What's the most frustrating thing for you as a parent? The never-ending laundry? The constant nagging? For me, it's being ignored -- when the family communication lines are officially down! I hate it when I call the family to dinner and then wait while dinner gets cold. I hate it when I ask someone a question or suggest that they do something and get crickets in response.
The Secret to Better Family Communication
It's not like the kids (and sometimes my husband) are purposely thinking, "I am going to ignore Mom right now." It's that they don't even hear me. They are so tuned into technology that they are oblivious to the rest of the world. Sound familiar? Ready to stop the madness?
It's easy. Just pause the internet. What? Pause the internet? Is that possible? Yep. Let me tell you how!
Pause the Internet with Circle
*I was given a device to try in exchange for an honest Circle review. All opinions are my own. I only share products I think my readers will love!
The solution is called Circle, and it's made by Disney. This device is more than just a great internet filter. It actually allows you to pause the internet with just the touch of a button. If my daughter is playing games on the computer instead of coming when I call her, I just push a button in the Circle app, and suddenly she emerges back into the real world. If my kids are battling each other on Minecraft and ignoring my calls to dinner, I push a button, and, "Bam!" they're back!
Fortunately, when I pause the internet with circle, it looks like this:
And not like this:
Have you seen that little Dino? Don't let your kids see it. They'll play it forever!
Guess what? Pausing the internet works on any device that hooks up to the internet. (That includes your TV!) If your kids are binge watching Netflix and ignoring you, you can pause their show. With any device, if the kids are watching a video, it won't pause instantly. As much of the video that is already downloaded will continue to play. Once the show has to rebuffer or they try to turn on a new one, they will be paused. I've been testing it on my TV, and it takes about 1-2 minutes to pause.
Now that you can get your family's attention, and the family communication lines are back open, check out the other great features from Circle.
Keep Kids Safe Online
Circle is first and foremost an internet filter. When you set up Circle, the software detects all the devices in your home and adds them to the app. Within the Circle app, you set up a profile for each family member. You then assign each child's devices to their profile and set up appropriate filter levels for their age. (The filter levels include Pre-K, Kid, Teen, Adult, and None.) Within each filter level, give or deny access to specific platflorms (like Hulu, Netflix, Face Time, etc.) Block specific categories on the web and control privacy and safety by restricting ads, enabling Google Safe Search, and restricting YouTube.
Here's an example of what the kid level filters out by default: Social media, explicit content, mature content, gambling, dating, and malicious content. The teen level filters the same, but it allows social media unless you choose to filter it out (which I do).
We've actually taken the internet off of all the kids' devices because we don't feel that kids really need that access or temptation. These filters are mainly used for our family computer and laptop. If you think your kid won't accidentally stumble onto something dangerous on the internet without a filter, then you're wrong.
Set Online Time Limits and Bedtimes
Another cool feature of Circle is the ability to set time limits. Within each profile, you can set a time limit for the platforms you want to limit. If your kid lives for Minecraft, you can set their time to 1 hour a day (or whatever you want, within 15-min increments), and Circle will automatically cut the game off when the time is up. No nagging to turn off the game. It just stops. No trying to add up their time throughout the day. Circle adds it up for you.
Want your kids' devices to have a bedtime? Circle can help with that, too! It's just another cool setting. (On a side note -- I'm a firm believer that no kid should have the internet in his or her bedroom. All devices are plugged in to charge in Mom and Dad's room at night. Check out my post on Setting Technology Limits for Kids for more details.)
Reward Your Kids for Good Behavior
Finally, Circle's newest feature is rewards. Now you can use the app to reward your kids for good behavior. You can choose to extend the daily time limit for the day, remove the off times for the day, or cancel the app's bedtime for the day.
Pretty cool, don't you think? But don't take my word for it, check it out yourself!
Thanks for stopping by today.