In the Age of the Internet, parents have a choice: Let kids get soft, squishy, and out of control in front an endless signal, or harness that signal to be both a carrot and a stick for enforcing rules, bedtimes, homework hour, and more. I consider control over the signal to be a necessary tool in teaching a teen to act like – and hopefully eventually become – and adult. So I was thrilled to see that Circle with Disney has my back and has started offering — some available now; some on the way — me more ways to build motivation into my internet signal.
The company recently announced some partnerships — called Connections — that will let my daughter earn more screen time by doing things that are healthy, mature, and helpful.
And the best part? The tools work without my intervention. Instead of arguing with her about how much screen time she can earn by doing the dishes, getting some exercise, driving responsibly, or taking out the trash, I just set the connection in the Circle with Disney app and let her earn the time herself.
Getting Chores Done
There is nothing I love less than negotiating a fee for chores. My daughter Ava is a lawyer-in-training and has much more free time than I do for relentless bartering. So this new feature in my Circle has me scrambling to set up screen-time rewards for chores in the chore tracking app I gave up on years ago.
Now when she runs out of screen time or her bedtime kicks in, she can earn more by doing chores and telling one of FamilyTech’s chore-tracking apps — MotherShp, ChoreMonster, or Landra — she did. I do nothing. She does something in the chore list and tells the app and the Circle by Disney gives her more time. Sweet!
Make My Life Easier
This often happens: It’s the end of the day, I’m tired, I have a minute to collapse on the couch, and from there I start to wonder what my kids are up to. Have they been staring at a screen non-stop for nine hours while I got on with work and life? Soon I will be able to ask Alexa. “Alexa? How much time has Ava spent online today?” And she will tell me. So I can collapse back onto the couch without arguing with her. Now I need this app: “Alexa? Bring me a glass of wine!”
Circle gives you the control you need over the Internet signal
Keeping Her Healthy
My daughter recently decided – hopefully as a response to some of my motivational speeches – that she needs more exercise. So I gave her a Misfit wearable to help motivate her. But I know how this goes. (Not just for her, for most people.) Turning over a new leaf is easy. Keeping up a new habit is not.
Buy now, I can help with that. I can connect that activity tracker through Circle Connections so, when the Circle interrupts her Netflix watching, she can get up, go for a run, and get more screen time. She can just call me coach. I’m sure she will like this integration as much as I do.
Driving without Texting
Both of my kids drive. So I live in terror of what many people consider to be just a bad habit: Texting and driving. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that 11 teens die every day as a result of texting while driving. I don’t want my kids to be any of those eleven, any day. By connecting my Circle with the Automatic, I can filter out distracting applications the minute Automatic recognizes the vehicle has started. When the car turns off, Automatic re-enables those distracting social media apps.
The Automatic and Connections lets me extend parental controls to the car
The Hazards of Being Social
It’s hard to know what’s going on in my kids social world. That’s why RAKKOON monitors content on apps like Instagram, Twitter, and iMessage, and sends alerts to parents — and kids — when something potentially objectionable (such as bullying or sexting) turns up. If I used RAKKOON, I could connect Circle with Disney to it and it would auto-filter those apps and platforms when too much content is flagged.
Be Creative With IFTTT
If I want to go geeky on my Circle with Disney, I can connect it to IFTTT and connect all manner of smart home apps and devices to it, thereby unlocking whatever crazy scheme for teen motivation I can come up with. I could make the light bulbs change color when it’s time for Ava to hit the hay, extend her bed-time Internet shut-off if she is home and unlocks the front door by curfew. Don’t get me started! The possibilities are endless.
I wish this tool had been around when my kids were younger. Until this year, it was a lot harder — and required a lot more technical know-how — to harness the signal to help them learn self control. Be thankful this tool is here now and as easy to use as it is affordable.
Want to read about my other tricks for managing my kids’ screen time? Check out How to Use the Internet to Grow an Adult.