Koala safe internet review Safe internet usage is a HUGE hot topic among parents at the moment, with Mr D and I included. There are just so many things to worry about…….

  • How much time should the kids be spending on the internet per day?
  • How do you control what they view?
  • What age is social media suitable from?
  • How do we know (as parents) what our kids are watching or searching for?

All three of my kids, from the 8 year old right down to the 2.5 year old, are pretty savvy when it comes to ipads and the internet.  It’s quite scary really, and I know it’s only going to get worse as they get older.  I’m also pretty sure that we aren’t the only parents battling these modern day parenting issues.

We need to be one step ahead of the game (and the kids) ALL the time.

Last week I was asked by a friend of a friend to road test a new kids internet safety device called Koala Safe.  It’s launching a kickstarter program today and they were after some feedback from real families.  We were intrigued, and of course jumped at the chance.  It couldn’t have come at a better time really. Now I’m seriously no techie, so this review is written totally from my perspective as a mum with three kids.   Koala safe review 1

KOALA SAFE – EASY PARENTING

INSTALLATION
When it arrived and it was small enough fit in my hand, which is good because I didn’t want some great, big, ugly device that I was going to have to try and hide somewhere.  The instructions were really simple too and it took me about 2 minutes to put it together and get it plugged in. Yep, you really did read that right, AND I did it all by myself as Mr D was at work.

CONNECTION
Once it was all plugged in, I opened my laptop and clicked on the internet/wireless tab and I could see both our existing wireless network as well as the new koala network.  Pretty cool, I thought.  I left my laptop connected to our existing (adult) network and connected our desktop computer to the koala (kids) network. This way I could compare the two.

SET UP
Once I was connected and ready to go I logged into the koala site and set up my ‘parents’ page with passwords etc.  I was then taken to a control panel, where I could very easily see all the different categories within the koala network.  In here I was also able to add different devices to the network, so I promptly added the kids ipads.  Then under each device I was able to customise the settings I needed for each child.  These included timings and blockage of certain websites, like social media or youtube for example.  It also gave me a ‘recommended age’ for some websites I wasn’t sure of – like snapchat. Koala safe internet review THINGS I LOVED
1.
 Google safe search is automatically installed on the koala network.  The guys at koala safe are also constantly checking and updating the system and blocking any websites deemed inappropriate for kids. I tested the safe search by typing in ‘be-headings’.  It’s one of those horrific things that’s very much ‘in the news’ at the moment and something I never want my kids to see images of, so I thought it would be a good test.  I typed it into google on my laptop (normal network) and into the computer (koala network) and I was amazed by the results. The normal network pulled up some pretty grizzly results.  The koala network on the other hand was pretty clean.  I think one slipped through but it was just a American news headline that lead to nothing when I clicked on it.  Was I impressed.  Hell yes.  It’s not perfect, but it’s a damn site better than using the normal network.

2.  The timings are so easy to set up and are a fantastic way of controlling how much screen time the kids are getting.  I have set our koala safe network to only come on between 6pm and 8pm on week nights.  Josh was a bit confused when he logged on after school one day and told me the internet was broken.  “What does the screen say?” I asked him.  “That it’s only coming on at 6pm” he yelled back at me.  High fives to me I thought, having a little chuckle to myself in the kitchen.  I was amazed at how quickly he just accepted that that’s what the system said – rather than me arguing with me about it!! You can set individual times on different devices which is great too.  Once the kids run out of time, they will get an option to ask for more time.  A message will then be sent to the parent device where you can decided yay or nay and for how long.  I just love it!!  They could even earn ‘time’ but doing their homework or chores etc.

3.  As if things couldn’t get any better, there is an analytics page too.  This page gives you a break down of exactly where your child has spent their time on the internet and for how long.  These include games like minecraft, social media, education and other.  It’s also give you a break down for each individual device connected to the network.  Although my kids have not yet discovered the joys of social media I love that you can track how much time they are spending on social media and also how you can turn pages like Facebook off, or put it on a timer to limited their time spent there.   koala safe review 3

NEGATIVES
There really isn’t much I can say against this box, however the one thing is does not do (yet) is control the usage of apps that are not connected to the internet.  It also only works in a wifi environment which means that devices such as ipads and iphones can only be connected to the koala network at home. Once you leave the house and are re- connected to 3G it no longer works.

The koala safe box is hands down the best way we have found to control certain aspects of our kids internet and screen use by far, and we love it.

The Koala Safe kickstarter program launched today and the first 200 people to order a box will receive an early bird special of $70 plus shipping.

If you have kids who use the internet you’re going to love it too.

*Disclaimer:  The koala safe box that I used in this review was a prototype which I was gifted.  However, all the installation, testing and opinions were all done by me.  I was not paid to write this review.

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16 comments on “Safe internet for kids with parental controls. A Koala Safe Review”

  1. I really, really like the sound of this device. I usually gets the kids to switch off wifi on their ipods/ipads but this is getting a little trickier for the eldest who now uses the computer for homework or to play games. I like how this device can filter Internet content and you can use analytics to view Internet use. Thanks for sharing your review.

    • Pleasure. My hubby was very sceptical about it and didn’t think it would work (he’s a know it all techie) but he was pleasantly surprised!! I loved it x

    • Reinventing the wheel. Sorry guys, its been done already.

      Linksys, probably connecting you to the internet right now, have an app which does exactly this and works on most of their routers.

      with Netproofer you can turn on and off access for devices on the network, schedule access, control access to things like facebook and more.

      And its only 99c, and you don’t need to buy another device and go through the router configuration headache.

      Link: http://store.linksys.com/netproofer-linksys-smart-wifi-app_stcVVproductId151797645VVcatId554940VVviewprod.htm

      • Hey criteque,

        You’re right that some of the router manufacturers offer some features i this space. However, KoalaSafe is different in that:

        – You don’t need to replace your existing router, we work with whatever you have now
        – It works out of the box
        – Our interface is far, far simpler than any I’ve seen on the routers.

        We’re aiming this at someone who just wants to plug in the box to solve the problem, without touching their home router. The response so far has been really good.

        Steve

    • It’s a scary world once they do lovely!! At least we have a handle on social media and can (try) and stay one step ahead of them (by spying, lol) xx

    • I can’t believe you’ve even managed to set up your own modem Seana, I wouldn’t have a clue!! Yes, you just re-set the password and on mobile devices you need to ‘forget’ the old network and add the koala network. It’s pretty nifty xx

  2. Reinventing the wheel. Sorry guys, its been done already.

    Linksys, probably connecting you to the internet right now, have an app which does exactly this and works on most of their routers.

    with Netproofer you can turn on and off access for devices on the network, schedule access, control access to things like facebook and more.

    And its only 99c, and you don’t need to buy another device and go through the router configuration headache.

    Link: http://store.linksys.com/netproofer-linksys-smart-wifi-app_stcVVproductId151797645VVcatId554940VVviewprod.htm

    • Thanks for your feedback, however I wouldn’t call it reinventing the wheel, I’d call it enhancing the wheel! If Steve Jobs didn’t ‘re-invent’ the phone, where would we all be today.

      I am sure there are lots of things that all help protect kids from the Internet but the wonderful about this one is just how user friendly it is – especially for mums like me who have no idea what Linksys is!!

  3. IThe folks behind koala safe also make the Curbi app. It’s an awesome tool for monitoring and setting limits and bedtime rules etc on iPhones and iPads. For about $5/month, we have complete visabilty and control. Highly recommended!

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