As the internet grows in its width, depth and power, so too will the potential for dangerous effects on children. Hence, demand keeps growing for devices that help parents protect their children. Parental internet controls – often packed into a family router – are becoming very popular, and for good reason. KoalaSafe – made in Sydney, Australia – is one of the leading devices in this product category. Keep reading to see how KoalaSafe can help protect your family.
It’s important to note, using one of these devices to monitor and restrict your family’s internet usage will only apply to your home WiFi network. I might be stating the obvious, but these devices cannot keep tabs on internet access through your cellular network. That’s a whole ‘nother ball game.
KOALASAFE OR CIRCLE?
When it comes to family internet devices, KoalaSafe is very similar to the heavily-advertised “Circle” family router. Neither piece of hardware is a standalone WiFi router that can be plugged directly into your modem. You will still need a primary router. They both have the same MSRP, a hair under $100. That said, I prefer KoalaSafe over Circle for a couple of reasons. (We’ll just gloss over the fact that “Circle” is in the shape of a cube. Marketing fail!)
While both devices manage your kids with customizable individual profiles (let’s just call them what they are: “users”), KoalaSafe actually creates a separate WiFi network with a single password. Circle merely filters your existing network. Because of that distinct difference, my hunch is that Circle would be easier to circumvent for an ambitious tech-savvy adolescent through some creative IP address manipulation. Also, Circle will strongly suggest Disney content whenever a restricted site is encountered. That might be great for kids at specific ages, but the KoalaSafe router can work at any age. I’m sure your kids will be sufficiently annoyed by the restrictions you impose without having Disney videos shoved in their face.
AUSTRALIAN FOR “SAFETY”
Setup is a snap. First, plug in the device (all cords included). Then, install the app (android or apple). The app will automatically recognize the closest KoalaSafe and any connected devices. A few minutes later, you’re creating profiles, setting up schedules and fine-tuning your children’s limits. Menus are functional and intuitive, but not exceptionally beautiful. Parents can restrict broad internet categories or specific websites and apps, as well as the aforementioned daily internet access schedules.
Don’t assume KoalaSafe is exclusively for the most oppressive of parents. User-friendly usage reports allow parents to monitor their children’s usage and habits, even if they choose not to restrict them.
KoalaSafe’s usage reports are very informative and easy to read. Now, don’t assume a family router is exclusively for the most oppressive of parents. User-friendly usage graphs allow parents to monitor their children’s usage and habits, even if they choose not to restrict them. In this basic capacity, KoalaSafe can simply indicate when important conversations about the internet are necessary. It’s up to you to find a balance between monitoring and restricting.
I was pleasantly surprised by two features. First, “parent mode” let’s you override all internet restrictions for a prescribed period of time (minutes or hours). After that time, it automatically reverts back to the typical settings. Second, there are convenient buttons that let you temporarily modify any schedule with one click. In other words, punish and reward buttons! Has your kid been a saint? Reward them with 15 extra minutes of internet time. Misbehaving? Deduct 30 minutes. Also, you can easily “turn off” the internet entirely for family dinners or other “quality” time. One last note, KoalaSafe is apparently working on a soon-to-be-released “homework mode.” As you might expect, this mode can filter out social media while your children are supposed to be doing homework. Pretty cool!
The KoalaSafe is a great product in its own unique way. The strength of the KoalaSafe lies in its user interface and its ability to effortlessly monitor, control and report your family’s internet usage. Other (more expensive) devices might provide extravagant versatility or standalone WiFi prowess. Meanwhile, the KoalaSafe does one job extremely well.
If you’re already happy with your internet setup and simply shopping for a piggyback family router, KoalaSafe is the best choice. It is is the perfect add-on to keep you informed and keep your family safe on the internet. If you are willing to spend extra for a standalone cutting-edge router, which might feature some cool WiFi tricks like home automation, there are some products on the market that might better suit your needs. But, if parental internet controls are your primary objective, a device like KoalaSafe is the way to go. Either way, raising children in this internet-saturated world can be daunting. Good luck!