Disney has something that will keep your child safe on the Internet, and it’s not a snowman that sings about summer.
It’s called Circle With Disney, a $99 box device that allows parents to control everything their child sees on the Internet, according to a statement from Disney. It’s available now on meetcircle.com and will be available soon from the Disney Store.
"Circle is a device, managed by an iOS app, that enables you to choose how you and your family spend time online by using advanced filtering, time management systems and informing to answer the where, when, why and how of your network's Internet activity," according to the device’s Kickstarter page.
Here’s a video on the device:
Specifically, the device allows parents to make sure the content their child sees is age appropriate and inexplicit, according to the Kickstarter page. Parents can also manage how much time their child has access to a device.
There’s even a Safe Mode, which automatically filters Internet settings and the device itself to be suitable for children under 5 years old — allowing only games and apps, according to the Kickstarter page.
“Technology isn’t bad – it’s a tool,” according to the Kickstarter page. “So we don't have to ignore the Internet, unplug our computer, or toss our kid’s phones in the closest body of water. We just have to manage how we all spend time online. Our desire with Circle is to help families find the content appropriate for their family and build online habits they desire for their loved ones.”
The device was originally an idea of a startup and was called Circle. Disney decided to partner with the startup after seeing how beneficial it could be for families, according to Tech Times.
Circle With Disney could not come at a better time for families. A poll from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital earlier this year found that Internet safety is the fourth most common concern for parents, up from the eighth spot in 2014, according to Reuters. Fifty-one percent of parents listed it as their top concern.
“The public is well aware of the potential risks to children and teens of Internet activities and sexting, such as cyberbullying and predatory behavior,” Dr. Matthew Davis of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and poll director told Reuters. “Children’s use of the Internet continues to grow, so it makes sense that growing use, without much evidence of greater safety, would lead to higher levels of public concern.”
The Internet opens up children to a wide world of issues, including potential identity theft, financial scams and “attention of adults who want to exploit them in illegal, harmful sexual relationships,” according to the North Carolina Department of Justice.
“Safe online navigation is just like safe navigation by land, sea or air. It requires knowledge, experience and clear thinking,” North Carolina’s DOJ explained. “You can minimize your risks and maximize your rewards by making good decisions in your online journeys.”
To do so, Davis told Reuters that parents should take a more hands-on approach when it comes to their child using the Internet and new technological devices by monitoring what websites their child visits, who their child messages and what their youngster blogs or writes about online.
Lisa Jones, who works for Crimes Against Children Research center at the University of New Hampshire, agrees.
“Striking the right balance with controlling technology use and access for children, or monitoring their behavior is something I think we are still figuring out and will probably be an ongoing process for parents, just like deciding how much to control what children choose to wear, who they can hang out with, and where they can go on their own,” Jones told Reuters.
Parents may also want to get involved in their child’s Internet activity by becoming “computer literate” and learning how to handle Internet protection tools, according to KidsHealth from Nemours.
Modern parents may struggle with this, though, since some aspects of technology are hard for older Americans to grasp, especially when children pick up how to use a device so easily, according to The Atlantic.
But parents can work with their children to understand modern technology by opening up conversations on how to use the Internet properly, The Atlantic reported.
“We can’t prepare our kids for the world they will inhabit as adults by dragging them back to the world we lived in as kids,” according to The Atlantic. “It’s not our job as parents to put away the phones. It’s our job to take out the phones and teach our kids how to use them.”
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Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret News National. Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @herbscribner.