TECH NOW: New Router Lets Parents Monitor Lnternet Use
Kids spend hours a day fiddling with smartphones, tapping on tablets and living adult-sized digital lives. So what can a parent do to ensure that the next generation isn’t zoning out while plugging in, and more importantly, that all that online time remains safe and healthy?
You could set rules, draft contracts, set parental controls, threaten, bribe, nag — the list goes on. But parents tell me all the time that they’re at a disadvantage when it comes to the digital age. Kids are tech-savvy almost by default, and there always seems to be some sort of a sneaky workaround that leads to an all-access ticket to the Internet.
The $149 Skydog Smart Wi-Fi Router claims to be an instant fix, allowing you to monitor every single gadget and person on them in your home. Through Skydog, you can set limits, filter specific types of content, control access, and lock out certain people who have exceeded their limits. You can even use the Skydog app to see who is online, what they are doing, and set additional limits on the fly.
The craziest thing about the Skydog is how easy it is to set up. Plug it in, follow a few prompts — which come with handy how-to videos if you get stumped — and you’re done! Each person can be assigned a different level of access, so for example your older teen can be given more web-browsing privileges than your preteen, while you yourself get full access.
Worried about losing track of home web control while you’re at work or at the store? Skydog can send you text notifications to let you know when your tween-age daughter is going into hour four of Netflix binge-watching. If you have your smartphone with you, you’ll never be out the loop!
And it’s not just about customizing access to specific websites; the Skydog can protect you from yourself by blocking your gadgets at night, when you should be sleeping, or standing guard against malware, spyware, identity theft attempts, and a host of other web-based dangers before they put you at risk.
It’s a fantastically simple system that offers big-time power over your household web habits. But while it’s a one-stop shop for controlling your in-home Wi-Fi, kids with smartphones or cellular-enabled tablets can still find their way to web whenever they want, so be sure to set up parental controls on any standalone web-enabled device as well.
The bottom line is that the Skydog isn’t a single solution, but it’s close and it’s a whole lot easier to use than anything else I’ve tried. If you’re interested in further details about the Skydog, be sure to read Ed Baig’s upcoming full review of this new wonder router.