Meet Circle: Technology Control for Your Home and Family


Plug and Un-Plug

I have a friend who manually unplugs the family Wi-Fi every night at 10:00pm.

Dad and mom have to be done with work and kids need to be done with homework and socializing because the Internets are dead after 10pm. It seems like a lot of work to go plug and unplug the Wi-Fi, but he does it because he cares about his family and wants to be intentional  about their time, relationships, and physical health.

What if you could have that level of control, but not have to physically unplug the network every day? Enter a new Kickstarter project called Circle. The team sent me a link this week, and I thought it is something worth mentioning.

Meet Circle

From their website

Circle helps families balance their lives in our screen-driven world. These days, we’re always connected. Circle is a device, managed by an iOS app, that enables you to choose how you and your family spend time online by using advanced filtering, time management systems and informing to answer the where, when, why, and how of your network’s Internet activity.

[kickstarter file= /]

I Hope It Happens

circle-controlsMy own children are too small to have their own devices, but I know that day is coming. We desperately want to protect their little minds as long as we can, but also progressively give them more and more responsibility as they grow, so that when they leave our home they will have the mental and spiritual tools to discipline their own lives. But right now, we withhold devices not only because they are too young, but also because I can’t find a way to adequately control them.

That’s why I hope Circle succeeds. I don’t think it will work as a “Set-and-forget” parenting device, but it hopefully will enable parents to give their kids access to devices but in a manner that’s as safe as possible.

So what do you think? Would this be helpful to your family? Is it tech controlling tech controlling tech controlling us? Does it invite kids to try to break the fence or does it help protect them? I’d love to hear what you think.

Published by

John Dyer

In my day job, I work at Dallas Theological Seminary, and at night I write Bible software for countries whose leaders could be called "overlords." This one time, I wrote a book about technology and Christian faith. You can find out more about what I'm up to at

11 thoughts on “Meet Circle: Technology Control for Your Home and Family”

  1. I love the idea of it. I would definitely consider buying one for my family. (They had me at “Minecraft”.)

    However, it does strike me as interesting that we always tend toward technological solutions to our technology-related problems. Greater technology can at times give us the help we need, but sometimes I think we’d do better to reach back to the old virtues such as self-control.

  2. Tim,

    We couldn’t agree with you more.

    However, we do feel Circle is a start. Unfortunately, our kids don’t have that self-control as much as we’d like them to and all parents want to ensure their children only seeing & engaging with appropriate content as well as setting those healthy boundaries around general screen time use. But does it still come down to good-old-fashioned parenting? We definitely think so!

    We hope you consider backing our campaign. We won’t be able to produce Circle unless believers like you pledge to back our project.

    Crystal W.

  3. Great idea. Something cheaper to consider is putting the ‘restraints’ on the wi-fi through the router settings (or through filter settings a.k.a. covenant eyes). This has worked for us in our growing of self-control as a family.

  4. It’s a cool product, but I’m going to take a stab at the other side of the equation. There are things about this that drive me crazy. You hear it over and over “X is a simple device that allows you to do, Y” The issue is that there are many FAR better solutions out there that already do this very thing… but here is where the “Age of Apple” has led us. They aren’t simple. They require you to understand the technology that you are using, and you probably are going to have to work a little bit to figure it out. The end result though, is that you have a product that is very powerful and does LOTS of things vs. owning multiple “simple” products that only do one thing (albeit simple and well). (see products from qnap or asus for examples of the former)

    We are just beginning to see the effects of the age of simple products. People have forgotten how to learn complex things because we live in a world where we only accept simple products. We want ease and comfort and we are willing to pay for it.

    My advice, teach your kids to write code and embrace complexity and harness technology.

    DISCLAIMER: To be fair, I feel almost as strongly about technology as I do about reading the Bible. We don’t need to dumb it down. We need to spur people on to do the hard work.

  5. Re: Circle – I understand your sentiment, Tim, and I agree with it in general. However, Circle looks like a tool that can assist us in doing what you (primarily via “The Next Story”) and your friend David Murray (primarily via “God’s Technology”) exhort us to do – live in the middle using technology in moderation. I’ve learned that we, as humans, don’t do moderation well (even Christians). We need help, otherwise it’s all too easy to just abstain – which we all agree is too drastic. I welcome such technologies to help us with our use of other technologies – like Circle.

  6. I can see the value in something like Circle, and at least from what I’ve seen of it, it seems like a good product. But I don’t think it’s something I would use for the same reason Tim mentioned: self-control.

    If we’re trying to teach our kids moderation when it comes to technology, we need to model that first as parents, not because a little white box tells us to but because we’re capable of turning off the TV and putting the phone down on our own. That, of course, has gotten tougher as our kids have gotten older and have devices of their own, so I can see where Cirle might be a useful tool. But if I’m trying to teach technology moderation, it does seem kind of silly to use another piece of technology to do that.

  7. I can see the Circle being useful when my two-year-old gets old enough that we let her have an internet capable device (that’s years away for us). But I would only use it to monitor and limit her internet access during times when we’d let her use her device. In other words, we’d still tell my daughter that she had to put the thing down/away at certain times. As a result the time-limit functions of the Circle wouldn’t be very important to us.

    I’d like to see more information on how the things works (what protocols does this use? how does it grant/deny access?), and more commitment to management without an iOS device before I’d be willing to give anything. I’m an Android user, so the iOS management app does nothing for me. I don’t see why it couldn’t be possible to manage the Circle from a computer by accessing the device through a web interface with the Circle’s local IP address. That would be crucial for me. If the only way to administrate it is with an iDevice then I’ll never buy one.

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