Full Circle: Disney Circle Review

Have any questions I can answer for you to help you make a choice?

We've tried lots of different ways to manage internet usage in our home. The Disney Circle met a lot of our wifi monitoring needs, while avoiding the pitfalls of some other software or management devices.

Have any questions I can answer for you to help you make a choice?

{This post contains affiliate links. See disclosure.
I was given this product in exchange for my honest review.}

If you're going to homeschool a large family, you've got two main strategies for managing their work.

  1. Do as much as you can all together.
  2. Help the older ones to be able to work independently.
And one of the best ways to facilitate the second strategy is to make use of online programs. This means that we have a lot of wifi devices. And we needed an easy way to manage their use in our home.
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No Software to Install

One of the thing that attracted us to the Circle is that it operates through your home's wifi router and there is no need to install software or apps on any of your family's devices.

The four oldest children have Chromebooks. It isn't possible to install software on these devices so any software-based option wouldn't extend to the Chromebooks.

Instead, the Circle is operated from an app on your phone or tablet. When a new device comes online and attempts to connect to your family's wifi, the Circle will notify you and you'll have the opportunity to choose how to manage it.

You can assign it to a specific user. You can also set it at a permission level which will filter site access by pre-set categories, or you can opt for the Circle to not track that device. There is no limit to the number of devices it can track. Our Circle is currently tracking:

  • Four Chromebooks
  • Four Laptops
  • Four Nooks
  • Six Kindle Fire Tablets
  • One Samsung Tablet
  • Two Smartphones
  • One GPD-XD
  • Four Nintendo DSs
  • Two smart TVs
  •  A handful of other wifi devices, like our printer and Roku

Play and Pause the Internet

One of my favorite features is that I have the ability to play or pause wifi access to any device. I can pause by device, or by user (pause all devices assigned to that user) with one tap.

Of course, this is useful for controlling how much time the children spend online or when they have internet access. But it is also useful in cutting down on the bandwidth usage for devices that aren't actually needed.

For example, the children know how to put their tablets into "airplane mode" which turns off wifi, but they don't always remember to do this. If we want to stream a movie, I can pause internet to other devices with a few taps and we'll have excellent download speeds for our movie viewing.

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Track Usage, Give Rewards

You can also set up automatic management of wifi time by setting "Off" times for specific users, or by setting time limits for them. And, you can extend rewards to users, such as removing their time limit or off times for the day.

Another great thing about managing the internet with the Circle is that all product improvements come to you through app updates - no need to purchase a new device to upgrade!

Recently, Circle added the ability to track time online, site history, and a list of sites blocked by the Circle for a particular user.

It also helps with managing time online - and not just for the kids! Want to make sure you don't spend too much time on Facebook? Or track how much time you actually spend on Amazon? Circle will work on your devices, too!

Filtering Options on the Disney Circle

The Circle offers four levels of internet filtration and site blocking:

  • Pre-K
  • Kid
  • Teen
  • Adult
  • None

Each of these levels come with pre-set allowed and blocked sites/categories, but you can also manually adapt each category to your own specifications. Simply toggle sites or categories from "Allowed" to "Not Allowed" or even "Unmanaged" and those settings will apply to all users/devices on that filtration level.

You also have the option to customize filtration by site. You can list sites individually and then togle those individual sites between "Allowed," "Not Allowed" and "Unmanaged".

A Few Limitations

There are a few things you should know about the limitations of your Dinsey Circle. First, the Circle only manages your devices when they are in your home on your wifi network. For a monthly fee, a service called "Circle Go" extends your control over your connected devices to any wifi or 4G internet connection.

Also, because it's a wifi management tool, it can only manage access to sites and apps that are accessed via the Internet. For example, if I chose to set Minecraft to "Not Allowed" that means this app will not be able to access the internet. It does not mean, however, that the children cannot access it and play it on their tablets without wifi. Any apps that function without the need of wifi will still operate even when a device is paused.

Also, if you have a wifi extender in your home (a device which helps your wifi signal to reach to places in your home that are further from your router) you'll want to check and make sure that it is compatible with Circle. We have this one and have had no trouble. However, you definitely want to make sure that when setting up your Circle, you pair it with your main router network, not your extender.

Have any questions I can answer for you to help you make a choice?

Do you have a Circle device? How do you manage wifi in your home? Have any questions about how we use the Circle? Comment below!