We’ve never found a great internet filter for our family. Everything we tried wasn’t compatible with our operating system, blocked too much, let too much through, or just didn’t give us enough control.
I’m all about control. At least where it comes to my children and what they’re allowed to watch, search, and play online.
Just before Christmas we had an internet search problem and I went back on the hunt for something that would work for us.
I saw a little write-up for a device called Circle, and had finalized the purchase within 5 minutes.
The control it gives is amazing!
Not only can I set a filter level for the wifi in our whole house, I can control the individual (too many) devices in our home. All the images here are from the phone app I control the Circle with. Password protected, of course. Constant vigilance, you know.
Here’s the home screen. Each circle corresponds with someone in our family, and a device or two is assigned to their profile. The shaded circles are currently paused. Or I could hit that pause circle and pause the internet in the entire house.
Let’s tap that house circle.
It takes me here, with a run-down of what the overall stats are for the whole house. Also, see where it says devices? There are 16 devices in my house that can access the internet. 16!!!!! I was baffled!
Let’s take a closer look at those devices.
Too many. But what can you do when your husband is tech nerd? In addition to the things I would normally think of (tablets, PCs, phones), I can also control my TV! I love smart TVs. And our PS4. And so many more things I had no idea had access.
Filter Settings is where you set an overall filter for your house. And then, you can choose access to some individual sites and categories. I personally have the app store turned off because that is a place I don’t feel like I have enough control over. There’s a control for blogs, email, social media, and a long list more.
At the bottom of this particular screen, there is a privacy and safety menu. Yes, absolutely, to ad blocking. Lots in inappropriate stuff pops up in those side bars that I might not notice, but my sweet, curious boys sure notice an ad of a girl in a pair of underwear you read about that are serving a great good in other countries.
That last little orange bar is where you can go in and make exceptions for specific websites you know and trust that are blocked by Circle. Like your (or my) husband’s Fantasy Baseball and Football. (Gambling sites, you know.)
This is my littlest guys screen. His filter level is set to kid. He has the Nintendo DS assigned to him, which also has internet access. Call me stupid, but I didn’t realize that until this year. We’ve had that thing for about 6 years.
He is currently paused because he hasn’t earned screen time today. Since the DS is really more about playing game cartridges that don’t require internet access, I don’t have a time limit set for him, but the bigger boys have some Kindles that I certainly set a limit for. Otherwise, they could play Star Wars Commander for hours.
I can also pause and unpause the internet while I’m away from the house, so if I leave the boys with a babysitter and they get their tasks done, the sitter can just text me and I can turn the internet on and they can play.
I’ve talked to some parents who have kind of looked at me like I’m a little overbearing because of this, but let me tell you, nothing is more terrifying to me for my boys than unlimited access to the internet. It used to be you had to go to the convenience store and pick up a magazine, or go into a curtained off room at the video store, to get porn. Now, you can do an Amazon search for boobs and see aaaaalllllllll kinds of inappropriate book covers. (Ignorance was not my friend, and my children are smarter than I. Also, more curious.)
I’m not getting paid for this (although that wouldn’t be too bad). I’ve just come across a product that works for us. Not just works, it has been a life changer.
Well worth the $99 for a little peace of mind.