Put the iPod down now! Get off the computer and come down for dinner! Stop wasting time on YouTube!
Sound familiar? That’s MY family. Like many of you, our households are increasingly dominated by digital devices and the Internet. It’s just a fact of life these days. Unlike our generation where we hung out at malls and rode our bikes all over the neighborhood until it’s time for dinner, our kids’ lives and a good portion of their interactions are now online.
The result is seventy percent of kids as young as five years old have accidentally seen inappropriate content online and according to the San Francisco-based Common Sense Media, American teenagers spend an astounding nine hours per day being entertained by digital technology. The Internet has brought the world into our homes and our kids are addicted to it—hook, line and sinker.
Truth is, technology has far outpaced our ability to manage it and the traditional parental controls have not kept up. They were too clunky to figure out, too easy for kids to work around or too aggressive; they block nearly everything. To make matters worse, they needed to be installed on each and every device at a time when we have more devices per person than ever before. There just has to be a better way…
A couple of years ago, I quit my job with a big salary and an even bigger title, and with my friend and co-founder, we started Gryphon. It was a huge leap of faith accompanied with lots of prayers and a good healthy dose of fear and trembling. But we were convinced that there had to be room for a company in this market that is working to solve a problem that almost every parent is concerned about. Unlike other companies, where parental control is an afterthought or a checkbox for a marketing person, we made a conscious decision to build the best possible parental control system first. It turned out that the best place to control the Internet is the one box in the home where the Internet is distributed—your WiFi router.
That’s how the idea for Gryphon was born. Gryphon is a mesh router that beams fast WiFi to every corner of your house. But it’s Gryphon’s parental control system that separates it from everything else.
With a simple app, Gryphon gives parents complete control. Want to shut off the WiFi entirely during dinner time or at bedtime? No problem. Your kid insists she needs the Internet to research her homework? No problem. You can selectively block Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook, and chat. And the really nasty stuff online? Gryphon blocks that at the network level. No more distractions during homework and the Internet gets shut off to all the devices when it’s time for bed.
Gryphon, which started as a successful Kickstarter project, has now officially launched and is being sold on Amazon. The most rewarding thing for us as a team is to hear stories of how Gryphon has made a real impact with families.
So committed are we to families, that it is a part of our daily charge to be constantly making improvements guided by the feedback from our thousands of customers—many I’ve gotten to know almost like family. One big feature we are adding is called HomeBound™.
Our kids are using mobile devices more and more. What if they just decide to turn off WiFi and use cellular instead? That’s where HomeBound™ comes in. It’s an app that creates a tunnel to reroute all the data traffic back to Gryphon. So even if they are on cellular or using WiFi at a Starbucks, they are still bound to the Gryphon network with all the controls in place. That’s being launched at the beginning of next year.
As technology evolves, Gryphon will continue to evolve with it, but our mission will be the same. Parents deserve the tools to take control over the technology that is so pervasive now in our lives. Our kids will be the first generation to be the always-connected generation. Our hope is that we can use technology to help protect the connections that really matter—with our families and with each other.
About the Author
John Wu (Twitter: @johnwu71) is one of the inventors of the MiFi intelligent mobile hotspot and CEO and co-founder of Gryphon Online Safety, a company dedicated to protecting the connected family with Gryphon, the world’s first mesh WiFi router that uses patented machine learning technology to protecting your network from inappropriate content and cyber attacks. Learn more about Gryphon at www.gryphonconnect.com