by Lori Twichell
Do you have screen time struggles in your house? We do. I admit that I sort of always sat apart from the folks complaining about their kids and screen time and I was probably a tiny little bit judgmental. Okay, I always thought we had a good handle on our kids with electronics, etc. But then I got to the point where I had three teenagers. And three phones. And multiple computers and tablets. The computers and the tablets are used for school, by the way. But still, I realized we had a problem. It seemed like I was constantly finding one or the other of my kids with their tablets or phones in hand and it started driving me nuts. I was constantly collecting electronics and began to have a stash. I even went out and bought a fireproof safe to lock them up in! Kids had to come to me for permission and the key before they could get to their screens. That worked but it had drawbacks. The longer the devices were in ‘time out’ they discharged and when the kids earned their time with them, they needed to be charged up for a while and then honestly, I’d lose track and the kids would end back up with their screens…it became a vicious cycle and Mom was not a happy camper. And you know that old phrase about when Mama’s not happy? Yeah. It’s not just a catchphrase.
Then one of my friends called me up and asked if I wanted to review something that was supposed to help parents with screen time issues. She had no idea that I was having these problems, but I jumped at the chance for something – anything that might help me regulate things better.
The product was Circle with Disney. Now I don’t know about you but with that D word right in the name of the product, my expectations are set. Especially when it’s something to do with parents and kids. So I was excited to see how it would perform.
Right out of the box, I’ve got to say that it is sleek, small, and very unassuming. It’s a little white cube. (Though I did think it was funny that something named Circle was a cube. But that’s my warped sense of humor!) In fact, when I pulled it out of the box, my husband looked at me and said, “That’s it?” Now don’t take that as a negative. I think it’s pretty slick. You can put it on a shelf and no one will think anything of it. It can fit in with décor or easily be hidden. That’s cool.
Then came the directions and the set up. Now I’ll admit we had a few bumps here. Hubby is the tech guru in our house, so he took over and for the most part, it was pretty easy. It was set up and running in less than an hour. Some of the glitches we had were that it took a little while for us to figure out which each of the devices were. For a short time, we had to block everything and then un-block it one at a time. I don’t know that this is something Circle can update or fix, (I think it’s just part of the game when you’re doing this) but it was a little more time consuming. The first couple of days as we set things up, we had to work out some of the kinks. A couple of times, hubby hadn’t realized he’d blocked the wrong thing. We had one morning when I got up at 4:30 to start working before anyone in the house was up (that’s my own sweet time – no emails or phone calls or emergencies – you can get a lot of work done then!) but my computer and phone had been blocked. To be fair, it meant I got to go back to sleep – even though my productivity for the day took a hit! LOL!
We love our Circle and now, we can’t imagine being without it. The kids have adapted to it very well too – despite some grumblings. We are able to set up ‘off times’ for every device in our house, so after 9:00? No internet for any of the kids. If someone gets caught with a device or online when they aren’t supposed to be, a quick push of a button on our phones and it’s off. Each device can be set up with specific filters as well.
The Circle with Disney has made our lives SO MUCH BETTER. If you are a parent of a kid or a teen who has trouble regulating themselves with their screen time, this is a MUST HAVE. This is something ANYONE who lives or works with young people can use. Grandparents, do your grands come to your house and spend a lot of time online or on their devices? Get this today. Youth leader? You can set this up so the kids can’t access wi-fi until it’s time to open their Bibles – and you can shut off wi-fi just as quickly when it’s over.
I LOVE MY CIRCLE. I would encourage anyone and everyone with young people in their lives to get one of these.
Here’s a quick overview of pros and cons that I got from my hubby.
- Easy to set up
- Allows me to observe network usage time and how that time was spent. Also what sites were visited from each device.
- Has several different pre-set filter settings we can use.
- Enables me to add websites and domains to the filter list.
- Can switch these filters on and off
- Enables me to pause any device on the network with the touch of a button
- Allows time limits and set sleep times wake times for each specific device.
- Set up could be better documented – we did have some blips and bumps the first couple of nights!
- The ‘switches’ in the filter weren’t clear. On/off filtered/not filtered Switches within the filters weren’t labeled. We weren’t sure if it was on or off. Does this mean it’s being filtered or un-filtered.
- Does not filter content from searches – only sites/domains. Can still be exposed to some inappropriate content even on ‘good’ sites or legitimate searches.
Circle with Disney verdict: Get one today!
* I received this product for free in exchange for my unbiased review. The opinions here are all mine, I promise!