So much has transpired since getting back into our groove after an amazing summer: Our 11-year-old started middle school and making new friends; our 9-year-old daughter is now in 4th grade and getting in touch with her creative side; Ronan, our 4-year-old son is in his last year of nursery school and is obsessed with dinosaurs; Stew has been very busy with work; and I have been heavily involved in the Palo Alto Elementary Math Adaptation Pilot as a committee member; Konstella is doing great, as we continue to impact school communication around the country. I am finding that whatever time I have available, I need to spend it wisely. So taking away and hiding kids devices, in hard-to-find places around the house in order to regulate screen time is certainly not on my ideal task. There is an app for that and it is called OurPact!
Our kids have electronic devices and tablets which I have been very guilty of using as a means to take away privileges in order to discipline, as well as to lessen their screen time. However, I felt that even the act of taking devices away and redistributing was a chore in itself. I often forgot where I hid the devices, would frequently lose track of when I am supposed to give it back, or they would often be reunited with their devices without my knowledge. There needed to be an easier alternative.
So, on my recent trip to Canada, my sister, Marva, introduced me to a free app that she claimed was going to make managing their devices a lot easier. It does not have a fancy Silicon Valley name, but its functionality is phenomenal. After setting up each device on the app, I am able to disable my children’s devices within seconds. They are unable to access their apps, the internet or the camera. You can set a time to grant access, schedule specific times, or block their screen time indefinitely until you grant access again. The initial setup and pairing are done on their platform, and you control it through the app. Visit ourpact.com for more information.
Yes, I understand it is making their lives miserable especially, for my 6th grader who has taken a liking to Instagram (Insta, as he affectionately calls it), musically, lively, among others, but it gives me control so that I can monitor screen time without having to physically take devices away. It is a convenient and easy way to schedule his device and if he needs to be disciplined, then I can easily take away screen time until I decide to turn it back on.
Even my 4-year-old understands the consequences of having his favorite apps disappear from his device especially his dinosaur app. Of course, I give him a warning and set the expectation. However, even very young kids need to understand rules when it comes to screen time. I find it more appealing when my kids are running around the house playing with each other, building towers with blocks, doing arts and craft projects or getting on each other’s nerves. Engaging verbally or socially with each other is a much better alternative than spending hours on devices. Children learn through these experiences. I am no expert, but research has shown that long periods of screen time is detrimental to the development of children’s cognitive brain functions and that internet and gaming addictions affect structural and functional changes in brain regions that impact emotional processing, decision making, and attention.
So bravo to the makers of OutPact for giving me such an easy solution to help my amazing kids create a balance. I hope that you will find it helpful as well.