If you could take unwanted web material and filter it in your home, would you? What if it were really easy to do so?
I’ve talked with countless parents frustrated about how hard it is to help shield their kids from unwanted material on the web. You can pursue DNS blockers or router solutions, but often there is a certain level of technical know-how that is assumed before you can implement these safeguars. Additionally, they can be “fiddly,” as one parent put it.
Circle Media began with the hope of making tools available for families to easily manage their home’s web content and have more extensive conversations with children growing up in a digital universe. An initial Kickstarter campaign by Circle Media never quite got off the ground, but Disney saw an opportunity and got behind a re-vamped product.
Circle is a small cube that plugs into your existing router hardware. You set up the rest from your phone. In a very simple to navigate app, each device that accesses the web in your home is relegated to a specific user and then each user is assigned a category: Pre-K, Kid, Teen, Adult and “none”. Every time a new device accesses your network, you are asked to assign that device to a person or to a filter level. This helps even as your kids mature and their peers bring iPhones or other devices to your home.
When a user surfs over to content that is deemed inappropriate, they are met with a screen that says “You’ve been filtered” and offers alternative, age-appropriate (and often Disney sourced) material. Each filter level even allows for platform-specific filtering like Facebook, YouTube or Snapchat can be completely filtered out. Additionally, you can allow sites, but have Circle filter out ads, require Google Safe Search and YouTube Restricted – all welcome additions for families who care what their kids see and experience online.
Parents are also given tools that restrict access to wifi during specific times or after a certain time limit has been reached. If your kids attempt to access the web at night alone in their rooms (never a good idea), the web is completely disconnected until the next morning at a specific time. Additionally, Parents can manually “pause” the internet on any device in the system which is perfect for those families who like to have their children “earn” time on electronics only after chores are completed.
This is an incredibly helpful device that simplified so much of what we needed to manage in our home. Even with 6 people who are accessing the router at a single time, we have never experienced a major slow down in web speed either (thank you, Google Fiber).
With so many positives, there are a few difficulties, though.
Overall, Circle has become an integral part of how we aid our family to think wisely about how each person accesses information. If you are a concerned parent or even an adult who struggles with pornography, Circle can be a quick and easy solution that helps manage the wifi content in your home.
We strongly recommend it.
John Mark Yeats