Supervising a child in a park is well…child’s play play compared to keeping them safe from the Internet. Having to regulate the amount of time a child gets to spend online isn’t easy when there’s always a mobile device at hand — sometimes it is even their own. But even controlling access is just the start because once they’re on, who knows what kind of junk (to put it mildly) they might encounter that you know they shouldn’t. That’s where the KoalaSafe Family Friendly Wireless Access Point / WiFi / Internet Safety for Kids Technology comes in: this little electronic box not only lets you set child’s playtime limits and watch over what apps and websites can be accessed, but it take you out of the equation as the “bad guy” denying them access (although you will be “asked” by the program when time runs out if you want to provide more — putting you definitely in the hero class should you agree). That alone is worth the $124.99 retail cost (especially since it’s closer to $99 street), and as there’s no subscription this is a one-cost purchase.
So let’s see just how techie you have to be to use KolaSafe. Turns out, not so much at all. It’s about the size of a bar of soap turned square and hasn’t any buttons or knobs to deal with. You just place it next to your router (the one that’s the hub of your home network) and do some cable plugging of the Ethernet cable (provided) that goes from the KoalaSafe into one of the router’s open ports and the power supply — this being done via a USB cable (also provided) which connects to an AC adapter and so then goes into a wall outlet/power strip.
So now what’s going on is that the KoalaSafe is using the router to acquire an Internet signal which it then broadcasts. It uses 802.11n for a fast network response and will update automatically when software updates show up. So since you’ve already downloaded the iOS (Apple) or Google Play (Android) free app, it’s time to do the set up.
This consists of setting up your account and password so no one can hijack it from you (no cost for this either). Then you work out the name/password for your special kid-friendly WiFi network — it’s this one that your kids will be accessing on the computer or mobile device (maybe now’s the time to change the password on your regular network). Once this is done, use the app to create profiles for those children who are going to be using it and then set up the parental control that you want for them; time limits for when and for how long access is granted, sure. Blocking the use of specific apps and access to specific websites, double sure. But more too — you can sanitize and make safe searching in YouTube and on Google and do other things that let you control what kind of access is being granted. And yes it also shows you analytics as to what the kids have been up to online.
What makes this so good is that you’re doing it all in advance so that it’s not necessary to suddenly run and grab the phone or tablet or close the laptop — this is good for the child but just as good for you (although maybe getting in some regular exercise couldn’t hurt). And you can just as easily use this safe network with any of your Internet-capable devices, like Plex or the Apple TV or Chrome-cast and others. Now let’s be real — there’s no guarantee against the child showing a dislike for what you are doing and giving you a headache over it. But at least the biggest headache — keeping your child safe online and keeping his/her time on it manageable — isn’t going to be happening anymore, thanks to KoalaSafe.