Parent Controls / Screen time - Help!

Posted on
Mon Jan 25, 2021 12:48 pm
Fxguy offline
Posts: 138
Joined: Mar 24, 2011

Parent Controls / Screen time - Help!

Need some help with limiting screen time/youtube time / etc.... for our 7 years old and 5 years old on multiple devices.

We have almost exclusively Apple products in the house except for the LG TV, the Chromebooks from School (which they seldom use), and the Ubiquiti Dream Machine router. What can I do to limit the use of unapproved apps or even limit approved apps to a certain amount of time each day? I'm struggling because there are apps (like Amazon Kids, educational apps, etc) that I am fine with them using for an unlimited amount of time if they want, but they typically default to playing games or watching youtube.

Is there a way to limit their use with minimal impact on my own usage (not being hypocritical, I am a substitute teacher and use youtube for various things teaching wise.)

Any good articles/reads on being a Network Admin for non-network admin people?

Thanks!

Posted on
Thu Mar 25, 2021 8:24 am
whmoorejr offline
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Posts: 530
Joined: Jan 15, 2013
Location: Houston, TX

Re: Parent Controls / Screen time - Help!

I share in your struggle. Luckily, right after my AirPort Extreme died, I replaced it with an Orbi router / satellite combo that had "Circle" built in. The relationship between Netgear and Disney's Circle has been severed and now when I log onto my router, it tries to sell me on Netgear's monthly plan.

Circle lets you create profiles (I did 2 for each kid... a school profile and a personal profile), then you assign devices to each profile. My kids have to use Youtube on their chrombooks for school, so that's allowed, but I have YouTube shut off on their tablets, Nintendo switches, etc. On the negative side, I can't schedule stuff or automate stuff or integrate it with indigo. With the paid version, you can set schedules.

So, nightly, I pause the internet on all their devices. Once they get home from school and tell me their chores are complete, I unpause their devices.

Hard-wired stuff (TVs, Xboxes, WII, DVD players) are all running off extension cords that come out of a zwave outlet plug with usage monitoring. By turning off/on the various items on a power strip and watching the energy level, I can create triggers off those energy levels and virtual devices which can be added to indigo schedules, notifications, triggers, etc..... so if one of the virtual TVs turns on after bedtime hours, it sends me a notification and then shuts off the switch.

I think Fingscan can control screen time or at least content monitoring and there is a plugin for it. I use the plugin for general network awareness and I believe the screen time / parental control part is a paid service.

So that's the basics of how I'm doing it now. Ideally, I'd prefer a physical device that can work with indigo that doesn't have a monthly fee.

I would consider a monthly fee if the content filtering was better... example, with circle I had to allow adult dating sites on the grown-up profiles because it was banning my wife from https://www.silhouetteamerica.com (A crafting website) because it thought it was an adult dating site. I ran into a similar filtering issue when trying to access plex online.

As for device based filtering.... I've had issues there too. With the Nintendo switches, you can set on/off times and duration times and some filtering of what they can/cannot do. But you can't, for example, turn off online chatting with strangers on a game. So I disable the internet from those devices from Circle.

With android (fire tablets), if you disable internet and YouTube from the device, my 12 year old discovered that you can still access full internet and YouTube by going through the file explorer app.... but you can restrict internet and do content filtering from circle.

For timed play, I tried to set up something easy for the kids to use and something that I could adjust/track. My first attempt was a combination of Alexa routines, a node-red to indigo integration, virtual devices, triggers, etc. So a kid would say "Alexa, turn on Mikey screen time" and that would start a timer and turn on a virtual device. If the kid says "Alexa, turn off Mikey screen time", the timer would pause. Once the timer ran out, a notification would be sent to me and the virtual device would shut off. If the kid asked to turn on screen time again, there would be no action other than another notification sent to me. At midnight, the timer would be reset. Anyway, that was just way too much (and I have 5 kids... so it would have gotten crazy fast).

Edit: One newer app that I like.... Kidoodle (sp). It's a TV Streaming app that lets you set up kid profiles and a parental account. It's all parent approved TV shows and you can do some content adjusting and see what your kid has been watching on TV from the parent profile by adding the app to your phone. I know it works on all iOS tvOS and Roku devices.... not sure what other platforms can use it. I prefer using a Roku TV (TCL) for a kid TV because I can control it / monitor it from indigo and the 35" is under $100 at Walmart on a regular basis.

Bill
My Plugin: My People

Posted on
Thu Mar 25, 2021 8:48 am
Different Computers offline
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Posts: 2142
Joined: Jan 02, 2016
Location: East Coast

Re: Parent Controls / Screen time - Help!

If you run the highly recommended Unifi plugin with Indigo, then every wifi device connected to your UDM can be exposed to Indigo and can be deactivated from the network using Indigo.

SmartThings refugee, so happy to be on Indigo. 10.13.6 on an i5 MBP w/Harmony Hub, Hue, DomoPad, Dynamic URL, Device Extensions, HomeKit Bridge, MatplotLib, Plex, uniFAP, Wunderground, Nanoleaf, LED Simple Effects, Airfoil Pro, Grafana.

Posted on
Thu Mar 25, 2021 11:10 am
whmoorejr offline
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Posts: 530
Joined: Jan 15, 2013
Location: Houston, TX

Re: Parent Controls / Screen time - Help!

Different Computers wrote:
highly recommended Unifi plugin

In hind sight, I wish I had gone with the Ubiquiti instead of the Orbi router. But I'm probably $600 or so invested in Orbi equipment so :cry:

Bill
My Plugin: My People

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