If you have children of a certain age, you’ll know the issues that the internet, smartphones and tablets can bring. Once upon a time the advice was to bring the family computer into the livingroom, positioning it in a way that meant you could see what your children were up to at a glance. The idea that parents were keeping a watchful eye over their child’s online activity would, in theory, be enough to make sure they weren’t wandering into any dodgy corners of the web – at least not deliberately.
But then came smartphones and tablets. All of a sudden, there was no need for the family computer, and little point in it occupying prime living space, because you could access the internet and all it had to offer from a small device that fit in your pocket or bag.
Fabulously convenient, but also bringing a whole new world of annoyances at best and dangers at worst to your home.
So what’s a parent to do to cut their children off from 24/7 internet access? You could change the wifi password, which involves a bit of effort, but is effective. If you have smarthome devices – plugs, a thermostat, connected alarm systems – that use the same network though, you might not be too keen. There are ways around it of course – forcing your children on to a wifi network intended for guests, for example – that require a little extra effort for the same end result. But what if you want to filter content?
Enter iKydz. The Irish company has come up with a new device that, when attached to your modem, will allow you to exert complete control over your home wifi network and everyone's ability to connect to it.
You could, in theory, mess with your family’s heads by occasionally kicking them off the wifi without warning when you want their attention for something. You can also set exclusion times, when certain devices will not connect to the internet because it’s time for homework, or a meal.
Of course, this won’t apply to your smartphone, because you are perfectly capable of relinquishing your grip on your iPhone for as long as it takes to bolt down your dinner. Naturally.
As a parental control device goes, the iKydz Pro does well. It’s easy to install – plug it into your router, connect to the iKydz Wifi network on your laptop to register your device, download the app, and you are ready to go. You can see a list of every device connected to your network and their current status.
There are a few things it will do, aside from kicking your kids off the internet. You can block all adult content, or gambling sites. You can filter YouTube content, which given the company’s recent troubles with inappropriate content, is probably a wise move if only for your own peace of mind.
You can also limit access to social media, which again is not the worst idea in the world (says the social media addict). There are filtering lists that you can customise and use. And you can also keep an eye on what your children have been accessing online, if they manage to slip something past the filters.
It’s effective, although nothing is 100 per cent. Content filtering worked well, and when it’s time for dinner, you can turn off everyone’s access by hitting the “mealtime” button, which is an instant attention grabber and kills all internet access for 30 minutes.
What this won’t do: stop your children from accessing the internet via mobile data (that one is down to you) or stop them from trying to find a way around your blocks if they’re really determined.
There are ways to filter content and limit online access without having to buy an extra device. But the iKydz device is simple. It’s quick to pick up, even if you aren’t the most technically inclined. That in itself means it is probably worth the investment for parents.
iKydz Pro is a relatively simple solution to a recent parenting problem. It’s simple to control, thanks to the app, and you can create your own internet schedule according to your personal needs. Plus that mealtime button is a great idea.
The not so good
It’s an extra box in your home for which you’ll have to find a place. I’m not exactly sure how many things you currently have hanging off your home modem, but in our house, there’s quite a lot.
Also, if you have reasonably tech-savvy children, make sure you change not only your regular home wifi password, but also the admin settings password – usually both are printed on your broadband hub – that allows you access to the dashboard to change your wifi password. Otherwise they’ll be able to circumvent the iKydz-generated network and connect directly to your home wifi instead.
Mobile data is obviously not included in the iKydz Pro device, so you will need to come up with a solution for that problem if your child has a working smartphone.
A simple way to seize control of your home wifi, even if you aren’t the world’s most tech-savvy parent.