The internet is a wonderful tool, when used safely. There are a lot of dangers inherent to internet usage, but there are ways you can help to keep your kids safer online. Circle with Disney is the internet safety device we’ve used in our home for a little over a year, and in this post I’m going to tell you why we chose Circle with Disney and how we use it to keep our children safer online.
UPDATE: as of August 2018 Choremonster is no longer operating and Circle is removing the connection.
Disclaimer: I was not asked to do this review or compensated in any manner, this is a product I purchased on my own. There are affiliate links in this post, if you use them to buy something I will get a small commission. That commission helps to keep this website and its communities running. Thank you!
WHAT IS CIRCLE WITH DISNEY?
Circle with Disney (also referred to as Circle in this post) is a home internet safety monitoring device. Cirlce is not a substitute for an involved parent, but it certainly makes our jobs easier. This small white box may look unassuming, but don’t let that fool you. Circle with Disney is a powerful tool.
HOW TO SET UP CIRCLE WITH DISNEY
First things first, you’re going to need to set your Circle up. Circle works by, in laymen’s terms, intercepting the signals coming into your modem and filtering them as necessary. There are four different pre-set filter types, all of which are customizable, but we’ll talk about those a little later. Setting up Circle is easy and painless. It’s a super quick process and the directions are written in a friendly and approachable manner.
PRO TIP: Turn all of your phones and tablets off before installing Circle.
STEP ONE: To set up your device open the box and plug it in.
STEP TWO: Install the Circle with Disney app on whatever device(s) you want to use to control Circle. If you use a shared device as a control device you can set password and fingerprint options for the app (but don’t worry, the app will walk you through it!)
As soon as your Circle with Disney is online and your app installed, Circle will start finding all devices currently using your wifi network. Each device will have some sort of identification. Most of the time the identification will be a string of letters and numbers, making it difficult to determine which device is which. Turning off as many devices as you can will allow you turn them on one-by-one and rename them in Circle so you know what device to assign to which profile.
SETTING UP PROFILES ON CIRCLE WITH DISNEY
Using the app you’ll next create a profile for each person in the family. There is already a default Home profile, this is the profile to which you will assign all shared devices (examples: AppleTV, Roku, wireless printers, SmartTVs)
During the creation of each profile you will be asked to set a filter level. You will also need to set a filter level for the home profile. We chose to keep our home profile (the shared devices) set to no filter as these devices are in our main living area and are easily monitored. Of course, what works for us doesn’t have to work for you.
The filter options are:
You can leave the filters set as is, but for even more customization you can add white lists, black lists, set time limits for each website or type of website, block entire categories like social media…You can even block out an entire category but enable one single website in that category. For example, if I want my kid off of social media but I want them to be able to access WattPad for their writing, I can do that.
In each profile you can also set time limits. The time limit controls are AMAZING. You can limit how much time each profile spends on individual websites, in websites that match a category, in a particular app or video game, watching Netflix….anything. You can also set a total usage time limit and a bedtime.
As a new device is added to your wifi, you place it in the profile for the person who uses it the most. You can access a list of devices from settings, just click on the device and assign it to a profile.
Reward your child!
You can easily extend any time limit and bedtime going into a profile and clicking “reward”.
From the profiles you can also:
-Manage any device on your wifi
-Pause access to the internet on a particular or all devices
-Monitor all internet usage
-Look at a detailed list of the websites each device has been visiting
-Reward your child for doing chores
WHAT INFO CAN I SEE ABOUT MY KID’S ONLINE ACTIVITY?
Pretty much everything. You can see exactly what time of day your child accessed the internet, from which device, and what they viewed online. You can break device usage history into categories, which is very helpful for monitoring social media activity. You can see the URL of every pop-up advertisement as well.
You also have the ability to block absolutely anything they access just by clicking on it.
Circle with Disney monitors any internet-connected device you want, including video game consoles and SmartTVs!
WHAT IF I TRUST MY KID?
Ok, well first, this isn’t about trusting your kid. That’s an entirely different issue that I’m not even going to begin to discuss here. If you don’t want to monitor or censor the internet in your home, that’s cool, you won’t need a Circle 🙂
What I will say is that you can turn off any of the monitoring at any point in time. For instance, while we use Circle to monitor our teen’s safety, I don’t track their internet history. I sure as heck, however, track the history of the kid who has had some sketchy internet communications in the past (not their fault, being taken advantage of by others!)
Circle is totally customizable to the requirements of every individual in your family!
Circle with Disney has a battery back-up!
Let’s say a kid wants to turn Circle off for a few minutes. They won’t get away with it! Circle has a 6 hour battery life and not only will it continue to work when unplugged, it’ll send the control devices a message saying it’s offline.
CAN MY KIDS BYPASS CIRCLE?
Yes, if they are motivated enough and the right circumstances are in place. Circle isn’t foolproof, and that’s why it’s a tool and not a substitution for an involved parent. Here are a few of the concerns we’ve discussed in my family:
-Lock screen bypass – If your child’s fingerprint is stored in your phone, or if they know the access code to the app, they can get in there and change things.
-Open wifi/Cellular service – If you live in an area with open wifi, if your next door neighbors don’t password protect their wifi, or if your child has the ability to use cellular data instead, they could always leave your wifi and use an open wifi or cell data. While Circle will notify you anytime a new device is connecting to your wifi, it doesn’t notify you if one leaves. There is a solution if you find this is a problem though. Circle Go (accessible via settings) is an additional monthly service that will monitor devices on any network, including cellular data and other wifi networks. This additional service isn’t free, but you might still find it worthwhile.
WHAT ELSE CAN CIRCLE DO?
-Connect with Alexa
-Connect with the ChoreMonster app to allow custom rewards
-Control your smart home with Google Assistant
-Control WeMo smart light switches
-Automatically extend bedtimes on birthdays
-Turn the internet off during good weather when you connect with Weather Underground
-Extend time limits via text message
-Save energy by using the Life360 app to pause the internet when no one is home
-even more cool stuff is coming every single day!
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT CIRCLE WITH DISNEY?
I adore this little device. I adore the information it gives me. I adore how easy it was to set up. I adore how much I can do with it that has nothing to do with internet safety. Yes, I think every family concerned about internet safety should have one.
You can learn more about Circle with Disney by visiting MeetCircle.
WHERE CAN I BUY A CIRCLE WITH DISNEY?
We bought our Circle with Disney on Amazon. Circle with Disney retails for $99 as of the time of this post, but we caught ours on sale for $79. There is no additional cost associated with using the device in your home, though some partner apps (like Life360) may require a financial investment.
If you want the additional monthly monitoring for networks other than your home wifi you’re going to pay a monthly fee of $4.99 after a one month free trial.
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Meg Grooms (she/her) is a decades-long secular homeschooler, mother of many, writer, Florida ex-pat, and all-around swell gal. Meg & her partner have raised their kids all over the USA, finally settling on Southern California. For now, anyhow.
Meg blogs about secular homeschooling and gameschooling at Homeschool Gameschool. Meg is available for speaking engagements, workshops, and gameschooling classes, please see the About Us/Contact Meg page for more information.