Better Living with Circle from Disney
I came across this handy little device in 2016 - what a game changer. And it’s not just for the kids but for me too. How did we live without it?! When I had my first son I was on top of just about everything. He brushed his teeth before bed, we put away his toys every night, I read with him faithfully, and I supervised his first iPod and locked it down 100%. And I’m happy to admit it paid off. Or perhaps he was just born organized, responsible, and tech savvy. Who knows. But with my second son, good heavens no one could have convinced me he’d be so completely different from his brother. As would I be too as his parent. I don’t know if it’s because it was double the responsibility or if I was thrown by the complete and total difference in personalities between the two boys but everything changed with my second son. I was lax in the toy pick up department and now must contend with a messy room. His diet was different and somehow he’s managed to work cereal in as a staple. I joke that instead of buying candy he should just take the five pound bag of sugar from the cabinet. The bedtime ritual is a constant struggle. He’s my little contrarian but he’s working really hard to train me to see life his way! My biggest oversight, one that I couldn’t have foreseen even with my digital background, was the impact of electronics on his young life. I can’t stay ahead of him.
While my oldest son was growing up laptops, tablets and phones were new and expensive. He wasn’t exposed to much because we didn’t have smartphones back then. We didn’t even have cable television when he was little. I remember the first time he watched television at my parents house. He came into the kitchen and told me I should use a certain brand of dish soap because it works better. “Where on earth did you get that from?” I asked. Oh, right. TV. By the time my youngest was born all pictures became digital. I texted from the hospital room that I just gave birth to a 9lb, 2oz boy. Now smartphones have taken over and my old iPhone is essentially a toy. Schools are using iPads in kindergarten classrooms. Technology is running away.
It’s as if I woke up one day and lost all control. My oldest was binge watching Grey’s Anatomy all summer and my youngest walked around all day with an iPhone in his hands. (Or so it seemed. It was never “all day.”) I didn’t want to be the kind of parent that stalked her children online and constantly complained that’s all they do. Fortunately it isn’t. Then one day I came across Circle with Disney. It’s a small box (not a circle) that connects to your router which you control with your phone and it manages each family member’s time online as well as time used on all devices in your house. My favorite feature is the magic button that lets you pause the internet at will. It’s wonderful! The interface is Disney-friendly and so easy to use. There are different categories for each age group including adult so you can monitor yourself too.
It’s a game changer. I don’t have to think too much about internet usage and screen time anymore. In the beginning when they figured out why the wifi was turning off I had a talk with each of them and we negotiated their time allotments. We’re all good with the outcome. They know the routine and there aren’t any arguments. I have peace of mind not having to worry about being a bad parent from letting them walk all over me on at least the internet issue. I’ll admit in the beginning I had to hide the box a few times but I won the battle. I’m all about tech and I love all the high end toys but parenting is hard and expensive enough. I try to keep outside influences to a minimum. Circle with Disney has been a tremendous help. And fun too. Did I really spend that much time on Facebook? Ooops. Maybe I need to set a bedtime shutoff for myself!
This blog was updated from the original published date of October 7, 2016.