HIPOM (Home Internet Peace Of Mind) is an innovative new startup using home automation technology to tackle the rising problem of tech addiction among children. The HIPOM website provides a 100% cloud-based service that enables parents to reestablish control over the amount of time their children spend on the internet. The free HIPOM service shows parents every connected device in their home and gives them the ability to individually turn its internet access on or off, in real-time over the web, like a virtual light switch. The service’s unique home automation approach ensures that any device that connects to the internet through the home router can be easily controlled.
Unlike virtually every other parental control offering available today, HIPOM’s service does not directly interact with the internet-enabled devices themselves (e.g. PCs, laptops, iPods, iPads, game consoles, IPTVs, mobile phones, etc.,). Significantly, HIPOM’s 100% cloud-based approach means there is no parental control software to download, install, configure or administer on any of the devices to be managed. Instead HIPOM delivers a ‘home automation’ solution to internet parental controls by managing the common internet access point that people already have in their homes and that all internet-enabled devices connect through – i.e. the home internet router.
The result is that parents no longer need to be an IT pro to implement effective internet parental controls in the home. With HIPOM’s parent-friendly solution, parents do not require physical access to the devices they are managing, nor do they have to understand how those devices work in order to completely control their internet usage in the home. Using a simple ‘power button’ metaphor, non-technical parents can easily manage all of their children’s online activities from their simple to use, personalized and secured HIPOM ‘Control Panel’ web page, whenever and wherever they can connect to the web.
“My wife and I were feeling very frustrated over the increasing sense of entitlement our three children were displaying over their internet usage,” says Rod da Silva, the founder of HIPOM. “Like many parents, we tried the honor system but it didn’t work. We were watching the amount of time they spent online at home, across all of their internet-enabled devices, going up every week and we felt powerless to do anything about it. When we started reading about the serious problems that can result from ‘tech addiction’, we became very concerned,” says da Silva.
According to reports such as the Kaiser Family Foundation Generation M2 – Media in the Lives of 8-to-18-Year-Olds January 2010 study (PDF), children in the United States between the ages of 8-18 spend a phenomenal 7.5 hours a day on electronic devices of one kind or another. Computer usage among this age group grew 142% between 2004-2009, driven by widespread broadband access in the home, as well as the massive popularity of social networking websites such as Facebook and online gaming platforms such as Xbox Live. Moreover, without parental involvement, there is nothing to prevent this disturbing trend from continuing. Many parents are beginning to realize the potential for serious long-term negative side effects for their children as a result of uncontrolled internet usage, including social and/or behavioral issues, as well as physical issues including obesity.
While HIPOM’s manual base service costs nothing to use, the website does offer an optional, reasonably priced, premium subscription service for parents looking to completely automate the enforcement of their home internet parental control strategy. Parents can choose to set up simple timer-based internet usage rules for any device, that HIPOM’s servers will automatically enforce by silently connecting directly to the router in the home and blocking or unblocking internet access for the individual devices, at the designated times of the day or night. Furthermore, every HIPOM premium subscription has a one week free trial period to ensure complete satisfaction before the user is billed.
“HIPOM sees all of the devices using the home internet connection and puts a convenient switch on them, empowering parents to say ‘lights out’ to internet access on their terms, with a click of a button,” explains da Silva. “Responsible parents need to start taking a proactive approach to their children’s internet usage. We don’t let our children raise themselves on the streets, so why are we allowing them to raise themselves online?” says da Silva.