For parents worried about what their kids might be accessing online, a Waterloo Region telecom company has the answer.

Fibernetics has developed a simple-to-use Internet filtering device that plugs into the wall, just like an air freshener or nightlight, and syncs with your home’s wireless Internet signal. Parents then connect their kids’ laptops, tablets or other devices to the KidsWifi signal and can then manage how their kids use the web.

“It can filter everything, so if you’re at home and doing some work or cooking dinner and your kids want to have some face time with their devices, you can have some peace of mind knowing they haven’t ventured off into somewhere they shouldn’t be,” said Mike Brown, co-founder of Fibernetics.

That includes social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter, gambling sites, pop-up ads and other inappropriate content. It can also be hardwired into the Internet router if you don’t have a wireless signal, and you can program it to cut off online access at a certain time or after a certain number of hours.

Brown uses it in his own home for his two children, aged six and eight, and it can connect to multiple devices at speeds of up to 300Mbps.

KidsWifi — referred to as Kiwi — launched today and is available for purchase online at kidswifi.com. Brown said they have a full slate of meetings with retailers arranged next week to try and get Kiwi into stores. They’ve also lined up a list of celebrity endorsers to generate even more buzz.

It retails for $99.95 and has no annual or monthly fees, and compared to other filtering programs, Brown said KidsWifi takes the guesswork out of blocking dangerous sites and is easier to manage, with no program updates, software patches or subscriptions to worry about.

“It arrives in a box, you open it, there’s one page of instructions, you plug it in, and you’ll be using the device within a couple minutes,” he said. It’s also portable, meaning parents can take it with them to hotels or other locations and not have to worry.

The device was about two years in development and is a product of the company’s own tech incubator, called Fibernetics Ventures. Fibernetics developed the program after watching promising employees with good ideas leave the company and set out on their own, Brown said, adding it’s also open to non-employees.

Brown said the device isn’t meant to replace good parenting or talking with kids about what they view online, but it’s a good way to ensure nothing slips through and to spur family conversations about why certain sites have been blocked.

“I think this will help parents do that job. Instead of sitting right beside (their kids) all the time and watching what they click on, having a filter creates a safe environment and is what responsible parents should do.”

Photo: …next generation by zeitfaenger.at is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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James Jackson
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James Jackson is an award-winning journalist, freelance writer and photographer. He lives with his wife and daughter in Cambridge, Ontario and his interests include history, geography, transportation and the environment, with a little bit of politics thrown into the mix just to keep things interesting.