Thankfully… An App/Hardware for Setting Limits on Screen-Time Effectively
What Seems to Be Every Parent’s Biggest Challenge?
Setting limits on screen-time! Talk to any parent and soon you’ll be talking about screens, screen-time, screen content, internet addiction etc.
It’s universal. Kids love anything to do with screens and as parents, we’re trying to do what we ever we can to keep a healthy balance between screen-time and non-screen-time!
My husband and I have a very tech-savvy friend and so we asked him if there was anything he could recommend to help us with setting limits on screen-time in our house. He researched, bought the product that he thought was the simplest and most effective, tried it out, recommended it to us, and we’ve been using it very successfully for the last few weeks.
Below is a photo of the hardware which you plug into your home modem for setting limits on screen-time for each family member. You then get an app on your phone or tablet to control all the settings, device by device (anything connected to the internet: computers, iPods, iPads, phones, gaming consoles, Netflix, YouTube etc.)
This is the description from Amazon that summarizes everything that Circle does:
Manage Every Device: Circle recognizes and manages every device on your home WiFi
Set Time Limits: Create daily time limits on apps and popular sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.
Filter Content: Set individual filter levels by age (Pre-K, Kid, Teen, and Adult) for each member of your family.
Discover Insights: See where your kids spend the most time online by app and category.
Pause the Internet: Pause the Internet for a single family member or the whole family with a single tap.
The Pros and The Cons
First of all the pros:
I like the fact that…
- We can make this a collaborative process – we’ve explained that there are limits in life which are enforced externally – (credit cards have limits, telephone data plans have limits, bills have to be paid or we lose our services etc.) and internet use also needs limits. However, because our kids are older, we’ve had discussions about reasonable limits and set them accordingly
- We no longer have to be the enforcer of the screen limits when time is up
- We can set a specified time limit on YouTube and a different time limit for Facebook etc. even if they’re being accessed on the same device
- If we go to bed before our kids (our kids are getting older now), we know that the internet will shut off at a predetermined time
- It’s easy to extend time-limits if one of our kids has a reasonable request – even if we are out for dinner and our kids are home and staying up later to watch a movie, we can extend their internet time for Netflix via our phones from the restaurant
- There are filters for each device so there’s no risk of accidental exposure to inappropriate or traumatic content
- If their friends come over with their own wifi devices, it immediately detects them and adds them to the home profile and enforces those filters, so there’s no accidental viewing on friends’ devices either (I have counselled young children who have accidentally viewed disturbing pornograhic images which keep replaying in their minds.)
- If it’s a professional development day at school, and our kids are home and we’re at work, we can prearrange with them what their day is going to look like, how much screen-time they will have and then “set it and forget it”
- If your child has a phone with data, he/she will default to data, once their internet use is blocked by Circle. However, data limits can be set as well
- I’ve read on the reviews that some people have found their internet modem was not compatible with Circle
- On the reviews, some people have found the app to be “buggy”, however this has not been our experience
- Circle works for any device connected to WIFI so it won’t work for handheld gaming toys (Ie. DS) and if your child downloads movies/TV shows from Netflix then they can still watch them
- If your kids are older, they will most likely be mad about this controlling hardware/app, but that is why it is important to include them on the limit settings
- Parents could exert too much control with the app, and this could lead to increased power struggles. It’s important to not over-control and to still give room for kids to work within their allotted time vs. threatening them with the “pause” button at every opportunity
My Concerns about Screen-Time
There’s a lot of research coming out about the negative effects of too much screen-time. Our kids are the “guinea pig generation”. They are the first group to have this much internet access, and be spending this much time on screens. I worry about brain development.
For my review of the documentary, Screenagers click here.
Even without reading all the research, common sense tells us that it’s unhealthy for a child’s brain and body to be in a high state of alert, with elevated levels of Cortisol (the stress hormone) constantly running through their brains and bodies as they fight off zombies, creepers, shooters and other aggressors for an extended period of time.
Do we really want to strengthen the Amygdala? This is the instinctual part of our brain that feels our stress and puts us into fight/flight/freeze mode even when it’s not a true emergency, such as a video game! Even the car racing games, increase heart rates and stress levels and activate the Amygdala.
Screens are here to stay, but we need to figure out the best way for setting limits on screen-time so that our children have a healthy balance between on screen-time and off screen-time.
PS. If you choose to buy Circle through this link or the one in the article above, please do your own research as well. Also, this link is an affiliate link which means that it doesn’t cost you a cent more to order through this Amazon link I will receive a very small commission from Amazon which goes toward the running of this website and the production of these weekly blogs.
All products that I recommend in articles or on my Recommended Resources page, have all been used or read by me first, and I only recommend products that I personally find effective.
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