A few months ago I shared the ups and downs of the experience when our family quit media cold turkey for 40 days. It was on the back of a trip to South Africa (visiting family) where the kids had experienced lots of media time, and I was nervous that it was going to be just really dang hard to let it go.
The experience of ripping media off like a nasty old bandaid turned out to be amazing. It brought us a heap of new perspective on life at the Collie house and helped us reach some fresh conclusions about how to handle media moving forward. We decided that the kids would only watch TV on the weekends, and other screen time (computer games at our house) during the week would be very, very limited.
Four months later, we’ve been happy with that decision, but two little things have still been challenging: 1) I struggle to regulate the amount of computer time my kids are getting and 2) I don’t feel like I’ve successfully regulated the specific content they’re allowed to take in. They know what websites they’re supposed to visit, but I also want them to be able to search for arthropods while we’re talking about the different groups of invertebrates in homeschool, and know they’re not going to end up somewhere they shouldn’t be.
And somehow that needs to happen without my hovering above the computer like Helicopter Mom all the time. Because?
I just can’t.
Good News, though.
A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a member of the awesome creative team behind Torch… and there’s a great possibility that my last remaining “Internet Problems” could soon be solved for me.
The creators of Torch recognized the significant problem most parents have with regulating the amount of time kids spend on the net, and the type of content they’re allowed to access while they’re online. The solution they’ve come up with is a very clever wifi router which allows parents to regulate those two things, and more.
Insert happy dance here, because I’m really excited about this!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to write about something on this little old web space and I’ve said no because it just wasn’t something that lined up with my value system or something I felt would actually be useful to my readers. But I am seriously pumped to be able to tell you a little bit about Torch — and was absolutely excited to do so — because I know I’m struggling with this issue and I am not the only Mama facing it!
So when the Torch team contacted me to ask about sharing some of my parenting and media stories, I offered to write about their new product, because I really want the vision to become a reality. I asked a few key questions that I think we’d all like to know if we’re considering purchasing this kind of tech to help the Parenthood regain control of our kids’ online lives, and here are the main things I discovered:
- Torch will allow parents to regulate which sites your child is able to view, and to block sites they are not allowed to view.
- It’s possible to create multiple accounts, so that the seven-year-old’s content is different from the two-year-old’s. Which totally makes sense because National Geographic is scary to the Belle, but it’s awesomeness personified to the Bear.
- You can give the internet a “bedtime” or create certain windows of time where the net is “off” and kids need to go out and play or do something else. (You can also tailor this based on each kid’s restrictions and privileges.)
And this might be my favorite:
- Torch allows you to see what sites your kids are viewing in a live feed. Parents are able to see how much data is being used at different sites by each kid, and the sites are categorized so that you can tell whether the time is being spent mostly on social media, education, gaming, and so on. Kids will also be able to look at their own stats and see where they’ve spent their time and when their time is up.
Torch is launching a big Kickstarter campaign today to spread the word about their awesome new tech, and garner the support of believers (like me) who are willing to invest in the dream and help make it a reality. They’re offering special rewards based on different levels of support, and hoping that Torch will begin shipping to the doors of many-a-happy-customer around March next year.
So, I’d love for you to click over to check out their Kickstarter campaign, and seriously, help make the dream a reality! I need it and if you have any humans under the age of 18 in your house, you probably do, too! Torch’s website can tell you lots more about this wonderful innovation!
I’d also love for you to leave a comment to let us know — what’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced, regulating media consumption at your house? Or, if you’ve already got this gig altogether, would you leave some advice for the rest of us?
Happy Internetting, Friends!
The folks at Torch graciously agreed to sponsor this post. But the thoughts and opinions expressed here are absolutely mine. Just so’s ya knows.