I remember hearing about this thing called the “Internet” back in 1995. I didn’t understand what my friend was trying to tell me but I distinctly remember him telling me that I could “buy things on there” and that was it. We bought our first computer and hooked up to this internet and got my very first e-mail account with AOL in 1996. It was fascinating but still a relatively boring new thing. There were only a handful of websites and only my Aunt Mae had an e-mail account.
Now it is 2018 and look where we have come. There is nothing I cannot find and order and have it within a couple days. My goodness, I can even order groceries from my phone and have a magical fairy put them in my car at Wal-Mart now. My husband has used YouTube to build 2 different types of stoves to heat our barn – to tear down and rebuild our bathroom – to cut and apoxy a new countertop, etc. etc. I can fill this blog with 10,000 examples with how the internet has improved our life – one of which is how I can find anything I am looking for within 5 seconds flat.
But here lies the problem. Let me rephrase. Here lies one of the many, many problems with having such easy access to anything on Earth.
The pornography industry has grabbed hold of the internet and is out to grab the body and souls of whoever they can get their hands on. When our country fell into a recession back in 2008, every business and person suffered. Everything except the porn industry. It remained recession free. It is a multi-billion dollar industry that won’t quit. What is more sad is that no one just read this paragraph and said, "Really? Wow. I didn't know that." EVERYONE KNOWS THIS ALREADY!
In our family, we have several ways of trying to stay ahead of the evil arms reaching to clutch my kids, myself, and my husband. One of these is to have a good filter for our computers and electronic devices.
I had struggled to find a good filter for years. Covenanteyes.com was always recommended and I know that several of my friends use it and are happy with the results.
Here, I want to give you my reviews about the device I was introduced to several months ago. Its called, The Circle by Disney. I know….its Disney. Just stop. Let’s give credit where credit is due. Disney did good this time.
This is my home page. As soon as I plugged in this little cube, I had so many devices connecting to our network that I thought they were only listing every device that had ever been in existence. But no. Each device actually belonged to us and connected to our network. I don't know what dream world I had been living in that thought only 5 devices would appear but that was a wake up call.
Each colored circle represents what filter they have. Purple stands for no filter at all (Mine & my husband's phone and our personal laptops).
Each laptop, tablet, phone, ipod, TV, and Kindle now is identified and controlled at my fingertips.
I am able to put time limits on specific web sites and social media sites. There are bedtimes where the device loses its internet and wake-up times that I make in the afternoon so the kids get their homework done without any distractions. Or, at least, no device distractions.
I can add and subtract or add time limits at will and wherever I am. If my daughter needs more laptop time to finish an essay, I can add it quickly from my phone. I put time limits on particular applications and websites. So, even though Theresa is given a 3 hour time limit on her laptop, she may only be allowed no more than 30 minutes on YouTube or Facebook.
One of my favorite features is when anyone drives up my driveway with a smartphone, it connects to the Circle and I am notified. Wherever I am, I can see when someone has just arrived at my house when I get the notification that "Joel's iPhone has just connected to your network". And yes, I can control all of those devices too. I am counting on my Circle to send me a message in the middle of the night if a bad guy wants to break into my home. He will connect to my network right there in the driveway and I'll have my gun in hand before he makes it to the front door!
What I don't like.....
#1 Any of my kids can simply unplug the device. It sits on the open computer desk for anyone to see and touch. BUT, my phone is also immediately notified that that just happened so heads will roll if I see that.
#2 I want to see exact websites my kids have been on but it only tells me the main home page. I can't see the specific YouTube videos. I only see "youtube.com" or "netlix.com". I have to literally look at the YouTube and Netflix history to get those answers.
#3 I have to pay $5.99 a month to include controlling data. My oldest 3 kids have data so if I want to control their data, I do it from my Sprint account. Not Circle. I'm cheap. I paid the one time fee of $100 and do not pay any more after that.
A question that I often get asked is probably the same question that you have been asked too. What do you do to keep your kids safe? What social media outlets do you allow and don’t allow and what restrictions do you put on them? Let me answer this for you because it has been so heavy on my heart lately……
YOU, as a parent, need to set your own boundaries and decide what is best for your family. YOU. Not me. What I do is different than what my neighbor or friend or fellow homeschool mom does.
Let me tell you a fact that a lot of moms need to hear…..
The mom with the most limits with their kids is not your goal!! You don’t get Mom of the Year because you have the strictest and tightest boundaries. YOU have to do what you know is best for your kids. Only you live with each of your kids day in and day out. You know what they have on their heart and what their strengths and weaknesses are. You know how open and close they are to you which will effect the boundaries you set.
In this competitive mommy world, we can easily feel inferior to each other which, in turn, leads us to do what other mommas do rather than what we know is best for each individual child. There will be parents out there that will murmur about the mistakes they think you are making with your children. It will happen and you can’t stop it. We long for acceptance. As homeschool moms, we long for that approval from others that we are doing things right. We run the risk of our child falling into sin with something we allowed them to have that other moms don’t allow. It happens. We get back up, dust off the murmurs, and try again.
On the long litany of ways that a momma can fail, one is with that nasty sin of pride. Pride is what makes us feel like no one can do anything better to help our kids than our self. I disagree. Sometimes, I have to turn the reigns over to someone else to help out my children, such as – Dad, a spiritual director, an accountability partner/s, a big brother, a teacher, pastor, or an uncle. We may joke that we would like to be a fly on the wall but only you decide when you need to be that fly. No one else should decide that for you. No one else should make you feel guilty for deciding one way or the another.
Do you want to know what I do with this Circle for each child? I will only tell you this. My end goal is for them each to leave this house with their OWN set of boundaries. Not mine. My end goal is that purple circle around their picture. I can’t tell you if that will happen or not. There are several husbands out their that still need outside help and restrictions. The desire to have their own set of boundaries has to be in their own heart. That has to be our goal and the sooner the better. I want this desire to be in their heart before they become adults and leave the nest. This is just like what the kids learned in the Theology of the Body class last night - Freedom from the Law. You do not need the law if you have no desire to break it. If you love someone, you will freely choose to not hurt them by flirting with other people or commit adultery with your eyes, imagination or lust. A dad who loves his children will freely choose not to neglect his children by acting like a bachelor. My end goal is to have grown, disciplined, mature, holy adults that understand the dignity of the human body and relish a deep love for the human person.