Netflix. Snapchat. Instagram. YouTube. Google. Facebook. Minecraft. Xbox Live. Amazon. Hulu. Pinterest.
and the list goes on and on…..
Do you feel as if your family is ever a little “too connected”? Cause I do.
Over the past few years, our time spent online has increased steadily. As my 2 older kids move beyond their playing outside years, I have found them spending more time with their phone in their hands, watching tv shows on Netflix or playing online games with their friends.
But it’s not only my kids. If I have a spare minute, I grab my phone to scroll thru Facebook or Instagram. Rarely do I find myself without my phone in arm’s length and all of us are guilty of breaking the “no phones at the dinner table” rule night after night.
Heading into this summer, I wanted to see ourselves less connected online and more connected in person. So I was pretty excited to receive the Circle with Disney device to review from Best Buy this month. The Circle with Disney is a device that helps parents filter content, manage screen time, and stay informed with what their kids do online.
Circle with Disney Key Features
Circle with Disney allows you to manage all of your home’s connected devices. With Circle, parents can filter content, limit screen time and set a bedtime for every device in the home. Here are some of our favorite features:
Set time limits for your children’s devices that can’t be exceeded. This allows you to early control how much time your child spends on their devices online. I love the OffTime feature, which is basically an internet time-out during the day. Screens off. At any time, you can view how much time your children have remaining in the app.
Set a time with the Internet is off for the night per account. Too many times have I caught my kids in bed on their devices. No more.
Individual Filter Levels
Set individual filter levels for each family member that matches their age and interests. Do it once and it will apply to every one of their devices. With filters you can block access to specific website or internet services like Instagram and even FaceTime video calling. This gives me peace of mind as a parent knowing my children are not viewing inappropriate material online – accidentally or not.
Another fun feature, you can pause the internet. Set a time where the house become internet free – homework, sports, even movie night.
Circle Insights gives you the ability to compare time online today, last week, or even last month. Per site or by interest. I can even see where I waste time the most.
Circle with Disney: Circle Go
As Circle with Disney monitors only your Wi-Fi channel, how can you manage the online time on a cellular service, especially with family members that have smart devices? Circle Go allows you the ability to manage your kids’ devices wherever they go. Circle Go takes all of the settings your kids’ devices have at home and extends them to 4G LTE and any other Wi-Fi network they join.
Circle Go extends Circle’s settings at home to any network by using a VPN on your kid’s mobile device. A VPN, or virtual private network, allows Circle to directly manage the traffic and enable time tracking, filters, and every other Circle feature. A subscription ($9.95/month for up to 10 devices) to Circle Go is required for this feature.
Circle with Disney Set Up
Here’s the part I always dread. I hate setting up new technology. but in actuality, the Circle with Disney setup was painless. Once you purchase the device, it’s a matter of plug and go.
Download and install the app on your smart device. Once you power up the Circle hub near your Wi-Fi router, the app will walk you through the steps to set it up.
The hardest part of the setup is finding all the devices and attaching them to the correct child. Each family member gets an account and you can assign multiple connected devices. From there, the app easily walks you through the filter settings.
Circle with Disney for My Family
I thought my family would balk at the idea that I was “monitoring” them with this device. Actually, they haven’t. I think everyone is ok with being held accountable for what they are doing with their online time. My daughter even said it was good that she was limited, as sometimes Netflix can “suck her in for hours” and she would much rather be doing something else.
I think Circle with Disney is a great tool to help balance that tricky line between what is healthy and what is too much. Now, honestly, it’s up to the parents to truly do the monitoring and setting the boundaries on time spent on electronics, but it is nice to have tools like the Circle with Disney to help. Circle with Disney is affordable too – $99 at Best Buy.
We found the Circle with Disney to be very user friendly and a great addition in our house this summer to “encourage” less time online and more time in the present.
Disclosure: The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free