KoalaSafe Family Wifi Review

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First off I should start with a disclaimer that I have NOT been paid to write this, NOR was I given a free device NOR am I linking up this post with affiliate links.   It’s a genuine review of a product that I purchased.

A few weeks ago, I was watching a new TV show that stars Joey from friends called Man with a Plan, which I am still undecided on.

Anyway – there was a point in it where he was struggling to get his children to do their chores until he changed the wifi password and would only give it to them when they were done.   A simple yet genius idea.

We gave this a go but changing the wifi password every day is a big pain when you have so many devices connected to it so I gave up and looked for some similar alternatives.   During this search for alternatives I found some devices that I did not know existed – Wifi boxes that connect to your router and create a new, child safe wifi spot… Essentially parental controls for the internet.

I looked at a few different ones and narrowed it down to the Circle (which I think is made by Disney) and the KoalaSafe.  Be careful when looking around as some have a monthly subscription and if they go bust then you’re screwed.. In the end I went with the KoalaSafe as the Circle isn’t actually available in the UK yet whereas the KoalaSafe I could get on next day from Amazon Prime.   It cost about £60 at the time but doesn’t seem to be on the Amazon site anymore.. weird.

After plugging the box into the router (via a wire) and downloading the app on my phone it was a simple setup but due to a few bugs it did take me a couple of attempts.  The downside of plugging into the router is that there are spots around the house that it can’t access particularly well so I need to see if I can connect this to a booster of some kind.

Once you are up and running you can setup profiles for each child in your house (or adult if you wish) and if you put in their age it will put together some recommended settings for each of them.

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Then you connect their devices and after they are connected you can assign them to a profile via the app.

Next you can setup an internet “schedule” of when each child is allowed online.   There are two options – “normal” internet time and “homework” time and within the homework profile you can block additional sites such as Facebook to stop your child from getting distracted.

You can also “Pause” the internet – either completely of per child.  So if you want to sit down for dinner or get them to sort out their rooms it’s a fairly easy win.

As predicted this has caused some… disruption in the house since I’ve had it up and running.  My 14 year old didn’t like the fact that I banned SnapChat from being accessible for him and hates the fact that he can’t get up and watch YouTube videos like he used to because he’s only able to get online in the afternoon/evening.

There is still some configuring to go but so far it looks like a good buy, although even with a paused internet I still have not managed to convince my 14 year old to tidy up his room… eventually he’ll give in though!

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But Dad, all my mates are playing GTA

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I have lots of happy memories playing computer games when I was younger.  I was quite fortunate that my dad used these for work so could bring some home when I was quite young. I remember frogger on an early IBM model PC but the most memorable for me was probably the Apple II.   The Apple II had 5 inch floppy disks (which were actually floppy) and there was one game that sticks out for me… Super Bunny

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Super Bunny was probably the thing that caused the most rivalry between my sister and I when we were still both quite young.   She was (I hate to admit) slightly better at me on this game – something that frustrated me until I realised that I could pull out the floppy disk whilst it was loading and completely wipe the high scores – which led to her running and screaming about me to mum and dad.   You’ll be pleased to know that my sister has since forgiven me but likes to raise this story when we talk about our childhood years.   If you want to try and beat the high score you can go and play the game at VirtualApple.org.

Other computer memories include networking two PC’s together to play Doom 2 with my friends (which always broke after a while) and playing the original GTA (Grand Theft Auto) when it was realised (age 16).

These days it’s a lot harder to be a parent as far as computer games go.  They are a lot more graphic and any choices that you try and make seem to be undermined by when they go over to their mates house.  We have previously said that our 14 year old is not allowed to play GTA (one of the only games which he is banned from) but find out that he’s played it when he slept over at his friends.   Should we stop him from going over there if his parents have different views?  It’s even got to the point where a group of schools sent home a letter threatening parents they could get reported to the police or social services for neglect.

And then there is the research.   A number of schools mention a piece of research from 2003 (Gentile & Anderson) which states that playing violent games can lead to the child becoming more violent themselves but the latest study I could find 11 years later by Oxford University suggests otherwise.

My case probably isn’t helped by the fact that I play GTA, Call of Duty, Titanfall, Battlefield and other 16/18+ games all the time so they are always sitting on the shelf teasing my children!  More recently I’ve compromised on the GTA thing – my oldest can play some of the online races but not the normal gameplay.  With other games I’ll normally play them a bit myself first and make my own decisions on the level of violence and what is or isn’t acceptable.

Some parents might actually say it’s better to not let them near a computer to play games at all – but scientists have now proved that children who play computer games actually make you smarter… which is obviously what’s helped me so much.

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