Time budget versus time window (Cumulative time)


#1

This is a feature request also at Feature Requests

I can currently allow my boys a window of time (3-7pm) but I’d also like to be able to budget time within that (half an hour of video, in the 3-7pm window).

Is this on the roadmap? Just getting started with our unit, looks great!


Time on Category
Setting time allowances not schedules
#2

Hi @xurizaemon, thanks for checking in. Yes, it is on the roadmap, but it’s the most challenging from an engineering point of view also.

We’re considering doing this in two steps. First step would be to give your boys a webpage where they can start the timer, so they are responsible for managing that half an hour.

We could get that delivered quicker than detecting automatically when videos are being played. What do you think? Would that work?


#3

Wow, thanks for the quick reply!

I’m using “window” to mean slots like “3pm - 4pm” and “budget” for allocations like “30 min / day”. Let me know if KoalaSafe already has terms for these, so I can use your language!

Your question makes me wonder if I wasn’t clear about my feature request, so: I don’t think I need a finer-grained way of filtering activities. I do want to be able to limit daily use by two measures, concurrently: the window (when it can happen) and the budget (how long it can happen for). These filters should take effect simultaneously.

Replying to your suggested timer method: So far, I really like how the KoalaSafe doesn’t demand user interaction - that feels like it would be less easy for the user, and for your product those users are probably quite young to be operating a timer. (I’m 40; I sometimes still forget to clock in and out of tasks on our work’s time tracking system!)

And for this feature, I meant “watching videos” as just an example of activity, to be clear. You’re already detecting what behaviours are engaged (Youtube vs Minecraft) fine for my proposed example.

A timer might do the trick, but I’d rather it was seamless/invisible to the user - that activities could be budgeted, and could be summed and closed off when they hit budget. This would need some sensitivity too - stopping the video two minutes from the end would be pretty hard on a young person, but that can already happen if the window comes around. I can see the appeal of timers too - they start to let you reach which user is on that device.

Some challenges with timer approach:

  • I can imagine cases where one savvy sibling learns to swap devices with another when they sense the budget limit approaching :wink:
  • I can imagine cases where a savvy kid learns to start their “wikipedia” timer and goes back to minecraft. So a “watching videos” timer may not be effective.
  • Interfaces which encourage people to make “bad decisions” (like the above two) are to be avoided IMO.

If I can speculate wildly … degrading service as the timer passes might seem “more natural” to the user. So when the YouTube budget limit is hit, reduce bandwidth to that device over the next few minutes to ease the user out of the experience. (This might also enrage the user. It feels pretty hostile, but I’m spitballing other approaches to “hard stop”.)


#4

I am desperate for a “time budget” feature…is there a timeline for this? My kids have zero ability to control themselves with electronics. I’ve set up a schedule, but without a budget of available usage, I’m still having to manually limit them daily and continuously play the bad cop.


#5

Hi @LNQ,

You can now see how much time has been spent where in our beta analytics (Android and Web App, waiting on Apple to approve the iOS release) . This was the first step towards time budgets. It is 1 of our 2 top priorities, however we don’t yet have an ETA.

Thanks
Adam


#6

Hello, Adam. I too am in need of a timer especially during school vacations (summer, winter, etc.) when there is less structure for my child. Under medical advice, my 10-year-old son is only allowed to have 2-3 hours per day of screen time (iPod Touch, Chromebook, Xbox, etc.) I know how hard you have been working on this, but since total time per day is shown in usage chart, it seems you could tie into that timer and allow limits since usage time per day is already being calculated. Any chance of seeing a timer soon? Thanks.


#7

Hey @Deep_Blue, we appreciate the gravity of the situation. It’s both a moral and a commercial priority for us! That said, we don’t have a release date, so I can’t give you any firm dates yet. You are right though, the “time usage” on analytics was released before timers to give us the data we need to make sure we get the timer functionality as accurate as possible.


#8

Hello Steven–I really appreciated your response to my inquiry about a time usage feature. It is very unusual to hear software developers use very important expressions/terms such as “It’s both a moral and commercial priority for us!” With those values underlying your work, I am sure you will be successful and highly appreciated by your clients/customers. Keep up the great work.


#9

Hi! We just installed the Koala box and software and found out that the advertised “Set time limits” didn’t mean the possibility of making daily “budgets” of internet time, as we had hoped for. The box should help families getting rid of the conflicts around children’s use of too much time on the internet (parents playing the “bad cop”). That is not the case in our family with the current software version which only allow time restrictions with no flexibility/budgetting (e.g. internet open from 3PM to 6PM). This is difficult to manage as each day is different and you are not interested in daily programming of “up-time” and negotiations with a teenager. We have agreed with our son that he has 1 1/2 hours of internet access daily and double up in the weekends. This can not be managed with the current KoalaSafe software. I can read that the Koala team is aware of the customers demand for “time budgetting” and that this is high priority. It has been this way for more than a year and there is still no expected release date. I am aware of other routers that are capable of this feature, but they are not yet available in Europe.


#10

Hi Tao,

We’ll update everyone as soon as time budgets are available. In the mean time, the best way to synthesize it is to use the schedule and then extend/restrict time as requested.

We look forward to telling the world when time budgets land!

Steve


#11

I full agree with Tao and other members. It is pratically unusefull if it is not possible to control by “time budgetting” during week ends and holidays. I will buy Koalasafe only when this feature will be fully available. Moreover the feature should be combined with time limit, for example : for each days between 8 am and 8 pm , 1 hour of internet allowed.

Thanks to make it real.
Best regards.


#12

The reason I bought this product over other options is because - (I’m sure unintentionally) it is being portrayed as having this feature. To set a maximum amount of time a child can be online before it cuts the connection for the day.

I am quite disappointed to find out that the feature is not present, this was the differentiating feature that made me choose koalasafe. Without this I need to stand up a linux box in the house to act as a router to implement maximum time limits myself.

I’m a developer and have worked for several of the big name tech companies and understand things get complex quickly. What if you just did the simplest implementation possible though?

What if for each device, or profile. you just give the same slider/time ui you have for daily scheduling to set a property for maximum time per day. So parents can set say 30mins per day during the school week and 1 hour per day on the weekend. Then can use extra time or penalty as a parental carrot/stick function if you feel like getting fancy.

Now I’m guessing the above is simple, but the complexity comes in when you try to determine how much time a device is online. Partially because there is so much background packets being sent/received by idle devices.

What if you just made it dead simple. If the device is connected to the network and/or is sending/receiving any packets whatsoever during a 1-min or 5min time interval then you consider that as online time. As a parent I would be fine with this. The kids could just power off their pc’s or disconnect their devices from the network if they don’t want to consume their allotted data-time for the day. Power the device off when you are not using it. Save the planet and electricity.

I would guess even this simple implementation would be 100% delightful to at least 90% of your customers who want this feature.

I know several friends who would buy it just to set an upper bound on online time per day and keep all the parental controls and filtering etc… off.

I’m hoping that this feature comes soon, but I’m not optimistic since this suggestion has been open since sep/nov 2015 and its now feb 2017 with no target date.

@steven_pack @adam any updates on this?


#13

Hi @keith, thanks for taking the time to explain your motivations for the product and your suggestions.

You’re right that detecting if a device is “connected” i.e. sending any packets at all is much easier and yes, once kids learned they had to power off devices to prevent time being used up, it may work as a solution.

That said, while the time budget feature is not yet present, we have done a lot of work towards it. Gathering data over the past 12m has allowed us to better identify what is background and what is foreground activity, so there has been progress. I wish I could give you a target ETA, but it just wouldn’t be accurate. Therefore, for the meantime, we just have to ask for your continued patience and hope that the scheduling can help provide a good healthy balance of screen and non-screen time.

Finally, there is another “workaround” that some users use, particularly on weekends. Basically, you schedule no time on weekends and your kids can then request to use a block, say one hour. You then extend the time for an hour on the profile screen and it automatically shuts off after that time. It’s not automatic, because it requires an action in the app, but it’s a workaround.

Thanks again for reaching out.
Steve and the KoalaSafe Family.


#14

I would also like to be informed when time budgeting will be enabled. Thanks and good luck going ever forward with development.


#15

+1 … Initially I would have thought it reasonably easy to ‘Time Budget’ certain/specific sites, like YouTube for example. Other than the kids walking away from the PC with the browser still logged into YouTube (& they’ll soon learn not to do that…) I would have thought there would NOT be that much background noise going out (but then again YouTube is part of Google… so who knows that they are ‘collecting’… well, other than Adam & Steven :slight_smile: )


#16

Hello Steve
Loving my KoalaSafe and recommending to all my friends here in WA - one thing that is missing is the time budget functionality mentioned here.

Any news on the ‘time budget’ release update expected availability ?

Thanks
Jan


#17

We would love to see this feature. Even if it is initially setup like hotel internet, i.e. Upon first connecting you are presented with a webpage where you type in your user name and password. And it should have some sort of a timer, maybe in a popup window or something. So you can manage your time and not start watching a 20 min video with only 5 mins left.

walkj


#18

Hi,
It would good to see, time filters per Category i.e. no more than 2 hrs of youtube & 2 hrs of PS4 via PSN, as I would like to setup this up so he could chose to do over the day, not in a scheduled window.

I believe there use to be earlier discussion on this ?

thanks
Mark.


#19

It looks like this feature has been in the works for a year and a half… any news on a release date. From the description of the product when I purchased it, I thought that what setting time limits was all about and am very disappointed that isn’t the case. Being able to assign a screen time value per day is the only way to go. Having to pigeon hole a specific time slot just doesn’t cut it. This is not the product I thought I was getting. I can set time windows with my current router, so the Koalasafe device is of little use to me as it currently works. Will not be recommending it to anyone until this feature is available.


#20

This is a must for me as well!