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Wednesday June 28, 2017 9:01 am

Circle with Disney review: Easy management of family devices!


Here in the middle of 2017, managing your content across your various devices is a problem that is pretty much solved, thanks to the various cloud services we can tap into. These basically allow you to access all of your most important content from any device, anywhere you are. However, a problem that has yet to be tackled is the management of who uses those devices. Circle with Disney is a brand-new product that wants to unify your family’s entire online experience. It allows you to set time limits for individual family members, block websites based on your child’s age, and even pause Internet access entirely when it’s time to log off.

Circle allows your family to manage all of your home's connected devices with ease. With Circle, parents can now filter content and limit screen time as well as set a bedtime for every device in the home. Circle can even pause the Internet and share what kids are up to online.


HOW IT WORKS
Circle pairs wirelessly with your home Wi-Fi and allows you to manage every device on the network-tablet, TV, or laptop. Using an iOS or Android app, families create unique profiles for every member of the home and from there, help shape each person's online experience. Additionally, for your kid’s mobile devices there’s Circle Go, which extends all of the settings your kid’s devices have at home with Circle to 4G LTE and any other Wi-Fi network.

Let’s dive in to these features a little deeper.

CONTROL WHAT YOUR CHILD CAN ACCESS
Circle itself is a small, white cube that sits anywhere in your home, with about the same footprint as an Apple TV. When you first get Circle, you have to go through the pretty straightforward process of linking it up with your home Wi-Fi network. At this time you’ll also have to download the free smartphone app.

Once you’re done with the setup process, you have to create the individual profiles for each member of your family. Doing this means you get to set access times and block certain websites for your children depending on their ages. Circle includes five presets: pre-K, kid, teen, adult, and none. These will automatically block selected groups of websites as necessary for the age groups so you don’t have to go through the process of fine-tuning your picks. But you can if you want to, either by switching on or off popular websites/categories of websites (like VPNs and pornography), or by typing domains manually. Later on, the app even shows you insights on which websites and apps your kids spend the most time.

CONTROL WHEN YOUR CHILD CAN ACCESS IT
You can also restrict Internet use by time or day, or the amount of time per day. For example, for a specific child you can allow a total of five hours per day online. For another, you can allow unlimited access between the hours of 9:00 AM and 9:00 PM. You’re in complete control and Circle makes it very easy to handle being in that position of power. When creating profiles, the app lets you choose right from your own phone which devices belong to which people in your family.

My favorite feature of Circle is the simplest one: a pause button. Tap it, and Internet access is turned off. Unpause and it turns back on. You can pause access for individuals, or for the entire family.

CONTROL ACCESS EVEN ON THE GO

Circle with Disney works great on your home network, but you may be wondering, “What about when they take their devices out of the house?” It’s a fair question, because Circle is only in control at home. If a child takes their phone outside, or even off of the WiFi network, they are then outside of the protection of Circle. This is where Circle Go comes in. Circle Go is a $9.95 monthly service that extends all of your Circle settings on all of the devices you control right to the device by using a custom VPN. So even if a device is brought over to a friends house, all of the Circle protection goes with it. The Circle Go subscription covers up to 10 different iOS and Android devices for the price.

FINAL VERDICT
If you have a family with kids, Circle seems like a no brainer. It provides a lot of peace of mind for the connected lifestyle so many of us lead these days, and I don’t know of any other product that allows parents to manage and restrict Internet use for children in such an easy way. For $99, you get a Circle with all the protection it offers for your home, and for an extra $10 a month, you can extend that protection to outside of your home with Circle Go.

You can pick up Circle now for $99.

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