While tax time makes you do a hard look at your spending habits and swimsuit season can help us realize we’ve been light on kale servings, there has been little impetus in my family to check our technology usage. A bank balance or a scale can provide some hard data to allow us to analyze and then change habits, and now, the Shaw BlueCurve Gateway modem and Home app allow us to do this with device usage. It just can’t make you eat more veggies!
What is Shaw BlueCurve?
Shaw BlueCurve is a simple and powerful new technology that gives customers more coverage and greater control over their home Wi-Fi experience.
The new BlueCurve Gateway modem is connected to a smartphone app brimming with data and information about how your family uses technology. Each device in your home that uses the internet (wifi or a hard connection) can be registered on the BlueCurve Home app. Unlike the spotty wifi of the past, the new system supports ‘pods’. These classy-looking hexagons look like they should be on the Millennium Falcon, and one of my sons actually had a meltdown because he didn’t get one in his bedroom. They plug right into an electrical outlet and operate as a mesh system. Basically, instead of bouncing from one wall to another and getting weaker the farther away your wifi gets from your main modem, the pods overlap like a Venn diagram and retain the strength of signal everywhere. It’s like throwing a warm blanket of wifi over everywhere in your house you want to be.
Once they are set up (you can name them on the app), you can move the pods just by plugging them in, and the system recognizes when devices need more bandwidth, so coverage is always consistent. My particular meandering house was built around a series of rocks, so wifi stability has always been a huge issue. The pods come in packs of three, and you can add as many as you need.
Taking a Pause from Wifi
Every family is different and this system doesn’t preach about what usage ‘should’ look like. (Finally there’s a company or anyone that doesn’t want to judge my parenting skills!!) Together, our family all agreed on appropriate amounts of time for TV, gaming and streaming, and it’s the Shaw BlueCurve Gateway modem that cuts them off — not Mom or Dad. We can always renegotiate and alter things for summer holidays, or as the kids get older. The key with having all of the information that the app provides is that it facilitates conversations based on actual data.
The beauty is that this app doesn’t have to be a punitive system. Just like automobiles that track top speeds and seatbelt usage for teens, the raw data collected can help kids prove how responsible they are. Because the settings are so easy to alter with a parent passcode, rewards for good behaviour are easy to facilitate. One of my sons is clearly light on his tech use, and he is making a big effort to read more and play outside to look ‘good’ and show us how mature he is. The clear visual data allows us to see this easily.
Setting up the BlueCurve App
The profiles you set up on the Shaw BlueCurve Home app for each member of the household and each connected device allow you to clearly monitor wifi, smart TV usage, as well as smart home devices. Right now there are cute animal profile pics for each profile. (Everyone will fight over the cat). The system doesn’t show what apps or websites are in use, so everyone still has privacy. I’ve tried so many different solutions to be able to monitor and pause the internet but this one is by far the most comprehensive, as the app is tied to the modem and not an operating system or limited to wifi only.
With other piecemeal systems, the kids could be tempted to reach the end of a limit on one device and hop over to a different one that didn’t have limits. There was never a clear picture of how much time any family member was spending on the internet.
Additionally, my makeshift solutions of the past (see photo below) meant wires, boxes and cords were choking my living room mantel and clean design was non-existent. The BlueCurve system gave us a Zen living space.
Not only does every family member get a profile that lists all of their devices, but the option of pausing or setting bedtime limits for individual devices is super handy. You can set a limit for a specific gaming unit within the basket of devices under their profile. You see a percentage of usage for each family member as well as the times of day that happen to carry heavier usage. The app also allows you to restart the Shaw BlueCurve Gateway modem remotely without searching for a little pin and climbing up to the modem to do it manually.
Shaw BlueCurve Profile Tips and Tricks
Because you can set up a profile for your general ‘Home’ smart devices like thermostats and lighting, pausing the internet or setting bedtime limits doesn’t affect those. You can also easily set up a profile just for school devices that is different from gaming consoles so that you aren’t limiting their home learning time — or seeing them rush through schoolwork in order to get more screen time elsewhere!
Personally, I’m trying to use just one device for social media usage so that I can really put myself in check. It’s great for the kids to see that I’m trying to streamline and put myself on a healthier tech diet as well.
Setting Limits using BlueCurve
I have had to travel a ton lately, and I am able to monitor and control internet access when I’m away just by using the Shaw BlueCurve Home app. This makes it less stressful for caregivers or grandparents as they aren’t the ones setting the limits on connectivity or getting asked to bend rules. When the kids reach out to me for more time, I can ask them to do a chore or a few math questions first in exchange for an extra 30 minutes of wifi! This consistency is something we haven’t had in the past, and it’s a personal pet peeve of mine when I can’t provide that for my kids.
The kids have always had limits on screen time, but because it was never easy to monitor all of their connected devices. It’s been an adjustment for them. They actually seem happier being able to plan their own ‘fun time’, and knowing exactly where they stand. As a parent, it also really helps us follow through with limits. After fair warning, a parent could also shut down devices for a couple of days as a consequence of negative behaviour.
With the Shaw BlueCurve Home app, when friends come over and connect to our wifi, I get a notification so I am able to assign the new device to a profile with the same limits as our family. Bonus: Kids can’t stay up all night on someone else’s tablet during a sleepover and then get cranky the next day!
Parental Control and Malware
Enabling Parental Controls over every device makes me feel so much more at ease as a parent — and also being able to have malware, spying and phishing blocked at the modem level and not on every single device saves so much time. Because the modem software is always up to date, the newest updates are in effect without me having to download things so that I can feel safe against the latest hazards.
Discussions on Technology Use
Being able to see who is using the bulk of the Wi-Fi (me) through the Shaw BlueCurve Home app has been really eye-opening. We have been able to have conversations about how we are each interacting with technology. For instance, the other day my son’s laptop usage was high so we chatted. He had been streaming National Geographic shows to learn about how fish and coral reefs are being depleted! Anything that helps facilitate deeper conversations with my tween and teen are highly valuable.
The app has also helped us to differentiate between ‘fun and relaxing’ versus ‘productive’ tech usage. Because of my job, my own Wi-Fi use is always high, but seeing visual representations of my home data use has made me much more efficient at work. When I force myself to segment work time, I do less checking of social media throughout the day and when I should be ‘off’. This keeps me on task and also makes me more present as a parent. I’m using Shaw BlueCurve Home personally to really monitor my own patterns and set a better example. Look – no phones on the table!!
The family has had some really eye-opening conversations about how technology creeps into each aspect of life. Through the app, we have now begun to ‘pause’ the entire internet during mealtimes, and we have prioritized doing more activities like baseball games and hikes where devices aren’t with us. Helpful smart speakers are never paused, so we can always ask for the weather forecast or the correct baking conversions while we spend time together in the kitchen!
Do you need a bit of a shoulder-check or better plan for the tech usage in your home? All I can say is that this has been WAY less painful than the taxes or monitoring my exercise habits! It has helped me to converse with the kids, see more of how they spend their time, and hopefully be a better role model. The biggest boost for the family (apart from faster connection speeds and consistent coverage) is that each family member has been showing more maturity, and proving that we can all be more responsible. Feeling proud of your kids is even better than lightening speeds. Or veggies.