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
RELATED: Positive Reinforcement Ideas for Frustrated Parents, The Best Technology Token System, Time Management Tips for Teens
*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.
Oh this is a great device an idea, I'll be looking into this!
Thanks, Chrissy. Pausing the internet is pretty cool!
I didn't know this device existed I've heard about different apps with similar functionalities. I'd love to try this with my husband's nieces. They are addicted to their mobile devices.
I didn't know it existed either, Fatima, until I saw an ad for it on Facebook.
This is definitely going to make a lot of parents happy, especially when it comes to bringing everyone together this Christmas. It's nice and it's easy to use!
Definitely, Elizabeth! I'm hoping my kids will put down their devices for a good long time! (Well, I am the parent, so I guess I can make that happen!)
That sounds like a nice tool to be able to pause the internet. I already have some crazy parental controls for my kids, but nice to see other options. The pausing of the internet would be more for my husband, as soon as I mention food my kids are at the table... husband decides that is when it has to do some work. Lol
Exactly! When it comes to getting to the table for dinner, sometimes my hubby is the biggest offender, too! Is my cooking that bad? LOL!
These are amazing tips! Pausing internet can help a lot.
Thanks for sharing.
Thanks, Anne. It sure does come in handy when no one wants to listen!
Wow, I didnt know the disney app! That is so great and smart. Great post and love your blog.
Thanks, Jess. My kids don't love the app, but I sure do! (Actually, I think they secretly love boundaries.)
This app is sheer genius! I'm sure it's much more effective than "Screaming" which was, generally MY Mom's go-to attention, getting tool. :-)
LOL! I've tried the screaming method, too. This is definitely more effective, and lot easier on the voice!
That's awesome! I've never heard of it before but it's a great way to get some time with your kids instead of seeing them drown in their gadgets and games! I love the concept.
Thanks, Carol. It does help a lot to be able to pause the internet. I love it!
My husband and I travel often and it would more practical to have this instead of subscribing to cable. We don't often watch tv and this will definitely save us money!
I'm not sure if you understood this service, right, Carol. This isn't a video streaming service. It's an internet filter. Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment.
Wow, this sounds like a great idea. I experience such frustration when the kids are hooked on a game and it is time for tea or to go to swim lessons....
Thanks, Bill. It helps a lot! You should try the OurPact app, too. It allows you to turn off all the games on your kids phones.
How have I never heard of this before!!! What a great way to get the family together quickly, I know it would do wonder on my kids!
It is pretty cool, Vera. I'll admit that the kids don't love it, but I think that they secretly enjoy having limits.
That is an awesome idea. I love that they took the approach of using technology to our advantage instead of fighting against it.
Me, too, Jennifer. That's a great way of looking at it. Might as well use technology to our advantage!
What an awesome idea! Technology and media has a way of taking over everything. It is so important to keep things in control and also to 'detox' sometimes! I will have to check this out as my kids get a little obsessed and don't want to put down their devices.
Thanks, Marysa. I advise checking out the OurPact app, too. I use it to turn off all the games and other things that are not controlled by the internet on my kids phones. Works like a charm!
Tech has a way of taking everything over. Detox is a good thing :)
Definitely, Travel Blogger! It's nice to be able to step back from technology and spend some tech free family time.
I love everything about Circle! In fact, I'm happy to report I know one of the founders!!
That's so cool, Debra! I just wish it could turn off everything on the kids' phones. I guess that's a little too much control, though!
Sounds like a good idea :)!
I completely agree with your suggestions. We need to limit the online time to take out quality time for family. Good tips.
Thanks, Sapana. The internet can be such a scary place for kids. They definitely need limits!
Please update post on Circle. Read recent reviews on Amazon. (They're not good) Features have been Greatly diluted. Customer support is evaporating. Compatibility problems with newer routers. Network configuration issues, etc. Think this device might actually be discontinued in the future. Too good to be true. :-(