Circle: A Device for Parental Control

In order to control the use of internet in their homes, some people go the lengths of actually unplugging the router after hours. Parents often take extreme measures to control children’s use of internet because they know that both the stimulation from continuous internet use and particular troublesome content will have a bad effect on children’s attitudes and development. The internet is a wonderful educational tool. Schools increasingly expect children to use it to support their learning. However, in many ways, the internet is like a city street and after hours it may have a dark side.

There are several ways to monitor the activity of your children on the internet. You can access the child’s history file. You can look at all the activity that passes through the router’s IP address. You can activate the monitoring provisions built into many wireless routers. You can also purchase any one of a number of software-based solutions to child internet monitoring. There are a number of programs that provide a detailed account of the sites visited and the interactions that your child had on the internet.

Circle parental control is a departure from the complex and less than thorough software solutions that are available.  It is a hardware device that links to your home Wi-Fi for managing all the devices on your home network. There is no need to install software which is itself visible and modifiable on your network. The device allows you to set time limits for apps and web sites and set up age appropriate filters (pre-k filters, kid filters, teen filters, and adult filters) that restrict access to particular sites for all your devices. The device comes with a database of acceptable websites for each age level so the child’s internet use can be preconfigured for them.

Studies have found that after hours use of the internet significantly impact sleep pattern in children. On study presented to the American College of Chest Physicians in 2010 found that on average children sent 33 texts and e-mails each night. The authors noted that these children are engaging in stimulating activity when the environment should be promoting sleep. Those children who surf the internet, play online games, text or send emails at bedtime not only experience sleep-related problems such as excessive movement, leg pain and insomnia and have a,

“high rate of daytime problems which include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, depression and learning difficulties.”

More than three-quarters of those children had persistent problems falling asleep. Most of them were actually awakened every night by an active internet call.

The American Society of Pediatrics makes special note that the content of internet use both day and night has specific effects on children. Violent content is associated with the likelihood of sleep problems.

Sleep problems are not the only concerns about unsupervised internet use among children. A report cited by the San Diego County District Attorney describes internet crime as the fastest growing category of crime in the United States, and children as the fastest growing victim pool. One in five children (10 to 17) have been sexually solicited. One in four children has encountered unwanted pornography. A majority (60 percent) of teenagers has received and e-mail or instant message from a stranger and half of them have answered back. Keep in mind, says the citation, a vast majority of internet crimes involving sexual solicitation and unwanted pornography is not reported to parents or police.

Parents typically stop supervising internet use by children after the age of 14. Yet 72 percent of internet-related missing children cases involve teenagers who are 15 years old or older. Nearly two-thirds of children say their parents know little or nothing about the websites they visit.

Parents should watch for indications that a child might be engaged with risky internet contact. If they find downloaded pictures of strangers, pornographic pictures, gifts or letters from strangers, use of someone else’s online account, or secretive behavior like quick turning off of the monitor when someone enters the room. The authorities uniformly recommend the use of parental controls for filtering and monitoring internet content of children.

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