Stopped at a red light recently, I watched as a car pulled up beside me and a smartphone was immediately engaged by the driver. A quick glance at the car slowing to my left saw the exact same scene repeat itself: car stopped, phone out.
Now, confession time – I’ve been those drivers before (and continue to be). Countless times. A brief lapse in activity and why not a quick check of a score? Or the latest headlines? Before you know it, there’s an established habit.
Smartphones, tablets, computers…they’re not going anywhere, and they’re the norm for the world our kids are growing up in. But that norm doesn’t mean our kids need to grow up with the understanding that a device of some form must be connected to their person at all times and engaged with at any and all moments of down time.
Recently the folks at Circle connected with us to share about their device, which you can use to manage basically all forms of internet connectivity in your house. Circle will cover your network right out of the box and if you’re looking for coverage beyond home wifi, then there’s a monthly subscription. Setup is simple and straightforward. And once the device has been setup, then you can download the Circle app and create individual profiles and parameters for each individual. You can set filters, shut down wifi during set periods of time, and monitor how much screen time has occurred. Our kids are still on the young side, but we’re already recognizing how Circle can help us set the right boundaries and expectations for appropriate levels of time in front of the screen.
Circle doesn’t take the place of the teaching, instruction and modeling that we’re called to do as fathers, but it’s a solid compliment to your dadcraft. And, if you find yourself in a nicely grooved routine that needs to be adjusted first and foremost, Circle isn’t a tool just for the benefit of your kids alone.
We’ve written before about how good dadcraft often comes out of admission of our own shortcomings, struggles, and growth. As our kids grow up in a world where screens are ubiquitous and always accessible, it’s not a bad thing for them to see their dad strive to shift behavior. To work and struggle and recognize that certain aspects of our own lives need change. Instead of perpetual distraction and semi-focused attention, I want to be present. To appreciate and soak up time together, resisting distraction.
I know and am grateful for the models of other families around me who have fostered a healthy environment of moderation when it comes to technology and screentime. They use a variety of methods and standards, and —along with the best of these— there’s no question Circle is a valuable tool to have and use in your dadcraft toolbox.
Note: I received a Circle device no charge from the company for the purpose of an honest review.
Our friend Stephen Redden provided thoughts on an app with similar functionality: OurPact.