Circle With Disney Removes Stress Over Screen Time and Kids

Circle is a powerful new tool for protecting kids from the worst of the internet, while taking parents out of the daily battle over screen time.

Here at, we believe that kids benefit from healthy interactions with computers, tablets, and smartphones.

2016 poll results on
2016 poll results on

Research shows that most parents agree. The problem, of course, is that it’s extremely challenging to teach kids healthy digital habits.

First, the devices are practically rigged against us. Studies show that they can stimulate dopamine release, which short-circuits attention and self-control.

Second, most kids are ill-equipped to self-regulate their relationship with technology. Their brains are still developing, and they lack practical experience.

Third,  family conflicts often break out when parents are forced to constantly intervene with their kids’ screen time. Kids have meltdowns when parents take their devices away. Parents get angry. Eventually, these conflicts can damage the parent-child relationship.

And then there’s all the porn and violence on the internet that’s still so hard for parents to block.

The makers of the devices, the publishers of the apps, and the owners of the social networks don’t do much to support parents. It’s not really in their short-term interests.

The default parental controls on most devices are very basic and limited. They can block certain types of content, but they don’t limit or restrict access to the device itself. And Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are never going to tell your kids that they’ve spent enough time on their networks.

Meet Circle from Disney

Circle from Disney solves many of these major problems. It can change your family’s relationship with screens, the internet, and even each other.


What is Circle?

Circle seamlessly connects with your home WiFi network to help parents filter content, manage screen time, and view and filter the sites and apps their kids use online.

It has two parts: a white plastic box about the size of a Rubik’s Cube, and an iOS app.

The cube seamlessly detects and connects to all devices on the home wireless network, including smartphones, tablets, video game consoles, Apple TV, and computers. The Circle iOS app manages how the internet is used on these devices. It has a powerful set of features:

Time Limits
Create daily time limits on apps and popular sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Content Filter
Set individual filter levels by age—Pre-K, Kid, Teen, and Adult—for each member of your family.

Set Time Limits & Put the Internet on Pause
You can pause the internet for a single family member or the whole home with a single tap. You can pause a specific device at any time – computer, Kindle, or Apple TV. You can also choose a BedTime for individual family members and devices to avoid late night surfing.

Get Insights and See What Your Kids See Online
Circle gives one complete picture of how much time your kid spends online, and where they spend it. It counts the apps, platforms, categories, and websites they most frequently visit. Browsing history is tracked between all the devices used by your kid.


Three Steps for Activation

Circle is simple to set up:

  • Plug it in.
  • Download the free iOS app.
  • Choose your Circle from WiFi options in your iOS devices settings.

Customize Settings

With Circle set up, you then customize settings per family member and device. Kids get an internet experience that’s appropriate for them. Apple TV might allow a half hour of screen time while a laptop might have an hour, with access restricted for homework.


Effective parenting isn’t about control. It’s about teaching self-control.

Modern parents want to protect their kids while teaching them self-control. But you can’t teach kids self-control unless you provide opportunities to practice it. Giving kids a bit of freedom is one of the best ways to encourage learning and self-direction. However, it’s reckless to give kids unrestricted screen time.

Teaching kids about digital safety is one of the most important — and challenging — new responsibilities of parenting.

Circle provides a safe and measured way for kids to use screens without setting them loose on the internet. It can help kids learn digital self-direction with minimal parental involvement by giving kids better feedback about the actual time they spend on various apps and websites.

Kids can keep track of their own progress, and they can check up on their time limits in their MyCircle dashboard, so they know how much time they have left and make better choices about how to use it.

My favorite thing about Circle: it helps take parents out of the daily tug-of-war over screen time, while sparking better family conversations on the topic.

Parents set screen time limits in Circle. But once they’re set, they’re managed by the device. This means that parents aren’t the focus of the technology tug-of-war.

Circle also lets parents see how their kids use technology. This gives parents information to guide better conversations with their kids.

Finally, Circle helps parents serve as better role models.

Some kids pick up digital habits from watching their parents. A few months ago I wrote a post about putting your phone away in front of your kids. Circle may be the easiest way to make that happen via its “Pause the Internet” feature.

I believe Circle is exactly the right kind of tool for modern parents.

It supports the traditional role of parent as rule-setter and protector, but it gives kids safe guidelines to learn to digital responsibility.

Get Circle with Disney for $99


Sesame Street Venture Capital Group Aims to Help Shape the Future of Tech for Kids

Sesame Street’s parent organization launched a venture capital arm that aims to influence the future of tech for kids.

Since 1969, we’ve trusted the Sesame Street characters to teach our children important life skills ranging from spelling to empathy. And now, the future of tech for kids rests safely in their furry muppet hands.

Sesame Street’s nonprofit parent organization, Sesame Workshop, has launched a venture capital arm called, of course, Sesame Ventures.

According to Wired, Sesame Ventures will invest in start-ups, “…focused on children’s education, development, health, and nutrition.”

The group will partner with other established VC firms such as Collaborative Fund. EdSurge reports, “…the two New York City-based groups have launched a $10 million Collab+Sesame Fund to help entrepreneurs scale their startups.”

Why get into VC funding? Sesame Workshop CEO, Jeff Dunn, says,

“As a non-profit, our success is measured by our global impact on kids’ lives….We are in the midst of an extraordinary time in the history of how digital technology can change the education, health and welfare of kids around the world….By partnering with some of these startups, Sesame Workshop can help grow the next wave of kid-focused innovation and improve the lives of children everywhere.”

Since Sesame Ventures will consider allowing startups to use Sesame Street characters in their product design, kids everywhere can look forward to seeing more of Big Bird and Cookie Monster.

And funded startups can look forward to Snuffaluffagus-sized IPOs brought to them by the letters V and C.

Source: Wired, EdSurge, Sesame Workshop

Here’s What Your Kids Are Learning When They Play Minecraft

Thousands of classroom teachers have devised ways to use Minecraft as an effective teaching tool. So, what are kids learning?

Long before Microsoft announced the release of Microsoft Education Edition available this summer for collaborative use in schools, teachers in thousands of classrooms across the globe devised ways to engage students in classroom learning through the use of Minecraft.

What are kids learning when they enter this creative world, limited only their own imaginations? Problem solving, collaboration, and effective communication to name a few.

What else can kids learn from Minecraft, and what are the concerns around how the game is used in school? This article offers additional insight.

To read more about  the forthcoming Minecraft Education Edition, read:

Minecraft: Coming Soon to a School Near You



How to Help Your Kid Survive the Wild… Indoors (A Minecraft Story)

Minecraft as my son plays it is the wild west. It’s a melting pot and playground rolled into one. The incredible developmental social aspects fascinate me.

Leo runs to grab some more apple slice and calls out over his shoulder “be back in a second.”

Steve and I are in the kitchen. Oliver is upstairs. Leo is ostensibly speaking to no one. Or everyone. In fact it is someone with whom he is playing Minecraft. From Germany. On Skype.


Earlier this afternoon I was un trimming the christmas tree when I sneezed. My cute sneezes have morphed into something that would wake the deaf, sleeping, dead. Its those boys. They have big heads. If you don’t follow you are doing something right with your life.

In any case I pretty much screamed out my sneeze, and a crackly little voice said. “Bless you.”

I looked toward the computer. Leo, as usual had left it on, and whichever faction he was playing with was still present in our living room. One of these virtual players had heard me.


We have dined with pre-teens. I hear him negotiating with them. “Its dinner time, I need to be away from the keyboard.” “How long?” They ask accusingly. 15 minutes he replies. “That’s tooooooo long”, whines the response.

Leo flips his hair and laughs. “I’ll do my best to hurry, but we eat together here.” They will call out to him during the meal with anger over stolen goods, or excitement over great discoveries when he forgets to mute them.

He rushes out of the room to silence the Skype, whispers a word of encouragement or celebration, rejoins us at the table and apologies politely.


One of his newest friends has throat cancer. He found this out after chiding him over his funny voice and cough. Now we have spoken at length about chemotherapy, cancer, its known and unknown causes. A bit of power drained away from him during this talk.”Even kids can get it,” he tells me, face pulled down. “Yes.”

At the same time he has a new battle to wage, his friends treatment and remission, the fear of randomness quickly replaced with the kinship of a war waged with witnesses.

He is glad this friend has Minecraft. He can play from his bedroom and never feel alone. Leo tells me that this boy can’t go outside. He can too easily get sick. “I’ll stay in with him.” My son declares. “He can’t catch anything from me.”


As he sits at the computer he looks out at a large park with basketball courts and soccer nets, baseball fields and tennis courts, not one but three playgrounds. He stays inside though.

The facts of Minecraft, with its endless mods and servers are not what interest me most. It is the incredible developmental social aspects that keep me fascinated.

Minecraft as Leo plays it is the wild west. It’s a melting pot and playground rolled into one. Kids from all over the word come together to meet and join forces and battle against one another.

They create new worlds, and find their footing in existing ones. They call each other names, talk behind one another’s back, get dumped by whole groups of friends, and live to play another day.

While his brother sleds and builds snowmen, breaks off icicles and makes natural slushies Leo stays online. It is a struggle to get Leo out of his chair. So we don’t struggle.

We focus instead on positive lessons, and know that he spends tons of time outdoors. Online.

This Suprising Study Shows How Our Kids Really Use Media

Common Sense Media just published something incredible: the clearest view yet of how kids aged 8 to 18 in the US use the full range of media and technology.

Common Sense Media just published something incredible: the clearest view yet of how kids aged 8 to 18 in the US use the full range of media and technology.

Based on a large national sample of more than 2,600 young people, it appears to be the only large-scale, probability-based survey of its kind.  See the Full Report.

This data is a powerful, up-to-date tool for parents, caregivers, health professionals, and educators. The national conversation about kids and technology has over-relied on old data, and data that doesn’t account for different types of screentime.

As Common Sense Media says, it’s “increasingly challenging to measure the time youth spend and the things they do with media and technology.”

Media devices are portable, ubiquitous, and integrated as
Essential tools in young people’s lives, and what counts as ‘media use’  or even ‘screen time’ is harder to define.

About the Study:

  • Includes both “tweens” (broadly defined as 8- to 12-year olds)
    and teens (13- to 18-year-olds)
  • It includes screen-based media activities (such as watching TV shows, playing video games, and using social media) as well as non-screen media activities (such as reading books or listening to music)
  • It documents both the activities engaged in (e.g., using social media) and the devices used (e.g., computers, smartphones, and tablets)
  • It includes detailed measures of the amount of time young people spend on these activities and on these devices.



Download the Infographic as a JPG or a PDF. See the Full Report.

Netted: The Best Way to Find the Best Things

While it’s easy to get caught up in the multitudes of cat videos and heated debates about public parenting, the internet, via its apps, websites and services can actually provide us with tools to make life a little better.

Netted by the Webby’s (the internet’s most prestigious award) hunts down the best of all those things and delivers one every day straight to your inbox. Through their expertise we’ve discovered everything from how to print instagrams on marshmallows (this has to come in handy sometime) to the best apps for making us as productive as we seem.

Today’s recommendation happened to be Parent Co’s very own Notabli, the place to save and share all your kids’ great moments. According to Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post, “Nobody knows the web better than the Webby’s team. If Netted says an app is killer, or a site is a must-visit, it is.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Sign up for their newsletter and soon you’ll have far more use for the internet than cat videos.


We designed Notabli to solve a problem we shared with many modern parents: thousands of photos and videos of our kids, but no single, secure way to save, sort, and share them.

We made Notabli to solve a problem we shared with parents everywhere: thousands of photos and videos of our kids, but no single, secure way to preserve and share them.

How It Works

Start by posting your kids’ best moments to Notabli. You can save more than just photos and videos: Notabli also saves quotes, audio clips, and notes. Post moments with your phone, tablet, or via the web. Learn more.

Organize Effortlessly

By using Notabli, your kids’ photos, videos, quotes, notes, and audio clips are automatically organized, making it easy to find them later by kid, date, and location.


Notabli is easy, and plays nicely with others

Post directly from your iPhone ([stag_icon icon=”star” size=”14px”][stag_icon icon=”star” size=”14px”][stag_icon icon=”star” size=”14px”][stag_icon icon=”star” size=”14px”][stag_icon icon=”star” size=”14px”] App Store rating) or on the web (Android coming late summer). Import an Instagram photo of your kids, share that birthday video to Facebook, and keep it all backed-up in one spot.

Choose Family & Friends to Share With

In the Notabli app, people you’ve invited to keep up with your kids automatically see moments as they’re posted. They also get optional email updates. Or share any moment with a simple link.

Ad-free and Owned by you

Keep the moments, they’re yours. Everything  saved in Notabli is owned by you, not advertisers. Print your moments in beautiful books (coming soon!), export full-resolution photos and HD videos at any time. Our promise to you.

[stag_button url=”″ style=”orange” size=”medium” type=”normal” target=”_blank” icon=”mobile” icon_order=”before”]Get the iPhone App[/stag_button]



“Nothing better… It’s as private or as public as you want to make it and the idea that I can export everything alleviates any worry I have about losing everything. It’s awesome…” — Brad Barrish

Ultimate List of Education Apps for Kids

Check out  Katie Williams, M.Ed. super useful list of Education Apps for Kids:

“This ultimate resource lists the best apps for kids, the best apps for parents, and the best apps for teachers. Please suggest links to help me build the most comprehensive top education app directory! Apps for kids, math apps, reading apps, science apps, classroom management apps, drawing apps for kids, and more!”

Education Apps for Kids by Katie Williams, M.Ed. | ZEEF.

The best apps for family nature exploration, fun and learning

These super handy apps can make anyone an adventurer. They also make a decent case for swapping Angry Birds for the real thing. Like geese. (Although, geese are always angry.)

If you lined up all the words written about keeping your kid off screens and laid them end to end, they would likely circle the Earth a few dozen times. Even in an 8 point font.

Sure, there are plenty of mind-numbing time sucks available for every version of smartphone and tablet, but there are also amazing resources that get kids and grown ups alike off the couch and out into the great big world.

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These super handy apps can make anyone an adventurer, and weigh a whole lot less than a stack of books. (They also make a decent case for swapping Angry Birds for the real thing. Like geese. Although, geese are always angry.)

The Best Bird Guides


Who better to call on for information than one of the world’s oldest and most respected environmental organizations?  Audubon guides- Birds, Trees, Wildflowers, Mammals, Reptiles & Amphibians, Butterflies, Insects & Spiders– Some available in bundles. ($4.99-$14.99)

Developed by birders for birders, the Birdseye Bird Finding Guide (Free, in-app purchases totalling $124.00) has packages that cover almost every inch of the globe. Find out what birds have been spotted nearby, and learn their sounds to make it easier to spot them yourself.

Peterson Birds ($14.99) iPhone only. A simple guide, for even the casual bird watcher. Complete with gorgeous illustrations and photos of their nests. Create and maintain Life Lists of the birds you hope to see. Goal oriented birding sounds like something I should really get into.

Wild Lab Bird (Free!) Another great app for birdwatching, but this one connects with other “citizen scientists” to share your findings.

Citizen Science


If you plan to spend a stretch of time at the ocean, download Marine debris tracker (Free!). Kids seem naturally predisposed toward picking up trash. And since I have a rule that the last person who touches something is responsible for disposing of it, my kids have thrown away a lot of other people’s litter. I’d be proud if I weren’t thoroughly grossed out. This app enables environmentalists of all ages to conduct their own scientific marine debris collection data work.

Project Noah (Free!) is the perfect tool for nature lovers to explore and document wildlife. Because findings are tagged with geo-locations, you’ll likely want to use this alongside your kid.

Digital Field Guides


TreeBook (free!) iTunes only. The authoritative guide to 100 North American trees.

Critter Trax ($1.99) Identify animal tracks and scat (what kid wouldn’t want to focus an entire nature adventure on looking for poop?)



Earth A primer ($9.99) Although built for iPad only, this is the science book of the future.

Star Walk Kids ($2.99) A quality app built with no ads and great animations. Hold your phone up to the night sky and map constellations and planets overhead using the built in gyroscope. So cool it’s almost sorcery.

Exoplanet (Free, with in app purchases totalling $7)

Nasa (free!)

Explore our National Parks


National Park by National Geographic (free!)

Passport to your National Parks (free!)

Oh Ranger Parkfinder (free!) Find National Parks and public land. Narrow your search based on the activities you’re interested in, get directions and get on your way.

Outdoor Adventure

Geocaching (Free!) As a person who grew up watching the Goonies 400 times, treasure hunting has always been my holy grail of adventure. Geocaching is sort of like that. Get your older kids excited about learning to use a compass and GPS to locate objects hidden by other geocachers.

Animated knots ($4.99) Any survivalist worth their salt can tie a variety of useful knots. The perfect app for a Bear Grylls in training.