Looking for a simple, one stop solution for monitoring your kids’ screen time? We review the Circle Home Plus (formerly known as the Disney Circle), and let you know what we think.
Circle Parental Controls Review
In this article, we review the second generation Circle Home Plus device, and app.
Looking for a Circle discount?
Circle’s having a summer sale right now, with $30 off the purchase of Circle Home Plus with a 1-Year or Lifetime Subscription. The discount doesn’t apply to the 3-month plan.
Just use the code BALANCE at checkout to get the $30 off deal.
The sale ends July 27, 2021.
What’s a Circle Home Plus?
Circle is a device and app subscription that lets you manage your family’s connected devices. You can use it to control access to websites, view the location of your children’s device, and manage screen time.
You can use it to block content on iPhones, Android Devices, Chromebooks, and more. The Circle can monitor all websites and apps, and manage screen time. Use the Circle when your kids devices are at home, or out of the house (on data or another Wi-Fi signal). You can set rules for sites like TikTok, YouTube, and HouseParty.
The Circle Parental Controls device allows mobile management for the family’s IOS, Android, and Chromebook devices. The Circle Home Plus comes with a fast connection (using a upgraded gigabit Ethernet port), a fast processor, and a USC-C power port and battery.
You can use the Circle Parental Control app to manage mobile devices for your kids whether they’re on your home Wi-Fi, on data, or on a Wi-Fi network outside your home. The app lets you keep track of the location of your family’s devices, and it also allows you to set up Focus Time, which are times when only certain apps or categories of websites can be used. These features weren’t available in earlier models.
How does the Circle Home Plus device work?
The Circle Home Plus is a parental control device that connects to your home network. It’s a physical device that fits in the palm of my hand. Ironically, it’s a small, glossy white cube, rather than a circle.
The device plugs into your home router, and connects to a companion app (the Circle Parental Controls App).
There’s a USB-C port on the back for power. There’s a rubberized circle around the USB-C port, with a power button. On the opposite site, there’s an Ethernet port (it looks like an old fashioned telephone jack) that lets you connect the device to your home router.
To connect the Circle Home Plus to your internet, connect the power via the USB-C port, plug the unit into the wall, and connect the Circle Home Plus to your router using an Ethernet cable (which looks like an old fashioned phone jack).
With the app, you connect the Circle Home Plus to your Wi-Fi network, meaning that it will work if the Ethernet cable gets unplugged.
How does Circle Parental Controls app work?
You’ll need to download both the parent app (on your device), and the kids app (on each of your children’s devices you want to monitor).
To install the Circle Home Plus, just download the Circle app, and set up a parent account. Then, follow the instructions in the app.
All of the monitoring happens on the parent’s smartphone, as you can’t manage restrictions or profiles on meetcircle.com – everything happens in the app.
From here, setup becomes more complicated. You need to download the Circle app separately to each device you want to monitor. After that, you’ll need to set up parental controls individually for each of your children’s devices, which can take a while, if your kids have a lot of devices.
You can use the app to track location, set time limits, manage usage, and even give rewards like extra screen time, or more relaxed restrictions.
You can block custom websites, or use the present filters (kid, teen, adult, or none) to block or allow specific content categories, apps, and websites.
To use the Circle, you’ll need to install the Circle App on your kid’s mobile devices, then setup each device and settings in the parent’s Circle app.
Is there a monthly fee for the Circle Home Plus?
Our Circle Home Plus device came with a free premium subscription trial.
However, there is a subscription fee for the Circle Home Plus. You can get a 3 month, 1 year, or lifetime subscription. Here’s how the app subscription cost breaks down (prices in USD, and include the Circle Home Plus device):
- $69 for 3 months
- $129 for 1 year
- $349 for a lifetime subscription
Is Circle Home Plus worth it?
The second generation Circle Home Plus and Parental Control app is great at setting time limits, and controlling website access.
The Circle is easy to install, and the app is intuitive and easy to use. It works reliably, and you can set up individual features for each kid.
However, it doesn’t monitor SMS text messages or phone calls.
You can use it to monitor when your kids use specific apps, block app use, and even set up times when the apps can be used. However, it doesn’t actively monitor specific activity on social apps like Instagram or Tik-Tok. In other words, you can use the app to see that your kids are using Tik-Tok, or block the app, but you can’t see exactly what they’re looking at on TikTok through the Circle app.
It can’t record individual search queries on YouTube or Google, either.