Local moms put parental control device 'Circle With Disney' to the test

Local moms put parental control device 'Circle With Disney' to the test

CLEVELAND - "It's the most awesome thing ever," Circle With Disney's commercial proudly claims.

And at just under a hundred bucks, the little white cube comes with a big promise. It wirelessly connects to your home network to monitor, control and report on internet activity.  It does this for all the devices you have in your home and can assign each one specific limits. You can also control Circle from an app on your phone and get messages when limits are exceeded. 

The premise sounded appealing to two moms who agreed to give Circle a try. 

"I'm hoping that I'll be better able to see what exactly it is they're watching," said Yvonne who is a mom to four kids, ranging in age from 14 to 4. 

And Kathy, mom to 2 girls. 

While the moms were eager to being using Circle, the kids: not so much. 

The families had a few weeks before we checked back in. 

Yvonne wasn't a fan. 

"So it slowed down Wi-Fi in the whole house," she said. "Our TV's, our Smart TV's, and so they slowed down. Netflix wasn't working," Yvonne reported.  The family went through Circle's suggestions on how to avoid internet slow-down but still found it greatly impacted Wi-Fi speed. 

Kathy's family had better luck. "I do think it was very helpful. It's a great idea," she said adding, "I think it's going to lead to talking points. You know, when they can see in black and white how much time they are spending on it."

Kathy blocked Wi-Fi from 10 PM to 6 AM. And found her 12-year-old still spent nearly 8 hours a week on her phone; mostly using Snapchat. 

But parents beware, Kathy's 14-year-old easily by-passed the system by simply shutting off the Wi-Fi on her device. 

Andrew Horansky:  "And then she couldn't track you?"

"Uh-uh". 

Andrew Horansky: "How long did it take her to realize she wasn't tracking you?"

"It took her awhile."

And neither girl could be tracked whenever they left home. 

"But this is perfect I think for a younger family, just kind of establishing how they're using the electronics in their home," Kathy said. 

Kathy is keeping her Circle connected. "I think it provides a lot of information."

Yvonne is going back to her established routine. "Looking at their phones, seeing what they're doing, what you are watching and then having conversations," she said. 

Both moms agree nothing can ever completely replace that. 

Just last week, a leading cyber threat intelligence team revealed it found vulnerabilities within Circle With Disney. Their investigation happened at the beginning of the summer. Those security flaws could leave users open to being hacked. However, they immediately alerted with Disney and say the company's security team quickly pushed out automatic security updates to deal with those flaws. 

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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