It’s Saturday morning, and it’s a familiar scene, no doubt, in a lot of homes.
I’m clutching the first cup of coffee of the day while my three children sprawl across the sofa, quietly immersed in their iPad games.
Don’t get me wrong – the line-in past 8am was magic – and much-needed.
“Guys!” I say hovering over them. “If these games are going to turn you into zombie’s it’s time to switch off!”
“Huh,” my eldest son looks up, glassy eyed. “Morning Mum.”
He hasn’t registered a word I’ve said.
“What time did you get up this morning?” I ask.
“Just before 6,” he answers head back in his Minecraft world.
“And what have you been doing all morning?” I ask, already knowing the answer. The glazed look in his eyes tells me he’s been on the iPad for sometime.
“Just playing my game.”
“Ok,” I tell them. “You can all go and get ready. We’re going out. I’ll make some breakfast while you guys get dressed.”
Four months ago (before Santa thought it would be a good idea to buy mini- iPads for Christmas), this would have been met with excited whoops of joy and a million questions about where we were going and what we were going to do.
This morning it’s met with, moans and groans, and protests along the lines of “I just want to play my game!”
It’s both frustrating and a little scary just how immersed they become – particularly when they are playing Minecraft – and particularly when all three of them are joined into the same world.
Even before I had finished my first cup of coffee, I’ve confiscated the iPads, let lose on a rant about getting outside and exercising and spending time as a family, and had begun to wish I could start the day all over again – minus the arguments and sulking.
It’s a scene that is becoming increasing common – and it’s a problem that I see becoming increasingly difficult as they get older. It is certainly an issue that I need to take steps to change NOW.
* * * * *
Then last night an email caught my eye in my inbox with the title “New technology solves Minecraft addiction and puts parents back in control.’
As if I wasn’t going to click on that to find out more!
What is it?
According to the Kickstarter page, the KoalaSafe is a simple box that you plug into your existing router and connect all of your children’s devices to. It creates a new WIFI network in the home that’s safe for kids – and apparently you don’t need to be an IT wizard to set it up. (Even better). Just unpack, plug in and it’ll allow you to:
- Set internet usage time limits
- Block sites or apps that you don’t want your child to use
- See how much time your child is spending online, and what sites and apps they are using – with the parental insight feature
- Set per device profiles – allowing you to set age appropriate rules for each child on their own device
- Access a weekly usuage report
- Receive notifications
It also has Youtube Safe Search and Google Safe Search – so children can’t accidentally follow links to, or search for, or land on, inappropriate content. As we know, once some things have been seen they can’t be unseen – and there are plenty of things on the web that I wouldn’t want to see – let alone allow my children to see.
Analytics that allow you to monitor and control your child’s internet usage
According to the Kickstart page:
In the first screenshot KoalaSafe is showing you how much time Mathew is spending in each category and how his total time today compares to the rest of the week. (You can switch between time periods). We also show you what the recommended per day usage is and what the average usage across the KoalaSafe network is, to help you better make your decisions around screen time limits.
In the second screenshot, we have selected the Social Media category. Here you can see his favourite apps. At a glance you can see the types of apps and sites he spends most of his time on and whether his usage has increased or decreased. This is really important as drastic changes in online behaviour is the leading sign of bullying.
A number of our users whose children have been bullied online before installing KoalaSafe have told us “I just wish I had known how much time they had been spending on <Kik, Chat, Facebook> I would have known something was wrong!”
If you don’t know what an app or site is, tap it and we will tell you what it is and what the recommended age is. If you don’t like what you see, block it there and then!
KoalaSafe is already in 50 homes across Australia and the USA – in fact fellow blogger Robyn recently reviewed one on her blog Mrsdplus3.com. You can read more about her experience with the KoalaSafe here.
But in order to take the product to launch their product worldwide, Adam and Steve need backing on Kickstarter.
I’ve pledged $78 – which means that if they get enough other people to back them, they’ll be able to plough ahead with production of their first 1,000 pre-orders – and I will get my very own KoalaSafe in July this year!
Disclosure: This post is in no way sponsored. I am sharing this as I truly believe that it could have a significant impact on my family – and maybe yours too.