Optus Pause lets parents nuke internet connection on every device

Tearing kids away from their phones, games or streaming has never been easy. 

Parental controls have made things more manageable for modern families, but are often limited to a single device. 

I clearly remember the horror of waking up late on school holidays to find my Mum had taken the Xbox power cord to work; which is why I couldn’t be happier to be a grown man as Optus Pause unleashes on the world. 

The concept is simple enough, a parent – who controls a family’s Optus accounts – can cut every device off the internet with a swipe. 

Clive Dickens, the company’s Vice President of Digital Product development jokingly compared that authority to everyone’s favourite crime-fighting spider in our interview; “with great power comes great responsibility.”

The Optus Pause function allows parents to enforce a ‘time out’ on devices. (Optus)

“You could be at work, pausing the connectivity at home, where someone might be on a Zoom call for work,” he said.

“In the home, you can power down your router or change your internet password, so there is some level of control… but you’ve never had this level of device control before in one place.”

Optus Pause, which went live today, is a free option controlled with a slider inside the My Optus app.

Parental control settings are nothing new, both Telstra and Vodafone allow users to limit content and connectivity, but Optus is leaning on a sharper, shorter and more dramatic impact to control behaviour. 

“Optus Pause doesn’t differentiate between mobile and home, because it’s just connectivity,” said Mr Dickens.

“If you want to pause the connectivity of a family member outside the home, you can do that.”

“If you want to pause the connectivity of a family member inside the home, you can do that too.”

“Usually, it would depend on what type of modem you have, what type of router or what type of phone you have. We have resolved all of those issues to make it really simple.”

You can choose to pause connectivity to devices for 15, 30 or 45 minutes and can even target a specific Wi-Fi router or sim card. 

The connection automatically restarts once the time expires so users don’t have to remember to turn anything back on.  

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“It’s a pause, not a switch. Nobody wants to switch off the internet,” admitted Mr Dickens, who says parents were rarely ending pauses early during testing.

“We’ve got internet-powered speakers, fridges, we’ll probably have internet-powered toasters and washing machines soon.”

“They want to pause for me time, study time, dinner time or even maybe bedtime.”

“You can obviously have device-level control as well. If you want to pause just one user, you can do that as well.”

Optus says calls and texts are unaffected on devices affected by a “pause,” which will allow emergency and emergency service notifications to continue. 

The child inside knows “one more game” is just as much of an emergency in the moment. 

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