle has a solution. For $10 a month, you can purchase an extra feature that allows you to control your child’s phone whether or not he or she is using your wifi. This allows you to also control his data, and it even allows you to set limits when he or she is on someone else’s wifi. I believe you can control up to 10 devices with the $10 a month package.
3. Aaaaaannnnd that brings me to point No. 3. In order to control your child’s cell phone usage with the Circle device, you have to install the Circle app on that child’s phone. Once your extremely intelligent tech-savvy child figures THIS out, he or she will delete the app from his or her phone. (Hypothetically, of course.) When you figure out your child has deleted the app, you will get very angry and threaten that child in many ways if he ever gets the idea to delete the app again. However, knowing how strong temptation can be and not wanting your child to fall prey to the desire to delete the Circle app, you will figure out that there is a setting within “Parental Controls” on the child’s phone that prevents him or her from deleting any apps, unless they enter your password. (So far, this has worked.)
4. This brings me to point No. 4. The next thing I love about the Circle, is that I can monitor how much time each person in my house has spent on his or her device and how much of that time was spent on certain types of activity, such as Netflix, Snapchat, Instagram, videos, chat or music. If you see that your child has spend 0 minutes on his or her device for several days, you need to go back and check point No. 2 or No. 3. He or she has either unplugged the circle device or deleted the app.
5. One of the many things I love about Circle, is that it allows my children to use certain features on their phones, while I can control others. For example, when our kids are cleaning their rooms, we often ask them to hand over their devices so they aren’t distracted by the Internet. But, they complain, they want to be able to listen to music while they clean. Circle allows us to turn off their wifi, or just certain apps, while allowing them to keep their device for music.
By the way, I haven’t been compensated in any way to write this review of the Circle device. However, I added an affiliate link because I love it so much. If you do happen to use my link to purchase a circle, I would receive a super tiny compensation.
Let me know if you’ve have questions. If you use the Circle I would love to know how it’s working for you. Leave me a comment and let me know!