For all the good it brings, the internet can be a disgusting, distracting place (to say the least). Between gaming, social media, porn sites and other online destinations and activities, your kids can get into a lot of trouble: not getting school work done, developing bad habits, ignoring family members at the dinner table (and elsewhere)… the list goes on. Fortunately, the internet doesn’t have to be like the wild wild west in your home. There are some really great solutions popping up that can help parents keep their kids safe online — easily and affordably.
When you’re looking for the best home internet filter, there are some key features to keep in mind. Do you want to be able to set time limits for the internet generally or for individual family members? Do you want to be able to block or limit specific apps such as Facebook, Minecraft, YouTube, messaging apps and more? It’s a good idea to have a mental picture or bullet point list in mind before proceeding to make sure you buy a device/filter with the right features for your family.
In doing research for this article, I saw in review after review that parents were able to significantly cut down on household tension by using an internet filter to limit connected time. Arguments about getting off devices seem to drop significantly when family-friendly routers are used. Why? Because access is just limited automatically; parents don’t have to get involved in the fray.
So which one looks like the best bet for your family? Leave me a comment and let me know!
Circle with Disney
Circle with Disney is probably the most polished and comprehensive home internet filter available. It’s a sleek-looking little device (which isn’t circular at all, actually) that has a lot to offer. You can set time limits (even for specific apps like Facebook or YouTube), block and filter content and even pause the internet — and each of these features can be tailored for each member of the family. You can even analyze the content accessed by each family member to discover trends. Everything about Circle with Disney is meant to be easy-to-use and “just work.” And setup should be a breeze — even for non-techie parents. Perhaps the best part feature is that even if your kids unplug the Circle, it will stay connected to the internet thanks to the built in battery (you’ll also get an alert on your phone saying the device was unplugged — and you’ll get another alert if the battery dies).
KoalaSafe Family Friendly Router
The KoalaSafe family friendly router is very similar in functionality to the Circle with Disney, but looks perhaps a tad bit less refined both in it’s physical design and within the app. That said, I like how granular the controls are: you can easily block categories like app stores, gaming, social media, images, search engines, file sharing and more. On the other hand, some features seem a bit too basic; for instance, you can set windows of time for kids to access the internet, but you can’t set a limit of say 45 minutes for gaming during that window (like you can on Circle). Like other home internet filters, you can enforce Google SafeSearch and make sure that YouTube videos are age appropriate. If you’re on the fence, it’s nice that KoalaSafe offers a 30-day return policy in case you change your mind.
The HomeHalo parental control solution is pretty interesting. You’ll find all the basic features you’d expect from the best home internet filters like the ability to block sites, set time limits and get alerts but there are some interesting features that help this device stand apart. Take the homework mode, for instance, which will let kids access only the sites and content they need to get school projects done. HomeHalo touts a very easy setup process (which I can’t confirm as I’ve never set this product up), but if you’re looking for something that isn’t hard to install, this could be a good fit. Interestingly, you’re children can request more internet time which you can grant or deny!