Know that your kiddo didn't have their phone last night, but Circle shows some History or Usage for that time? It might be that there were some background services creating traffic.
Circle tracks Internet traffic
We've developed Circle to track Internet traffic from your family member's device and show you what they're up to and when. Whenever a device is on the Internet, it's sending traffic back and forth with a web server. Circle tracks that traffic and measures it over a period of time. When a certain level of traffic is reached, Circle notes that in the correct profile under a chronological list in History, and categorized by type of traffic in Usage.
We customize major platforms to make sure we're tracking them accurately, but occasionally we catch background usage. This is traffic to the Internet caused by a website or app on your device, that happens automatically, even when your device isn't actually being used by a family member. An example might help: "I know little Johnny was in bed last night and I had his phone in my room, but it says he was using Snapchat all night!" This type of background usage can add up and be a little worrisome or mess with the Time Limits you've setup.
Common background traffic
Some of the most common offenders are listed below. We're working to keep them from creating inaccurate background usage, but think you should know they are on our radar. In addition we've noted why these apps or websites seem to be causing traffic.
- Apple: Many Apple services check in frequently with their servers. Turning off background sync and only updating manually can help this.
- Facebook: Apps like Facebook or Messenger can have their syncing turned off, or can be put to sleep by most phones. They will check in frequently on many devices to check for new content.
- Google: Android devices especially tend to check in to Google services a lot. You can turn this off in settings or set Google.com to "Unmanaged".
- Instagram: The messaging function of Instagram tends to cause a lot of background traffic. New content also seems to be refreshed often. We recommend turning off syncing on your device.
- Snapchat: It looks like Snapchat will reach out for new Snaps pretty often. There isn't really a way to stop this. You might try turning on "Travel Mode" in Snapchat's settings. With the latest release (Circle Parental Controls app version 1.2) this should be improved.
- Kindle Fire Devices: These types of devices seem especially to like reaching out to the Internet. We've seen lots of traffic for Amazon, Netflix, Pandora, and more. It looks like Amazon has programmed Kindle Fire devices to reach out for updates very frequently. We recommend putting a BedTime on profiles with these devices.
What can I do about this?
If your kiddo's devices are causing a lot of background usage to accrue in Circle there are several things you can do.
- Turn off background sync for these apps. Doing so will make sure that these apps only update when they are open. You can find this type of setting in your device settings or in the app itself.
- Put apps you're not using to sleep if your phone offers that. Many Android devices allow you to automatically sleep unused apps.
- Put a BedTime on your profiles to make sure that activity isn't being tracked at night and isn't piling up against Time Limits. You can do the same with an OffTime during the day.
- Add some wiggle room to your Time Limits for platforms or categories. If you know your kiddo's device adds about 30 minutes a day of Facebook traffic, you can make sure that's accounted for by adding an extra 30 to the Facebook or Social Media Time Limit.
- Turn on "Travel Mode" for Snapchat to stop all those new Snaps from accruing time against your Time Limits!
- Turn off unused devices when kiddos aren't around.
Finally, let us know about background activity that is causing you headaches. Use the buttons below for more help and to report this type of activity. The Circle team is committed to making sure time tracking is accurate and useful for your family, so get those reports in!