What the Tech? Disney Circle Go app
The Heath's Disney Circle Go device sits on a shelf and monitors every device in the home: computers, laptops, tablets, phones, televisions and game systems.
Your kids are in their rooms for the night but that doesn't mean parents aren't worried about their safety. When teenagers and pre-teens are in their rooms many of them have the internet on computers and smartphones and those smartphones have video cameras. Some of the most popular apps among children these days make it possible for anyone to stream live video. Some parents won't allow their children to have smartphones in their rooms but that isn't always the most logical solution.
Jason and Natasha Heath let their sons have computers and smartphones in their room because they use them for school work, email and alarm clocks. They do want to make sure the boys aren't watching videos they shouldn't be watching or playing video games to all hours of the night or using messaging apps like SnapChat and Instagram into the morning hours.
About a year ago Jason heard about Disney's Circle Home and Circle Go, a device that connects to the family's internet connection that allows parents to control devices and use filters to keep some content from being accessed on any device in the house.
"We wanted to be able to view what our teenagers are viewing and make sure they're making good decisions," said Jason. "There's so much out there that's not okay to view and be involved in. It feels good as a parent to have that involvement."
The Heath's Disney Circle Go device sits on a shelf and monitors every device in the home: computers, laptops, tablets, phones, televisions and game systems. The Heath's can, for example, see how 14 year old Jaden and 16 year old Jacob are spending their time. To do this, all Jason and Natasha need to do is open the Disney Circle Go app on their phone.
"You can set a time limit so they're only allowed to access the internet for an hour and a half a day, then they have to ask you for more time," said Natasha. "I can pause his computer, I can pause the Xbox, I can pause his iPad, his cellphone."
As Jaden and Jacob played Fortnite on their Xbox, Natasha demonstrated how it works by tapping on her smartphone using the Disney Go app. In the middle of their online game it suddenly stopped and showed on the screen that gameplay had been interrupted because it lost the internet connection.
"Our favorite thing is being able to control their access to cellular," said Jason.
By paying a $10/month subscription to Disney Go, the Heath's can see what their boys are doing on their phone when they are on a friend's wifi network or using their cellphone data plan. Something impossible to do without a device such as the Disney Circle.
"Whether they're away at camp for 3 weeks, in another state, I still know exactly what he was searching, when he was searching it, over wifi and cellular," said Natasha. "It definitely changes somewhat of their behavior."
The boys know they're online lives are being watched by mom and dad, which is never popular.
"It should be called Disney Stop, not Disney Go," said Jaden but admits he would want the device if he had children himself. "Oh yes, for sure. It's great if you're a parent."
Jacob who's beginning his senior year in high school said he's found mom and dad's monitoring to be helpful in getting his work done. "Once they shut down the internet I know that playtime is over and I need to focus."
"Let's just say that Circle Go has done its job. It's created conversations that would not have been created without a product like that," said Jason.