Don't get me wrong - I really appreciate how far we've come, and I'm grateful for the internet since it's the way I've been able to share my words, work, and art. There's so much to appreciate about being connected and plugged in. But there's also so much to carefully consider, as we raise a generation of kids who don't know what it's like to not have continually updating forms of entertainment and stimuli that have nothing to do with using their bodies and their imagination. Managing a household of devices can seem daunting, especially with such a wide range of ages in our home.
So you can imagine how I perked up when the folks at Circle With Disney contacted me about their device that manages usage of apps, wifi, and filters according to age for all devices in your home, all from an app - without installing extra software. To control content, set limits, set screen time usage for rewards, monitor time usage, and shut the Wi-Fi off entirely during family time, all from a parent's phone...Could that even be possible? Come to find out, it is! *gasp*
Here's how Circle works, cuz I couldn't wrap my mind around it either: Circle pairs wirelessly with your home Wi-Fi and lets you manage every device on your network. Using the Circle app, I as the parent can create unique profiles for each family member, and set limits and filters appropriate for each child.
The set up was super easy, and I love that the device is sleek and unobtrusive. By Disney but no Mickey ears or characters found on this equipment. ;)
Some of you have asked me what we do about devices, screen time, and digital apps in the Simons household. Every family must decide what's right for them within their family culture and season. Our current choices are pretty simple: My oldest, Caleb, who is 15, has a cell phone with access to the internet to use for his work, family, and school responsibilities. He's not on social media, and is regularly in conversation with us about what he's reading or spending his time on if he's on his phone. I happen to have a super responsible and genuinely forthcoming teenager, who is outdoorsy and sets limits for himself because he hates being "plugged in."
My other boys do not yet have access to the internet on their own devices and aren't connected to the internet unsupervised. That's a choice we've made, primarily out of desire to remove dependency and distraction. But, even without personal cell phones and devices, there are still fun and purposeful apps on the family iPads and endless funny videos on Netflix and Youtube, on blowing things up and crazy bike tricks. Even good things should have limits and deliberate consideration of use. And Circle just might be a parent's best friend in helping to organize best intentions in a practical way.
Parents, we can't turn a blind eye to the speed and pace of the internet-, social-media-, app-driven world we and our kids live in. We can either be enslaved to its perpetuity, or we can be smart about how we use them within our homes. I want my kids to know that the internet and it's endless opportunities are there to serve us, not the other way around. Simply setting limits and filters, alone, won't get to the heart, but paired with equally intentional guidance from us their parents, I certainly believe we can make a conscious choice about how our families connect. For the Simons household, we're working daily to prioritize connecting with one another and to what the Lord has created outside, and we're grateful that Circle now helps us to accomplish what we intend.
*This review was sponsored by Circle With Disney; all opinions are my own. This review contains affiliate links.