Once you sign up, and you are a beloved client, this is how it works.

You will get access to the simple tools right away. These are tools you can use to turn your children’s devices on and off at will, from  your phone, right away. These tools will help you to get their attention.

“Come down to dinner!”
“No cellphones at the table!”
“No Youtube and Facebook after 10pm!”

This kind of on-and-off service is what our clients appreciate most, because they return control of all the devices to the parents. The alternative is confiscating the phone (remember why you bought it in the first place?), taking away the wires from the gaming system, unplugging the cable box – or worse, becoming a system administrator and trying to figure out Windows 8 parental controls, or the ones in your Internet router.

Once you have gotten used to the simple tools, you can start to use the Guardian Portal to describe the Household Rules. This is a place where you can make general declarations, like “no screen time after 10pm” or “limit of 2 hours of video games on the weekends.” We will do our best to interpret those rules on the devices in the house. Knowing the school hours and calendar, when your holidays take place, and other details will make the service run more smoothly.

As we develop more of the product, we will endeavor to distinguish between the different types of online activity that other products can’t reach. It’s easy to block Facebook on your child’s computer, it’s much harder to stop them from playing Facebook games while allowing them to interact with their classmates on a school project. There are lots of schools using tools to show you a student’s progress online, but none that correlate their time on an online education tool with their results. If you’ve blocked Youtube, how do you know whether they are getting help in math (we love Khan Academy) or watching cat videos?

As the product evolves, we will be able to help mediate the relationship between your child’s activities online and offline. The product will not only tell the child what the limit is, but why there are limits or changes because of their behavior. In most households there is a link between the child’s chores and responsibilities and the privileges that they get. This allows you to set limits but also exchange privileges for behavior you want to encourage. Writing down these “exchange rates” is an excellent way to foster family harmony and cross the chasm between your child’s normal online activities and the values they learn in the house.