Parents have always played catch-up to their children’s technology use. As a parent of four sons ages 13-21, I feel this struggle more than ever. The iPhone was brand new technology when my oldest son entered seventh grade, but by the time my youngest got to middle school, most of his friends had smart phones. Our family rules became obsolete within seven years. We had to get creative.
The Struggle Is Real
This year, from his high school Cell Phone Bill of Rights, my child learned “phones and other technology are the greatest distraction to academic focus ever invented and will be treated as such.”
But on his Chromebook check-out forms, we learned the school district is “excited to bring innovation into the classroom.”
As our children face these conflicting messages, I’ve watched huddled groups of parents whisper, “What are you doing about the Chromebooks?”
We Use Circle
When other parents ask us how we manage devices and time online, I tell them that we have Circle.
Circle is a device that pairs wirelessly with your home Wi-Fi and allows you to manage every device on your network. Using the Circle app, families can create unique profiles for each family member.
We use Circle to set time limits for YouTube, Netflix and online games to remind our kids to prioritize school work. Because sleep is important, we set a Bedtime so the Wi-Fi turns off on every one of their devices. They still choose when to go to sleep, but they have a fighting chance with that early alarm.
On the weekends, I sometimes Pause the Internet (which is easy with Circle) so that we can reconnect and the kids can rediscover offline activities they love.
It’s Made an Impact
My eighth grader recently confessed that it was “actually good” that he had a Time Limit. Circle helps me encourage good tech habits. When the “Looks like you’ve hit your Time Limit” message appears, my kids know I care about them.
Want to pause the internet and reclaim some family time at your house, too? Learn more about Circle and use code PTA2016 to get $10 OFF at MeetCircle.com.
Editor’s Note: In addition to considering devices like Circle, check out TheSmartTalk.org for a free resource from National PTA and LifeLock that gets parents and kids together for a guided conversation about being responsible with new technology.
Circle is a financial sponsor of National PTA. National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product, or service, and no endorsement is implied by this content.
Anne Bryan is a long-time school volunteer and served as President and Treasurer at her local middle school parent group. She is an advisor to Circle Media Inc.