Trying to manage my three kids’ time spent and content viewed on all of the various devices we have in this house is one of the most thankless, naggy job out there. They don’t fully understand why I say “no” to the newest app, or why YouTube is blocked, or why I start yelling for them to put down the iPad and get outside already.
So I’m intrigued by a new online subscription service called SmartFeed which promises that it will make managing our kids’ digital media diet much easier.
And, presumably, less naggy on my part.
Currently in its last week of funding at Kickstarter — so we’d love to help them reach their goal because they’re so close — SmartFeed describes itself as Pandora with Netflix meets Facebook. In other words, SmartFeed will deliver content to your kids based on the criteria you set in your custom settings.
The service costs $14.95 a month (with significant discounts via Kickstarter), so it’s probably not right for everyone, but could be perfect for those of us who struggle with limits and finding the right content for our kids.
What I like most about this idea is that your filters can different for each child, so your tween isn’t stuck with e-books only approved for your four-year-old. And you can set SmartFeed to automatically locate and push recommended apps, games, movies, websites, and more based on specific values that are important to you, like creativity and global citizenship, your child’s interests, and even their current school curriculum.
It’s like it has the ability to deliver the best of all the educational and enriching content online to your kids — or the reason that most of us let the play with iPads and phone apps in the first place.
Then, there’s that hot topic with parents today: screen time management.
SmartFeed has a nice feature for those of us with kids who disappear upstairs to “read,” only to find out they’ve been holding their own Minecraft marathon in their bedroom. The app will let you manage and monitor usage by both content and device.
Just know that because this is a brand-new service, features will roll out in stages. The screen time monitoring will be out with version 2.0, which is another reason to subscribe through the Kickstarter campaign — you’ll get all those future upgrades free.
I am curious as to how SmartFeed will prevent a precocious child from quitting out of the service and just accessing the internet on their own to bypass SmartFeed entirely. And their scope seems so huge—managing not only apps and websites, but also movies, tv shows, ebooks, and music.
I have to wonder how effectively they can do this with all the different criteria parents will set. It’s like a big Rubik’s Cube of settings and recommendations. But hey, if they can pull it off, this can be a pretty fantastic tool for thousands of parents who just can’t keep up with every new Five Nights at Freddie’s iteration out there. Hey, neither can we! So we have high hopes for SmartFeed.
You can fund SmartFeed’s first Kickstarter campaign before Tuesday, July 14. Monthly subscriptions are $14.99 with significant discounts for early supporters of the service. It’s slated to launch in October, 2015, but always read the Kickstarter fine print so you know what to expect.