Most of you already know how I feel about screens and kids. If not, you can check here and here and here for your entertainment. (Brace yourself. No holding back on those links. In a fun way though, so I’ve been told.)
Back to this summer: Between all the fun family time in the sun I challenge us, beg us and semi-boss us to get it together and conquer screen-time shenanigans once and for all. We. Can. Do. It. Why? Because we know that kids + unregulated screens CAN EQUAL disaster — for emotional development, behavior development and social development. (If you need details about what the heck I’m talking about, here’s that link again.)
This summer, I’ve partnered with two totally awesome tools for us parents to make managing screen-time sooooo much easier — for everyone in the family. One of them locks devices in a mini-house and only makes them workable/accessible when we [parents] say it’s okay to use them… the other one GPS tracks our kids via a magic square that we can all talk through.
So I cleverly smashed these fabulous finds into my Family Summer Must-Haves segment on KTLA Weekend Morning News Los Angeles. WATCH! (And cheer for when my girls sing ‘Baby Shark’ with anchor Lynette Romero…)
And if you want even more fabulous focused details, let me break it all down…
Meet TechDen: The first-ever product to combine a screen-time management app with a physical home that charges and stores phone and tablets ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ It’s hardware (aka: the Den) and software (aka: the App) together — because having us parents can use all the backup we can get to teach healthy tech management to teens. AmIRight?!
Here’s how it works: Parents connect devices and set time limits on devices with an app… meaning, our kids’ device will only ‘work’ during the time we allot and it will only work for as long as WE determine/program. For instance, if I program rules that my daughters can only play games on my husband’s iPad between 4-6pm, for 30 minutes only, the Den will not allow them to open the doors and access their devices if it’s not between 4-6pm! AND (here’s my favorite part) the device will lock them out once time limit has been reached while they’re playing their game! Don’t worry, the kids’ devices will show multiple pop-up ‘countdown’ warnings before they’re actually locked out. TechDen keeps us honest about setting our own limits. (Is it wrong that I want to use this on my husband too? Don’t judge.)
Extra perks? Kids can get involved creating usage schedules and rewards on the app… because we all know that if they’re involved even a little bit, they’re more likely to buy into it. Through routine, healthy tech habits are taught and formed through consistent experience. And! Research shows less tantrums and arguments erupt when screen-time stops because of a predictable routine and/or the device itself stops working. (I also like the way this keeps devices out of sight and out of mind — ie: out of teens’ bedrooms! Because nothing good happens online after 9pm. And these kids need to sleep, not check their phones. You know I’m right.)
Next up? The solution for parents who have given their elementary-school aged child a smartphone against their better judgment for the sole purpose of wanting/needing to be in touch with them and/or track them during the day.
Meet Relay, the smartest screen-free smartphone for kids. (Before I forget, get your FAB MOM DISCOUNT here!) It’s a cute little square that works like a walkie-talkie via an app that connects these squares to our phones — you get 2 squares in a package and can order more if you have more kids. The system is powered by 4G LTE and WiFi so it works just like a phone. (Like, from NYC to CA!) It’s wearable, clip-able and durably-made for play. (Yes, it’s splash-proof.)
Relay helps us keep track of our kids at theme parks, hotels, the beach, camps, regular parks, stores, schools… you name it. Personally, I think it’s an ideal option for kids between the ages of 8-12… when we want to start giving them a bit of independence (ie: walk down a few stores at the mall and get the ice cream you want) but are freaked out by all the stories we hear about the dangers of letting kids roam free. Relay connects us to our kids without having to get them smartphone (which, as you know, I have major problems with… ha). Once you connect your Relay devices to the (free) app on your phone, you can talk Relay to Relay OR Relay to app. You can have a group chat or just check-in one on one. Literally, push the button and ask “Where are you” and then wait for an answer. The. Walkie. Talkie. Is. Now. Smarter. (And it’s really fun!) $49.99 for the device plus $9/month for the cell plan for the devices.
How’s that for making summer screen-time dilemmas easy-peasy? Told you. xo