Internet Filtering for Arborbrook Families

by Wade Grimes

Hi there Arborbrook families,

So you’ve crossed the digital divide.  Your kids have computers and tablets and phones.  They have apps and lingo and secret hand shakes.  They sit in front of the computer on your home Internet connection and…you have no idea what they are doing.

You know you’ve raised them right, but you don’t want them to stumble across something they shouldn’t see—like that terrible hamster dance video—or get into something they shouldn’t get into.  You want to give them freedom, but also want to give them some boundaries.  In reality, all you really want is to stop them from playing that terrible hamster dance video!

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I can see that glazed look in your eyes…that look that tells me that for the first time since they’ve been born your kids know more than you know about something, and you’re not sure that’s a good thing.  You’re stressing that Arborbrook has just given your grade 7-12 kids an email address and required them to go online on your home Internet connection to check it…requires them to use the Google Classroom…gives them access to chat, and Wikipedia, and YouTube…and that terrible hamster dance video!  Welcome, Arborbrook Families, to the scary world of “the internets.”

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Nah, just kidding…it’s not scary. You just need some help.

Because I know you, I know that you have already put into place some effective parental oversight—you have the computers out in an open area of your house, you have rules against kids with devices in rooms overnight or behind closed doors, you log on and read your kid’s email, you friend your kids on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat.  Also, because I know you, I know that even though you’ve done all those things, you still feel a bit lost.  It’s ok, really.  What you need is some good solid Internet content filtering, time limits, and reporting to come alongside your already excellent parental oversight.

“Wait,” you say.  “What in the world is Internet content filtering?” Well, here’s what it’s not:

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Think of it this way—there are places that you don’t want your kids to go on the Internet.  There are probably places where you don’t want yourself to go on the internet.  Internet Content Filtering is hardware and software that keeps you and your kids out of those places.

Really though, it’s more than that—say you want to set a time when devices just won’t work anymore…or say you want to know exactly how much time they spend on YouTube watching that hamster dance video…or say you feel like your kid is spending too much time on the Internet, and you want to limit the amount of time they have access.  Say you get mad at your kids and you want an easy way to turn the Internet off entirely?  Internet Content Filtering not only keeps your kids safe from the sketchy parts of the web, but it can also help from turning their brains into mush, like this guy:

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“That sounds great,” you say.  “Where can I get one of them Internet content filters?”  I have also recently been trying to skin this cat as well, and have found a new vendor that has an easy-to-install, low-cost solution that fits the bill: Circle.  Circe is a small, white magical box that you pair with your home network and sits in-between your family’s tablets, phones, and computers and the Internet.  It examines and records all traffic, and allows what you tell it to allow, and denies what you tell it to deny.

Here’s a pretty picture of Circle:

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Here’s a quote from the Circle website:

“Circle is a smart device and app that allows your family to manage all of your home’s connected devices. With Circle, parents can filter content, limit screen time and set a bedtime for every device in the home. Circle can even pause the Internet.”

You set this thing up on your network, and then install an app on your iPhone (no Android at this point).  Circle automatically identifies all the devices on your network.  In the app, you associate the device with a user, and then set up appropriate content for age, time limits for apps or content categories, and bedtimes.  You can block ads, and enable Google safe search.  From that point forward, Circle controls Internet content while the device is on your home network.  You will receive push notifications on your phone when someone hits a time limit, or when your kids unplug Circle cause they’re mad they can’t see the hamster dance video.  On top of all that, you can see how much time is spent online, or in Facebook or Instagram, or on science websites.  You can also see a complete history of all sites visited for a day, week, or month.

Again, “That sounds great,” you say.  “I bet it costs a fortune.”  Nope.  $99.  That’s it. No monthly charge. Just 99 bucks. Here’s the website:  https://meetcircle.com/

Once again, “That sounds great,” you say.  “But I’m totally lost, and I have no idea about how to get this thing installed, much less configured.”  Never fear, my friend.  I’ll come to your house, install it, and configure it for you for $100.  You spend $199, and you get a turn-key solution—installed, configured, and ready to help you with the hamster dance.

Let me know how I can help.  My email is wade.grimes@arborbrook.org.  Remember, 99 bucks for the circle, a hundred bucks for me to install it.  You know I’ll do it right, cause here’s my picture:

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by Wade Grimes

Arborbrook Dad and Sometimes Head of the Arborbrook Technology Team

wade.grimes@arborbrook.org

 

 

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