Say Goodbye to Instragram, It’s Study Time

 Each evening as kids head to their rooms to study, parents are left to wonder, “Are they really studying?”   For teens, tweens and even a few elementary school children, mobile devices are now ubiquitous. They are the primary source for communication, entertainment and in many cases, homework.  However, teaching children to set aside the communication and entertainment functions while studying can be tricky. 

Today, many parents are turning to curbi to facilitate that process.  By utilizing curbi’s “StudyTime” feature, parents can restrict apps and social media for the hour or two kids spend doing homework.   Both the times and days of the week are completely customizable, making it easy for parents to promote focused learning.   The same flexible scheduling is available for “SleepTime” as well. 

Helping kids avoid Instagram for even a short period of time each day provides parents with a strategic opportunity to teach self-discipline.  It is unlikely their social status will suffer, but quite possible their grades may improve.

Tune up your Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is simple, right? Well, to the end user (when it's working), it's magical. You plug up a Wi-Fi router (sometimes provided by your internet company) and it is suppose to just work. The truth is that Wi-Fi is incredibly complex. Wi-Fi works by using RF (radio frequency waves) and turning them into data using what is called the 802.11 protocol. You've probably seen this on your router box as 802.11g or 802.11n (802.11ac is the current standard).

You might wondering, why you are telling me about this? Well, curbi requires a decent Wi-Fi connection. It works by using a technology called VPN. It adds a little overheard to the internet connection in order to work its magic. When we see support emails, they usually end with us realizing the Wi-Fi connection in the home in poor. This causes curbi to not work as well, and sometimes not at all.

When you get Wi-Fi installed in your home, it's usually near a cable jack. It might be in the living room and the kid's bedrooms are upstairs or the other end of the house. Wi-Fi works best in open areas. As it travels through doors and walls, the signal gets weaker. Wi-Fi from a device perspective is not always the same. Laptops have stronger signals than iPhones and iPads do. In handheld devices, lowered powered radios are used to preserve battery life.

We didn't think about this sort of stuff when we just had 1 laptop in the home. As we've added devices, what router we choose matters. The $20 router from the discount store doesn't work as well when you are putting a lot of devices on the network. In my home, I use 2 of Apple's Airport Extremes. I have them linked together with cable to give me a strong signal on both floors of my house. If you don't have internet cable ran throughout your house, you can use a power line adaptor to save a call to an electrician.

I'm not saying you need to spend $500 on home networking gear, but rather that the equipment you have matters. Look at the signal strength on the devices you have at the places in your home that you use them. If you don't have a great connection, you might look at upgrading equipment.

2014 curbi Year in Review

2014 saw curbi become the most popular parental control service for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.  Thousands of children's iOS devices are now protected by curbi, with the number growing every hour of every day.

We've taken a look back over 2014 to see what today's children are using their iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches for.  We crunched through a ton of anonymous usage data from our servers across the world to see what's happening out there.

Click here for the curbi 2014 Year in Review infographic.

curbi Top Ten of 2014

First of all, here is the top ten, based on time spent on each service:

  1. Youtube
  2. Instagram
  3. Facebook
  4. Google
  5. Twitter
  6. Clash of Clans
  7. Netflix
  8. Spotify
  9. Pandora
  10. Yahoo

When it comes to Social Networking, forget Facebook - Instagram is king with over twice the usage of Facebook.

Spotify and Pandora also make the top ten showing how popular streaming music is becoming.  

In the next few weeks we will introduce a new content category to curbi called Streaming Music so that parents can block out TV and Video without blocking music.  Right now, music tends to be categorised in TV and Video.

What devices are they using?

Across the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch device range, we also looked at which devices are most popular with children today.

Unsurprisingly, the winner is the iPad, taking out 46% of the usage.  The most popular iPad is the Mini.  We also have a large number of school-managed iPads on curbi now, working hand-in-hand with school iPad deployments.

iPhones were not far behind with 42% of usage, with the iPhone4S being the most popular.  This lines up with our anecdotal evidence that today's children are inheriting their parents' iPhones.

Screen Time

So how long are spending children online?  The curbi stats show how long curbi children are spending online, which is going to be less than the average, since that's the whole point of curbi.

Almost every curbi-managed device has a Bedtime rule set which blocks all internet traffic at the bedtime nominated by the parent.

The most popular amount of time spent online is between 30 and 60 minutes per day.  This is a lot less than the what many studies show, but the curbi data covers their iOS devices only.  Having said that, 30-60 minutes per day is a safe number according to any expert, which shows us that curbi is doing its job.

In terms of how long children spend online on the different devices, although the iPad is more common on curbi, children spend longer online on their iPhones than iPads.  This means that a child's primary way of accessing the internet is through their phone, not a tablet or laptop/desktop.

That's a quick summary of what we saw in 2014.  If you would like to know more about a specific area, feel free to drop us a line at support@curbi.com.

 

 

Surf Online Safe

 

We are very pleased to announce that curbi has teamed up with Perth's leading cybersafety program, Surf Online Safe.

Surf Online Safe was founded by Paul Litherland, an ex-police officer with 20 years experience on the job.  Paul's final posting prior to leaving the police force was heading up the Computer Crime Squad where he began presenting to schools and parents about cybersafety.

Surf Online Safe runs schools presentations focusing on cybersafety issues of the day, including:

  • Social Networking Trends and Pitfalls
  • Comprehensive advice and tools to protect from Online Predators
  • Australian Crime Trends and how to minimise becoming a victim
  • Cyber Bullying detection, prevention and response
  • The Law and how it relates to us all
  • Mobile device use and technology trends

Since founding Surf Online Safe, Paul has rapidly risen to become Perth's most sought after cybersafety presenter, bringing together his background in law enforcement with his own experiences as a parent.

curbi is now working with Surf Online Safe to ensure that curbi remains aligned to emerging cybersafety threats and trends.

Safe Search Goodness

Over the past few months we've been perfecting Safe Search in curbi so that it's always on for Google, Bing and Yahoo searching.

So, what's Safe Search?

Safe Search is a feature built into all the major search engines which makes sure that you only receive 'safe' search results (i.e. no inappropriate content).  While curbi has always blocked  inappropriate web sites, it hasn't been able to stop those sites from showing up in web or image search results.

The good thing about these Safe Search features is that we can make sure they are always on for the content that goes through the curbi content filter.

As of today Safe Search is always on for curbi-managed devices.  Just like the Adult and Damaging Site category blocks, Safe Search cannot be switched off.

curbi in Tennessee

curbi is big in Tennessee and about to get bigger!

We're excited to be attending the Tennessee Association of Independent Schools 2014 Biennial Conference.

This is the first time we've taken curbi on the road and we're looking forward to sharing the curbi story with many more people.

The TAIS 2014 Conference is on November 2 and 3 at the Brentwood Academy, Tennessee (just outside Nashville).

curbi will be on the show floor at Booth 10 and will be presented by Justin Magraith, curbi Product Director and Bradley Chambers, Director of ICT, Brainerd Baptist School at 10am on Monday morning.

curbi U.S. Launch

     

 

 

curbi is officially announced in the U.S. today! Unlike other apps currently on the market, our system allows parents to remotely control their children’s internet and mobile app usage on Apple iOS devices regardless of connection mode, providing peace of mind even when kids are away from home.

With more schools and parents getting on board with curbi every day, curbi is quickly becoming the go-to solution for Parental Controls on iOS.

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curbi and iOS 8

We have been working with iOS 8 since the first Beta and are happy to say that curbi works just fine with iOS 8.

The problem is that the iOS upgrade process wipes the curbi VPN password so that after upgrading your device won't be able to get to the curbi VPN servers.

This bug appears to be fixed under the iOS 8.0.1 upgrade, so things may improve when that is released.

We sent out an email to everyone who had a device enrolled in curbi, so hopefully that made it through.  We have also put up specific instructions on how to upgrade from iOS 7 to iOS 8.  The bottom line is - unenroll your device from curbi before upgrading.

Learn more...

SafetyNet and curbi

We are delighted to announce our new partnership between curbi and the San Diego Police Foundation’s SafetyNet cyber safety program.

SafetyNet has been running in the San Diego county for the past four years and in that time has engaged with over 100,000 students, parents and educators in the ever-important area of cyber safety education.

SafeyNet is one of the leading cyber safety programs in the United States and delivers its high-impact education program to over 200 schools across the San Diego county.

At curbi we believe that safe and healthy online experiences for children begin with cyber safety education, complimented with effective parental controls and parental engagement in their child’s online activity.

curbi and SafetyNet are now working together to enhance the content of the SafetyNet program. This includes new ideas in the areas of screen time management and parental controls.  We are also helping to move the SafetyNet program into the mobile-first age to acknowledge that most children’s online access is happening today on mobile devices.

Here at curbi we are continuing to move the curbi service forward in exciting and effective ways.  We're now able to access the cyber safety expertise of SafetyNet along with their partners, the San Diego Police Department and the San Diego Internet Crimes against Children task force to make curbi better than ever.

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Happy customers

curbi is getting more and more exposure across the world and here is a great review from parent-of-three and school principal, Sean Corcoran.

Sean discovered curbi, gave it a trial run and is now using curbi to protect 6 Apple devices in his household.  Being a primary school principal, Sean is well-versed in the challenges facing parents in today's fast moving digital world.

Click here to see Sean's take on parental controls and mobile devices in his household.

 

 

New curbi pricing

We've just completed our discounted curbi launch pricing and have moved to a new subscription model.

This means that curbi is now available via monthly subscription for just $6.99 per month, for up to 5 devices.

You can also pay for a single month of curbi access via an in-app purchase on the iPhone and iPad curbi app for Parents.

This is a small price increase but curbi is still the best value, most capable Parental Control system for Apple devices on the market today.

First school goes live with curbi!

The first of our pilot schools has gone live with curbi!

John XXIII College, located just down the road from curbi HQ, has been working with us since November 2013 to help make their school iPads work seamlessly with their own management systems and curbi.

The school has been running a successful 1:1 iPad program for a couple of years now, but was very aware of the need to give parents some way to control the iPads when at home.

curbi now works side-by-side with their own systems to give parents a level of control over the iPads never before possible.

Click here to see how John XXIII College is presenting curbi to its school community.

 

Introducing curbi for Schools

During the development of curbi we've been talking to a number of 1:1 iPad schools about what they would like to see in a Parental Control system for iOS devices.

We've now developed a 'curbi For Schools' solution that works hand-in-hand with any school's iPad deployment.  Whether your school uses a Mobile Device Management solution or not, curbi can be used to protect student iPads when they leave the school network.

Based on our work with schools over the past year, we've now put together everything a school would want to know about curbi here.

If your school runs a 1:1 iPad program, we would love to hear from you.  Just drop us a line at schools@curbi.com!

Get curbi on your iPhone!

We created curbi to be easy to use for Parents.  This involved making sure every curbi function would be available on the iPhone for busy Parents.

We're finally done!  The completed curbi iPhone app went live world-wide yesterday.

We've even got an iPad version in the works.  Stay tuned for that - it should be out in the next week or two.

Download curbi for the iPhone from the App Store and try it today!